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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement by Frederick Reynolds Packed with local data and insights, this memoir pulls no punches

Hi all:

I bring you one of the books from Rosie’s Book Review Team list, a non-fiction one this time, and it is a police memoir with a difference.

Black, White and Gray All Over by Frederick Douglass Reynolds

Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement by Frederick Reynolds 

From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds’ early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s—Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life—something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.

“Black, White & Gray All Over not only recounts the stories of Frederick’s life and career but also the stories of his fellow officers. An honest, no-holds-barred history of the city of Compton’s gang violence, crack epidemic, and legacy of government corruption leaves readers of all backgrounds with a better understanding of race relations as well as the gray areas of policework in one of America’s most brutal cities.” -Zora Knauf

“If Fred Reynolds’s memoir Black, White and Gray All Over was just about being a cop in Compton, California, dealing with gangs, murders, officers killed in the line of duty, and the politics that drives it all, it would be worth the read. This book goes deeper, into what it means to be a man, more particularly a Black man, and to overcome every obstacle along the way to redemption. Don’t miss this one!” -#1 Bestselling Author J.J. Hebert

 https://www.amazon.com/Black-White-Gray-All-Over-ebook/dp/B09JF9VB4Z/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-White-Gray-All-Over/dp/B09JF9VB4Z/

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B09JF9VB4Z/

Author Frederick Douglass Reynolds

About the author:

Frederick Douglass Reynolds is a former Compton police officer and a retired LA County Sheriff’s Homicide Sergeant with a combined 32 years of experience working some of the worst areas of Los Angeles County. He retired in 2017 with over seventy-five commendations including a Chief’s Citation, five Chief’s commendations, one Exemplary Service Award, two Distinguished Service Awards, two Distinguished Service Medals, one city of Carson Certificate of Commendation, three City of Compton Certificate of Recognition, one city of Compton Public Service Hero award, one California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition, two State Senate Certificates of Recognition, a County of Los Angeles Certificate of Commendation, one Meritorious Service Award, two City of Compton Employee of the Year Awards, and two California Officer of the Year awards. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Carolyn, and their daughter Lauren and their young son, Desmond. They have six other adult children and nine grandchildren.

https://authorfrederickreynolds.com/about-frederick-douglass-reynolds/

 My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

This is a memoir, and as far from fiction as one could imagine. In fact, it is so full of facts and data that it can become overwhelming at times. The sheer number of events, of characters (well, not really characters, but real people: relatives, friends, neighbours, infantrymen, police officers, detectives, criminals, victims, local authorities, politicians…), of dates, of cases… make the book overflow with stories: sometimes those the author, Frederick Douglass Reynolds, participated directly in; others, stories providing background information to the situation or events being discussed or introducing some of the main players at the time of the action. I think anybody trying to recount even a small amount of what happens in the book would have a hard time of it, but anybody interested in the recent history of Compton law enforcement and local politics will find this book invaluable.

The author goes beyond the standard memoir, and although his life is the guiding thread of the book, he does not limit himself to talking in the first-person about his difficult childhood, his traumatic past, his petty criminal activities as a gang member in his youth, his time as a Marine Corps Infantryman, his less than stellar experience with personal relationships (until later in life), his allergy to compromise for many years (to the point of even refusing to get involved in the life of one of his children)… This well-read and self-taught man also offers readers the socio-historical-political context of the events, talking about the gangs, the rise of crack cocaine, the powerful figures moving the threads and holding authority (sometimes openly, and sometimes not so much), and he openly discusses the many cases of corruption, at all levels.

There is so much of everything in this book that I kept thinking this single book could become several books, either centring each one of them on a particular event, case, or investigation and its aftermath (for example. although Rodney King’s death didn’t take place in Compton, the description of how the riots affected the district makes readers realise that history keeps repeating itself unless something is done), or perhaps on a specific theme (as there is much about gangs, racism, corruption, the evolution of police roles and policing methods, violence in the streets, LA social changes and local politics, drugs…). Another option would be to focus on the author’s life and experiences growing up, on his personal life (his difficulties with relationships and alcohol, his PTSD…), and later his career, but perhaps mentioning only some of the highlights or some specific episodes, and with less background information about the place and its history (although some brief information could be added as an appendix or in an author’s note for those interested in knowing more).

This is a long book, dense and packed with a wealth of data that might go beyond the scope of most casual readers, but there are also scary moments (forget about TV police series. This is the real deal), heart-wrenching events (the deaths of locals, peers, colleagues, personal tragedies…), touching confessions (like the difficulties in his relationship with his son, becoming grandad to a boy with autism and what that has taught him), shared insights that most will find inspiring, and also some lighter and funny touches that make the human side of the book shine. Although Reynolds openly discusses his doubts, and never claims to be spotless, more upstanding, or better than anybody else, his determination to get recognition for his peers fallen in action, and his homage to those he worked with and who kept up the good fight clearly illustrate that his heart (and morals) are in the right place.

Most people thinking of reading this type of memoir are likely to know what to expect, but just in case there are any doubts, be warned that there is plenty of violence (sometimes extreme and explicit), use of alcohol, drugs, and pretty colourful language.

I recommend this book to anybody interested in the history of policing in LA (particularly in Compton) from the 1980s, gangs in the area, local politics, corruption, and any major criminal investigations in the area (deaths of rappers included). It is also a book for those looking for an inspiring story of self-improvement, of managing to escape the wrong path, and helping others do the same, and it is a book full of insights, inspiration, and hope.

I wonder if the author is planning to carry on writing, but it is clear that he has many stories to tell yet and I hope he does.

Thanks to the author for this book, thanks to Rosie and the members of her team for their ongoing support, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to keep smiling, to keep safe, and to share, like, comment if you wish. Big hugs!

Most of you probably know that I haven’t been promoting my books very much, but my friend, very talented blogger, fabulous writer, and wonderful artist, Teagan Geneviene (if you are not following her blog, here, what are you waiting for?) has created this wonderful image for my YA series Angelic Business, and I had to share it with you. If you are curious, you can always check the page I dedicate to My books (here), oh, and the first book in the series is free in most places. Just saying…

Thanks, Teagan!
Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog Everyone Dies (Karma’s Children Book 3) by John Dolan(@JohnDolanAuthor). It ends with a bang, not with a whimper.

Hi all:

I bring you the latest (and last in the series) novels by one of my favourite indie authors:

Cover of Everyone Dies (Karma's Children Book 3) by John Dolan
Everyone Dies (Karma’s Children Book 3) by John Dolan

Everyone Dies (Karma’s Children Book 3) by John Dolan

“An obsession with revenge might not be great for your mental health, but at least it’s calorie-free.”

Private detective David Braddock is holed-up on the Thai island of Samui plotting the death of Grigory Polzin, the Russian oligarch who ordered the killing of his daughter. Embittered and descending rapidly into alcoholism, the Englishman must find a way to exact his retribution before he completely falls apart.

Fate, however, has one final lesson for David Braddock: the dead don’t always stay dead.

‘Everyone Dies’ is the final book in John Dolan’s ‘Karma’s Children’ trilogy.

https://www.amazon.es/Everyone-Dies-Karmas-Children-English-ebook/dp/B07T1T91HN/

https://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Dies-Karmas-Children-English-ebook/dp/B07T1T91HN/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Everyone-Dies-Karmas-Children-English-ebook/dp/B07T1T91HN/

Author John Dolan
Author John Dolan

About the author:

“Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants.”

John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between Thailand and the UK.

He is the author of the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ mystery series and the ‘Karma’s Children’ mystery trilogy.

https://www.amazon.com/John-Dolan/e/B008IIERF0

My review:

I love John Dolan’s books. I was lucky enough to “discover” him early on in his career, shortly after he published his first novel, Everyone Burns, in 2013. Since then, he has completed two series, the first, composed of four books (the Time, Blood and Karma series) and now, this is the third (and final) novel in his second series, Karma’s Children. And I have read them, reviewed them, and loved them all. Therefore, I approached this, the last novel in the David Braddock universe (well, sort of, as it happens), with trepidation. I wanted to know how this series ended, because there were many issues left hanging after Two Rivers One Stream (you can read my review here), but I was also sad that the end was near. Let me assure you, this book is a blast and a more than fitting conclusion to the series.

All these novels share the setting, mostly in Thailand, in Samui (well, some of the action takes place back in England, and there are some other trips and excursions along the way), and although I’ve never visited Thailand and can’t make comparisons, for me the novels have managed to create an atmosphere and a clear picture in my mind, not only of how the place looks like, but of its people, how their society works, and also what it must be like to live there day to day rather than just visiting as a tourist. The novels also share a main character, David Braddock, a British ex-pat/detective/therapist, who has issues of his own aplenty which we slowly discover through the novels. Not all the novels are narrated from the same point of view or take place in the same time-frame and following a chronological order. That gives us the advantage of getting background information and becoming familiar with the characters from a variety of perspectives, and we also become privy to some information that the main character doesn’t know (and that might make us think we are a step ahead, but, boy, are we wrong or what!).

This novel, narrated in first-person by David Braddock, the King of unreliable narrators, gives us another opportunity to share in his witticisms, his philosophising, his bad habits, and his peculiar interactions with those around him (ghosts included). I recently highlighted the first line of a book I read that I said had become one of my new favourites. The first two sentences of this book are also among the most memorable I’ve read (I’ll let you read them yourselves if you fancy the sound of the book. Remember you can check a sample on your usual online store). In case the description above is not enough, I thought I’d share how the book sums up its own content, because it will give you a fair idea of what is to come:

A tale of human mortality comprising a prologue, twenty-eight chapters, two interludes, and a Post Morten Report.

We find Braddock at a low point in his life, following the traumatic events in the previous novel and his very personal loss, and as a result, he starts plotting a revenge that would be complicated even for an experienced assassin, something he is not. His physical condition is also suffering due to his unhealthy lifestyle, but his goal keeps him going and then… I won’t go into the details of the plot, because I don’t want to spoil it for readers, and also because this novel brings together with great flair all the loose threads, not only of this series but of the previous one, and it would be difficult to explain it all to people who are not familiar with the story so far. This is not a novel I’d recommend to people who haven’t read any of the previous ones, because although there is enough background offered to refresh the memories of those who have read them over the years, I think much of the context would be lost if somebody started reading here. I had my suspicions about some of the new plot elements that are revealed in this novel, but I didn’t guess all of them, and I was in awe at how the author managed to weave such a complex story and make it flow naturally. I enjoyed meeting again my favourite characters (some who had not appeared for a while), and I was more than happy with some of the turn of events in the novel (but again, I’ll keep my mouth shut).

I can’t resist sharing a couple of early lines from the book, as a taster:

When one’s focus is on murdering someone, the proximity of female legs —even if aesthetically pleasing— hardly registers.

“Disillusionment should start young. It stops you from becoming bitter when you’re older.”

“Grief is not the presence of some red-clawed monster; looming up at us in the night. In point of fact, it’s not a presence at all. It’s an absence. The absence of something good.”

Well-written, with a dark and sharp sense of humour, clever dialogue, wonderful characters (and some awful ones as well, but wonderful in their awfulness), a fantastic setting, plenty of great quotes (quotes of other books opening each chapter, and eminently quotable lines), and a more-than-satisfying ending, this novel has it all. I keep recommending Dolan’s books to everybody but make sure to read both series in the right order, first Time, Blood and Karma and then Karma’s Children. You can thank me later. Oh, and the author is hard at work, writing the next novel about another character in the Braddock’s universe, and I can’t wait.

Thanks to the author for both series and for the characters that have become part of my fictional universe as well, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always be smiling!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog RESTLESS EARTH (KARMA’S CHILDREN BOOK 1) by John Dolan. Everything a lover of complex mysteries could wish for.

Hi all:

I have the pleasure of bringing you the first novel in a trilogy by one of my favourite mystery/detective novel writers, John Dolan.

Restless Earth (Karma's Children Book 1) by John Dolan.
Restless Earth (Karma’s Children Book 1) by John Dolan.

Restless Earth (Karma’s Children Book 1) by John Dolan

“It’s not always easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. And sometimes, there are no good guys.”

Four men scattered across the globe. . .
One seeks pleasure
One seeks purpose
One seeks redemption
And one seeks revenge.

A wind is howling around the skyscrapers of New York, through the battlefields of Iraq, and into the bustling streets of Bangkok. It carries with it the fates of these four men: men bound together by chance and history.
Which of them – if any – will survive the tempest?

The “Karma’s Children” series will appeal to lovers of the following book categories: mystery, thriller, crime, Thailand fiction, private investigators, British detectives, and amateur sleuths.

https://www.amazon.com/Restless-Earth-Karmas-Children-Book-ebook/dp/B076GRP4VH/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Restless-Earth-Karmas-Children-Book-ebook/dp/B076GRP4VH/

Author John Dolan
Author John Dolan

About the author:

“Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants.”

John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between Thailand and the UK.

He is the author of the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ mystery series and the ‘Karma’s Children’ mystery trilogy.

https://www.amazon.com/John-Dolan/e/B008IIERF0

My review:

Anybody who has been following my reviews for a while will know that I love John Dolan’s writing. I discovered his books a long while back and I’ve been following his career with interest ever since. I was both sad and exhilarated when he brilliantly closed his previous series Time, Blood and Karma with the novel Running on Emptiness (you can check my review here). I bought a copy of his new book, the beginning of a new series, Karma’s Children a while back, but it wasn’t until I received the ARC for the second book that I realised I had yet to read and review the first one. Yes, I’d been busy, but I wonder if part of my reluctance was to do with starting a new series afresh, after having enjoyed the previous one so much. Could it live up to my expectations?

Having now read the first book (and started the second one straight away), it’s fair to say that it has. The new book is not a complete break. Some of the characters and the settings we are already familiar with (I don’t feel qualified to comment on how well the book stands on its own. My inkling is that it could be read and enjoyed by somebody who hadn’t read any of the previous books, but there would be quite a few lose threads and I’m sure the reading experience would be completely different). Yes, we have David Braddock, the British amateur detective-cum-therapist living in Thailand who decides to confront some of the issues pending in his life (he’s always reminded me of Hamlet, and I must say that like Shakespeare’s character, he can make me feel impatient at his dithering sometimes), but not others. We also have Jim Fosse, a fascinating villain, a psychopath or sociopath who is up to his old tricks and some newer ones. And we have two other characters that bring new concerns (some at least) and settings into the story. Sam Trask, an American Iraq War veteran, who has suffered physical injuries that he has mostly recovered from, but the same cannot be said for the mental scars from his experiences, and another American character, Reichenbach, who remains mostly in the shadows, and whom I suspect we haven’t seen the last of (and I’ll keep my peace and let you make your own minds up about him).

The story moves between the different characters, and although, apart from Sam’s military history it is mostly shown in chronological order, there are changes in setting and point of view, and a fair amount of characters, which require the reader to remain attentive at all times. Most of the story is told in third-person mostly from the point of view of the character involved (although I was more aware of the narrator in this book that I had been before. This was particularly evident in the parts of the story following Sam, who is not a bookish man, as evidenced by his dialogue and his backstory, but even when we are with him, we are provided insights and observation that go well beyond his psychological and cultural makeup), and the alternating points of view allow us to be privy to information that gives us more of an overall and multifaceted picture than that of any of the individual characters. However, the Jim Fosse’s fragments of the story are narrated in the first person and that makes them particularly chilling and at times difficult to read. A character with no moral compass and good brains, a master manipulator and plotter, his attitude reminded me at times of the main character in American Psycho (although more inclined to psychological mind-games than to out-and-out violence); and his role is central to most of what happens in the story, although I won’t reveal any details. He does not have any redeeming qualities (at least none than I’ve discovered yet), but he is witty, his observations can be humorous (if you appreciate dark humour) and accurate, and there is no pretence there, and no apology. He plays his part well for the public, but in private he does not hesitate or dwell on the consequences of his actions. If he wants something and it does not involve a high risk for him, he’ll go for it. And I find that refreshing indeed. No, he’s not somebody I’d like to meet (or rather, he’s not somebody in whose way I’d want to be), but he is a great character to read about.

These men (well, not so much Jim Fosse, although he does, at points, becomes obsessed with what seems to be his female counterpart) are obsessed by women, one way or another, and riddled by guilt (definitely not Fosse), be it by commission or by omission. But, if we truly look into it, these are men whose issues with women seem to hide some deep insecurity and doubts about their own selves. Sam Trask, in my opinion the most sympathetic of the characters, is an innocent abroad (he has been out of his country as a soldier but otherwise he is quite naïve to the ways of the world), without being truly innocent. He is tortured by the memory of something he witnessed. His difficulties made me wonder if guilt by omission is not even worse than true guilt. Because if you’ve done something terrible, you can tell yourself you won’t do it again, but if what happened was not of your own doing, how can you guarantee that it will not happen again? Yes, you might tell yourself that you will react differently next time, but you can never be sure you will be in a position to do so, or it will make a difference. You were, in a way, another victim of the situation but complicit in it at the same time. No wonder it is not something one can recover easily from.

As I said, I enjoyed meeting Sam, and felt for him and his difficulties. I’ve mentioned Jim Fosse, and I am curious about Reichenbach, who pulls some of the strings. I felt less close to Braddock than I had in the past. I am not sure if it was the narrative style, or the fact that he is less central to the story, appears less sharp (he missed quite a number of clues), and seems to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about smoking. He remains intent on protecting himself and not fully confronting the truth about his relationship with this father and his own unresolved issues. I’m sure it’s a personal thing, but when he reflects on women and their role, I felt like shaking him and telling him to grow-up. I guess I’m coming more and more to Da’s  (his faithful no-nonsense secretary/associate) way of thinking.

The writing is supple, suffused with psychological and philosophical insights, a great deal of understatement and fun, witty comments, and eminently quotable. One can’t help but wish to have such a witty internal narrator to accompany us in our adventures.

The mystery (there are several but all end up fitting into a complex scheme) is cleverly constructed and although as I said we, the readers, know more than any of the individual characters (thanks to the different points of view and the multiple story strands), it is not easy to guess exactly how things will be solved. Those of us who have been following the stories from the beginning might have an inkling (of course things are not as they seem, but that’s no surprise), but I don’t think many readers will get it 100% right. And that is one of the joys of the story. The vivid and multiple settings, the accurate psychological and sociological insights, and the fabulous characters and dialogues make for a fabulous read as well. This is the strong beginning of another of John Dolan’s masterful series. And I’ll be sure to keep reading it.

Thanks to the author for his book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling! Oh, and I should be bringing you the review of the second novel in this trilogy soon. Ah, and don’t worry if you don’t see me or any of my posts for a bit. I’ll be away recharging batteries and catching up on some reading!

 

 

Categories
Book launch book promo

#BookLaunch EYE OF THE TIGER (A Redcliffe Novel. Book 4) by Catherine Green (@SpookyMrsGreen) A paranormal detective series with magic aplenty. #ASMSG

Hi all:
I received the news that one of the writers I follow in Triberr, fellow member of ASMSG and who always shares information about local events and anything writerly (she lives not very far from me in the UK, although I’m yet to make one of her fabulous- sounding events), Catherine Green, is launching a new book. And as she’s never visited my blog, I thought this was the perfect occasion to introduce her work here. Do not miss the official launch party in Facebook and you’ll have the opportunity to partake of presents and merriment.
OFFICIAL
BOOK LAUNCH – Eye of the Tiger (A Redcliffe Novel) – book 4 –
by
Catherine Green
 
 
Jessica
Stone used to be a normal human. Then she fell in love with a vampire, met his
identical twin werewolf brother, and her life fell apart spectacularly. Meeting
Detective Jack Mason, and his brother Danny, brought about a powerful change,
and Jessica’s magic was released. Now, in Redcliffe book 4, she must learn to
control her ethereal animal familiar, who lusts after the alpha werewolf, and
will stop at nothing to use her human mistress as a tool… Or is that a
weapon?
The Redcliffe novels series follow the adventures of bookshop owner Jessica Stone as
she meets a man and falls in love, only to discover the hidden werewolf secrets
of her close friends. Who knew the Cornish coast could be so deadly?
Eye of the Tiger (A Redcliffe Novel) – available
in bookshops, libraries, and online now!
Buy from Amazon UK; Amazon
US
, and other major online retailers.
 
Join the Facebook launch party on the 30th June 2017 here.
Find Catherine Green and her British paranormal novels
in the following places:
 
 
Have you
discovered the Redcliffe novels?
Sign up today, and receive your fabulous FREE book to get you
started… (be warned, my vampires do not sparkle, and my wolves will
bite!) 
Thanks to Catherine for bringing us the news, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!
Categories
Book review Book reviews

The Sans Pareil Mystery (The Detective Lavender Mysteries Book 2) by Karen Charlton Great female historical figures and an enjoyable regency mystery

Hi all:

Seriously, I haven’t that many reviews left to share now before I get up-to-date… This week we have an interesting lot, so, don’t miss them!

The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton
The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton

The Sans Pareil Mystery (The Detective Lavender Mysteries Book 2) by Karen Charlton

On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances.

Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.

With the Napoleonic War looming dangerously across the Channel, this is a time of suspicion and treachery. Following the clues from the seedy back streets of Covent Garden up through the echelons of society, Lavender and Woods begin to fear that the case is much bigger than they’d dared imagine—and worse, that they are at risk of becoming mere players in a master criminal’s shadowy drama.

It will take all of Lavender’s skill and wit, and help from the beautiful Magdalena, to bring the mystery of the Sans Pareil Theatre to a dramatic conclusion in the final act.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Pareil-Mystery-Detective-Lavender-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00WFIM490/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pareil-Mystery-Detective-Lavender-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00WFIM490/

Author Karen Charlton
Author Karen Charlton

About the author:

Hello, and thank you for visiting my Amazon Page. I’m Karen Charlton, a writer of mysteries. I write historical crime fiction, set in Regency England.

My Detective Lavender Mysteries, published by Thomas & Mercer, are the fictional adventures of Stephen Lavender, who was a real-life Principal Officer with the Bow Street Police Office in London.

By the early 19th century, Principal officers had a variety of different and important roles although they were still nicknamed ‘Bow Street Runners’ as if they were messenger boys. Apart from supporting their colleagues solve crime in the capital, they were often sent out to help magistrates in the provinces with difficult cases. They also took part in undercover work in periods of insurrection, for example, during the Luddite riots in the Midlands and were available to hire by wealthy landowners.

They were Britain’s earliest private detectives and were famous throughout London. They were the only policemen allowed into Buckingham House (the forerunner of the palace) and did security work for the Bank of England. On some occasions, they were even sent abroad to help with crimes and criminals who had spilled out over our borders onto the continent.

Through my research, I have come across dozens of their cases reported in the newspapers of the time. I frequently use them as the basis for the plots of my novels. I am currently writing the fourth book in the series: ‘Plague Pits & River Bones.’ There are also two Detective Lavender Short Stories to compliment the series: ‘The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds’ and ‘The Piccadilly Pickpocket.’

‘Catching the Eagle’, my first novel, is the true story of our notorious ancestor, Jamie Charlton, who was convicted back in 1810 of Northumberland’s biggest robbery. To explain how my late husband and I discovered this gaol-bird in our family tree, I wrote my nonfiction genealogy book, ‘Seeking Our Eagle.’ It’s a ‘How -we-did-it’ rather than a ‘whodunit?’ and is probably the closest I’ll ever come to an autobiography.

An English graduate and a former teacher, I now write full-time and live in a remote fishing village on the North East coast of England. I am a stalwart of the village pub quiz and my team once won the BBC quiz show ‘Eggheads.’ My other claim to fame is that I won a Yorkshire Tourist Board award for writing Murder Mystery Weekends.

Apart from that, I’m pretty normal really.

I hope you enjoy my stories and, if you do, please remember to leave me a review.

You can find out more about me and my work at http://www.karencharlton.com

Please remember to sign up for my Occasional Newsletter on the landing page if you would like regular updates about my literary exploits and adventures.

 

My review:

I was provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

This is the first novel in the series of the Detective Lavender Mysteries I’ve read and the first regency detective novel too, and I thought it was an enjoyable ride.

I liked the characters (although perhaps a bit more the sidekicks). Like in a musical or an operetta, we have the serious and higher class protagonists (although Lavender isn’t a nobleman, he’s well-educated) and then we have Constable Woods, and the servants. There are also the seedy characters around Bow Street, which together with the well-researched architectonic details and the language of the period create a credible atmosphere and bring to life the London of the era.

The characters created by the author mix with real historical figures, and I was in particular fascinated by the extraordinary women she chooses to portray, like Jane Scott and Dorothea Jordan (thanks, Sarah!), one the owner of a theatre, a writer and actress (the Sans-Pareil of the title) and the other the mistress of the Prince of Wales, and a comedy actress who kept the prince and ten children with her own work.

There are intrigues, murders, kidnappings, spies, romance… The book is a page-turner, and I enjoyed the setting, the descriptions of London, the intrigues and the mystery, the fast pace, the theatrical setting, and the humour. Lavender gets a lot of help from other characters and sometimes pure luck, but he manages to get the case to a satisfying conclusion (and there’s romance too!).

An easy and light read, with interesting and not heavily laid historical background, and good pace and sense of humour. Very enjoyable.

Thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for writing, and remember to like, share, comment, CLICK, and of course, remember to leave a review when you read a book. 

Oh, Sarah Vernon, who unfortunately couldn’t leave a comment (WordPress wasn’t cooperating) recommends a book that sounds fabulous about the real Dorothea Jordan by Claire Tomalin, Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King. It looks fabulous. Thanks, Sarah!

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Book reviews

#Bookreview Running on Emptiness by John Dolan (@JohnDolanAuthor) Revenge, death, family and an endings of sorts

Hi all:

Today I bring you a new(ish) book, the last one (so far) in John Dolan‘s Time, Blood and Karma series. I had read the other three books in the series, a shorter story related to it, and a collaboration between the author and Fiona Quinn (Chaos Is Come Again. See review here) and I was eager to read this one. When I reviewed the third novel in the series A Poison Tree I took the chance to share the previous reviews again too, so you can read it hereAs I say in the review, it’s important that one reads all the books so don’t hesitate to read the review and the books. But without further ado, here is the review.

Running on Emptiness by John Dolan
Running on Emptiness by John Dolan

Running on Emptiness (Time, Blood and Karma, Book 4)  by John Dolan Revenge, death, family and an endings of sorts

“Today, there will be a reckoning.”

It is the summer of 2006. In Thailand, the army makes preparations to overthrow the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra.

Against this backdrop of political turmoil, destinies are shaped as events ensnare a corrupt Police Chief and his dying wife, two warring drug lords, an embittered widow, and a vengeful gangster.

While dreams and obsessions play out on the streets of Bangkok, private detective David Braddock finds himself mired in guilt. The ghosts of his past misdeeds are coming home, and they are bringing devastation in their wake.

‘Running on Emptiness’ is the fourth volume in the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series.

The ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series will appeal to lovers of the following book categories: mystery, thriller, crime, Thailand fiction, private investigators, British detectives, and amateur sleuths.

Here the links:

http://amzn.to/1O6MMxS

http://amzn.to/1O6MG9F

And here, my review:

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read all the novels in the Time, Blood and Karma series by John Dolan and have enjoyed them enormously. I read many genres, but I am quite partial to mystery/thrillers. And these ones have a very special protagonist, David Braddock, and amateur detective (or rather a not professionally recognised and trained detective, but he is pretty good and gets paid for his efforts) and again a non-professional therapist, a British man but who lives in Thailand, an amateur philosopher who regularly visits an old Buddhist monk (his best friend), who has interesting an complex relationships with many women and a past full of ghosts.

Whilst the third book in the series, A Poison Tree explored and explained David’s back history and his life in the UK, Running on Emptiness continues with the adventures of Hungry Ghosts where we, the readers, were privy to some information that left us hanging and waiting for disaster to strike. We have a gangster determined to avenge his brother’s death (the only meaningful thing he has left to do in life), a dying woman who before ending her life in her own terms (remaining in charge of her meaning) reveals a dangerous secret, another woman who after losing her job realises she’s been living a lie and tries and find meaning by coming clean, an old man who, disappointed by his children, decides to revisit a shady past he thought he’d left behind to do the right thing. Each chapter is told from a different point of view, and that includes the characters whom we might think of as the good guys (but nobody is blameless, honest and truthful in this novel, at least none of the characters whose points of view we follow), but also the gangsters, corrupt policemen and killers. The action takes place in England (we start with a wedding and we end with a funeral) and Thailand, we have political unrest, and there is also a murder case to solve with magic trickery thrown in, where Braddock (and Dolan) follow on Agatha Christie’s footsteps and pull off a brilliant piece of sleight-of-hand engineering.

The story is told at a good pace, the writing is impeccable and lyrical at times (particularly on the parts from David Braddock’s point of view. He is witty and forever quotable), I must confess I cheered at a point towards the end (but I’ll keep my lips sealed as I don’t want to spoil it for anybody), and in the end, although there are some questions and unresolved issues, I felt we’d reached the end of an era. The complex and alternative life Braddock had built for himself, in an attempt at escaping reality, comes crushing down around him, taking no prisoners.  By the end, although Braddock might not know everything, he’s lost a lot and learned a fair deal about himself, about the people he cares about, about his friends, and about life itself.

I recommend this book to lovers of thrillers and mystery stories with great main characters, those who have a penchant for philosophy and reflections on the nature of life, particularly if you’re intrigued by Thailand, and in general those who love good and memorable writing. But, do read the whole series in the right order, because the sum of its parts is much greater than the individual novels. Congratulations to John Dolan on his epic series. I won’t forget Time, Blood and Karma any time soon. And I’ll be waiting eagerly for more of novels, in the same or other series.

Thanks to John Dolan for this amazing series, thanks to all of you for reading and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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