INTO THE FIRE – Gregg Hurwitz

Orphan X #5.

Into the FireI can’t praise this series highly enough, and INTO THE FIRE is as good as any of the previous.

As usual, the message  – and phone number – of someone who is dedicated to give 100%, including his life if necessary, is given to a desperate soul by the previous recipient of help from this highly trained ex-assassin, known as Evan Smoak. The Nowhere Man.

Acting as a fairly normal person with their insecurities and fallibilities is not something that Evan finds easy. Thus, people he’d like to open up to would run a mile if they knew the truth about him, especially District Attorney, Mia Hall, and her young son, Peter. Moreover, as a DA, she would have to have him arrested and put away forever…

Evan has at his call experts who trust him totally and who will supply him with their specialist expertise. Arms like anything from sniper rifles to the rarest of explosives. Computer and net-hacking skills that can even suck pearls from the muck of the Dark Web. And, to survive and accomplish his latest task, the protection of Max Merriweather, he is going to test those connections to the limit.

Gregg Hurwitz

Gregg Hurwitz – author

Max has been entrusted with a deadly secret by his late cousin. A loser the rest of his family shuns, nobody would suspect he would be the carrier of a secret which leaves a trail of dead behind it. Evan must not only protect him from killers, he must try to stop the depressed Max from giving up and to plant a seed of confidence in him.

Five star stuff, this. This series stands tall even in the ranks of those such as Lee Child and Harlan Coben…

Thank you to Penguin Random House, SA for this ARC. ISBN 9780718185510.

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JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS – Clive Cussler & Graham Brown

Another NUMA FILES adventure, and so far they have not palled.

Journey of the PharaohsAs usual, Kurt Austin spends his holidays searching for lost or hidden treasure, and when this activity coincides with work, it is a bonus.

Austin and colleague and best friend, Joe Zavala, are in Scotland looking for a Viking ship when a freighter goes aground on the rocks where they are searching. They manage to save the captain and crew but not the passenger who seems to be intent on rescuing the cargo rather than himself. When a group of hard men arrive to kidnap the captain, Kurt and Joe get involved with MI5 agent, Morgan Manning and her investigation into artifact smuggling on a huge scale and Egyptian tablets that lead to an incredibly valuable treasure smuggled out of Egypt by one of the Pharaohs himself, a thousand years BC.

From one nail-biting scrape to the next, the three are on a trail of clues; neck and neck with a gang of ruthless men unfettered by principles or a lack of resources. Time and time again, it is only the resourcefulness of Kurt and mechanical genius of Joe that keeps them ahead of the game.

Graham Brown 2

Graham Brown – author

Continuous twists and surprises lead us all the way from a 1927 trans-Atlantic crossing attempt plane wreck to the Grand Canyon and the harrowing finale.

Well crafted and thrilling; not a disappointing read at all, as is more and more possible with these long-running series. I enjoyed it.

Thank you to Penguin Random House, SA for this ARC.

ISBN 9780241386880.

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WHEN YOU SEE ME – Lisa Gardner

When You See MeAn excellent read. Although a follow on from the gripper where the serial killer Jacob Ness dies, Flora Dane cannot let his evil legacy go. There are still too many bodies out there; families who still search in hope that their daughters may still turn up. When the bones of a young woman’s body are found outside a small southern town deep in the wooded mountains of Georgia, connections are eventually made to Jacob Ness that may lead to many more of his victims.

Special Agent Kimberly Quincy, no stranger to Ness, is tasked with looking into the matter.

Kimberly takes Ness’ last victim, the only survivor, Flora, with her, along with her computer geek companion, Keith Edgar, and well as Boston Detective Sergeant D.D. Warren. The search of the crime scene shockingly reveals more bodies.

Strangely, the small town tries to make things as difficult as it can for the team. Can it just be adverse to the negative publicity? Or does the mayor know more than he’s saying?

Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner – author

Get done what you need to, now, before lifting the cover, because you are going nowhere until the last page. And the last convoluted twist.

Thank you to Penguin Random House, SA for this ARC; Herewith an honest revue.

