Once again I'm happy to welcome author and reviewer Carl Brookins to Cicero's Children. Carl has chosen to review two recently released titles from Poisoned Pen Press for us.
by Rachel Brady
Poisoned Pen Press
HC, 250 pg, October, 2009
A fine debut novel with an unusual plot line. Emily Locke is recovering from the loss of her husband and infant daughter. It is clear from the get-go there is something askew in that whole incident. Now four years later, the detective who was disgraced and dismissed from the local police department as fall-out from that calamity, is back in Emily's life. He wants her help on a case he's working on. A leap of faith is required of readers here. Is she the only person in the country the detective can count on to infiltrate a questionable sky-diving club located over a thousand miles away?
And why is Emily so available? After all she has a full-time job and is still pretty fragile from the loss of her daughter and husband. Still, the detective, not her favorite person, presses the right buttons and off she goes to Texas.
What follows is a tension-filled emotional novel of exquisite detail about sky-diving in all the right places, introduction of necessary and useful characters and enough action to satisfy the most ardent thriller aficionado. Emily is strong and distressed at all the right places; there are no real down sections of the novel.
This is a fast read, and although some of the danger Emily faces doesn't reach my punch level, Emily is an interesting woman and the sky-diving is an unusual platform on which to build a crime novel. One of the more interesting aspects of Final Approach is that readers will, from the beginning, feel as though they have been brought into an ongoing story. There is occasionally a feeling of the need to catch up with background as a way to evaluate current happenings. It's a style that adds to the tension and pace. A satisfying novel with a fine twist at the end.
by Peter May
Poisoned Pen Press
Hardcover, 312 pages,
Fourth in the author's China Thriller series to be published by this press. Make no mistake this is one scary and thrilling book. So thrilling, in fact I had the sense toward the end of being carried just a bit over the top. The novel brings back two of May's most endearing characters, forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell, American, and Beijing detective, Li Yan. But they are no longer in China. Campbell is now the county medical examiner based in Houston, Texas, and Li Yang is learning about and dealing with America's multiple and complex law enforcement agencies as a member of the Chinese Embassy staff in Washington, D.C.
Until a major tragedy brings them together, Campbell is not even aware that they are again in the same country although still thousands of miles physically and culturally apart. The tragedy that brings these two together are the deaths of scores of illegal Chinese immigrants being smuggled to the United State via the same pipeline and organization which smuggles drugs from South America to the U.S. In this incident, the dead are found in a refrigerated truck abandoned in Texas. Those deaths appear to be accidental until it is discovered the bodies have all been injected with a dangerous virus that has no known antidote.
Now the race is on to determine what the virus is, who is behind the multi-million dollar smuggling operation, the Snakehead of the title, and Li Yan and Margaret must try to set aside their own emotional difficulties in order to help literally, save the nation from a devastating plague.
The pace is fast, the writing always to the point, the characters are genuine in their language and their emotions, and most worrisome of all, the science is real. This is a novel with the potential to scare the pants off you. It's timely, international in scope, a whirlwind of a thriller.
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!