Excerpt #2 From “For Keeps” by Aaron Paul Lazar

FOR KEEPS, book three in the award-winning Moore Mystery series, is another of Lazar’s beautifully written mysteries with a paranormal twist. The series is also known as the “green marble” series, courtesy of the unique talisman that links retired family doctor Sam Moore with his long dead little brother, Billy.”

Here’s the setup for the excerpt:

Sam just picked up his son, Andy, from the airport and they enter the house after arriving home. Andy’s just arrived from his second tour of duty in Iraq, and this is his long-awaited homecoming. Rachel’s been cooking all morning to welcome her boy home. All day, Sam has ignored the insistence of the green marble, which has been pulsing, glowing, and searing his leg all day from his pocket; little brother Billy—who communicates from beyond through this talisman—was trying to “warn” him that something was terribly wrong.

EXCERPT:

Sam raced toward the laundry room in a panic. Rachel’s wheelchair sat abandoned in the hall, and his son froze in the doorway, hands clenching and unclenching at his side.

Andy’s voice thickened. “Maybe you shouldn’t come in here.” He spun and tried to hold Sam back.

One of Rachel’s shoes lay beside the doorjamb. The brown clogs. Slip on. With lambswool lining. She loved them so much she wore them even in summer.

Sam drifted closer, terror pooling in his stomach. As if in anaphylactic shock, his throat tightened and threatened to close off his air. His heart beat wildly now, in his throat, ears, chest.

Sam barreled past his son and stumbled into the room, his voice hoarse. “What happened?”

Rachel lay on a basket of laundry, her eyes wide open, looking with blank surprise at the ceiling. Sam’s garden shears protruded from her heart. The image danced before him like heat waves on tar, shimmering with unreality. Blood ran from Rachel’s floral print blouse to the sheets stained red in the basket, pooling on the white linoleum floor.

The room tilted. A series of screams of No No No No No resonated in his head. Or maybe he yelled it aloud. He couldn’t tell as he shoved Andy aside and collapsed beside her, checking for the pulse that evaded him like a cruel tormentor. Neck. Wrist. Ankles. No beating met his probing fingers.

“NO!” He drew the shears from her chest, sickened by the soft sucking sound it made, then wadded up a compress of pillowcases and held it over the wound to stem the flow. More blood dribbled from the wound and curled around her pearl buttons. He realized with a start that she was still warm.

He looked wildly about the room, as if a solution lay beneath the neatly folded piles of towels and linen. “Call 911. Hurry!” He cradled Rachel in his arms, smearing the blood between them, and feeling her arms dangle away from him, as if she didn’t have the strength to return his embrace.

Andy cried out, his anguish pinging across the small room. He squeezed between his mother’s body and the washing machine, holding his hand out to his father. “Dad. It’s too late. She has no pulse. I checked, too.”

“NO!” Sam’s mind reeled, his vision clouded, and the scent of blood tasted metallic on his tongue. “Who did this? Is he still here? She’s still warm, Andy. Find the bastard!” He stiffened when his brain repeated a phrase he’d heard during some of Rachel’s favorite shows.

Don’t disturb the evidence.

Panic slewed over him, boiling inside his head, freezing his arms and legs.

My garden shears. The killer took them from the barn. Used them on my Rachel. And my prints are all over them.

A great gulping scream filled his throat, tearing out of him like a primal scream. “RACHEL!”

Her head slumped sideways when he moved away, as if she was rejecting him. He checked her pulse again, muttering under his breath. “No way. No. No.” In a sudden manic thrust, he stood and reached for the marble, searching his pockets, patting madly at his pants and shirt. “My God.   it? What did I do with it?” Sam asked aloud. “Billy! Why didn’t you warn me?”

Inside the double-stuffed world that batted him between reality and nightmare, he remembered the marble’s insistent throbbing all morning. Billy had tried to warn him, had tried hard.

“Dad, come on. You can’t help her now.” In spite of Andy’s two tours of duty in the heat of battle in Iraq, the bodies he had seen and possibly created, and his soldier-toughened soul, he wept. Loud and strong, he wept and choked on his words. “Dad. Please. Leave her be. It’s over.”

Andy pulled him to his feet. Sam stared at his son as if he’d never seen him before. His eyes widened, trying to piece together a puzzle. Who is this nice young man? And why does he look so familiar?

Andy took him by the elbow and started to shuffle him toward the living room.

“Come on, Dad. Let’s go sit down.”

“No. Please. My wife needs me. She has multiple sclerosis, you know.”

