Tudor Dawn (The Tudor Saga #1), by David Field

Eight stars

David Field begins a new series that is perfect for fans of the famed Tudor monarchy in England. In a tale that parallels historical record, Field is able to recount the life of the man who would become Henry VII, pulling on a great deal of history rarely touched by historians who seek to broadly present his accomplishments. Beginning in his youth, Henry was a sickly boy, but always determined to make the most of that which was placed before him. Son of Edmund Tudor (1st Earl of Richmond) and Margaret Beaufort provided a strong beginning in what would be an interesting early life. Watching his English homeland shaped by political and monarchical instability, Henry came of age during the War of the Roses, a collection of battles that would see England’s foundational base shift significantly and that would play a key role in Henry’s later life. Wrestling control away from a rival group seeking the throne, Henry’s ascendancy to power was helped along by a strong-willed uncle—Jasper—and determined mother, as Field effectively shows throughout. In his adulthood, Henry sought to leave an impact on history and in his own life, seeing allegiances shift throughout and never sure whom he can trust. However, the question of marriage loomed over him, forcing Henry to look for a partner, if only to assuage the worries of his family. His marriage to Elizabeth of York—daughter of Edward IV and niece to the rival Richard III—proved significant. With the English Throne in his sights, Henry did all he could to pave the way towards his own ascendancy and defeated Richard III on the battlefield to end the War of the Roses and secure the English Throne, thereafter becoming Henry VII, first of the Tudor monarchs. Ruling England, Henry sought political alliances to strengthen a still weak country, looking to the continent, where he worked to create marriage pacts for his children (something history will show proved fruitful with influence both on the Continent and in Scotland), especially his eldest son, Arthur, and Katherine of Aragon. While few could recount much of Henry’s early decisions as monarch, many will know how things progressed through his children’s lives. Field is prepared to offer five more novels to develop this exciting time in English history, which one can only hope will be as well developed as this opening piece. A powerful debut that will keep Tudor fans rushing to learn a little more about the era and its key characters. Recommended to those who enjoy the Tudors and especially the reader who wishes to learn as they are highly entertained.

David Field has a writing style that pulls the reader in from the opening pages. He seeks to mix the wonders of history with an easy to understand fictional account. His characters are quite relatable and seem to fit nicely into the historical goings-on. Henry, who serves as protagonist throughout, finds himself coming to terms with England’s ever-changing dynamic. He never sees himself as leadership material but steps up when the time comes to represent England effectively. Field does well to depict the evolution of his life from a sickly youth to a man whose world is shattered when his first son dies before ascending to the throne. There are a handful of key characters whose presence helps to develop this complex time in English history, especially during the Civil War that saw two rival Houses vie for control. The story stood out as strong, weaving history and fictional accounting of events together like many other Tudor writers I have read in the past. Field argues effectively in his note to readers that Henry VII has received so little discussion in the history books, and yet his life was full of many curious paths and tidbits that historical writers could have a field day (pardon the pun). While I admit that I sometimes struggled to make things stick in my mind, this is not from a lack of strong writing by Field or a disinterest in the topic at hand. Those who enjoy learning something will be able to use Field’s attention to detail while they open their mind to the birth of the Tudor Dynasty. A powerful piece that should not be missed, though surely not as breezy as his other series, set in the Victorian era.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for a great start to this series. I will keep my eyes open for the remaining five books, seeking to learn a little something to further my knowledge of all things Tudor.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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The Starling Project (Harold Middleton #3), by Jeffrey Deaver

