Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sequel on the Horizon

Well the sequel is on the horizon.

Piercing the Darkness, the second in the Deepest Darkness series, is finished.  Formatting is complete and ready for upload.  The only thing standing in the way of publication tonight is adjustment to the cover art.  Still needs a bit of tweaking.

Last year's cover artist wasn't available for this release so all responsibility for Piercing's cover has fallen to a young man who is still learning some of the tricks of the trade.  Latest views are promising.  My fingers are crossed that we'll have a nice cover ready for upload before leaving for Thanksgiving break.

Apologies for the delay, oh patient readers!

In the meantime, if you haven't yet purchased your copy of the first in the series, Running into the Darkness, then now's your time while it is still available for the bargain price of only ninety-nine cents.  Let your friends and family know while it's hot!

I hope you are anticipating the release of Piercing the Darkness - almost as much as I am!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Intriguing Step Back into History with The Banker Spy

Hello again, dear readers!  Have I got a good read to present to you today - you betcha.  If you love World War II history like I do, you will be able to follow the events in The Banker Spy as if it were all happening once again.  Eerie!  So now I give you William G. Byrnes' The Banker Spy.

Book Summary:
The Banker Spy weaves history into a contemporary thriller about ex-lovers who become entangled in a web of international intrigue. Investment banker Peter Armstrong believes he’s left his past in the States. He has an exciting new job in London and is managing the largest equity offering in European history. Behind him are an incident at his old employer and a broken engagement. He thinks his only problem is his client—an automobile company desperate for cash. Then he receives a phone call from his ex-fiancĂ©e, Dayna Caymus, a beautiful and unpredictable CIA agent. When Peter discovers that his client is secretly working for the German government the two ex-lovers enter into an uneasy alliance which their past sometimes helps and sometimes hurts, all the while sorting through their feelings for each other. Dayna puts her mission first, leading Peter into a labyrinth of deception and conspiracy. Peter loses his client, his job, and almost his life as they race to learn Germany’s secrets—secrets that could start a nuclear war.

My Review:
As a lover of history, cars, and speed, the opening autobahn chase scene immediately catapulted me into this story, from the crash of a high-speed Porsche to the introduction of the high-stakes intrigue.

Meet our "banker spy", American Peter Armstrong - a man with a challenging past both in his career and his personal life.  Peter is fired after a large deal he pushed through for a friend turns south.  The sting of rejection reminds him anew of his failed engagement, ended by a calloused phone call.  Then a European bank handpicks Peter to oversee the largest international equity transaction offered by a European company, the prestigious Storch Motors.  Storch's CEO has a reputation as a tyrant, but he also has ties to the current German chancellor, which brings with it certain perks.  The Storch CEO bristles at all of the unnecessary inquiry as Peter questions the overall purpose for the massive cash influx into the company - and also the reasons for the chancellor's involvement.

Chancellor Denker secretly idolizes Hitler, but this information could defeat his reelection bid if the general public were made aware.  From the initial meeting with Peter in Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" to revitalizing and utilizing old underground research and construction facilities for missile development, Denker lives to realize the reunified Germany's return to the glory of the Third Reich.  He just never anticipated the tenacity of Storch's new banker, who questions every anomaly hidden in the company's financials.

When ex-fiance, Dayne Caymus, comes waltzing back into Peter's life, he's immediately suspicious of her desires and what she's doing in Germany, especially considering she's an agent for the CIA.  As this femme fatale enters the scene, Peter's life gets turned upside down - again.  But this time his life and the lives of tens of thousands are at stake.

I enjoyed most every aspect of this well-written, nicely plotted and paced story.  The characters were well fleshed-out and neither flat nor one-dimensional, with difficulties shaping their pasts, potential life-altering decisions in their presents, and hopes for the future.  The twists and turns kept coming, and once the action ratcheted up it didn't slow down.  Being a World War II history buff, I loved "visiting" the old tunnels and elaborate underground Luftwaffe facilities, hangars, and camouflaged airstrips.  It's truly amazing what human ingenuity accomplished to advance technology on both sides of the pond during that troubling time in our history.

The comparisons and similarities between Adolf Hitler and the fictional Chancellor Denker's antics, such as with the Sudetenland/Eastern Border Territory, were well managed and would be fairly simple to define by most readers with any knowledge of the era.  However, I felt the usage of Hitler's questionable ancestry and possible Jewish roots by the Denker character to be a bit over the top.  There was also one scene where Peter was mysteriously released from detention, which would never have occurred under the Nazis.  That felt a bit unrealistic.  However, the next time he was detained, the situation ended up being pretty intriguing in how it played out.  Ultimately it made up for the previous dismissal.

I believe anyone who loves a good international thriller will find the action and intrigue in The Banker Spy enough to keep them reading until the morning's wee hours.  It did me!

And now I'm once again dreaming of the day I can open her up full-throttle and roar all-out along the autobahn.

William G. Byrnes's Bio:
Bill Byrnes was an investment banker with Alex. Brown & Sons for 17 years. After that he was a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Finance and, subsequently, member of the Board of Regents at Georgetown University. He's founded three companies and has served on the boards of six public companies. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and the University of Michigan. His interests include European and Mesoamerican history, wine collecting, and automobiles. He's happiest around the water and on the tennis court. Bill, his wife, and their two poodles divide their time between Washington, DC and West Palm Beach, FL.

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Format/Price: $2.99 ebook
Publisher: Publish Green
ISBN: 9781938296345
Release: August 27, 2012

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A New Isaac Sidel Novel for Review

Today I bring you a review for Under the Eye of God, the most recent novel in a mystery series by Jerome Charyn - his famous, gunslinging character, Isaac Sidel.  With no further adieu, let's get started!

Under the Eye of God Book Summary:
After decades of madness in the Bronx, Isaac Sidel visits the craziest state in the country.

Isaac Sidel is too popular to be America's vice president.  Once the New York Police Department commissioner, he became the most beloved mayor in the city's history - famous for his refusal to surrender his Glock, and for his habit of disappearing for months at a time to fight crime at street level.  So when baseball czar J. Michael Storm asks Sidel to join him on the election's Democratic ticket, the two wild men romp to an unprecedented landslide.  But as the president-elect's mandate goes off the rails - threatened by corruption, sex, and God knows what else - he tires of being overshadowed by Sidel, and dispatches him to a place from which tough politicians seldom return:  Texas.

In the Lone Star state, Sidel confronts rogue astrologers, accusations of pedophilia, and a dimwitted assassin who doesn't know when to take an easy shot.  If this Bronx bomber doesn't watch his step, he risks making vice-presidential history by getting killed on the job.

My Review:
There were several things I really enjoyed about this book.  It had the expectation of one of the old "noir" movies of yesteryear, with the mob, the femme fatale, and our lone (and lonely) hero.

The idealism of the protagonist, Isaac Sidel, was refreshing.  He was portrayed as a man of principle, though not above using the lower elements outside the law to stand up for what is right.  Isaac doesn't spend much time worrying about what the pundits will think of his actions - he does what needs to be done.  Even so, he never devolves into a caricature of the proverbial "knight in shining armor".  We still have opportunity to see his flaws, which makes him more relatable to the human element we all endure.  Too bad we never see a politician like him.

The political arena of the book reflects the reality that both sides of the aisle are neither all good nor all evil.  This was an element I thought was well portrayed, that it's still politics as usual when it comes to Washington D.C., regardless of which party Isaac attaches to at any given time.  Isaac remains true to who he is, not beholden to any particular group or the machinations behind the scenes.  Sometimes his idealism gets him into trouble with both sides, but Isaac is first and foremost a man of the law, Old West style.  He even totes his gun around with him everywhere he goes, to the chagrin of the Secret Service - funny at times!

Another favorite character wasn't a true character at all.  The Ansonia (a very real, iconic New York City hotel/apartment building), with its seventeen floors of circular living rooms and windows of etched glass, was a standout.  The descriptions of the Ansonia and her occupants, both in her hey-day and the present, were intoxicatingly rich.  It made me want to drop everything and fly to New York to take a tour and relive her glory days - "sigh" - I miss New York City!  I loved it when the character, David Pearl, says, "Every time I'm on the stairs, with the wrought-iron rails, it's like having my own little piece of Europe."

Without having read any of the previous Isaac Sidel novels, however, I felt lost in the constant shuffle of characters.  There were so many secondary characters thrown in, with little to no description of their purpose to this particular story, that I was continually frustrated.  It left me with the impression throughout that these may have been key people in prior novels in the series, but here they just seemed to get in the way.  Most of the time their inclusion spurred actions without any defined motivation or understanding of why they reacted the way they did.  Without a clear idea of the characters and their internal motivations, it made the action mindless.  Then just as soon as these characters appeared - poof! - they were gone again.

Though I love history and reliving certain elements of how actual history ties into this story (especially when it came to the Ansonia), there was too much jumping back and forth between past and present with little transition.  Many times the lack of transition made reading jarring, and I'd have to go back to see where I was before the flashback then flash forward to regain my footing.

The supposed big fight near the end was anti-climactic, mainly due to yet another previously unknown character being thrown into the mix.  We had his introduction, the fight, and then the cleanup within a few paragraphs.  It left me dissatisfied, again with the desire for even a basic understanding of internal motivations to make the "fight" have meaning.  I just wanted more.

Overall, I would recommend this novel only if you take the opportunity to first read the other Isaac Sidel books in the series.  Armed with that necessary background, Under the Eye of God might have been a more enjoyable addition.

Jerome Charyn's Bio:
Jerome Charyn (b. 1937) is the critically acclaimed author of nearly fifty books. Born in the Bronx, he attended Columbia College, where he fell in love with the works of William Faulkner and James Joyce. After graduating, he took a job as a playground director and wrote in his spare time, producing his first novel, a Lower East Side fairytale called Once Upon a Droshky, in 1964.

In 1974 Charyn published Blue Eyes, his first Isaac Sidel mystery. Begun as a distraction while trying to finish a different book, this first in a series of Sidel novels introduced the eccentric, near-mythic detective and his bizarre cast of sidekicks. Charyn followed the character through Citizen Sidel (1999), which ends with his antihero making a run at the White House. Charyn, who divides his time between New York and Paris, is also accomplished at table tennis, and once ranked amongst France’s top Amazon10 percent of ping-pong players.  Visit his website at

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Price: $14.99
Release: October 30, 2012

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