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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.

  • The Last Train

    by Michael Pronko

    Rating: 10.00

    Plot: This story grips the reader from the very beginning with its creepy and eerie premise, original story line, and rage-filled killer with icy determination.

    Prose: Well written and engaging throughout, the book achieves a perfect balance of action and description. The descriptions of Tokyo and Japanese culture are particularly memorable.

    Originality: The author provides a distinctive and fast-paced plot that holds the reader's attention from beginning to end.

    Character Development: The author does a superb job of developing both his major and minor characters.

    Blurb: Gripping and suspenseful, this fast-paced thriller unfolds on the streets of Tokyo, where a clever and cold-blooded killer exacts revenge.

  • The Ossuary's Paladin

    by Daniela Bronzy

    Rating: 9.75

    Plot: The author crafts an excellent, multilayered, and timely mystery surrounding a Syrian refugee whose path to assimilation is thrown into disarray after an uncle's murder—an event that will lead into riveting territory that defies reader expectations.

    Prose: The author writes in polished and commanding prose that seamlessly balances the story's many thematic elements.

    Originality: The author offers a highly original premise that incorporates themes of xenophobia, religion, and personal identity, while also playfully challenging readers' assumptions.

    Character Development: Bronzy excels at crafting the well-rounded characters that populate her story.

    Blurb: This novel is a daringly original and complex study of cultural identity and xenophobia, as well as a far-reaching thriller concerning a long-held family secret.

  • Can I Be Frank?

    by Rob Wyatt

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: This charming novel is full of humorously preposterous events and mishaps that will delight readers. And while the pacing is slow at times, readers will enjoy the adventures of the often confused Father Francis.

    Prose: The dialogue is excellent, light and fast paced. The internal monologues are both funny and poignant.

    Originality: While the novel will remind some readers of television's The Vicar of Dibley and culture clash stories are common, this one manages to feel fresh thanks to its winning protagonist.

    Character Development: The characters are well developed and fun, with unexpected twists. Father Francis develops from a consummate blunderer into a more confident man over the course of the novel. Martha and Ginny also grow and evolve, while even minor characters have strong personalities.

  • Plot: This novel is well plotted and moves along at a good clip. Readers will keep turning pages!

    Prose: The writing is crisp, clear, and well suited to the material.

    Originality: Though the book deals with a familiar topic, the author has created a new and original story. Fans of the genre will find a lot to like here.

    Character Development: The characters are well developed and vivid. They are engaging and readers will be drawn into the story.

  • Trevega House

    by Will North

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: Though there is frequent and unnecessary repetition of some plot points, it's not enough to slow down this fast-paced mystery. And though some events are telegraphed, the plot is perfectly paced. North knows how to dole out information at the right time and keep readers turning pages.

    Prose: The prose is expertly crafted. North takes full advantage of his setting, and is an expert at vivid descriptions of the landscape and surroundings.

    Originality: North knows his genre well, and crafts a fresh and compelling mystery. The plot is fast-paced, keeping readers engaged—and guessing-—until the very end.

    Character Development: Although some characters are burdened with excess backstory, the entire cast is well rounded and richly developed. Even minor characters display traits that become important as the story unfolds.

    Blurb: This winning third book in North's Davies & West Mystery series will make readers revisit the first two volumes and look forward to future installments.

  • 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.

  • The Girl Who Lived

    by Paul Dale Anderson

    Rating: 8.50

    PLOT

    This dark thriller that approaches horror terrain, carefully weaves multiple side stories into the central narrative; the result is a cohesive tale of abuse and revenge, but also of love, respect, and healing.

    PROSE

    The author’s use of first-person narrative for Megan Williams, and third-person for all other characters, is hauntingly effective. Anderson is unflinching in her descriptions of her character's ordeal and of her lasting scars, both physical and psychological.

    ORIGINALITY

    Anderson delivers on many of the satisfying conventions of the revenge story, while integrating an inspired level of psychological nuance.

    CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

    Anderson excels at crafting complex characterizations in both the central protagonist and the villainous figures throughout. No character is beyond reproach; many are deserving of contempt and comeuppance, yet each reads as fundamentally human.

     

  • The Cossack

    by KJ Lawrence

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: This book is a page turner with an outstanding plot that comes to fruition after well-crafted twists and turns.

    Prose: The writing boasts vivid descriptions, but at times suffers from overwriting and repetition, both of which slow the narrative and take readers out of the story.

    Originality: Lawrence has written an original novel that will keep readers engaged until the very end.

    Character Development: The characters are true to life, relatable, and vivid. Daniel Brooking is the perfect protagonist.

    Blurb: An exciting novel with well developed characters and plenty of suspense.

  • 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.

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