#ThrowbackThursday ~ Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics By Robert Marasco #Horror #Audiobook

My Throwback Thursday choice this week is an audiobook which was released in March 2016, and narrated by RC Bray. It’s not gory, more classic type horror and apparently it was an acknowledged influence on The Shining. One of the most original and scary haunted house novels ever written, according to Amazon. I’ve since acquired the film but haven’t watched it as yet.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Huntress Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #1) by @AlexSokoloff

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.

This week I’m revisiting the first book that kicked off The Huntress/FBI series in audiobook format, released in 2014. RC Bray does a fabulous job with the characterisations.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Martian by Andy Weir #Audiobook #SciFi @andyweirauthor

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.

This week I’m going with The Martian in audiobook format. It was released on Audible in March 2014 and RC Bray delivered a fantastic performance. Well worth a listen. I watched the film as well, which stuck to the original story from what I can remember, but I still preferred the audiobook.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Black (Black #1) by Russell Blake ~ A Hardboiled-Noir #Detective Mystery #AudiobookReview

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

Russell Blake has created a unique and interesting detective that I found very refreshing. Black is the first of a series, published in 2014. 

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Wild Inside ~ A Novel of Suspense by christine_carbo #policeprocedural #crime

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

Another audiobook this week, The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo. A debut novel, it was released in June 2015 by Blackstone Audio and narrated by R.C. Bray

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Abuse Of Discretion (Dre Thomas #3) by @AuthorPSY ~ Legal #Thriller #Audiobook #TuesdayBookBlog

Audiobook Review

Author: Pamela Samuels Young

Performed by R.C. Bray

Released: October 2017 by Goldman House Publishing

Category: Legal, Courtroom Drama, Suspense, Book Review, Audiobook

A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare 

The award-winning author of “Anybody’s Daughter” is back with an addictive courtroom drama that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile criminal justice system. 

This is an excellent legal thriller series. Angela Evans used to be an Assistant US Attorney, now she’s a criminal defence attorney. Her relationship with Andre Thomas, a reformed drug dealer, compromised her previous post and, although Dre promised to leave his criminal past behind him, the past hasn’t done with him yet.

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The Last Flight: A Novel by Gregory P Liefer #AudiobookReview #Survival #Suspense

  • Audiobook Review
  • Author: Gregory P Liefer
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Released: June 2017 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Survival, Suspense, Audiobook, Review, Action, Adventure, Reading, Books

Set against the harsh beauty of Alaska, a veteran helicopter pilot is torn between ending his own embattled life and rescuing survivors from a mountain plane crash.

The Last Flight is the story of Gil Connor, a middle-aged Vietnam veteran and Army helicopter pilot. His exploits are almost legendary amongst his peers but Gil is now fighting a losing battle against terminal cancer. His dreams are haunted by the horrors he’s witnessed and friends lost in battle, not to mention coming to terms with the loss of both his children. Gil has decided to die as he has lived, on his own terms, and takes a helicopter out for a last flight. Continue reading

Bitter Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #4) by @AlexSokoloff #TuesdayBookBlog #Audiobook

  • 30281100Author: Alexandra Sokoloff
  • Performed by R.C. Bray
  • Published: Brilliance Audio and released November 2016
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense
  • five-stars

FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul.

This is one of my all time favourite series. Totally compelling. Initially, it was Roarke, his reaction to Cara’s terrible story when he was just a boy himself, and the impact it had on his life that intrigued me. And Cara, a protagonist with such a tragic young life, turned vigilante. As the story and the series progressed the characters developed and became ever more complex, so it was impossible not to become involved and care about them.  Continue reading

#FridayBookShare ~ Mortal Fall by @christine_carbo ~ set in Glacier National Park @ShelleyWilson72

#FridayBookShare ~ an excellent idea created by Shelley Wilson

With the weekend approaching it’s the perfect time to seek out new books to read, so Shelley created a Friday Book Share game to help search for that ideal read.