ISBN 9781529124408.

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Tom Clancy’s CODE OF HONOUR – Marc Cameron

Code of HonourA tip top yarn to prove that Marc Cameron has really filled the boots of Tom Clancy and his President Jack Ryan cast of characters.

I seriously feared for the floundering of this series through a lack of  maintenance by some of the understudy writers who have tried to continue the Clancy legacy. But no longer; with Cameron at the helm, there are a few voyages of note still on the cards, I believe.

Typically, the US President, Jack Ryan likes to handle things himself, but he is not at all happy when his First Lady, Dr. Cathy Ryan, as a world-class ophthalmologist, involves herself in an operation on a Chinese General’s daughter. But the appreciation of General Song might just swing the odds in favour of her husband’s efforts to save his old friend, Father Pat West who has been sentenced to death in Indonesia for alleged drug smuggling.

With the team known as the Campus under veteran John Clark in full operational mode, the President sends them to not only save Father Pat, but to thwart a serious threat to the free world of a computer gaming program that has AI ability to transfer itself from one device to another without leaving a trace. Capable of getting itself into a warhead and redirecting it could be terrifyingly useful…

Marc Cameron

Marc Cameron – author

Jack Ryan Junior plays no special part in this tale except as a worthwhile member of the Campus team, so hopefully the damage done by some of his previous lacklustre adventures will be forgotten…

ISBN 9780241410714.

Thank you to Penguin Random House, SA for this ARC;

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THE LAST SCOOP By Dick Belsky – a Jim Nesbitt Review

thelastscoopcoverThere’s something Dick Belsky delivers in all of his mysteries — spine-bending plot twists that leave you feeling like you’re riding a nuclear-powered rollercoaster instead of reading a book.

His soon-to-be latest, another Clare Carlson mystery, THE LAST SCOOP, is no exception. It’s Belsky at his best — fast copy, as they used to say in the journalism game; snappy patter that reads like dialogue between Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant; and, stunning revelations that leave you muttering: “I’m a smart guy, but I did not see that one coming.”

At the center of it all is Carlson, an ex-print journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner turned news director at a New York television station. She’s a terminal smart-ass and helluva reporter who loves to escape the newsroom and chase big stories.

A driven perfectionist at work and a train wreck in her personal life, she has three or four broken marriages that were clocked with a stopwatch between the altar and divorce court. Pretty typical for a journalist, a profession Belsky knows well because he played it at a very high level in New York and L.A.

She also has a big secret that would ruin her if ever revealed, proving the truth crusader was living a Big Lie.

In this story, Carlson is shocked to read about the murder of Marty Barlow, her mentor when she was a cub reporter just cutting her teeth. He taught her how to be a pro, how to be relentless in pursuit of a story and rigorous about getting it right and hewing to the facts, no matter where they led.

She also feels a ton of guilt because she blew him off after he came to her, a little wild-eyed about what he called the biggest story he’d ever chased, a blockbuster of corruption and murder, and asked for her help. She promised to meet him over coffee and never did. Now he was dead, another victim of what seemed to be another random and senseless New York murder.

To make amends, she starts to follow Barlow’s trail, talking her way past his submissive daughter and bastardly son-in-law to get her mentor’s notes and access to his computer. Sooner rather than later, mobsters are menacing her as she uncovers bent developers and a trail of corruption that seems to lead right to a rising star of a district attorney with her eye on the mayor’s office.

That ain’t all, folks. Barlow was also digging into the brutal and unsolved murder of a high school cheerleader in a small Indiana town and was convinced it was linked to the murders of nearly twenty other women scattered across the country. How all this fit into the corruption story mystified Clare, presenting a puzzle no reporter can leave unsolved.


R. G. Belsky – author

Belsky smoothly builds his rollercoaster like the master craftsman he is. And the result is a corkscrew trip at warp speed, rocketing through the curves and stomach churning drops.

Buy this ticket and take the ride.


