Monday, April 17, 2017

Out Of Business

Unfortunately, On A Dark Stormy Review is defunct.

To continue reading book reviews, I will be posting them on my personal website, under the JOURNAL tab.

Thank you.

Phillip Tomasso

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN 1 of 3 Hardcover Copies

On A Dark Stormy Review Will Be Awarding Three (3) Random Winners a Hardcover Copy of Kent Lester's debut novel THE SEVENTH SUN -- Read the Sample Chapter below, and leave a comment on this blog for your chance to win!

A big Thank you to FORGE BOOKS for sponsoring this event!

If you do not win (Winners selected on April 18, 2017. Books will be mailed directly from Forge Books) you can click on the book cover, or highlighted links and be taken directly to

Read the below chapter -- and Don't Forget to Leave a Comment!

Kent Lester
Forge Books, 2017
411 Pages
Suspense / Thriller


CARL JAMESON’S GEOLOGY career took a sudden turn when the unimaginable knocked at his door: an event as unlikely as a snowflake in summer.

It seemed an apt analogy for the moment, Carl thought, as he sat sweltering in the languid heat of his cubicle, stuffed into a dusty corner of the Central American Core Repository. He had arrived at the sleepy fishing village of La Ceiba, Honduras, two months earlier to complete research on his doctoral thesis. The slow pace of Latin American life and the friendliness of the locals provided him a respite from the hectic inner-city life of Columbia University. But one thing he could never get used to was the heat, the oppressive heat that sucked the energy from his bones. Carl leaned forward to harvest a meager stream of air flowing from an old oscillating fan he’d purchased at the local market. It provided scant relief for his racing heart.

When he first arrived at the core repository, Carl could have scarcely imagined the bizarre twist that would upend all of his research into mass extinction events. His meticulous studies of ocean sediments would need to be updated, along with his thesis title: “Mass Extinction: Sedimentary Evidence of Comet Impact at the Cretaceous/Tertiary Boundary.”

It was a huge adjustment, but Carl didn’t mind. His implausible discovery offered him an opportunity of a lifetime. That’s what made science so compelling, he decided: the occasional surprise that turned scientific convention on its head.

Carl checked his antique pocket watch. Time to get moving. Exiting the cubicle, Carl entered the building’s long central hallway, his footsteps reverberating in the cavernous enclosure. The structure was old, constructed in the late fifties, and large, over a football field in length, having been expanded numerous times. Dust motes danced in shafts of light streaming from windows set high on the crumbling brick walls. Their beams illuminated row upon row of metal tubes stacked on tall shelves, like the scrolls of a primordial library.

The Central American Core Repository contained the largest collection of sedimentary drilling cores in Latin America, an archive of geological history created and maintained by several mining conglomerates. For the most part, the cores languished in obscurity, their secrets mute and unappreciated. In fact, during the entire two-month span of his research grant, Carl Jameson had not seen a single other visiting scientist or surveyor.

He knew the reason for the lack of interest: to a mining company, these archived cores were symbols of failure. The drilling of an exploratory sediment core was the mining equivalent of a stab in the dark, a pinprick through the skin of Mother Earth, made in hopes of finding a vein of mineral wealth. Any promising core samples would never make their way into the repository. They would be far too valuable and would be whisked away to another location … like the shiny new laboratory next door, for instance.

Someone had found something of extreme value, Carl concluded, judging from the frenzied activity taking place just a few steps away from his current location. He wanted to learn more, but … first things first.

As he ambled along, Carl extended his hand, letting it hover inches above one shelf, like a ship floating through time. It sailed past the geological periods—Quaternary, Neogene, Paleogene … 

By row’s end, he’d journeyed back sixty million years into the past, an eyeblink in geological time. Carl turned right and headed toward the age of the dinosaurs, the focus of his research.

The scientific debate on mass extinctions had raged for years. During the Earth’s four-billion-year history, five mass extinction events had ravaged the planet’s species, none more famous than the last: the extinction of the dinosaurs. Every scientific discipline had its own pet theory for the cause.

