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review 2019-01-15 22:13
Mystery, police procedural, and an in-depth look at the US judicial system. A great read.
Justice Gone - N. Lombardi Jr.

I am reviewing this book as a member of Rosie’s book review team and thank her, NetGalley,  and Roundfire for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, ahead of its publication, that I freely chose to review.

This is not an easy book to categorise, and it could fit into a number of classifications, but it goes beyond the standard examples many of the readers of some of those genres are used to come across. When I heard about this book, my interest was piqued by several elements: the book features as one of its main characters a female therapist who has specialised in counselling war vets (many of them suffering from PTSD), and as a psychiatrist (and I did work with military personnel, although not from the US) I’m always intrigued by the literary portrayals of psychologists and psychiatrists and of mental health difficulties. There is a mystery/thriller element, and because I’m an eager reader (and writer) of those genres, I’m always keen to explore new authors and approaches. The novel also promised a close look at the US judicial system, and having studied criminology and the British Criminal Justice system, that aspect of the book was also intriguing. Could the novel deliver in so many levels?

Dr. Tessa Thorpe is an interesting character, and it seems that the author is planning to develop a series of novels around her. She is described as insightful and compassionate, with strong beliefs (anti-war), morals, and a trauma of her own. She is not the perfect professional, and at times her trauma affects her behaviour to a point that I thought would have got her into trouble if she were working in a different environment. We are not given full details of what has happened to her before, but the hints we get through the novel (where other characters in possession of that information refer to it) give us a fair idea. She is much better at dealing with others and understanding what moves them to act as they do than she is at dealing with her own issues, but that is a fairly realistic aspect of the book (although considering how insistent she is in getting others to talk about their difficulties, it is surprising none of the colleagues take her to task). What I was not totally convinced about was the fact that at some point she decides to support the vet going to trial accused of murder, and she leaves her practice and patients unattended for weeks. As she works in a private clinic and we only meet one of her patients, we don’t have sufficient information of her day-to-day tasks, and it’s quite possible that this is not a problem, but it felt counterintuitive to me. Tessa plays an central part in the plot in more ways than one, because although she is an expert in some aspects, she is totally new to what happens in other parts of the novel, like court procedures, and at those points she works as a stand-in for the readers, asking for clarifications and being walked through the process in detail.

The mystery and thriller elements, as I said, are dealt with differently to in many other books. The novel starts at an earlier point than many of the books that give advice to writers would recommend. It does not start in the middle of the action, or the crime (what the real crime is here is one of the main questions). We get the background to the events, down to the phone call to the police about a homeless man, which gets the ball rolling at the very beginning of the book. The police, who have been fed the wrong information, end up beating the man, a war-vet, to death. This causes a huge uproar, and we hear about the way the authorities try to sweep it all under the carpet, then the apparent revenge killing of the three policemen, the chase of a suspect, the hair-raising moment when he gives himself up (with some help from the doctor and others), and then we move onto the court case. There are moments where the book leans towards the police procedural, and we get plenty of details about the physical evidence, the investigation and those involved, we witness interrogations, we are privileged to information even the police don’t have, we get red herrings, and dead ends. The ending… there is a twist at the end, and although some might suspect it is coming, I was so involved in the court case at that point that I had almost forgotten that we did not know who the guilty party was.

I think this is one of the books I’ve read in recent times that best manages to bring to life a US court case, without sparing too many details and at the same time making it gripping. I will confess that the defense attorney, Nathaniel Bodine, is my favourite character, one of those lawyers who will happily cross the line for their client, and he seems, at times, a much better psychologist (and manipulator) than the doctor is. The judicial process is realistically reflected and at times it reads as if it were a detailed film or TV script, with good directions and fantastic dialogue.

And, we also follow the deliberations of the jury, in a few chapters that made me think of Twelve Angry Men, a play I remember watching many years back, although in this case we have a more diverse jury (not twelve men and not all Caucasian) and a more complex case. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the novel as well, and I could clearly see the interaction between the sequestered jury in my mind’s eye. (It would make a great film or series, as I have already suggested).