Eight stars

After two novels created by a collaboration within the International Thriller Writers, Jeffrey Deaver has decided to continue the series with a creation all his own. In an Audible exclusive, this full-cast dramatisation pulls the reader back into the middle of the action and adventures of Harold Middleton. As leader of the Volunteers—a loose enforcement branch of the International Tribunal for Justice—Harold Middleton finds himself in rural Mexico. With his full team of Volunteers and some UN Peacekeepers, Middleton attempts to serve a search warrant on a known criminal kingpin, though things take a violent turn. Fleeing the region, Middleton has two massive hard drives and word that a Starling Project might be in the works. While teaching a course at Georgetown, Middleton is called to the scene of an odd bank robbery, where he and the Volunteers are trying to free a number of hostages. Things do not go as planned, but a few more Starling leads come to fruition. Discovering the project is actually a single person’s plot to manipulate massive sums of money, Middleton will have to act quickly if he wants to prevent massive disruptions and the possibility of future acts of violence. Working in the world of finance and accounting, Middleton and his Volunteers are out of their comfort zone, but spurred along by the need to protect millions—even billions—of innocent lives. Deaver does well in this interesting piece, which mixes the excitement of the Middleton series with an interesting dramatic effort. Recommended for those who loved The Chopin Manuscript and The Copper Bracelet.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two novels in this series, listening to them in their original audiobook format. It was only when I chose to re-read the first book for my reading challenge that I discovered that Deaver penned a third novel in this series, or at least an audio equivalent. Harold Middleton played a central role again, which keeps the reader attentive to pick up any scraps about his character. Rather than adding to his actual backstory, Deaver delves deeper into exploring the International Tribunal for Justice and how it works, including Middleton’s role. It is an intricate organisation and Middleton plays a major role in its forward momentum. Readers familiar with the protagonist and his ‘second job’ will enjoy learning a little more. Other characters emerge to play key roles in the story, though I could not find any repeat characters from the past two novels. Still, the banter and development of many sub-plots was stronger with this collection of characters. The story proves to be a unique experience for those not used to ‘full dramatisations’. Quite honestly, it was as though I were watching a movie with my eyes closed, with different voices for each character and no narration. I saw some people did not like this approach, but I found it interesting, even if it were a little confusing at times. Deaver does well putting together this story and delivers it in such a way that the reader cannot help but feel right there. I know it has been years since Deaver published any Middleton work, but I would gladly keep reading if he, or the ITW returned for another round of thrills and chills.

Kudos, Mr. Deaver, for this interesting approach to the Middleton series. There is so much going on here and I did feel an active part of the story.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Copper Bracelet (Harold Middleton #2), by Jeffrey Deaver (and fifteen others in the International Thriller Writers)

Eight stars

Under the auspices of a new form of writing project, the International Thriller Writers (ITW) worked to create a second audiobook story in this series with many top-name contributors. This book is again led by the opening and closing chapters by Jeffrey Deaver, along with many other members of the ITW group. Harold Middleton is front a centre for another adventure, hunting down terror suspects with NATO. After a shoot-out, Middleton discovers that one of the victims is sporting a copper bracelet with unique markings. Calling in some assistance from his close friends, Middleton discovers that bracelet has ties to a group with an interest in ‘heavy water’. As Middleton seeks to trace down the potential threat, he discovers that there is more to the story, including a mysterious Scorpion, a faceless leader with plans to bring major devastation in the near future. With a massive construction project in India turning heads around the world, there is speculation that Scorpion might strike. The project, already raising anger between India and Pakistan, could be the tipping point of a new regional war, centred in Kashmir. Middleton thrusts himself into the middle of it all, learning how disastrous things could get if Scorpion is not stopped, only to learn that there are others with invested interest in the terror plot, which could significantly disrupt the international balance of power. Another great collaborative effort that allows the reader to see many writing styles synthesised into a single novel. Recommended to those who like literary patchwork of this nature and fans of international mysteries.

I vaguely remember reading the first two books in this series, when they were newly released on Audible. I enjoy the premise of putting many authors together to carve out a decent story, offering them each a small piece of the pie. The story is strong and the constant character advancement provides the reader a definite treat as things progress, much like the series debut. Harold Middleton returns with more adventure and has shown that his amateur sleuthing, paired with some firepower, leaves him ready to tackle any international situation. Surrounding himself with a handful of returning characters, Middleton is able to work his way through the story, showing both his power and a personal vulnerability in the form of his family. The twists and turns cannot always be predicted, with so many authors in the mix. That said, there is surely succinct development within each chapter, as the author has only a short time before they hand it off to another. The story is a great collaborative effort for something of this size. The reader who can fathom the complexity of intertwining so many writing styles in a single piece will not be as judgmental with the final product. This effort is one that will have me turn to Jeffrey Deaver, who took on a solo effort to pen a third novel in this series.

