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Ameera, Unveiled
Ameera, Unveiled
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun and inspiring story to unlock your inner goddess and follow your dreams!, July 1, 2015
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This review is from: Ameera, Unveiled (Kindle Edition)
"Ameera, Unveiled" is inspirational story of how, with courage to chase her dreams, Kat transforms herself to become Ameera, the exotic dancer of the Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe. This is a story about of how exhilarating and frightening it feels to take yourself out of your
comfort zone and chase your dreams, and the amazing experiences you can have just by trying.

Kat spent most of her life doubting herself and her abilities--especially her ability to learn how to dance. Now at the age of 48, she finally feels comfortable enough in her life to finally pursue her dream of dancing by enrolling in a belly dancing class taught through the local high school. Through each lesson she timidly works up the courage not only to learn to dance, but to discard the self-doubt that she had burdened herself with for too long.

Kat finds herself having to battle with her inner-critic’s heavy doses of self-doubt, and anxiety. The story reflects on how some women allow their inner critic to dictate their lives for far too long. Kat’s journey is about how hard it is to overcome years of believing you aren’t good enough to do
something, but how what happens when you go ignore your inner self critic and follow your dreams. Kat realizes it’s not about a lack of talent that is holding her back, but her own self-doubt.

The author, Kathleen Varn, skillfully weaves scenes of everyday women transforming into exotic belly dancers. She vividly portrays, with detailed descriptions of their well-practiced routines and dance moves, and how through their diligence they are able to wow their audiences. The dancers develop such a strong sense of individualism and self worth as they learn to move in exotic ways. The delightful interactions between each of the dancers is inspirational as they bond as a troupe.The camaraderie developed within the troupe is one of friendship and support that only a sisterhood of girlfriends could create.

And the troupe will need all the support and confidence that they can muster when they are surprised by one of their dance gigs when it turns out to be held at a clothing optional resort in Jamaica. Kat finds herself out of comfort zone in more ways than one as do several others of the sisterhood. But with each other for friendship and motivation, they are all empowered to explore, take chances, and believe in themselves.

"Ameera Unveiled" by Kathleen Varn, is a coming of age story of a diverse group of middle-aged woman supporting each other to follow their dreams and to go outside their comfort zones and routines. Reading Kat’s journey made me want to put on a shimmery scarf, an exotic flowing skirt, and learn to move in a fashion beyond my own comfort zone. It is an inspiring and fun story that reminds us that it is never too late to pursue your dreams and unlock your inner goddess.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2015 7:49 AM PDT


Life on the Farm
Life on the Farm
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A curious 10-yr-old girl's adventures that will delight and captivate young readers about rural life on a farm, June 24, 2015
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This review is from: Life on the Farm (Kindle Edition)
Ten-year-old Patti is a curious child who lives on a farm and she longs for a horse. She also wants her family to recognize that she’s growing up and isn’t a baby girl anymore.

Patti is awakened on the morning of her tenth birthday to a raucous in the barn. It turns out that a mink has snuck into the chicken coop. Patti heads right outside to help her dad and brother save the chickens and the baby chicks. Things don’t go quite right, but one chick is saved. Her dad offers Patti the job of nursing it back to health. On the way back to the house, her parents and brother surprise her with a shiny silver and blue bicycle for her birthday. It isn’t the horse she longs for, but Silver is a wonderful present and it’s a big bike for her to grow into. And that everything is not perfect, nor does everything work out just right is the beauty of Gardam’s story.

Patti spends her tenth year working hard to show her family she is growing up. On her trusty bike, <em>Silver</em>, Patti sets out on a series of adventures filled with discovery that will delight any young person reading this book. Patti longs for her family to see her as growing up and able to pull her own weight around the farm. She wants to make a good impression as someone who her family can count on and who will help out.

Each chapter in this book is a snapshot into young Patti’s life.  Through the ups and downs of everyday life, we learn more about Patti and her family life on the farm. Patti works hard doing her chores around the farm, learning new skills like milking the cow and tapping trees for maple syrup. She is a curious and observant child and continually surprises her family with her knowledge and perseverance.

