Voor Elise, Memories of the ‘Lo

Voor Elise, Memories of the ‘Lo ISBN: 9781457552632, first offered by Dog Ear Publishing, a memoire in e-book by Denise Keustermans and Henry Sienkiewicz.

This is a story “about seven children left orphaned after their parents’ deaths” and their struggles “to find their own paths, paths that went across borders and oceans.” And “They each found their own route without losing sight of one another.” The storyteller’s grandfather was “the eldest of the seven; Elizabeth (Elise) was the fifth in line” and the person around whom most of this story centers. It begins in the very small Belgium town of Kessel-Lo (‘Lo) in the early 1900’s with the hard life of the poorer families, progresses through the brutal effects of WW I and proceeds to her meeting an American soldier. It then follows her marriage and move to a small Texas farm where life not only is brutally hard but increasingly difficult in the extreme because of a dominant mother-in-law and a husband who drinks heavily and is having an affair. Her subsequent activity is presented in some detail along with her constant attempts to maintain contact with other family members, especially with her often responding brother Michael. Vignettes of the grandfather are included as are pieces about the other members of the family. An Epilogue provides bits about the story teller’s husband as well as her children, their activities and that of the grandchildren.

The memoire ends: “Rather than diminishing over the years and across the miles, our connections have deepened. Elise’s children have remained in contact with their cousins. Our ties to the ‘Lo have only deepened, and the families across the oceans are as one. In the words of Elise’s pastor, we have let peace and happiness rule our hearts and we are glad that we could call this lovely woman our mother.” This is followed by Authors’ Notes which for some undefined reason regrettably stop in mid-sentence.

3* 4*Depressing but poignant for readers appreciating mitigating effect of familial ties on hardships.

Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices, An Isaac Blaze Thriller, e-book written/published by Axel Cruise.

Plot: The story opens with Isaac handcuffed to a table after being captured by a group dressed as Federal officers, none of whom display badges however. He believed they were the same persons he has eluded in Rome, Amsterdam, Moscow, and Las Vegas only to be caught here in Cairo, IL. The interrogation is begun by rather well-dressed, multiple doctorate degree recipient from MIT Adrian Hays who establishes the fact that Isaac has an intellect of true genius proportions by asking mathematical questions, and having associate Peter verify immediately by computer. Parenthetically, his knowledge extends beyond the usual range of subjects/conditions permitting him to be highly resourceful and extremely capable physically as well. He even exudes an amount of charisma. As Hays points out, Isaac unfortunately, rather than being a boon to society is “A man whose file implicates him in over three hundred felonies. And a man whose file concludes is unpredictable, unreasonable, and without any clear set of principles, intentions, motivations, beliefs, moralities or allegiances, which, in combination with his high intellect and proclivity toward provocation, means he must not be engaged lightly and must be considered dangerous at all times.” Parenthetically he also is accompanied constantly by the female and male voices within his head with whom he constantly converses, especially with respect to decision making. Hays is interrupted when Isabella, a lovely woman with disturbingly penetrating blue eyes enters the interrogation room. After killing all personnel occupying the relatively sparsely populated building, she has entered with one of the persons prominent in Isaac’s detention whom she has pistol whipped and then kills after saying she had “instructions to make this hurt”. She then kills Peter and asks Hays a question. He replies with the one word “Shanghai” after which she kills him as well. Isaac recognizes her as one of “Harriet Granger’s extremely well trained girls, they converse, and she departs leaving him at the table and chair to which he had been cuffed. He uses his unusual knowledge and expertise to escape. From this explosive introduction the reader is taken on a fast moving, convoluted journey where he meets a number of unusual people and fights various members of CIA’s highly secret and totally deniable Special Activities Division (SAD), high level politicians, governmental agents, agents of only partially explained organizations at varying levels and a rogue operation that had begun as a project initiated in 1945 in the aftermath of WW II. Its mission had been based on a student’s PhD thesis with respect to controlling the human mind beyond the changes suggested by hypnosis. The clandestine group proceeded to develop advanced investigative methods to discover whether human individuals could be controlled mentally and to what extent. The project got ‘out-of-hand’ and supposedly was abandoned, but a rogue group apparently had picked it up and continued with use of drastic measures and disastrous results. The often violent activity continues until ultimately the reader finds the meaning of the initials CT, MK-ULTRA and some others and is provided with an ending that almost cries for, and deserves, the next instalment in Isaac’s life.

Discussion/Conclusion: The story is convoluted, fill of minor mysteries, only some of which are solved, similarly mysterious characters about whom even a few more details would be beneficially enjoyable and a reader may vaguely sense that his/her more rational self is treading a fine line. However, generally speaking, the author has provided a well-written, rousing, high octane thriller that if read fast and with total concentration on the action, will provide a most enjoyable tale that will project you happily into the next volume.

4* Fascinating high octane thriller with minor flaws that will affect few readers.