Andy’s eyes popped open. Tears still streamed from them, and he shook his father’s shoulders as if he could not only snap him out of it, but maybe bring back his mother, too.

“Dad! Come on. Hold it together. Don’t do this.”

Sam stopped and stared at his bloodied hands. His legs weakened to jelly. He stumbled, then braced himself against the wall as sobs wracked him in waves of increasing amplitude. He slid to the floor and buried his face in his hands.

Rachel.

Dear God.

Not Rachel.

***

Thanks for reading! I hope you were drawn into Sam’s world, and that you might want to see how our favorite retired family doctor gets out of this one.

FREEBIE! The FOR KEEPS Kindle eBook will be free to all readers on Sept. 14th, 15th, and 16th 2012, as well as on October 12th and 13th. Please stop by for your free download here. Also, all of my other books in my three mystery series will be priced at $1.99 during this sale. Check them out at http://www.lazarbooks.com.
Aaron Paul Lazar

***

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.

http://www.amazon.com/For-Keeps-Moore-mystery-ebook/dp/B008OXZLR2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1344261301&sr=1-1&keywords=aaron+lazar

Excerpt #1 From “For Keeps” by Aaron Paul Lazar

FOR KEEPS, book three in the award-winning Moore Mystery series, is another of Lazar’s beautifully written mysteries with a paranormal twist. The series is also known as the “green marble” series, courtesy of the unique talisman that links retired family doctor Sam Moore with his long dead little brother, Billy.”

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

“Murdered?” Sam juggled four pots of yellow daylilies in his arms, squeezing the cell phone between his shoulder and ear. “Where? And why in world do you need me?”

Lou sighed. “I told you. The Twin Sisters Inn. And I can’t say over the phone, I just need your…expertise.”
My expertise? Sam had practiced family medicine in East Goodland, New York for over thirty years, but couldn’t imagine how treating runny noses and chicken pox qualified him to help with a murder. And why was Lou being so damned secretive about the whole thing?

“Hold on a sec, Lou.” He dropped the flowerpots on the counter and barely caught them before they toppled. Flashing the clerk an apologetic smile, he swept the spilled dirt into a pile and mumbled into the phone. “I’m at Palmiter’s. Just checking out.”

Lou groaned. “Why am I not surprised? Since you retired, that’s all you’ve done. Flowers and more flowers. Holy Mother Mary. Don’t you get sick of it? Or are you trying to get your place on the Home and Garden network?”

Sam slid the plants toward the clerk. “You’re just jealous.”

“Damn right I am. I can’t retire for another coupla years. Remember, I was two years behind you in med school.”

“Just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I’ve lost my marbles. Of course I remember.” Sam thought back to the coroner when she was a student at the University of Rochester. Short strawberry blond hair, willowy figure, high cheekbones, and a ready smile. Aside from her gray hair, Louise Reardon hadn’t changed much after forty years and five kids. Except she was a hell of a lot pushier.

The freckled teen behind the counter looked bored. “That’ll be fourteen ninety-two.”

Sam dug out fifteen bucks and paid her. “Thanks. Keep the change.”

She raised her eyebrows as if she couldn’t believe he’d actually try to tip her with eight lousy cents. “Gee. Thanks, mister.”

He shrugged, loaded his plants into a green wagon, and pulled it toward the Highlander. He’d bought enough plants here to put all their kids through college. Anyway, who tipped sales clerks? “Lou? You still there? I’m almost at the car.”

“I’m here.” She let loose another frustrated sigh. “How long ‘til you get here?”

Sam loaded his plants in the back, got in, and turned the key. The SUV purred to life. “Not long. I’m putting you on speaker. Just a sec.” He slid the phone into his breast pocket and backed out of the parking spot. None of those new-fangled blue tooth gadgets for him. It was hard enough to keep up with cell phones, laptops, iPods, and every new device that came out each year. “On my way.”

“Geez. Finally. Watch out for the news vultures when you get here, though. They’re everywhere.”

“Will do. Be there in a few.”

He hung up and pushed his silver forelock back from his forehead. Shouldering his way through a pack of hungry journalists to view a dead body had not been in today’s plans. Today was supposed to be devoted to gardening, to feeding his insatiable need to dig in rich loam while the sun warmed his back. If Lou weren’t such a good friend, he’d have blown her off.

Turning south on Route 39, he imagined the ribbing he’d get if she knew about his aversion to cadavers. A doctor? Afraid of bodies?