Whether it’s working hard to put out a fire in the hay-field or serving dinner to the threshers, Patti proves that she can be counted on. She surprises her family when she trains Chicky for the Fall Fair and with her strength under pressure when her brother Jamie is hurt.  Patti impresses with her level-headedness when she’s caught in a blizzard and deals with a bully.

Patti discovers growing up isn’t easy and grown ups don’t always have the right answers. Everything from learning about bees, to driving a tractor, to trying to figure out how grownups think, and the strange things they say and do, continuously fascinates her.

Through a series of adventures that entertain and delight young readers, Patti learns that people can be very different from each other and live very different lifestyles than her family’s. However, Patti discovers she’s stronger and smarter than she thinks and that she can make a difference in the lives of those around her. And most importantly, she knows that she belongs to a loving and supportive family that includes even her big brother.

"Life On The Farm," by Heather Gardam, will captivate young readers with its authentic voice and earnestness. Patti’s journey is filled with curiosity, adventure, and everyday delights that the author experienced as a child growing up in rural Ontario, Canada.


No Good Like It Is
No Good Like It Is
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty & action-packed - portraying the dangers and shifting alliances of the Old West during the Civil war - a must read!, June 20, 2015
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In his meticulously researched, debut historical Western, McKendree Long takes the reader on a journey to the Civil War era, as experienced by homesteaders and soldiers in the far-flung outposts of the Old West. A must-read for fans of the genre!

Second Lieutenant Thomas “Dobey” Walls, a West Point Graduate, and Corporal Jimmy Melton, a non-commissioned soldier, meet at the military outpost of Fort Gibson, just off the Arkansas River, in 1859. As they work side-by-side to protect wagon trains traveling through their territory, fighting off roaming bands of raiders and Kansas "Jayhawkers," the two men become fast friends.

"No Good Like It Is" follows the daily lives of these men as they work at the Old West outposts, journey to Texas to join up with the famous Texas Terry’s Rangers during the Civil War, and ultimately search for the remaining members of a Wall’s homesteading family in the wilds of Texas Panhandle country.

Long’s gifted ear for the true vernacular of the time and his detailed descriptions of the Old West place the reader right in the middle of the action along with these two men and the colorful characters they encounter during their adventures.

Walls and Melton embody the best of human values, exemplified through the valor of their actions, their honesty, and their determination to fight for what they believe to be just and right. These men leap off the page, remaining memorable long after the reader finishes the book.

But above all, this is the story of men who meet and become friends, and whose characters are shaped by a series of dramatic historical events that defined our country.

This novel goes beyond the typically simplistic view of the Civil War, delving into the divided loyalties of the homesteaders in the American West who found their families and friends fighting on opposite sides of the war. Long accurately portrays the dangers and shifting alliances of the Old West during the war, exposing the reader to a very different view of the war’s effects on the western states.

No Good Like It Is, the first of three gritty action-packed novels that follow the adventures of Dobey Walls and Jimmy Melton, well written with historical accuracy and authentic dialog. Readers will be eager for the sequels.


Hawkins Lane
Hawkins Lane
Price: $5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing story of the influence of family in our lives, and the struggle of two people to triumph over tragedy.Captivating!, June 18, 2015
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This review is from: Hawkins Lane (Kindle Edition)
Judith Kirscht has penned a poignant story of two good people who struggle to escape their past and carve out a fulfilling life together. At its very core, this novel asks the compelling question of whether you can overcome the influences of family, and also, whether you can survive the consequences of your own actions.

As far as the people of the small town of McKenzie Crossing are concerned, Ned Hawkins is from the wrong side of the tracks. And that’s putting it mildly—his father is a convicted murderer, his brother an alcoholic with a violent streak. Ned has spent his entire life feeling trapped and attempting to outrun his family’s legacy.

As "Hawkins Lane" opens, Ned has escaped on his daily trek into his beloved Cascade Mountains to find peace and solace.  By chance, he comes upon a young woman, Erica Romano, fishing in a creek far from town. Erica is also escaping from the demands of her family, though their circumstances are very different: Erica is the daughter of the town’s new physician and related to the rich and powerful McDonald family, owners of the local mill.

For both, it is love at first sight. Ned has grave reservations about exposing Erica to his family and wants to protect her by keeping his distance. Erica persists, convincing him that she needs him as much as he needs her.

Unfortunately, family almost always finds a way to impact one’s life, and depending on the family, that impact can lead to tragedy. Ned’s brother, who has been spiraling out of control ever since their father was sent to prison, ends up in trouble with the law. Erica, who is by nature a risk-taker, places herself in danger far too often, and the mountains are not always a forgiving place. However, when Ned’s father is released from jail he spreads his own brand of poison, driving deep wedges and creating divided loyalties. Erica and Ned are challenged in ways that even they could not predict nor expect.

"Hawkins Lane" is an excellent and ultimately redemptive story about the heart-wrenching tragedies a family can survive, and about the healing powers of nature and friendship. The characters and the story will linger long after the last page is read and you will be captivated from the first page.


Fire at Will's (Estela Nogales Mystery Book 1)
Fire at Will's (Estela Nogales Mystery Book 1)
Price: $3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clever cozy with humor and keen insight into human nature. HOA community rules-gone-crazy make this cozy laugh-out-loud fun!, June 17, 2015
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When a psychologist calls on her powers of observation to solve a murder, she uncovers a secret that some in her small eclectic Californian community would rather keep buried. "Fire at Will’s" by Cherie O’Boyle introduces Estela Nogales as an amateur sleuth with a wry sense of humor, a keen sense of observation, and two border collies as sidekicks in this engaging new cozy mystery series.

Estela prides herself on doing a good job of navigating the petty grievances and animosities of her Arroyo Loco neighbors. And if it weren’t for a few rule ­enforcing cranks she and her beloved dogs could enjoy all of the open space and clean air that her picturesque, coastal mountain community has to offer.

Will Rosenblum, the neighborhood’s biggest grouch, has made it a habit to stick his nose where it’s not wanted, going out of his way to ignite the ire of every one of his Arroyo Loco neighbors, so when his house goes up in flames suspicion lands in all directions, including at Estela’s feet.

As the ashes settle a body, thought to be Will’s, is found at the back of the house and his memory impaired wife is missing. A round of finger pointing brings everyone’s actions into question causing Estela to realize that the only way to clear her name is to launch her own investigation.

With so many suspects Estela starts to wonder if Will’s demise could have been an orchestrated community effort. Armed with her knowledge of human behavior and sharp powers of observation Estela examines the motives and actions of each person in Arroyo Loco and discovers an ugly secret.

In this first installment of the Estela Nogales series the author uses a small, isolated location with a captive, vocal population to skillfully address the question of how well we really know our neighbors or, for that matter, our friends. Although some are locked into mistrust and others prefer denial, Estela’s unwillingness to allow wrong to prevail compels her to reveal the inconvenient details buried beneath the public facade.

With humor and keen insight into human nature, author Cherie O’Boyle offers up a clever cozy mystery filled with a varied and quirky cast of characters. From the strudel-­baking Freda von Liesing to Arroyo Loco’s resident metaphysical hippie Sunshine Rainbow, each character is a classic slice of the diverse California lifestyle. O’Boyle’s inventive homage to the HOA rules-­gone-­crazy communities springing up all over the country makes "Fire at Will’s" laugh-­out-­loud fun!


The Man with the Overcoat
The Man with the Overcoat
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Tightly written with rich withcomplex subtext - a top-shelf novel that blends mystery, fantasy, and comedy. A pleasure to read!, June 6, 2015
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Arts writer David Finkle’s anti-hero, Skip Gerber, has many obligations—lukewarm devotion to his sort-of fiance, obedience to his smother mother, loans to his ne’er-do-well brother, and a tedious job at a New York City law firm founded by his father. But in the space of twenty-four hours, all that could change.

It starts with an overcoat, handed to Skip as he’s leaving work one ordinary late afternoon, shoved into his hands by an anonymous man with these words: “Here you go, and be very careful with it.” Minutes later, Skip realizes he’s stuck with the coat and starts trying to figure out how to get rid of it on his way to a supper date with his fiancé. He begins to examine the coat, tries it on, and finds it to be of unusually good quality and, also remarkably, a perfect fit. Inventorying various items he finds in the pockets, he embarks on a mission to return the coat to its rightful owner.

He roams the city on foot and by taxi, apparently being tailed in traffic by a mysterious black limo and, on the sidewalk, by two young thugs in hoodies, constantly checking his cell phone for calls from the increasingly peeved fiancé, his nagging mother and his brother trying to cadge a loan. But Skip gradually gets too wrapped up in the enigma of the coat to care about these distractions.

Everyone he encounters tells him what a great garment he has acquired. Voice mails remind him to take care of it. Hustling uptown, downtown, and all around the park, following clues seemingly emanating from the coat, he goes from a once grand building that might have offered a hint about the coat’s owner, to the statue of a man holding what looks to be the selfsame coat, to an abandoned tailor's shop where perhaps the coat was created.

As the hours pass—compulsively checked on his fake Rolex—his fiancé dumps him by voice mail, his brother divests him of some cash, and he drops his childhood nickname. The coat yields more intriguing clues: a weird stone that might be a Mayan artifact, and a shiny Indian-head penny.

David Finkle is a New York based writer ("The New York Times," "The New Yorker," "The Village Voice") who knows his setting well, describing the city and its denizens with scarcely a word out of place. He strews bon mots through the narrative like a man feeding pigeons in the park, and deftly guides the reader through the increasingly complex thought processes of an erudite Everyman with an overcoat that gradually becomes a symbol of quality—quality of cloth and tailoring, quality of life.

Twenty-four hours after he first got the coat, Edward has followed his instructions to care for it, has chased down his clues, and knows what to do next. "The Man With the Overcoat" by David Finkle is an entertaining top-shelf work of contemporary fiction that blends mystery, fantasy, and comedy. Tightly written with rich and complex subtext that makes reading it a sublime pleasure.


Dead in Dubai (Lee Carruthers #2)
Dead in Dubai (Lee Carruthers #2)
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A female sleuth, International diamond trade, spy v. spy thriller, served up with wry wit and a lot of action! Entertaining!, June 1, 2015
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In this second Lee Carruthers offering "The Spider Catchers" provided the opening salvo), author Marilynn Larew again displays her prodigious knowledge of the international dealings in diamonds, deception and death that are hidden from the headlines in "Dead in Dubai."

Larew has found a comfort zone in describing exotic settings, and her perspicacity for honing in on minute details gives her work a sense of authenticity. Through the eyes of her intrepid, intelligent heroine, we are treated to an insider’s view of locales like Dubai and Istanbul.

Employing her wry wit (“I disapprove of assassination, particularly my own”), Carruthers, a woman of a certain age (“my long brown hair had a few strands of silver”) is looking for a dead man. After quitting the CIA and vowing she wouldn’t go to Dubai to look for CIA operative George Branson, she is inveigled into doing just that by the appeals of Branson’s wife Cynthia, and possibly equally, by the little brass key that Cynthia gives her. Figuring out what that key unlocks will consume Carruthers; finding out why Cynthia plunges off a balcony to her death, and others will die while the hunt is on, will provoke far more troubling questions.

Carruthers, a sort of female Bond, can identify a person’s borough of origin by his accent, and tell whether a man is an American or English by the way he takes his whiskey—with or without ice.  She knows where to get the best pastry, what wine to order, and in which Islamic enclave she can walk around without a head covering. She bribes passport control agents and befriends charming crooks. And she’s tough, always carrying a Glock, with a knife in a sheath on her leg.  She goes through several weapons in the course of this story, and uses a particular firearm to good effect occasioning one of the book’s better zingers: “Tears came to my eyes but they didn’t spoil my aim.”

Carruthers is a person of principle, so when she gets caught up in a spy vs. spy morass, she keeps her own counsel and tries to do the right thing, though with the CIA and the Russian mafiya trying to outfox each other, she knows she may be seen as expendable. In the end, she has her ethics intact, a small bag of rough diamonds as compensation for her troubles, and some disturbing conclusions about who George Branson was, or is?—and who’s playing footsy with whom under the big table.

In an age when national, ethnic and political identities and loyalties have blurred the lens of spycraft, Larew’s heroine is right up to speed. And if the story line seems at times to move too fast and somewhat jerkily, it’s also true that there are few if any lulls in the action. Still, some readers may find the wrap-up final chapter rather mechanical, and may wonder why Carruthers, who keeps protesting that she quit the CIA in order not to be sent on dangerous assignments, hops on board for another missing-person case on the last page. But lucky for Larew’s readers that Carruthers accepts despite her better judgement.

A sequel seems to be brewing that may perhaps reveal a softer side of Lee Carruthers. In this story there is a hint, but just: someone named Kemel, and a bloodstained pearl.

Larew has built up steam with her fascinating femme-sometimes-fatale protagonist and her writer’s grip on the subtleties of international intrigue and double crossings that ratchets up the race against time in this spy vs. spy thriller.


Catherine's Cross
Catherine's Cross
Price: $5.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery, romance, and the hunt for a long-lost artifact, an engaging Southern thriller, May 28, 2015
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This review is from: Catherine's Cross (Kindle Edition)
Mystery, romance, and the hunt for a long-lost artifact make Millie West’s second novel, "Catherine's Crossing" that is set in the South Carolina Low Country, an engrossing read.

Writing in a leisurely pace echoing that of the novel’s southern setting, West begins her story with Jenks Ellington who, while watering ferns at her house in North Carolina one afternoon, experiences the moment of her twin sister’s drowning miles away in South Carolina. Gigi, a strong swimmer and experienced diver, disappeared while diving with her partner Frank Hillier in an area the two had been salvaging for artifacts.

Jenks, who has always had a deep connection with her twin sister, can’t believe that Gigi’s death was accidental.

The detective on the case, the handsome Seth Mason, is equally suspicious. The initial investigation finds nothing wrong with Gigi’s diving equipment, and the autopsy reveals that she had no drugs or alcohol in her blood stream. Mason also finds it suspicious that Frank Hillier, an experienced ex-Navy diver, has no explanation for why he lost track of Gigi during the dive.

Almost immediately following the funeral, Jenks begins to have disturbing and inexplicable dreams about a woman wearing a golden cross.  As Jenks begins to follow clues left behind by her twin, she finds herself drawn ever deeper into the history of the area and its inhabitants.

She discovers that Gigi had been in touch with Miss Meta, a local spiritual adviser, and that Gigi had been reading the old spiritualist’s family diaries. Those diaries mention a gold cross exactly like the one in Jenks’ dreams. Is her sister trying to communicate with her from the afterlife?

Each page of this romantic thriller is imbued with the natural beauty of the Carolina Low Country, its people, and its culture. Ms. West weaves its rich and intriguing history, along with the region’s distinctive manners and idiosyncrasies into her work.  Readers (non-Southerners will need to remind themselves that they are immersed into the pacing of a good Southern tale) will find themselves unable to put down this intriguing southern mystery.


Treasure: a trilogy
Treasure: a trilogy
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Interwoven stories of suspense and political intrigue -- an engrossing and fascinating read!, May 18, 2015
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Interwoven stories of suspense and political intrigue raise important questions about the ways in which we live our lives. An engrossing and fascinating novel!

In the 1930s, a homeless, pregnant teenager dies in a New York shelter after giving birth to twin, golden-haired boys, identical in every respect except for a disfiguring birthmark. One child is adopted into a wealthy family; the other one ends up in an orphanage. Kenneth grows into a handsome, privileged, and self-absorbed man; Francis lives a hardscrabble life, raging against his fate and determined to one day balance the scales.

