Mystery/Thriller

The Councilman by Glenn Starkey

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

In 1956 Morgan City, Texas, Cory Hunter Bramley has finally returned to learn the truth about his mother's murder. The killer may be gone, leaving Cory to chase ghosts, yet he's determined to know what happened that fateful day sixteen years ago. But truth comes in many forms. The town is under the thumb of a man who considers himself a king and makes Cory's search for truth more difficult. Five women have been brutally murdered since his mother and their killer remains at large as well. Cory must walk a dangerous maze of corruption, revenge, bootlegging, brutality and murder as he uncovers a bloody trail leading to the killer. But in the pursuit of justice, Cory didn't anticipate finding love with the forbidden Emily. The Councilman is a heartbreaking tale of vengeance, deceit, and the anguish of shattered souls wrapped in mystery and suspense.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-54394-100-5, 978-1-54394-101-2
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 234

Lions of the Sky by Francesco Chierici

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MWSA Review

Paco Chierici’s first novel, Lions of the Sky, is an expertly woven story about the determination, sacrifices, and camaraderie of the fighter pilot community. The author, an accomplished fighter pilot himself with over 3000 hours and 400 carrier traps, puts his experiences, both good and bad, into the characters and action, and tells a story like only one who has “been there” can.

“Slammer” Richardson has seen it all as a Hornet pilot, and now he’s training the next crop of stick jockeys. But he has a secret, and survivor’s guilt, and issues with women combat pilots; and all of those will be challenged when he trains his final class, which features two female pilots, “Quick” and “Dusty.” Are they the real deal? Can Slammer keep his demons in check long enough to teach the class what they need to know, despite the distractions and his personal feelings?

Things don’t get any better when by a twist of fate Slammer, Dusty, and Quick are all in the same squadron a year later when rising tensions between Vietnam and China put them smack in the middle of a powder keg waiting to go off. Mettle will be tested and lives will be lost, but who will come out still standing when the showdown is over?

I particularly liked how well the author weaved in his personal experience into the characters. He used parts of his later career, when he was a seasoned aviator, in developing Slammer, and did an excellent job. The trepidation and uncertainty from the earlier part of his career, as he was training for a difficult and dangerous job, is apparent in the more junior aviators. Finally, I was impressed with how the intricate movements of aircraft in combat—second nature to a fighter pilot—were easily and clearly explained to the lay reader. You don’t need to be a pilot to understand the action so well written here.

Fans of air combat action or former tactical pilots from any service will appreciate and enjoy this book. Chierici hit a home run his first time at bat.

Review by Rob Ballister (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 Sam Richardson is a fighter pilot’s pilot, a reluctant legend with a gut-eating secret. He is in the last span of his tour as an instructor, yearning to get back to the real action of the Fleet, when he is ordered to take on one last class—a class that will force him to confront his carefully quarantined demons. Brash, carefree, and naturally gifted, Keely Silvers is the embodiment of all that grates on him. After years of single-minded dedication, she and her classmates can see the finish line. They are months away from achieving their life-long dream, flying Navy F/A-18 fighters. They are smart and hard-working, but they’re just kids with expensive new toys. They’re eager to rush through training and escape to the freedom of the world beyond, a world they view as a playground full of fast jets and exotic locales. But Sam knows there is a darker side to the profession he loves. There is trouble brewing in the East with global implications. If they make it past him they will be cast into a dangerous world where enemy planes cruise the skies over the South China Sea like sharks, loaded with real weapons and hidden intentions.

ISBN/ASIN: B07NSGRXCZ,978-1640620728,9781640620674
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 292

Midnight Blues by Robert Kidera

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MWSA Review

Robert Kidera weaves a fast-moving story around Gabe McKenna on his first assignment as a private investigator. Midnight Blues is a suspenseful yarn—twisted in horrifying circumstance and sprinkled with humor—that starts with the kidnapping of the young son of an Indian friend.

Gabe and his partner Onion misread the kidnappers, losing the ransom money and the boy. Gabe gets shot, and his client is murdered. This leads them on a chase through New Mexico’s backcountry that reads like a travel log on out-of-the-way places not on the top of any places you want to visit. As they pursue the bad guys, they pick up a strange posse of a 90-year-old hermit driving a 70-year-old motorcycle, a dwarf toting a Tommy Gun, a female archaeologist, and a Native American big truck driver.

What started as two suspects grows to a human trafficking cartel that had abducted young girls, most of them Indian, from small towns. As Gabe and his crew play tag with the bad guys in running gun battles, they learn the cartel is headquartered in an old village that time forgot: Midnight. They find a back road to the ghost town. That task becomes more urgent with the news that the gang is leaving Midnight and taking their captives to another location. 

The FBI is called, but don’t arrive until after Gabe and friends engage the heavily armed cartel in a fierce battle that leaves most of the bad guys dead or wounded and their leader, improbably called Angel, trying to flee in an airplane. Gabe has to stop him as the others free the young prisoners.

This is the fourth in a series of Gabe McKenna action-packed novels that grabs your attention and doesn’t turn you loose until the last sentence of the last page.

 Review by Joe Epley (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 What kind of person would harm a child? Private Investigator and Vet Gabe McKenna tracks a young boy taken prisoner by a human trafficking cartel through the wilds of New Mexico. With the aid of unlikely friends, including a 94 year-old former WW II vet, himself a former prisoner-of-war, a race against time results in a bloody final showdown at a remote, deserted, mining town called Midnight. Who will be willing to pay the ultimate price and make a difference in this struggle for freedom?

