Category Archives: Reviews

Review: SELENA by Greg Barth

When you get a book released by All Due Respect Books you know that in all likelihood you will get one heck of a graphic crime filled read. Selena, the first installment of a three book series penned by Greg Barth, definitely meets the All Due Respect Books standard.  Not only is Selena book one of a three book series, this book is made up of three novellas that tell the tale.

Waking up with a hangover is always a negative. It is made worse this afternoon for Selena as she is naked and in the bed of some guy. She has no idea what his name would be or even were she is at. Based on what she feels on her thigh the latest attempt at safe sex failed. Selena gets dressed and before she leaves she swipes his cash and his cigarette lighter. She also swipes a music CD.

That was her big time mistake. Swiping the cash and the cigarette lighter might have been ignored. Taking the CD was a huge mistake as what is on it is certainly not music. There are very dangerous people who will want it back. They will track down the 98 pound twenty something stripper and unleash their fury on her. Their mistake will be in letting her live.

Graphic in terms of actions, descriptions, violence, and every other way possible, Selena by Greg Barth is pulpy crime fiction from start to finish. One could easily dismiss it as a violence filled revenge tale, but it is far more complicated than that. On the surface massive amounts of drugs and alcohol are consumed, sex is had, and many people are killed or if lucky just maimed a bit. At a deeper level, Selena is on a journey of self-discovery and is being molded by people and events throughout the course of the book.

Carnage frequently rules the read as Selena rolls through often leaving bodies in her wake. In many cases, she is left with very few options and is in a kill or be killed situation. Selena by Greg Barth is certainly not for everyone. If you don’t like graphic violence, graphic language, etc., this is not the read for you. If you prefer cozy cats and books where the most action happens when the detective runs for a bus or chases somebody down the street before losing them, this read is not for you. However, if you ever watched Charles Bronson in the Death Wish movies and thought he did not blast enough bad guys, or that John Wick got to a good start though he talked too much to the bad guys and should have just killed everyone in sight, Selena by Greg Barth is definitely the read for you.

Review copy provided by Mike Monson of All Due Respect Books quite some time ago in exchange for my objective review. Mr. Monson has also supplied review copies of Diesel Therapy: Selena Book Two as well as the upcoming third book in the series, Suicide Lounge.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Review: THE LAWYER: SIX GUNS AT SUNDOWN by Eric Beetner

Author Eric Beetner continues the excellent The Lawyer series published by Beat to a Pulp with his entry Six Guns At Sundown.  The Lawyer, who used to go by the name of J. D. Miller, is on a quest to find those responsible for the brutal murders of his entire family. He now delivers justice by way of the gun and no longer relies on the courts to provide justice to those wronged.

He moves from place to place on his mare, Redemption, as he follows the trail of those responsible. He is currently pursuing a man known far and wide as “Big Jim Kimbrough.” The trail seems to be leading him to the decrypt town of Sundown where every building seems to lean a different way as if the entire town was created by drunks. At least he can find a place for his horse and roof for the night. The Westward Railroad might be coming there to build not only the rail line and their headquarters, but for now the place is clearly in a bad way.

So is the man dragged in on a rope behind a horse early the next morning. The Lawyer had planned to move on until the unfolding spectacle put his plans on hold. According to a Mr. Buchanan who dragged the unfortunate man by way of a rope tied to his horse he is to be lynched. The black man’s crime was that was that he ate a piece of cherry pie Buchanan’s wife made right out of the pan and using Buchanan’s own silverware. Not that dragging the hogtied man on the ground behind the horse the entire way from the ranch to town wasn’t enough Buchanan intends to hang him as fast as possible.

The lawyer hates bullies and won’t stand for them. He also believes in the rule of law and wants to know the full details of the situation. Not only is what the man did not a hanging offense in this period after the Civil War, Buchanan’s attitude seems to be illustrative of a town attitude that needs to change.  The hunt for Big Jim Kimbrough will have to wait as the lawyer is going to prevent a hanging in Six Guns At Sundown.

Picking up the mantle laid down by Wayne D. Dundee in The Lawyer: Stay Of Execution followed by The Lawyer: The Retributioners author Eric Beetner has crafted a very good western tale. The Lawyer: Six Guns At Sundown is a western tale of mystery and racism that resonates strongly with events of today. The read does not preach as the storyline moves over a couple days period in the Old West. The result is another excellent tale in the series and yet another very good read from Beat to a Pulp.

I picked this up by way of funds in my Amazon Associate account  to read and review back in late February.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

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Review: DOUBLE SWITCH by T. T. Monday

Double Switch by T. T. Monday is the second book in the series featuring San Jose Bull Dogs Relief Pitcher, Johnny Adcock. He is well aware that he is far closer to the end of his career than the start as he moonlights as a non-paid private investigator to his fellow players. He’s helped more than one player out of a jam and keeps details to himself. That fact and a few other things means he has a bit of a reputation around Major League Baseball (MLB) among the players and the ownership.

