Profile for Frank Berkeley > Reviews

Browse

Frank Berkeley's Profile

Customer Reviews: 82
Top Reviewer Ranking: 23,361,167
Helpful Votes: 360


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Frank Berkeley RSS Feed (Florida, USA)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
pixel
Cobra Killer: Gay Porn, Murder, and the Manhunt to Bring the Killers to Justice
Cobra Killer: Gay Porn, Murder, and the Manhunt to Bring the Killers to Justice
by Andrew E. Stoner
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $12.28

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nasty Business, July 10, 2012
This is the true story of the brutal murder of Cobra Video gay porn producer Bryan Kocis in 2007. The murder shocked the small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania where it occured more than the typical homocide and sent ripples throughout the gay porn industry. The focus of the book is on the two male escorts and gay website hosts: Joseph Kerekes, who pleaded guilty to the murder despite at the same time proclaiming his innocence, and Harlow Cuadra who also claimed innocence but was found guilty at trial. Both are serving life in prison (separate prisons) without possibility of parole.

The book is straightforward and factual and meticulously documented. There are well over 1,000 citations in the end notes of the sources of the material. This may have been the two authors specific intent: to present a succinct and accurate report of the case. But the downside of this approach is that the story as presented lacks passion - in what is a dramatic and certainly passionate situation. Other true crime stories manage to present the facts in a more engrossing context. Think of the gold standard: Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". And, frankly, for those who have followed the case, even casually, on-line for the last five years, there are really no new revelations. And a small quibble: there are more typos and grammatical errors than there should be. Blame this on the editors at Magnus Books, the publisher.

I had been looking forward to this book and was slightly disappointed by the fact that it didn't rivet me, as I had anticipated it would.


Sleeping Angel
Sleeping Angel
by Greg Herren
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.27
45 used & new from $0.01

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sleeping Editor, July 22, 2011
This review is from: Sleeping Angel (Paperback)
Other reviews on this site have described the plot. I generally agree with those reviews and won't repeat the details, except to say that I especially agree with the comment that the mind reading sub-plot is unnecessary and hurts the credibility of the story.

What I would like to comment on is the slopping editing. In the front of the book someone is credited as having been the editor. So presumably she was paid to do something, but whatever it was is not evident. For example, in some places the Mom character is named Melanie, in others the same person is named Nancy. Huh? Just about every new character is introduced as having braces on his or her teeth. (OK, I have figured out that this novel is pitched at a young audience, but couldn't there be some diversity in the descriptions?) Every time someone smiles "the grin does not reach the eyes". This is a good phrase the first time it is read; by the fifth or sixth it is tiresome.

Greg Herren is not a bad author. He just deserves better editing from his publisher.


Date with a Sheesha: A Russell Quant Mystery (Russell Quant Mysteries)
Date with a Sheesha: A Russell Quant Mystery (Russell Quant Mysteries)
by Anthony Bidulka
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.58
55 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Date with a Sisterly Kiss, July 23, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Having read all of Anthony Bidulka's six previous Russell Quant's mysteries, I eagerly anticipated this one. The reason for the anticipation was to see if Bidulka continued his, frankly, boring travelogue format that began with the over-the-top Tapas on the Ramblas, where the plot (in the case of Tapas) sailed from one port where one terrible thing happened to the next. This style continued through Stain, Sundowner and Aloha. Snooze. Happily, we're refreshed in Date where there still is a travelogue but where Russell is more active than your basic tourist who has a run of bad luck and we have a mystery for Russell to solve. There are some problems. The asterisk references to Bidulka's previous books are gratuitous and unnecessary. (Did Ian Fleming ever asterisk previous references to James Bond stories?) I am not Canadian, but I don't think you have to fly from Montreal to Paris to Frankfurt to get to Dubai. But, in the end, literally, Bidulka delivers with a spectacular finish. A nice date!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2012 1:00 PM PDT


The Road Home
The Road Home
by Michael Thomas Ford
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from $0.01

