Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Our Latest Recommendation

We're offering something a little different this month. Rather than our usual fare of undiscovered authors who deserve to be read, we've selected an old hand who deserves to be remembered. To be honest, as Bill searched the Web for a newly published book calling out to be read, he just didn't find it.

Instead he came across Robert Daley's The Enemy of God, first published in 2006 and recently out as an ebook. If you don't know Daley, he's mainly written about the New York Police Department, most notably in Prince of the City, a non-fiction work about police corruption upon which a popular movie was based.

In reviewing The Enemy of God, we have exchanged the freshness of a new novelist for the highly developed craft of an older one. It's also $.95 more than our usual criteria, but we think it's worth it.

Scroll down to read this and other recent reviews, and see previous recommendations on the right side of this page. Click on the appropriate month in the Blog Archive to navigate to the review.

Please help us spread the word about these books by becoming a blog "follower" and linking our blog to yours. The more activity we have, the more readers will find and enjoy these outstanding books. And for the record, no books we work on as editors are listed on the blog.

Happy reading!

Monster Story

By McCarty Griffin
$4.99 on

Monster Story is a modern-day werewolf story. Please don’t stop reading now if you are not a horror, supernatural or science fiction fan. I’m not either, but author McCarty Griffin sent an email to our blog, and asked if we would review Monster Story.

Out of courtesy only, I started reading the sample at, and before I realized what had happened, I was intrigued by the story and impressed with the author’s character development. In fact, I was a number of pages into the book before I realized that I was actually reading what the title says it is—a monster story.

Even when unspeakable murders start occurring in their midst, the main characters are believably normal. Their thought processes are credible as they arrive at the unbelievable conclusion that only a werewolf could be responsible for the gruesomeness of the deaths.

The story takes place in Appalachia, and Griffin does a good job of describing the area. She also has a touch that enables her to give the reader a sense of the hillbilly personalities of some of the auxiliary characters without being offensive.

Unlike many books of this genre, Griffin doesn’t rely on hysteria or a mob frenzy to make the story work; she relies instead on her storytelling ability.

Christy McCauley moved to South Carolina 10 years earlier to get away from West Virginia, where she grew up. At the beginning of the story, she gets a call from her father that her grandmother has died, she and heads back to Appalachia for the funeral. In her will, Christy’s grandmother leaves her granddaughter her cabin on 30 acres of woodlands, a tidy sum of cash and a $100,000 life insurance policy.

The cabin and the land in the woods are the last thing Christy thinks she wants, even though she loved staying there with her grandmother when she was growing up. But after her first night in the cabin, she realizes the draw it has for her.

Meanwhile, horrific murders are taking place around her.

In the end, a collaboration of Christy, her best guy friend from South Carolina who’s come to visit, her best friend Tess and Tess’s deputy sheriff-husband David, and Will Drummond with the Department of Natural Resources figure out who/what’s doing the killing and put an end to it.

But reading how they get to that point is the best part—whether you think you like monster stories or not.

Click here to link to Monster Story.

Davilynn Furlow

The Friendship of Mortals

By Audrey Driscoll
$4.95 at

Herbert West is as ambitious and narcissistic as any character you’re ever likely to meet in literature. His compulsion is not treasure or glory but a seemingly impossible intellectual challenge.

Herbert West wants to find the way to restore human life to those who have lost it.

As an ambitious narcissist, West cares not at all for the wellbeing of those he would restore to life. A suitable corpse is merely raw material for his experimentation. He’s not even interested in interviewing a revivified person about the experience of dying or whether there is an afterlife. The brilliant West leaves those questions to his Dr. Watson, librarian Charles Milburn.

West and Milburn meet near the start of World War I while West, the son of an undertaker-turned-business-magnate, is a medical student at Miskatonic University in Massachusetts, where Milburn works as a library cataloguer. From their first meeting, West claims a mesmerizing hold on Milburn, who quickly becomes his, sometimes reluctant, acolyte.

