Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Terzetto File

The Terzetto File
Albert Samuel Tukker
Lulu Press
Raleigh, North Carolina
ISBN: 978-1-312-52619-8
Trade Paperback
364 pages
$ 14.00

"Half way down the ten mile driveway, Falcon's latest mission haunted him.  He knew he killed innocent people, a lot of innocent people and their deaths will be blamed on somebody else, just to stir up trouble so they could put somebody in their pocket in power.  It was cold-blooded and ruthless and he had been a part of it for a long time now."
This is the opening of The Terzetto File by Albert Samuel Tukker as he introduces his protagonist, Major Neil Falcon of the U.S. Army giving the reader background into this complicated character who is troubled by what has been required of him for years, both physically and emotionally. The upper echelon of brass is the military needs someone who can unquestionably follow orders, doing what needs to be done, someone who can clean-up the messes created by others.  Falcon frequently was that person. 
Army Major Neil Falcon is finally taking a well-deserved vacation when he receives a phone call about his leave being cancelled.  The Major's temporary assignment is to figure out what is killing people in the small community of White Sands and to stop it.  
A body has been discovered that was mutilated.   Quickly examining what was left of this human, Falcon realizes that this was not done by a wild animal, but something much worse.  What begins as a single body quickly becomes an attack on a community.  Who or what is killing these people?  Why?
Are the same people who want him to solve this problem telling him everything that he needs to know?
The Terzetto File is an action-packed adventure from Major Neil Falcon's perspective.  This book is for those who enjoy thriller/adventure novels even though it unquestionably is in the fantasy genre.  Although a little predictable at times, the story is intriguing story and the hero, Major Falcon is easily likable with depth as a character.
The underlying theme is both realistic while also considering authentic problems for many military veterans presently, as well as concern about life in this country along with the social evolution of our daily citizens.
Samuel Albert Tukker is the pen-name of a local author who received recent recognition for his novel Pole Shift which was considered to be the best science fiction of 2007 from for Literary Excellence and Rage which won 3rd Place in the 2009 Premier Book Awards.
It is not unusual anymore for authors to self-publish their books. The only problem with this is availability to readers.   Many also pay to have their books available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More authors are choosing not to do that but to go through other methods. 
For people in the Omaha area, The Terzetto File can be ordered through The Mystery Bookstore in Omaha.  This small bookstore is phenomenal in terms of service to the customer.  Also people can purchase this book through the author's website or through the publisher
Albert Samuel Tukker is an immensely gifted author.   Read his books.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat

Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat
A Conan Flagg Mystery
 M.K. Wren
Untreed Read Publishing
Originally published in 1973
Republished in 2013
$ 5.99
261 pages

In Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat, Elinor Jeffries is a well-respected older woman.  The word "classy" comes to mind in her physical description and demeanor.  She is not frivolous or extravagant.  Reliable and dignified is her code of life. She doesn't ask for help unless there is no other solution.
Conan Flagg owns the Holliday Beach Bookshop and Rental Library in this small Oregon resort town.   Being an ex-CIA operative allows him to appreciate his quiet life now, however, he does welcome opportunities to utilize his former investigative skills while now being an occasional private investigator.
When Elinor's husband is found dead, she visits Conan requesting his assistance with her husband's death.    As a married couple, U.S.N. Retired Captain Harold Jefferies and his wife were not extremely close.   However, Elinor is convinced that this was not an accident.
Elinor left her house that night for a bridge party.  When she last saw her husband, he was comfortably relaxed wearing his robe and reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. What would force this man to be dress, leave his book and walk along the beach to drown himself?  The Captain hated the beach.  What would cause him to change his plans?  Why would Harold kill himself?  Could anyone have killed him and make it look like suicide? 
Added to this, the local police look  no further than what appears to be obvious. Harold Jefferies drowned himself.
Conan agrees to look into the death and quickly finds himself overwhelmed and utilizing former contacts to assist him in this investigation.
Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat is a cozy mystery that is well-planned and logical.  The story takes place in the late 1960s or early 1970s reflected in  the telephone usages of the time period and the involvement of The Cold War and scientists defecting from Russia.  
The use of the cat, Meg in the story felt like an afterthought.  It wasn't a natural involvement with the cat until near the end of the novel.
M.K. Wren is the pen-name for Martha K. Renfroe.   This Texas-born Oregon writer is well-known for her mystery series featuring Conan Flagg and her science fiction trilogy, The Phoenix Legacy and her post-apocalyptic novel, A Gift Upon the Shore.
Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat is a different novel in terms of style from the usual ones written today.  The story is fairly simplistic but of value especially with life before the use of cell phones and the concerns of this time period.  This is light but enjoyable reading.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Claire North
Hachette Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 0316399620
$ 38.98
408 pages

