An exposition-heavy mystery that holds its intriguing characters back but sets the stage for more enthralling sequels.

READ REVIEW

39 Bayshore

From the The Bayshore Series series , Vol. 1

Three people find themselves drawn to a historic house where secrets from their past lurk.

An unlikely trio of investors has purchased a dilapidated historic mansion with land on each side in Maryland, 39 Bayshore. Splitting the waterfront property into thirds, the owners each hope for resolution to past problems. Taking over the mansion are Carolyn Reynolds and her three “aunts,” friends of her mother who helped raise her and have now whisked her away from stressful Los Angeles. They want to give Carolyn time to heal after a failed business and the death of her mother, which she still believes involved foul play. Meanwhile, the lot to the right of the house has been taken by a construction company composed of reformed ex-cons, ready to prove they can still contribute to society, especially Shealds Jackson, a man covertly seeking the evidence to prove that his scheming, and unfortunately dead, stepbrother had set him up to take the fall in a smuggling operation. Finally, on the lot to the left, is Pastor Peter Allred, who has come to Bayshore to confront deep psychological scars left by his father, a cult leader who was taken down in a bloody FBI raid and media firestorm. Unfortunately for them all, Bayshore will not be an escape from these troubles, as someone hides in the shadows, trying to sabotage each group’s every move. With so much back story in the novel, it is no wonder that Grisanti (Paths of Promise, 2012, etc.) labels this the first of a series. Consequently the book never finds its own rhythm outside of clunky exposition. Carolyn and her “aunts” announce their shared histories to one another as if they had never met before, and Shealds’ extensive inner monologues feel rushed and unbelievable. Despite the sometimes-awkward prose, the stories are nevertheless engrossing and inventive, taking readers from homes for unwed mothers to dangerous cults before the real action has even begun and creating some characters with potential to truly shine in future installments.

An exposition-heavy mystery that holds its intriguing characters back but sets the stage for more enthralling sequels.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9708860-5-7

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Phoenix Publishing Corporation

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2016

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

ONE MINUTE OUT

Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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