The story is told in the third person by an omniscient narrator that at times shows us the events from the point of view of one of the characters, mostly from Tessa’s perspective, but at times from others, like her co-workers or members of the police force. At some points, the story is told from an external and fairly objective perspective (like the jury deliberations); although at times we glimpse the personal opinions of that unknown narrator. I know readers dislike “head-hopping”, but I was never in any doubt about whose point of view I was reading, and the alternating perspective helped get a more rounded view of events and characters. Although the style of writing is factual and to the point (some of the descriptions reminded me of police reports, in their matter-of-factness), that does not mean the book fails to produce an emotional reaction on the reader. Quite the opposite. Rather than emphasising the drama by using over-the-top prose, the author lets the facts and the characters’ actions talk for themselves, and that is much more effective, in my opinion.  

I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a mystery/thriller/police procedural novel which does not obey by the rules and is keen to engage readers in controversy and debates that go beyond a standard genre novel. (The author explains he was inspired to write this book by an incident not dissimilar to the death of the veteran at the hands of the cops at the beginning of the novel). The novel goes into more detail than most readers keen on those genres will be used to, and also follows the events from the very beginning to the very end. This is not a novel only interested in thrilling readers by highlighting the action scenes and ignoring the rest. Readers who always feel there are aspects of a story missing or underdeveloped will love this book, and also those who like complex characters (plenty of grey areas here) and a story that lives beyond the page. I also see book clubs enjoying a great discussion after reading this book, as there is much to debate and ponder. An accomplished novel and the first of a series that we should keep a close eye on.