Kudos, Mr. Deaver et al., for completing another of these unique writing assignments for readers to enjoy. I have always loved the challenge the ITW pushes on its members to work outside their comforts to appease the reading public. A brilliant idea properly executed.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, by Justice John Paul Stevens

Eight stars

Having read both of his other tomes, I thought I ought to complete the trifecta by giving this short piece by former Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Associate Justice John Paul Stevens a read through. Stevens explores the US Constitution and some of the cases that came before the Court during his tenure to propose six amendments to the document that would tighten loopholes that have arisen. In the opening portion of the book, Stevens offers the reader some well-grounded history on the US Constitution and its amending formula, as well as how the numerous amendments to the document came to fruition. While Stevens explains that changes are by no means easy (nor should they be), there are some essential elements that should be considered now, as the 21st century is in full swing. Stevens explores the power of federalism in the United States, where SCOTUS and Congress have repeatedly fallen to the limits of the Constitution during discussions of state sovereignty on certain issues of national importance. Poignantly, Stevens also dives head deep into the issue of political gerrymandering and how the Courts (and legislative bodies) use this form of election-getting to work in their favour, to the detriment of the party out of power. Hardline discussion about election financing and gun control—two issues that have become major thorns—receive succinct discussion and shows just how passionate Stevens is on the matter. Using case law and decisions of the Court, as well as some superbly placed history, Stevens drives home the point of the need for this six amendments, as well as offering actual wording that could be used to remedy the issue at hand. From the mind of a great Associate Justice comes the arguments that are both well founded and provoking. Recommended to those who love constitutional discussions, particularly the reader who has an interest in SCOTUS decisions.

It was almost by accident that I began my binge reading of John Paul Stevens and his work, when a friend on Goodreads recommended his recent judicial memoirs. I was hooked from the opening pages and devoured the book, following it up with the memoir around the five Chief Justices with whom Stevens had a relationship. Now, able to sink my teeth into this piece, I can see just how well-rounded Stevens remains, even off the bench. His arguments are sound and his delivery is such that the reader wants to learn a little more. Those who read all three books will see some of the same anecdotes, supporting one another on this long and tumultuous legal journey. I was impressed with how powerfully Stevens could be in a succinct manner. His knowledge and ability to ‘water down’ the discussion allows laypeople to engage and happily feel a sense of understanding when it comes to matters of constitutional amendments. Will any of these amendments see the light of day or become part of the US Constitution? There is no telling, though the impetus would have to be there, as well as a grounded Executive that does not try to Tweet-monger. So… maybe after 2020.

Kudos, Justice Stevens, for yet another impressive piece of work. I hope others trip upon the three books you have penned and realize how fortunate they would be to learn from you.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Chopin Manuscript (Harold Middleton #1), by Jeffrey Deaver, et al. [International Thriller Writers]

Eight stars

Under the auspices of a new form of writing project, the International Thriller Writers (ITW) worked to create an audiobook story with many top-name contributors. Led by the opening and closing chapters by Jeffrey Deaver, these ITW members created quite the story that mixes history, action, and a mystery that spans the globe. After working on international criminal tribunals in the Balkans, Harold Middleton is trying to make his way back to D.C. He’s stopped in Warsaw, but not because of the manuscript he has in his carryon. It would appear that a group with whom he was seen speaking died hours later. Middleton is baffled, but wonders if it might have something to do with the aforementioned manuscript. Middleton discovered this presumed lost Chopin piece while in Kosovo, but he is unsure of its authenticity. He wishes to look deeper, as it might be a Nazi relic used to communicate. When he is freed by Polish authorities and makes his way to Washington, another clash occurs and two policemen are left dead. Now, Middleton is sure that someone is seeking to find him and take possession of this manuscript, with nefarious intentions. He presumes it could be the infamous Faust, a man Middleton encountered while working in the Baltic region. When others close to Middleton are targeted, he can only presume that there is something within this Chopin manuscript that is more valuable than simply the notes, though he is still unsure what he has in his possession. He’ll need to act fast if he wants to protect those closest to him, as well as the larger population, from a madman’s plans. An interesting collaborative effort that allows the reader to see many writing styles bound together. Recommended to those who like collaborative efforts of this nature and fans of international mysteries.

