Elections, Conventions, The Presidency, Congress, and Supreme Court Explained: The Quick and Dirty Guide to our Messy Democracy, by Chris Bartlett

Eight stars

Chris Bartlett offer this compendium of four electronic publications about key aspects of the US political and constitutional system. Primers in their own regard, this audiobook discusses key aspects of elections, the presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court, allowing the reader to better understand the system in which they live. Short and to the point, Bartlett offers the most poignant and relevant aspects of each of the branches of the US political system without getting bogged down in too much information. These four pieces pave the way to a better grasp of key concepts that are bandied about by media outlets. A great means of foundational education for anyone needing to appear a little more cognizant of the American political behemoth.

I admit that I noticed this book while scanning for something to pass the time before beginning a major reading project tomorrow. While I may have a background in politics, BartIett taught me a thing or two about the monstrosity that is the political system of my southern neighbour. The four concise volumes provide the reader with great knowledge about key aspects of the political and constitutional roots of the American system. Presented in as unbiased a manner as possible, Bartlett seems only to inject the odd bit of cynicism throughout. Offering some poignant examples to tie-in certain concepts, Bartlett gives the reader something about which to think as the prepare to delve into the world of US politics. Penned in the midst of the 2016 presidential election, many of the examples draw from this time period, before the final results were known. Well-researched and easy to digest, readers with limited background in American politics could walk away with as much information as they need to have a basic conversation about the mechanics of government.

Kudos, Mr. Bartlett, for this informative piece that helped pass some time and left me wanting to know a little more.

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

Throttle, by Joe Hill and Stephen King

Eight stars

Trying to fill a day-long gap before tackling a major reading project, I discovered two short stories about the issues of road rage. Having read the first—Richard Matheson’s Duel—I turned to this piece by father and son duo, Stephen King and Joe Hill. This piece is supposedly influenced by Matheson’s earlier work, packing just as much punch in a story about modern road rage. The spin makes it just as enjoyable, but equally unique. As an outlaw biker gang talks about a missed opportunity to score a pile of money when their meth lab explodes, they fail to notice a trucker sitting in his rig. By the time the trucker’s presence is noticed by the apparent leader of the rag-tag group, it’s time for the truck to hit the road. In a sort of panic, the bikers take it upon themselves to ensure their criminal ways are not discussed or reported to anyone. They take after the rig, in hopes of offering a lesson in permanent silence. However, this faceless driver is anything but docile, playing his own game with those on two wheels in a piece that pushes road rage to a new and bloody level. As the race is on, both sides seek to exert their own dominance, but there can only be one winner, as the Nevada highway stretches out before them. A great spin on the Matheson piece by these two stalwarts in the horror genre. Recommended to those who need a quick dose of King/Hill magic, as well as the reader who enjoyed Matheson’s piece (as I did) and wanted to see a modern reinterpretation.

I always love a good King story and his collaboration with his own son makes for an even better piece. I almost feel as though Richard Matheson deserves a shout out here, as though his initial creation of this road rage idea should not go unmentioned. King and Hill portray a modern version of the battle of the roads, where motorcycles have come to prove their own form of dominance. Offering the ‘War vet gone bad’ as the biker, the authors spin an interesting backstory of drugs and murder, as they seek to evade the law. When their past is overheard, they spring into action, trying to scrub out any witness (auditory in this case) to their crimes before seeking a new way to make some illegitimate cash. The race on the road becomes the central theme, though the reader will be just as surprised as the bikers about what awaits them. This is no Sunday afternoon drive! The authors pull Matheson’s clash off the page and inject more blood and horror, seeking to push the limits of the horror genre, while keeping things realistic. Strong character development and a well-paced narrative keep the reader on the edge of their seat as they flip pages, if only to see who will become the victor. I am pleased to have stumbled upon both the Matheson and King/Hill short stories, as they complement one another so well.

Kudos, Messrs. King and Hill, who built on a short story from long ago and made it their own. I enjoy your collaborative efforts and hope to stumble upon more when I need a fix!

