Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Review: Kill All Cats by Rick Bylina

Either you’re a cat person or not one. Me? I can take them or leave them.  Some cats have endeared my heart. Mysty, my daughter’s pet, was a feline that I truly liked.  Her latest additions to the furry collection, Pumpkin and Pizzelle, are okie-dokie as cats go. But you won’t catch me in any line at a free cat giveaway. Despite my nonchalant attitude to the cats of the world, Rick Bylina’s newest book, Kill All Cats, grabbed my attention. I had envisioned this epic to be something like a mass killing of cats all given spiked catnip with promises of a better life in the cat-hereafter. Or maybe a serial cat killer, taking them out one by one, while keeping souvenirs of their pretty little collars with bells and rhinestone studs. But it was none of those.

Ron Black is your average Joe working a night job, sleeping days, and trying to earn a college degree somewhere in-between.  But things suddenly go south when he learns someone has murdered one of his neighbors along with her hoard of cats.  The police zero in on him as a prime suspect because of his past dealings with her and her feline entourage.  The cast of this tale in varied, quirky, and fascinating.  Among some of the notables are Ford and Truck Copley, two woodsy guys a few houses down; Arnold Sanders, a crusty old butcher; Digby, the pharmacist, and his wife; Dawn and Douglas Dietz, newlyweds; Jean, a quirky, almost girlfriend; Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice, bowling buddies; Kirk, his great-uncle and scientist; and many more. This is a big cast, but I promise you will know them all intimately before the book’s end.

One more character needs to be mentioned—Brisbane, Ron Black’s cockatiel, side-kick, muse, and soulmate. The world of fictional sleuthing duos have given us Sherlock Holmes & John Watson, Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin, Hercule Poirot & Arthur Hastings, Frank and Joe Hardy, and now a new twosome has been added--Ron Black and Brisbane.

The book is laced with Rick Bylina’s style of humor and has more twists than a crooked tail cat.  He weaves a story of murder and betrayal, a mystery that will keep you guessing, a story filled with surprises and suspense.  For any mystery reader, I highly recommend Kill All Cats.

I give this book a hearty 5 stars.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Review of Windwood Farm by Rebecca Patrick-Howard

While my personal taste in reading is all over the place, I gravitate to mysteries and especially ones involving the paranormal. My past experience has been not all advertised paranormal mysteries fit the bill; however, the book I write about today is a home run. 

Windwood Farm by Rebecca Patrick-Howard is right on target in the realm of paranormal mysteries.  It draws together all the necessary elements. A moody protagonist. A spooky setting. Ghosts. Murder. Conflicting background. Escalating suspense. An element of danger, including death. This book has it all.

The writing first drew me into the story. Ms. Patrick-Howard takes her time and builds the story slowly and carefully, painting vivid scenes with sights, sounds, and smells. This is the stuff that old Edgar Allan Poe did and the author carries on the tradition.

The story revolves around Taryn, a young woman, whose profession is painting historic buildings on commission, restoring them to what they may have looked like when they stood in all their glory. Windwood Farm stands as a crumbling structure, with parts missing, the rest standing but sadly neglected. Inside some things still remain just as if the owner would return and others are long gone. 

One bedroom, in particular, looks much as it did when its former occupant, a young woman who died under mysterious circumstances. Rumor has it if something is moved or disturbed upon returning the visitor will find things returned back to the way they were first found.

Add on top of  that, someone or something is out to get Taryn, possibly kill her. But I don’t want to spoil anything here. This a darn good paranormal mystery in every sense of the genre.  There were a few points I think could have been improved; that’s just from the writer in me.

I give this one 4 stars.


Reviewer Ron D. Voigts is the author of The Witch's Daughter, a paranormal mystery available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books and Champagne Books.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Book Review: The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen is one of those freebie books you get with a Prime membership on Amazon. Usually, I gravitate toward something more in the realm of mystery, suspense and paranormal, but this story grabbed me because of the premise.

The tale starts from the point-of-view of a young boy, I am guessing about five or so, living with his family in a basement.  This is the only world the child knows having been born and raised there. Immediately we realize the family is dysfunctional bordering on outright bizarre. Everyone, except for the boy, has scars from a fire that happened sometime before he was born; his sister, in fact, is reported to be so hideous that she wears a mask. So many other aspects of this family are revealed in the book’s first part that the reader is left wondering, how this all came about.

Part two of the story goes back to before the family lived in a basement, before the boy was born.  Even then the family is weird and disconnected within itself. I won’t give anything away here, but suffice it to say, the story seems more contrived in the second half.  While the first part is character driven and seen through the boy’s eyes, the next part is plot oriented with jumping from point-of-views. At times, I was not sure whose head I was seeing the world. 

The second half takes the reader on a journey of explanation how everything came about.  It paints a picture of the circumstances behind everything and how a family comes to live in a basement, carrying scars from a fire and emotional scars. Like sand shifting in the dessert, things change what the reader believes to be the final truth to something else. Only the story’s end reveals all and ties up loose ends.

I give the book a three-star rating. I liked the premise and how this story came about but felt the explanations lacked some believability.  Still if you start the reading and like what you see, you’ll find the read worthwhile. Check out The Light of the Fireflies at Amazon