Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book Review: DEAD CERTAIN, by Adam Mitzner

Adam Mitzner
Thomas & Mercer (June 2017)
348 pages
Thriller / Mystery / Suspense

** Review is based on an Advance Review Copy (ARC) / Details and specifics may change once book is actually published June 2017 **

I am up to date. Ahead of schedule, actually. I have now read all five novels by Adam Mitzner, and it has been an awesome adventure.

DEAD CERTAIN, much like THE GIRL FROM HOME, steps away from the legal thriller, and moves more into mystery / suspense. There is still a legal aspect, and the main character, Ella Broden, is an attorney --but those facts are secondary to the plot. (Although it was kind of cool seeing Ella's father --also an attorney-- representing a notorious criminal from an early Adam Mitzner tale. Mitzner likes to do that, I've noticed. Splash a bit of this and that from one book into the next. Kind of a treat --an Easter Egg-- for readers).

In DEAD CERTAIN, Ella's kid sister, Charlotte has some big news. She's sold her first novel. It's a murder mystery. She hasn't yet completed the book. Regardless, one of the largest publishers offered up a contract. With the first half done, and a copy given to Ella to read ASAP, Charlotte is anxious to celebrate, and tell their father the cool news!

Ella is a lawyer by day, and a lounge singer by night. She takes on a complete different persona. A new new name, a different look. After the death of her mother, Ella pursued a career as an attorney to make her father proud. She set aside her dream of becoming a professional singer. She realized it was time to grow up back then --and only now does she allow herself the chance to sing one night a week. It is also why when Charlotte shares her good news, Ella can't help but feel a little bit of jealousy.

Everything changes when two days later no one has heard from Charlotte. Charlotte is unreachable. Police initially think Charlotte's boyfriend may be the only suspect. However, after Ella reads the first half of her sister's manuscript, and although she knows the work is fiction, she can't help but wonder if Charlotte might have been leading a double-life as well.

In the manuscript, the main character has a boyfriend, and two other lovers. The boyfriend who is the artist, a student with little experience, and a banker, who is married. Working with the police, Ella tries to fit together parts of her sister's life with with pieces she never knew existed.

The question is simple. What else was Charlotte hiding? And on a more basic level, is Charlotte still alive?

As I have come to expect, Adam Mitzner weaves together a plot that just keeps you reading, and your mind churning with thoughts, and ideas, and guesses, all the while hoping for the best, but fearing the worst! Tension is high, and the suspense just builds and builds in DEAD CERTAIN. Well worth the read, folks. Well worth it!

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review: THE RANGER, by Ace Atkins

Ace Atkins
THE RANGER (Quinn Colson #1)
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2012
368 pages
Thriller / Suspense / Crime

Love when I find a new series that captures my interest right from the opening page! While I've only read the one Ace Atkins novel, it already has a Jack Reacher / Walt Longmire feel. Not complaining. Two great fictional characters --one a military badass, and the ladder, a hard-nosed Wyoming sheriff-- blended into one. Quinn Colson.

In THE RANGER, Colson is headed home for his uncle's funeral. The small, backwoods town, is nothing if not filled with secrets. It's been over six years since Quinn was last back. The old cliche holds true. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The problem comes during the funeral. Quinn is informed that his uncle didn't have a heart attack. It was in fact a suicide. Uncle Hamp was the man stood as the make role model. Quinn loved and respected him. Learning that his uncle left him all of his property, it seemed only right to look for answers. What would have caused the town sheriff to kill himself?

Deputy Lillie Virgil knows something's not right. Teaming up with Quinn, the two launch their own investigation. What they uncover is trouble with a capital "T." There are backroom land development deals going on, meth makers, drug sales, and a Nazi-Aryan Nation Group in the woods.

The acting sheriff, the local judge, and family have Quinn coming and going. Getting to the bottom of the conspiracy is becoming dangerous. If Quinn isn't careful he could pay for the truth with his life!

Ace Atkins writes terse, compact chapters. It kept me turning pages. I like 'em short. Feel like I read more, read faster that way. Might just be me. The dialogue is crisp, stunted. It feels authentic, and sharp. The action comes in bursts, and sprays like bullets from a machine gun, but it is the constant tension, and building suspense that just keeps me gasping for air!

THE RANGER was a two thumbs up kind of read for me. (I do have the others in the Quinn Colson series -- so check back for more reviews).

