DEADLY ADDITIVE by Donn Taylor ~ a review

Deadly Additive

Billionaire Steve Spinner has been manipulating his daughter Jocelyn since her birth. Now he’s endangered her life by forcing her and journalist Kristin Halvorsen to embark on a dangerous  mission in Columbia. They are posing as bird watchers, in that South American country, when they stumble upon a brutal massacre in the village of Chozadolor and are captured by a group of guerrilla fighters headed by the ruthless and viscous Diego Contreras. Kristen took photos of the massacre which show most of the men massacred in the village were butchered, but some apparently died due to some sort of chemical agent. Contreras’ men smash Kristen’s cameras, but she manages to hide a memory card with photos at the gruesome site.

No amount of money can entice soldier of fortune Jeb Sledge to rescue the young women. The hyper-responsible soldier of fortune who must right the wrongs in this world was the Old Sledge. He is determine to become the more relaxed New Sledge. This idea of the Old Sledge and the New Sledge confronting each other is a theme running through DEADLY ADDITIVE.

When Spinner dangles the name Diego Contreras as bait, Sledge bites. In the not so distant past Contreras and his men killed Alita, a young Colombian woman from a notable family Sledge had fallen in love with. Her entire family was killed in the attack and Sledge was severely wounded. However, in his gut, Sledge knows Spinner, the master manipulator is keeping something from him.

Sledge is assisted by Roger Brinkman, a retired CIA operative, now running his own private ‘information service’ which doesn’t have the constraints of a US government agency. Brinkman puts Sledge onto the quirky Ramirez family who offer their special services.  The entire family speaks in malapropisms which adds a touch of humor in just the right places. Two of my favs are: “It’s time to wake up and smell the coffins” and “That I must take with a fifth of amendments.”

Few male writers can write about the internal drama going on inside a woman who has been sexually threatened or abused. Donn Taylor does this extremely well by not intensely highlighting it (as many authors are inclined to do). He simply states it. We, the reader, understand what the character is going through.

The inspirational element is authentic and organic to the story as Jeb and Kristin, having confronted abject evil,  try to figure out if anything has a greater meaning. This is an edge of your  seat, page turning story.

 

VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS (Against All Enemies Book 1) by H.L. Wegely ~ a review

Voice in the Wilderness

 

VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS brings to mind the concept of “Romancing the Thriller.” This is an action-packed romantic suspense story that doesn’t slow down for a moment.

The novel opens with tension. The main character, a freckle-faced, red haired beauty named K.C. Banning receives a text message from inside the White House that she’s being set up. She’s a techno-genius who works for the government. There’s one thing for certain, the author knows his technology.

President Abe Hannan has been causing manufactured crisis after crisis. He even has an elaborate plan to declare martial law and place himself at the head of a centralized government. This would make American no longer a free and democratic nation. His minions announce to the media that K.C.  has murdered the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a nation-wide manhunt for her begins. As K.C. sets off across the country to get as far away from the beltway as she can, the author’s skill shines in painting a clear picture of the beauty of rural America.

K.C.’s childhood, Christian political-blogger friend Brock Daniels sees her image on a television news program and knows exactly where she will go to hide. He’s been secretly in love with her since they were children and is determined to save her. He’s longed for her for years. With her fashion model beauty, coupled with the fact that her deceased senator father put him down in no uncertain terms, he’s always felt he wasn’t good enough for her.  As these two are hunted by a corrupted FBI, special ops teams, and swat teams, I wondered how they would ever escape. Brock draws upon his deep faith and this sustains him. K.C. struggles with God, but as things get darker she begins to rely upon Him. Her fledgling faith is presented in a natural way. The author shapes a story sending both characters into what looks like will be their doom, but somehow there is hope.  There is also a wonderful use of humor which lightened some of the more terrorizing moments. The novel ends with a bit of a cliff-hanger, which points to the next book in the series.

HEART FAILURE by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. ~ a review

Heart Failure

Devastated by the untimely death of her husband, Dr. Carrie Markham could not imagine she would ever fall in love again. She is a member of a medical practice that is doing well and she thought that would be enough. However, when Adam Davidson enters her life, almost in spite of herself, she falls in love and they become engaged. Unfortunately, he is hiding something. After an evening at the movies, they become the victims of an apparent drive-by shooting. The author sets this up beautifully and pulls the reader in.