FridayBookShare

Anyone can join in. Just answer the following F.R.I.D.A.Y. questions based on the book you’re either currently reading or have just finished reading. Use the hashtag #FridayBookShare and remember to tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72)  Continue reading

Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics By Robert Marasco #Horror #BookReview @audbks

  • 24956722Audiobook Review
  • Author: Robert Marasco
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Category: Classic Horror
  • Released: March 2016 by Blue Heron Audio
  • four-stars

Ben and Marian Rolfe are desperate to escape a stifling summer in their tiny Brooklyn apartment, so when they get the chance to rent a mansion in upstate New York for the entire summer for only $900, it’s an offer that’s too good to refuse. There’s only one catch: behind a strange and intricately carved door in a distant wing of the house lives elderly Mrs. Allardyce, and the Rolfes will be responsible for preparing her meals.

Marian is desperate to spend the summer away from the city, with it’s oppressive heat, grime and noise. The advertisement in the paper for a ‘unique summer home. Restful, secluded. Perfect for large family. Pool, private beach, dock,’ sounds just what she’s looking for in a summer rental. Ben eventually gives in and agrees to view the property, but is very sceptical when he learns the price and sees the run down state of the place. But for Marian, it’s everything she ever wanted…and more.  Continue reading

Midnight Picnic by @nickantosca #Audiobook #Fantasy @audbks #TuesdayBookBlog

  • MPAudiobook Review
  • Author: Nick Antosca
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published by Blue Heron Audio and released by Audible in January 2016
  • Category: Fantasy, Suspense, Supernatural
  • four-half-stars

In the morning, Bram finds the bones of a murdered child. At noon, the murdered child begs for his help. And by nightfall, they have killed a man together and set off into the afterlife, where nothing is what it was, and death is only the beginning of punishment. An eerie story about the nature of death and the self, Midnight Picnic inhabits an American landscape made strange and unfamiliar. From the author of the cult novel Fires, Midnight Picnic is a haunting and disturbing experience. 

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The Wild Inside ~ A Novel of Suspense

Audiobook review

  • WildInsideAuthor: Christine Carbo
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Released: June 2015 by Blackstone Audio
  • Category: Mystery, Police Procedural
  • four-stars

A haunting crime novel set in Glacier National Park about a man who finds himself at odds with the dark heart of the wild—and the even darker heart of human nature.

It was a clear night in Glacier National Park. Fourteen-year-old Ted Systead and his father were camping beneath the rugged peaks and starlit skies when something unimaginable happened: a grizzly bear attacked Ted’s father and dragged him to his death.

Twenty years after teenager Ted Systead witnessed his father being dragged from their tent and killed by a grizzly bear while they were camping, he finds himself back in Glacier National Park investigating a similar crime. Ted is a Special Agent for the Homicide Division of the Department of the Interior living in Denver, and is assigned to the investigation with Monty, one of the park rangers.  Continue reading

Off You Go ~ A Novella

  • Off You GoAudiobook Review
  • Author: Boo Walker
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published by Boo Walker, released June 2014 on Audible
  • Category: Crime, Mystery
  • four-half-stars

In Charleston, SC, a young woman has jumped off the Cooper River Bridge. She left a suicide note in her abandoned car. There were witnesses. But her mother doesn’t buy it and hires Dewey Moses, the vegetable farmer and sometime private investigator to find out the truth. Dewey finds out quickly that sometimes it’s best to leave things alone.

Dewey Moses is a recovering alcoholic and a man with a knack for growing vegetables, particularly black heirloom tomatoes called Cherokee Purples, which he called ‘maters just as his grandfather had. He is approached by Faye Callahan at the farmer’s market where he sells his produce, because she’d heard he was good at ‘getting to the bottom of things.’ Faye’s daughter, Gina, had jumped from the Cooper River Bridge several days ago, leaving a suicide note in her abandoned car. Faye can’t understand why Gina would take her own life at a time when she was happy and in love. Dewey agrees to help. Continue reading

Cold Moon ~ The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #3

Audiobook Review

  • ColdMoonAuthor: Alexandra Sokoloff
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: July 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense
  • five-stars

The hunt for mass murderer Cara Lindstrom is over. FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke has been working for this moment: the capture of a killer who savagely hunts the worst of humanity. But Roarke remains traumatized by his own near-death at the hands of the serial killer who slaughtered Cara’s family…and haunted by the enigmatic woman who saved his life.

