A welcome foray into the Vegas PI genre, hopefully the first of many.

THE BLACK CHIP

Ex-PI Noly Boots must race against time and circumstances to rescue his girlfriend and her daughter from an assortment of Vegas gamblers, lowlifes and psychos.

Like any ex-PI worth his salt, Noel Butowski—better known as Noly Boots—carries scars both emotional and physical. He was in a coma for three months after being shot by a double-crossing client, and the $20 million payout for that case left the client’s lunatic heirs with a yen for revenge. He’s kinda-sorta broken up with his girlfriend, Sarah, a casino dealer with a preteen daughter, Kacy, because commitment could mean collateral. But when Sarah’s brother, Joey, a senior programmer at the Platinum Palace Casino, conspires with his banker girlfriend to skim close to $3 million from the casino’s proceeds, Joey ends up dead. Sarah and Kacy are kidnapped in an attempt by Joey’s mob creditor to regain the MacGuffin—a black casino chip full of computer files. And that makes Noly mad. Debut novelist Land has a background in screenwriting and, for better and worse in this Chandler-esque thriller, it shows. Noly’s former clients, the van Leesles, bear more than a passing resemblance to the decadent Sternwoods of The Big Sleep, as do the twists and turns of the plot, with Sarah and Kacy passed off from one set of bad guys to another as each group tries to outwit steely, determined Noly. The tight plot is well-paced and the action is tense, if bloody. There are sadistic enforcers, whores with hearts of gold, good friends and bad betrayers, hostile FBI agents, exasperated cops, and in 11-year-old Kacy, one tough cookie. Yet the novel sometimes turns clunky in the actual descriptions of action, places and people, which sometimes read like background information rather than words to be read for their own pleasure. The strongest, most gripping relationship in the novel is between Noly and Kacy, the tough-as-nails PI and his kick-ass kid partner.

A welcome foray into the Vegas PI genre, hopefully the first of many.

Pub Date: May 9, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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