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN: 978-1723845062 ASIN: B07H5V4VZ3
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 251

Gambit by Karna Small Bodman

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MWSA Review

Gambit is the second book in Karna Small Bodman’s White House National Security Series. In this installment, Dr. Cameron Talbot, a brilliant young American scientist takes on the mystery of American civilian planes being shot down with no warning on radar and no claims of responsibility from any terrorist group. The result is panic for pilots, flight attendants, and potential flyers as well as the airlines and a falling stock market. Talbot continues to struggle with lack of support from her boss who is overridden by a request from the White House to solve this problem. As usual, she has an idea. She is once again paired with Lt. Col. Daniels, who left her without explanation after a romantic interlude in India, causing her much personal stress. When her name is leaked to the media as working on a solution, someone tries repeatedly to kill her.

Relevant details from the first book are nicely woven into this story so that it can be read as a stand-alone novel. Bodman’s knowledge of the White House, as a result of serving in the Reagan administration, allows her to include details of not only the buildings but also the complexities faced by any administration. The book would profit from a final proofreader as there are many typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors. However, these do not interfere significantly with this well crafted story.  

Review by Nancy Kauffman (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

The newly revised and re-released story of Gambit is the second book of the White House National Security thriller series (and is the sequel to Checkmate) where Lt. Col. Hunt Daniels once again works with Dr. Cameron Talbot to develop a defense against a new stealth shoulder fired missile that is taking down American commercial airliners. With the country in a panic and the economy taking a nose-dive, Dr. Talbot and Col. Hunt find themselves enmeshed in international plots in the highest levels of government.

ISBN/ASIN: (Trade paperback) ISBN: 978-1621577812; (Kindle) ASIN: B07D2J21DJ; (Audio CDs) ISBN: 978-1721358830
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 413

Checkmate by Karna Small Bodman

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

The new, revised story of CHECKMATE is the first in The White House National Security Series, and features Lt. Col. Hunt Daniels, detailed from the Pentagon to the White House National Security Council, to work with Dr. Cameron Talbot who has invented a breakthrough technology against cruise missiles. She needs support from her skeptical defense company officers and funding from a reluctant Congress. With disaster brewing overseas, threats to New Delhi, the Taj Mahal, and to Cameron herself, she and Hunt find themselves enmeshed in terrorist plots and political wrangling at the highest levels.

ISBN/ASIN: (Trade Paper) ISBN: 978-1-62157-780-5; (Kindle): ASIN: B07D2HT1GH; (Audio CDs) ISBN: 978-1721358830
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 414

Rigged - Book One of the Second American Civil War by James Rosone and Miranda Watson

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Author's Synopsis

For the last hundred years, the world has operated on a set of rules and social norms that largely benefited the few at the expense of the many. Then the unthinkable happened. A revolt took place, and order was broken. When a new American President bucked the status quo, it set into motion a series of events meant to return the country to the control of the few. Secluded in the small Alpine town of St. Moritz, Switzerland, a rebuttal was crafted. A secret cabal of wealthy and influential men and women gathered to plot the most audacious plan since the formation of America. Cloaked in secrecy and blind loyalty to their leader, these masters of manipulation will embark upon a journey that will change the future of humanity. As the next presidential election approaches in the United States, the general populace is unaware of the plot that has been hatched underneath the surface. Will this election be free and fair, or will it be rigged? If you like political intrigue coupled with hair-raising action, geopolitical chess, and cutting-edge technology, you’ll love Rosone and Watson’s opening installment of the Second American Civil War. Grab your copy today!

ISBN/ASIN: B07NSHGYWT
Book Format(s): Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 378 

Borderline Decision by Hugh Simpson

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MWSA Review

Borderline Decision is a fun read. I read it twice. The first time, I read it at a fast, exhilarating pace that matched the story. The second time, I read it at a slower, more leisurely pace that allowed me to better experience the unfolding of the story. 

The character of LTC Hap Stoner is a glorious action figure, living true to what he says, "Doing what is right and letting the man upstairs sort the bullshit." The Scorpion character starts out as a memorable bad guy, but does not live up to his potential evilness. Stoner is a strong, powerful character and deserves strong, powerful adversaries, perhaps more powerful. 

Helicopter jargon is delightful and adds strength to the story even when the reader doesn't always understand it. The remaining military jargon is pervasive and sometimes distracting. Thank goodness for the Cast of Characters and the Glossary. 

The plot line was energetic and suspenseful and surprises us when the story does not end when we think it will. To soften some of the military hardness, there are elements of affection presented through the Carla character and touches of the perverse through the Senator character. 
Overall, the strength of the story is Hap Stoner. I look forward to his next adventure.