Then the sixteen-year-old prostitute who witnessed Cara’s most recent murder goes missing, and suddenly pimps are turning up dead on the streets of San Francisco, killed with an MO eerily similar to Cara’s handiwork.

Continuing the story of Cara Lindstrom, the sole survivor at five years old of her family’s horrific massacre by a serial killer, and FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Matthew Roarke, whose career in law enforcement is a direct result of Cara’s tragic past. Continue reading

Lowcountry Punch

  • LowcountryPunchAudiobook Review

  • Author: Boo Walker
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published by Boo Walker and released on Audible September 2014
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense
  • four-half-stars

After one of the worst nights of his life, DEA Agent T.A. Reddick leaves Miami for Charleston, SC, hoping a return to his roots will heal a wounded heart and the guilt of killing a friend. The sleepy and sultry city of Charleston is filled with echoes of the Old South: genteel playboys, society debutantes, and quiet cobblestone streets. But as Reddick will soon discover, there’s danger lurking under her charming veneer. When a movie star’s death shines a national spotlight on Charleston’s underground cocaine trade, he must go undercover to find the main supplier and shut him down. As a hurricane bears down on the port city and the DEA gets ready to spring its trap, Reddick must contend with more than he ever could have imagined.

TA Reddick is a Federal Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami. He and his partner are working an undercover drug ring and just getting ready to meet for a cocaine exchange in a multi storey garage. When they meet the two sellers TA recognises them as Diego and Robert Vasquez. Robert is a cop and a good friend of TA’s who had saved his life the year before. In the ensuing shoot out, Robert is killed and TA’s partner is injured. Diego Vasquez escapes.  Continue reading

Unlawful Greed

AudiobookReview

  • UnlawfulGreedAuthor: Pamela Samuels Young
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: Goldman House Publishing, released on Audible February 2015
  • Category: Crime, Mystery, Short Story
  • four-half-stars

Featured in the Anthology, The Funeral, this fast-paced short story wastes no time pulling the reader into a fascinating whodunit. When a prominent L.A. lawyer is found dead in his office, the detectives assigned to solve the crime search high and low for clues. What they discover at the lawyer’s funeral, may well lead them to his killer. But will the murderer turn out to be among the usual suspects?

Not used to anything but victory in his court cases, high-powered lawyer Vernon Jackson Jones was nevertheless feeling a little nervous as he waited for the verdict in his latest case. He needn’t have worried. The jury found in favour of his client. He wished his personal life was as successful but with a cheating wife, an alcoholic partner and a sponging son it wasn’t easy going. 

Vernon did not want to think about the only real family he had. All three of them had disappointed him greatly, forcing him to finally make some tough decisions he should have made years ago.

It was time for Vernon to sort his life out. He should have known a much younger, gorgeous woman wouldn’t be content to sit waiting for someone who worked the hours he did. He could see his third divorce looming. As for his son, Vernon knew he’d been spoiled in compensation for the death of his mother. The last, and hardest, item on his to do list was firing his partner.

When Vernon is found dead in his office from gunshot wounds, Detectives Helen Lawrence and Candace Malveaux have several ready-made suspects heading their enquiries. 

I had to feel sorry for Vernon, he’s not a bad man just the classic rich, older and good-looking man wanting a young and beautiful wife. Unfortunately the attraction, in the main, is his money. His son has been wrongly over indulged and pampered all his life, but for understandable reasons. And Vernon feels genuine sadness over his partner’s troubles. The problem is Vernon just can’t see what’s under his nose.

A very good whodunit with an ironic twist at the end, during the reading of the will. The two detectives are great characters and play well off each other. Although the audio is less than an hour it has a well paced and believable plot, great writing and a wonderful narration by RC Bray. 

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

PamelaSamuelsYoungPamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and bestselling author of the legal thrillers

Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, Attorney-Client Privilege, Buying Time and Anybody’s Daughter. She is also a natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide. In addition to writing legal thrillers and working as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for a major corporation, Pamela formerly served on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A. The former journalist and Compton native is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s School of Law. To read an excerpt of Pamela’s novels, visit www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com.