He’d dealt with dead people before, but not a great deal. Med school, of course. He’d barfed his way through that ordeal. And when Mrs. Tupple had died in her bed ten years ago, he’d gone to the house at Mr. Tupple’s request. Reluctantly. But he’d gone. The most recent experience had been last fall, at his brother’s funeral.

Well, it hadn’t really been a body…it was Billy’s bones, bones pinned underwater for fifty years. Submerged with heavy stones deposited by Sam’s three best friends. Billy’s disappearance had remained a mystery, until it was finally revealed last year. When things happened. Things he couldn’t explain to anyone, except Rachel. He couldn’t even tell her the whole story. But Billy connecting with him from beyond and helped him get to the truth.

A familiar sadness took hold, and as if in response, Billy’s green marble hummed and warmed in his pocket. His brother’s face floated across his mind’s eye. Freckles. Clear hazel eyes. Sandy hair. Impish smile.
Billy wanted to talk.

Not now. I can’t. Later, buddy. He thought the words in his head, knowing Billy could hear him if he said them out loud or imagined them.

Sam turned left at the Mobil Station on the corner of Main Street and Route 20A and headed for the historic brick building housing The Twin Sisters Inn. Willing the marble to be quiet, he forced himself to think of what lay ahead.

A murder victim? Why the heck did Lou need his help? It didn’t make any sense, but in spite of his reservations, a trickle of excitement ran down his spine.

News vans and squad cars jammed the lot. He parked on the side of the road and headed toward the building. The marble pulsed twice, then grew cold.

Was it a warning?

The green glass talisman had linked Sam to Billy since he unearthed it in his garden last year. He’d learned to respect it, and through it, Billy’s interventions had helped with a number of sticky situations. He’d saved the life of his friend, Senator Bruce McDonald, after the sudden collapse of Healey’s Cave. And more important, he’d found his daughter, Beth, after she’d been kidnapped.

He locked his car and headed toward the building, skirting around vehicles and people. He brushed against the back of a policeman when several news reporters pushed past him. The officer swung his head around and stared.

“Er. Sorry.” He smiled at the patrolman and kept going.

If they had any idea. If they knew I talked to Billy, traveled back in time with him… A lace dragged from his shoe, threatening to trip him. He stopped to tie it. If they knew, they’d put me back in the asylum, just like they did when I was twelve.

A chill stole over him. Memories of the day Billy disappeared assaulted him. Billy, on his brand new bicycle, driving down the road, never to return. Guilt coiled in his stomach. He’d answered a phone call from a damned girl, instead of following his brother on the bike ride like he’d promised. He’d never forgive himself for that.

That moment had been the end of life as he knew it, and the beginning of his tortured life to come. The insane asylum had been the worst, though. He hated to remember the way they talked to him, the stupid pills they’d made him take that doped him up, and the disgusting smell of antiseptic that had followed him everywhere, even seeped onto his pillowcase at night. He shuddered and tried to put it out of his mind. Best to forget it and see what the hell Lou wanted.

Chapter Two

Lou hailed him from the front steps. “Over here, Doctor Moore.”

She said it loud enough to discourage the eager journalists who craned their heads to see if he was anyone they cared about. When they realized he wasn’t a detective, they lost interest and swarmed toward the police chief’s car that just pulled in behind Sam’s SUV.

Lou took his arm and steered him inside. The inn boasted antiques and wide plank floorboards. Inside the door, a pine bench with a stenciled backboard lined the wall; an old-fashioned pie cabinet anchored the opposite wall beside a mahogany sideboard, on which an essential oils diffuser sat, filling the air with the scent of balsam. Sam breathed it in, relieved it wasn’t one of those chemical smelling, fake candles. It bolstered his spirits and reminded him of the deep woods in the Adirondacks. He was damned sure it smelled a hell of a lot better than what he’d find upstairs in the crime scene.

Mary and Alice Peterson, the inn owners and former patients of his, had been encouraging him to investigate the oils for years, and he’d meant to, but had been too swamped with patients to check them out. He’d always regretted that, and had resolved to do some research in his retirement that might help merge traditional approaches with those steeped in Eastern medicine. Time would tell if he could fit it in between the gardening, babysitting, and spending time with Rachel. She needed more care now that her MS had worsened, but he was up to the challenge. It was one of the reasons he’d retired a little early.
He shuffled after Lou. Tin chandeliers hung over a long trestle table, decorated with dried crabapples and fresh flowers. The twins reportedly served scrumptious breakfasts to guests at that table, and he’d been invited more than a few times to partake of their homemade breads, jams, and other goodies. Again, he’d had to decline his patients’ generous invitations. There just hadn’t been enough hours in the day to socialize and run his practice. But now that he was retired, he wanted to find time for more of that kind of thing.

