Dying for Justice

Dying for Justice, a mystery with romance overtones, copyright and written by Pauline Isaksen.

Plot/Characters: A prologue describes how sixteen-year-old Michael Bradley happened to kill the top candidate for the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer as he was hunting with Michael’s father on the Bradley’s spacious estate. He swears he shot at a deer, but no tracks could be found and he is charged with criminal negligence. Beautiful Julia Ainsworth did not follow her Nigerian born mother Elizabeth’s passion for art but studied law instead. Perhaps because Elizabeth apparently had little artistic talent other than recognizing it or more probably because Julia and her father became much closer after her mother’s death. Julia now is a lawyer in her father Jack’s prestigious London law firm. Unfortunately, he has become quite heavily involved in politics that is taking much of his time so he asks Julia to defend the boy as he is the son of his close friends Tom and Nicole. Julia, on visits with Tom and Nicole and then with Michael, uses a desktop device that contained a “Stress Detector Analysis Program” which “…was able to identify various types of stress levels, cognitive processes and emotional reactions.” The program is one suggested by Julia’s long-time friend Danny, who has a rather inexplicable relationship with various ‘dark’ groups. He suggests she consult with his good friend Chris, who is most knowledgeable in interpreting these programs, Chris is a former governmental operative now working in the private sector, handsome, recently divorced and the loving father of two very young children. He confirms her suspicion of Michael’s innocence, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion. Therefore, the boy enters a guilty plea which for several cogent reasons will reduce his sentence to a matter of little more than one and one half years of incarceration. She still cannot accept his confinement and continues her attempts to find an answer to the puzzling situation. As a number of most unusual clues emerge she comes closer to the truth, attempts are made on her life and her father urges her to leave the case alone. She continues, more clues are discovered, relationships are established, devastating revelations made and startling actions taken that provide an end result that many readers will not expect.

Discussion: The author has written an enjoyable first novel. The plot is interesting in the twists provided and the pace and verbalization good. There are a few features that could make the story a little more enjoyable, at least from this reader’s perspective. Most prominent was attempting to empathize with any of the characters. Danny and his relationship with members of the Ainsworth family had no explanation. Similarly that of Chris and his ex-wife, and both with Danny and the explosive reaction by Chris. Further, a loving relationship between Chris and Julia developed really only because it seemed reasonable; i.e. they were provided with little help and even Julia and some of her thought processes, reactions and emotions were marginal. Another basically disquieting feature is the description of the hunting incident – relationship of prologue as descried with respect to preparation, persons involved and the subsequent material – all are difficult to resolve for anyone who has hunted,

However to reiterate, the author has written an enjoyable book. The comments offered here simply are suggestions that this reader believes will provide more fully developed tales in the future.

3* 4* first endeavor; 3* as explained.

Rula, The Heist

RULA, The Heist ISBN: 9781976968525, copyright and written by Nicole Parris.

The story opens when a young woman checks out of a cheap hotel on the fourth day of a dismal rain in London. Apropos instructions she had been given, it was late in the evening when she hires a taxi to be taken to a remote location. Supposedly her activity was being undertaken in an effort to right numerous wrongs. On the way, her cab is struck purposely and repeatedly by a car she assumes contains someone wishing to steal the contents of a small metal box she had been instructed to guard with her life. It was a box that held centuries of secrets and codes of Rula – a strange, ancient game whose secrets had been retained for centuries by one noble Italian family and had impacted society through the years in often evil and unexpected ways. Another car attempts to cut in but quite literally explodes just before the three cars arrive at a bridge crossing a sizeable stream. The original attacking car precedes them onto and across the nearing bridge and on the other side shoots out the taxi’s tires to stop the car. The attacking car’s driver then shoots the driver, and moves to open the passenger door where “trapped alone in the back seat, a part of Abby died with him. She relaxed. This was how she imagined her life would end – on the side of a dark road, alone at the mercy of ‘them’.” From this initial activity the reader is taken on a complex journey that begins in 1980 when the heir to the noble Italian family decides to acquire five new players to participate again in the ancient game. One of the players engaged is a prominent, intelligent and cunning magician who has an agenda of his own in playing. The ensuing action then shifts constantly through multiple scenes in London and others here in the U.S. and involves the now twenty-year-older magician, his henchman, a beautiful, spoiled, rebellious, wealthy young woman wishing to make her own way as an investigative reporter, the small paper’s owner, a male co-worker, a new husband who is the best friend of a man who also serves in the same capacity with her, her dominant father and several other interesting individuals.

Discussion: First and foremost, the author has provided a well-written, fascinating plot with most empathetically presented characters in a story that should offer various degrees of appeal to devotees of mystery, suspense, romance, thriller, for those enjoying erotica and even a bit of paranormal interest. The plot is complex, the main characters all exhibit varying degrees of mental ‘quirks’, some from obvious past occurrences while others are discerned as arising from other unknown factors. Most of the rather copious descriptions of places and activity appear to be justified with the particularly descriptive erotic activity, although well-done, appearing to be somewhat overly presented in that the quantity does not add appreciatively to the story. Further from this reviewer’s perspective, although some confusion occurs occasionally, most is eliminated as one progresses through the book, so there is really only one problematic feature for certain prospective readers – those who do not like being forced to read a serial. This volume introduces the reader ONLY to the first part of a story that seemingly will be extended through several episodes.

3* 5* fascinating plot, empathetically characterized. 3* important caveat.