Have you ever wished that if you could live your life again?  Would you have made different choices? Could or would you have reached your life's dreams?
Harry August is one of the rare people who can actually achieve this dream.  He is an Ouroban, one out of half a million who has the ability to remember his previous lives. For the rest of us, we constantly relive our lives, but our memories have been forgotten.
Once he has died, Harry discovers himself back in England again during the year of 1918.  Unfortunately his mother was just a servant girl who was impregnated by the aristocratic male of an estate.  Fortunately, he was adopted by a childless couple who worked on the property. So he was able to know both his biological and adoptive father.
Since Harry remembers his previous lives, he can make other choices to better his fate each time. Or does fate ever change? 
Fortunately for Harry there is an organization to assist the young who have this rare gift of remembering.  The Cronus Club helps those with this gift who need help financially as they are growing and need funds to further their education.
However, not all the members have the same values and beliefs as Harry.
Reminiscent of Groundhog Day" without Bill Murray, Harry keeps reliving events in his life while usually choosing to better his situation each time.  Imagine a teenager with the wisdom of a lifetime and the educated memories of his past life attempting to find his spot in the world. How can he ever be completely open with other people?
Recently it has been disclosed that the author Claire North is the pseudonym of British author, Catherine Webb.  She has written numerous novels under the name of Kate Griffin.  She felt that the character of Harry was so significant and different from her previous novels that the author needed to have a separate identity.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August excels in terms of character development as Harry learns from his previous mistakes and improves in each his lives, truly character evolution.  This makes the cycle not repetitive but a constant challenge and curiosity about his new choices.
The combination of time travel within the technological revolution during the twentieth century along with a lack of ethics makes this science fiction novel have a feel of realism.   The ethical issues along with the earlier introduction of technology with each life, creates authentic problems as well as touching upon the loyalties of friendships and changing fate.
Integrated into this unusual science fiction novel is the element of quantum physics within time travel and the possibility and consequences of a quantum mirror.   Could our technological advances eventually eliminate life?
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a thoughtful, reflective, and unusual novel that is not just for science fiction readers but for everyone who enjoys an innovative novel.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Itzak Perlman and Rohan De Silva