Author links ~ Twitter, Facebook

Blood Moon ~ The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #2

AudiobookReview

  • BloodMoonAuthor: Alexandra Sokoloff
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: February 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense, Psychological
  • five-stars

Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace.
The haunted child who was the only surviving victim of his rampage is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt for her, despite his conflicted sympathies for her history and motives.
But when his search for her unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman Roarke seeks – and wants – may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath.

Blood Moon continues the story of Cara Lindstrom and FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke which began in Huntress Moon. Roarke, Epps and a team of agents are in the process of completing a bust on the sex trafficking ring that Cara had led them to. Cara, the only survivor from the short but bloody reign of terror twenty-five years earlier, carried out by the serial killer known as the Reaper, dispenses her own brand of justice to those men who prey on women and children. Roarke’s team is assembled and ready, Damien Epps, Antara Singh and new agent Ryan Jones. Cara managed to escape at the close of Huntress Moon and is still at large, the team’s main focus now is to find and apprehend her.

Cara  Lindstrom was a killer, the most unusual one Roarke had ever encountered. She hunted and killed, brutally and specifically. But psychologically she was more of a vigilante, her victims hand-picked for their crimes against women and especially children: child molesters, sex traffickers, and in one case, a homegrown terrorist who had been plotting to bomb a Portland street fair.

Roarke’s plan to lure Cara out of hiding doesn’t go according to plan when it appears the Reaper is back and killing once more. He likes to kill during the full moon. The team have less than two weeks until the next full moon.

This is a brilliant continuation of the story and it also allows a deeper insight into the developing complex and compelling characters. Roarke’s feelings towards Cara are very confused, part of him feels a connection to her because of the circumstances of the slaughter of her family and the fact the Lindstrom murder case set him on his career path. And although he can kind of understand, if not agree with, her actions he’s drawn to her, which causes tension between him and Epps and puts  a strain on their relationship. Roarke is very intuitive which gives rise to a vulnerability in his nature. For me, this trait adds realism to a character’s personality.

Cara, who was broken and traumatized at such a young age and then went through the added emotional shock of being sucked into the system.  Bounced between foster and group homes and juvenile prison until she reached twenty-one when she disappeared from public records. And now she faces her worst nightmare again.

The characters have authenticity and it’s easy to get involved and care about them – or loathe them, as the case may be. The murder scenes are heartbreaking, the great writing style creates a dark atmosphere of tense anticipation and suspense, with vivid scenic descriptions, throughout a well paced and interesting storyline. So glad there’s not too long a wait for book three. And I know when RC Bray is narrating, the performance will be first class and the perfect complement to the storyline.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Author links ~ TwitterFacebook, Website

Huntress Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #1)

  • HuntressMoonAudiobookReview
  • Author: Alexandra Sokoloff
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published by Alexandra Sokoloff and released on Audible May 2014
  • Category: Crime/Mystery/Suspense, Psychological
  • four-half-stars

A Thriller Award nominee for Best eBook Original Novel… Book 1 in award-winning author Alexandra Sokoloff’s riveting new Huntress FBI series about a driven FBI agent on the hunt for that most rare of all killers: a female serial.

Matthew Roarke, a special agent with the FBI, is in the midst of an investigation and while on his way to meet one of his undercover agents he notices a mysterious young woman on the opposite side of the road immediately before his agent is hit by an oncoming large semi truck. Roarke doesn’t believe in coincidences, especially since the woman has disappeared. He strongly suspects there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Since he was a boy, watching the news reports of a horrific massacre, Matt Roarke had his heart set on a career as an FBI agent. He and his right hand man, Damien Epps, begin to delve into the sequence of events that lead to the agent’s death, beginning with witness statements, one of which saw the mysterious woman speak to the agent seconds before he was hit by the truck.

Roarke needs to find the woman and as his investigation gains momentum more gruesome murders are uncovered. Now Roarke and his team need to make the connection between the victims and as the pieces begin to fall into places the horrifying details of the Huntress’ background start to emerge. 