Review by Gail Summers (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

BORDERLINE DECISION by Hugh D. Simpson Synopsis Deadly alliances between Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel, Black Stone and their mysterious Middle Eastern collaborators spill across the US/MX border leaving an unknown American brutally assassinated followed by an ambush of a US Marine Observation Post, and leading to the capture of LtCol Hap Stoner’s Commanding Officer, LtCol Chuck Warden. With a stubborn streak that’s as big as his heart and as strong as his loyalty to country, family, and his fellow Marines, LTCOL HAP “KANG” STONER leads his squadron of Marine Aviators on an unauthorized mission into Mexico to bring Warden home. US Marine LTCOL “TUNA MAN” WARDEN is a high-value prisoner, an American warrior infidel - whose head will bring a high price for a certain American Senator and the Black Stone cartel. Disgusted by the US Administration’s inaction and recriminations of Tuna Man, Hap leads the Nomads to save his CO’s life while barely staying ahead of his nemesis, Group Commander COLONEL TED SHANK. A Careerist, Shank will do anything, step on anyone to get a star. Colonel Shank works with a corrupt Senator, who chairs the Armed Forces Service Committee. Without US approval, Hap reaches out to his longtime friend, THOMAS “BLAD” LEFFLER and Will Kellogg. Blad, retired from the USMC, has joined forces with the mysterious founder of SHADOW SERVICES INTERNATIONAL, a privately held global intelligence network. Will Kellogg is a former Recon Marine, CIA Operative, former business partner, and casino owner in the Caribbean island of San Andres Columbia. In their initial phone conversation, Hap and Blad realize their missions overlap as Blad discloses that he is missing an agent, SHADOW 28, who was tracking cartel activity along the border - specifically human trafficking. Recently, six teenaged girls disappeared from Phoenix Arizona and now it appears that they and Shadow 28 are victims of a Cartel kidnapping. He and LtCol Warden are being held in a secret jihadist compound deep in the cartel’s territory, a location unknown to those ready to launch the rescue mission. Still entrenched in his CIA roots, Will Kellogg contracts out to various countries and companies around the world. Meanwhile, Marine Corps Commandant, GENERAL RUSS VERBIE testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee defending the actions of LtCol’s Warden and Stoner. However, Col Shank counters Verbie’s testimony under orders from corrupt SENATOR SCOTTY JOURDAN, head of the SAS Committee, who has been making a fortune for himself by conducting illegal business with the head of the drug cartel, known as the “SCORPION.” With help from a number of former combat vets, Hap and the NOMADS elude the feds and embark on a rescue mission to bring back the missing girls, Shadow 28, and LtCol Warden. The action rises during an air attack on Scorpion’s remote cartel ranch, also a training camp for jihadist recruits. Although casualties on both sides are high, the Marines are successful: high-level captives are in custody and the severely wounded are jammed onto one overloaded helicopter for a treacherous emergency transport back to a U.S. hospital. To capture Scorpion, Hap, Blad, Will Kellogg, and their team move in for a dangerous night insertion into Mexico, where they meet up with Blad’s tough female operative ZAIDA, aka Shadow 86. They breach the cartel leader’s posh Mexican resort with Zaida’s invaluable intel and aid. While an ongoing firefight ensues, Hap angrily confronts traitorous Senator Jourdan, a guest in Scorpion’s private penthouse suite, elicits, and secretly records his confession on his phone. After a perilous rooftop battle, a wounded Hap and his battered Marine squadron, who barely escaped with their lives, now must head for home to face the wrath of US officials. CARLA MCCREERY, Hap’s smart, feisty live-in attorney girlfriend, and a top legal team, along with Hap’s very persuasive recording of the Senator’s confession, implicating both Col Shank and Jourdan; turn the tide for the Marine Aviators. Combined, it is a strong enough incentive package for Shank to release and honorably discharge the NOMAD Marines from Marine Corps service. At Hap’s ranch in Texas, Carla nurses Hap as he recovers from his injuries sustained in the firefight at the resort. It’s a well-earned vacation until a mysterious visit with a message from Blad, followed by a phone call from Will Kellogg sets up Hap and the now-discharged NOMAD Marine Aviators, along with Shadow operatives for their next adventure.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-692-08298-0 (Soft Cover),978-1-949393-02-6(Hardcover),978-1-949393-00-2 (eBook)
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 415

The Right to Know by Michael Byars Lewis

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Author's Synopsis

Ripped from the headlines, the adventures of America's favorite pilot continue in the series labeled "The House of Cards meets Top Gun"! It’s not always easy being a student in the United States Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training program. It can be more difficult if your father is a U.S. senator who was running for president. In the aftermath of the vicious assassination attempt on his father in San Antonio, a malicious reporter accuses Lieutenant Jason Conrad of a heinous crime. But when the reporter goes too far, Jason—haunted by the death of a friend, hated by the police, and hunted by the mob—finds himself and his parents in the crosshairs of a Russian assassin. In a race against the clock—and the odds—can he save his family as well as himself? In the pulse-pounding sequel to SURLY BONDS, Michael Byars Lewis delivers with THE RIGHT TO KNOW. While best read as part of the Jason Conrad USAF Thriller Series, THE RIGHT TO KNOW can be read as a stand-alone story as well.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0991476466, B07MH62RMY
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 338

Raven's Run: A Cybertech Thriller by John Trudel

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Author's Synopsis

Creative story telling at its best

In "Raven's Run," John Trudel weaves an global story of intrigue, murder, and paranormal spying into a fast hard-hitting, action thriller. The novel opens with parallel stories - one in present time that includes the murder of an Iranian harbor master and the other covers early exploration in Antarctica and the 1963 murder of an aviation pioneer with ties to President's Kennedy and Johnson.

The two main characters are Raven — a veteran but ousted CIA counter-terrorist operative — and Josie — a paranormal gifted with an exceptional talent for out-of-body viewing anywhere in the world and at different times now or in the past. The two personalities and backgrounds make an unlikely team for a highly secretive government agency tasked with tracking down where Iran is getting an untraceable supply of uranium.

Using characters well defined and back stories well researched, Trudel logically meshes together the many elements of "Raven's Run." Josie and Raven must solve a 55-year-old murder before solving the current time mystery of Iran's super-secret adventure in the frozen continent. Raven's skills with weapons and espionage run contrary to Josie's strong abhorrence to violence. But when she is on an out-of-body mission, Raven becomes frustrated because he can't protect her when she is on a viewing session. Her ventures often cause her to become emotionally drained and physically disabled after witnessing extreme violence, thereby creating emotional conflicts between her and Raven.

The story picks up speed as it progresses and multifaceted situations converge, putting Raven and Josie's lives in jeopardy during a nail-biting conclusion. 

"Raven's Run" is a well-written and entertaining read.

