Book Review When The Musics Over

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

  51jRJoyyUpL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_When The Music’s Over by Peter Robinson is an intense mystery. It does not sugar coat and will not be construed as politically correct. The story is inspired by newspaper accounts of true-life incidents concerning abuse of women. It resonates today especially for people who can remember Germany when so many women were sexually harassed during the 2016 New Year’s Eve celebration by men of Arab or North African heritage, as well as the abuse of women by celebrity men. Tackling this problem within a gripping plot, Robinson will enlighten readers.  

In the beginning of the novel fans will learn that Banks is now a Detective Superintendent. The reason Banks received a promotion by Robinson, “I did some research and found out if I did not promote him to Superintendent he would have to retire soon. But with the promotion he can work until he is 65. This way I could lengthen his career. I know that the pecking order of police titles can get a bit complicated whether Constable, Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector, Superintendent, and so on.”

Now, a high ranking official, newly promoted Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his unit are assigned to investigate crimes of older males who target minor females. The perpetrators “groom” these girls by first providing attention and gifts, getting victims emotionally and psychologically under their spell, followed by the violence. Banks and company become a stalwart for justice as they attempt to find those guilty of such vicious acts.

The first crime has respected poet, Linda Palmer, coming forward with an allegation of sexual abuse against a former matinee idol celebrity. This cold case took place fifty years ago when Linda was a starry-eyed teenager, on a vacation with family and friends. The storyline deals with issues of sexual assault, the devastating effects on the victim, the willful ignorance of the high officials, and the difficulties of prosecuting, since such a long period of time has elapsed.

Linda Palmer has similar characteristics to Emily Winslow, who wrote the personal memoir, Jane Doe January, about her being raped. Both did not conform to the stereotypic view of a victim. Banks thinks how Linda is “no damaged witness…Might that make her story seem less credible to a judge or jury. Would people demand more wailing and gnashing of teeth?” But anyone who thinks this attitude can only exist in a novel should compare it to what Winslow noted, “I tried to understand and accept that the jury could only like me if I conformed to some very narrow range of emotion. I could not be angry. When on the stand I would have to show emotions of vulnerability and hurt; yet, hold back on other emotions. I wondered how do you let sadness show but keep anger in, and be vulnerable but keep my dignity.”

Robinson commented to blackfive.net, “I did not want Linda to be a typical victim whose life was ruined. She is not just a survivor, but also someone who achieved something despite what she went through. Although a fighter she is hermit-like, living alone in an isolated area.”

The second plot has Detective Inspector Annie Banks and Detective Constable Geraldine Masterson investigating the murder of a teenage girl found naked on a roadside. She was drugged, appeared thrown out of a van, and beaten to death. Robinson artfully writes about the attitude by some sections of society who believe that women are available to be used and abused, debased, traded and treated like commodities, many from the Pakistani culture.

He doesn’t shy away from provocative statements, showing how some are accused of racism if they point out that some Muslims do not have an “enlightened attitude towards women…they weren’t caught before because everyone - including us (the police) – turned a blind eye because we were scared of upsetting the Muslim community.”

These gripping stories show how young girls are neglected by society. Both crimes reflect current issues showing how some feel they can do anything and get away with it because of they see themselves in a position of power.

Robinson said, “I put these two stories together because they have the same theme. It is abuse of young women by men who are aided in different ways by other men. Officials do nothing because they are either in power and choose to look the other way or are afraid of being called a racist. It seems the immigration community is never investigated, nor are celebrities who get away with it if they have friends in high places. I hope readers are put in a quandary and think a bit: if someone commits a crime it should not matter their origin, power, or status. But unfortunately it does.”

As with all his books he has some scenes with music. Robinson wants people to understand, “I enjoy writing them into the plot, and I will not stop putting in the music scenes. Banks has been a music fan from the start. I will mix up the genres and have given him a broad taste. Basically what he listens to is music I am enjoying at the time I am writing a particular book, a bit of rock and roll, jazz, and classical.”

Readers will be wrapped up in this novel. Besides being a riveting mystery it deals with explosive issues. It is a well-written police procedural that will engage the reader.


Book Review The Shattered Tree

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd reunites nurse Bess Crawford with Captain Barkley, an old acquaintance from a previous book. As with all their books the riveting mystery is combined with facts surrounding World War I. It is almost as if the Great War has become a secondary character within the plots. Readers will enjoy learning and comparing what happened during the World War to the modern warfare of today.

In this story Bess does not have the support groups of the past: Her parents, her landlady, and for the most part Simon only make a cameo appearance. Not only must she work with different characters but she is also placed in a different environment, Paris France. Having to find a new support group she befriends a Nun, a fellow nurse in Rouen France, a Major recuperating in the same hospital, and the Captain, an American fighting with the Canadians who is in France searching for deserters. What makes their interaction enjoyable is that she uses these people for support while questioning their trustworthiness and motives.

The plot begins with Bess treating a wounded officer. He is not British, but is considered French until in a moment of anger shouts at her in German. Her superior, Matron, suggests that the soldier must be from Alsace-Lorraine, a province in the west where the tenuous border between France and Germany has continually shifted through history, and now is in German hands. Bess is unsure of his loyalties and wonders if he could be a spy. Unable to do anything because he has been sent back to Paris she leaves her suspicions simmer. That is until she is wounded by a sniper and finds herself recuperating in Paris. It is here she decides to investigate and uncover the truth about his loyalties.