The biologists focused on pandemics and evolutionary pressure. The meteorologists believed in climate change. The astrophysicists proposed an invisible sister-star to the sun called “Nemesis” that supposedly disrupted the solar system every 26 million years or so. Paleogeologists preferred volcanism at the Deccan Traps in India. There was even an extinction theory based on dark matter.

Carl had always believed in the most obvious and simple theory: meteor impacts.

Occam’s razor.

His research had seemed to bear that out … until a week ago. That’s when extinction “theory” became something else entirely.

Carl stopped suddenly at a familiar berth.

For two months, he had been studying the sediment cores surrounding the “KT boundary” between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, where the last evidence of the dinosaurs could be found. Each core was like a chapter of geological history, its individual sediment layers like pages from the book of life. They had always told a familiar story, until … 


Carl’s eyes locked on a microscope slide tray that had been placed on a narrow clearing on one of the shelves. He needed one last look. His hand trembling slightly, Carl removed a gossamer-thin slice of stone from its holder and placed it into the microscope.

The chance of spotting such a miniscule detail was one in a trillion, he thought, staring at the tiny smattering of colors. Fossilized minerals that had long since replaced the original material sparkled like jewels from an age long departed.

The sight sent a shiver down his spine. It felt as if he had torn the veil from a sacred act, entombed in a wash of sediment, like two mating flies trapped in amber. This tiny discovery, as big as the Earth itself, would rewrite the history books on mass extinctions and surely earn him a Nobel Prize.

After getting his fill, Carl placed the slide back into its plastic sleeve and slipped it into his pocket, patting it gently. Keep the Nobel close. No one here would miss it, or understand its significance.

Carl checked his watch again. It was time to get into position for his second task of the day. For weeks, he’d been watching the heightened security, the strange equipment, the jealously guarded core samples ushered into a lab constructed on a new wing of the decrepit old warehouse. One day, during a core delivery, Carl had noticed the GPS coordinates scribbled on the side of one of the drilling tubes. Their origin piqued his curiosity, drilled only a few hundred miles from the location of his discovery.

In a few days, he’d be meeting up with Rachel Sullivan in La Ceiba for their reunion. Sharing his Nobel-worthy discovery with her would be epic. In all likelihood, she would be shocked, but pleased. Carl felt a tinge of pride at the prospect of showing off his latest achievement.

But, if he could find out the secret to the new mystery cores delivered next door, he could sweeten the pot even more at their reunion.

Two for the price of one.

His next move would be particularly bold, or foolish, depending on how you looked at it. He would be trespassing in a secured area. The slight risk seemed worth it. Besides, what could they do about it now? His residency was almost over. This was his last chance to satisfy his curiosity. Just a quick glance for a minute or two—easy peasy.

Carl knew the guards’ routine and delivery schedule. Toiling under the weight of the cores, they had formed the habit of propping the security door open with an old trash can. With proper timing, Carl could slip inside, take a quick look around, and be out before anyone noticed. He moved to position himself behind a nearby shelf and waited.

Within minutes, the guards arrived, lugging their first load of drill tubes. The lead guard swiped his security card and the team entered the high-security area. A few minutes later, they reappeared and headed for another load, leaving the door ajar in predictable fashion. At the sound of the far exit door slamming shut, Carl made his move.

Slipping through the unsecured door, he found himself standing in the center of an inner foyer. Straight ahead, a vinyl-strip curtain door formed a rudimentary air lock between the foyer and the main lab. To his right, a circular staircase spiraled up into darkness. Treading softly, he eased up the metal stairs to a small observation room that overlooked the lab below.

This was going to be easier than he thought.

Carl backed into the shadows and studied the room below. At first, it looked like any other assay lab: microscopes along one wall; a large table half-filled with exposed cores, pushed out of their containers like Popsicles from their wrappers. The lab had even been equipped with a gas chromatograph and spectroscope. No expense had been spared.

But the far wall perplexed him: it was housing a row of stainless steel fermenting tanks like those found in any microbrewery. Titration racks, a vented hood, incubation chamber, genetic sequencing machine, and stacks of agar plates—items more at home in a biology classroom than a geological assay lab. What is going on here?

Biology was not Carl’s strong suit, but Rachel could probably explain what he was seeing. He reached for his cell phone to take a picture, and cursed. He’d left it back in his cubicle. He’d just have to note every detail so he could share the information later.