Reviewed by Joe Epley, MWSA Reviewer

Audiobook Information 

Flamingo Audiobooks, a division of Flamingo Road Studios, LLC, presents John D. Trudel's award-winning "Raven's Run: A Cybertech Thriller."

“A 'cowboy' CIA agent is kicked out with extreme prejudice but immediately finds himself sheep-dipped into a deep-black-op and running the nation’s most unusual, prized and sexy asset. Before the two can attack their objective, they must unravel a historical mystery that reveals an ugly part of American history.”

The leader of the spy-thriller genre, Brad Thor, says of narrator Victoria Taft, "Victoria is an incredibly skilled, captivating narrator who keeps you hanging on every word. Give her two minutes and you will become a fan for life!"

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-7337437-0-9
Review Genre:  Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Book Format(s): Audiobook


The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe

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MWSA Review

The Freedom Broker is a ripping good story that injects the reader into the fast-paced intrigue of international kidnap negotiator Thea Paris and never lets up. Though not a big fan of the thriller genre, this one held me hostage from the first page.

 Paris is a compelling heroine, more than holding her own through a mind-numbing series of dangerous hostage rescue operations that eventually target her father. Her blind spot (brother Nikos) and her Achilles heel (type 1 diabetes) do little to diminish the dazzling capabilities of this tactical dynamo—heck, she slays one deadly attacker in a dark alley with a single swing of her stylish stiletto.

 The Paris family saga never runs short on thrill, suspense, action, and intrigue. Pitting Thea’s oil tycoon father against his hostage-turned-psychopath son, the tension and sometimes unnerving dynamics among Howe’s cast of well-drawn characters is captivating.

 From the jungles of Columbia to the Aegean isle of Santorini, from Quantum Security headquarters in London to the oil-rich desert outpost of Kanzi, Africa, Howe keeps an unrelenting pace, using brilliant chapter segues to build momentum throughout. This author really knows how to create tension between characters and suspense in the storyline that will keep you pinned to the edge of your seat.

 One weak link in this otherwise compelling narrative is the off-kilter sub-plot of Nikos’s early kidnapping at the age of twelve—nine months as a hostage turn him from a loving protective brother and son into a cold-blooded sociopath. Living a double life as a charitable entrepreneur under one name and notorious arms dealer under another, with a nasty habit of slashing people’s throats before they know what’s hit them, renders Nikos a less than plausible character in this reader’s opinion, yet one who savvy Thea is unwilling to see as he really is.

 Howe’s exquisite attention to detail, nuance, layered plot lines, and complex characters make for an endlessly fascinating story that never stalls out. I highly recommend The Freedom Broker as an exhilarating read and enthusiastically look forward to the sequel.

 Review by Dana Tibbetts (April 2019)


Author's Synopsis

There are 25 elite kidnap negotiators who travel the world's hotspots to bring hostages home. Only one is a woman, and she is the best in the business. Thea Paris faces the most challenging case of her career--for a very special client. Her father.

ISBN/ASIN: 1543601286, 1681443104,
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 377

Raven's Resurrection: A Cybertech Thriller by John Trudel

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MWSA Review

In Raven's Resurrection, author John D. Trudel once again brings us into the thrilling world of his characters Raven and Josie. In a fictional setting where the United States is more divided than ever, and with Middle East terrorists active and based in the United States,  the world is in need of Josie's special, psychic skills now more than ever. Raven is allowed to take the gloves off, and the result is an action-packed thriller. The book makes full use of a variety of military weaponry. Any reader who enjoys para military thrillers would enjoy this book.

Review by Bob Doerr (April 2019)


Author's Synopsis

"Raven slung his rifle. He walked over and stood behind them, his Sig leveled, finger on the trigger."

In the author’s latest thriller, America is not as secure as its average citizen might think. Radical Islam poses a serious threat to the nation, but only a few understand just how extensive the reach is of its practitioners. Raven has experienced firsthand how dangerous the nation’s enemies can be, but many of them, in turn, will learn what a deadly adversary he can be.

Raven’s primary task—a job that is both professional and personal to him—is to protect someone who is, quite possibly, America’s greatest defensive asset: a remote viewer named Josie. She is able to see future events—such as coming attacks or the movements of dangerous individuals—and pass this information on to those who can make a difference. Keeping Josie safe will propel Raven into both defensive and offensive roles. With Iranian Quds secretly on American soil and high-profile players calling the shots, he will need to strengthen his existing network of allies and even use the Russians to eliminate a mutual enemy. But will his efforts be enough?

Trudel deftly mixes politics, espionage, and violence with a sprinkling of the paranormal in this new addition to his riveting series. His choice to set his novel slightly in the future allows him to comment on current affairs and contemporary politicians while giving him the freedom to populate his narrative with fictional leaders, as well. And comment he does, pointing out perceived flaws in liberal policies while championing the more conservative stances. Yet his novel should not be seen as simply a voice for the Right. Rather, it is an entertaining and gripping story of patriots operating in the shadows who are desperately trying to protect the nation from those who would destroy it.

Chief among these heroes is Raven, a complicated character who becomes more likable with each new novel. Clever, resourceful, and highly trained, he has no qualms about taking extreme measures to achieve his objectives—even if this means stalking and killing his enemy in cold blood. Josie, on the other hand, struggles with the need for violence. Psychically fragile, she has even gone catatonic in the past when things have gotten too rough. The Beauty-and-the-Beast relationship between these two principal protagonists is part of what makes the series so appealing. A hero of a different stripe is the aging Doctor Goldfarb. As a new Ad-hoc member to the President’s National Security Council, he fights on the political front while coordinating with Raven in the shadows. Former Marine General Mike Mickelson is a new ally for Raven but a familiar figure to those who have read Trudel’s Soft Target. He adds some strong, no-nonsense accountability to Raven’s expanding team. The author does an excellent job in developing all of these characters, revealing new layers to their personalities as the book progresses.