When a concert hall in nearly filled with people and every single person is silent, listening to the music being played by one violin and a piano you know the music is outstand With every breath also matches the phrasing, that is the experience of the audience at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha last Saturday with guest artist Itzak Perlman playing the violin and pianist Rohan de Silva.
As legendary musician, Vladamir Horowitz once stated, "It's the silence that matters, not the applause.  Anyone can have applause.  But the silence, before and during the performance, that is everything."   This unquestionably described the evening.
Although Perlman is an obvious headline performer, Rohan de Silva is a phenomenal musician of world class quality.  He has performed extensively and won the prestigious prize of Best Accompanist at the 1990 Ninth International Tchaikovsky Competition which was held in Moscow.   His style is immaculately clean and precise while combining all the elements of excellent musicianship.
People even stifled their coughs and shuffling until the music stopped.   What an unusual evening! The first part of the program was a duet playing Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in G Major for Violin and Piano, Opus 30 Number 3 and Sonata in E-Flat Major for Violin and Piano, Opus 18 by Strauss. These pieces were perfectly performed by these two outstanding musician.
The second part of the program consisted of Debussy's Sonata in G Minor for Violin and Piano, L. 140. These selections were wonderful with the violin part singing while conversing with the fluidly smooth piano playing.   (Rohan de Silva is extremely light on utilizing the sustaining pedal, but wonderfully expressive musically.)
All of these selections were true duets where the instruments conversed with each other matching in volume, difficulty, and musical interpretation. 
For the encores, the performance perspective shifted with Perlman as the performer and de Silva as the outstanding accompanist.    The encore selections were shorter selections that greatly varied in mood and temperament.  Unquestionably the favored  selection for the audience was "Hungarian Dance # 1" by Brahmns emphasizing the more melodic and minor tunes that are part of Perlman's identity.  This showy selection obviously thrilled the audience. The other selections consisted of Fritz Kreisler's "Tempo di Minuettoin the Style of (Gaetano) Paganini which is majestic, the beautifully mellow selection by Gabriel Faure "Apres un Reve" (After a Dream) which was arranged for the great Pablo Casals' and  transcribed for the violin, and ending in the fiery  "La Ronde Des Lutin (Dance of the Goblins)" by Antonio Bazzini.
The night with Itzek Perlman proved the master's brilliance with his violin as well as introducing this audience to the wonderful pianist, Rohan de Silva.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Serpent in the Thorns

Serpent in the Thorns
Jeri Westerson
Minotaur Books
New York, New York
October 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-64944-9
Trade paperback
$ 14.99
276 pages

Crispin Guest is not your typical resident of London during the year of 1384.  Having grown up in a life of privilege and even becoming a respected knight in service to the king.  
When Richard II came to the throne as a boy, many people questioned his right to the crown and whether someone else would be a better leader for the people.  Child kings do not possess the wisdom of their elders and the years of life experiences.  Crispin's mentor was one of those who could have claimed a right to the throne. 
Through scheming and aligning himself with the wrong people at the wrong time, Crispin found himself in the position of being a threat to the king.  Most of those with him were executed, but Guest's life was saved by the young king only through the intervention of his former mentor.
Now Crispin is stripped of all his possessions and title by the king and forced to begin a new life.
With no family or friends that will help him in any way, Crispin became the Tracker. 
For a fee, he will agree to track down the truth by investigating a crime and present the evidence to the Sheriffs who tend to solve crimes quickly, frequently punishing those who are closest to the victims.  The Tracker is a commoner with uncommon investigative skills. He attempts to right the wrongs through his connections with numerous people.
Grayce arrives at Crispin's informing him that she has killed a man.   Naturally Crispin questions this young woman and quickly assesses that she has a limited mental capacity but she seemed truthful and concerned.   Grayce wants the Tracker to discover how she killed this man.  Crispin arrives at her place where he quickly discovers a dead French courier and a box with a crown of thorns inside it.   To Grayce the only logical explanation would be that she killed the man. Crispin realizes that if he does not help, Grayce will be hung as a murderer.
Crispin quickly discovers that there were three French couriers from the French king who was willing to share a treasured religious relic as a peace offering. How can Crispin possibly save her from confessing to the Sheriff and being hung?
Serpent in the Thorns is a fast-paced adventure into life in London both at the castle  and among the commoners in town during the Middle Ages. Jeri Westerson again has written an outstanding mystery encapsulating the past into a logical and readable story.  Her descriptions are so vivid that besides visualizing the scenes and events, you can also smell the scents of London. She also separates the fiction from the actual people with her author's notes at the conclusion of this novel and a quick glossary for terms that are not in general use today.
Jeri Westerson is a masterful writer of this time period with her novels featuring Crispin Guest.  This is the second book in this series.   As I have read these books out of order, the characters are believable and realistic in each without needing information from the previous adventures.   Currently, there are five books in this series: Veil of Lies, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, Blood Lance, and Shadow of the Alchemist. Jeri Westerson's marvelous Crispin Guest adventures.