Years later, Camille, a forty-something woman who has grown up in a loving family but has received more than her share of hard knocks in life, decides to spend the afternoon drinking in a tavern. There she meets a distinguished gentleman in his 60s, who introduces himself as Kenneth. They chat, and something clicks.

Kenneth, a retired general from the military, owns a huge ranch and has made a vast fortune off cattle and citrus groves. For seven months, Camille dates the man of her dreams, believing that her luck has finally changed. Or has it? Is Kenneth who he says he is? For that matter, is Camille the woman Kenneth believes her to be?

Thus begins a trilogy of absorbing stories, interconnected by fascinating characters and united by theme. Long after readers finish the book, they may find themselves reflecting on the questions Vanessa Hoffman asks about how we lead our lives.

Are our important life decisions the product of how we were raised by our parents? Or are they more heavily influenced by the instinct to survive? And once we make unethical choices, do we rationalize them and ignore any feelings of guilt? Ultimately, will we pay for our bad decisions, or will we skate through life, able to ignore the damage done to others?

The people who populate Hoffman’s novel are neither wholly good nor wholly bad; but are merely victims of life’s vagaries. They are ordinary people, innocent, vulnerable victims, the self-absorbed and privileged, Irish Mafia bosses, and criminals in league with Jihadists. They have—in some cases—lucked out by an accident of birth, but in other cases, had to struggle to overcome daunting obstacles. All have made questionable, life-altering choices.

Time and again, Ms. Hoffman draws a picture of a person who, had circumstances been different, might have made different decisions. In each case, Ms. Hoffman asks the question; will they suffer the consequences of their actions? Some readers may find Hoffman’s tone occasionally a tad preachy. However, the intriguing characters and the interwoven stories of suspense and political intrigue will remain with readers long after they finish the book. "Treasure: A Trilogy" raises important questions about the ways in which we live our lives. An engrossing and fascinating novel!


The Quebec Affair
The Quebec Affair
Price: $2.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intricately plotted debut spy thriller with unique settings -- well researched!, May 15, 2015
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This review is from: The Quebec Affair (Kindle Edition)
Robert Penbroke’s "The Quebec Affair" represents a promising entry into the thriller field for the debut author, whose well-researched plotting propels the work to a satisfying conclusion.

John Thurmond is a former Canadian citizen who decides to join the US Army when he disagrees with Canada’s foreign policy related to China. Because of his Canadian citizenship, he is recruited into the CIA from the army in 1971. John’s first mission takes him to China, where he poses as a Canadian journalist in order to acquire Russian and Chinese nuclear information. Stealing photo negatives related to important developments in nuclear physics from a Russian scientist, his identity is compromised, and John is forced to flee to Cambodia with the negatives.

The Khmer Rouge are just beginning to terrorize the country and John must escape a country that is falling apart. He befriends a French Colonel who has a better chance of getting the negatives safely out of the country and hands them off before attempting to make his way out on foot through the jungle. John is captured and tortured by the Russians, but he eventually escapes and manages to make it back to his family in Canada. When he calls to check in with his CIA contact, however, he discovers that his department has been closed for 10 months.

Twelve years after he was first recruited, John is a lawyer with a wife and child, but his failed mission still haunts him. When he finally reaches the officer who recruited him into the CIA, he is determined to see it through. Penbroke sets up a fascinating plot with compelling motivation, but occasionally gets lost in unnecessary detail. While dialogue occasionally veers toward the cartoonish, Penbroke does a great job of sustaining tension and keeping things unpredictable.

Several emotion heavy subplots add to characterization: for instance, through the course of the mission, John is reunited with the son of his family’s tenant farmers whom he grew up alongside, only to have a brutal falling out with. These elements add depth, but fail to coalesce into more than mere diversions from the main action. Penbroke’s novel suffers from the sheer number of central characters and the introduction of too many new characters, so there just isn’t enough room to develop them all sufficiently. However, it is nevertheless a compelling read. Overall, Penbroke’s intricately plotted first thriller is a page-turner and shows promise, despite a lack of character focus. Readers looking for a fresh thriller will enjoy the novel’s unique settings and research.


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