Duel, by Richard Matheson

Eight stars

Looking for something to fill a day-long gap before tackling a major reading project, I discovered this short story, which is said to have influenced one by Stephen King and Joe Hill. Looking to contrast them, I thought I would begin with this short piece by Richard Matheson. In a story that explores early road rage, Matheson pens a tale that will keep the reader off the road and thoroughly tied to this piece until its climactic end. Mann seems to be minding his business as he travels towards San Francisco. When he passes a transport truck late one morning, he thinks nothing of it. However, as can occur on the open highway, Mann and the driver of the truck seem to engage in a subconscious game of passing one another to gain speed and reach their final destinations. Mann seems to see this truck as more than a fellow vehicle on the road, particularly when the driver makes some choices that could be seen as dangerous to both vehicles. Choosing to confront the driver at one point—as the truck seems to have pulled off at a diner—Mann tries, but misses his chance. He’s not quite done with the spat and needs to see it through. Putting rubber back on the road, Mann seeks to make his statement, even though his mode of transportation is much smaller. With the highway before him, Mann seeks to ensure this transport truck knows it cannot bully him, which only leads to more trouble for both vehicles involved. A great story that gets the blood pumping and has me thinking of all the highway driving I do for work. Recommended to those who love short stories with a twist, as well as those who might (like me) want to contrast this with the King/Hill piece.

I had never read any Richard Matheson before this story, though my reading group chose one of his standalone pieces to try this coming year. This was a wonderful introduction to him and all that he has to offer. By no means an expert—but surely a fan—I could see some King-esque themes in this piece (though I admit, Matheson penned this story first, so perhaps it is the other way around), which got my heart pumping as I sought to see what Mann would do. Mann seems like your typical guy who is trying to get from A to B without issue, but is perturbed when someone or something gets in his way. Perhaps early 1970s road rage, where the driver of a small vehicle seeks to puff out his chest against a massive transport truck. Mann does all he can to end the feud, but seems to forget the size difference as he loses focus of his intended destination. The story flew by and I found myself picturing these two vehicles playing a form of chicken with each other, as Matheson depicts their cumulative race to overcome the other. By the end, there is a form of resolution, though I am not sure it is what the reader would expect at first glance. Now that I have this foundational piece done, I will have to see how the King/Hill duo seek to spin it in their own version of pavement horror.

Kudos, Mr. Matheson, for a great piece to get my mind (and two vehicles) racing. I will be back for more short stories, as well as that full-length book!

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

Blindside (Michael Bennett #12), by James Patterson and James O. Born

Seven stars

A fan of the Michael Bennett series, I was pleased to get my hands on the latest novel, which exemplifies the collaborative efforts of James Patterson and James O. Born. In a story that does little for Bennett’s character development, but showcases his abilities, the authors provide the reader with a decent crime thriller set on both sides of the Atlantic. While working a double murder, Michael Bennett stops in at a local store, where things take a turn for the worse and he shoots two men attempting to mug him. While Bennett is sure it was a justified shooting, the public are not so sure. Bennett takes some time off, which allows him to enjoy a little family time, but that is cut short with Internal Affairs wants him to meet with the mayor. At this meeting the mayor asks for some help on a case that must remain off the books. The mayor’s daughter has been missing for weeks and Bennett is asked to find her, but tell no one of the job. As Natalie Lunden is deep into the world of computer hackers, Bennett starts there, finding himself following a few leads. When others with ties to Lunden turn up dead, Bennett is sure he is onto something and ends up in a firefight while trying to protect a close friend of Natalie’s. All this leads to an infamous hacker in Estonia, which will be an adventure in and of itself. With no financial support, Bennett will have to make the trip and work with some of the resources the NYPD and FBI can provide there, though the latter wants him out of the country as soon as he arrives. While Bennett looks for Natalie in and around the capital, he encounters the ruthless killers from NYC, who will stop at nothing from keeping Bennett from making his way back to America with the mayor’s daughter. Stretching himself as thin as he has ever been, Michael Bennett must remember who awaits him at home and how his safety is of paramount importance. A decent thriller in a series that may be showing signs of closure. Recommended to series fans who want to check in on Bennett, as well as those who enjoy crime thrillers that span the globe.

Some of James Patterson’s work tends to grate on my nerves because it lacks that hook that I like in my thrillers. However, he is usually able to work effectively with James O. Born to find a happy medium to his work. Michael Bennett has done much in his career, while supporting a massive family. He works well within the NYPD structure, though is always looking to challenge some of the authority and red tape that he finds useless. In this piece, Bennett is challenged at every turn and stays level-headed throughout, while juggling a personal life that has a fiancée looking to set a date. His resourcefulness is front and centre as he enters Estonia, seeking to find someone and leave, but things never end up being that easy. Others keep the story flowing well and the reader can enjoy a variety of personalities as they clash on the page. The story worked well, though I found it lacked the intensity I needed. Bennett’s mission was a locate and return, with little mystery involved. The early search on US soil seemed to lack something as Bennett bounced around from one person to the next, all before landing the big lead. Perhaps I am cynical or used to something a little more action-packed, but I will return to see if Michael Bennett and his brood have more to offer.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Born, for a decent addition to the series. Eager to see what’s to come for Bennett and your collaborative efforts.