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Winding Road, June 23, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Road Home (Hardcover)
The at-times great writing by Michael Thomas Ford in this new novel is somewhat negated by some credibility issues. Apparently, nearly everyone in Vermont is gay: the doctor, the librarian, the gallery owner (OK, maybe this one is plausible), the girlfriend of the main character's father (who has had lesbian fantasies), the vet (who had a gay experience earlier in life), the vet's son (20 year-old Will), and the main character himself, Burke. Plus assorted others. But, hey, gay fiction is Ford's genre so we get beyond this. Will comes on to Burke despite the fact that Burke is twice his age and in not one but two casts. This attraction is not explained nor is why Will thought Burke would be receptive. (Gaydar? Not mentioned.) Then there are the Civil War characters Burke discovers in some old photographs. Guess what? A number of them turn out to be gay! Then there are the ghosts which, absent any resolution prior to the end of the story, we are left to believe are that: ghosts spooking rural New England. The whole description of Destiny, a gay version of the Bohemian Grove or Burning Man festival, is over-the-top. The place evidently really exists but not in the way reported here. I get the impression that Mr. Ford had a concept for a story about a man going home to be with his estranged father. He then seems to have run out of steam and had to layer in the Civil War angle to bulk it up to something more than a novella. This was still not enough so he added the Destiny chapter to barely make it to 250 pages. Still, there are redeeming, enjoyable features. The love scenes between Will and Burke are hot! Some of the dialogue is funny and some of the character descriptions are colorful. Lay back and read this with a soupcon of skepticism.


Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel
Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel
by John Irving
Edition: Hardcover
302 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Last Night for John Irving, January 28, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's so, so sad. John Irving was my favorite author. A Prayer for Owen Meaney is my favorite book of all time. But Last Night in Twisted River dissapoints. The entire plot, which is essentially the title of the book, takes place in the first chapter. After that it rambles on and on and on, sometimes incoherently. It once again confirms my belief that editors are afraid to take on big name authors which is what they are paid to do.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2010 7:25 AM PST


Aloha, Candy Hearts: A Russell Quant Mystery (Russell Quant Mysteries)
Aloha, Candy Hearts: A Russell Quant Mystery (Russell Quant Mysteries)
by Anthony Bidulka
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.96
35 used & new from $0.01

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mahalo, I think, November 29, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am a huge fan of Anthony Bidulka and have read every one of his Russell Quant mysteries. With the obvious exception of the grossly over-the-top Tapas on the Ramblas, the stories, especially the early ones, are fresh, imaginative and well-written and the characters are interesting and well-developed. But it seems that Mr. Bidulka, perhaps enjoying his success as an author (and why not?), has used favorite travel destinations as the basis for his stories. This was extremely evident in Sundowner Ubuntu, set in Southern Africa and is also the case in his newest work, Aloha, Candy Hearts, marginally set in Hawaii. Pehaps the tax laws in Canada, where Mr. Bidulka lives, or a most generous publisher allow him to expense trips to these locales as part of his "research" but, in this case, Hawaii has nothing to do with the plot. And that brings me to the strange part of this book. The plot, involving the notes of a famous Canadian author and how, inexplicably, they lead to murder is weak, and, frankly, uninteresting. The novel is saved by the extraneous doings of Mr. Quant and his friends and family and by the richly described surroundings of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. You will enjoy the book for these reasons but not for the watery mystery and certainly not for the sex, which is virtually non-existent.


A Push and a Shove: A Novel
A Push and a Shove: A Novel
by Christopher Kelly
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ben and Terry's, July 18, 2009
This is not a credible story. The events would never happen in real life. But it is fiction, and if you like compelling writing, despite suspicious reality, you will love this book.
Ben is tormented in high school by Terrence, who, among other sins, invents the pejorative "gaywad". Despite this, Ben falls in love with Terrence in the midst of the cruelty and long after.
The quality of the writing by Christopher Kelly, who, significantly, is the film critic for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, makes up for the shortcomings in the plot. Ben is a loser who we are made to love. Terrence is an asshole who, through the miracle of fiction and in the space of ten short years, becomes a super-successful rich yuppie and sympathetic, attractive character.
Other reviews have commented on the unsatisfactory ending. But what they really want would just be more pablum.
Christopher Kelly can become a great novelist if he injects one more scoce of credibility into his writing.


