Friday, March 1, 2013

More Mystery Reviews

Just got back from a two-week vacation in the warm South, and while I read two good mysteries while away, I haven't gotten around to reviewing them yet. But fear not! Carl Brookins and S.D. Tooley are here to save the day with their own great book reviews. 

There Was an Old Woman 
by Hallie Ephron
ISBN: 978-0-06-211760-1, 304 pages
A William Morrow 2013 release

I could hardly put it down. Creepy, tension filled, elegantly crafted, filled with emotional turmoil and characters that seem to rise from the pages and sit beside you while you read. Not a mystery in the usual sense, not a novel of slam-bang adventure with bodies dropping on every other page. This elegantly crafted novel demonstrates a mastery of story-telling, of how to feed tidbits of information to the reader in a way that not only keeps one glued to the book, but step-by-step raises gut-wrenching questions of life and death and reality.

Somehow, Ephron has plumbed the dark recesses of the mind of an elderly woman named Mina Yetner. Independent still at ninety-one, and living in a small New York City neighborhood on the edge of a salt marsh, she’s sound of mind if physically frail and she’s determined to live out her life as she has always done, to the very end. Mina is a wonderful fresh character and readers shouldn’t be surprised if her voice comes unbidden to mind while they turn the pages.

In this time of aging baby boomers, of rising concerns about privacy, rampant mortgage offers, retail development, and uncertain government, here is a universal crime novel that should be read by just about everybody on the planet.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins,


Nick Santora
Reviewed by S.D. Tooley

Robert Principe is an attorney in New Jersey.  All of his life he has had an uphill battle fighting the belief that anyone with a vowel at the end of his name must be in the mafia.  His cousin, Jackie, enjoys living up to the rumor as the enforcer for Big Louie, affectionately known as BLT.  Robert is the first in his family to make it “big” and tries hard to fight for the little guy.  

But cases are few and far between, and with a pregnant wife, bills piling up, and a pregnant sister who has been deserted by her boyfriend, he’s desperate.  He comes up with a one time plan.  Rather than have Jackie break the hand of another guy in hock to BLT for big bucks, Robert suggests the man get a job at a construction site, fall down, then Robert could sue the company.  Robert would take one-third and Big Louie would have far more money than he was cheated out of.  The poor patsy would be happy to fake a fall just to save himself from losing a limb.  

Unfortunately, BLT is loving the money and Jackie is happy as a lark.  They won’t let Robert out of the scheme.  Things fall apart fast.  Robert is guilt-ridden, Jackie threatens to kill Robert, and Big Louie is not a man who takes no for an answer.  The reader is easily sympathetic to Robert’s plight.  He’s good hearted but in over his head.  A good son, a loving husband, but he’s ready to stand up to Big Louie.  Then the FBI pays Robert a visit.  SLIP & FALL is Gun Monkeys meets Goodfellows with humor thrown in to lessen the blows.  A pure joy to read.


I'll be back next week with more reviews, plus some good news for writers looking for a reasonably priced editing service. I'll also tell you how to contact a man who specializes in print and eBook design and formatting while also designing covers, all at affordable rates.