The author provided an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Jim Nesbitt is the author of three hard-boiled crime thrillers set in Texas and northern Mexico that feature battered but relentless Dallas PI Ed Earl Burch — The Last Second Chance, The Right Wrong Number and The Best Lousy Choice. Available in paperback and Kindle at:

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The EYES of the NAKED – Litha Hermanus

The Eyes of the NakedFor world-wide readers, indeed also for a lot of South Africans in whose country this novel is set, the backstory will be an eye-opening look into the culture and traditions of Xhosa people on the one hand and urban black folk on the other.

Indeed, there are two stories, side by side, hardly touching except that the two characters were once married and share a son.

The man, Nakedi, inadvertently ensnared in criminality, takes his son with him as he goes on the run from the city to his childhood homelands of the Transkei’s Wild Coast. He finds that he has lost all empathy with regard to his childhood there and his relatives, but is coerced into going to look for his young cousin in Port St. Johns where the young man has run away to endure the right of manhood; circumcision, a ceremony of huge significant to Xhosa traditional culture. He needs to keep his identity a secret for two reasons.

One is his fear of the Cops, and the other is the fact that, as a Xhosa, he had circumcision by modern medical means and avoided the traditional way. His adventures are many and varied as he tries to come to terms with his cultural values and his responsibilities as a father.

Back in the city, his radio presenter ex-wife, Kele, in the meanwhile is lured to an underground hideout to be coached to announce the dawn of the new South African revolution, the awakening of the black nation. No more capitulating to the whites! – they advocate. Anyone who fails them, disappoints them, have fingers removed… So, here there is a suspense story to raise the heartrate. However, the writing is not as poetic as that in Nakedi’s story.

It is as if Kele’s tale is a thriller, while Nakedi’s is literature.

Litha Hermanus

Litha Hermanus – author

It would be a spoiler to say how these threads end, so the curious must find that for themselves. For me, the writing had moments of profound beauty and was positively poetic. There was a lot to think about in the sense of tolerance for the varied cultures and traditions of our fellow human beings. However, if there were conclusions to the two stories, they were just too subtle for me to grasp.

The cover was disappointing; and surely not the author’s fault. But thank you to Penguin Random House for the opportunity to review this ARC.

ISBN: 9781415210079. Penguin Fiction.

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BLOOD STONE – Irna van Zyl

Storm van der Merwe Series #3.

Blood StoneReviewing Irma van Zyl’s first in the Storm van der Merwe Series, I felt that with her feisty South African Police detective, the series would have huge potential. The stories continue to be gripping page-turners and the twists go on surprising.

Zipping between Cape Town, where her love-lorn ex-colleague, Andreas Moerdyk, also gets targeted by a really devious conspiracy involving a nasty gang-boss and a power-hungry mysterious pastor, Storm also flies to London when her own mother is nudged off the platform at Paddington Station and lies in hospital in a coma.

Mix in a humongously valuable diamond that has gone missing, and three major players in the fashion industry who are being murdered one by one, we have a really involved plot. Not to mention that both her boss/BFF and her boss/biological father are both inexplicably keeping her at arms’ length.

Irna van Zyl

Irna van Zyl – thriller author

Herein lies the rub. For my money it is just too complicated and winds up being a bit short on conviction. Which is not to say that this was not a fast tense read, however, and there will be a growing van Zyl fan base who will love it.

ISBN 9781485904250.

Thank you to Penguin Random House, SA for this ARC; a Penguin Fiction imprint.

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Tribes - eBookWhen you open one of Peter J. Earle’s novels, get ready to be swept up in a panoramic tour of South Africa after apartheid and Mandela.

This is the author’s home country and he captures it with an unblinking eye that takes in the land’s physical beauty as well as the squalor and decay of its cities and suburbs and the predators who roam its streets.

That’s the compelling backdrop of Earle’s latest book, TRIBES OF HILLBROW, which is equal parts a thriller, a mystery, a quest and a flashback to the bloody, post-colonial warfare of the mid-1960s in the Congo, where legendary mercenaries such as Mad Mike Hoare battled marauding Simbas eager to avenge a century of cruel Belgian rule.