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Review: THE GIRL FROM HOME, by Adam Mitzner

Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books, 2016
321 pages
Thriller / Crime / Legal

In Adam Mitzner's latest novel, THE GIRL FROM HOME, the author detours a bit from his past three straight-forward legal thrillers, and puts out a head-on suspense novel. There is a legal aspect, and some courtroom drama, though. For the most part, however, it is not a novel where attorneys are the central characters. Just putting this out there as a simple disclaimer. However, as a suspense novel, it works. And it works well.

Jonathan Caine is a big shot. He makes millions on Wall Street. His hectic lifestyle comes with many rewards. A hefty bank account, a beautiful wife (fifteen years younger than he), and the potential to purchase some prime waterfront real estate in the Hamptons. East Hamptons.

Everything is going well, that is, until it is not.

When an investor wants their money back, it starts an almost Jenga effect. Best way I can think to describe it, Jonathan now has to rob Peter to pay Paul. In the Wall Street world this is illegal. He pushes and pulls without backing with the hope everything will balance out in roughly two years --before most investors realize what game Jonathan has been playing.

Jonathan's father is sick. Dementia. He took a bad fall, and is in the hospital. It is likely he will never be discharged. Having family issues since he was young, Jonathan isn't sure how he feels about it. When his firm fires him, pending federal securities charges, and his marriage becomes quickly unstable, Jonathan heads home to New Jersey to spend time with his father.

During a twenty-five year class reunion, Jonathan reunites with Jackie, an old classmate. They were from different cliques. Jonathan the nerd. Jackie the Prom Queen who --in typical cliche fashion-- married Rick, the high school football star. Jackie's in an abusive relationship. No way out. Rick has made it abundantly clear that if she tries leaving him he will kill her. She has more to think about than herself. Their two kids are equally at risk should she try anything stupid, like divorce.

When Rick is murdered, both Jackie and Jonathan are the prime suspects. They both know the truth. But will they keep the secret from the prosecutors, or turn on each other to get a deal from the District Attorney?

THE GIRL FROM HOME is both filled with suspense, and humanity. It is a novel about people. Mitzner fills the book with emotions. He's done it before. Here, however, he pours it on. The result is powerful. Caring about the characters kept me turning pages, and re-reading paragraphs to better grasp everything ... felt. There isn't much room for reprieve, as so much is always happening, and the tension constantly building.

THE GIRL FROM HOME is tragic, heartfelt, and almost depressing. There is some hope, some light at the end of the tunnel, though --and for me, it was just enough so that when I finished the book I felt . . . closure.

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

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Book Review: LOSING FAITH, by Adam Mitzner

Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books, 2015
368 pages
Legal Thriller

I have just finished reading LOSING FAITH, my third Adam Mitzner novel. I am on a legal thriller kick, and Mitzner is more than satisfying my literary cravings!

In LOSING FAITH, attorney Aaron Littman has secrets. He hopes to keep them buried. His affair with the Honorable Faith Nichols is over. She made ending it perfectly clear when Littman defended a client in her court. Faith found the client guilty, and gave him an extreme sentencing, as if only to punctuate the finality of the affair.

When the notorious Russian terrorist, Nicolai Garkov is arrested, Littman's past is about to catch up with him. After the apparent suicide of the judge slated to preside over Garkov, Faith is assigned the to hear the case. A man with many means, Garkov insists on having Littman in his corner. The threat for representation is clear. Either Littman gets Faith to play ball, and acquit . . . or he will destroy both of their careers revealing his evidence that the two were having an affair.

Littman brings new firm partner Rachel London in on his team. Again. Although she is in love with her boss, she is a confident, and damn good attorney. As the two begin working on Garkov's defense, the unthinkable happens. Faith Nichols is murdered. All evidence points directly at Aaron Littman.

Forced to confess his infidelity to his wife, his kids, and his firm Aaron finds himself on trial for murder. He risks losing his career, his freedom, and his family if convicted. Putting his faith in a senior partner, and father-figure to defend him against all odds, his hope at walking free is not at all optimistic. The nightmare of going to prison for life is now a realistic possibility!

Said it before, and I will say it again. Adam Mitzner has restored my faith in intense legal thriller fiction. Well-crafted characters, nail-biting courtroom drama, and twists that never stop making the reader's stomach flip-flop fill the pages. Not just in this book, but in the previous books I've read as well. My verdict on LOSING FAITH? Another winner!

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