Book Review: Letters from a Murderer by John Matthews

New York, 1891: a rapidly changing city, torn between lamplight and electric light, where the burgeoning steel and railway industries attract a flood of humanity from every corner of the globe, fuelling cut-throat gangs, corruption and vice.

A prostitute is found brutally murdered. Immediately fear starts to spread. The victim bears the same hallmarks as Jack the Ripper’s recent killing spree in England. Could it be that the Ripper has crossed the Atlantic to fresh killing grounds? Or is this simply a copycat murder?

To solve the case, one of the original English Ripper pathologists, Finley Jameson, is teamed up with Joseph Argenti, one of the new ‘untouchable’ detectives, hand-picked by a New York Mayor eager to fight corruption.

But Michael Tierney, the city’s leading gangster, has his own ideas about how the city should be run. And as the body-count rises, and Jameson & Argenti are taunted by the killer in open letters, they find themselves fighting not just to save the next victim, but for the city’s very soul.

To get this book, you need to add the following things in a blender: Sherlock Holmes, New York City, Jack the Ripper, and Gangs of New York. Add a dash of unique and excellent characterization and you have one explosive novel that will not let you put it down until you’re finished, no matter how tired you may be.

Argenti and Jameson are excellent characters that must follow Jack the Ripper as he terrorizes New York City. Jameson, a former investigator of the Ripper murders in London, has moved to New York. The Ripper seems to have followed him there. Argenti, an investigator from NYC, is one of the few cops left who haven’t been corrupted by the crime boss Tierney. Both Argenti and Jameson are excellent characters because they have their flaws which make them all the more human: Argenti is hiding a secret about his sister, Marella, and Jameson is hiding a family secret that could put him in danger.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and was kept guessing until the very end. And the last sentence of the book made me gasp. I’m very glad that this appears to be the first in a series, because I loved the characters and want to read more of them. Argenti and Jameson have great chemistry when working together, and they compliment each other much like Holms and Watson do. That’s not to say that they’re a copy of those two famous literary figures, though. No, far from it. They’re unique and perhaps even deeper because of their flaws.

I HIGHLY recommend this book if you like a good mystery or are a fan of either Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper style books. Excellent read.

Book Review: Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships by Kim Knox

Edgar Mason is ready to embark upon his new life at Agamemnon Frost’s side. But all is not perfect. Through torture, Pandarus, his Martian overlord, has implanted a dark voice in his mind, a voice that urges betrayal. And though he can keep close to Frost, there’s little room for romance under the watchful gaze of the engineers from Station X.

That changes when Mason and Frost reopen their investigation into their old enemy’s whereabouts. Posing as double agents and investigating cryptic rumors of “hollow ships,” they find him impersonating a London banker and worm their way into his confidence.

But their success brings them trouble in spades. Pandarus takes them into the belly of his ships, where he plans to transfigure them into mindless automata. And with Earth on the brink of invasion, Frost’s old flame Theodora reappearing, and Pandarus’s brainwashing growing more effective, Mason and Frost will find their bond tested as never before.

YES yes yes yes and yes. An excellent second addition to the Agamemnon Frost trilogy, and I am PRAYING that Kim Knox finds a way to push this past a trilogy and make it a full series. Because this is just to awesome to stop.

While the first book explores Mason and Frost getting to know each other while battling the enemy and being turned into automata, this next book picks up where the last left off. Mason is still torn between his implanted allegiance to his Ilarches, and Frost, who he wants. Badly. Whenever Frost gets close to him, Mason is able to push the voice inside his head away for awhile.

Now that they’re both automata, their mission is to find Pandarus and take him out. But it’s not that simple. He’s changed bodies and he might suspect Frost and Mason (also known as Achilles and Patroclus) are traitors.

What follows is an adventure that will leave you on the edge of your seat, charged with both action and sexual tension as Mason continues to want Frost, but is confused as to whether or not Frost truly wants him too, or is just using him to defeat their enemy.

Next book, please!