Tiff Tate also has a reputation around MLB. She is what is known as a “stylist.” When having a certain look can make a player rich by celebrity endorsements, she designs a persona to fit the player on the field and off. She gets paid well. Very well in fact as she is reputed to earn mid six figures for each makeover she can well afford her private jet and other luxuries. She also can suddenly resurrect a struggling player’s career with a few tweaks. More than any other sport, superstition rules baseball and when her player makeover magic works it adds to her allure and mystique.

But, the stylist to the players has a problem she can’t solve on her own. It’s June and the Colorado Rockies rookie outfielder, Yonel Ruiz, is tearing-up the league. He can do it all from being on a record pace homer wise and driving in runs to throwing out base runners on the paths. He is also a media sensation because of his perilous journey out of Cuba.

What the public does not know is that Ruiz is being blackmailed by the Venezuelans who smuggled him out of Cuba. Tate has been told by Ruiz that his family is being held hostage in Havana. They want him to set up a deal where his salary of 50 million dollars paid over six years goes into an account the kidnappers’ control. He will be given an allowance so he can keep up appearances. Should he fail to agree to do this in the next two weeks. They will start killing his family including his daughter, wife, parents, siblings, etc.

Ruiz’s only contact is with staff of the Colorado Rockies and Tiff Tate, his stylist. The kidnappers won’t allow him to meet with others and most likely have operators in the area watching him. So, with the Bay Dogs soon headed to Denver to play the Rockies, Tate wants Adcock to try and find out who these Venezuelans are. Once he identifies them then Tate will try to work directly with them to resolve the problem. If MLB gets involved they will do what is best for the sport and not the player. She will resort to involving MLB if she has to, but intended to give Adcock a week to work the case.

While Adcock is well aware that he can’t do much, he agrees to do what he can. Ruiz isn’t the only one being threatened as Adcock quickly finds out.  It is a far reaching mess that could have a huge impact on baseball in the future. It does not help that those at the upper reaches of MLB very much want Adcock to get out of the private investigator business and that is way before the bodies start dropping.

Double Switch builds on the events of The Setup Man in a strong way. Adcock is a year closer to the end of pitching in the majors and he very well knows it. A future beyond baseball is on his mind, but he isn’t about for one second to give up on what he loves which is playing baseball.

In addition to the complicated mystery, T. T. Monday brings readers well familiar with baseball or not at all right along for a ride through the clubhouses and the underworld of how Latin American players make it into the show. He has a rare gift of making baseball accessible to the novice as well as the experienced fan as part of the overall mystery.  As he did with the first book, T. T. Monday shines a light into the less glamorous aspects of a sport he clearly loves.

Double Switch could be read as a stand-alone, but it really should be read after one reads The Setup Man. The sacrifices of family continue to play a role in Adcock’s life as do other elements carried over from the first book. Double Switch is a good read and an excellent sequel.

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Review: THE COMBAT ZONE by Jed Power

The Combat Zone by Jed Power takes readers back in time to the Harvard Square of the very early 70’s in Boston. A time when drugs and X-rated entertainment ruled the area, hippies are everywhere, and anti-war sentiment is strong. Cocaine is a wonder drug that can do no harm. As Malloy muses to himself, “Even one of my heroes, Sherlock Holmes, had used the stuff to help solve cases.” This is the world of private investigator Michael Malloy who consumes vast amounts of cocaine throughout the book.

The late 20 something private investigator is on the hunt for a teenage runaway named Susan Worthman.  According to her father who has been coming down from Maine to look for her and threw some money around, she is now going by the name of “Susie Sparkles” and is in the company of a couple speed freaks. Malloy wants a friend of his, Stoney Sundown, to also look around for her by way of the people he knows via drug dealing and a few other things. It should be easy to find her and Mallory figures the whole deal will be wrapped up in a couple of days. He doesn’t expect to make much money on the gig and hopes that he doesn’t get evicted.

Malloy starts by talking to his cousin, Billy Skinner, who also works for the Cambridge Police Department. The cops are overwhelmed by the number of runaways and other issues they are dealing with and were of no help to the dad. Because of the familial connection Malloy gets a little consideration and assistance, but not much. He also starts talking to the homeless young people in the square as well as his other contracts. The case might have stopped there with zero real leads if some members of the “Devil’s Demons Motorcycle Club” had not decided to try to scare him off using physical brute force and threats. They aren’t the only ones who give that a shot. Before long private investigator Michael Malloy is in a world of trouble in The Combat Zone.

Filled with plenty of action, a difficult case, and a private investigator walking the edge is a number of ways this read is a very good one. Malloy is doing the best he can to find the runaway and save himself while at the same time heavily indulging in his darker vices. Part anti-hero and part good guy, this is a complex character that lives in a world rich in detail. The Combat Zone by Jed Power is part mystery, part crime fiction, and in all aspects a very good read.

The author sent me a pdf of the book to read and review after hearing about me from author Bill Crider who reviewed the book last August.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016