PARK RIDGE - A Senior Center Murder by Cheryl Hagedorn
ISBN: 1601450230, $14.95, 205 pp.
Park Ridge is traditional mystery genre with a touch of romance, and I quote from the back cover:
"On a day in late February, in a small, northwestern suburb of Chicago, four card players began the complex process of bidding for the privilege of calling trump. The winner, Jack Buchtel, named trump. The trump he named was murder."
This was a good read, primarily because Cheryl Hagedorn is a good writer. I must say, however, that I had a bit of a problem with the motivation for the murders. It seems these days that just about anything which annoys a person is an adequate reason to end another person’s life . . . and I don’t think this applies solely to senior citizens. That would be the only criticism I might make of this novel.
We know who the murderers are and so, the challenge is how the detective solves the crime and gets his girl. If you’re a mystery buff, you’ll most likely enjoy this well-written tale.
Reviewed by Kaye Trout - November 29, 2006
ABANDONED IN THE MAZE by Michael Berg
American Book Publishing Company
PO Box 65624, Salt Lake City, UT84165
www.american-book.comwww.MichaelCBerg.comGenre: Social Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1589823001, $22.00, 224 pp.
This fictional story is about a seventeen-year old girl, Irene, and her sister who were put into the custody of the state when their mother was arrested for working with a pro-choice abortion group. From the beginning to the end, there is nothing positive to be said about the system. The Trench Center was a corrupt state-run facility where the children were medicated because the system pays more for medicated than non-medicated kids. Irene never had a chance.
Although Abandoned in the Maze is presented as a fictional story, Michael Berg has drawn upon his extensive experience of fifteen years providing prevention, intervention and treatment services to adolescents with drug, gang and severe behavioral problems. He is currently employed as a Prevention Specialist assigned to an area of schools to oversee everything that encompasses school safety. Prior to working with the school board he was employed as a supervisor of a group home in charge of the well-being of ten adolescent children, and the novel is based upon his experience of working in group homes. Many of the incidences in this story have occurred throughout South Florida in other group homes and foster homes.
Michael is a good writer. The book is well-written and edited, and the story gives the reader some poignant insight into the problems within our systems. The author has presented this information in a realistic, touching manner, and I appreciate that he has taken the time and effort to bring the truth to the surface. You won’t be disappointed, and I highly recommend his book.
Reviewed by Kaye Trout - November 29, 2006
CLERICAL ERRORS SECULAR LIES by Trefor Stockwell
Authors OnLine Ltd
19 The Cinques, Bedfordshire SG19 3 NU, England
www.authorsonline.co.ukGenre: Fictional Clerical Mystery
Rating: Very good
ISBN: 0755202457, $17.95, 328 pp.
Did William Clifford, the young priest of a small Welsh village, commit adultery or not?
Pat Knight tells Bill, the journalist sent to cover this story and who thinks "...a vicar that does actually manage to keep his trousers on, now that’s news", "...I wouldn’t say anything to you or anyone else that I haven’t already said, or would say, to his face. Is William guilty as charged? Yes, of course he is; he’s been at it for years. He’s not fussy, so long as it’s female, willing and not too ugly, he’s in there like a rat up a drain pipe."
However, in her trial testimony Mrs. Kathryn Williams stated, "If I were forced to give an opinion, I would say that William the priest probably would not be capable of such behavior. However, with regards to William the man, well – how can one put this delicately –? Let us just say that, in my experience, testosterone is usually more powerful than religion. I’m sure that priests are subject to the same temptations as other men, and I don’t suppose that William is any different. As to whether or not he succumbed, I’m afraid I have no idea." And there you have it, the heart of this tale–what is the truth and who will tell it?
To this reader, the real key and fascination here is Trefor Stockwell’s in-depth insight into human behavior–an obsessive form of love, control, pride, and revenge–and his skill to tell this compelling tale. His consummate style of writing puts him right up there with the best, and you won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by Kaye Trout - November 17, 2006
SPIRIT OF THE SOUND by John T. Lehman
Outskirts Press, Inc.
Genre: Fictional Spiritual Journey
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1598006355, $16.95, 277 pp.
John T. Lehman is a unique and interesting writer with an educated style of writing bound to appeal to those looking for something a little different . . . as is the protagonist in this memoir-like spiritual journey. The back cover tells us:
". . . Though he discovered he had nothing much to show for the bizarre happenings in his life. So he learned to live with them. We all do really. Some of us merely ignore the voices in our heads, the brush-up against the arm, and the dreams we dream that somehow find their way home and come true. I’d like to take you on a journey. See what I have seen, and judge for yourself. But don’t hold it against me. Welcome to my World!"