I know I read this piece years ago, likely when it was newly released on Audible, but I could not remember much of it. With three instalments to the series, I thought I ought to return and read it, while also appending a review for others to see. The story is quite well developed and the constant character advancement leaves the reader fully involved in the process. Harold Middleton is quite the character, having been through a great deal over the years. He is not part of the formal police authorities, though his attention to detail and drive to solve the case gives the reader an interesting flavour for his sleuthing abilities, as seen through the eyes of fifteen authors. Others in the story work through some of the interesting thriller themes of the time (Balkan terrorism and fallout from the regional wars) and provide the reader with something interesting to enjoy. Succinct development within each chapter is essential before the author hands it off to another to further build on an aspect or leave it to wilt. The story was good for a collaborative effort of this size. The reader who can comprehend how hard it is to intertwine so many writing styles into a single piece will not be as judgmental with the final product. That said, the overall effort is one that has me rushing to get my hands on the sequel, written in the same style.

Kudos, Mr. Deaver et al., for completing this unique writing assignment and offering it up to readers. I have always loved the challenge the ITW pushes on its members to work outside their comforts to appease the reading public.

This book fulfils Topic #1: More Cow Bell in the Equinox #8 Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Layover, by David Bell

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, David Bell, and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Being an avid traveller and a great fan of thriller novels, I was sure that the latest David Bell story would pull me in and leave me wanting more. There are few as busy as Joshua Fields, who logs hundreds of thousands of miles in the air each year. With that type of lifestyle comes a great deal of time spent in airports. During one layover in Atlanta, Fields runs into a beautiful woman and they share a drink at an airport bar. With both of their flights soon to board, Fields and this mystery woman prepare to go their own ways, though a scintillating kiss has Fields wanting more. He rushes to find her and boards her plane to Nashville, only to be rebuffed. Unsure of what to do next, he tries to find out all about this Morgan Reynolds, only to discover that her friends have listed her as missing. It is then that some of the pieces fall into place for Fields, who wonders if Morgan is hiding from someone. Renting a car to find Morgan, Fields finds himself in a small Kentucky college town. Much is soon revealed and none of it is quite as it seems. The local police take an interest in Fields and tie-in a larger investigation to a missing businessman and a valuable item that is also nowhere to be found. Could Morgan Reynolds be a completely different woman from the one who shared a drink with Joshua Fields? This may be the kick in the pants that Fields needs to steer clear of others while between flights. An interesting thriller, though not as impactful as I would have liked. Perhaps a little turbulent, but not in a way that would have me tossing out recommendations at this time.

I enjoy newly discovered authors, particularly when they have a collection of books from which to choose. This was my first David Bell novel, an author who comes with many recommendations from those whose opinions I value greatly. Joshua Fields proves to be an interesting, if not somewhat flimsy, character. While he is master of the skies, he seems oddly drawn to a random woman and races to learn more about her. Perhaps I ought to have used this as a yardstick for how he would develop for the rest of the novel, as he thrives on naïveté and silly choices. Juggling his work life and this obsession, Fields seems to have turned himself into an amateur sleuth, while still making some silly choices. Contrast that with Morgan Reynolds, who is always one step ahead of everyone and whose actions have repercussions that few could have foreseen. While I was no more attached to her as a character, I suppose I valued her journey a little more. With a handful of other characters, including a detective who seeks to juggle work and home responsibilities, the story moved forward and came to some expected resolution. There was nothing inherently wrong with this piece, though I was hard pressed to find that spark that left me dying to flip the page or hope for another novel in the series. David Bell is capable at his craft, keeping the chapters short and the cliffhangers coming. I may have to try some of his other work, which has received many accolades, before making a final opinion of this author.