The security team reappeared with their second delivery. Carl watched as two lab technicians, dressed in rubber aprons and full-face visors, joined the guards, helping to extract the new cores, which contained a mixture of crystalline rock and mud.

Their job done, the security team said their goodbyes. The two lab techs moved deliberately, one switching off the bright overhead lights and the other activating a bank of UV black lights.

Bathed in the lamp’s purple glow, the sample cores suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree, their crystalline minerals fluorescing under the energy of ultraviolet radiation. Using the glowing minerals as a guide, the technicians extracted a collection of slices, placing them into assaying trays. When they were done, the overheads were

flipped back on, illuminating a ruin of mud and rock littered across the table.

One lab tech carried the assay trays to the microscopes. The other technician moved to the nearest fermentation tank and opened the hatch, releasing a cloud of steam. Then, he dumped the core remnants from the table into the fermenter and shut the lid.

The unfamiliar procedure left Carl completely baffled. Core samples were like divining rods. Their mineral values would be tested, quantified, and charted on a map. By following the gradients of higher mineral concentrations, mining operations could zero in on the most promising claims. Core samples were always archived for further testing. They were never destroyed.

Now, more curious than ever, he scrutinized the lab techs as they turned their attention to the assay trays: making microslices, collecting small quantities of material for spectrographic analysis, studying the slices under the microscope.

He stood there watching for an hour, mesmerized, until another unimaginable event caught his attention.

The hatch on the nearest fermenter began to change color—to an unnaturally bright color. A deep Prussian-blue foam began to ooze out around the hatch’s seal. It grew into a great steaming mound that advanced down the front side of the fermentation tank with a bubbling ferocity that could be heard from his perch in the observation room.

The lab workers turned and stared, frozen. One worker finally leapt up and rushed toward the fermenter’s controls. His forward motion carried him past his destination as the slick foam betrayed his purchase. He landed on his backside with a loud splat.

A guttural gasp exploded from his mouth as he seemed to launch himself up from the floor. He writhed and contorted as the blue ooze sloughed off his back, along with large patches of lab coat and skin. A mist of white smoke streamed from the raw flesh as his cries morphed into a gurgling whimper.

The second worker slammed his hand onto a large red button, shattering the silence with a chorus of sirens. Seconds later, both men were contorting in agony. White foam spewed from their mouths, mixing with the cerulean mass that inched its way across the room.

Frozen in place, Carl Jameson was unsure what to do next, until the faint aroma of burnt almonds reached his nostrils and shocked him into action.

Hydrogen cyanide.

He bounded down the stairs three steps at a time, falling the last four feet onto the floor. Underneath the vinyl curtain, he could see blue foam advancing toward him. He jumped up and punched through the security door into the stillness of the warehouse.

The distant clamor of footsteps prompted him to turn down the left hallway toward the exit. He shot around the corner at the far end and collided with a wall of flesh, stinking of sweat and booze. A large, dark object descended from above, landing with a brilliant burst of pain.

* * *

CARL PRESSED HIS hands against the iron deck and felt the shudder of a ship’s engine.

His mind was still swimming as he fingered a large welt behind his ear. A wave of dizziness flowed over him as he struggled to his feet, hands probing the darkness. His fingers found a dangling chain and pulled. The world turned white as a swinging bulb threw shadows across a cramped room containing a door, porthole, and stained toilet.

The stench of rust and urine assaulted his nostrils, churned his stomach. He leaned over the toilet and tore open the porthole, thrusting his face into the narrow opening to drink in gulps of humid night air.

Far in the distance, the lights of La Ceiba flickered on a long, dark jut of Honduran coastline. Above, the moon hung low and oval, firing the crests of ocean swells. It was a scene he had experienced a thousand times before as a geology undergraduate, from the decks of arctic cruisers and sloops whispering through Caribbean foam. The sea had always been as reassuring to him as a familiar mural, its nuances fresh with each viewing.

But now, the waters grew dark and malevolent. With each passing moment, the shoreline receded, and with it, his chance for survival. They had imprisoned him on this puke-stained ship for a reason. He had seen too much.