She’d seen the road signs in the middle of the night and impulsively made the turn. She like hotels, motels too, the anonymity and uncomplicatedness of them.

The plan is clear. She will drive. It’s a huge state, a huge country. Plenty of open areas to get lost in and reduce the chances she will be found. She always keeps moving; there is less chance of tracking her. But for the next six days she must be as invisible as possible.

If she can just get through the next days….Just six more days.

The story alternates between Roarke’s perspective and the Huntress’ compelling point of view. Even though the murders are fairly grisly, once her heartbreaking story is fully revealed it would be hard not to feel some sympathy for her and, at the same time, horror at her actions. The storyline is devised wonderfully and the tension builds steadily with a thread of the psychological. And as events unfold good and evil are uncovered, connections are made and Roarke is totally conflicted.

Alexandra Sokoloff has crafted, not only an outstanding story, but also a cast of skilfully multi layered and believable characters. The locations in the story are vividly described to give a real sense of place. Combined with an excellent performance from RC Bray this is a fantastic listening experience. Definitely a series to follow.

About the author 

AlexandraSokoloffAlexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers The Harrowing, The Price, The Unseen, Book of Shadows, The Shifters, and The Space Between, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress FBI thriller series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon). The New York Times Book Review has called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written two non-fiction workbooks: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, west (the screenwriters union) and the board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. In her spare time (!) she performs with Heather Graham’s all-author Slush Pile Players, and dances like a fiend. She is also very active on Facebook. But not an addict. Seriously, it’s under control.

Alexandra Sokoloff can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website

Anybody’s Daughter (Angela Evans #2)

AudiobookReview

  • Anybody'sDaughterAuthor: Pamela Samuels Young
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: Goldman House Publishing, released On Audible December 2013
  • Category: Crime, Suspense, Thriller
  • five-stars

Based on the real-life horrors faced by thousands of girls, award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young takes readers deep inside the disturbing world of child sex trafficking in a fast-paced thriller that educates as much as it entertains.

Thirteen-year-old Brianna Walker is ecstatic. She’s about to sneak off to meet her first real boyfriend—a boyfriend she met on Facebook. But Brianna is in for a horrifying surprise because her boyfriend doesn’t exist. Instead, Brianna unwittingly becomes the captive of a ring of drug dealers – turned-human traffickers who prey on lonely girls from dysfunctional homes. But they’ve made a big mistake in targeting Brianna because she doesn’t meet either of those criteria. 

After finding out that Dre Thomas is an ex drug dealer who spent time in prison in Buying Time, Angela Evans broke off their relationship. Dre’s feeling for Angela are still strong and now he has a second chance he’s determined to make it work. Angela, who was an Assistant US Attorney, now represents children and teens, who have been sexually exploited, in juvenile court.

Dre’s niece, Brianna, is targeted by a sex trafficking ring, masterminded by the Shepherd, and abducted on her way to meet a fictitious boyfriend she met on Facebook. Charting Brianna’s appallingly horrific experiences, this story explores in detail the shocking way the human traffickers abuse and manipulate vulnerable young girls.

It still bothered Brianna – but only a little – that Jaden had refused to hook up with her on Skype or FaceTime, or even talk to her on the phone. Jaden had explained that he wanted to hear her voice and see her face for the first time in person. When she thought about it, that was kind of romantic.

Dre has given Brianna an iPhone for her birthday which enabled her to secretly open the Facebook account her mother had forbidden. Now Dre is suffering agonies for, as he sees it, putting Brianna in harm’s way. We follow his desperate search for Brianna as, unable to rely on the police, Dre calls in any favours he can and recruits people from his own criminal past. He will do whatever it takes to get Brianna back safely and bring those responsible to justice.

This is a very challenging story to listen to, on an emotional level. The horror, brutality and degradation young girls are subjected to is tragic and beyond callous. Compelling and thought-provoking, it’s impossible not to be moved and disturbed by the fact this kind of exploitation can and does happen, more than is realised.

