In a particularly poignant touch, all round good guy and saver of the world Alex Morgan shows an unsurprising side in RANGER with his care and concernIn a particularly poignant touch, all round good guy and saver of the world Alex Morgan shows an unsurprising side in RANGER with his care and concern for a returned vet who needs help.
This novella sees Morgan returning from rescue duties, to be immediately redirected to the US where returned vet and friend, John Nash has asked for his help. Without hesitating Morgan dives into the task without the normal INTREPID backing, and in the full understanding that his old army buddy might be struggling, but he will have a compelling story to tell.
It's interesting how much action has been combined into a novella, that is full of compassion and understanding as well. There's a message here about the way that returned vets are treated, as well as one about power and influence. Fast paced, as you'd expect, full of action and suspense, that's not the point of RANGER and it doesn't overwhelm. This is an exposé on the treatment of returning vets, and an equally important dig at the mindless, trash-culture obsession of modern day society. And it works really well on all levels.
Allen has always had a compelling and realistic action hero in Alex Morgan. In this novella he's added a level of compassion and support to the already very human character that he's created, and he's doing that for some very good reasons.
In 2015 Author Chris Allen was appointed the inaugural ambassador for the charity Veterans Off the Streets Australia (VOTSA). A not for profit organisation and charity, reliant on donations from the public, business and industry to facilitate their work in assisting veterans and ex-service personnel in finding crisis, temporary and permanent accommodation; to actively find and assist families who are looking for accommodation related assistance; and provide a concierge service for related areas to at risk personnel and their families. RANGER features a homeless, forsaken war hero as a way of highlighting the real situation that VOTSA and their associated groups worldwide are attempting to resolve. Donation links are included at the end of the book:
It is particularly gratifying to see a recent increase in historical crime fiction with capable and independent female central characters, with good wIt is particularly gratifying to see a recent increase in historical crime fiction with capable and independent female central characters, with good working relationships with the men who support them. Not only does this give authors the opportunity to expand on the period in which they are setting their books, it's also providing an increasing glimpse into the ridiculous limitations and restrictions placed on women in the past.
In TAKEN AT NIGHT, author Christa A. Ludlow has a central protagonist who is working as a photographer in 1900's Sydney. A difficult time to start a new business because of the increasing worry of bubonic plague, and a difficult time for women in general in the never-ending struggle for firstly equal rights, and then recognition for their work and professionalism. Paired with Detective Fergus Blair, Spencer finds herself drawn into the investigation of a passenger gone missing from a quarantined ship, whilst simultaneously pondering the efforts of another photographer who seems to be lurking amongst the children of the slums of Sydney.
The historical aspects of this novel are absolutely fascinating. The difference between current day The Rocks in Sydney and what it was in the 1900's is described well, with a real sense of the deprivation and desperation in the area. Because the central character of Spencer is a woman attempting to make her own way in business, connected to but not necessarily involved with the Suffragette cause, the politics is overt and the author's viewpoint on the position of women in that time obvious (understandably). Having said that, there's a tendency sometimes to hammer that point home a little too much, losing the momentum of the investigative / crime elements along the way.
The pairing of Spencer and Blair fits well, is unforced and seems to be preparing the basis for a good investigative team. Whilst there's nothing known about a potential followup, there's enough in TAKEN AT NIGHT, to think they both deserve another outing.
There is so much to like about the Café La Femme series (of which THE BLACKMAIL BLEND is #1.5), that a novella drizzled into the middle of existing noThere is so much to like about the Café La Femme series (of which THE BLACKMAIL BLEND is #1.5), that a novella drizzled into the middle of existing novels, A TRIFLE DEAD and DROWNED VANILLA is a lovely treat - dare one suggest the icing on the cake? It seems that there is a third book in the series KEEP CALM & KILL THE CHEF on it's way now as well.
For those that haven't come across these books before they are funny, clever and charming cosies with recipes, vintage clothes, spendidly elaborate friends, cafe society and a hefty dose of romance, love, lust and murder, set in Hobart Tasmania.
In THE BLACKMAIL BLEND add to that a marvellously unpleasant romance writer who is not above a lot of nasty behaviour with adoring fans and accolytes into the bargain, and the absolute CHEEK of somebody attempting to use an event at Tabitha Darling's cafe as the setting for a little revenge, and you're suddenly knee deep in cupcakes and possible suspects.
Even allowing for the novella length, this is a rapid paced read as the high-fun and high-jinks will have readers enthralled from the start. Beautifully balanced between the ancillary (recipes / clothes / friends / lust and love) and the point (murder / revenge / worthy victims), the whole series is a bit of a masterclass in the art of unforced entertainment. Of course you're going to have to be a fan of something that's just that little bit over-the-top, slightly tongue in cheek and oh so slightly silly for them to totally work. But once you're hooked, even fans of the darker side might find themselves waiting impatiently for the next outing. You may also find yourself suddenly tempted to dust off the trifle bowl and ice-cream maker and try some of the included recipes.
The combination of science fiction and thriller works particularly well in THE CHIMERA VECTOR - an action packed, roller-coaster of a ride from localThe combination of science fiction and thriller works particularly well in THE CHIMERA VECTOR - an action packed, roller-coaster of a ride from local writer Nathan M. Farrugia.
Although action packed doesn't quite do justice to the level of no prisoner's taken, hard fought action and thrills and spills in this novel, combined with a set of really good, strong characters. The combination of the science fiction style elements with the covert ops thriller styling works seamlessly, creating real tension, threat and people to connect with.
For this reader, who doesn't always quite "get" science fiction, the combination of different types of humans coexisting, battling with power games, and those that use similar technology to try to control everything had a lot of obvious parallels to real life. The idea that the "science" here wasn't that far out there actually made the thriller aspects work particularly well, particularly the urgency of the battle between the "good" and "bad" guys.
Obviously those with more knowledge of this type of cross genre work would be able to provide comparisons to like works to give potential readers some hints, but for this none science fiction reader, who loves a good thriller nonetheless, THE CHIMERA VECTOR was really quite a surprise. The balance between plot and characters is spot on, the action unrelenting and the battle between good and bad believable and highly entertaining.