Carl strained to reassemble the past few hours. How long had he been out? Dim visions of bright-colored foam, smoking flesh, horrific screams, and dark shapes played across his mind. With sudden desperation, he groped in his pocket for the precious slide, the ticket to his Nobel Prize.

Pulling the plastic holder from his pocket, Carl stared down at … sand. The thin shard of stone had returned to the dust of the Earth.

Self-revulsion shuddered through his frame as he slumped to the toilet. This should have been a day to celebrate, but instead he’d destroyed his Nobel with a foolish act of bravado. He felt sick, the nausea worsening as he relived the horrific tragedy in the lab.

Two for the price of one.

Carl sat there, hump shouldered, for several minutes, thinking. Both tragedies seemed to converge into a single thread of thought. Slowly, deliberately, the divergent threads began to weave a tapestry in his mind, connecting the past to the present. He thought about the location of the closely guarded core samples and his shattered Nobel. A coincidence? Surely, it couldn’t still be there, could it? After seventy million years?

Revulsion gave way to an elemental fear.

The tapestry in his mind’s eye held the vision of a monstrous certainty. His own well-being seemed to fade into insignificance. He had to warn someone … everyone.

Reaching inside his other pocket, Carl pulled out his antique pocket watch and popped open the ornate cover. 9:13 P.M. Judging from the cargo crowding the ship’s deck, they were headed to deep water. He didn’t have much time.

He scrutinized the room. Behind the toilet, a plunger rested in a pool of fetid water. Above it, a rickety bookshelf held a stack of pornographic magazines and a tattered Bible. He jerked at the locked door repeatedly, to no avail. The porthole was far too small to wriggle through, the walls, solid steel.

No way out, nothing to write with, no way to leave a message.

The finality of his plight began to sink in. Carl dropped his head and stared down at the image on his T-shirt. He experienced a flash of inspiration and began ripping at the shirt’s fibers, trying to tear away a vital portion of the shirt’s image. Initially, the tear followed the weave of the cotton. He cursed through several attempts and finally raised the shirt to his mouth to gnaw out the requisite shape.

Then he pulled the old Bible from the room’s shelf and flipped through the pages. The text was in Spanish, making it difficult to find the correct passage. After several minutes of searching, he tore out the bottom half of one page and folded it neatly several times. Opening a secret compartment in his watch, Carl removed the portrait inside and replaced it with the packet, pausing to stare at the woman in the photograph. She stared back with a radiant smile, as if to comfort him. His eyes filled as he said softly, “Looks like you won the bet.”


The first two were conciliatory, the third deeper and more commanding. Snapping the watch shut, Carl ripped it from the chain and stuffed it under the tongue of his sneaker.

Keys rattled.

He tore the handle from the plunger, stood, and braced himself. There would only be one chance. If he could force them away from the door, make a mad dash … the feral sea would swallow him up. A long swim to shore, certainly, but he could make it.

The door swung open and his heart sank. A familiar hulk of a man filled the opening. Leaning over to fit his enormous bulk inside, the man grabbed Carl’s shirt and jerked him through the doorway.

“Hold him down!” he barked to the other men.

“Sí, Capitán!

An instant later, Carl found himself sprawled facedown across the deck, his arms drawn painfully behind his back. A pair of hands rifled through his pockets as bindings tightened around both wrists. He squirmed frantically and twisted his face toward the huge figure. “Listen, for God’s sake, don’t do this! You don’t know what you’re doing!”

The captain leaned in, his breath thick with tequila. Dark eyes studied him from deep recesses. “You should have kept your nose out of our business, gringo.”

“I won’t tell anyone, I swear!”

The captain flashed a row of grimy teeth. “Sí, you won’t.”

Carl racked his brain for something to say, something that could describe the gravity of the situation. But how could he explain the history of the Earth in a few sentences? Straining closer, he hissed into the captain’s ear.

“If you kill me—you kill us all.”

The finality of the words caught the large man by surprise and the captain backed away nervously, a hint of doubt clouding his face. Carl felt a stab of hope as the captain wavered at the edge of indecision.

Finally, he straightened. “Finish him.”

