By T.W. Dittmer
Teri Altro who is a part of a government drug enforcement team, is almost gunned down at a store. A mysterious man steps in, saves her, and then disappears. This man turns out to be John Walker Micheals, who is an ex-Vietnam vet. John also has close ties to the Hmong community who call him the Valley Walker. He is wanted by the government for desertion, but Teri is protective of the man who not only saved her life, but she shot. The settings and descriptions of the Vietnam War and the Hmong culture were very detailed and added a depth that made this story hard to put down. The flowing time and locations in the book include mysticism, politics, and powerful drug traffickers. Teri worked hard but forgot about her heart. John’s character is unpredictable until the end. I loved how this complex tale unfolded so skillfully on many levels. It is a story I can easily recommend.
I started this series with book six, “Restless Mayhew” and was immediately drawn into the story. After that, I wanted to know what happened before, so I started with book one and found the beginning equally compelling. Shawnee is a cat burglar who steals from criminals to give back to their victims—she also works for the police department. When she was a cat burglar, she discovered the identity of a serial killer. Unfortunately, he found out that she had broken into his house and taken his prized possession, along with some cash and gems. Although the killer is known right away, the book is still a page-turner, and I couldn’t wait to find out how she survived. At first, I wanted her to turn the killer in to save his victims from his creative yet inhuman and painful deaths. Shawnee was in a dangerous position and not only had to save herself but those she loved. Plus, she dates a detective who can easily throw her in jail if he finds out too much about her. Shawnee is not only a flawed individual but a determined one who had me on her side. A well-written thriller that kept me up late into the night, wanting to know what was going to happen next. I can’t wait to read the next in the series and can easily recommend this to those who love fast-paced mysteries with graphic details of being a victim and a survivor.
By Nina Romano
“Dark Eyes” is set in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Anya is a young, unwed mother who struggles to provide food for her daughter after escaping an abusive relationship. After her daughter’s grandmother is brutally murdered, Anya wants to find the killer. This pulls her into a corrupt criminal world that ventures into the police department and includes dolls, diamonds, and drugs. Andrei is a police photographer trying to get hired onto the force. They meet during the investigation and seem drawn to each other. I didn’t like Andrei at first because of his initial interactions with Anya. Later, as I got to know Andrei and Anya better, I became invested in these characters and rooted for their survival. Ms. Romano paints a vivid picture of how it would have been to be living in those times in the Soviet Union, especially as a woman. In the Soviet Union, shortages of food, heat, and jobs made life difficult. It was also risky to disagree with the KGB or be Jewish. A couple of scenes with Anya were graphic and brutal but showed her strength and determination to survive for her mentally challenged daughter and to find the truth. This story draws you into a world we are lucky we don’t live in and offers hope amongst cruelty. A historical fiction love story I can easily recommend.
By Sarah Brentyn and various authors
This is the first anthology I’ve read of “The Shadows We Breathe (Volume 3)” and really enjoyed it. I recognized a couple of the authors but was also introduced to new ones. The book is put together with first flash fiction and then micro-fiction with the theme of power. I loved all the different perspectives that were taken in the stories. Some touched on some very dark subjects, but all were well told. I enjoyed them all so I don’t have a favorite story, but the micro-fiction was compelling in what could be told in fewer words. Although a fast read, it wasn’t light on entertainment or depth. I can easily recommend this collection to those who want to explore the shadowy side of life.
Embrace your inner child by reading a good book! D. L. Finn