The Todds commented to blackfive.net, “Nurses at the front were in danger because snipers see a target and just shoot. For years after World War I it was bad luck to light three cigarettes off the same match. If someone was in the trenches, the Germans would watch the first one flare, the second one flare, and then would be ready to shoot when the third one flared.”

Always interesting is how the authors incorporate the time period into their story. People today forget how the civilian populations during World War I became a part of the war effort including having to make sacrifices. They had to deal with shortages of eggs, flour, butter, and gas. These rations also affected the way coffee was made, so many chose wine instead. A quote from the book hammers the point home, “Instead of a clear-cut victory, I thought we were all going to be starved into submission.”

What is always captivating is for readers to compare and contrast the war attitudes then and today. Although it’s the 100th anniversary of World War I the outlook of those fighting have not changed, finding camaraderie with their fellow soldiers. A powerful quote, “They had struggled to rescue the wounded who had fallen out of reach in No Man’s Land…And still they wanted to go back. They could not betray the men who were still out there, dying in their place. It wasn’t courage or heroism, it was a strong sense of duty to men they were closer to than brothers or parents or wives. A comradeship of shared fear and blood and determination.” The Todds wrote this quote to explain, “We wanted to point out what they were going through. They could understand each other because of the common ground.”

511eFvXfDZL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Shattered Tree is a very plot driven story. The characters enhanced the story but were more like tools for getting across the horrific nature of war. Through the gripping mystery readers will understand how loyalties were questioned, and the hardships faced by those having to endure World War I.


Review Crowned and Dangerous

The following review/Q and A is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen opens with Lady Georgiana Rannoch and the Honorable Darcy O’ Mara trying to elope in Scotland even though she is thirty-fifth in line for the British crown and he is Catholic. En route he learns that his father is accused of killing a wealthy American who bought the O’Mara estate. To save Georgie from scandal, Darcy ends his engagement to her and returns home to County Kildare, Ireland. Because Georgie and Darcy do have access to the crime scene readers are able to take a believable journey with them as they try to figure out “who done it.”

Bowen noted to blackfive.net, “I thought of writing a series with the most unlikely heroine, a royal who was penniless. I wanted the recurring theme to be how would she support herself and survive? Remember, servants had done everything for them. Since only the sons, mostly the first-born, received the inheritance what happened to girls like my main character Georgie. She was expected to marry someone of the same class so marriage became a business transaction. They all are trying to live the life they knew, but it is getting more difficult. Everything fell apart after World War II because no one could afford the up keep and the taxes.”

Intertwined within the mystery are fascinating historical facts about the era. Bowen wanted to show readers how, “In England if you want to marry you have to wait three weeks and must announce it in the Church. Since Greta Green in Scotland is on the border many couples went there to marry. There was also the problem of Georgie being in line for the British Crown and Darcy is Catholic. Since the 1700s if someone was in the line of succession they cannot marry a Catholic. This law existed until it was repealed last year.”

She also tried to show how, “People were more proper back then and did not cuss like today. Using the word ‘Golly’ was a very normal girlish way of expression, much like the ‘valley girl’ vocabulary of today. Back then women could not swear. ‘Golly’ was a way to get around saying the word G-d. It was an expression used instead of ‘Oh My G-d.’”

Anyone wanting a fun story with well-developed characters should read this novel. Geogrie is a delightful character who is intelligent, determined, and admirable although a bit clumsy. With this series no one has to read the previous books to understand what went on within the story. 51BaG1poJLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Clinton Cash Now in A Graphic Novel

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superwoman. Actually, it’s super corrupt Hillary Clinton and her responses are like the Joker. Taking an already powerful non-fiction book, this graphic novel, Clinton Cash, allows for the facts to be visually expressed. The authors understood that not everyone has the time to plow through a factually based book, so they put forth their evidence in a humorous short, snappy, and clear way to expose the vastness of the evil and corrupt global Clinton Machine.

Those that worked on this graphic novel have an impressive resume. Chuck Dixon is best known for working on the Batman comics in the 1990s as well as The Punisher and the Simpsons. Brett R. Smith is a storyboard and commercial artist. He has worked with Marvel and DC Entertainment, Hasbro, and the Cartoon Network to name a few that have included The Avengers, Superman, GI Joe, and Wolverine. It is obvious the writers, illustrators, and artists did a phenomenal job.

People should not forget how the Clintons amassed their vast financial empire. This graphic novel shows the connection between their personal fortune, friends, the Clinton Foundation, and foreign nations. Payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Bill Clinton through high speaking fees by foreign entities ultimately received favors from Hillary Clinton’s State Department in return.

Schweizer believes the Clintons have been brazenly dishonest with the American people, “They are so convinced of their own moral purity and superiority the money they make is wrapped in the cloak of philanthropy and camouflaged through charity. This is a constant pattern that is seen over and over again, the systemic approach, which should be damning. When they established the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, when Bill Clinton hit the lecture circuit while his wife was Secretary of State, there was an avenue for oligarchs in Russia, Nigeria, and Latin America to have influence. I think the evidence is pretty clear they gave a lot of money, and that favorable actions were taken by Hillary Clinton for their benefit.”

Brett R. Smith stated to blackfive.net, “I am outraged because Hillary Clinton is no doubt the most corrupt political candidate of our lifetime. I believe satire is the most dangerous kind of humor that can be engaged in. We used the left’s game and turned it right back on them. The left should not own pop culture. I think we have connected with younger readers since we are in the top 100 with teens. Those of us who grew up reading comics as well as many in their twenties will be able to see the facts in this form. Our goal was to show the other side of Hillary Clinton that mainstream media never speaks of.”