Something hard and cylindrical jammed against Carl’s back. The men lashed it tightly and dragged him across the deck like a sack. He was hoisted to the gunwale. One heave, a cooling breeze, then a hard slap. The chaos at the water’s surface soon dissolved into a dark stillness.

Carl jerked against the bindings, shreds of skin peeling away from the jute ropes. Neither hand budged. Water raced past. With two loud pops, both eardrums ruptured in an explosion of pain and dizziness. A faint metallic flavor washed over his tongue. His heart heaved against a chest cavity collapsing from the pressure. The urge to breathe welled up from his gut with a sudden vengeance. Carl struggled again, more feebly this time, but the knots were tied with a sailor’s skill and only grew tighter.

Suddenly, a wall of cool water enveloped him. Unable to hold out any longer, Carl Jameson relaxed and let the salty liquid rush in.… 

There was a loud ringing, and then—nothing.

A curious barracuda swam by, paused momentarily, then darted off into the void.

Copyright © 2017 by Kent Lester

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: THE BLACK BOOK, by Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin
THE BLACK BOOK (Inspector Rebus #5)
Minotaur Books, 2000
352 Pages
Crime / Thriller

John Rebus finds himself working a five year old cold case. After his friend, and fellow officer is jumped, and left for dead, the Inspector realizes it may have been more than a simple, violent, back alley robbery.

Brian Holmes had a black book. It was filled with things he was working on during his own time. Rebus sees a possible connection between the vicious attack and a fire. When the Central Hotel burned, at first it seemed like maybe arson. That is until a body was discovered inside. Ashes. Unidentifiable. This was what Holmes was working on when he was beaten, when he was nearly killed.

Determined to get to the bottom of the case, Rebus begins re-knocking on doors --doors that until Holmes started sticking his nose into other people's business, had been left alone over the last five years. Those involved with Holmes' attack now will stop at nothing to get Rebus out of the way!

What I enjoy most about Ian Rankin, and his Rebus books, is that the characters seem . . . real. Authentic. They are as close to people as fictional characters can get. We, the reader, get to see into the lives, and jobs, and feelings of those Rankin created. If that isn't talent, proof of a talented writer, then I don't know what is.

I am thankful I was introduced to Ian Rankin, and the Rebus series. I do not want to read them all too quickly. I want to savor each one, because sooner (rather than later), I will get to a point where I've no more titles to read, and will be stuck waiting for the next release. I suppose it's a good thing. Unless you are like me and hate waiting.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Book Review: TOO HARD TO FORGET, by Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey
Forever, 2017
336 Pages

“Peggy Clarkson is returning to her Alma Mater with one goal in mind; confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others and remind him of what he has been missing.”

Too Hard to Forget is the third book in Tessa Bailey’s Romancing the Clarkson series and for me was the one with the most mystery surrounding it. The few glimpses of Peggy Clarkson in the previous two books let us know she had a score to settle but that was it. The mystery made this story full of surprises and for me and by far my favorite of the series.

Peggy is the youngest of the Clarkson siblings and a former college cheerleader who wears 4 engagement rings around her neck from her failed engagements. On their way to New York City to fulfill her mother’s last wish she stops in Cincinnati to see Elliott Brooks, famed college football coach nicknamed the “Kingmaker”. Not much is talked about in the previous books about their relationship but there are plenty of flashbacks throughout the book that show exactly what kind of relationship there was between Peggy who was a student at the time (teacher/student taboo.. yes!!!!) and Elliott. Flashbacks are very hard to do right but in this book they were perfect and added a depth to both the story and the characters which really helped me to understand exactly why they were both so pained even after 3 years.

Throughout the book as we see Peggy and Elliott dance around each other (and crash into each other!) Tessa gives us glimpses into Elliott’s internal struggle with his past and his strong faith. What started as the embodiment of the sin lust turned into something more which neither one expected and were unsure how to deal with. Add in Elliott’s daughter and his high profile coaching job and this story had more layers than an onion. What I loved most though was how as the book went on we started to see the layers peel one by one. Not too fast, not too slow. The flow and the character development was perfect from beginning to end. Often in series the later books can seem forced or rushed. There was absolutely none of this. Of course as expected there were plenty of the steamy scenes that Tessa Bailey is known for however what pleasantly surprised me was the sweetness of this story as I viewed the synopsis as a “women with a score to settle” type book.

