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Mystery / Thriller

  • Plot: Political novels invariably involve numerous characters but once introductions are made, Beyer's fast paced plot races toward a satisfying conclusion.

    Prose: Beyer’s prose is clean, with a good balance between narrative and dialogue. Descriptive passages are concise yet thorough.

    Originality: Cutthroat politics don't surprise anyone in the age of House of Cards, but Beyer takes it a bit further with lethal consequences.

    Characterization: All main and secondary characters feel true and are adequately limned.

    Blurb: Beyer's suspenseful thriller about political intrigue and duplicity in the White House hits all the right notes. Once readers get caught up in the characters, their political backstabbing, and the thundering tension, the compulsion to read to the last page is irresistible.

  • Demaris Protocol

    by Brian Randall

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot: This novel is thrilling and action-packed. And just when the story begins to ebb and the characters' involvement with the protocol has concluded, the author continues the storyline and further enhances the suspense.

    Prose: The writing is crisp and concise throughout, and the story is told at a such a thrilling pace that it's certain to keep the reader interested until the very end. Working against the novel is its length: at close to 500 pages, the baggy story should be shortened and the plot tightened.

    Originality: The plot structure is unique, and the novel has an alluring premise. The inclusion of gay characters, government schemes, and international locales add to the book's originality.

    Character Development: From the very beginning the characters are well developed and believable. Both protagonist Trey and Special Officer Rick Morgan are particularly well drawn.

  • After and Before: The Story of Hatley Chambers

    by Glenn Seerup

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: The overall arch of the plot is intriguing and well-developed. It keeps the reader guessing until nearly the end. Certain minor plot points, e.g. the unlikely house photography job that pays $500 a week or Hat's flight at a pivotal moment in his career, are a stretch. The story ends abruptly in the past, providing answers to the questions raised in the opening chapter. However, the story feels unfinished. The author should consider ending with an "after" that shows Hat's future direction rather than leaving him bitter and rudderless.

    Prose: The author's clever narrative, which switches between the present and the past, keeps the reader engaged, eager to learn how Hatley could have gone from a carefree young man to a convicted felon. The story flows smoothly, and the prose is solid.

    Originality: An intriguing story with strong, unique characters, this book scores high on the originality scale.

    Character Development: Hatley Chambers. the story's tragic hero, is a well-developed, likable character despite the stigma that surrounds him. Even though he is a convicted felon, the reader likes him, most of the time anyway, and because of that stays invested in his story. Secondary characters are also well-developed, particularly Vicki. 

    Blurb: An engaging and well-written story that entertains and keeps the reader guessing.

  • Preordained

    by David L Wallace

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: The author deftly handles a multifaceted plot with plenty of surprises and plot twists. Blending police procedure with an underlying theme of religion/superstition shows skill.

    Prose: The book's prose is solid and skillfully handled.

    Originality: Wallace has executed an idea that, while not brand new, is quite original given current trends in the mystery/thriller genres.

    Character Development: The main characters are skillfully and fully developed. However, secondary characters are left more two dimensional for purposes not revealed until the story's climax.

    Blurb: Wallace’s original and engaging novel is full of plot twists, surprises, and a substantial dash of the supernatural thrown in for good measure.

  • Butchertown

    by Thomas Burchfield

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot: The plot of this non-stop thriller races along, adhering fiercely to Paul Bacon's story. Unexpectedly, religion and the search for true happiness play major yet somber roles in the novel.

    Prose: Quick, sharp, and well paced, Burchfield’s storytelling and realistic dialogue maintain readers’ interest in Bacon’s exploits — even when the scenes Bacon encounters seem beyond belief.

    Originality: Throughout the book, Burchfield places Bacon in a series of circumstances that, while sometimes straining credulity, are packed with intensity and drama.

    Character Development: By the end of this book, Bacon is a fully drawn character, and the author reveals enough about the other characters for readers to develop mixed feelings about them. Only Molly Carver seems to lack definition, perhaps because of the mysterious role she plays early on. Additionally, some of the book's “bad guys” become caricatures of themselves, their barbaric appetite for revenge and murder making them seem too similar to each other.

    Blurb: A sexy, violent non-stop thrill ride deep into the seedy underbelly of post-World War I San Francisco.

  • The Quiet Coup: A Political Thriller

    by Rob Lubitz

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot: The Quiet Coup fits squarely in mystery/thriller genre, but has enough unpredictability to keep readers turning pages. The book is well plotted and moves along at a good clip.

    Prose: The prose here is solid, accessible and serves the material well.

    Originality: The book's premise and subsequent story are fascinating, fresh, and not often explored.

    Character Development: The characters are vividly rendered and well developed -- although they are not free of stock qualities.