A policeman sat in the corner, interviewing the hotel owners. Alice’s hands shook when she took a pen from the officer to sign a statement, and her complexion seemed unusually pale. Sam wondered if her blood sugar was low. She’d been his patient forever. He started toward her with concern, but Lou grabbed his sleeve.

“Come on, it’s this way.”

“But Alice—”

“For crying out loud, you’re retired now. She’s not your patient anymore, Sam. It’s not your job. Come on.”
Sam dug in his heels. He shook his arm loose and spun around. “Alice. Are you feeling okay?”

Alice’s face lit up. “Oh, Doc! I’m so glad you’re here. It’s awful. Just awful. A woman was killed in the Maple Nut room!”

Mary put an arm around her sister’s shoulders. “She’s shook up, Doc.”

Sam felt her pulse. “I think she’s more than shook up. Let’s get her some orange juice. She needs something to get her sugar back up.”

“I’m fine, Doc. Just a little light-headed.”

When Mary brought the juice, he sat while she drank it, sputtering the whole time about not needing such a fuss made over her. He waited another ten minutes, making small talk, while Lou fumed. When he was sure she seemed stable, he turned to Lou. “Okay. I’m ready.”

Lou blew up a lock of her gray bangs and made a face. “Geez, Sam. You’ll never be able to leave it alone, will you?”

“It’s not like I died when I retired. Alice has been my patient since I started my practice. I couldn’t just walk past her, for God’s sake. I’m not a monster.” He followed Lou up the stairs to the second floor, ticked off now. Did being a coroner make you callous toward the living? He shook his head, mulling it over while they threaded around police, through a carpeted hallway, and into a room already marked with yellow tape. The room crawled with technicians.

Lou spoke through tight lips. “Just be careful not to touch anything.”

Sam nodded and followed her across the suite, around a coffee table, past a fireplace, and into a bedroom.
“She’s in the bathroom,” Lou said. “You’ll have to stand in the doorway to see. They’re still taking photos of the blood spatter.”

Blood spatter.

Sam’s insides churned. There was a reason he didn’t become an emergency room doctor. And blood spatter had a lot to do with it. He took a deep breath and forced himself to focus.

Inside the black and pink bathroom, a woman lay on her side, facing away. A three-foot long gray braid curled behind her on the floor, fastened at the top and bottom with elastic bands and fake daisies. She had been slim, and wore a silky Japanese dressing gown, covered with pink and black dragons that matched the floor tiles. Three technicians crowded around the body. Camera flashes blinded Sam as he tried to absorb the scene.

Lou whispered in his ear. “She was hit from behind with that phone.”

An old-fashioned beige rotary phone perched on the edge of the tub. Red smudges stained its edges. Blood soiled the back of the woman’s head and neck and splashed about the room on the walls and floor. A particularly large spot smeared the pink shower curtain. He felt sick and hoped he wouldn’t lose it in front of all these professionals.

Lou leaned on his shoulder to look past him at the body. “Looks like it happened last night, sometime between midnight and four. We think she let him in, recognized him, since there was no sign of forced entry. The sisters didn’t see anything. Lights are out at ten, but guests are free to admit family or friends whenever they like.”

One well-toned leg extended back from her body, with toes pointed toward the sink. An anklet glistened in the light of the camera flashes. Four silver stars marched around her slim ankle, separated by black pearls.
A technician lifted the hem of the dead woman’s gown to reveal a vivid pentagram tattoo, circled with black roses. The photographer shot it from all angles.

Sam caught a glimpse of painted pink toenails. One hand, nails unpolished, rested on the cold tile, as if the victim was ready to push herself into a sitting position. A bottle of nail polish had spilled on the floor by the tub.

“She never saw it coming,” Lou said. The skinny, bald technician looked up and nodded as if he agreed, then went back to work dusting the edges of the phone and tub.

“Maybe we should let these gentlemen finish their jobs,” Sam said. He backed up into the bedroom. “And I still don’t get—”

Lou shushed him with steely eyes. “Wait. Just wait a minute, for God’s sake.”

She’d been testy with him since she called, and he was starting to get sick of it. He’d come here to help her. He’d much rather be in his garden, or better yet, having lunch with Rachel.