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

Deep Cover (Dan Morgan #8), by Leo Maloney

Eight stars

Always a fan when Leo Maloney adds to his Dan Morgan series, I rushed to get my hands on this piece. While Dan has been through many a mission with Zeta Group, the addition of his daughter, Alex, to the team has added new intrigue and depth to the stories. Posing as illegal arms dealers, Dan Morgan and his partner find themselves in Turkey. They flee the authorities for as long as possible, but allow themselves to be captured and tossed into jail, which is all part of the plan. While incarcerated, Dan must locate a Turkish-American scientist whose nuclear know-how could be beneficial to the Turks, particularly if they extract it through torture. While Dan seeks to infiltrate the deepest parts of the prison, Alex and her own partner are working on an extraction plan to ensure they can all leave the country with ease. Working in tandem as best they can, Dan and Alex locate the scientist and work to trick the Turks, while not toppling the apple cart of international diplomacy. Dan has flashbacks to his last time in Turkey and one man who will surely remember his face. With time running out and plausible deniability, Dan must lead everyone out of the grasp of the Turkish authorities or face likely torture himself. A great novella to add to the series, which is as explosive as anything I have read lately. Recommended to those who like a fast-paced thriller to fill their time between larger reading projects, as well as the reader who enjoys Maloney and his Dan Morgan series.

It is nice to have an eclectic mix of authors and genres on which to pull when the reading bug bites. Leo Maloney has been able to keep me intrigued fro the start of the series, always finding new and exciting ways to keep the stories relevant and exciting in equal measure. Dan Morgan plays the central character in this story, though there is little backstory or development. Morgan uses his grit and determination, especially when placed in tough situations. Eager to work under the radar, Morgan serves Zeta Group effectively on its various missions. Other characters in the story prove helpful to push the story forward, particularly Alex Morgan, who is making a name for herself in the series. While the apple of her father’s eye, Alex is strong willed and seeks to carve out her own personality. Maloney does well to develop this series and keep readers interested, taking Zeta Group all over the world and placing the likes of Dan Morgan in unique situations. With short chapters and a narrative that never lose its momentum, this instalment of the series works well as readers await the next full-length piece that is sure to impress. Maloney keeps the plots fresh and the characters believable, allowing the reader to feel as though there is a dose of reality in what they are reading. I’ll be back for more and hope others will as well.

Kudos, Mr. Maloney, for a great addition to the series. This is sure to garner new fans whose curiosity has been piqued!

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

Beyond the Chocolate War (Chocolate War #2), by Robert Cormier

Nine stars

As the dust settles on a productive chocolate fundraiser at Trinity Boys’ School in Monument, Massachusetts, there is much still to be decided. The curious reader who enjoyed Robert Cormier’s first novel geared towards a teenage audience will surely want to take some time to read this sequel, set mere months after the fiasco of the ‘chocolate war’. As the students at Trinity remember the events of the fall fundraiser, Jerry Renault continues to suffer the after-effects of defying the school and its unspoken student gang, The Vigils. With Renault recuperating in Canada, Vigils leader, Archie Costello, has his sights set on more events to stir up some interest. His handful of new recruits seem eager to help however they can, eager to make their mark and impress those in positions of authority. While certain members of the Vigils remain committed to the cause, some have turned their attention to some personal interests, including girls. When a planned event to stick it to the school administration goes sideways, Archie is ready to dish out some needed revenge, but not before he discovers that some Vigils are taking things into their own hands and organizing raids to embarrass certain weaker links. With Archie poised to graduate, he will be handing the reins over to someone else, but must make the end of the school year highly memorable. With the re-emergence of Jerry Renault in town, he makes the bold decision that he will return to Trinity and face the aggressors who pushed him out. However, as with many of the other boys, he learns that Trinity and The Vigils serve only as impediments to his discovering his own self. As the novel reaches its crescendo, Cormier adds a few twists that are sure to sober up his cast of characters and entertain the reader immensely. A masterful return for Cormier, who let the sequel percolate a decade before he put it to paper. Recommended to those who enjoyed The Chocolate War, as well as the reader who enjoys pieces that resonate for long after the story ends.