Stylistically, Trudel’s use of point of view is intriguing. The switch from the third person into the first and then back again is initially a bit disconcerting, bouncing the reader’s attention momentarily away from the action like a literary speed bump. Once you get used to these changes, the story rolls along smoothly, building in tension as the author pulls you deeper into the plot. Carefully crafted yet more cerebral in some ways than similar thrillers, Trudel’s continuation of Raven’s adventures is not to be missed.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0997805291, 978-0999630501, 978-0-9978052-8-4, B0798XFYPH
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 348

Karl's Last Flight by Basil Sands

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MWSA Review

Karl’s Last Flight by Basil Sands is a fast-moving book that tells Karl’s current story as a space tourism pilot and accidental infantryman in Iran in addition to his 1985 experience as a Marine Harrier pilot in Burma. Both stories are well told with many believable plot twists and turns. There is both action and intrigue as it reflects history, the present, and the future. Well worth reading.

Review by Nancy Kauffman (June 2019)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems--including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors--which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

Karl Alexander’s day started with taking the most obnoxious Hollywood star on a low-orbit space tour. By lunchtime, he inadvertently triggered a world war. Then things got really bad. Karl, a former USMC Harrier pilot, NASA astronaut, and Space Tourism pilot had always been an adrenaline junky, but he quickly finds himself in over his head. He’s swept up in an insane secret operation—the work of American CIA and British MI-6 agents—being helped by a family of resistance fighters and led by an Iranian-born deep-cover agent that he doesn't begin to trust. Soon he's trapped in an all-out chase to stop a squad of kamikazes armed with nukes who are rushing to drop their deadly payload onto U.S. troops and Israeli citizens. Throughout the harrowing adventure, Karl is haunted by the memory of his first combat mission as a Marine Harrier pilot. Somehow, he knows what he learned twenty years ago just might save the world today.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1682615270
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 288


MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems--including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors--which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

Karl Alexander’s day started with taking the most obnoxious Hollywood star on a low-orbit space tour. By lunchtime, he inadvertently triggered a world war. Then things got really bad. Karl, a former USMC Harrier pilot, NASA astronaut, and Space Tourism pilot had always been an adrenaline junky, but he quickly finds himself in over his head. He’s swept up in an insane secret operation—the work of American CIA and British MI-6 agents—being helped by a family of resistance fighters and led by an Iranian-born deep-cover agent that he doesn't begin to trust. Soon he's trapped in an all-out chase to stop a squad of kamikazes armed with nukes who are rushing to drop their deadly payload onto U.S. troops and Israeli citizens. Throughout the harrowing adventure, Karl is haunted by the memory of his first combat mission as a Marine Harrier pilot. Somehow, he knows what he learned twenty years ago just might save the world today.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1682615270
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 288

Faithful Warrior by Basil Sands

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MWSA Review

In Faithful Warrior, author Basil Sands has given us a modern-day thriller that finds our protagonist and a team of federal agents trying desperately to prevent another major terrorist attack in the United States heartland. Middle Eastern terrorists with the support of a Russian sleeper agent are planning to set off a nuclear bomb in Ohio. Casualties could be in the millions, and the good guys have little to go on. Suspense builds as the time to detonation decreases with each turn of a page. Sands has mastered the art of writing a thriller and using interesting characters. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an exciting read. 

Review by Bob Doerr (April 2019)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems—including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors—which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

 God forgives when we ask sincerely. Men, not so much. Self, even less. And the Dead....never. Pastor Mike loves his family, and loves his flock. Life is good, but to get there he had to traverse a trail of blood. The faces that haunt his nightmares are no longer just specters, and a long thought dead enemy is about to unleash a very real hell.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1682616970
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 355

Ice Hammer: Insurgent by Basil Sands

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MWSA Review

Basil Sands’ Ice Hammer: Insurgent picks up where Ice Hammer: Invasion leaves off and is full of solid characters, gritty action, and patriots doing their best at the impossible.

Over a year ago, the combined forces of the Chinese and the Russians invaded the United States, including Alaska, home to former Force Recon Marine Brad Stone. The entire world seems turned upside down, and while fleeing to the Alaskan interior, Brad becomes famous when he kills two Chinese soldiers with an ice hammer. When the incident was caught on a drone, his reputation went viral, and now he is the face of the Alaskan resistance, like it or not.

Book two finds Brad bogged down with trying to keep his ever-growing group of refugees safe and not starving, while his sons, on a Boy Scout camping trip the day the war began, have formed their own resistance group and are learning the rigors of combat at a young age. Brad’s wife, thought dead, is actually leading a very prominent life among the enemy, and at all times seems to be a collaborator, an angel of mercy, and a spy.

 That’s a lot of elements for one book, but Sands pulls it off admirably. The action is raw, the dialogue and characters believable, and the twists and turns entertaining. I especially liked how the characters of Karzai and Gunnar get further developed, and also the tie in with Marcus Johnson, another former Marine, from the author’s book 65 Below. If you liked either Ice Hammer: Invasion or 65 Below, then you will love this installment. Sands’ writing, especially when describing combat, is as real as Dale Brown, the great Tom Clancy, or Jeff Edwards.

