Tag Archives: novel

The Mephisto Club, by Tess Gerritsen

I have written quite a few reviews of Gerritsen’s novels, especially the Rizzoli & Isles series. I like Gerritsen’s simple writing style and excellent plots. I particularly liked this one, The Mephisto Club, which is the one in which Isles’ parents split up. The story revolves around satanist cults and the search for fallen angels, the infamous Nephilins. This is a good story and I read it in a flash. Probably one of the best Gerritsen crime novels I have read.


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Derek Clendening: The Between Years

Hi Derek, could you please describe yourself in five words?

Dork who writes every day.

What can you tell us about The Between Years?

The book focuses on Randy Fuller who has separated from his wife because the grief of losing their 6 month old baby boy Kenny is too great. Basically, Randy wants to have another child right away and Carol isn’t ready. Therefore Randy moves into his ancestral home, a Victorian house along the Niagara River. While there, he sees the ghost of his son at age four one night, then age eight, twelve and eighteen on the succeeding nights. He realizes that Kenny is growing up rapidly in the walls, which forces Randy to face realities of parenthood that he had never considered.

It’s an emotionally charged book that has no good guys or bad guys. The characters are people who are presented in all their frailty and imperfections. I leave it to the reader’s best judgment as to who is right and wrong in this book.

Who’s your favourite author?

I have several: Stephen King, Rio Youers, John Langan and Richard B Wright.

Do you have tips for budding writers?

Sure. My advice is to write (and read) every day. Writers get asked that all the time and they will always give some variation of that answer, but it’s the truth. Here’s why: writers need discipline and they must hone their skills. You can’t take shortcuts. Also, novels—or projects of any length, really—cannot be finished if they’re not being paid proper attention. A writer must strap themselves into their chair and write constantly. We all lead busy lives but serious writers will always find a way to write every day.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m finishing a zombie novel, tentatively titled The Breeding. I’m also outlining a sequel to The Vampire Way, my young adult novel.

Where can we find you online?

Why right here, my good man: http://thehorrorofderekclendening.blogspot.com/

Thanks, Derek!

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C.E. Grundler: “Last Exit in New Jersey”

Last Exit in New Jersey is a complex story with an intricately woven plot viewed through parallel protagonists. Hazel Moran is a seemingly vulnerable 20 year-old who finds herself faced with some very unpleasant characters seeking her missing cousin, who vanished days earlier with her father’s new tractor-trailer truck. But beneath a shy, rebellious, moody exterior Hazel is highly capable, fierce, and deceptively lethal, and she’s single-minded in her determination to protect her family. The other protagonist, Otto Hammon, is a somewhat unstable young man who finds himself inexplicably swept into the middle of these confusing events, and readers will soon realize his sanity is shaky at best. For Hammon failure isn’t an option, it’s a fact of life, yet he presses on all the same as he’s faced with a cast of questionable characters, including this perplexing and dangerous young woman who has come to doubt everyone she knows and trusts, sometimes with tragic results. The mystery, written with a tone of irony and dark humor, unfolds and events weave together, building to a conclusion that proves nothing is coincidence.

C.E. Grundler answers a few questions:

Who’s your favourite author?

I would have to put Donald Westlake at the top of the list, particularly his comic crime novels, but also his hard-boiled ‘Parker’ series, written under the Richard Stark alias. But if I had to name the author who had the greatest influence on me, that would be John D. MacDonald with his Travis McGee series, which undoubtedly warped me from an early age.

Do you have tips for budding writers?

Persistence. The best thing you can do is write, and keep writing… and then write even more. Writing is much like any other activity: the more you keep at it, the better you become. Read constantly, and think as you do. Read good books, read great books, read awful ones. Study what makes writing flow seamlessly and what makes it clunk; what makes for an intriguing plot versus a dull one. Listen to your own words from a detached perspective – have a friend read your passages aloud and see where you cringe, then edit ruthlessly. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but do take your craft very seriously. And before you publish, get a proof-reader or four to look everything over.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on No Wake Zone, which picks up with Hazel and Hammon where Last Exit In New Jersey left off.