Worried that he might be putting Carrie in danger, Adam reveals his secret. He is not who he claims to be. Although she believes him to be a paralegal, he’s actually a lawyer. His is real name is Keith Branson and powerful and dangerous people are out to kill him. He has been in the government’s witness protection program. Quite understandably, this news unnerves Carrie. She’s not sure she wants to continue in a relationship with a man she’s just discovered has lied to her, and who could possibly bring about her demise.

Of course you can count on this author to deliver a thriller with accurate medical details. Yet I wasn’t bombarded with medical jargon that went over my head.

What makes the story compelling is how page, by page, the reader becomes invested in the characters. Carrie comes across as a highly likeable, living, breathing woman who has suffered bereavement but who is determined to get on with her life. As a successful doctor, she deals with the intricate office politics of a thriving medical practice, sometimes wondering if the male doctors in the practice are overlooking her because she is a woman. I was drawn to Carrie’s concern for her patients. The character’s struggles to understand and forgive Adam/Keith for lying to her make her come to life in a very real way. My heart broke for Adam who is a decent man, struggling to survive, and who dares to fall in love. He is the kind of man who does the right thing for the right reasons, and unfortunately has had to pay a high price for those ethical standards. Woven through this novel is a gentle spiritual message showing us how God is always there, even when it looks as if everything is falling apart.

There is no shortage of red herrings leading the reader in different directions. Supporting and minor characters are used to keep the reader guessing who the killer is. Although there is romance, the chase to catch a killer is the main thing. This is exactly the way I like my thrillers.

DOWN and OUT by Marcy Dyer ~ a review

Down and Out

INSPIRATIONAL THRILLER

From the first words of the first chapter, the author pulls me right into the life of Candace Downs — her situation, her hardships.

Candace originally hailed from Texas, but has been working as a publicist with a Christian theater ministry in New York City. Having just lost that job, she returns home to work in her cousin Carl’s repo business on the night shift. She’s had to condense all her worldly possessions into one suitcase and a carry-on piece of luggage. Having acquired an aging VW Beetle with holes in its floorboard, she shows up for work at the repo agency in what she thinks of as “work clothes,” a skirt and blouse with heels.

That’s when she meets Josiah Bradley, the handsome owner of Viper Security, who has been assigned to train her for her first two weeks on the job. He takes one look at her appearance and thinks she won’t last long. Her partner on the night shift, Beth Anne, takes an immediate dislike to her and calls her “Barbie.” Candace, in a tit-for-tat, returns the favor by calling Beth Anne “Dumpling.” However, Candace soon shows she’s got some mettle. Just as Candace and Beth Anne begin to iron out their differences, Candace is assigned to tow the car of a bank night security guard, Lucien Robard, after his car has been struck in an accident. He is taken by her beauty, begins stalking her, and has designs to turn her into “the perfect wife,” even if he has to beat her into submission

The author ratchets up Lucien’s craziness in a very eerie way. I could feel him mentally upping the stakes as his threats and actions became more menacing, as serial offenders do. The reader gets a glimpse of his madness when in his inner dialog he recall the other women who had not lived up to his expectations. That served to make me wonder what had happened to them. Of course, I could only surmise they were no longer among the living and that question was answered by the end of the book.

One of the most charming elements of the story are the three quirky old lady relatives (Granny and her sisters, Aunt Gertie, and Aunt Bertie). We meet the eccentric trio when they get into a fender bender. The other driver shoves Granny and Aunt Gertie wallops him with her Bible while Aunt Bertie beams him with her umbrella. We later catch them going to a line dancing class and to my surprise they were not members of the class, but teaching teenage girls all the moves.

This story could be considered inspirational, or it could be considered a thriller with major characters who are people of faith. It is not primarily a preachy story. It is definitely an action packed thriller. There were some editing issues with prepositions left out, more so toward the end of the novel. In Today’s publishing environment, this type of thing has become all too common.