To have a common thread, probably the only part that is fictional, the authors decided to use a Haitian family tell their story throughout, and how the Clinton Foundation affected them. The truth as portrayed by this family is that many were left out to dry by the graft and corruption of the Clintons and their friends..

One of Brett’s favorites is the politician standing in front of the podium wearing a Uranium 1 hat with the American flag in the background and the stars replaced by a hash tag. But other highlights include the Clintons playing golf with Khamenei and company, Hillary and Bill taking a camel ride, or in a Rainforest getting rich. But the page entitled “the Clinton Blur” is possibly one of the best, a parody that shows Bill Clinton as the “Flash,” reminiscent of the old time comic book. The panels are also informative. For example, the texts saying “Isn’t it troubling that Bill was being paid by a private corporation that was also benefitting from state department actions…Isn’t it troubling that this conflict of interest was not disclosed.”

Because Brett wanted to appeal to the curiosity seeker he noted there are hidden meanings in the background of the artwork. For example, in the Re-set chapter, Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing poker with Hillary Clinton. The gold bracelet he uses for a bet is seen again a few panels down now being worn by Hillary.

Schweizer wants to warn Americans that a precedent has been set, “A way for politicians to make a lot of money while in office. If you are heading an agency or in Congress and I give you $10,000 that would be considered a bribe, but if I hire your spouse to speak for $10,000 that is not a bribe? This is a ridiculous difference. Any Cabinet officer in the US government or someone serving in Congress should not be allowed to have a private foundation that takes foreign money, nor a family member who collects speaking fees.”

The graphic novel inspired by the New York Times bestseller of the same name is stunningly illustrated, hilarious, fresh, interesting, and authentic. It brings to life Bill and Hillary Clinton’s fleecing of the US and putting its national security at risk. CLINCASH_001_037 Flash



Book Review-INSIDIOUS BY Catherine Coulter

INSIDIOUS by Catherine Coulter brings back FBI agents Savich and Sherlock, as well as introducing Special Agent Cam Wittier and Detective Daniel Montoya. As with most of her books there are two plot lines that keep readers engaged. What makes the FBI series special is the blending of humor within the riveting storylines.

In INSIDIOUS, the humor starts even before page one. In the Acknowledgments section she thanks Ski Ludwikowski (a longtime reader) for “recommending Sherlock’s birthday present from Savich, a new ankle piece, the 9 mm Glock 43. Sherlock is really enjoying it, fast-drawing between floors on the elevator.”

Coulter said to blackfive.net, “Ski can always be counted on to tell me the pros and cons of using certain weapons in certain situations. Ski told me Sherlock’s ankle piece, a Lady Colt, wasn’t as light and small and accurate as the Glock. And, as you’ll see, she really likes it. And who would not like such a birthday present? Actually I got a Glock 17 for my birthday, but not from Ski, but from my other half.”

In INSIDIOUS, Savich and Sherlock must discover who is trying to murder Venus Rasmussen, a powerful, wealthy Washington icon who heads up an international conglomerate, Rasmussen Industries. Arsenic poisoning followed by a direct assassination attempt at her home. Is it one of her family? Perhaps her prodigal grandson, returned after ten years?

Readers will like the Venus character. She’s eighty-six and a role model, proving that age simply isn’t important. Coulter said, “In promotion, I didn’t let out her age, because there is indeed age discrimination, and a tendency to regard older people as irrelevant. I knew that once readers met her, age would become irrelevant.”

The other plot has Savich sending Special Agent Cam Wittier to Los Angeles to head the investigation for the serial killer known as the Starlet Slasher and work with a local detective, Daniel Montoya. They are trying to find who is responsible for the horrendous murders of actresses. As with most of Coulter’s “new” characters, readers will want Cam to return. Coulter said, “Fear not. In the next FBI thriller, Enigma, she will be front and center."

Both storylines are exciting and gripping, making it difficult to prefer one mystery over the other. This is another winner by the New York Times bestselling author. Readers should be prepared to laugh, to care about these characters, as they try to solve the two mysteries.

Coulter really enjoys hearing from her readers: Every morning, she checks in at her reader page at Facebook.com/catherinecoulterbooks or she can be emailed at ReadMoi@gmail.com 51zH7iCNaJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review-Midnight In Berlin by James MacManus

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Midnight In Berlin by James MacManus is a fictional story that takes readers through the harrowing months that ultimately led up to WWII. It is a historical novel with emphasis on the history. With a degree in American history it is evident that the author used his knowledge and research to make a captivating plot.

MacManus noted to blackfive.net, “I did not set out to write a book that would educate or teach moral lessons. Yet, there are lessons to be drawn from what happened in the 1930s, with this period of appeasement fascinating. It is relevant today because it shows how the establishment wanted to remain in power by pushing their misguided agenda while attempting to silence those who disagreed. There was also the West turning a blind eye to the Germans brutalizing the Jews. I hope I got this point across with a quote from the book, ‘For a Jew in Germany there was no future worth waiting for. The future has been cancelled.’ And today in Europe there is renewed Anti-Semitism.”