In ten minutes, the room cleared. One of the techs nodded to Lou on the way out. “She’s all yours, Doc. Let us know if you need anything.”

“Thanks.” Lou shot him a grim smile and motioned for Sam to follow her to the nightstand.

“Look at this.” She flipped through the white pages using the eraser end of a yellow pencil. “There. There it is. The book was opened to this page when they found her.”

Sam stared at the circled entry. “Are you sure she did this?”

Lou shook her head. “No. But it’s pretty damned likely.”

The name and address circled shouted at him. Dr. Samuel J. and Rachel S. Moore. 5125 Maple Beach Road. East Goodland, New York.

Sam stared at the phone book, then glanced around the room. It was tidy, as if the occupant had just arrived. The suitcase lay unpacked and opened on a stand near the television. “Am I a suspect?”

“Hell, no. I just want to see if you knew her. I didn’t exactly broadcast the information to the police.” She gestured to the phone book. “I wanted to show you first. I’m not sure if they picked up on it.”

“Thanks, Lou.” The last thing he needed was to be part of a murder investigation. He thought back to last night. He didn’t even have a good alibi—Rachel had fallen asleep early, and he’d read until he’d drifted off.
He leaned over and looked at the books on the nightstand. Standard fare. The newest Dean Koontz novel and a women’s magazine.

“According to the detective, the ID she gave at the front desk comes up bogus in the system, and her purse is missing. If she carried one, that is. No wallet, no identifying papers.” Lou’s voice softened. “You ready to see if you recognize her?”

Sam squared his shoulders and nodded, feeling less confident than he sounded. “Sure. But what makes you think I’ll know her? Maybe she was just looking for a local doctor.”

They walked toward the bathroom. “Maybe.” Lou led the way. She crouched beside the victim and carefully rolled her onto her back. “But take a look anyway.”

***

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for the free dates of “For Keeps”: Sept 14, 15, 16th and October 12, 13th.

http://www.amazon.com/For-Keeps-Moore-mystery-ebook/dp/B008OXZLR2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1344261301&sr=1-1&keywords=aaron+lazar

Book Review for NIGHT CORRIDOR by Joan Hall Hovey

Review by Aaron Paul Lazar

Title: Night Corridor
Author: Joan Hall Hovey
Publisher: BWLPP
Genre: Suspense, 258 pages
ASIN: B004NSV6TY
Price: Kindle eBook: $2.99 Print Book: $10.79
Publisher website address: http://bwlpp.com/mysteries.php
Author’s personal website: http://www.joanhallhovey.com

Night Corridor
by Joan Hall Hovey

Book review by Aaron Paul Lazar

Caroline Hill, a fragile woman who’s seen more than her share of heartbreak, has just been released into the “real” world by the Bayshore Mental Institution, an aging facility recently doomed to closure. Trembling with fear after nine years of incarceration, at the age of twenty-six Caroline is armed only with a handful of memorized phrases from her psychiatrist and a small bag of hand-me-down clothing. She shows up as pre-arranged to a rooming house with a nosy landlady and her marginally challenged nephew, Harold. Once settled, Caroline makes her entrance at Frank’s, a local diner in the small town of St. Simeon, Canada where a dishwashing job awaits her.

Although the Bayshore institution offered safety and familiarity, Caroline is determined not to fail. The last thing she wants is to return to the place where she shared a room with a woman who clicked imaginary knitting needles 24/7.

Caroline’s timing is unfortunate, because the day she arrives in town, a serial killer has left yet another victim for police. And it so happens, the first victim—an aspiring actress on the verge of a breakthrough—lived across the hall from Caroline’s new room. Police and neighbors wonder – could the killer be someone in the rooming house? How did he gain access to the facility? How did he know the first woman? And the second? Both victims were pretty young ladies with brunette hair and blue eyes, Caroline’s exact appearance.

The mystery and suspense in this novel is outstanding, truly top notch, in the vein of Mary Higgins Clark, but—dare I say—even better? What really struck me as brilliant was Ms. Hovey’s ability to paint the picture of an innocent, a woman who’d been raised by an institutional staff since the age of seventeen, when a horrendous event tore her heart out and separated her from reality. Caroline’s inner thoughts, her hesitant and sometimes awkward speech, the turmoil she feels with each simple step toward freedom, her frail courage…each of these felt real and authentic. I grew incredibly fond of this protagonist, and with each brave step she took, I found myself cheering her on.

