Category Archives: Book reviews

Alana Woods’ book reviews: The Detective JD Welch series by John L Work

I have two reviews this week for you from the same author, JOHN L WORK.


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A dark obsession 2

A DARK OBSESSION TIMES 2 (a Detective JD Welch story)

The author spent 20 years in law enforcement in the US and the believability level in all of his stories and novels that encompass crime is sky high.

This novel, like most of his others, once again has as its protagonist Detective JD Welch. I’ve read all of the Welch books now and have enjoyed following his career. To me this one actually comes across as a thinly-disguised accounting of Work’s own career—although I could be wrong about that—and it makes for compelling reading. Welch is now working in the Roberts County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office Jail Division. Still a policeman, but working inside the jail investigating crimes perpetrated by inmates. Work covers a lot of ground, situations, crimes—and there are some nasty ones—locations and time periods that are all in some way connected to men who are serving time or have served time and therefore come within Welch’s ambit.

As I say, we cover a lot of ground but one crime investigation weaves its way throughout. It’s the one that opens and closes the story and every time I thought we might be in danger of wandering too far from the central theme it pops up again—a measure of Work’s weaving skill.

It is apparently a true story and it’s one that affected me.

If you want happy-ever-after endings to your books don’t look for them in Work’s novels. His are definitely reflections of the injustices and inequalities of real life. However, don’t let that put you off. Even though at times the subject matter may be hard-hitting they are well worth the read.


Right angle murders

THE RIGHT ANGLE MURDERS (a Detective JD Welch story)

I’m a fan of Work’s. I’ve read several of his novels and novellas now and each displays the same tight writing and attention to detail that I’ve come to expect. This one is no exception.

This is a short novella that takes us back to the beginning of JD Welch’s career as a detective. (Welch is the central character in many of Work’s novels.) He and his senior partner, Joe Bryerson, are assigned to a nasty rape case that has all the hallmarks of a murder gone wrong. Unfortunately for them they have no clues as to the perpetrator and as murder follows murder and the media intensity puts the Sheriff’s office under the unwanted spotlight the detectives feel increasingly frustrated at their lack of progress.

The story opening has a definite feeling of noire about it and the ending is shocking but I can understand the sentiment behind it. I imagine many a cop would like a nasty case to end similarly.

Work’s history in law enforcement and talent for telling this kind of tale once again delivers a believable case with believable characters.

JOHN L WORK’s Amazon page

Take this link to my interview with JOHN L WORK

Alana Woods’ book reviews: THE LITTLE UNIVERSE by Jason Matthews

Have you ever wondered about The Big Bang? What it was, how it happened? Wonder no more. Instead, follow the characters in this huge-in-scope novel as they set about re-creating it. Do they succeed? Oh yes. And how. With the help of an infinitely talented and intelligent computer named Jim they build their own little universe within the confines of a purpose-built building and then proceed to tweak, play and interact with planetary inhabitants to suit their own purposes.

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Cover--Little Universe

The investors see only the mind-blowing profits that can be made from exploiting technology from more-advanced planets than their own, and they conflict with venture partners who want to observe and learn from one particular planet whose inhabitants are in tune with the entire universe.

This novel is an exploration of creation, the existence of a creator, spirituality, reincarnation and much much more. Matthews exhibits an expertly deft touch as he explores what are obviously to him important subjects. By novel’s end I found myself in a contemplative mood as I pondered the ideas he raised.

A lot of the story involves a voyeuristic slant as the protagonists watch what’s happening on the planets that interest them and my interest level dipped as this felt like surface-skimming. My interest lay in the meditation interactions with the Thetans and how the project changes the lives of the protagonists.

The story has a definite beginning and ending and about three quarters of the way in there’s a jolt that completely alters the reader’s perception of everything. That was clever and had me smiling.

This is the first in a two-book series, the second being JIM’S LIFE which I unknowingly read first last year. While it’s not imperative to read them in order I wish I had because, even though I loved JIM’S LIFE and gave it five stars, it would have been advantageous to have the background of THE LITTLE UNIVERSE to draw upon.

This is a well-written, well-told story with characters I felt I knew by the time I finished.


Read my interview with Jason Matthews

Alana Woods’ book reviews: A HOOK IN THE SKY by Claude Nougat

This is another quality, albeit short, read from Nougat. Well-thought out plotline, character depth, polished prose. What more could you ask for.

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A hook in the sky


This book tackles the elemental story of aging. In common with YA fiction it looks into one of life’s transitions, this one the transition from work to retirement, from a life of busyness—if not usefulness—to one of what to do with oneself when one no longer has a primary purpose.

Nougat is in fact the initiator and driving force behind the next big thing in genres: baby boomer literature, be it fiction or non-fiction. A HOOK IN THE SKY is her first contribution. If the online airplay Nougat is receiving is any guide it’s generating massive interest.

The story follows a childless couple from the day of husband Robert’s—French—retirement from the UN. His wife Kay—American—is 20 years younger and a contemporary art gallery owner. They have nothing in common, a fact that comes very much to the fore once Robert’s no longer working. He rekindles his interest in painting. Locations shift from the US to Italy to France as Robert and Kay separate then come together again with a big art project, all the while Robert exploring what else life has to offer, namely other women.

What’s wrong with the book? Well, I prefer longer novels but that’s not a criticism. The plot and characters don’t suffer, they’re well developed.

My one criticism is that the story is told from Robert’s point of view except for several brief instances where it swaps to Kay’s. I didn’t like this. If you’re going to swap points of view, give the characters equal time. As it is it looks like the author has inadvertently veered or hasn’t figured out how to convey what Kay is thinking or feeling any other way. However, it’s a small criticism.

I enjoyed the read. I can see it having general appeal—not just to the BB age group—because it draws in so much.

I imagine Nougat used her own experience to build the character of Robert. She worked at the UN herself and is a painter. I loved the details about art and painting. In one particular scene Robert is choosing what paint colours to buy. I’m not going to tell you the wonderful descriptions Nougat gives them, you’re going to have to read the book yourself for that delight.

Take this link to an interview with CLAUDE NOUGAT