The narration adds an extra punch with the characterisations of the predators, which are chilling in the extreme, and the ‘voices’ of the young, frightened and confused girls, quite distressingly realistic. RC Bray does an excellent job with what must have a been very tough read.

Pamela Samuels Young tackles an intensely difficult subject with a no holds barred and very well written story, showing the whole, true horror of child sex trafficking.

The author’s note gives website addresses, support organisations and important information for raising awareness.

Black is the New Black (Black #3)

AudiobookReview

  • BlackistheNewBlackAuthor: Russell Blake
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: Janda Management, released on Audible July 2014
  • Category: Hardboiled, Noir Fiction
  • five-stars

When Artemus Black is hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents at LA’s most prestigious modeling agency, he quickly discovers that brooding pouts and mascara can be as dangerous as guns or bombs. From LA to Mexico to Tahoe to NY, the story pokes fun at the world of high fashion.

Models from a top class agency are dying at an unprecedented rate and Black is called in to investigate, requiring him to attend photo shoots in exotic locations. The first of which is in Cabo San Lucas. It doesn’t go well and Black manages to get into his girlfriend, Sylvia’s bad books. It seems the modelling world is rife with corruption and deceitful competitors. As events escalate Black has his work cut out to get to the bottom of the accidents…or are they murders?

All the old favourites are back, including Mugsy, the fat and flatulent feline. Black’s exchanges with Roxie, who is planning a move to Germany with her boyfriend (Black will have to see about that!) and Stan, his police buddy, are as funny and entertaining as ever.

“Stan. It’s Black. You called?”

“Yeah. It was a lousy connection.”

“What’s up?”

“My blood pressure and cholesterol. Thanks for asking.”

“Appreciate the update. But I was thinking more about why you called.”

Black’s parents, Spring and Chakra, also feature and Black and Sylvia brave a visit with them en route to a photo shoot in Las Vegas. If Black isn’t being ragged on by Roxie, his mother is shooting her little barbs.

I’m enjoying this series so much, I love Black more with each book. Really great characterisation in the writing and narration. Black continues to develop into a genuinely good guy with a tough side and I think Roxie might even be slightly less abrasive. A surprising twist at the end, I didn’t see that one coming at all. The murder/mystery story lines are authentic and well thought out with a profusion of suspects to choose from.

Russell Blake’s characters are colourful, well drawn and very memorable, the writing clever and witty. Coupled with RC Bray’s masterful narration these audiobooks are a must have.

“Gunther will be out in a moment to show you back. Pellegrino?”

Black was stumped. “I don’t know who designed my suit.”

She didn’t blink. “Would you like some water? Juice?”

“Oh. No. I’m good.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed out loud. Several times. The snappy dialogue is such fun, especially when delivered so well. 

Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of the audiobook which does not affect the content of my review in any way.

Buying Time ~ ( Angela Evans Series #1)

AudiobookReview

  • BuyingTimeAuthor: Pamela Samuels Young
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: August 2012 by Goldman House Publishing
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense
  • four-half-stars

Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he’s about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems. In Waverly’s new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there’s a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker’s fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath. The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General. When Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson—who has some skeletons of his own to hide—are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.

Assistant US Attorney Angela Evans is assigned to a case investigating Live Now, an organisation dealing in viatical insurance for the terminally ill. The company’s procedure has come under scrutiny and Angela and her team set up a sting operation.

Angela’s private life leaves a lot to be desired and when she meets Dre Thomas at the gym she begins to question the wisdom of her choices.

An intriguing legal thriller combining murder, corruption and underhand dealings – a perfect combination. Engaging from the start, the absorbing and strong storyline flows perfectly and the short, well written chapters from the points of view of different characters work well and keep the suspense level high.

A great opening paragraph…

Veronika Myers tried to convince them, but no one would listen. Her suspicions, they said, were simply a byproduct of her grief. Each time she broached the subject with her brother, Jason, he walked out of the room. Darlene, her best friend, suggested a girls’ night out with some heavy drinking. Aunt Flo urged her to spend more time in prayer.

Veronika knew she was wasting her time with this woman, too, but couldn’t help herself.

“My mother was murdered,” Veronika told the funeral home attendant. “But nobody believes it.”