In The Friendship of Mortals, Audrey Driscoll quickly moves beyond the scientific problems of restoring life to the departed so she can focus on the ethical minefield she has seeded for poor Charles Milburn. If the notion of bringing the dead back to life for the purpose of experimentation weren’t enough to keep a fellow awake at night, Driscoll adds the complicating factor of Alma Halsey, a fellow librarian and daughter of the med school dean, who doesn’t trust West as far as she can throw a coffin.

Now a physician with a growing reputation as a surgeon, West surprisingly volunteers to serve with the Canadian army in Europe. By the end of his tour, he has essentially created the specialty of cosmetic surgery and returns to Miskatonic to set up shop.

Still untroubled by the ethical or legal ramifications of his ghoulish experiments, when West eventually finds himself under attack and boxed in by jealous and vindictive colleagues, he again turns to his trusted friend Charles to help execute a high-risk escape.

Although The Friendship of Mortals lives on the edge of important ethical questions, in reality only the enamored Charles could fail to see that what his amoral friend is doing is wrong. Then again, if literary protagonists had good sense, there would be very few novels.

The Friendship of Mortals is a rewarding read, not the least because of the bonds that exists among its three leading characters. According to Audrey Driscoll’s Website, this is the first in a trilogy of Herbert West novels. The other two are outlined on her site, but apparently they’re not yet written, or at least not published.

Driscoll is a skilled writer who, like Charles Milburn, was a library cataloguer. I don’t doubt she can pull of the series and develop a sizable following.

Click here to link to The Friendship of Mortals.

Bill Furlow

Kings of Providence

By S.D. Livingston
$3.99 at

With Kings of Providence, S.D. Livingston has written a successful modern-day thriller.

Protagonist Paul Hewitt isn’t a former Navy SEAL or Marine or CIA operative. He’s an ordinary family man. He’s young and successful and wants to stay on top at his Manhattan investment firm, which means working nights and weekends and staying in favor with the boss.

The downside is that he doesn’t spend as much time with his wife and five-year-old son as he might. But there will always be time later—or so he rationalizes.

One morning, as he’s on his way to an important client meeting at headquarters, a colleague tells him an aunt had just been killed in the collapse of a building in Hong Kong.

Later that day he gets an angry voice mail from a client he had steered toward investing in an office complex in Rio de Janeiro—one of the buildings collapsed.

The following week a building collapses in Manhattan. The cause, first believed to be a terrorist attack, remains unresolved over several weeks.

Then another of Paul’s clients calls about huge repair bills for one of his investment properties in Houston. The foundation of the building appears to be faulty.

When Paul’s wife and a colleague separately wonder if there’s a connection between the building collapses, Paul begins doing a little computer research. Turns out that for more than 20 years, with increasing frequency, buildings around the world of all kinds--high-rises, schools, apartments—have collapsed, and a number of sinkholes have swallowed others.

What the heck is going on here? Before Paul can begin to figure it out, a subway tunnel collapse affects him directly and tragically, and his life is turned upside down.

After a month away from work, Paul cannot focus on his job because he’s become obsessed with the building and subway collapses. Why did they fail, and are the failures linked?

When he calls the police and various city departments for information, all he gets is the runaround and the word that the federal government has taken over the investigation.

Paul approaches Julian Wolfe, the author of an article he found online. Wolfe, a geology graduate and teaching assistant at a local college, at first is skeptical of Paul’s theories. But as he looks into them deeper, he becomes a convert to Paul’s way of thinking.

Kings of Providence has been a good read to this point, but now the action really picks up, and the book becomes almost un-put-down-able.

Paul and Julian go to extraordinary lengths to prove their theory of what’s bringing down the buildings. And they learn that those they always thought were the good guys watching out for the well-being of citizens are in reality bad guys who will go to any lengths to keep them quiet.

Anyone who picks up this book has a good read in store.

Click here to link to Kings of Providence.

Davilynn Furlow