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review 2018-12-27 14:12
love love LOVED this one!
Behind the Iron Cross - Nicola M. Cameron
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. A sensual heiress, a wounded playboy and the soldier who will serve them both. Oh I liked this one, I liked it a LOT!!! Meet Kat, a wealthy business woman trying to help expand her company and repair a very damaged Germany after WW1. Meet Sam, Kat's best friend, fiancee, and her dead brother's lover. And Friedrich, a decommissioned soldier forced to sell his body to keep his widowed sister-in-law and her baby fed. Like I said, liked it A LOT! The scene is set with Friedrich going to the club Kat and Sam frequent for the first time. There is am immediate connection between the three, and it burns bright through the whole book. I didn't find it as explicit as some BDSM or menage books, but that might be just me. It IS sexy, oh yes, don't think that it isn't, and what is here is very well written. Maybe it's because a lot of words used were from that time, and not today's words for things. I didn't mind that I didn't find it as explicit, I just needed to mention it! I LOVED how it all worked though! Kat is a Dom; Sam, a confirmed homosexual (but he can be with women, should he and Kat actually get married and need to produce an heir!) and Friedrich is the glue that binds all three of them together. Kat shows him all kinds of things that he didn't even know existed and Sam shows him just how good it is to be with a man. I liked the business espionage line, wasn't sure how that was gonna go and I do so love being kept on my toes! And I absolutely LOVED the solution that Sam comes up with to get Friedrich, Elise and Rudi out of Germany; to give Kat a husband; to give Sam a wife AND heir and for the three of them to be together back in the States. I was reading when Sam was talking and I'm thinking "What the bloody hell is he going on about?" And then, ping! Light bulb moment just a fraction of a sentence before Sam laid it out! Loved it! First I've read of this author, unless there is something tucked away in a bo x set I might have read. I'd like to read more! You know what?? I wrote 4.5 stars at the top pf the page when I sat down to write this up, but now? I can't think why I did that, or what to take the half star off for, so . . . . 5 full stars! **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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review 2018-12-27 14:07
heavy on the action but still a good read
Imagine (Black Raven #4) - Stella Barcelona
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. After THAT kiss on Halloween, Leo and Ace have been avoiding the issue.Or rather, Leo has, and it's all Ace has on his mind. Sent together with a team of Black Raven agents undercover on a gambling cruise liner's maiden voyage, they are thrown into the thick of things, with so much left unsaid. This is book 4 in the Black Raven series, but you don't need to have read the other three for this to make sense, they can all be read as stand alone novels. Books one and three are five star reads from me, though. But this one?? Not so much and I've no idea why! And ya'll know how much that pains me so! maybe it will come as I write this up. Leo is emotionally stunted after the death of her father on 9/11. She doesn't wanna talk to Ace about what happened on Halloween but she has been thinking about it. Ace is her best friend, has been since they started working together. That kiss, though, changes everything for them both. Ace wants to move the relationship on, but they have a job to do first. Feelings for your partner cannot get in the way of a job. But they have a way of worming in, and Leo can see those feelings in Ace's eyes, even if he doesn't want her to see. Told mostly from Leo and Ace's point of view, we also get some of the bad guy in a couple of places, and in the other two books I've read in this series, I loved that. Those bad guys are deeply twisted, and were difficult to read, but it's more of less why I gave those two books 5 stars: the connection I had to the minds of those bad guys. But something didn't quite work here, for me. While clearly insanely greedy (cos it's all about the money) and a lot screwed in the head (cos a LOT of people will die) I didn't feel any connection to the bad guy at all. That makes ME sound a lot twisted in my head, but I think you know what I mean. There seemed to be no background as to WHY (other than the money) the bad guy was doing this, what made them want to blow up a brand spanking new ship, and kill all those people? I needed some background and I didn't get it. This book is HEAVY on the agents work. A little bit too much for me, I think. I got lost when they were running around the ship cos I have no idea what half of those ship terms meant! AND!! It's only the first part of Leo and Ace's story. They are Happy For Now, and I do hope they get their Happy Ever After in the next book. Ain't gonna be plain sailing for them I know that much! So, because on the lack of connection to the bad guy, and because of the heavy action (which gives me the WHY I didn't enjoy this one quite so much) . . . 4 stars, still a really good read, just not on a par with books one and three. **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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review 2018-12-10 14:18
heavy on the physical aspect of training but very much needed!
Loving A Warrior - Melanie Hansen
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. Matt and Shane are in BUD/S training: an intense 6 months training to get them both into the Navy SEALS. They did not account for the intense chemistry between them, know that it can never happen while they are training, if they end up in the same unit. But neither can stay away from the other and anything worth fighting for is never going to be easy. After all, the only easy day was yesterday. This is only the second book of Ms Hansen I've read. Unquiet broke me, and I approached this one with kid gloves, because, I mean, she BROKE me before! And while THIS book isn't quite as emotionally devastating as Unquiet, it's still a very good read. Matt joined the BUD/S training to follow in his beloved uncle's footsteps. Shane joins after spending time in the Marines, but his REAL reason doesn't come clear til much later. Neither wanted a relationship, and after graduation they were gonna get this. . . . whatever it is between them. . . out their system. But emotions have a way of coming out of left field, and Shane admits he wants MORE. This book is quite heavy on the physical and emotional aspect of this kind of training. And at first, I didn't like it too much. BUT as the book moved along with Shane and Matt's relationship, I found myself thinking that aspect is really rather needed. It goes deeper than running the fastest mile, or swimming the longest, or finishing that O course in the quickest time. It goes deep within Matt and Shane, and how far they have to dig to get what they. To get WHO they want. It's told well, from both men's point of view, and I wasn't sure that would be the case at first, so when Shane gets his voice, I was happy. Ya'll KNOW how happy I am when everyone important gets a voice! I didn't find it overly explicit, but it wasn't needed here. It's well over half way before Matt and Shane get to the main event, but the build up to that was great reading. It pitters and patters along, a little more here and there, til they finally decide to let their feelings run free. And it was glorious! Some secrets revealed that I saw coming, and some not. There is a second book, Keeping A Warrior in this series, and at first I thought it a follow on to this but it's not. It's about a character who pops up here, and I would like to read it. Especially after what happens to him here, and reading the blurb of THAT book, it ain't gonna end well! A solid . . . 4 star star read P.s That tag line " The only easy day was yesterday"?? Gonna stick with me a while! **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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review 2018-11-26 12:02
Chance
Join the Club (Four Kings Security #3) - Charlie Cochet

This is book #3 in the Four Kings Security series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this sexy series in order.

 

Eduardo AKA “Lucky” has been hot for Mason for a long time.  When he finally gets the chance to test the attraction out, he is shocked to find the man he wants so badly has similar fears in the commitment area.  Will there pasts doom hem from the start?

 

Mason has run into a problem at work.  He will have some time to consider his future.  While he is waiting, spending some time with a man he finds so potent could either be a good, or bad idea.

 

This series is on fire!  I love each character.  Cool how they are all in these stories like we are watching a TV show.  This story is full of heat, heart, and humor.  Typical of such a great author, it moves along well and keeps you wanting more.  The sexy times are seriously sexy with sparks all over!  I give this a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

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