Kudos, Mr. Bell, for entertaining your readers. Like the title, this book is likely best read to kill some time while travelling this summer.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Trial by Fire (Joseph Antonelli #7), by D.W. Buffa

Seven stars

Just when you thought D.W. Buffa might have run out of ideas, he comes up with another stunner to keep the reader—and Joseph Antonelli—on their toes. Having basked in the limelight for many years, Joseph Antonelli is much pickier when it comes to the cases he will take. Instead, he is happy to stay in his corner office at the San Francisco law firm he calls home and watch the legal world spin on its head. When he is approached by one of the partners, asking him to appear on television, Antonelli is not quite sure that he’s game. However, when one of the firm’s clients owns a network with a top-rated legal talk show, one must sometimes accept the pressure. While on a panel discussing a current homicide trial, Antonelli meets Daphne McMillan, a lawyer in the D.A.’s office, and Julian Sinclair, a brilliant law professor whose knowledge of criminal proceedings is second to none. Sinclair comes off as quite docile, but there is a spark within him, so much so that Antonelli convinces him to join the firm. When Sinclair calls Antonelli one night, it is anything but a social call. He woke to find a murdered Daphne McMillan in his home. While they were having an affair, Sinclair denies that he was involved and requests Antonelli’s assistance. In whirlwind fashion, the trial is upon them, though media outlets have wasted little time passing judgment on Julian Sinclair. As Antonelli tries to put forth a defense and narrow in on the repulsive way Mrs. McMillan’s husband treats women, it all falls on deaf ears. Trial in the court of public opinion seems to be the only place justice is being heard. Angered by the farce, Antonelli works to find a new way to bring truth to the headline grabbers, though he will have to be conniving and convincing in equal measure. Buffa takes the legal thriller theme and expands it in this piece, which pushes Joseph Antonelli to his limits. Recommended for series fans who have enjoyed the collection to date, as well as readers who find unique thrillers to their liking.

I have enjoyed binge reading this series by D.W. Buffa, particularly as he uses his protagonist to push the envelop a little further than might normally be expected. These are a wonderfully complex set of novels that pit the protagonist against a legal world that has embittered him over the decades. Antonelli has become a celebrity in the legal world, which leads him to become more choosy with the cases he agrees to defend. Added to that, he comes to terms with the fact that no one wants to sit through a trial when there are talking heads who will dice and splice before delivering the verdict that everyone ought to accept. Antonelli wrestles with this throughout, though is able to use traditional lawyering to make sense of it all. Older and more job-focussed, the reader does not get the energetic lawyer that many have come to expect. Others make one-off appearances, even with Antonelli home in San Francisco. Some may have hoped for more of a homecoming theme, with recognizable names and characters, but that is surely not the case here. The story followed much of the same recipe as in past novels, but did not seem to come across as effective as in the past. The trial—usually a central focus—is almost a forced hurdle in the middle of the novel and there is little spark in the courtroom. I was disappointed with this, though one might expert that Buffa wanted to turn to other projects and needed an effective way to end Joseph Antonelli’s legal career. That being said, Joseph Antonelli does make a return (call it an eight book?) in Necessity, which returns the protagonist to his wonderful role as defense attorney. An interesting progression in the series, though I was not entirely convinced of its effectiveness. I would recommend readers begin at the start of this series and not use this novel as a litmus test for others.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for keeping Joseph Antonelli fresh and exciting, though perhaps it is time that he hang up his wing-tips.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Last Act (Last Act #1), by Brad Parks

