Killing Sanford, Mike Kershner

Killing Sanford, Mike Kershner

Killing Sanford (Gary Cannon Book 1)

Gary Cannon is an assassin, working for Sanford International Holdings. Killing Sanford sees Gary reluctantly working on US soil, with a quadruple hit slated to take place in Omaha. He hopes that sticking to field protocol will shift the intense unease that’s been dogging him since he climbed out onto the runway, but old nightmares continue to dog him as he makes his reconnaissance of the targets. Eventually, driven by the nagging sense that something is badly amiss, he calls in the details of one of the hits to his HQ, only to find that he’s pulling on the tail of something bigger and much more dangerous than he’d anticipated, bound up in old history.

Mike Kershner’s style features cameos of the history underpinning Gary’s current situation, the story weaving between 1976 Omaha and the period just after WWII and later, describing the events leading to the founding of Sanford International. Killing Sanford pulls this off better than many stories, with the various timelines transitioning smoothly from one to the other. I did find that the pacing of the story was held back by the level of description, and in places repetition, as well as the writing style, which was awkward enough in places to pull me out of full immersion in the storyline. Aside from that, however, the plot was strong, with some interesting twists and turns. Definitely a good read in the Jack Higgins genre for thriller fans.

The Watch, Amanda Witt

The Watch, Amanda Witt

The Watch (The Red Series Book 1)

The Watch, by Amanda Witt, is set in a closed community under constant surveillance, where walls provide protection from the things that are rumoured to haunt the surrounding woods. Red, so-called for her flaming red hair, is the maverick in a society of martinets, the only child born during the time of the ashes, the only person on the island with that distinctive shade of hair, and she is both watched and shunned because of it. Red’s existence is precarious, and her penchant for breaking rules with her charismatic friend Meritt makes it more so. It isn’t until a dangerous brush with the Wardens that Red becomes increasingly aware that it isn’t just her existence that’s precarious…

Amada Witt offers an action-packed story in The Watch, fast-paced and with rags and tags of buried history drawn unexpectedly from dark corners as the plot progresses, building a fascinating dual picture of a highly-regimented society underlaid by foundations that are crumbling into the abyss at an ever-increasing rate. Red, the wild card, is a strong protagonist, the unknowns in her background drawing the reader on page by page in the quest to discover more. This book offers a wealth of adventure, mystery, and plot twists that will draw you in and surprise you right through to the final paragraph.

Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones

Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones

Thanks, PG!: Memoirs of a Tabloid Reporter

In Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones takes us on an in-depth exploration of the world of tabloids through the eyes of Billy Don Johnson, a pharmacist turned reporter from Alabama whose ideals of reporting are not matching up to the realities of the traditional press. Driven to seek out something new and different, he tries out for the National Insider, a tabloid headquartered in Florida. Once there, Billy Don is immediately enthralled by the complete contrast of the Insider’s style with the papers he’s worked for previously, and awed by the mythos of PG, the owner and editor in chief. Billy Don goes on to cover everything from the history of the ascension of Mao Zedong to the many affairs of Marlon Brando.

John Isaac Jones’s protagonist is an Alabama boy with a yearning to break away from the expectations set on him, willing to take some risks to make his dream for his life come true. As a character, he is eminently relatable, and that underlies and links the cameo stories of events and people that comprise much of the book. Written in a quirky first person, this book will draw you into Billy Don’s life and offer a fascinating, insider view of the world of tabloid reporting. Thanks, PG! showcases the proverb that the truth is stranger than fiction. Definitely a recommended read.

The Wolfe Experiment, R W Adams

The Wolfe Experiment, R W Adams

The Wolfe Experiment

Ethan and his younger sister, Tilly, are orphaned after a traffic accident that kills their parents. They end up in the system, bouncing from foster home to secure home to foster home, trailed by a series of horrific incidents that have no logical connection to the two children. Their parents, both doctors, had been medicating them from an early age, and now, Ethan gradually realises that without whatever it was their parents had been giving them, Tilly is liable to bring the house down – literally – every time she falls asleep.

The Wolfe Experiment explores the world from various points in Ethan’s life and largely from Ethan’s viewpoint; hopping from his childhood with his parents through several foster homes to finally going on the run from the social system, the military, and the police with a sister in desperate need of expert care. The writing of the book is technically strong, which I always appreciate, but I found the story a little difficult for me to get into. Some of that may have been the hopping back and forth along Ethan’s timeline, which in places had me reflexively checking the date in the chapter header rather than staying immersed in the plot, and some of it was that Ethan felt like something of an empty vessel, by which I mean he was the main protagonist, but what the reader gets is a lot of dialogue, descriptions of events, and not a lot that actually fleshed Ethan out as a person for me. However, I have to give credit where credit is due on the plot twist; it’s well foreshadowed and handled.

Everyone Dies at the End, Riley Amos Westbrook

Everyone Dies at the End, Riley Amos Westbrook

Everyone Dies at the End

Everyone Dies at the End, by Riley and Sara Westbrook, opens in the mouldering and trash-littered home of a pair of desperate junkies, fighting over the tiny amount of drugs they can afford. Earl, infuriated by Jadee’s attack, adulterates her dose with mould scraped from the walls of their home. Jadee, hospitalised and in a coma, eventually regains consciousness, but Earl is horrified to see that she’s altered, feral – and dangerous. Shortly after Jadee’s awakening, Earl finds her skull split by a huge mushroom rooted in her brain, the people around her alternately dead or ruthlessly predatory. Desperate to escape and driven by his addiction, Earl runs from the corpse of his girlfriend into a world that will never be the same again.

Everyone Dies at the End is a classic zombie horror story with a twist, the world of the two drug addicts with whom it begins contrasted against the mundane existence of three ordinary families who are caught up in the events that Earl and Jadee set in motion. The characters are plausible, exploring the theme of normal life thrown into a conflict situation by the unexpected, and the vector by which the disease is spread is original and plays neatly on a very familiar element turning into nightmare. Riley and Sara Westbrook have written a novel that is bound to entertain fans of zombie fiction.