While the plot does have elements of romance it concentrates on 1939 Berlin and what was going on behind the scenes with regard to diplomacy. This book shows within an intense story how the appeasers caved in to the Nazis. They were weak and naive, choosing to put their blinders on and to get in bed with Hitler and his goons. Real life characters, notably British Prime Minister Sir Neville Chamberlain and the British ambassador to Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson, never had the courage and boldness later exhibited by Chamberlain’s successor Winston Churchill to stop Hitler’s war machine. The one who recognized the realistic situation was the novel’s main character, Colonel Noel Macrae, based on real life Colonel Mason-Macfarlane who was the British military attaché in Berlin during the critical years 1938 and 1939. Several other historical figures from this period in time are in the novel: Kitty Schmidt owner of the Nazi bordello Kitty, Gestapo Reinhard Heydrich, and journalist William Shirer.

The story appears to be built around the ultimate decision of Macrae, to assassinate Hitler. MacManus commented, “As with the real-life Colonel, Macrae saw what was happening, that appeasement was not working which would make war inevitable. I hope I portrayed him as a tortured man. He tried to convince his own government that Hitler wanted to expand throughout Europe. He chose to stand up and do something to save humanity.”

These figures blend well with the fictional characters. The story showed the sacrifices of those who hoped to stop the war, by sounding the alarm of an approaching conflict. Macrae finds himself trapped between the blind policies of his government and the dark world of betrayal and deception in Berlin both professionally and personally. With his own marriage to Primrose imploding, it becomes apparent their relationship has chilled to the point both look for love elsewhere. The Gestapo, aware of Macrae’s hostility, seeks to compromise him in their infamous brothel. There, Macrae meets and falls in love with Sara, a Jewish woman blackmailed into becoming a Nazi courtesan. She has prostituted herself to keep her jailed twin brother from execution. Through the storyline of Macrae trying to rescue Sara readers will understand the plight of German Jews and the different ways they tried to escape before Hitler closed the border.

Sara was based on a friend of MacManus. “I gave Sara the same last name of my friend. She had told me of her family’s experience in Nazi Germany and how they escaped. The Nazis had the common practice of taking a family member, putting them in a camp, and then using that as blackmail to make the other family members behave. I hope readers realize the moral dilemma: do they save themselves at the expense of their family or sacrifice themselves for their family. Sara was trapped, caged, and desperate.”

MacManus blends politics, murder, corruption, courage, and sacrifice into this storyline. Readers become flies on the wall, spectators to the events leading the world to the brink of war. 513+luxLTjL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review-Secrets Of Nanreath Hall

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Secrets Of Nanreath is the debut historical novel by Alix Rickloff. This intriguing mystery involves family secrets revolving around the triumphant and tragic lives of a mother and daughter as they search for their identities. Within the backdrop of both World Wars readers will understand the time period and how the wars affected the British population and the class system.

This mother/daughter story is told in alternating chapters. Rickloff shows how one generation’s actions and decisions will affect the other. The mother Katherine, who lives during World War I, leaves her family behind while her daughter Anna, during the Second World War, attempts to return to the family. Lady Katherine Trenowyth grows up with all of the privileges of being the daughter of an Earl. She meets an artist’s assistant, Simon Halliday, who encourages her to follow her dreams of becoming an artist and living with him, the man she loves. With his support she runs away from all she knows. But everything begins to fall apart, and Katherine finds herself destitute and alone. Her daughter Anna, only six, when Katherine dies, is assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home, Nanreath Hall. As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she must decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth, and if the family she’s discovered is one she can be a part of.

Rickloff was inspired to write this story by watching the Downtown Abby TV series. “I was looking at the three children that included the fatherless heir who had an over protective mother and the daughter of a scandalous elopement. They intrigued me, especially since they would come of age during the World War. As I started to do the research it became apparent those in Britain would do whatever they could to help the war effort. There was no disconnect between the military and the civilian population.”

Readers will be reminded of the horrors of each World War. Two quotes hammer the point home. Simon on leave from fighting in WWI was described, “I felt his tremors quick and sharp, his breathing labored and rasping hot against my shoulder. Panicked like a wild thing caught and frozen by the hunter’s lamp.” Or Anna’s description of those who fought in WWII, “The men come in caked head to foot in filth. Some are terrified or weeping for their mothers. Others are deathly quiet.” The author reflects not only about the battle worn soldier, but the English civilian population who had to endure as part of their daily routine the German blitz of bombs.

Rickloff noted to blackfive.net, “The everyday German bombings became a normal fragment of life. The population just adjusted. In my research I saw pictures of stores half blown up and said ‘still open.’ I find this fascinating.”

Through Katherine’s bucking of societal norms readers get a glimpse of the difference between the classes. This pampered Earl’s daughter wants to follow her own choices, choosing a daring and uncertain future of becoming an artist, and to marry someone of her choice.

The symbolism of the dual portraits of her shows both of her sides. In the one commissioned by her family she is Lady Katherine, appearing to have turned away from the confining expectations, while the one painted by her lover Simon, shows her wild and independent side.

Katherine’s feelings are expressed in this quote, “I didn’t want to be Lady Katherine, whose fear held her captive. I wanted to be plain Kitty Trenowyth with the courage to fly.” When asked, Rickloff commented, “I do not think of her as rebellious. She did not start out thinking, ‘I am going to turn my life inside out.’ Yet, she wanted to be her own person, not stuffed into a box by circumstance or birth. She wanted to find her own path and did not want to be confined to what everyone expected of her.”

Rickloff gave readers a heads up about her next book, “In essence, it’s sort of a buddy road-trip book set against the backdrop of the WWII British home front. I had a blast writing both Lucy, a socialite, and her twelve year old delinquent sidekick in crime, Bill.”