Review by Rob Ballister (April 2019)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems—including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors—which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

 Following the invasion of a year earlier Brad Stone has become the figure head of the Alaska resistance movement, and head of the largest militia in the former state, including the Chiknik Rangers, making him enemy number one to the Chinese leadership based in Anchorage. At the same time his sons, Ben and Ian find themselves waging a bloody guerilla operation against Russian troops in the east. Unknown to any of them, Youngmi, whose mangled, dead body haunts Brad’s dreams, has become the mistress of General Zhang, head of the Chinese forces in Alaska…and a major player in the resistance movement, passing on information that could mean her real death if she is caught.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1682616925
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 340

Red Sky by Chris Goff

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MWSA Review

Chris Goff begins Red Sky at a fast pace and doesn’t slow down until the last page is turned. A passenger plane from China goes down in Ukraine, carrying a U.S. diplomatic agent with a top-secret letter and a prisoner masquerading as someone else to their deaths. Raisa Jordan, a Diplomatic Security Service agent, is deviated from routine escort duty to retrieve the American agent’s body. Thus begins the story of a terrifying new weapon sold by a Chinese criminal gang to Russian terrorists. It is a novel of betrayal, ambushes, gunfights, and edge-of-your-seat chases. Once you get into it, you will not want to put the book down. It twists and turns with unexpected intrigue and excitement.

Along the way, Jordan picks up an American journalist and a Chinese computer whiz teenager. The kid was supposed to be on the plane, but a switch was made with his cousin at the last minute. A love-hate relationship with both men evolves as they work to infiltrate the Guangdong Triad—one of the largest criminal gangs in China—and a major steel manufacturing plant that produced the secret weapon. It continues when they return to Ukraine and then Poland where, with the help of Polish Special Forces, they track the gun and its Russian handlers, bent on using the weapon to destroy a meeting of top European leaders.

For an enjoyable read with great characters, strong research that doesn’t become tedious, location, and action, I recommend Chris Goff’s Red Sky.

Review by Joe Epley (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 When People’s Republic Flight 91 crashes in northeastern Ukraine with a U.S. diplomatic agent onboard, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service Agent Raisa Jordan is sent to investigate. The agent was escorting a prisoner home from Guangzhou, China, along with sensitive documents, and it quickly becomes apparent that the plane was intentionally downed. Was it to silence the two Americans onboard? To avoid a diplomatic incident, Jordan must discover what the Americans knew that was worth killing hundreds to cover up. With Russia deeply entangled in the Ukraine and the possibility that China could be hiding reasons to bring down its own plane, tensions are high. As international relations and even more lives hang in the balance, Jordan races to stop a new Cold War. Red Sky, Chris Goff's pulse-pounding follow-up to Dark Waters, is yet another white-knuckle joyride for fans of Gayle Lynds.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-13: 978-1683311263 HC, ASIN: B01NCNJB8S
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 320

Dark Waters by Chris Goff

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MWSA Review

Dark Waters by Chris Goff is an intricate thriller which keeps the reader guessing to the very end. Set in Israel and the West Bank, the action keeps us moving as Diplomatic Security Services Agent Raisa Jordan works to protect her American charges while unraveling a terrorist plot scheduled to coincide with peace talks in the region. Arrayed against her are a boss concerned mainly with his own career, a coworker who despises her, Israeli Shin Bet agents, Palestinians, ultra-conservative Jews, and terrorists bent on disrupting the region. Add a Russian spy, a traitor among the Israeli police, and the U.S. Marines and we have the makings of a read that will keep you turning pages.

Goff’s setting in Israel provides the reader with fresh vistas and colorful descriptions as the characters race from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to Bethlehem to Tiberias and finally to the Sea of Galilee. The complex plot is woven around a wealth of information regarding the political, cultural, and religious turmoil that seems to constantly fester in the region. A strong, smart, and capable female cast add to the fun of the twisty plot and evolving relationships as Raisa finds support in unexpected places.

Review by Betsy Beard (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 Raisa “Rae” Jordan, an agent for the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, isn't in Israel for more than a day before her predecessor is killed in a Tel Aviv square. Assigned to investigate the assassination of one of her own, she must also protect Judge Ben Taylor and his teenage daughter. They may be the sniper's next target and are most certainly being threatened by a desperate cadre of terrorists with their sights set on the Secretary of State's upcoming visit. But is an attack on the Secretary of State all that they have planned or is that just the beginning? There are no protocols for this kind of a situation, and following the rules is exactly the kind of thing that could get the Taylors killed. To subvert an attack that could crush the fledgling peace in the Middle East, Jordan must trust her instincts and bring together a contentious team of agents from Israel, the U.S., and the Palestinian territories to uncover a conspiracy years in the making. With millions of lives hanging in the balance, Dark Waters, Chris Goff's explosive new thriller, is a series debut that mirrors global headlines and will have you frantically turning pages.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-13: 978-1629531922 HC, ISBN-13: 978-1629533728 TP, ASIN: B011IZPUTQ, ISBN-13: 978-1504644655 Audio
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 352

Borderline by Joseph Badal

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MWSA Review

Sometimes an author you enjoy ventures into new territory. I’ve been a fan of every Joseph Badal thriller I’ve read. Now I’m a fan of his new mystery series featuring Detectives Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez.

In Borderline, the two detectives tackle a murder case involving a much-despised woman and the many people who wanted her dead. Badal knows how to develop believable characters. Both Barbara and Susan have plenty of moxie when it comes to their work, but on the home front problems plague them.

Badal lets us inside the heads of his characters as he spins a complex yarn. The story takes us to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. Beautiful Victoria Comstock left few mourners when her killer hacked her up with a spear. Lassiter and Martinez find it difficult to nail the perpetrator when everyone they question has strong feelings about the victim and, in most cases, a stronger motive.

Politics, police work, revenge, and sex. Borderline has it all. The plot works and you never know what is coming until you turn the page. 