Object of Desire
Object of Desire
by William J. Mann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.60
68 used & new from $0.01

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of Desire, July 10, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Object of Desire (Hardcover)
In the past I've been critical of author William J. Mann. While I've found his prose to be beautifully written, I've found his stories to be weak on plot and short on action. Well, he either listened (ha ha) or figured it out on his own because Object of Desire is beautifully written, has an intriguing plot and is full of action.
Danny Fortunato's sister disappears on his 14th birthday and Danny's life is changed forever. Cleverly, very cleverly, told in flashbacks to three phases of Danny's life, we learn about his painful, yet surprisingly sexy high school years, to his early years in West Hollywood, to his mid-life years with a husband in Palm Springs. Despite the husband, Danny falls in love with the gorgeous Kelly (if you're reading this you already know that Kelly is a he) and it is here where Mann's book takes a wild right turn. At first, I was unwilling to accept it as simply incredulous, but then the quality of the writing took over and I was hooked once again.
This is a terrific story, beautifully written and compellingly readable.
There are a few minor problems. St. Francis Xavier High School in East Hartford, CT (even fictional) would be a Jesuit school and the principal would be a priest, not a brother. Who cares?
You want to read this book. It will be the highlight of your summer. And, Mr. William J. Mann, bring it on!


What We Remember
What We Remember
by Michael Thomas Ford
Edition: Hardcover
75 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Memories, June 18, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: What We Remember (Hardcover)
Back in 2006 in a review of Full Circle I said that author Michael Thomas Ford was bound to be discovered by the mainstream literary cognoscenti. With What We Remember this has happened. The reviews on the dust jacket are from Publishers Weekly and Entertainment Weekly, not the Advocate or the Washington Blade. Although it has a gay element and graphic gay sex, What We Remember is being marketed as a story of families and rightfully so.

Dan McCloud is the sheriff of Cold Falls, New York. His sudden disappearance in 1983 is thought to be explained by a suicide note his wife receives in the mail. In 1991 his body is discovered in such a way that his death could not have been a suicide. Son James, the responsible offspring, returns to Cold Falls to console his mother, Ada, and reunite with sister Celeste, the wild one, and brother Billy, the black sheep. What follows is a very cleverly woven tale of events in both 1983 and 1991 that casts suspicions on nearly all of the characters. The story is terrific.

There are, however, some minor problems. At first, the bouncing back and forth between '83 and '91 like a ping pong made me dizzy, but eventually I got into the rythm and it stopped bothering me. Not explained is how Nate managed to become sheriff at the tender age of 22 or 23. And the Cold Falls sheriff's department is said to be receiving a lot of e-mail in 1991. Not likely. There is a reference to reality television programming, which had not yet been introduced in 1991. And, finally, the dust jacket illustration makes no sense to me. A long-haired father with two kids standing next to a pier is nowhere in the story. But, again, minor stuff.

Michael Thomas Ford can take his place as one of the great contemporary American novelists. What We Remember may be the breakthrough that takes him to the best seller list.


Death in Key West (Bradford Fairfax Murder Mystery)
Death in Key West (Bradford Fairfax Murder Mystery)
by Jeffrey Round
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from $11.85

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Death, June 12, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I really wanted to like this book. Really. Love the setting. On the plus side, the main characters, lovers Brad (31) and Zach (21), are appealing (except maybe for Zach's blue hair which in Florida might be assumed to have come from a rinse in an old ladies' beauty parlor). Our boys are spending their vacation in Key West where they become entangled in a series of murders. Brad's day job is with a mysterious CIA-type organization called Box 77 so he is not so far afield. But then the problems with the story begin. The plot is overly complicated involving a ghost, candles that predict the future and too many characters. If it had been played as a straight (you should pardon the expression) murder mystery it would have been more credible. And speaking of credibility, the murder of five people on a single night in a resort town like Key West would have been the crime of the century, not a routine homocide assigned to one lonely police sergeant. Then there is the writing. I'm sure the author, Jeffrey Round, is a nice person but he tends to be a bit of a name dropper. In the space of just a few pages are numerous references to famous authors, movie stars, fictional and non-fictional characters, and just about everybody who has sung or written opera. But apparently this is part two of a series of novels featuring Brad (the first was set in Provincetown). One can assume that we can look forward to stories set in Fire Island, West Hollywood and, of course, San Francisco and that's a good thing. I'm sure each will be better than the last.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2014 8:30 AM PST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9