When Caroline notices a man following her, she wants to tell someone, but what ex-mental patient wouldn’t be afraid to share this news, knowing they’d probably classify her as paranoid and maybe send her back to Bayshore? She squares her shoulders and fights through the fear, soldiering on.

Against the backdrop of Caroline’s painful yet courageous re-entry into society, the low growling drumbeat of violence escalates. More women die, and the pattern heats up. We are given glimpses inside the mind of a seriously sick killer, and realize his delusions stretch far into his past. When Caroline becomes embroiled in the middle of the killer’s elaborate and insane plot to return to a chapter in his history where he was once happy, the action escalates and takes us on a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride to a satisfying finish.

Joan Hall Hovey has written yet another winner. I highly recommend it to any lover of suspense, mystery, romance, or thriller. You’ll not only race through this book, but clamor for more works by this talented and polished author.

 

 

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, FOR KEEPS (MAY 2012), DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (APRIL 2012), and the author’s preferred edition of UPSTAGED (JUNE 2012).

http://www.lazarbooks.com

Excerpt from “The Abduction of Mary Rose” by Joan Hall Hovey

Book Review for A PLACE TO DIE by Dorothy James

Review by Aaron Paul Lazar

Title: A Place to Die
Author: Dorothy James
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation (April 21, 2010)
Genre: Mystery, 436 pages
ISBN-10: 1450082696
ISBN-13: 978-1450082709
Price: Kindle eBook: $7.69; Paperback: $18.71; Hardcover: $34.95
Author’s personal website: http://myplaceformystery.com

A Place to Die
by Dorothy James

Book review by Aaron Paul Lazar

A PLACE TO DIE is an intriguing story set in Austria, reminiscent of a good English mystery. I just finished reading it last night, and am already missing the characters. At first I was attracted to the book because it was set in Wien (Vienna) – I adore Wien. But then as I “visited” with these folks night after night (reading a little in bed each night), I grew terribly fond of them.

I was particularly rooting for American Eleanor Fabian, a woman of great depth who deserved much more in life than her annoying husband provided. I’m passionate about marriage and devotion in real life, I believe that once married one is duty-bound to stay married and devoted to each other, unless there’s something truly awful going on. But Dorothy James convinced me otherwise with Eleanor.

I enjoyed getting to know the other characters in the Haus Im Wald, too. Each was colorful, deliciously unique, and memorable. Inspector Georg Buchner is a fun lead, likeable as well as clever.

Ms. James’ vivid scene painting placed me smack dab in the middle of winter in Austria, and I felt as if I knew the Haus intimately by the end of the book. (I also craved Kaffee und Kuchen many times during the characters’ dining events!)

As people start dropping dead in the Haus im Wald, the tension builds. But never did Ms. James relinquish her literary approach to the situation, providing a steady source of introspection balanced with action and character development.

The ending is most satisfying – a delightful and unexpected villain is revealed – and some of the sexual twists and innuendos were most surprising and added a bit of spice to the story as well.

Ms. James writes smoothly, with no annoying typos or needs for extra editing which seems to be more and more prevalent these days when books are converted to Kindle format. This book was beautifully formatted and of very high caliber.

I recommend this complex, highbrow-yet-addicting story, and look forward to future works by Dorothy James

 

 

***

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, FOR KEEPS (MAY 2012), DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (APRIL 2012), and the author’s preferred edition of UPSTAGED (JUNE 2012).

http://www.lazarbooks.com

Book Review for STEALING FACES by Michael Prescott

Review by Aaron Paul Lazar

Title: Stealing Faces
Author: Michael Prescott
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Ulverscroft
Genre: Thriller
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook
ISBN-10: 0708943500
ISBN-13: 978-0708943502
ASIN: B00547KH66
Price: Kindle, $ 0.99; Large Print, $29.91
Author’s website: http://www.michaelprescott.net/

Stealing Faces
by Michael Prescott
Book review by Aaron Paul Lazar

I’ve been reading and reviewing a fair amount of books this year, all of them quite good, and most of them on Kindle. Of course, I vet them before I accept a review request by reading the first few pages and the synopsis. There’s nothing worse than reviewing a book that bores you to tears or that just isn’t your cup of tea. So I almost always love the titles I accept.

In the midst of all these excellent books, however, came STEALING FACES. This high suspense thriller literally knocked my socks off.

Mr. Prescott’s writing style is what hooked me from the beginning. Smooth, tight, and fast flowing, the prose held me as spellbound as the suspense. Frankly, STEALING FACES is one of the best-written novels I’ve come across in a very long time, and I can’t believe I haven’t discovered Mr. Prescott’s work to date.