Multiple story lines run simultaneously and weave together as events unfold. The characters are well-defined and realistic, some very likeable, some definitely not and they are all intertwined by threads of greed, secrets, violence and deception. The main characters, each with strengths and flaws, have their own personal problems to deal with which again, link together as the story progresses. The romance aspect is not overwhelming and I like the relationship between Angela and Dre. I hope it continues in the next book.

As the stakes get ever higher, more lives are at risk and Angela and Dre are drawn further into the tangled web of murder and duplicity. The plot plays out well to a very satisfying conclusion with a twist I didn’t see coming.

The well researched, detailed descriptions of viatical insurance, of which I knew nothing at all, raises the question of ethics and morality against the possible or probable benefits for people with a terminal illness who are in desperate need of financial aid.  Very interesting and thought-provoking, showing the opportunity to exploit people is usually available to those with an agenda.

The issue of domestic violence is also addressed, demonstrating how even a strong, independent woman, who knows better, can get caught up in the cycle of not reporting the abuse. This is my first book by Ms Samuels Young and I enjoyed it very much and have invested in a couple more.

It’s so nice when I find a fantastic new (to me) narrator through an author and vice versa. I first listened to RC Bray perform The Martian and I was sold. Since then I’ve listened to several more narrations and the delivery fits the story and the emotions of the characters perfectly.

Buying Time may be purchased through  Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the author

PamelaSamuelsYoungPamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and bestselling author of the legal thrillers

Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, Attorney-Client Privilege, Buying Time and Anybody’s Daughter. She is also a natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide. In addition to writing legal thrillers and working as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for a major corporation, Pamela formerly served on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A. The former journalist and Compton native is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s School of Law. To read an excerpt of Pamela’s novels, visit www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com.

 

Black is Back (Black Series #2)

AudiobookReview

  • Black2Author: Russell Blake
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published; Janda Management and released on Audible May 2014
  • Category: Hardboiled/Noir Fiction
  • five-stars

In this second installment in the acclaimed BLACK series, Artemus Black, Hollywood PI to the stars, dives into the rap music scene to stop a killer – with often disastrous and humorous results. Fans of hard-boiled detective fiction from Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly and Lawrence Block will enjoy Black’s trials and tribulations, all delivered with a tongue-in-cheek cynicism that’s uniquely Russell Blake.

Not a lot has changed in Black’s world. He’s still being needled mercilessly by Roxie, his assistant from hell, with her all black wardrobe and full sleeve tattoos. On the upside Black has managed to hang on to his girlfriend of several weeks, Sylvia. She is a good influence and Black’s anger issues have decreased.

Black, a little depressed about his upcoming 43rd birthday, is not helped by Dr Kelso making him feel crappy about not giving up smoking and drinking too much. Then, to make matters worse, his parents invite Black’s ex wife, Nina, to the surprise birthday dinner they and Sylvia have organised for him. The evening rapidly turns into a hilarious fiasco.

Things are looking up on the financial front though, with Black’s latest case involving a seemingly up and coming rapper and his entourage. Black is soon involved with the nefarious behind the scenes machinations of the promoters and managers in the music business. The plot is definitely conceivable and the miscreants are credible. I like that the violence is not gratuitous but fitting for the storyline.

Black’s head started to hurt just trying to keep all the rivalries straight, not to mention the monikers. Why the hell didn’t they have normal names, like REO Speedwagon or AC/DC? How could anyone differentiate between a Blunt, a 2Bad and a B-Side? Especially, as an ex-musician, the entire phenomenon escaped him, where the singers didn’t sing and nobody played an instrument…and that was the most popular form of music in the nation?

Black’s developing character and personality show a basically generous and good nature but one that can be ruthless when necessary. He’s complex and flawed enough to be realistic but not so much as to be anything but loveable. Black is rapidly becoming one of my favourite protagonists.