Overall I could not have loved this book more. It had something for everyone. Sweet second chance love story? Check. Teacher/Student taboo? Check. Super-hot sex scenes with an uber dominate and powerful hero? Double check. Too Hard to Forget left me wanting more and definitely lived up to its title as I will not be forgetting it any time soon!


Eliza Wise is a Travel Planner, and mother of 4 school age kids who started reading as an escape from reality and is now an active member of the Indie Romance Community. Eliza is most interested in ebooks. Her Kindle is her best friend. Genres she is prefers reviewing: Contemporary Romance, Most Erotica (Some BDSM, but stays away from violence)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: CONSPIRACIES, by F. Paul Wilson

F. Paul Wilson
CONSPIRACIES (Repairman Jack #3)
Forge, 2000
317 pages
Private Detective / Supernatural / Suspense

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good fantasy novel. I know how to suspend reality when watching a movie. But there is something about talking monkeys (Planet of the Apes excluded) that bothers me almost as much as talking dogs or cats in adult fiction novels (NOT excluding Jim Butcher's THE AERONAUT's WINDLESS) . I can't help but find it cheesy.

Anywho ...

Repairman Jack is not the guy to call if your dishwasher is on the fritz, there is a hole in your roof, or your car won't start. Jack's for hire, but doing handy jobs around one's property is not what he is about. Jack's specialty is finding people. And he's selective about the jobs he takes on.

That is why when Lew Ehler shows up asking for Jack's help, the Repairman almost turns him away. The reason he doesn't is simple. Lew's wife has gone missing. She did, however, manage to get to her husband a message. She wanted him to hire Jack, explaining only Jack could help.

Intrigued, because Jack had no idea who this Mel Ehler was, Jack takes the assignment. But the case only goes from odd to crazy in a heartbeat. Mel is part of a bizarre group of conspiracy theorists that specialize in anything and everything alien-related, from UFOs to alien abductions.

At a special invite-only convention downtown, Jack and Lew crash the event. Turns out Mel had been working on a theory that might bring a new light onto the idea of intelligent lifeforms beyond our little planet earth. It is possible she has found the truth. She had planned to make a major announcement on the last day of the convention.

And it is possible that Mel put her life in jeopardy because of her discoveries! Maybe there were people out there who did not want the truth exposed? Maybe there were people out there who feared everything they once believed was about to be shattered by Mel's findings? And maybe, just maybe, people are crazy and should be locked up off of the streets?

Whichever way, Repairman Jack found himself committed to the cause! His investigation brings his past dealings with the supernatural into the forefront, and he begins questioning his own sanity, his own reality, and is all too aware of his own growing fears. Something beyond loons and nuts are at the giant convention. There is a murderer in their midsts. And if Jack isn't careful he could wind up the one dead before finding out whatever happened to Mel Ehler!

Although not my favorite Repairman Jack story (I've only now read the three), it was still a fun, and entertaining tale. I am not discouraged, and will continue on with the series. I love the human aspect of Jack's life --his ongoing relationship with Gia and her daughter Vicky. Above all, I really like the way F. Paul Wilson writes. Witty. Dry sense of humor. Character depth. The perfect amount of descriptions. An enjoyable narrative ... what's not to like? Except monkeys. Talking monkeys.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

Book Review: STRIP JACK, by Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin
STRIP JACK (Inspector Rebus #4)
Orion Publishing Group, 1992
304 pages
Crime / Mystery

If I was going to name this novel, I'd call it something more appropriate like Red Herring, or Red Herring Central. Holy cow did he pack a million-and-one characters into a taut 304 page novel. I like to keep notes when I read a book, but this one kind of got out of hand. I count (give or take) thirty characters. Probably was more. My pen might have run out of ink. However. aside from thinking I might forget who someone was, the story was solid.

John Rebus has his hands full. Aside from looking into a stolen collection of rare books, he is involved in Operation Creeper. There is a bordello in town. On the good side of town --in a prominent area where well-off residents live. When the police are tipped off to the illegal operation, they have no choice but to shut her down!

