Tag Archives: novels

GUILT by Jonathan Kellerman

I have always enjoyed Jonathan Kellerman’s series featuring psychologist/sleuth Alex Delaware and his buddy Milo Sturgis.  There was a period where I felt that the series went a bit downhill, but the last four volumes in this series found the author upping his game a bit and delivering very satisfying stories.

In this story the bones of a baby are found in someone’s back yard, and the police are called in.  It turns out that the bones are pretty old and show no sign of trauma or evidence that the death was anything besides natural.  But the incident gets on the news, and pretty soon another set of baby’s bones are found in a park not too far from this house, followed by the body of a young woman.

Alex Delaware is not one to give up, and that seems to be a theme of this book – an exploration of Alex’s determination, which borders (or may cross into) obsessive/compulsive behavior.  He investigates both cases with his usual dogged determination, while Milo carries on in a by-the-book manner on his police investigation.

The book is about the evidence unfolding as one lead points to another lead, and Alex and Milo follow up on each lead undeterred by interference from higher-ups, lawyers and high-powered show biz types.  The exposition of the crime is done in a highly satisfactory manner (for me) and the solution is dramatic.  As is the solution to the first mystery, that of the baby’s body buried under an old tree, which comes almost as an afterthought, with only Alex finding out the truth of this one.  But you knew it was coming, that Kellerman would not leave us hanging on that one, and the low key manner in which it is presented is again very satisfactory to me.

There was a period where I felt that Kellerman had been surpassed by Stephen White as far as the freshness of his stories in this particular subgenre (psychologist sleuth with a cop buddy), even though I always felt White was imitating Kellerman as much as possible.  White’s Alan Gregory stories were more compelling at that time, but I think Kellerman has come back and taken the lead again in this genre, and I really enjoy his first-person spartan style when writing from Delaware’s perspective.  Also in Guilt, I felt that I learned something about Alex as a character that I didn’t know before.  Though I knew something about his history as a child, I had never put it together with why he has always been so determined and focused on the cases he works with Milo.  This book gave an explanation of sorts for that, and this far into a series, I find that to be a real positive as far as storytelling goes.  I mean, we’ve all known Alex for many many years, and I figured that I knew pretty much all there was to know about him.  Maybe that’s why these last several books have seemed fresher – because Kellerman is exploring depths of Alex’s character that most writers would be ignoring at this stage of the series.

Overall, I give this one a five star review.


Review of “Your Soul To Take” by Sean Hayden

Just finished this YA offering from Sean Hayden and Untold Press.  Posted this review on Amazon:

I forgot how much I enjoyed the first book in this series (MY SOUL TO KEEP) by Sean Hayden, but I was reminded as I read this one. Sean has a keen sense of story and plot, and everything moved right along about how you’d want it to! I’m giving it five stars because I haven’t had this much pure fun reading a novel in a while (although I’ve read plenty of books I truly enjoyed).

If there’s a quibble, it’s that Connor seems a little too mature in his dealings with his girlfriend and his sister. Sometimes I think he’s missing the 15-year-old attitude a little more than is called for by his, um, condition. But otherwise I think that the other thing that Sean has a good ear for is dialogue, and when you put the two together (story and dialogue) you end up with a pretty darned good book! Enjoyable for young adults and old adults (like me).

That pretty much says it all for me on the book.

Untold Press is Sean’s (and Jen Wylie’s) publishing company, and so far I’ve enjoyed the fiction I’ve read coming out of their small press.  That said, it’s been mostly stuff by Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie.

So go ahead and take a look at it.  Reading it was a lot of fun!


Works in Progress

And then there were four.

Most of what I’ve published so far is short fiction.  The longest is a three story series, coming in at about 24K words.  The stories are roughly 7K, 8K and 9K, and they’re all about the same story but told from different points.  The longest short story I’ve put out there so far is THE GHOST TRAIN, part of the DIE 6 collection.  It comes in at something over 10K words.

But I’ve been working on longer stories.  And I finished my fourth over the weekend.  This is not to say it’s ready to publish.  It isn’t.  None of the four are.  But the story is complete.

Here are the four:

  • THE CAVE – a horror story about five eighth graders who find a cave in a forest preserve and the cave is something more than just a hole in the ground…  (around 23K words)
  • THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT – when the sun fails to come up for several days in a row, a girl’s familiar street becomes a frightening place to be.  (Around 27K words)
  • DEATH BY APPOINTMENT – a who-dun-it featuring a young dentist as the sleuth.  (around 45K words)
  • COLLEGE EVIL – a college kid researches the nature of good and evil, and starts seeing assaults which are happening on his campus in a very graphic way.  How is that possible?  And they are getting more and more personal… (about 45K words)

Those are all just working titles, obviously.  I’m not great with my titles.  But 45K is short-novel length, right?  I’m thinking of combining THE CAVE and THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT into one novella-collection, then putting the other two out individually.

Look for them sometime after I get them edited…


Yes, I like physical books!

I guess I’m one of those few remaining readers who actually like to have a physical copy of a book.  So now I’m gonna get all mystical on you and give you a couple of reasons why I like them.  And maybe a couple of things that people mention that they like about them that I don’t really care about.

First, I don’t care about the smell.  Book paper does, somehow, have a different odor than, say, a ream of copy paper from Office Max, but I have never grabbed a book and just held it to my nose and basked in the glory of the scent of the book.  Nope, smell doesn’t do it for me.

Second, I don’t care about taking notes in the margins.  Of course, I can do that easily on my Kindle.  But I was never one to take a pencil or pen to a book.  A lot of my books look as good after I read them as they did when I first brought them home from the hospital…er, ah, the bookstore.  (Sorry, got books and babies confused for a second there.)

Now what I do like about them.  I like the way they look on the shelf.  I have a room in the basement, and I have far more books than I have shelf space.  But the shelving I have…well, I really like the way that all of the Stephen King books look when I line them up.  I like the way my Kellerman books look.  My Asimovs and Cards and my Evanovichs and my Connellys and Wilsons and Cobens and Crais’s and Whites and Graftons and Clancys and Deavers and…well, you get the picture.  They’re colorful and they just look elegant, to me at least.

I also like browsing in that room for books.  There’s something about being surrounded by books that gives me a warm feeling.  (Some readers probably know the feeling; it is the same feeling you get at the bookstore or the library…except with prettier books (no clear plastic dustcovers) and all books that I love or have loved at some point in my life.)   Even searching through a box of paperbacks brings back memories as I come across forgotten books that I had a passionate fling with…oops, now I’m getting books mixed up with girlfriends…

I also like that I can resell them, easily lend them, donate them, and otherwise share them more easily (sometimes, the exception being sharing with my kids) than I can with an ebook.  I feel like I have an asset.  Like my 1969-1973 baseball cards, they don’t cost me anything sitting there, and they could return at least a few pennies.  I consider the dollars spent to be money I spent on the story.  Having the physical book is pure value in my view.

I like ebooks, too.  I publish ebooks.  I buy a lot of authors’ ebooks, especially independent authors.  I certainly spend more on them today than I do on physical books, in part because they’re so easy to read and obtain and in part because I don’t have any more space for physical books (my kids are contributing to the p-book collection now, so even though we don’t have room, we continue to build the collection).  I love the fact that I can cart my Kindle to a park or a restaurant (yes, when I get out of the office for lunch once a week, I take the Kindle and part of the attraction of going out is that I get an hour to read in peace).  I love the fact that I can store hundreds of books on that device, and pick and choose what I feel like reading.

For example, I just finished two books by author Sean Hayden (one was a collection of short fiction with Jen Wylie, the other was a short novella called LADY DORN), and didn’t know what to read before starting Bobby Adair’s fifth SLOW BURN book, and I decided to read something that was on my Kindle for a long time.  I found a book by Jon Jacks called WYRD GIRL, and it was a wyrd (weird) story that I didn’t love but I didn’t hate either.  It was a quick read and I was glad to clear it from the queue.  With a physical book, I probably wouldn’t have done that.

But I still love physical books.  I like the way they look.  I like the feeling of them when I’m reading.  Even so, I have enough of them to last me many years.  Ebooks are about the story, and while p-books are about more than that (at least for me), the story is what I really love.


Some wordage done today!

Hey, I actually feel like I got somewhere with my WIP, a horror novel or novella about an inn in the south.  I stood at something like 20,800 words before today.  Right this minute I am at about 24,150 words.  That’s 3,350 words today!

The story was flying off my fingers as I got past a part that was giving me trouble.  But I think I’m coming up to another part that is going to give me some trouble.  I know where “we” are in the story, and I know who’s going to win, but I have to figure out how it’s gonna happen.  And some of what I wrote will need some extensive editing and rewriting.  But some is pretty good.

Look for an excerpt here, once I finish up.

Take care!


Oh, the horror!

I’ve been writing something that I’d classify as “horror”.  It’s got some thriller elements, and there isn’t much supernatural about it, but I think it’s sort of frightening.

So I’ve been reading a bunch of horror as well.

Recently I have read GRAB by Blake Crouch, which was more of a thriller than horror.  I liked it.  I met the main character, Letty Dobesh, in a collaborative effort between Crouch and J.A. Konrath, but I can’t exactly come up with the title.  Just a lot of serial killers in it.  But this is a heist tale, a story about ripping off some scary people in Vegas.  It was good.  It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, it clipped right along.

I also read two books by John Everson, who I had not read before.  The first was called The 13th, and it was about a series of kidnappings of women for something nefarious.  I found it to be a good story that seemed fresh and original to me.  It did seem a bit drawn out, maybe a little overly wordy, but all in all, I really liked it.

I also read Night Where, which I also found to be quite original.  And a little drawn out as well, but I realize that Everson has a way with characters.  He creates characters that you want to find out more about.  This was a haunting read.  I thought about it when I’d put the book down.  The subject matter (it’s set in a bondage and submission club) is a little out there for folks who don’t read horror regularly.

I found these to be entertaining stories, different from those of William Malmborg, where the horror is in realistic people, serial killers and crazies who terrorize innocents for their own purposes.  (More like mine.  I don’t know how well I write “supernatural”…)

We’ll see what else comes up as I get through more horror.


Reading FEED by M.T. Anderson and 68 KILL by Bryan Smith

I get to read a lot of young adult/middle reader books because, well, that’s what my boys read.  So I picked up this book called Feed  by M.T. Anderson, which is a young adult novel set in a future where everyone’s hooked into a constant feed from, well, somewhere – sort of like Facebook and Amazon on steroids.  Imagine getting messages beamed right into your head based on what you just looked at or listened to or bought – like what Amazon does with its book recommendations and many other sites do now when we surf the net.  (Buy a pair of sneakers for an eighth grader?  Suddenly all the ads at your favorite music site are for shoes from Reebok or whatever…)  “TV” programming is beamed directly into the characters’ skulls and instead of drugs, they go “mal”, which seems to be visiting a site that sort of scrambles the feed to a point where you’re disoriented and you seem drugged.  Everything is at the tip of one’s…well…mind.

The drama in this one comes when the main character Titus is attracted to a girl (Violet) and Violet has problems with her feed, and because these things are so integrated with the brain, it threatens to kill her.  How Titus reacts is a large part of the story, but just the way their world works is just as big.  It could be falling apart around them and no one would notice because they’re too distracted by their feeds.

It extrapolates what we’re experiencing today, with political distraction from huge, important issues that have the potential to help all of us, and instead are framed to benefit corporations.  I’m enjoying the book, though I think it could be better structured.  And it’s a bit confusing, being in Titus’ head for much of the book.  He’s a teenager in the future, where the slang, the actions, the terminology, are very different from what today’s slang, actions, and terminology are.  And then it’s more confusing because I’m not a teen and I don’t understand some of the stuff from TODAY!

I’m not going to have my 13-year-old read it yet because I think it’s a little above him still.  But later, it may contain some important lessons and food for thought.


I’ve also started 68 KILL by Bryan Smith.  Can’t say too much about it yet.  I like Smith’s other horror offerings.  Hoping this one is as good.


What’s coming…

I have a plan. It’s taking me some time to execute it, but certain things are starting to come together. Like this website, for example. And Deadlock Press, which should be up and running by next weekend. Then comes the publishing.

I plan on starting with short stories. I am going to publish four short stories as soon as I get the publishing company’s business stuff done. They are:

  • Sole Occupant
  • Odd Man Out
  • Jack’o’lantern
  • The Gateway

All are short stories, between 2000 and 3000 words, I believe, which is a little short. So each will come with a bonus short story as well. And more short stories are on the way.

After I get the short stories done, I will be releasing a collection of all of them. I plan on doing a paper version of the collection as well.

Then come the longer works. There are three finished at this point; the shortest is about 27000 words, and the longest is about 45000 words.

Look for the cover art of the short stories here soon. Maybe even later today on a couple of them.

Thanks for looking in!