Turning to writing historical novels, Rickloff allows her characters to face events in the shadow of the World Wars. Secrets Of Nanreath is an enthralling mystery involving family, lies, forgiveness, and loyalty. There is also the added bonus of learning a little about the time periods where readers are able to compare and contrast the events surrounding each World War.


Book Review-Among The Wicked by Linda Castillo

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Among The Wicked by Linda Castillo is the latest in a series of books with a unique premise. It is no wonder this has made the New York Times Bestseller list with glimpses into the Amish life, well-developed characters, and a gripping plot.

Castillo noted to blackfive.net, “My two favorite books are Sworn To Silence, the first book in the series, where Kate Burkholder is born, created, and the setting of Painter’s Mill was conceived. In Among The Wicked, the recent book in the series, I finally wrote what I wanted to do for a long time, to put Kate back in the Amish life. Kate has to go back to this culture where she has many mixed feelings. Both books had winter settings that adds atmosphere. I wanted to write a series where the protagonist is immersed and torn between two cultures that many times clash. I also include some of their belief system. This includes being a pacifist, not behaving in violence, believing in forgiveness, and not wanting to be worldly. They have a strong sense of family and community. They are connected in ways that mainstream American society is not. I write about the unwritten rules of not having a phone in their house, but being able to use a pay phone at the end of their block, or not driving a vehicle, but if they must go a long distance being able to hire a driver. The contrast of old versus new is profound.”

In this book her main character, Police Chief Kate Burkholder, goes undercover as an Amish woman, essentially heading back to her roots. She is forced to confront her past life in a community that isolates itself, and within an unfamiliar environment, upstate New York. Castillo brilliantly portrays Kate’s struggles with her own personal conflicts between her Amish upbringing and her current English life. Called upon by law enforcement in rural New York, because of her Amish roots, she is asked to infiltrate a reclusive Amish settlement to find answers behind a girl’s death. This unorthodox assignment with limited communication puts her in constant danger as she tries to find answers.

Castillo considerers her police contacts “valuable. I went to dinner with a police chief whose territory included Amish country. I’m a graduate of two citizen police academies where I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful officers and learn about what they do in a weekly class. I did ride-alongs in a large metropolitan city with both male and female officers. I participated in a shoot/no shoot scenario. I was given a police issue plugged 45 revolver. I entered this ladies restroom, and saw a man on top of a woman. He clearly had something black in his hand. I fired my weapon and shot him. He had this big grin on his face and held up his police badge. I got razzed for the rest of the course and they never let me live it down. The citizen police academies were an interesting experience and incredibly educational, and allowed me to get in the head of a police officer.”

Readers will feel a deep connection with Kate. Castillo is one of those special writers that draws people into her characters, rooting for the protagonists and seeing pure evil in the antagonists. Kate is compassionate, feisty, intelligent, tough, and devoted to finding justice. With each book the author peels off layers of Kate’s backstory, allowing people to see her flaws and the challenges from her past. She is a kindred spirit with her lover, BCI Detective Tom Tomasetti. Both sought vigilante justice, had secrets, and were not in a good place when the series began. But with this book readers can see how they have bonded with the same personalities and belief systems, as well as hoping for a happy future.

Powerful quotes reflect the real world of the police that are represented in Kate’s attitude. “That when I sink my teeth into a case, I can’t let it go, sometimes to my own detriment… Because I am a cop. Because I’m the best person for the job. Because I am good at what I do. Because she doesn’t have anyone else to speak for her.” And, “Being a good cop, being careful and following the rules isn’t always enough. Cops will get hurt. Sometimes they die. Welcome to law enforcement.”

The author wanted to make sure Kate is comfortable in her role as a female police chief. She commented, “The one place she fits in is that she is a cop through and through. When I was at the police academies it really gave me a new perspective on the dangerous and difficult work police officers face every day and the ability to write these police procedural scenes.”

This series is very realistic as Castillo blends glimpses of the Amish community within an intense and compelling storyline. Readers are drawn into the story and hooked from page one. This is a homerun, as Kate’s own personal conflicts blends into the crime she is trying to solve.


Book Review-Palindrome by E. Z. Rinsky

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Palindrome by E. Z. Rinsky blends a murder mystery with the metaphysical. It asks the question many people have pondered over the ages, is there an afterlife?

Rinsky noted to blackfive.net, “I wanted to write a story I would be interested in reading. I thought about what would be the big mystery I would want to find out about and the big question came to mind, does something happen after you die? Of course, murder can play into this question. I wondered if you did have a concrete answer, would you be able to function or would it destroy you?”

The plot begins with a brutal killing and private eye Frank Lamb being offered, by a family member, a small fortune to find a cassette tape made moments before the victim was killed. After taking the case he enlists the help of his friend, Courtney Lavagnino, a reclusive tracker. Their search leads them into finding more murders and they race against time to find the meaning behind the cassette.

The interaction between Frank and Courtney may remind people of other partner teams: Starsky and Hutch, Flowers and Davenport, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The author noted these characters “are roughly based on a good friend of mine. He was the jumping off point. There are some elements of me in Frank. The dynamic between these two is how my friend and I converse.”

Palindrome is the first atmospheric, noir mystery from debut author, E. Z. Rinsky. It is a tale of obsession, murder, and the afterlife.