During the raid, a prominent Parliament figure is snagged in the arrests. Gregor Jack was in one of the rooms, and with one of the prostitutes. Worse, someone tipped off the media. When Jack was led out of the whore house the journaists pounced. Rebus knew something smelled funny. The information about the raid was leaked to the press. Could Gregor Jack have been the target all along?

Rebus becomes even more involved in the politician's life when Elizabeth Jack --Gregor's wife-- turns up dead. And even though the similarities around her death closely match a recent murder, and the killer is confessing to both crimes Rebus isn't convinced.

With a host of likely suspects, but with seemingly no motive, Rebus begins to dig for answers, for the truth . . . Burying himself in the job, Rebus puts his personal life on hold. The dedication to the work could cost him more than he expected to lose.

While not my favorite Jack Rebus novel, STRIP JACK was still a quick read. I truly enjoy Ian Rankin's writing style. He fills each page with wonderful dialogue, and compelling narrative. The main cast of characters (Jack Rebus, Brian Holmes, Chris Kemp, etc.) are all there, and as always, we --the reader-- get more insight into them as they grow more and more into "people," as well.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Review: HAWKE, by Ted Bell

Ted Bell
HAWKE (Alex Hawke #1)
Atria, 2003
438 pages
Suspense / Thriller / Military / Espionage

I love when I discover new-to-me writers. Stumbled across HAWKE accidentally. Read the synopsis. Bought the book. It introduces a new series character, billionaire, ex-Royal Navy man Alexander Hawke. The book gets the action going on page one, and literally keeps a ferocious pace until the last page.

Hawke, because of his past, because of his reach, because of his contacts, because of his unlimited resources is contacted by the authorities for help on a serious matter. One of two Russian submarines have gone missing. These are not ordinary subs. The V shaped machines are equipped with forty armed nukes, twenty per wing. The vessel also has a state-of-the-art cloaking device, making it virtually invisible in the ocean. Once delivery of the war machine is made, stopping any attack would be nearly impossible.

Cubans are the believed buyers. Fidel Castro's reign is in danger. The Telarana are planning a coup. The three de Herreras brothers pose a serious threat to an already unstable country. If they are successful with overthrowing Castro, and get their hands on the submarine, all hell will break lose in America.

Subliminally, Hawke does not realize his path with the de Herrerars crossed once before. The memories of their "meeting" are buried within the subconscious mind. Glimpses of pirates, and hidden treasures are all that remain at the forefront. The details --horrific as they are-- remain buried, and are maybe just too painful to excavate!

Putting together a team of his own, one of trusted friends, and new allies, Hawke embarks on a trek to stop the sale of the submarine and settle old debts. Plans, however, are only as good as the paper they are written on. Variables come from all different directions. With a biochemical bomb hidden on US soil, set to detonate, and the kidnapping of a close friend, Hawke and his band of partners are facing impossible odds. Beating the ticking clock, and an ensuring everyone's safety is just not possible!

Hawke is determined, and will not give up! But will that be enough?

A fantastic novel, with great characters, exotic locations, and a timeless plot! I loved every chapter, and am so thankful there are like eight more Hawke novels in the series.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review: LEGACIES, by F. Paul Wilson

F. Paul Wilson
LEGACIES (Repairman Jack #2)
Forge, 1998
381 pages
Suspense / Thriller

It was a long, long time ago when I first read F. Paul Wilson's THE TOMB. And while I have read more books by this author, I never revisited the Repairman Jack series. Recently, I bought them all. So, readers, be prepared for a string of Repairman Jack reviews.

LEGACIES was the second in the ever-popular series. It brought me right back into the melee as I remember it. Plenty going on. And Jack is as busy as ever!

What starts out as a simple job for Jack, blossoms (explodes?) into so much more. A heartless soul has broken into the Center for Children with AIDS and stolen all of the donated Christmas gifts meant for the sick kids. Hired to find out who was behind the theft, Jack is determined to track down the thief.

Alicia Clayton, for the most part, runs the Center. When she is introduced to Jack, she realizes he may be the best person to help her out of a tough situation. Her father has died. He left everything he had to her. The will is being contested by her half-brother, who was deprived of any inheritance.

