Lalla Bains—ex model, 5’10”, blond and extremely easy on the eye teams up with cousin and budding PI Pearlie and cop fiancé Caleb Stone to solve two murders, not least because Lalla’s dad is the chief suspect.
This is the 4th book in the Dead Red mystery series and at the end the author expresses the hope I enjoyed reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it. I can assure her I did!
I haven’t read the previous three in the series, not knowing about them until coming across this one, but I didn’t feel the lack of any essential knowledge about the characters. There was some economical back story to fill me in but essentially I think it’s complete enough in itself to stand alone.
Told in a deceptively easy-to-read style everything about it engages you: the storyline, the characters, the descriptions and the humour.
I say ‘deceptively easy to read’ because that style isn’t as easy to accomplish as some may imagine. It brought to mind one of my all-time favourite authors, Dick Francis. He had a similar writing style and he was a master with it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that RP Dahlke is another author who has finessed it.
I found myself comparing it to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and I’m betting that if you like Stephanie you’re going to really like RP Dahlke’s Lalla Bains.
Some time ago I read Nougat’s short story compilation Death on Facebook, Short Stories for the Digital Age and was impressed with the range of stories and the skill with which they were presented. One that caught my imagination was I will not leave you behind, the futuristic story of a 122 year old woman who is part of an elite program that keeps you young until you die. In GATEWAY TO FOREVER Nougat has taken that short story and woven its premise into a four-part series of short novels I enjoyed reading very much.
The over-arching theme is the approaching doom of Earth from climate change. The story is set 200 years into the future and what becomes apparent very quickly is that humankind never learned the lessons of what it would take to save the planet. Everyone, including big business, is still only concerned with the present and what they can get out of it for themselves. People are still divided into the have’s and have not’s, only now the have’s—called the OnePercenters—can afford to have old-age and illness permanently eliminated right up until death, whereas the have not’s—the 99PerCenters—continue to struggle as we struggle in this day and age.
The story and struggle is told through three characters who all aspire to be a OnePercenter, highlighting the fact that even in Earth’s extremis we’re still only concerned with what advantages we can garner for ourselves.
You can come away from reading this series feeling a great despair for where we’re heading. The alternatives that the author presents, that of leaving Earth to inhabit a new planet and starting again, or remaining and hoping Earth regenerates itself, are stark contrasts.
A thought-provoking, confronting read.
A point worth mentioning is that the cover art is one of Nougat’s own works. If you click on the link below to my interview with the author you will see more of her paintings.
You may well remember that I’ve reviewed some of John L Work’s books previously. I’ve always meant to catch up with this particular series and now I have. A WELL-REGULATED VENGEANCE can be read as a stand-alone novel but it can also be read as a precursor to the three-part THE BARTER series. The author himself refers to it as a four book collection called THE BARTER AND RECKONING SERIES. For the purposes of this article I’m reviewing them separately.
I’ve read enough of John L Work’s novels to know they take you by the throat and don’t let go until well after you’ve finished reading them. This one doesn’t deviate from the mold. In fact it ramps up the tension by quite a few degrees.
In this gun-rights thriller he takes you to the United States in the near future, 2016, against the backdrop of a country descending into totalitarianism, and brings you the story of an ordinary man, Wesley Kirbaugh, seeking justice for his murdered daughter.
It beautifully combines a seemingly small story—that of one man—with a large story—that of a nation’s descent from greatness.
This story was born from best-selling author and investigative journalist Jerome Corsi’s essay at World Net Daily titled China poised to play debt card—for US land. John L Work took the premise of a United States in so deep a debt to China that it trades the debt for US soil. The year is 2016 and the political scene picks up where it left off in A WELL-REGULATED VENGEANCE.
Once again Work sets one man’s story against world affairs and once again does it brilliantly.
Although A WELL-REGULATED VENGEANCE is a stand alone novel it is also a precursor to the three-part THE BARTER series, of which this is the first.
Benito Hernandez, a military veteran, has been working at a chicken processing plant for some years. The kids are grown up and have left home, so there’s just him and his wife Monica. The deteriorating political situation in the US is seen through his story and his eyes. And it’s horrific.
Work knows how to keep you turning the page and holding your breath.
Think George Orwell’s 1984 was a piece of fiction? Think again. In this second in THE BARTER series John L Work presents for your enjoyment and contemplation a story of the world going mad. The year is 2020.
He points out that the United States has gone from being the World’s biggest creditor nation in 1945 to the world’s biggest debtor nation today.
But as he also points out in his introduction, “This isn’t a book about economics. It’s a killer thriller.”
Benito and Monica Hernandez from book 1 are dead and we now follow their son Jamie. Private citizens possessing guns was outlawed years ago and there are harsh penalties for non-compliance. I’m not giving anything away by saying Jamie buys one so he can pursue his vendetta against the injustice of his father’s death.
I’m not going to tell you how Benito died but it’s all tied up in the Chinese now being the behind-the-scenes power in America.
You’re going to want to move straight on to book 3 when you finish this one.
This is book 3 in John L Work’s THE BARTER series and picks up within minutes of where book 2 finished. America is now a country that today’s citizens wouldn’t recognise. In the not too distant future Islam and China will be battling for supremacy but for now they exist together in an uneasy alliance.
Jamie Hernandez is on the run from his own government for crimes committed in book 2. He’s aided by Australian Secret Intelligence Service agents. Rebecca Teals is one of them and she and Jamie get to know each other pretty well over the course of the rest of the story.
As an Australian myself it’s interesting to see a non-Australian’s view of us. Work obviously finds us engaging. It’s not the first time he’s referenced Australia as the last bastion against Islam in his novels.
Jamie and Rebecca escape to Australia where Jamie and two other Americans receive military training with the aim of returning to the US to wreak havoc. Then it’s back home to do just that.
Book 3 keeps up the pace and I found myself reading quickly to find out if Jamie and Rebecca survive.
The whole series of four books grabs you by the throat—as I said in my review of A WELL-REGULATED VENGEANCE—and doesn’t let go.
Incredibly atmospheric! The further I got into this book the more I became convinced the story would not end well; I couldn’t see how it could be otherwise. Without giving anything away I will just say that when the ending came I thought ‘How apt. Perfect’.
The wildness, of characters and setting, is consistent from start to finish. The bone-chilling cold of the sea and terrible weather wafted out of the pages and into my bones. I had to put the heating on. The language was like a pop-up picture book opening up scene after scene. The dialogue of these illiterate and mostly ignorant fishing folk did its job in revealing their characters to me. Higson is a helluva story teller.
The story? It follows a few days in the life of Amy Trott, a 15 year old living in a poor fishing village on the wild UK Yorkshire coast. Everyone ekes a precarious living looking out for themselves. There’s no room for caring about neighbours. Anyone thought to be even a little different is treated harshly and Amy is that little bit different, thought to be simple. Her only protector is her father. There are two young men who have soft spots for her but neither knows how to show it and lack the courage to try. Amy collects flithers, limpets, from the rocky shore for her fisherman father to use as bait on his lines. It’s back-breaking dangerous work. The year is 1915 and paranoia regarding the Germans abounds. So when Amy finds one washed up on the rocks her life becomes very precarious indeed.
This is the story of people struggling to exist and find their place in that existence. Wrap your hands around a hot coffee or chocolate and let Graham Higson immerse you in Amy’s life.