Review by Pat Avery (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

BORDERLINE is a 74,300-word mystery. The story is inspired by actual events.

Two homicide detectives, Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez, are assigned a case where the female victim, a narcissistic borderline personality, has made a lifetime game of destroying people’s lives. The murder case becomes more complicated as the list of possible perpetrators grows.

Barbara Lassiter, a thirty-four-year-old homicide detective, is mourning the recent death of her husband. She poorly deals with the daily harassment meted out by a male co-worker, has found refuge in alcohol, and fights weight and depression problems. Her partner, Susan Martinez, a thirty-two-year-old world-class beauty with brains, guts, and an irreverent sense of humor, has marital problems.

The detectives must put aside their personal issues to try to solve the brutal murder of the wife of one of New Mexico’s richest and most powerful men. The victim, Victoria Comstock, had a narcissistic borderline personality disorder and collected enemies like most people collect coins. The detectives find themselves enmeshed in a helix of suspects with opportunity, means, and motive—and question giving their best efforts to solve the case the more they learn about the victim’s hideous character.

Their job gets tougher when Victoria’s psychiatrist, Nathan Stein, is murdered, and videotapes turn up that show the doctor had serial sexual relationships with a large number of his female patients, including Victoria Comstock and Connie Albans, the daughter of Marge Stanley. Marge had been Victoria’s best friend until she discovered Victoria in bed with Marge’s husband. Marge divorced her husband, who subsequently committed suicide. Victoria not only destroyed Marge’s marriage and contributed to Marge’s husband’s death by suicide, but she also had interfered with Marge’s relationship with her daughter.

A private detective, Shawn Navarro, who investigated Victoria Comstock on behalf of Marge Stanley, volunteers to share information with the detectives. Barbara develops feelings for Navarro and is motivated to stop drinking alcohol and embarks on a fitness program. For the first time since her husband’s death, she has a positive outlook about her future.

Victoria Comstock’s husband pulls political strings and gets Barbara and Susan taken off his wife’s case. But the detectives disobey orders and work the case on the side, convinced they are close to identifying Victoria’s killer. When Susan’s estranged husband critically wounds her, Barbara must continue alone. She is convinced Marge Stanley, the prime suspect, is not the murderer. But the path to the killer appears to go through Marge and her daughter, Connie. Both murder victims, Victoria Comstock and Nathan Stein, had given Marge plenty of reason for her to hate them, but Barbara is sure Marge is innocent. She comes to believe that someone who loves both Marge and her daughter, Connie, is responsible for the murders. She zeroes in on Marge’s father.

But things are not as they seem. It turns out that Navarro was in a long-term relationship with Marge Stanley. He is playing Barbara in order to learn about her progress with the case and to try to steer her away from Marge, because he believes that Marge actually murdered Victoria. Navarro also believes, based on what Marge has told him, that he is Connie’s father.

Barbara, with Susan’s help from her hospital bed, proves Navarro actually murdered Stein and Marge’s mother murdered Victoria.

Susan recovers from her wounds and returns to work. Barbara, whose heart has been broken by Navarro, realizes that, in actuality, he has helped her get her life back on the right track. Barbara and Susan’s success in solving the crimes earns them promotions.

The story offers an interesting cast of characters, two heroic female detective-protagonists, a diabolical villain, plenty of suspense, and an ending that will surprise and shock the reader.

ISBN/ASIN: B00YZSAHI8
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 298

A Special Breed of Warrior by Joseph Mujwit

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Unexpected. Heartwarming. Brutal. These are only three of the many adjectives I would use to describe A Special Breed of Warrior. The author, Joseph Mujwit, has done a fantastic job at writing this fiction book, which stars an unexpected character, Zip, a Belgian Malinois-German Shepard mix military dog who is deployed to Afghanistan along with his trainer and best friend, Petty Officer Todd Mitchell. The story, which is masterfully told, presents many different layers and involves readers' senses from the very beginning, with the Prologue opening on the familiar notes of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." However, as readers can't help themselves but start humming the melodic song, they are quickly shocked out of their comfort zone when the author brings in incessant noise of riots and the constant thundering of the helicopters, thus creating a sharp juxtaposition of sounds that trap readers into the story and only let them go when the end comes.

Although the brutality of war fights to take center stage, it is powerfully overcome by the heartwarming relationship between a dog with a silly name and his best friend, who soon find themselves fighting for their lives, with a beautiful image of Zip trying to protect Todd till the very end.

The story is so well told it is hard to believe it is a fictionalized tale. Unfortunately, there are noticeable editing errors, and the book would have profited from a stringent line edit.

So, to conclude, well done to the incredibly talented author. While he thanks military personnel and military working dogs for inspiring the story, we thank him for writing this beautiful tale and for reminding us that there are indeed many who belong to a special breed of warrior.

Review by Brunella Costagliola (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 Zip is a military working dog destined to serve in the U.S. Special Operations Forces. Uniquely trained, he joins a SEAL Team and is deployed in Afghanistan's dangerous Korengal Valley with his partner and best friend, Petty Officer Todd Mitchell. Todd, the team, and their new K9 have their skills continually tested by the sinister influence of the Taliban leader dwelling in the mountains. As they battle the insurgents, the team defuse IEDs, uncover caches of weapons and withstand harassing enemy attacks. Eventually, they face dire circumstances when pursued and ultimately trapped where they make a desperate attempt to escape. The circumstances of the ensuing battle and extraction cause the team leader, Lieutenant John Kelly, to make an agonizing decision that tears at Todd's dedication to duty and his devotion to his K9 partner and friend. Can Todd and the team carry out their orders knowing that it will probably cost their most beloved member his life? Elements of Tom Clancy and Jack London come together as A SPECIAL BREED OF WARRIOR chronicles Zip’s training from his time as a pup and the special people who shape him into a highly skilled military working dog; to the orientation with his SEAL Team and their trying ordeal while deployed in Afghanistan. The novel is a tribute to the dedication of those that serve our country under the most extreme circumstances and the astonishing attributes of their K9 partners.