Eight stars

After thoroughly enjoying my first venture into the world of Brad Parks—a prequel short story—I thought I would take a dive into the complementing full-length novel. For fans who remember how The Whistleblower ended, this is a wonderful means of continuing to discover more about the life and choices of Mitch Dupree. With Dupree locked away, the Mexican cartel he sought to uncover wants his head, but he was smart enough to hide away some key documents in an undisclosed location. The Feds want access and will use this to bring down the largest distributor of crystal meth in the United States. To do so, they turn to Tommy Jump, a musical theatre actor who has been down on his luck. Asking him to perform in his most daring role yet, Jump will have to go undercover and befriend Mitch Dupree, learning where the documents are being stored. However, this is easier said than done, even for a man who prides himself on being able to handle any role. Life in prison, even minimum security, is nothing like he expected. The large payout will help his pregnant fiancée, but will it be enough. Using a pseudonym, Jump enters the prison system and tries to nonchalantly get closer to Dupree. The Feds are on the outside, willing to help, but so is the cartel. They have approached Dupree’s wife and made their own threats, making the cache of documents all the more important. With Jump wanting to get this acting job complete, he will do most anything to learn Dupree’s secret, but will it come at a price that costs him a curtain call? Parks does a masterful job of taking the reader inside the world of prisons, cartels, and continues the action surrounding a massive money laundering scheme. Recommended to those who love thrillers with a twist and the reader who may enjoy prison-based novels. While not essential, it helps to have read the prequel short story for the nuanced details.

I always enjoy finding new authors and Brad Parks is one that will remain on my radar. Both the short story and this novel are full of great detail and intriguing storytelling, keeping me hooked from the opening pages through to the impactful ending of this piece. Parks uses another soft-hearted character as a protagonist, this time with Tommy Jump. A struggling actor who is trying to make it in the cutthroat world, his fiancée pregnant with their first child, Jump will do most anything to advance himself. With a massive payout and the chance to help the Feds, Jump leaps at the chance to help. He must know his target, Mitch Dupree, but also pretend not to know anything about him. As the novel progresses, Jump learns the ins and outs of prison life, as well as the place Mitch Dupree has made for himself in short order. The reader is also able to learn a little more about Dupree, who is trying to get through this sentence for a crime he did not commit. He knows the truth and yet cannot prove anything. Wanting to blow the whistle, he does not yet have enough to ensure his family’s safety once and for all. This novel gives the reader more time to connect with him, even while he is not the main focus. The secondary characters do serve a great purpose and entertain as well as educate. Working the angles of prison life, the looming cartel, and trying to decipher the details of the financial crimes, the reader can use the strong collection of characters to weave their way through the story. The story was strong and left me feeling fully invested in the piece. I can only hope that there is more to come, both in this story, and with more Parks that I can enjoy. I see major awards and at least one full series into which I can sink my teeth. I hope others will follow my lead or fans of the author will look into this series.

Kudos, Mr. Parks, for a great continuation of this series. I am eager to get my hands on more of your writing!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Whistleblower: A Short Story (Last Act #0.5), by Brad Parks

Eight stars

Trying a new author, I thought I would venture in slowly with a short story. Brad Parks seems to have quite the accolades attached to his writing and so launching into a new series seems to be the way to go. Mitch Dupree is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, with a nice family and a fairly straightforward way of living. Hired to work in the Latin Division of the Union South Bank, he oversees many transactions every year. When a collection of Mexican transfers appear somewhat sketchy, he tries to alert his superior, but is only rebuffed. Further investigation makes it appear there could be cartel involvement and some money laundering, though no one else seems to notice or care. After doing his research, Dupree is prepared to blow the whistle on all of this, but begins to notice odd things happening around him. He prepares to go to the authorities as things heat up, though there is something he could not have expected waiting for him around the bend. An intriguing introduction to Parks and his writing, with this short story serving as a series prequel. Recommended to those who like a quick bang for their buck (no pun intended) and the reader who can handle a little financial thriller.

