Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hazards of War reviewed for Readers' Favorites

A downed airman, a family of French vintners, a company of Nazis racing south to repel a feared American invasion are driven together by a horrific storm in the opening pages of Hazards of War.  Captain Hans Tiedemann may be a career SS officer, but he is also a cultured and thoughtful man.  After commandeering the mansion of the Conti vineyards to secure a dry place to sleep for his men, the body of one of his junior officers is discovered in the wine cellar.  Rather than summarily executing the French family, Tiedemann is determined to identify the killer.  His skilled and experienced interrogation of the family members only leads him in contradictory circles, and his quest for the murderer is further complicated by the revelation that the Contis are harboring a British airman with a dubious story of how he came to be there.

Jonathan Paul Isaacs’ Hazards of War is a detective story set against the backdrop of World War II.  Hazards of War, primarily told from the German point of view, reveals Mr. Isaacs’ extraordinary knowledge of his subject.  The complex plot unfolds in clean and excellent prose through the voices of strong and well-developed characters, each with a personality faithful to his or her background.  It is a story that builds to several false climaxes, hesitates, then peels another layer from the onion and lets the tension mount.  It is a great tale with a pace that never falters. 
Buy at Amazon

Friday, September 11, 2015

Alien Eyes

It's now live in all eBook formats at  Smashwords and their affiliate retailers, and at Amazon for only $2.99.

Carrie Player is back and still fighting to save humanity from the alien plague  while she copes with her personal predicament.

As if worldwide infertility weren't bad enough, radical Islamists are detonating in California.  The CIA sends a different woman to confront that menace, a very different woman.

Buy at Smashwords 

Buy at Amazon 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

After Alien Affairs

Some people thought it wasn't fair to end Alien Affairs where I did.

Fear Not!

Alien Eyes is coming on September 11

(An Apocalyptic Date)

You can pre-order your copy now at Smashwords for only $1.99

Our Man in Charleston

Our man in Charleston; Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South, is a long story about minor player.  Robert Bunch, consul to Charleston before and during the Civil War, worked tirelessly to convince Queen Victoria’s government that their crusade to stem the global slave trade would not be served by recognizing the Confederacy. This controversy was much exacerbated by the belligerence of Union Secretary of State, William Seward, toward Britain, and Britain’s addiction to slave grown cotton.
Bunch operated as a mole among Charleston’s elite convincing rabid, slaveholding secessionists that he was sympathetic to their cause, all the while sending dispatches to Washington and London condemning the Confederacy and warning of a resurgence of the African slave trade if the South were to gain recognition.

Mr. Dickey has done a remarkable job of unearthing what a pessimist might think are details lost to history. To learn in deep detail the viewpoint of the British government toward both sides during War Between the States is insightful and broadening. However, Mr. Dickey’s account is anything but objective. As so many do who consider the Civil War a just and necessary event, he refuses to acknowledge the right of the South to even have a point of view, or to concede that any factor other than slavery was responsible for the conflagration. Not once is there any concession to the frequent slaveholder who felt himself to be a prisoner of his slaves and wholeheartedly wished to free of them if he could only find a means to do so that did not lead to ruin and mayhem. Neither does the author ever mention the numerous slave owners who did voluntarily free their slaves despite the peril and popular disapproval. I cannot deny that I enjoyed reading Our Man in Charleston but the writer’s bias tarnishes its credibility to some degree. I want to take specific exception with the assertion: “[The slave trade] endured Africa and up into Arabia until 1877, officially, and along clandestine routes well into the twentieth century.” The slave trade, in fact, never ended, and exists abundantly today in Sudan, Nigeria, and other parts of the Islamic world.

Finally, as if I haven’t complained enough, I would like to point to a number of typos and formatting errors in the eBook edition. This is published by Crown Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House. One gets the impression that mainstream publishers consider eBooks to be their bastard children and don’t bother to look at them once the manuscript is converted.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

Jean Louise Finch, AKA Scout, returned to Maycomb County, Alabama, for her annual summer visit and it doesn’t take her long to scandalize the place.  Aunty Alexandra is aghast over the gossip flying around town that Jean Louise and childhood sweetheart, Hank, went skinny-dipping at Finch’s Landing.  Atticus Finch, now in his seventies and plagued by arthritis, with his fabled even demeanor, observes that her dress is wrinkled from recently drying.  After church Atticus and Hank head for downtown to attend the Citizens’ Council meeting.  Jean Louise is dumbstruck.  She sneaks into the colored loft of the courthouse, as she had done so many times, and eavesdrops on the proceedings.  Dumbstruck turns to horrorstruck when she hears the rantings of a white supremacist who her father had just introduced.  The turmoil  of the birth of the civil rights era is Scout’s coming of age moment and not in any happy way.

If Harper Lee were not a great writer she should still win acclaim for choosing great titles.  Go Set a Watchman is of course the long lost sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, but it is not quite on par with that sixty-year-old classic.  Although oozing with wisdom and elegant phrasing, some parts are dense and obtuse.  I found myself rereading passages, and more than once, failing to grasp the intent of the words.  A few sentences I just did not understand at all.  Whereas To Kill a Mockingbird is written in first person, Go Set a Watchman is an odd mix of all three persons, sometimes within a single paragraph.  This reader, at least, has the impression that this manuscript was rushed to publication and that it would benefit from more judicious editing.  Nevertheless, it is a vital piece of work not to be missed.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Flashman and Madison's War

Captain Thomas Flashman was a self-confessed coward.  He unwittingly found himself fighting the upstart Americans alongside of Iroquois warriors on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes during the war of 1812—Madison’s War.  Although cowardly, Flashman was cunning and managed to present himself in a good light to superior officers.  This has the unfortunate effect of keeping him on the front lines.  While trying to prevent an enraged warrior from cleaving his skull with a tomahawk, he accidentally converts the savage Indian into a faithful friend who watches his back and spares him from numerous life threatening encounters.  Simultaneously the tide of the war in America turned against the British and the European conflict with France suddenly ended.  This happy news meant that Continental troops would soon relieve the beleaguered British forces in Canada.  Flashman saw a route home to England.  But his hopes were cruelly dashed and he returned to the solace of the Mennonite girl who he rescued from an abusive husband more than twice her age.

Flashman and Madison’s War is an easygoing book that I originally branded as slow, but I persevered and soon fell into the story’s pace.  The character Flashman is an engaging creation who will set his own hook in reader’s interest.  His unabashed self-assessment that he is a cowardly lying opportunist who wants nothing more than to stay alive and enjoy living to the fullest, quickly endears him to the reader.  Robert Brightwell has retold an obscure part of an obscure war from a British point of view with remarkable accuracy and detail through the eyes of a fictional character with real charm.  This is the fifth installment in a series of Flashman’s memoirs.  It stands alone but some may prefer to start at the beginning.

120,000 Words
Price $3.99

Buy at Amazon

Nine Hours Left

Alien Affairs free promotion at Amazon expires forever at the stroke of midnight Friday, July 3

But fret not.
You can now pre-order a copy for only $1.99 at your favorite Smashwords retailer, including Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

What was the big secret at Roswell?
See how a forty-something divorcée foiled the
aliens’ apocryphal plans with her wit and charm.

Pre-Order Now 

Happy 4th of July!