Where can we find you online?

My blog is: http://cegrundler.wordpress.com

And I’m on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=100001455003973

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Author interview: Patrick Michael Murphy

Patrick Michael Murphy is offering TWO free copies of his novel, Across the Desperate Miles, to the first two persons who post a comment on this interview. The free copies are available in eBook format for the Kindle. The only condition for those interested is to post a review of the novel on Amazon.

Jerome: What can you tell us about Across the Desperate Miles?

Patrick: Across the Desperate Miles is the current-day story of Kera and Rand Priven, a young couple who must journey across America to find and protect their children.  The catch is, they are not getting along, at all, and, America is in the throes of a revolution brought about by outside and inside forces.  There is war and anarchy within our borders.  The systems have shut down.  They are completely on their own.  It’s a story of transformation and survival.

Jerome: Who are your readers?

Patrick: I have had very positive feedback from 20somethings to 70somethings.  I think it does well with contemporary fiction readers as well as action/adventure, thriller, military history, political readers, pop culture… and anyone wondering about the direction and future of the United States (and world really).  The book is on Amazon and I don’t really know anything about the people who purchase it, but it seems to appeal to readers on many levels.

Jerome: What was your journey as a writer?

Patrick: I started writing as a teen. I then joined the Army as a cameraman and travelled the world at a peaceful time, photographing pretty much anything I wanted, and a few I didn’t want.  I did very well there and in civilian life, won a couple Emmys for my photography and writing, but two decades later I was burned out on it and wanted to turn my own writing into a career.  I am not going to say it’s been easy, but I am going to say it’s been a challenge and a lot of fun.  

Jerome: Do you follow a specific writing process?

Patrick: Let’s see.  I am a fairly disciplined guy in many ways.  But.  There’s always that but, isn’t there?  In filmmaking I learned about formulas and used them until I became sick of them.  I saw the ruin of formulas and yet, it seemed, everything was being done with them, especially TV and screenplays.  I began experimenting, and had some great success.  I think we are all so inundated with media that new approaches are often not new at all.  But for me, the idea is to not simply recreate what you or others have done.  Use courage.  Go out on your own and believe in yourself.  So I have used time-tested approaches for writing screenplays, essays, novels, and poetry, but my process is really to consider deeply what the piece is about and let it go its own way… within reason.  I take long periods off between writing projects.  But when I am writing I get obsessive.  At least through a draft.  Across the Desperate Miles was first written in the late nineties. Before the horror of 9/11.  I sent it out a few times back then and then I shelved it. When I took it out again several months ago, at the urging of Jan Takac, my new editor, I planned to read it just to let her see it.  But when I opened it all this new energy came out and with Jan’s help I tightened it and rewrote two more times.  So, I am not saying part of my process is to let a manuscript sit for 10 years, but this story is much better for the wait.          

Jerome: Where do you find inspiration?

Patrick: In life.  Good God, it’s all about.  It helps to also have a deep desire to communicate and be understood.  If you’re feeling uninspired… travel.  Look.  Listen.  Question.   Go anywhere but your everyday places.  I get bored, depressed, angry.  I think we need to be ourselves, but look for the positive, and definitely use every emotion and every question that has ever come through you.

Jerome: Who are your favourite authors?

Patrick: Larry McMurtry, Wallace Stegner, Deepak Chopra, Peter Matthiessen, Ernest Hemingway and a lot of others.  I also enjoy newer writers but the earlier ones helped shape me.

Jerome: Is there a book you wish you had written? Which one?

Patrick: No, but there are stories I’d liked to have lived.  There are many books I marvelled at the talent it took to write.  There is no question that great writing that moved me emotionally also inspired me to write.

Jerome: Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Patrick: I am now 53.  Years pass quickly.  I have always been impatient.  Perhaps that is our worst enemy, impatience.  Yes, go, yes, do, but also be patient with who you are, who you are with, and what you do.  It’s worth it.  Write the pieces you have said time and again you want to write.