Book Review-The Coaster by Erich Wurster

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

The Coaster by Erich Wurster is his introductory novel. He has a lot of commentary on today’s society and how it works including humorous discussions between husband and wife. Unlike some other characters these are not wacky and zany but the humor comes with the funny observations.

The plot has Bob Patterson married to an heiress who makes a hefty salary. But after her father dies of a heart attack his will puts Bob in charge. One company makes a pitch to have Bob’s firm become a partner. After refusing he is blackmailed, has his family threatened, and to protect those he loves becomes engaged in criminal activities.

Wurster commented to blackfive.net, “I write the kind of book I want to read, a story with a regular guy who gets into some kind of trouble. My protagonist does not react heroically all the time. The way he thinks about the world is the way I think. Who hasn’t coasted in life?”

Readers might think of a comical Breaking Bad intertwined with Secrets and Lies.


Book Review - "Tag You're Dead" by J.C. Lane

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

9781464206313_p0_v2_s192x300Tag You’re Dead By J.C. Lane, a pen name for Judy Clemens, is a riveting thriller.  She takes the playground game and evolves it to fit into today’s technology-oriented society.  Readers might relate to this as a darker version of the very popular new game, Pokeman Go

This is a game where the stakes could not be any higher, considering the runners’ lives are at risk.  It will play into people’s worst fears since it seems very plausible how someone can be kidnapped and forced to run for their life by some mysterious person in the Internet age.  In this story there are three “runners” and three “its.”  Almost like a cat and mouse game where three are on the run as prey and three are the pursuers on the chase. 

When asked about the plot being open ended Lane commented to blackfive.net, “At this point it’s just a stand alone.  I wanted to write a book in the same mode as The Hunger Games with a life and death scenario.  My husband, a Physical Education teacher was telling me about the type of games his students play, including tag.  I thought how could that game happen in today’s technology world?”

The protagonists are likeable while the antagonists appear to be psychopaths of sort.  The “Its” are Brandy, obsessed with destroying a naturally beautiful girl; Robert, wanting to target his fellow teammate, a superstar of the high school basketball team; and Charles, a brainiac who wants a game with an intellectual equal.  They are vicious and rich people, unsatisfied with their own lives, who need something to feel better about themselves. 

On the other hand, the “runners” have a rich and satisfied life.  Laura, is a sweet, caring teenager who makes friends easily; Tyrese is an all star basketball player who has street smarts; Amanda is a geeky gamer extraordinaire.  With their lives on the line they use their skills to win the game, to reach home base first.  What makes the story interesting is how these three respond to the challenges placed upon them, each in their own way.

Chicago is the setting where the game takes place.  It becomes a secondary character of sorts.  Lane uses the cities landmarks to enhance the story.  The author noted, “I have always loved Chicago. I grew up in northern Indiana, so when our family went to “the city,” it was Chicago, where we visited. I also lived in Evanston for a year while my dad was getting his doctorate at Northwestern University, so I have good memories from that time. A few years ago my husband took me to Chicago to celebrate my birthday, and we stayed at The Palmer House, a National Historical Landmark hotel, went to a play, and attended a recording session of my favorite NPR show, ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.’ The trip was a reminder of how much I love the city, and when the idea for this story came to me, Chicago was automatically the place I wanted it to be set. The characters end up in so many of my favorite places, including the Adler Planetarium, Wrigley Field, and the Art Institute, just to name a few.”

As the story progresses the old cliché applies, money can’t buy you happiness.  This story definitely puts a new spin on the old playground game of tag.  It is the race against time, which will make the reader frantically turn the pages, wanting to find out what happens at the finish line.


Book Reivew - "The Field of Fight" by LTG (ret) Michael Flynn

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar.

9781250106223Two recent books have highlighted the global terrorist dangers. Daniel Silva in his novel The Black Widow underlines the threat of ISIS and how some have underestimated it. Although the book is fictional the story is all too real. Another book, The Field Of Fight, by Lt. General Michael Flynn delves into the world of ISIS.

The Black Widow, besides being an intoxicating thriller, is also a warning for Americans. While reading the book it appears that real life events mesh with fiction.  The undercurrent of reality is front and center as evidenced by the author himself who wrote in the forward, “I take no pride in my prescience.  I only wish that the murderous, millenarian terrorism of the Islamic State lived solely on the pages of this story.”

In his non-fiction book Flynn points out that President Obama will never utter the words Islamic Extremist or Radical Islam.  Flynn comments about the hypocrisy, “The President should clearly and unambiguously define the enemy that we face and the threat to our way if life.  It is radical Islam.  We did it while fighting the enemy of Communism and Nazism.  ISIS is a very determined enemy who wants to establish a global Caliphate.  This political correctness of not naming our enemy is dangerous for the country.  I am confident Americans can take the truth.”

Silva also shows the dangers of ISIS through a riveting plot. It begins with ISIS detonating a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris. Gabriel Allon, the Israeli Mossad Agent poised to become the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service, is asked by a desperate French government to eliminate the man responsible for the terrible attack. Gabriel and his team get to work and quickly learn that the man behind the attack is a terrorist mastermind who calls himself Saladin. With women all over the world, including the west, joining the ranks of ISIS, Gabriel exploits the terror group’s one weakness by inserting a recruit of his own to infiltrate Saladin’s operation.

Flynn also debunks Democrats and some Republican pundits who say ISIS is being defeated.  They point to the terrorist groups loss of land and that these recent attacks are acts of desperation.  He strongly disagrees with “those people because that is actually false.  We excised them from some village in Iraq like Fallujah, yet they are able to attack the international community in San Bernardino, Orlando, France, Germany, Bangladesh, and Turkey, all of these in recent months.  The reason for this is that the enemy has doubled in size and grown in a global geographic footprint in the last six or so years.”

The blame lies squarely in the hands of the Obama Administration, including Hillary Clinton.  In the book, Flynn gives high marks to President Bush while lambasting President Obama, “He (Bush) realized the war was going badly, that we were losing, and our entire strategy needed to change.  The mere fact that he recognized this and proceeded to make the difficult decisions he eventually made is a leadership characteristic our current president lacks.”

Directly commenting to blackfive.net, “There is no enemy that is unbeatable.  Even though President Bush was at the end of his administration he brought in the fresh leadership of General David Petraeus and Robert Gates.  We were able to reverse the strategy and come up with a new one to win.  Now we are at the end of President Obama’s term; yet, when 99% of President Obama’s advisors told him in to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq to stop the rise of radical terrorism he did not listen. He made a political decision rather than a decision for our national security.  This is a weakness in his leadership style.  His problem is that he refuses to recognize this strategy is not working and the enemy has grown in capacity.”

One of the problems is that the current President wants to be surrounded by yes men.  Flynn recounts in the book how he was fired in 2014 because he went before Congress and spoke of how to keep America safe.  When asked about this, he responded, “I was appointed by President Obama twice, as Assistant Director of National Intelligence and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.  I never met with the President once; imagine that.  Why not ask to speak with me about our differences of opinion and my suggestions?  To me, this is very disturbing.”

He suspects he was fired because “our agency was very brutally honest about our findings.  I am not, nor have I ever been the type of person that will state what the boss wants to hear.  I am always very blunt and say what I feel, including offering solutions.  I was fired partially due to my honesty about the enemy we are facing, radical Islam.  In complete contrast to the President who called ISIS the JV team, I told Congress they were dangerous and growing.  Intelligence is about truth to power.” 

Although he outlined in the book extensive solutions, he summarized it for blackfive.net, “In order to beat this enemy we need to discredit the ideology.  Muslims need to take a more public international stand.  To do it they will have to be helped, prompted, and pushed by the US, something we are not doing now.  We need to depend on Middle East allies like Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Finally, something that I have been criticized for is to get Russia involved.  They should assume responsibility and pressure Iran to stop their proxy wars. As I show in the book the ties between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda have been a well-established fact.”

Americans should take solace in knowing that Lt. General Flynn is one of Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisors.  Obviously, Mr. Trump is not surrounding himself with yes people, but those who would not sit quietly back if he believes a “President” Trump has the wrong strategy. The Flynn book is a warning of how the Obama Administration has not recognized this country is fighting a war, the field of flight. The same is true for the Silva novel, which is not just a fictional thriller, but a believable scenario of events happening today. Both books are incredible reads with brilliant themes.


Book Review - "Little Girl Gone" by Gerry Schmitt

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9780425281765_p0_v2_s192x300Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt is the first book in her new Afton Tangler series.  This mystery about a baby kidnapping is not a who-done-it since early on readers know who is the perpetrator.  This author is also known as “cozy mystery writer,” Laura Childs, but a warning: there is nothing cozy about this plot.   The mystery comes in as people try to figure out along with the protagonists how they are going to solve the case, given the clues the author provides.

The reason for her pen name of Childs is that “I owned an advertising agency at the time I started writing.  I was fairly well known in the Twin Cities.  I decided not to co-mingle my two careers.  Of course I was found out.  Advertising did help me write because I had to have creativity on demand.  When I start to write I never have a tight outline.  I can see a stage play happening as things just come into my mind.”

From the beginning the story is very ominous.  In a mall a mother meets a woman, Marjorie, who sells re-born dolls, which is a true creepy profession.  This antagonist is spooky in herself with a very disturbing personality.  She has her son follow the mother home and that night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, the baby is abducted from her house after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

Schmitt noted to blackfive.net, “I was researching something else and ran into this topic.  Women take a doll, strip out the hair and eyeballs, completely breaking them down, put in a motor to have a heart beat, paint them, and then put in human hair.  They are adopted for lots of money.  I actually went into a chat room where this woman was talking about not bonding with the one she had.  How weird is that?  I wanted to make sure the antagonist who made these dolls was terrifying, cunning, evil, and bizarre.”

The main character, Afton, is a family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D. It is her job to be the go-between for the police and the victims of terrible crimes. Afton struggles to prove herself to the police force, juggle work and family life, as well as maintain her physical and mental strength. Because she is intuitive, smart, and desires to become a detective she wiggles her way into the investigation, working closely with the FBI and Detective Max Montgomery.  Able to connect the dots and find clues she becomes a valuable asset and more like a partner to law enforcement as they try to stay ahead of the criminals and find them before they kidnap and murder again.

Will Afton ever realize her dream of becoming a detective? Schmitt gave a heads up, “In my next book, Shadow Girls, she is still a ‘wannabe’ cop.  She pushes her way into the investigation.  In real life, crime liaisons get very involved with both the victim and the police.  I really don’t know yet what her profession will be.  Maybe she will become a cop or maybe she and Max will spin off to a private detective agency.  I really don’t know yet.  What I do know is there will not be a romantic relationship between Afton and Max, just a working relationship.”

This novel is very plot driven.  Readers will be at the edge of their seats as the spooky criminals take center stage.  Anyone wanting a riveting story that has elements of realism should read this book.