ISBN/ASIN: B01M0YI6SQ
Book Format(s): Kindle, paperback
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 175

Deliberate Deception by Joe Porrazzo

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

“Wow, I never saw that coming.” Just when I thought I was figuring things out, a plot twist hit me – not once, but over and over. Deliberate Deception is an apt title.

Joe Porrazzo knows how to draw the reader into the story and never let go until the last page. Even then, questions arise to pique one’s interest for the forthcoming third book in the Alex Porter Trilogy.

The author stirs politics, crime, greed, and love into the pot and delivers a good read. Good versus evil seems a clear concept until it becomes muddied. Porrazzo gives us an outstanding portrayal of one man’s reaction to morality, immorality, and amorality. Can the lines really blur, or is a clear-cut answer always the right one?

Can love flourish amid deception? Can the sins of the past be forgiven? Alex Porter wrestles with these questions as he races against the clock to stop an unknown killer from an unspecified crime.

The action in Deliberate Deception is non-stop, the dialogue is crisp, and the characters are realistic. It’s the kind of story that leaves the reader wondering what he would have done.

Review by Pat Avery (February 2019)


Author's Synopsis

***** BOOK CRITIC ACCLAIM *****

“Readers looking for a thriller that grabs hold and doesn't let go will find Deliberate Deception just the ticket for a superior and satisfying blend of psychological detail and suspense.” - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“…excellent story…fast paced, action packed…adrenaline pumping and heart-pounding…”

- The International Review of Books

“Politics, terrorism, and greed together create a story that is filled with unexpected twists and turns…a fast pace and engrossing plot. Once begun, it's nearly impossible to put down.”

- D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“The narrative voice is clean, making the story easy to read and follow. Excellent word choices and visual pros made for an amazing read like I was really there in the midst of the action.” - The International Review of Books

“Joe Porrazzo's attention to detail flushes out Alex's personality, motivations, and conundrums to create not just compelling action scenes, but a character who is completely realistic and likeable.” - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Description:

Following the award-winning mystery thriller, SOLEMNLY SWEAR...Alex Porter is back…and the stakes just got higher!

Things are heating up in Tucson, Arizona. A greedy corporation rigs a multi-million dollar raffle creating false hopes for ticket buyers. They're not winning, they’re dying! What comes next will shock the world!

DELIBERATE DECEPTION heralds the return of Alex Porter; retired United States Air Force OSI agent turned private investigator, in another heart-pounding Joe Porrazzo suspense thriller.

Seven months after leaving New England, Alex, still grieving the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter, gets a call from his friend Joe Prater. Prater’s old army buddy has gone missing from his home in Tucson, and Joe wants Alex to check it out.

HEADLINE NEWS: Tragedy in Tucson

While investigating, Alex gets too close to the truth and finds himself caught in the deadly crosshairs. He finds himself teamed with the very person hired to kill him as they race against the clock to prevent a mysterious group from striking in Tucson and shocking the world.

Don’t miss the nonstop action. The deception is deliberate. The results are deadly.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-13: 978-0578422626 ASIN: 057842262X (Kindle ebook ASIN: B07KPV4L46)
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 408

Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln's Bodyguard by Tj Turner

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

T.J. Turner’s Land of Wolves is in some ways alternative history. In his first book of this series, Lincoln’s Bodyguard, Abraham Lincoln does not die at the hands of an assassin at Ford’s Theater. Instead, his half-Indian bodyguard, Joseph Foster, manages to kill John Wilkes Booth. Then Joseph and Lincoln team up to stop a Consortium of industrial magnates who are trying to seize control of the U.S. government to benefit their own financial goals. Land of Wolves jumps forward in time to the 1870s, only to find that the forces of the evil Consortium still pursue Joseph and the “Old Man,” Lincoln. Now their evil designs also threaten to steal the Great Plains from the Native American tribes who live there.

The storyline of the book is in every sense a “thriller.” Without too much emphasis on characterization or settings, the author relies on non-stop action—bloodshed, violence, torture, rape, brutality, and revenge dominate the pages. One life-threatening event follows another until the reader must surely believe all is lost. Plot twists change the outcomes with dizzying frequency. The same lost and stolen knife keeps cropping up whenever the hero needs it. A child faces serial kidnappings and emerges bravely from each one, scarred but unbowed. The faithful woman saves the day—again and again. This is the stuff movies are made of. 

Review by Carolyn Schriber (Aug 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Land of Wolves finds Joseph Foster with Molly as they settle into a new-found life in the hills of Tennessee. But Abraham Lincoln’s former bodyguard, the man who saved the President’s life, cannot escape the Consortium as they come roaring back, killing his mother, abducting his daughter—all to coerce his Congressional testimony on their behalf.

Instead, Joseph and Molly strike the Consortium in their own safe haven of New York City. In a Bonnie and Clyde-like twist, they rob from the Consortium to draw out their leader—General Dorsey. But the hidden plan reveals more than they counted on, exposing the true intention to steal the Black Hills and the gold underneath from the Lakota Sioux. Land of Wolves traverses the American landscape, where only a full reconciliation with Joseph’s native heritage and a cast of characters ripped from history—including Lincoln—can bring true peace and stop General Dorsey and the evil Industrial Consortium.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-202-4
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 336