Earle serves up this exotic mixture with a masterful hand, skillfully shifting between the quest of Megan Cameron, a young British woman searching for a grandfather she never knew she had, and Jake Malan, a stubborn and elderly South African pensioner and ex-merc who fought in those savage Congo wars.

Malan, diagnosed with cancer he assumes to be fatal, is bent on avenging the death of his best friend and next-door neighbor, Taffy. Malan found him dead at the head of the stairwell of his ransacked home shortly after a gang of Nigerian property hijackers started threatening him.

Soon, the Nigerians, based in a lawless section of Johannesburg known as Hillbrow, start to threaten him and a black woman and her two sons who have moved into the neighborhood. They have befriended Malan, who is surprised at how much affection he has for them.

This is a subtle point that Earle makes throughout the book — the struggle isn’t between black and white, it’s between good and evil. And in that sense, Earle’s story harkens an old Western tale of townsfolk setting aside their differences to battle the gun hands of a greedy cattle baron.

As is the case with all of Earle’s books, TRIBES OF HILLBROW takes you to a place you’ve never been, contains a great tale crackling with action shot through with empathy and introduces you to realistic characters struggling to live the life they’ve been dealt as best they can.


WJS_0349JIM NESBITT is the author of the series of hardboiled thrillers featuring P.I.  Ed Earl Burch.


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DEBBI MACK & MARIA PEASE – Their Sam Thrillers.

Two thriller authors – World Women’s Day, so I can’t say Authoresses – both with their Sam protagonists (protagonistas? heroines), both legal thrillers, or at least, of their Sams, one is a paralegal and the other a lawyer.

I am not comparing them; I just happened to be struck by their similarities (should that be Samilarities?) and by the fact that I got these e-copies both off  PROLIFIC WORKS for FREE at the same time. Worthwhile indie authors on this platform deserve all the reviews they can get, so when the mainline publishers that supply BOOK POSTMORTEM CRIME FICTION REVIEWS with ARCs dries up, I like to select from this handy source. And do my bit to give a little exposure to those often unrecognised writer bees.

LEAST WANTED –  Debbi Mack

Sam McRae Mystery #2:

Maryland lawyer, Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae has to deal with two separate clients, both accused of murder. As she tries to get a handle on defending them, she finds that not only may the truth set them free, the cases may be linked.

And the closer she gets to that truth, the closer a killer stalks behind her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mature writer’s LEAST WANTED, #2 in the SAM McRAE series.



Readable and exciting; Maria Murdock Pease is a master at raising the heartbeat and quickening the breath with superb chapter-end suspense. Whether to risk cardiac arrest and read on, or not, is a difficult decision for timid readers.

The protagonist’s occupation as snoopy paralegal is not entirely convincing, but I could not help but enjoy the brash red-blooded Sam Parker. I despaired for two big-brother-type male friends whose cautionary advice she keeps ignoring, to her potential peril. Thus her impetuous actions thrust her into the sights of really bad-ass people, and of course therein lie the thrills.


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LOST – James O. Born & James Patterson

LOSTAuthor James O. Born is going from strength to strength as I detect less James Patterson oversight in this exciting thriller.

It concerns an empathetic senior Miami detective, Tom Moon, who is seconded to lead an FBI task force tackling international crime. We warm to him as he deals with his ailing mother’s Alzheimer’s condition and young sister’s hard-partying disposition while fielding six trafficked kids in his care. He personally escorts them back to Holland from whence they were trafficked after the capture of their guide at Miami Airport.

In Amsterdam, his liaison contact is Marie Meijer, whom he grows to respect for her professionalism. A spark grows between them as they piece together clues which link two Russian crime syndicate brothers in both of their cities and the shape of the horrendous child enslavement network becomes apparent.

James O Born

James O. Born – author

My only criticism as to the plot is that “word on the street” more than once conveniently provides clues as to impending shipments of slave supplies heading to Miami without any convincing detail as to how this information is obtained.

Otherwise, it was a satisfactory read around the 4 star mark.

Thank you to Penguin Random House, SA, for this Century Imprint ARC. ISBN 9781780899534


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