The characters certainly ring true and as usual, real life is more interesting than fiction. As for style and content, allow me to quote several excerpts from pages 261 and 265:
"The hourglass of time was inverted once again and the rhythm of its falling sands descended in tempo with the delicate flow of the Sound. Waterlily played along, while the early morning hours opened her orchestra with perennial pale white and yellow blooms of the island’s aquatic namesake. Osprey soared high above, and the coypu munched on vegetation as they swam about. A gentlest of breeze carried the tune that swayed and strummed the crops in her fields with the song. Dylan Martin embraced the captivating music with open arms. He was one with the earth. Learned to accept the teachings handed down through the ages, fighting for the few to tend to the many."
"I don’t know about anyone else who has an incurable disease and takes medication every day, but quality of time is much more important to me in the long run. I really can’t imagine spending what moments I have left on this planet, throwing up over myself or wasting away to skin and bones, or sitting back while I watch my hair and teeth fall out because of pills. I say let’s swallow the psychedelic mushroom or fire up that joint. Figure out where our minds can take us instead of stepping in all this horseshit we’ve been expected to walk through. And don’t get me started on government spending. All that money on defense to protect us from the possibility of war. We wouldn’t even be in that predicament in the first place if it weren’t for man shooting off his mouth or not allowing others to live out life the way they choose. This whole world is so screwed up. Scared of losing precious land and mineral rights while they’re killing our young in their little temper tantrums and wars. For what, possessions and control? What the hell happened to human decency?. . ."
"All people have to do is say, no. Stand up, and be counted. It’d wake up those little rabbits that are in control. Might keep them from running around screwing their brains out when no one’s looking, then use the time to stomp out what’s keeping our world from growing. Greed and racism. Oh yeah, and fear of expressing individualism. Jesus, that’s it! Anxiety felt when they believe one person is being as important as the whole, with the right to exist."
So, if you looking for an interesting read from a quality writer, I highly recommend Spirit of the Sound.
Reviewed by Kaye Trout - November 13, 2006
THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF ENRIQUE DIAZ - A Novel for the Young at Heart by Andrew J. Rodriguez
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd 515, Parker, CO 80134
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1598008293, $16.95, 352 pp.
Enrique Diaz, a young fifteenth-century Portuguese Catholic, embarks on an adventure with two friends, one Jewish and the other a Moor, in search of his dream–the Prestor John utopian paradise in the heart of Africa. Quoting from the back cover: . . . "Traveling by ship, cart, and caravan, the three explorers encounter perils galore–pirates and storms at sea, slave traders and murderous thieves on land. They explore the exotic casbahs of Morocco . . . the mysterious ruins of ancient Egypt . . . the hidden civilization of Abyssinia, keepers of the Ark of the Covenant . . . the awe-inspiring holy city of Mecca . . . and return again to Renaissance Europe. En route the young travelers taste the richness of each other’s religions–and win the hearts of their true loves."
Andrew Rodriguez tells us this story is for the "young at heart", which might lead one to think it’s a children’s tale. However, considering the in-depth, historical religious facts woven throughout, I would compare it to The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, with a broader perspective. It is crystal clear that the author has a solid grasp and extensive knowledge of biblical history and a universal message to convey–the heart of this novel. Allow me to share an excerpt from page 190:
"Why are you telling us all this, Your Majesty?" I ask.
"Simply to reward your generosity with a few words of wisdom. You come in pursuit of noble ideals, not in search of riches, domination, or to tarnish the minds of the weak with a new cult.
"When young I was an idealist like you," King Ezana addresses me. "Now I know better. Upon ascending the throne I wanted to create a kingdom akin to the one you are trying to discover. I worked hard, and with the help of the queen, my family, and loyal friends, I built the wealthiest, most powerful nation in East Africa, brought enemies to peaceful terms, changed assassins into human beings, instilled hope to a dominion in despair, and established lasting peace with our neighbors. Yet after all these years, there are still vital issues I have not been able to solve and perhaps never will."
"What are they, Your Majesty?" David asks.
"Man’s stupidity, Mother Nature, and the impossibility of stopping history from repeating itself. All I have gained in forty years of hard work is a moment in time. After I’m gone, a few generations into the future, some foolish moron will take over the nation and drag it into the ground. No country has endured for long without being destroyed from within, and my kingdom is no different. Aksum will become ashes and Abyssinia an impoverished land. We may not see it, but our descendants will.
"This terrible drought and the locust outbreak are the best examples. All my efforts to build a caring and devoted society have been destroyed by the prospects of famine: herders and farmers killing each other for a morsel, people blaming government for their own shortsightedness, greedy opportunists amassing wealth at the expense of others. You see, Enrique, when citizens cannibalize each other encouraged by personal greed, the country loses its own conscience and its future right to exist."
The Incredible Adventure of Enrique Diaz is a well-written, well-edited, fascinating tale with an inspirational message for people of all ages and Andrew Rodriguez’s third novel, following Adios, Havana and The Teleportation of an American Teenager.
Reviewed by Kaye Trout - November 8, 2006