Jerome: What are you working on at the moment?

Patrick: Publicizing Across the Desperate Miles.  And a collection of essays about my life and life in general.  This will be out on Amazon in a couple of months.  Then, my next novel.

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Gone, by Mo Hayder

I recently reviewed The Devil of Nanking, by Mo Hayder, which I loved. Gone is a bit different, it is part of a series featuring Jack Caffery, a murder detective; however it is great as a standalone book as well. I really liked it. Hayder is a great writer of thrillers. She keeps you on edge all the way, and you honestly don’t know who’s done it until the very end. Her books are scary. In Gone, a car is stolen with a girl sitting in the back. What initially looks like a car jacking turns out to be a kidnap… and this won’t be the last one. As we witness another car jack and another kidnap, our hearts keep sinking. To be honest, it’s hard to read the book without flinching. I liked the plot, it’s clever, and it is a great page turner. What also makes it special is the back stories of the different characters, which are interwoven with the main plot. Unlike with some other crime novels, these back stories all sound true and fascinating – none of the characters is either black or white, and I liked that. Another interesting point is that in spite of Jack Caffery being the lead protagonist, he does not solve the riddle all by himself, there is a real team behind, and Jack is more like a music director. The victims also play a big role in the story, and I found that great. As for Hayder’s writing, it’s precise, evocative, and exactly what is needed for the story. It’s truly good writing. If you’re after a great thriller to keep you on your toes, this is the one!

My blogging friend Niki-Ann has written a great review of Gone as well. You can read it here.


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A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

I enjoyed reading “A Spot of Bother” by Mark Haddon, the author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time“. It is the story of a family getting ready for a wedding, but nothing goes as planned of course. George, the father, discovers a lesion on his hip and thinks the worst, starting to slowly lose his mind. His wife Jean is having an affair with an ex-colleague of his. His gay son Jamie is having relationship issues of his own; and his daughter Katie is having second thoughts about getting married… I won’t say more as I don’t want to spoil the book. Each character is well crafted and contributes to a funny, fast-paced story where something happens in every chapter. Haddon is a master of voices. He did it in “The Curious Incident…” and he’s doing it again in this one. Haddon has managed to capture George’s voice particularly well as he is sinking into depression and madness. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the main characters, and this is highly entertaining. This is an easy read, but probably not one that will stay with you forever: the messages may be important, but they are not unusual. At times the story feels even a little forced, almost turning into slap-stick comedy. But despite its flaws, I found it a good read, and you may agree with me as long as you don’t come to it expecting another tour-de-force like “The Curious Incident…”.

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The Scold’s Bridle by Minette Walters

Minette Walters is good. This is the second book of hers that I read, and I must say that I enjoyed it tremendously. Walter’s writing is witty, her dialogues are truer than life, and her characters are diabolical. The plot in this one was flawless and I was kept guessing until the end who had committed the murder – I even wondered if it was murder at all! There seems to be a recurrent pattern of incestuous relationships in Walters’s books, but I’ll have to read more to see if this is true. In any case, The Scold’s Bridle figures such relationships, as did The Ice House. Like all great writers, Walters creates real characters whom you love or hate. She does create a world full of horrors, but not without redeeming features. In this book, an old, bitter woman is found murdered in her bath tub with a scold’s bridle on her head. You may wonder, as I did, what is indeed a scold’s bridle. Here’s the Wikipedia definition: “A scold’s bridle, sometimes called “branks”, was a punishment device for women, also used as a ‘mild’ form of torture. It was an iron muzzle or cage for the head with an iron curb-plate projecting into the mouth and pressing down on top of the tongue. The ‘curb-plate’ was frequently studded with spikes so that if the tongue remained lying calmly in place, it inflicted a minimum of pain.” Very nice… And here’s a picture of it. I trust you will enjoy The Scold’s Bridle as much as I did, if you like crime novels with twisted relationships and a mystery that won’t be solved until the very last pages.

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