Cray has been stalking and killing women for over a decade. Well-respected by day, savage hunter by night, the man’s character is impeccably drawn using inner thoughts and dialog. The contrast between his day job (revealed partway through the book) and his secret, sick obsession, accentuates his evil.

Now, meet protagonist Elizabeth Palmer. Desperate, broke, resourceful, and lovely, this woman has fixated on finding and bringing Cray to justice since she escaped his clutches twelve years earlier.

From the first primal scream of Cray’s victim to the kaleidoscope of terror-filled memories experienced by Elizabeth, Prescott doesn’t let his readers relax, or even take a breath. Both characters, juxtaposed brilliantly against each other, drive the story forward to its very satisfying conclusion.

The plot is well recounted in many of the 100 plus reviews on Amazon, so let it suffice for me to say that many plot threads and themes are tightly woven into this book, with shock after shock and absolutely no letting down of the tension. I would actually recommend STEALING FACES as a primer for those interested in pursuing a career in writing thrillers.

Thank you, Mr. Prescott, for showing us all how it should be done, and for several nights of delicious, exhilarating thrills.

Highly recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar.

***Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, FOR KEEPS (MAY 2012), DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (APRIL 2012), and the author’s preferred edition of UPSTAGED (JUNE 2012).

http://www.lazarbooks.com

Book Review for THE ABDUCTION OF MARY ROSE by Joan Hall Hovey

Review by Aaron Paul Lazar

Title:  THE ABDUCTION OF MARY ROSE
Author:  Joan Hall Hovey
Publisher: BWLPP
Genre: Suspense, 240 pages
ISBN-10: 1466337338
ISBN-13: 978-1466337336
Price: Kindle eBook: $2.99 Print Book: $11.99
Publisher website address: http://bwlpp.com/mysteries.php
Author’s personal website:http://www.joanhallhovey.com

The Abduction of Mary Rose
by Joan Hall Hovey
Book review by Aaron Paul Lazar

I have been a fan of Joan Hall Hovey since I read CHILL WATERS last year. After that, I reached for each and every release with the same excitement I do for new books by bestselling authors like Dean Koontz. And with THE ABDUCTION OF MARY ROSE, Ms. Hovey follows in the same tradition of grabbing her readers by the throat and never letting go until the final pages bring the story to its ultimate resolution.

It’s not so much the de facto smooth writing skills, or the vivid scene-setting that makes you feel as if you are right there with the protagonist, or the wonderful, natural-sounding dialog, or the edge-of-your-seat suspense, or the wild chase scenes that keep you up into the wee hours of morning with your heart pounding…No, I expect all of these elements in this author’s books. What shines so brightly above and beyond these great traits, however, is Ms. Hovey’s characters. Rich with back-story, as real as the person sitting next to you on the couch or in your office, these people leap off the page and invade your mind, lingering for weeks or months afterwards.

In THE ABDUCTION OF MARY ROSE, you’ll immediately begin to root for Naomi Waters, a twenty-eight year old woman who records audio books for a living. Bright, loving, and a dedicated daughter, her story starts at her dying mother’s bedside.

Now, imagine losing your only parent to a devastating disease. On the day of the funeral, now imagine discovering that she wasn’t your mother, that you were adopted. With that comes the knowledge that the photo on your dresser of your long dead military hero father was fake, too. Add to that the sudden unveiling of all this through your mother’s obituary, written by the nasty sister of the only mother you ever knew, and you have the springboard from which this riveting story moves forward.

When Naomi starts to dig into her birthmother’s history, she’s horrified to discover that poor Mary Rose was only sixteen when she was abducted, brutally raped and left for dead. The Micmac native girl lived long enough in a coma to give birth to Naomi, then died shortly thereafter. The case was never solved, and for nearly thirty years the rapist and his cohort have lived free among the local townspeople. One elderly witness saw two men take her back then, but couldn’t react fast enough to save the poor girl when the abduction happened.

Ms. Hovey’s scene of the abduction broke my heart. I’m still upset about it, and still feel ragged hatred toward the men who took her, used her, and threw her away. I am filled with sorrow for Mary Rose’s dear, sweet grandfather, who lost his only family member to violence of the worst sort. I’m not sure I would have survived such a loss, to tell the truth.

Yet through all of this tension and horrible upheaval, Naomi vows to dig into the past, catch her mother’s killer or killers, and bring them to justice. With skills that rival some of the best detectives, born of a passion to avenge her mother and a close spiritual connection with Mary Rose, she steadfastly makes progress in spite of the local police’s lack of interest.

