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Becoming the Wolf, R H Neil

Becoming the Wolf, R H Neil

Becoming the Wolf: A White Wolf Justice Thriller

JD Ward is ex-military, currently working as a police officer in the outskirts of Cincinnati. With a chief who respects him enough to assign him the nasty cases, a partner who gives him hell on a regular basis, and a young family, JD’s time is pretty much fully spoken for, and that’s before the local motorcycle gang starts gunning for him. After that, it’s going to take all the tricks JD knows to keep himself alive and his family safe…especially with the military reaching out to reclaim their own.

Becoming the Wolf is an interesting take on the crime thriller genre, where the lines between upholding the law and applying military training and tactics to dispense summary justice on the streets become increasingly blurred. JD starts out as a clean-cut young officer trying to make something of his career in a small-town department, but he quickly escalates to sawn-off shotguns and execution killings in the sewers and schools of his town. The argument for whether upholding the letter of the law, or enforcing what an individual perceives as its intent with force, is one of the primary threads of this novel.

Unfortunately, while the ethical points being raised are well worth the read, the writing style of the book as a whole didn’t draw me in. There’s definitely a strong argument for dialect in dialogue, but the incidence of American slang usage in the narrative kept pulling my attention off the storyline, and a certain tendency to tell rather than show in some areas didn’t really help. However, the dialogue often came to the rescue, well-written and frequently entertaining.

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Serenity, Craig A Hart

Serenity, Craig A Hart

Serenity: A Shelby Alexander thriller

It’s been a long time since Shelby Alexander was a prize fighter. In the years since, he’s drifted back to small-town America: the small town of Serenity, to be exact. Divorced from his wife, he enjoys the local pub, the fishing, and the peace of the woods—not to mention the occasional shootouts with the local drug dealers. The Ellis family has been the lynch-pin for trouble in the area since the trouble was running alcohol around the Prohibition, and now they’re facing competition, and they’re desperate. It’s not a good combination, any way you look at it.

Craig A. Hart’s Serenity is a solid action thriller, set in backwoods Michigan where the brutality spatters across pristine wilderness. Shelby makes a credible, relatable anti-hero; aging and trying to ignore it, with trouble with the law in his past and a drinking problem in the present that he doesn’t try very hard to hide. Shelby isn’t the only character worth talking about—the secondary characters are convincing, fun, and detailed. The action is largely credible, and the plot is well-paced, with the insertion of a classic twist to clinch the storyline. The writing was also refreshingly well-edited, making the book a pleasure to read. This story will definitely make fans of classic action very happy—I recommend it.

Mortal Showdown, Nik Krasno

Mortal Showdown, Nik Krasno

Mortal Showdown

Mortal Showdown follows the continuing story of Ukrainian politician and businessman Mikhail Leonidovich Vorotavich, newly awakened from a bullet-induced coma and rapidly becoming aware that a Russian-backed sniper was only the start of his problems. With his brother in Russian hands as a hostage for his cooperation, his lines of information inextricably tangled by a month of his being out of touch, and his security force stretched thin, Mikhail is facing a series of unpleasant choices, any or all of which could mean his head. Entangled in intrigue stretching from the Kremlin to the Caymans to Kazakhstan, Mikhail’s choice of priorities is narrowing down to one: survival, personal and financial.

Nik Krasno’s gritty, action-packed and intrigue-fuelled story-telling makes for a great read, set with characters you’ll love to hate. Mortal Showdown offers confrontations where you can smell the stale vodka and cigarette smoke, view the international subterfuge, and experience the touch of the sticky fingers of the international financial markets, punctuated by drugs, women, and private jets. The contrast between the public, optimistic hopes of the Ukrainian people and the corruption-laced negotiations happening behind the scenes leaves a pithy comment on the realities of modern society, and whether Kazakh flame-eaters, Thai orgies, or black ops in darkened alleys is your thing, there’s a little something for every thriller reader in this novel.

Her Last Breath, J. A. Schneider

Her Last Breath, J. A. Schneider

Her Last Breath: Detective Kerri Blasco Book 2

Waking up with amnesia next to a dead body is enough to panic anyone. For Mari Gill, suffering from extreme asthma, the shock was nearly enough to kill her too. Injured, arrested, and unable to remember a single thing about the previous night, Mari turns to her ex-husband, a prominent defence lawyer, for help, but her case doesn’t look great. With only one NYPD detective willing to look deeper into the facts of the case, Mari’s just lucky that that one detective is Kerri Blasco: intuitive, driven, and with a reputation for cracking the uncrackable when it comes to cases.

Her Last Breath is another twisty, intelligent mystery thriller from author J. A. Schneider, where the evidence coils and turns like an eel on a hook, and the author’s decision to keep the story’s point of view tight on Mari keeps the reader guessing all the way. Mari goes from trauma to paranoia and back again, her instincts pushing her towards uncovering the blocked memories that could make or break the case, even as she doubts her senses, her memory, and who she can trust. It’s a rare pleasure to come across a mystery that doesn’t give itself away in the first few chapters, and J. A. Schneider’s books have a consistent winning streak on that score. I highly recommend this author – her plots go from strength to strength.

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Cheaters, Peter A Stankovic

Cheaters, Peter A Stankovic

Cheaters

In Cheaters: A Markus Doppler Thriller, a serial killer is running loose in Sydney. A string of women have been turning up dead, missing one front tooth, and with no other real common denominator aside from their gender. The Sydney police call on Markus Doppler, a recently-retired detective, to come in and lead the team on the case. Markus, with a mounting body count and little by way of leads, is trying to balance catching a killer with a relationship with the first woman he’s had serious feelings for since his divorce, met via the Cheaters website – a site advertised as a way for people looking for no-strings sex to meet.

This book is a well-laid out mystery story, constructed to keep the reader guessing right through to the grand reveal and playing on the ongoing theme of websites set up for married couples to experiment beyond their marriage. I found that the sheer number of secondary characters was overwhelming in the beginning, meaning that for me the story only really found a unifying factor about a tenth of the way in, and the constant point-of-view shifts became confusing in sections. However, Peter A. Stankovic does manage to pull all these disparate threads together for the finale, and the locations and characters are solidly convincing. Certainly worth reading for mystery readers who don’t like all the answers handed to them on a plate.

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