Monthly Archives: August 2015

Review: FIREBREAK by Tricia Fields

Weather in Texas often is one of two extremes— flood or fire. It has been a couple years since the floods came to Southwest Texas. Now it has been 9 months since rain fell in the desert area and now wildfire is the threat to Artemis and the surrounding area. The threat comes from the north and south with Artemis trapped in the middle. Evacuations are ordered for parts of Arroyo County, but not everyone will agree to leave. This area of southwest Texas where folks are used to hard times, desert conditions, and relying on themselves and their ingenuity to survive, makes for a people to don’t turn away from a fight.

In the aftermath of the fires that spare the home of Artemis Police Chief Josie Gray, a body is found in the remains of the badly damaged home of Billy and Brenda Nix. If his wife and manager, Brenda, is to be believed Billy is about to make it big with a Nashville music contract. Billy is old school country and sings while playing guitar. Both he and his wife evacuated, according to some of the locals, but neither one is answering their cell phone. They may be up in Austin lining up future events or somewhere else. In the chaos of the evacuation they were seen at least once, but nobody really knows where they are or why they would not be answering their cell phones.

The location of the Nixes, the identity of the body, and figuring out what happened should be Police Chief Josie Gray’s priority and focus. A focus that isn’t easy to maintain, as thanks to the events in Wrecked, her longtime boyfriend has packed up and left. Getting kidnapped by a drug cartel can kind of put a damper on the whole romance thing. Four months later and normalcy is a foreign concept for both her and Dillion.

Firebreak is the fourth in a series that began with the award winning The Territory. This latest mystery features once again the deep characters and desert beauty present in the earlier books as well as the complicated cases Police Chief Josie Gray and her team must solve. This is a series best read in order as there are references to earlier events in each novel. The books are very good and so is Firebreak. If this series is new to you, it will be another year before Tricia Fields has another so get to work as you have some very good books to read.

Tricia Fields
Minotaur Books (A Thomas Dunne Book)
March 2015
ISBN# 978-1-250-05505-7
Hardback (available in e-book)
288 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015

Review: “Death’s Brother: A Top Suspense Story” by Bill Crider

Professor Jon Cline always tried to help his students. Such was the case with Dana Randall. He taught Romantic Poetry at the University and Dana was in one of his classes. He soon learned as he tutored her outside of class that she was bored and soon to be wealthy once her inheritance come him. As things progressed she started providing the very lonely and single Professor Cline her own brand of personal tutoring in her bedroom.

The middle aged Cline can’t believe the 20 something Dana wants to be with him. Sure, over the years, he has heard all sorts of stories of nubile woman who got involved with their professors. He never believed it would happen to him and she can’t get enough of his help.

Far different than his Sheriff Rhodes series this dark and twisted short story is a good one.  Populated with characters that may annoy some readers and an overarching sense of doom and futility, this is a far different type of read that his other series work. It also contains quite a few twists all the way to the bitter end.

Death’s Brother: A Top Suspense Story
Bill Crider
Top Suspense Group
June 2011
ASIN: B0057P2EJ8
20 Pages (estimated)

Material was recently purchased using funds from my Amazon Associate account for my use in an objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013, 2015

THE TELL (A Mystery Flash Story)
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Review: “Scorched Noir: A Collection Of Southwestern Crime Tales” by Garnett Elliott

Scorched Noir: A Collection Of Southwestern Crime Tales features eight previously published tales by Yuma, Arizona native Garnett Elliott. That harsh desert landscape with limited opportunities is the setting for these tales. These short stories are set in Yuma, Arizona or towns like it contain a couple of consistent themes that become clear as one reads through the book.

It opens with “Trailer de Fuegeo.” Corrections Officers need somewhere to go to blow off some steam after work. They tend to go out to a certain spot in the nearby desert to drink, smoke, and trade stories. One guard stands out in the battle to keep the inmates in line. His name is Tench and he has done fifteen years of guard duty in a lot of bad places from Texas to Arizona. He has always done what needed to be done and tonight will be no exception.

“Somerton Sangre” features a man named Jesus Vega. Known to do some questionable things when necessary, Mrs. Sandoval wants him to find out who killed her brother. Her brother was killed and dismembered just after he illegally crossed the border. While the way he was killed would indicate drug runners, his sister is sure he was not into that.  She has the money to pay for Vega to look into things and find out who killed him. To do that Vega is going to have to cross into Mexico and try to find the people who transported her brother across.

Jesus Vega is also very much involved in the next story titled “Jesus Contra las Brujas Plasticas” or “Jesus Versus the Plastic Witches. “ While working for a witch lady, Dona Cruz, he is assigned the task of checking out a new and nearby competitor. He needs the money and is used to doing dirty deed for her. Not because of her supposed powers, but the fact that he needs the money she is willing to spend. He does not fear the alleged power of those who claim to see the future, cast spells, and the like. Maybe he should.

The landscape and everything on and in it cooks under the summer sun in Arizona. That certainly is true of those storage places scattered around the area. It was brutally hot when Motorcycle Officer Ray Satoshi and Robert Opp wheeled into a storage lot run by Joe Pender. They are looking for a guy who shot and killed a bouncer at the nearby gentleman’s club before getting away with forty three grand.

People are going out into the desert to commit suicide at a certain rock landmark .Why they are doing that and whether they can be stopped are just two of the issues Shari faces in “Bad Night at Burning Rock.”

In “Snowflake” he has been waiting for the stripper to show up for food at the IHOP when she got off work down the street. Dwayne knows by the way she dances just how class Lisa is. He also figures he can do something to help her career as he is a social media specialist.

“The Greatest Generation” are the targets of Vonda and her partner. They pose as home health care workers and steal everything they can to fund their travel and drugs. They figure it is their right because the seniors took everything with no though to the future. With their next score in sight it is time for Vonda and her partner to to clean up as fast as they can and do what needs to be done to claim their latest prize.

The three women, all with the first name of Debbie, work the ER at the local hospital. “The Darkest of the Debbies” works the job to do what has to be done to keep home together. Way easier said than done.

The eight short stories of Scorched Noir: A Collection Of Southwestern Crime Tales feature complicated reads of multifaceted characters often doing what has to be done to survive. Nothing is right or wrong when one is doing what has to be done to survive. Drugs and crime, like the sun and the desert, are always present in these tales of people coping with what they have and what they can do each day. Scorched Noir: A Collection Of Southwestern Crime Tales by Garnett Elliott may not make you feel better about yourself, but it might make you feel more appreciative of your working air conditioning as well as some of the life choices you had to make along the way.

Scorched Noir: A Collection Of Southwestern Crime Tales
Garnett Elliott
Beat To A Pulp Press
June 2015
E-Book (also available in paperback form)
90 Pages

 Material supplied by the publisher in exchange for my objective review.

 Kevin R. Tipple ©2015

Review: It Doesn’t Take A Genius by Kate Thornton

According to the author’s forward, the editor refused to include the short story It Doesn’t Take A Genius in the short story collection Inhuman Condition because of its “graphic subject matter.”  For those who read a lot of crime or non-cozy mystery stories  the so called “graphic subject matter” is really not that graphic at all and certainly not at all disturbing. Interestingly enough, the tale was first published in the short story mystery and crime anthology LAndmarked For Murder by Top Press in 2006.

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is like every other smart place in the world. The students and the faculty are really smart and tend to look down on the support staff that keeps things humming along. Especially a certain middle aged slightly overweight woman who works in payroll and accounting. The only time anyone pays attention to “Miss Dean” is when something is amiss.

That works out well for her during a lunch break from a computer training class. Two guys from another department are also in the class and they tend to stand out. Thanks to the fact they are oblivious of everyone around them and run their mouths it becomes clear that Brian Spain and Tony Brandt have a serious dark interest in the class instructor, Jennifer Pearson. She is in trouble if they really do what are planning and she has no idea of the threat. Miss Dean does, but would anyone believe her?

This is a very good tale that features an intriguing character. There is much that lurks below the surface with Miss Dean and those details gradually become clear in It Doesn’t Take A Genius.  While it easily could and should have appeared in the very good collection Inhuman Condition this short story is well worth it as a mystery stand alone.

It Doesn’t Take A Genius
Kate Thornton
March 2011
20 Pages

I recently picked this up to read and review using funds in my Amazon Associate account after the author mentioned it on Facebook. I realized I had never read it and wanted to rectify that situation. I am glad I did.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015

THE TELL (A Mystery Flash Story)
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