In Joan Hall Hovey’s inimitable style, she ratchets up the suspense and fear as the story unfolds. Naomi goes public, gains the interest of the locals, and in particular one very brutal and nasty man, her mother’s rapist and her biological father.

The problem is, this man has no conscience, and only wants to destroy the DNA evidence of his misdeed that lies within Naomi’s cells. The final scenes will have you rooting for Naomi and clinging to the edge of your seat. They are brilliantly rendered.

When you buy this book–and I highly recommend you do–you need to set aside time to read. Start it on a Friday night or Saturday morning, or you’ll be calling your boss to take a vacation day. Yes, it’s that good.

***

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, FOR KEEPS (MAY 2012), DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (APRIL 2012), and the author’s preferred edition of UPSTAGED (JUNE 2012).

http://www.lazarbooks.com

Excerpt from “The Abduction of Mary Rose” by Joan Hall Hovey

Book Review for Private Lies by Warren Adler

Review by Aaron Paul Lazar

Title: Private Lies
Author: Warren Adler
Publisher: Stonehouse Press (2004)
Genre: Suspense/Drama
Paperback: 344 pages
ISBN-10: 1931304653
ISBN-13: 978-1931304658
Price: Kindle eBook: $2.99; Paperback: $19.95
Publisher website address: http://www.warrenadler.com/aboutstonehouse.shtml

 

Private Lies
by Warren Adler
Book review by Aaron Paul Lazar

PRIVATE LIES is a mesmerizing read, starting with the powerful voice of Ken Kramer in the opening pages. I’m not going to provide a detailed plot summary, other than to say that this novel is a commanding glimpse into the minds of four very distinct characters. Mr. Adler rotates between these points of view, from a dispirited writer who has lost his dream and now settles for a job writing ads (Ken), to his long ago ballerina lover with whom he parted ways twenty years earlier and who he now runs into by a pure twist of fate (Carol), to his loving and enthusiastic wife, a virtual “earth mother,” who has organized his life and bore him two children (Maggie), to the final corner of this very odd rhombus, a self-engrossed, gourmand who’s always touting his latest “cause” and who can talk the best dinner partners under the table (Eliot).

One is immediately plunged into mystery and suspense when the story opens with a chance meeting between Ken, his wife Maggie, her new client Eliot, and his spouse, Carol. Ken knows she’s Carol—his past lover—yet she doesn’t acknowledge him. Not a glance, no eye contact, no conversation. Ken spends the whole evening wonder if this ethereal, swan-necked, divine creature is really the woman with whom he spent months of hot passion two decades ago. He’s positive it’s her; but why does she pretend not to know him?

Little by little, delicious secrets are unveiled. We discover Carol’s past, which I won’t divulge here, and finally get a peak into her mind.

I expected the story would stay in New York, set in apartments and coffee shops and restaurants, when suddenly the plot twists and we are airlifted to Africa!

The contrast between the scenes in the dark, dirty city to Africa are vibrantly divergent. Africa—land of the parching sun, torrential downpours, rare danger, and raw resplendent beauty—invades the minds of the quartet by unleashing inner urges, some not so pretty. The land influences and entices, invades sensible thoughts and tempts all four to go where they hadn’t dared before.

If it seems like I’m being cryptic here, I am. I don’t want to spoil the plot.

There are several twists in this story that made me stand up and applaud. Well done, Mr. Adler! It was these twists that grabbed my attention and made me love the book even more. As they should, secrets are unveiled and the plot runs wild with surprises coming in more frequent waves toward the end. Most satisfying.

I would recommend this book for adults only, particularly those who aren’t shy about reading delicately described sexual encounters. These tastefully drawn passages of great passion were evocative and sensual, adding to the texture of this finely woven literary tapestry. As in THE DAVID EMBRACE, Mr. Adler writes voluptuous and fiery passages when it comes to passion in the bedroom, or in the mind.

I’ve heard that PRIVATE LIES was up for a movie, and that was one of my first thoughts when I finished it. “What a great movie PRIVATE LIES would make!” I do hope that Hollywood grabs hold of this one and runs with it.

I highly recommend PRIVATE LIES for the thinking man or woman, and for those who enjoy diabolical, twisty plots and lush scenery.

***

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, FOR KEEPS (MAY 2012), DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (APRIL 2012), and the author’s preferred edition of UPSTAGED (JUNE 2012).

http://www.lazarbooks.com