A great plot, poking a little bit of fun at the music industry, I think. A surprising ending which almost costs Black very dearly indeed. The writing, again, is excellent and full of humour with laugh out loud moments. I love Black’s descriptions of Mugsy…’the odds of Mugsy being able to fit into most alleys is a stretch’…’he’s got an eating-too-much-and-moving-around problem’….’he looks like a bowling ball with legs’

I’m loving this series and, judging by the book covers, Black doesn’t need to worry about getting older or his ‘body breaking down’. Quite the opposite in fact, looking good and darkly handsome, I’d say ;-p

Another stellar performance from RC Bray with great characterisations, especially the rapper street talk, gangsta style.

The Black Series may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Black (Black Series #1)

AudiobookReview

  • Black1Author: Russell Blake
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published by Janda Management and released on Audible April 2014
  • Category: Hardboiled/Noir Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Artemus Black. Perennially down-on-his-luck Hollywood PI whose Bogie fixation is as dated as his wardrobe. With an assistant who mocks him relentlessly, an obese cat that loathes him, a romantic life that’s deader than Elvis, money problems, booze, nicotine, and anger management issues, how much worse can it get? When he takes a case that’s supposed to be easy money working for a celebrity whose colleagues and surrounding paparazzi are dropping faster than interest in the star’s big comeback, the cakewalk turns ugly and Black finds himself in a web of deceit, betrayal, and murder – and bad hair days.

Black is a real vintage feel PI, with slicked back black hair, dressing in 40’s style suits and fedora hats, as though he’s been whisked away from his own time zone and dropped into the present day. I was picturing a James Garner look-a-like all the way through. He’s down on his luck and harbouring bitter feelings about his immensely rich parents who not only gave him the name he hates and refuse to call him anything else, but also became wealthy with the minimum of effort, while he struggles to make ends meet.

Artemus ‘Jim’ Black is an intriguing character and regardless of his faults he’s a really good guy with a soft side and a good dose of morality. This is a fun read with lots of humour, although the murders give the story a darker side which balances things out. The descriptive writing and solid plot are executed superbly and the dialogue is sharp and witty. 

Black’s snarky secretary, Roxie, is an unconventional character with an individual appearance and an attitude issue. She is the antithesis of Black. She gives him a hard time verbally, mostly about his dress sense and because he’s less than affectionate to the stray fat cat who has taken up residence in Black’s office. The one liners and banter between the two of them is seriously comical. Well portrayed and defined, colourful and amusing characters abound and give the story an authentic feel.

Black had been working with Roxie on improving her attitude, but some days it seems like a losing battle. It was a pity she was so good at what she did – running the office, juggling administrative duties and research that made the FBI look like neophytes.

“It means I think we can improve our brand, Roxie.”

”Our….brand. I see. Have you been drinking?”

”Branding is very important.”

”Maybe if you’re a cowboy or a steer. Wait – did you mix up your meds again?” Roxie asked.

This my first Russell Blake book but I’ll definitely read/listen to more of his work. I have the rest of the Black series and Jet lined up. If you’re a fan of the genre it’s well worth a read or a listen if audio books are your thing. RC Bray does a great job giving Black a ‘voice’, also with his interpretations of the rest of the characters. The humour, pacing and delivery of the comedic lines are all spot on.

The Black books may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the author

RBlakeFeatured in The Wall Street Journal, The Times, and The Chicago Tribune, Russell Blake is the USA Today bestselling author of thirty books, including Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, Blood of the Assassin, Requiem for the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET – Ops Files, JET II – Betrayal, JET III – Vengeance, JET IV – Reckoning, JET V – Legacy, JET VI – Justice, JET VII – Sanctuary, Upon A Pale Horse, BLACK, BLACK Is Back, BLACK Is The New Black, and BLACK To Reality.

Non-fiction includes the international bestseller An Angel With Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related.

Blake is co-author of The Eye of Heaven, with legendary author Clive Cussler, to be released by Penguin in September, 2014. Blake’s novel King of Swords has been translated into German by Amazon Crossing, The Voynich Cypher into Bulgarian, and his JET novel into Spanish and German.

Blake writes under the moniker RE Blake in the NA/YA/Contemporary Romance genres.

Having resided in Mexico for a dozen years, Blake enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns. His thoughts, such as they are, can be found at his blog: RussellBlake.com