Book Review: Asher’s Fault by Elizabeth Wheeler

The day fourteen-year-old Asher receives a Minolta camera from his aunt Sharon, he buys the last roll of black-and-white film and takes his first photograph—a picture of a twisted pine tree. He’s so preoccupied with his new hobby he fails to notice his dad’s plan to move out, his increasing alienation from his testosterone-ridden best friend, Levi, and his own budding sexuality. When his little brother drowns at the same moment Asher experiences his first same-sex kiss, he can no longer hide behind the lens of his camera. Asher thinks it’s his fault, but after his brother dies, his father resurfaces along with clues challenging Asher’s black-and-white view of the world. The truth is as twisted as the pine tree in his first photograph.

I loved this book. So much so that, despite having to work the next morning I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. Teens everywhere, gay or straight, will relate to Asher, Garrett, Levi, Jennifer, and Kayla. There are so many different personalities in this book, each one so realistic I felt as if I knew them personally.

Asher is struggling to accept his parents divorce, especially when his father leaves his mother for another woman. His younger brother, Travis, annoys him, but as you find out from the blurb alone, his brother dies right at the same moment he has his first kiss with another boy. And I mean literally right at that moment.

What follows is a beautiful story about truths and lies. What is the truth? How do we know who is telling the truth and who isn’t? Asher’s friendship with Levi starts to fade when his friend becomes a member of the football team, and though Kayla is so different from him and doesn’t want to fit any mold, she appears to be the one person who understands him the most.

I love that Asher uses an old camera to capture his photos rather than a digital camera. There’s just something so much more special about taking a photo that way. His care in taking the photos is shown very carefully on the page.

I’m very happy that there will be a sequel because I want more of everyone. I want to know what happens between Asher and Garrett, and if Asher ever confronts his mother and father with the truth about Travis. Needless to say I was shocked when at the VERY end you find out a secret.

And reader’s are left with the biggest question of all. When it comes to Travis’s death, whose fault was it really?

You can purchase Asher’s Fault from Bold Strokes Books here.

Satan’s Kingdom – Tubing down the Farmington River!

Ophelie, me, Cassandra, and mom

No, really. That’s what the place is called. Sadly I don’t have an pictures of the actually tubing experience, but next time I’ll bring a waterproof camera. If I go again.

Basically my family forced me to go. See, I have this fear of water if I can’t see the bottom or if there are weeds. Thankfully I could see the bottom MOST of the time, and there weren’t weeds like the kind that makes my heart race. However, the trip was not without incident.

I was the first one into the water and the current sucked me downstream before everyone else had a chance to go. This was hilarious. The water was freezing, too, so I tried to stay in the sun to keep warm. However, I couldn’t manage to stay in the center of the river! I have no idea why, but while everyone else floated through the first set of rapids under the bridge, I got sucked to the side of the bridge… and stuck.

TWICE.

In the same area. So while everyone else was floating merrily down, I was stuck and trying to get my tube off the rocks.

I managed.

Only to hit a rock, get spun backwards so I couldn’t see where I was going, go over the last rapid, and slam, back first, into a large rock under the water.

You know that pain where you almost throw up it’s so bad? Yeah. That.

Everyone though I was exaggerating when I caught up, they said I’d live, blah blah blah. Luckily the water was cold so mom said it would ice it for me.

Next rapids. Ophelie (my French sister) is now in front, goes over the center, and is flipped off her tube. We panicked, afraid she was going to drown – despite her wearing a vest like all of us – and she panicked because she couldn’t get back on. She managed to before we caught up.

After that, she and I hooked together and floated lazily downstream…

Only to get stuck on rocks as mom and Cassandra floated on by laughing at us.

The entire ride last almost three hours and it was filled with getting stuck on rocks, rapids (there were five sets even though they said THREE), and getting slammed into rocks. Thankfully the last rock I hit was huge and out of the water, and I was facing it so I used my feet to hit it and pushed off.

When we go to the end and got on the bus to go back to our car, I checked my back and this is what I saw.

My poor lower back!

OW! It’s hard to tell but it’s very clear that I was scrapped against the rough rock and dragged over it. It had to have been bleeding in the water (thank God this wasn’t the ocean!) Today it’s a very painful bruise. I’m all swollen under it from the hard hit, and sitting and laying are painful. But it’ll heal.

At least I went down the river. I didn’t think I would, but I embraced my fears and did it anyway. And I have the scars to prove it!