Full of secrets, and a dark, dark, past, their father was on the brink of something big. Before his revelation was brought to light he'd perished in a plane crash. Now, two separate entities have an interest in digging up what the man had left behind. They will stop at nothing to discover what the late Mr. Clayton created. Even if it comes down to murder, or countless murders . . .

That is, until Jack enters the picture. At that point, all bets are off!

A truly exciting, fast, and nail-biting read. Wow, F. Paul Wilson can tell a tale. (While I may go back and re-read The Tomb), I felt very comfortable jumping back in some fifteen, twenty years later. It's like I never stopped. This was a great novel. And I am anxious to progress through the rest of the series!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: MERITROPOLIS, by Joel Ohman

Joel Ohman
CreateSpace, 214
226 pages
Dystopian / Thriller

A friend bought me a copy of this book. Thought I would enjoy it. I appreciate him introducing me to a new author worth following. I would be remiss if I then, in return, didn't try and do the same for all of you! Please, let me take a few minutes and tell you about Joel Ohman's MERITROPOLIS.

In the self-contained city of Meritropolis population is limited to exactly fifty-thousand. A body more and the balance could be upset. The balance, otherwise, is maintained by the System. People earn a number. The higher the number the better. Through inking, the number is displayed on one's forearm, unhideable. The lower the number the more in-danger one's continued existence within the city becomes.

Lower numbers are not killed. They are banished, forced to live outside the fortress walls. Those banished tend to be the sick, the young, and the elderly --those less likely contributing the better of the society, the better of the System. Raised to believe only vicious creatures live beyond the surrounding walls it is obvious anyone surviving more than a night or two is unlikely.

Building on the loss of his own little brother, Charley (a high number), is revolts before witnessing the banishment of a young crippled girl. He intervenes, regardless of the consequences he may face. Only thing is, his bravery is rewarded instead of punished.

The Commander of Meritropolis promotes Charley to a Hunter. During Charley's training more truths are revealed. There is more to the city than meets the eye, and more beyond their city than everyone has been lead to believe. Additionally, there are more people against the System than initially suspected. This means, Charley is not alone. It also means that the time is NOW to start a revolution.

Ohman has dragged me into his MERITROPOLIS world, and I am enjoying myself. There is a second book in this series, and a whispered-about third on the way. I will be ordering the second book today. I need to see what happens next. The world building Ohman did was taut, and compelling, believable, and probable. I enjoyed the artwork beginning each chapter giving us a visual starting point for the mass of new, introduced creatures found outside the MERITROPOLIS walls. Looking for the next YA dystopian adventure --the next Hunger Games, or Divergent-- worth reading? This book just might scratch your itch!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review: AGENT G, INFILTRATOR, by C.T. Phipps

C.T. Phipps
Amber Cove Publishing, 2017
193 pages
Science Fiction / Thriller

Agent G is a man with no state, no ideology, or creed. He is an assassin for the International Refugee Society. The twenty-six agents are called Letters. (Think alphabet, twenty-six, and all). Someone on the inside is a mole. Information on Letters is being fed to Carnevale --the only other Assassin-for-hire business. Competition is murder!

Letters volunteer for a ten year position with the Society. Their memories are wiped, and stored. Once they have successfully completed their time, the memories are restored, and a high-life retirement will ensue. A paradise is the dangling carrot offered for the sacrifices assassins are forced to make.

Now, Agent G is tasked with going undercover. The Society has plans for him. Once inside Carnevale, he is to tear them apart. Divide and conquer. Although expected to go it alone, he has his loyal assistant, and lover, Marissa, radioed in. Their communication is the key to his success. Only problem is --with an unidentified mole in the Society, Agent G has no idea who he can trust. With the promise of his missing past hanging in the balance, his freedom . . . it becomes a race against time to figure out what is what and escape with not just his life, but his sanity!

C.T. Phipps has put out an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Read this in two sittings. Hated putting it down the first time. With geneticists, cybernetics, cloning, political plots, and high-tension suspense, AGENT G: INFILTRATOR is non-stop action. The characters are well-crafted, the dialogue crisp, and witty, and the plot plausible! Trust me, this is not a book you want to miss. Do yourself a favor. Add it to your to-be-read list today!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy