Review: Eeny Meeny – 5 Stars

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Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge is a British suspense/thriller novel. It is the first book in DI Helen Grace Thriller series. DI Helen Grace is youngest female to be promoted to Detective Inspector in her department. She is a submissive in a paid S&M arrangement, which adds vulnerability to her uptight personality. This aspect of her personality was difficult to reconcile until you learn more about her rough childhood.

Detective Inspector Helen Grace is faced with solving a series of kidnapping/abduction murders. Amy Anderson and Sam Fisher were kidnapped then held hostage. Their kidnappers drop them into a remote area and their chances of escape are dim. The kidnappers only give them a cell phone and a gun.  Their only option for survival is if one of them dies. DI Helen Grace isn’t convinced this is a plausible story until two other people are kidnapped in a similar way.  

Eeny Meeny keeps you riveted until the end.  There is violence, sex, and foul language and the book will keep you guessing with all of the twists and turns. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Highly recommended for fans of Brit thrillers and suspense novels.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Kiss Me When I’m Dead

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RATING: 5 STARS

If you’re a fan of pulp noir fiction, you’ll love this thriller. Set in modern London, Kiss Me When I’m Dead is a detective novel narrated by the main protagonist, Daniel Beckett. He’s a womanizing, witty private detective with an air of mystery and street savvy that hints to a darker, immoral past. The narration is written in a stream of consciousness style, similar to Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective fiction. In between searching for clues, he hooks up with many dangerous women. The continuous action captivated me to read “just one more chapter”…. yet I read it beyond the next chapter, until the end. There are some (non-gratuitous) sex scenes throughout the book, but it was presented in a tasteful manner

This tightly written, suspenseful novel with sharp dialogue and an unexpected ending is highly recommended for lovers of pulp fiction detective stories.

 

Blog Hop Book Review: If Jack Had: A Journalist with a Killer Story

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Good Day Everyone! I’m part of the Blog Hop for newly released book, If Jack Had by Steven Rappaport: A Journalist with a Killer Story

Courtesy of Black Rose writing, one winner will be selected and announced this afternoon to receive a paperback copy of If Jack Had.

RATING: 4 STARS

MJ’s REVIEW:

If Jack Had is a dark, ironic story of a man in search of filling the void of his father’s love, only to resolve it as an adult in a dysfunctional and violent way.

Rappaport gives the reader an insider’s look at the Russian mob through the eyes of Jack, a journalist with a dualistic personality who has a second “job” as a hired hit man. Jack was the product of a dysfunctional family. His young hippy mother worked from home as a masseuse – and whore. Behind Jack’s gentle façade, he was overflowing with rage. A school bully taunted him relentlessly about his mother being a whore. The next day, Jack killed the bully with one rock to his head in Central Park. Jack was never caught.

Affter entering Columbia’s School of Journalism, he sought out work in the journalism field, along with a job feeding his dark side. He woos Monika Minsikov, the daughter of Serge Minsikov. Serge controlled most of the drugs, loan sharking, illegal gambling and a stable of contract killers in New York. After seeing Monika for a few months, Serge pulls Jack aside after dinner. Serge’s instinct picked up on Jack’s evil side. Serge asked him to be a contract killer. As arrogant and boastful Jack’s father had been, Serge was soft-spoken and understated, never revealing his massive power and influence. Jack was only too happy to agree to this second job.

Jack, the main protagonist, is a well fleshed out and relatable character. His lack of acceptance from his father becomes misplaced onto Serge. Jack continues to work as an assassin, feeling guilty about it his entire life. Plenty of Yiddish is peppered throughout adds to the story’s flavor. For those not familiar with Yiddish, you may need to look some of the words.    For the most part, you’ll understand the meaning.

You’ll follow Jack as he leads his second life doing “jobs” all over the world. From Paris, to Greece, to the pot havens of Northern California.  Rappaport’s direct, colorful style of storytelling suits this dark, gritty story. I was on edge through the entire book, leading to a surprising end. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about assassins, Russian Mobs, and father son relationships.

A copy of this book was provided to me from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher’s Summary:

What’s the difference between a serial killer and an assassin?     A paycheck.

Jack is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist with a secret second job. Since he was a smart-ass grad student slinking around New York’s Upper West Side and Brighton Beach, he’s been working as an assassin for the Russian mob.

Beginning at the end – that is, with an aged, incontinent, and at last truly alone Jack, his mind made up that tomorrow will be the first day he kills someone he loves: himself – IF JACK HAD tells his story in rearview, providing an all-access-pass into the enviable, high-flying life he clear-cut for himself against all odds…and the (literal) trail of dead he left along the way.

The debut novel from sixty-eight-year-old Manhattan author Steve Rappaport, IF JACK HAD is, much like its protagonist, more than meets the eye. A caper comedy featuring sex and drugs, blasphemy and blood, far-flung exotic locales and all the other stuff that makes for good, not-so-clean fun, If Jack Had also happens to have a big, beating heart. Beneath the surface, it’s a meditation on family, fatherhood, the indignities of aging, the inevitability of loneliness, and the preciousness of life itself.

From spending peaceful mornings with Jack in Paris’s Le Marais district to experiencing the hedonism and glamour of Manhattan’s downtown art scene in the 1980s at his side, readers of IF JACK HAD will be swept up in a world that’s all at once ordinary and extraordinary, where life and death collide with the regularity of a ticking clock, and in which appearances can be every bit as deceiving as the storyteller himself.

If Jack Had [Black Rose Writing] will be available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in brick-and-mortar bookstores nationwide as of June 4, 2015. Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25320799-if-jack-had?ac=1

Publisher: www.blackrosewriting.com Website: http://ifjackhad.com IfJackHadAuthor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Rappaport, age 68, has been a stock trader, pot dealer, itinerant hippie peddler, cab driver, retailer, and is currently a successful commercial real estate salesperson in Manhattan. He offers a simple rationale for his first novel: “My eldest son, Jack, died at forty from a progressively debilitating, unknown neurological disorder. This brilliant boy, a Vassar grad, never got to live the life he deserved. I’ve infused him with one.”

Q & A with Jack Rappaport

1. When did you have an interest in writing?

As a teenager

2. Who are your real life models and why?

My father’s brother, an Orthodox Rabbi who had all the understanding, warmth and tenderness that my father, the agnostic, did not. My cousin Helen, and her husband Sam, long gone, union organizers for The Communist Party in the thirties. Their indomitable spirit and perseverance, coupled with wit and wisdom, and a sense of social justice, have guided me through life. Plus ironically, the skills they taught me about infiltrating and running groups, made me a much better Capitalist. Seize the typewriter.

3. What prompted you to write this book?

My eldest son, Jack, died at forty, from a progressively, unknown neurological disorder. This brilliant boy, a Vassar grad, never got to live the life he deserved. I infused him with one.

4. How did you do your research about contract killers?

A compendium of thousand of hours watching film and TV.

5. You’ve traveled a lot! Where has your favorite place been to live and why?

Mirtos, a small fishing village on the south coast of Crete. I’ve just returned, and I’ve been going there since 1971. It is isolated, quiet, and barely changed in all of these years, except the old ladies in black sit with iPods.

6. What lesson or theme would you like readers to take away?

It is a novel, not a book of instructions.

7. Describe your ideal reader.

One who has just bought a $16.95 hard copy of the book and has the spare time to Tweet/Instagram/Blog about it to their friends!

Book Review: Shirley by Susan S. Merrell

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In my last post, I reviewed The Haunting of Hill House (THOHH) by Shirley Jackson. Shirley is  described as a psychological thriller, yet it’s really more of an homage, a fictionalized account of Shirley Jackson and her Professor husband Stanley about their time spent at their home in Vermont. The story has a dreamy, sleepy feel that fluctuates between biography and suspenseful fiction. Rose, a young pregnant wife from a difficult background and her Professor husband drive to Bennington College so he can work and finish his dissertation while living with his mentor Stanley Hyman and his wife Shirley Jackson. Jackson is an established writer and Rose admires her and becomes enmeshed with Jackson’s dynamics of the Hyman’s dysfunctional marriage. As time goes on, the troubled Hyman marriage is filled with secrets and Rose’s life begins to mirror theirs.

I enjoyed how the author explored the themes of jealousy, obsession, scandal and love. Yet certain parts of the book left me frustrated.  Merrell builds up tension throughout the story by creating an impeding sense of doom, yet the suspense doesn’t lead anywhere and the outcome is never revealed. For example, Rose becomes intrigued with the story of a young missing college student, but the outcome isn’t revealed to the reader. The premise of the story is unbelievable. Why would a couple with four children take in two strangers? As for the character development, I felt a palpable connection to Shirley, but didn’t feel an emotional connection to Rose.  Since Rose is a new mother, her constant drowsiness initially makes sense, yet the idea that the house is “alive and speaking” to Rose was  too reminiscent of – you guessed it- THOHH.

Perhaps I’d view the book in a more positive light, if I wasn’t already exposed to Shirley Jackson’s writing. I don’t think  Shirley Jackson would feel happy about the way she’s depicted in this book. Although Shirley has all of the merits of a well written interesting book,  since I’ve already read The House on Haunted Hill, my thoughts of Shirley are already skewed. There are just too many similarities between the books.

RATING: 3.5 stars

** An advanced review copy of Shirley was provided by Netgalley for a fair and honest review.

A To Z Challenge: “F” for Thriller Book Review: Consent To Kill

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Today’s prompt for the A to Z challenge is “F”. I couldn’t find an interesting thriller with a title starting with “F”, so I’m using the author’s last name – Vince Flynn.

“Consent to Kill” by Vince Flynn, follows Mitch Rapp, an elite counterterrorism operative for the CIA. Reading a Flynn novel is like being privy to a secret, namely one that involves the inner workings of the government. Flynn’s extensive research is reflected in his writing with his use of intricate details involving code names and weaponry.
The overall theme is the relationship between duty and love and the fine line that is difficult to measure. Does Rapp have time for love in between hunting terrorists? As Rapp’s hunters descend upon him, the entire political landscape is put on edge. Will the government control their best man, or will circumstances require ruthless intervention and consequences?

Despite the lengthy attention to detail at times, Consent to Kill is an exciting and thrilling read.

Review: 4 STARS