Book Review - "Crisis of Character" by Gary J. Byrne

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9781455568871_p0_v2_s192x300Crisis Of Character is the perfect name for a book about Hillary Clinton.  Written by former Presidential Secret Service Officer Gary Byrne, he recounts how he was up close and personal with the then First Lady.  Anyone reading this book can relate his issues with the Clintons to show how she conducted herself while Secretary Of State. 

In the book Byrne describes her as “distant, cold, dishonest, and a habitual liar.” He commented, “Americans need to know that Mrs. Clinton is not a leader.  She displays a holier than thou attitude, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’  When I heard her say Bill Clinton would work with her on the economy my first thoughts, ‘what steps will she take to protect young women working at the White House from him?’  Her pattern is deflection, deception, and lies.”

A word Mr. Byrne forgot to mention regarding Hillary was incompetent.  Take for example the reset button given to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009.  Lavrov noted the translation said, “overcharge,” not reset. Also, the word was typed in Latin script, not in Cyrillic.  So wrong word.  Wrong alphabet.  It later came out that she and company had sidestepped traditional protocol by not asking State’s team of translators to help.

Interestingly everything he mentioned about her in the book can be applied to the email scandal.  He talked about the Clintons having the attitude they were above the law.  Just refer to the meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the runway in Arizona.  Then a few days later FBI Director James Comey said about the findings, “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”

Byrne spoke of how Hillary liked to deflect blame, pleading not knowing.  Comey pointed out in his news conference how “None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”

Throughout the interview Byrne mentioned how Hillary lies and deceives.  Remember in her March 15th news conference she claimed, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material." Yet, Comey reported that the FBI identified 113 emails that passed through her server, containing materials that were classified at the time sent, including some that were Top Secret.

Finally, Byrne noted to blackfive.net, “she is arrogant, has disdain, and a desire to push her agenda regardless of the damages.  She does not care about any criticism.”  This is obvious in Comey’s conclusion, “There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information… There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”

As a side note, Byrne noted, “Her attitude was so bad it got to a point that Secret Service Agents assigned to her detail would think of it as a punishment.  Part of our job hazard was having to deal with her anger management issues.”

Crisis Of Character offers insight into the personality of Hillary Clinton.  It confirms what people have seen regarding how she has conducted her professional life.  It becomes obvious that her temperament of ignorance, hypocrisy, and the poor choices she has made are reasons why she should never be elected President.


Book Review - "Ice Station Nautilus" by Rick Campbell

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9781250072153_p0_v1_s192x300Ice Station Nautilus by Rick Campbell is a fast paced military thriller involving a cat and mouse game between Russian and American submarines.  Readers will likely make the inevitable comparison with Tom Clancy’s novel, The Hunt For Red October, but fear not, this story holds its own.

The plot revolves around a collision between the newest American and Russian submarines, the USS North Dakota and K-535 Yury Dolgoruky. The Russian sub is being deployed on its first patrol while America's newest fast attack submarine, North Dakota, is assigned to trail it and collect intelligence. Because of their close proximity the subs collide, stranding both underneath the polar ice cap. The Americans immediately set up a rescue mission, sending a new submarine and a SEAL team to establish an ice camp, Ice Station Nautilus. The Russians also send men and material, ostensibly to rescue their own men, but a rogue General orders a Russian Special Forces team to take over the American base camp and the American sub, leaving no survivors or traces of their actions.

Campbell balances well the military jargon and technology. Since the author is a retired Navy Commander, having served for twenty years on four nuclear powered submarines, the descriptions and technology are very believable without being overly detailed. Readers will get an up close and personal view of what it is like to be trapped on a submarine.

If readers were to do a fact check would they see the authenticity in the story? Campbell told blackfive.net, “Yes.  Submarines in this area cannot see each other.  They make educated guesses about range, course, and speed.  They will never get intentionally close on purpose.  I thought of the different parameters that can make something go wrong.  My editor once told me ‘true life does not have to make sense, but fiction does.’  I thought how could two subs collide?  Knowing it had to be accidental I put in the book that if one changes speed or direction a collision could occur. Additionally, I had to consider how the American sub would get trapped under the ice. Especially since submarines under the ice constantly track the depth of the ice they’re under, documenting the location of ice thin enough to break through, and also looking for leads and polynas, which are small open spaces between the ice floes.”

Furthermore, he stated, “I did my due diligence with the research.  In 2009 I had an opportunity to go to an ice camp so in writing the story I knew what it looked like and how it operated. I also flew out to San Diego to view all the rescue equipment and was able to speak with a rescue crew.” 

But even more interesting is how Campbell shows the political struggles between Russia and the US. Both sides realize that whoever reaches the sunken subs first will be able to board the other country’s submarine and get their latest weapon and tactical systems technology. The USS North Dakota is the first third flight Virginia class submarine, with lots of new technology, while the Russian sub, Yuriy Dolgorukiy, is their latest ballistic missile submarine.

Through his main character, National Security Advisor Christine O’Connor, the author is able to give readers a world’s eye view of the conflict.  She is a female version of the famous character Jack Ryan.  Although not a special forces operator nor “Superwoman,” she is intelligent, determined, gritty, not afraid to get her hands dirty, will engage in a battle, and has a get even type of mentality. 

This novel is a riveting read of how conflicts can arise.  It is fast-paced and suspenseful.  With four submarines, torpedo battles, undersea rescues, and SEAL shootouts with Spetznaz, readers will be on the edge of their seats.