I enjoy finding new authors, especially when they have a collection of work from which to choose. Brad Parks is one such author, having won many awards for his writing. This new series looks to have a legal and financial angle to it, something that I know well and another area that remains foreign to me. Mitch Dupree is an interesting character and seems to want to do the right thing. In the world of banking, it is profit that drives the overall direction. But, must there not also be a degree of ethics? Here is where Dupree finds himself straddling two worlds. His determination to do the right thing can get him into more hot water than simply looking away. Dupree is sure to have some interesting follow-up in the first novel of the series and I am eager to see more of his character development. In a short story, it is more difficult to connect to non-protagonists, as was the case here. However, these secondary characters do serve a great purpose, fuelling an interesting story of financial intrigue and dubious laundering. Dupree’s character is complemented by these others and there are surely some great threads left untied, allowing storylines to continue into the novel. The story was strong, even with it being short, and left me wanting more. What will happen to Mitch Dupree and will the fallout from the end of the short story develop into a chance for vendetta and retribution?

Kudos, Mr. Parks, for a great start to a series. My initial introduction to your writing is surely positive and I cannot wait to continue.

This book fulfils Topic #5: Short is Not Bad of the Equinox #8 Book Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Breach of Trust (Joseph Antonelli #6), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

D.W. Buffa takes this series in an interesting direction with this piece, straddling past and present as Joseph Antonelli faces events from law school and a chilling trial that has the country watching. When Joseph Antonelli is invited to attend his law school reunion, he is skeptical, but accepts nonetheless. While a Harvard grad, the reunion takes place at a posh hotel in New York City, a town that has an ominous connection to Antonelli’s law school days. Back in 1965, Anna Malreaux fell from a hotel balcony and many wonder if a friend last seen with her, Jamison ‘Jimmy’ Scott Haviland, might have been responsible. However, Haviland has always said that he is innocent, as have many others. Antonelli is approached by Thomas Browning at the reunion to say that the Malreaux case has the District Attorney and a grand jury quite intrigued, with an indictment sure to come soon. As it happens, Browning is also the one who twisted Antonelli’s arm to attend these festivities, and is the current Vice-President of the United States. Many wonder if there are those within the Administration who want to bring this ghost out of the closet and somehow tie Browning to the mess. When an indictment comes and Haviland is fingered as the one who likely pushed Malreaux, Antonelli agrees to serve as his counsel, having made a name for himself in the legal world. With Browning offering strategy and parading him around Washington before the trial, Antonelli can only wonder if there is a motive here, ahead of the next presidential election. Faced with a sarcastic prosecutor and a judge who is anything but timely, Antonelli must help this law school friend while also swimming in memories of life at Harvard and how Browning was anything but inclusive at the time. With the world watching, Antonelli will have to try this case and hope the pressure is not too much, especially as he is across the country from all his supports. Buffa knows how to impress and uses this novel to explore yet another side of Joseph Antonelli for series fans. Recommended to patient series fans who know Buffa well and the reader who enjoys a legal thriller with complex plot lines.

My affinity for novels by D.W. Buffa continues as I binge read this series. It continues to be a wonderfully complex set of novels that pit the protagonist in the middle of legal and personal struggles at a time when his career is blossoming. Delving yet again into the world of electoral politics, the reader discovers new and dastardly angles that pull Joseph Antonelli in many directions. Away from all he knows in San Francisco, he is forced to revisit his youth and some of the drama that befell him that Christmas Eve in 1965. The reader is subjected to a great deal of flashbacks as it relates to Antonelli’s law school days and those with whom he surrounded himself. The politics of the day, though, is nothing like modern times, where a presidential election hangs in the balance. With a seemingly new and vivacious woman ready to warm his bed, Antonelli is forced to divide his time, while admit to himself that he is not as young as he might once have been. Sharp-witted, Antonelli is ready for anything and pours it all out on the courtroom floor, impressing jurors and jurists alike. Others make one-off appearances, as the story shifts to NYC, leaving Antonelli to reinvent himself. The plot is excellent and propels the story forward effectively, keeping the reader enthralled throughout and does not lose any of its impact as the narrative moves forward. An effective progression in the series that takes the reader on quite the ride. Buffa knows what he is doing without compromising in the least.

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for a fast-paced story that mixes past and present together, with an eerie political cloud looming overhead.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons