Blessed Mayhem by Sue Coletta is filled with suspense

blessed mahem

Blessed Mayhem by Sue Coletta (Crossroad Press, August 9, 2017) is the second book in this author’s Mayhem series, featuring cat-burglar/computer hacker Shawnee Daniels.

I’ve been watching Coletta develop her unique style of storytelling and complicated characters during the past several years, and I’ve become a devoted fan of her fiction. Like any experienced crime writer she begins with a murder. Then she places her protagonist in jeopardy and heaps on the complications. Shawnee is caught, again and again, between a rock and a hard place. Although she’s incredibly resourceful, you just know one of these days she’ll get into trouble she can’t talk or fight her way out of.

Or the people closest to her will be killed, and it will be her fault for placing them in jeopardy.

Nadine, Shawnee’s BFF and roommate, tries to be helpful but usually manages to make things worse. I’ve never known a real librarian to be so clueless. She’s like a cross between Lou Costello and Stan Laurel. If Coletta wants to highlight the differences between the two friends, she’s certainly succeeded. Shawnee has a wisecracking mouth on her that won’t quit. She swears like a sailor and kicks ass. Nadine, on the other hand, won’t even say “shit.” She’ll say “ship” instead. They’re as different as night and day.

Coletta also gives Shawnee Daniels a unique first-person voice while using third-person POV to define Levaughn and Mr. Mayhem. Nadine is such a nay-sayer, she doesn’t deserve a voice.

As in her previous novels, Coletta obviously does lots of research and passes along what she’s learned. Blessed Mayhem includes factual information about crows, crime scene procedures, and the meaning of BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion), plus a few choice tidbits about computer hacking.

And kudos to Coletta for heightening the suspense. Just when Shawnee is hip-deep in alligators, she tosses a poison snake—maybe not literally, but close enough for government work—into the pond.

I look forward to the next book in the Mayhem series.

 

Great Mystery, Superb Suspense

The Other Girl

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler (St. Martin’s Press, August 22, 2017) is a great mystery story, expertly crafted.

Miranda “Randi” Rader and Jake Billings, police detectives in rural Louisiana, investigate the murder and mutilation of a college professor. Before Miranda became a cop, she’d been a victim herself of kidnapping and attempted sexual assault. Evidence found at the murder scene leads her to believe the professor, who is also the college president’s son, was the man who abducted her and another girl fourteen years ago.

Spindler builds suspense by piling up more and more evidence that points fingers at the wrong people, including Randi. Is someone trying to frame her for murder? Who? Why?

No one seems to believe Randi (Miranda), except her partner Jake and her best-friend Summer. She’s removed from the case and suspended from the department. She has to hire an attorney because she’s about to be arrested for murder.

Things go from bad to worse. Miranda learns Summer has an inoperable brain tumor and is going to die. Randi’s brother informs her their estranged mother is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack.

And when she and Jake fall in love, it only complicates things even more.

There’s an old saying among suspense writers that when your protagonist is hip-deep in alligators, you should throw a back-biting poisonous snake into the mix to add excitement. Spindler does that in The Other Girl, only she throws in more than one. Miranda doesn’t know (nor does the reader) she’s about to be bit in the butt until the snake strikes.

Great mystery, superb suspense. The Other Girl is a page-turner you won’t be able to put down until the very end.

 

Dean Koontz has a new heroine

Dean Koontz combines Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate with Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives to create his latest pulse-pounding suspense thriller The Silent Corner (Bantam Books, June 2017).

Jane Hawk’s husband commits suicide, but he isn’t the only one to die by his own hand. When Jane, a highly-trained FBI Special Agent, takes bereavement leave and investigates the sudden rash of unexplained deaths, she and her five-year-old son are threatened by mysterious strangers who know all about her. Jane’s only hope to save her son and herself is to go entirely off the grid — to disappear into the silent corner where no one can track her movements or whereabouts.

Because those hunting Jane and her son don’t play nice, Jane can’t either. She becomes a rogue agent, a cold-blooded killer, and a thief.

Like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Jane Hawk has skills that allow her to survive against impossible odds. She goes on the offensive and ruthlessly kills people who deserve killing. We cheer her on each time another bad guy bites the dust.

The Silent Corner is only the first of at least three Jane Hawk novels. The Whispering Room will be out next January.

Exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, and well-written, I recommend The Silent Corner to everyone who enjoys a good read.

Deviants is now in e-book

 

 

Deviants cover

Many of my readers have waited patiently to read Deviants, a short suspense novel that I expected to appear in print during 2014 or 2015. The publisher who contracted for Deviant’s hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio rights sold their imprints to another publisher in 2015. During the transition, certain agreements of the original contract became null and void, and I asked the new publisher to return all rights to me. Although that new publishing company offered me a new contract with a tentative publication date in 2016, I declined.

When Crossroad Press, the publisher who has done such an amazing job promoting my Instruments of Death series, asked to let them know if the e-book rights for Deviants ever became available, I agreed to let them know. Although Deviants is a stand-alone novel, it does share certain similarities with the Instruments of Death novels. Crossroad Press’s Gordian Knot imprint is probably the ideal place for Deviants.

I am happy to announce the e-book publication of Deviants. It’s now available for Kindle and Nook. Here’s a sample:

Augie, by default, fit right in. He didn’t belong in normal society. He didn’t want what most people wanted. He had no use for a big house with a monthly mortgage to pay, no job with which to pay a mortgage even if he did want a house, no desire for a wife and children. He didn’t want a fancy new car every couple of years. What Augie wanted, ordinary society refused to provide, rejected as dangerous, and sought to stifle because the very idea was repulsive.

Augie wanted to watch people die as he slowly and systematically dismembered them. He wanted to smell the coppery-rich scent of fresh blood, feel the slimy, slippery parts of the human body grow cold beneath his deliberate touch. In a sense, he wanted to play God, for he had been told that only God could give life or take it away.

Deviants is part psychological horror, part crime-suspense. It’s lots of fun.

Order from http://www.amazon.com/Deviants-Paul-Dale-Anderson-ebook/dp/B01CTTXZNS

 

Pogo’s Honda: Unraveling the Mystery of Ashley Bell

Dean Koontz is a master, and Ashley Bell (Bantam, December 2015, ISBN 978-0345545961) is a modern masterpiece of suspense.

It’s obvious that Koontz, always the consummate craftsman, studied the great writers that came before him to discover what worked and what didn’t work in fiction. Today’s writers need to study Koontz.

Dean’s imaginative stories always center around mysteries the reader and protagonist must solve. Bibi Blair is a 22-year-old writer whose go-with-the-flow surfer dude and dudette California parents “go through life failing to see all sorts of amazing things because they aren’t expecting to see them.” They take the world “as is”. Bibi, however, believes in taking the world by its horns and bending it to her will. For Bibi, life is a challenge. So, too, is death.

Mystery piles upon mystery as Bibi recalls events from her childhood and ill-fated college experience. Koontz loves to pull the rug out from beneath his characters (and readers), leaving them dazed. Just when everything seems to be fine again, something else happens. Coincidence piles upon coincidence. But there are no coincidences—only design and premeditation—in a Koontz novel.

Koontz keeps the paragraphs, like the chapters, short. This make reading easier, especially in e-books. Dean seldom uses flowery imagery, preferring the plain and simple language ordinary people feel most comfortable with. Oh, there are indeed plenty of similes and metaphors in a Koontz tale. But when Dean occasionally uses big words, as he sometimes but only rarely does, he doesn’t expect the reader to run to the dictionary to look the word up. He shows, doesn’t merely tell, what those big words mean.

In Ashley Bell, Koontz introduces readers to the meaning of astragalomancy and scrabblemancy, as well as to caracals and night soil. He also explains the meaning of “butt-hole spiders”.

Dean also uses his share of alliteration, although subtly and sparingly enough so alliteration seems neither obsessive nor intrusive. It’s evident that Dean Koontz cares about his readers. He wants readers engulfed in the story, not in the words themselves.

To move the storyline along quickly, Koontz provides alternate POVs with every new chapter or dream-like flashbacks to Bibi’s childhood and college years. Paxton Thorp, Bibi’s fiance, is a Navy SEAL on a blackout mission in the Middle East. Paxton is kept incommunicado—off the grid—while he and his SEAL team assassinate a known terrorist. Paxton has no clue what has happened to Bibi—other than the feeling that Bibi is in trouble—until he returns to the real world.

Koontz mesmerizes readers, puts them into hypnotic trances via subliminal suggestions. Like a master magician, Dean Koontz distracts readers’ attention while working his magic. Is anything as it seems? What’s real? And what isn’t?

As Pogo says about his Honda: “Wouldn’t be fun if it looked like what it was.”

No spoilers for you dear reader. If you want to learn what happens to Bibi Blair and Ashley Bell, you need to surf the novel itself. Just beware: imagination can get the better of you if you let it.

Take it from me, Ashley Bell is worth the read.