For some reason, I have become quite the fan of Robert Cormier over the last week, having devour three of his novels in short order. While this and the original in the series have some strong ties to one another, all three books can stand on their own as wonderful pieces of writing that young adult (teen) readers could enjoy, as well as those who simply remember those younger years. It is hard to find a protagonist in this piece, as many of the boys have their own storylines that mesh together to form strong themes. Surely, Archie Costello, whose power during the chocolate sales returns yet again, has a strong role as he uses his convincing nature to ensure he gets his own way. Even the likes of Jerry Renault, whose ostracism for standing up for himself cost him many an injury (physical and psychological) plays a decent role in this piece. The overall teenage boy persona that pervades this piece is offset against the role of the school administration—particularly Headmaster Brother Leon—to show the clash between controller and supplicant. The story was powerful and effective, pulling on loose reference to the chocolate fundraiser to act as a springboard to new and exciting new themes here. Cormier explores the role that overriding authority has over boys at that most influential age, where they seek to fit in while also defining themselves. The reader will pick up on many of these themes throughout and come to their own conclusions. With a powerful ending (as I have come to see occurs in all of Cormier’s novels I read), the reader will remain hooked until the final page-turn.

Kudos, Mr. Cormier, for keeping me focussed until the end. While the intended audience might be middle- or high-school students, your writing makes it a pleasure to read for anyone with some time.

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

I Am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier

Nine stars

After recently discovering the work of Robert Cormier, I decided to come back for more. This is another wonderfully-crafted novel in which Cormier shows his versatility and ability to entertain readers of all ages. Adam Farmer is on a mission to see his father, a trip 70 miles across three states. He is ready to make the trek entirely by bicycle, leering of hitchhiking along highways he does not know. As he ventures out, Adam thinks back to some of his fondest memories as a child, as well as the strong friendship he’s made with Amy Hertz. Interspersed with this is a narrative set in a collection of therapeutic sessions, with Adam as the patient. These conversations begin to peel back the proverbial onion in Adam’s life, as the reader learns a little about the lives of the elder Farmers. A third-person narrative offers up a final perspective, filling in many of the gaps and telling an interesting narrative that ties into events to which the other two storylines refer. As Adam’s bicycle trip proceeds, he begins to realise that much of what he thought was true might be a construct of his own making. Why this journey to see his father and how do these therapeutic interviews come together? The curious reader will discover all this, as well as the truth behind Adam Farmer. Recommended to those who love a slow-revealing mystery as well as the reader who enjoys a ‘coming of age’ tale!

It would seem that Robert Cormier enjoys using food in the titles of his books, at least the few I have read. Cormier weaves quite the story and keeps the reader intrigued throughout, using the multiple narratives to his advantage as they culminate in an explosive finale. Adam Farmer shares much about himself in this story, serving as quite the protagonist. His cycling journey shows the reader the determination to finish what he starts, even in the face of adversity. Adam surely has some buried struggles, as is seen in the therapeutic interviews, where his grasp of reality seems to ebb and flow, revealing much to the attentive reader. The personal struggles in which Adam finds himself help to reveal a vulnerable and confused boy, whose past is a mix of truths and suppositions. Other characters prove helpful to shape the larger narrative, complementing Adam Farmer effectively. These supporting characters prove essential in Cormier’s tangled web, which is spun in a subtle manner throughout. With a great narrative that clips along, the reader is treated to a wonderful collection of plots with a powerful final revelation. Cormier uses his wonderful writing abilities to keep the reader wanting more, particularly after the twist in the closing paragraphs. I am just sorry that I did not become interested in Cormier sooner, so as to discuss his work with my father, whose English classes were filled with such young adult classics!

Kudos, Mr. Cormier, for another wonderful piece that has me turning to read more of your work.

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

Mr. Nice, by John Nicholl

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to John Nicholl and Bloodhound Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When I received the latest John Nicholl novel, I made sure to clear all other reading requirements to delve right in. His masterful use of police procedurals with a psychological twist allows John Nicholl to pull the reader into a piece they will not soon forget. When a young girl goes missing from her home, the father is the first suspect. Having stormed over in a drunken state the night before, his threats seem credible. However, that intoxication proved a strong alibi and he is soon struck from the list of possibles. DI Laura Kesey can tell this will be a troubling case, thinking back to the many stories her mentor shared before his passing. Kesey and her team take control of the case, though have few clues on which to build much of anything. The killer lurks in the shadows and has their own story, speaking of how young Lottie Weller may not have been a bad girl, but her mother was definitely in need of a lesson. While Kasey tries to juggle the increased panic of the parents with her own fear for a child at home around the same age, she must also keep a calm head, as the killer is goading her. A woman was apparently seen outside the house at the time of the abduction, but this seems a little too odd for Kesey to accept. Could there be a team working and how long do they have before the child is no longer a useful plaything? Chilling in its delivery, John Nicholl does not fail to impress yet again. Recommended to those who love a police procedural where the killer is known throughout, as well as those who have long enjoyed the work of John Nicholl.

There are few authors whose books I will stop in my tracks to fit into my reading schedule, but John Nicholl is one. I have long been lucky enough to read his work in an advanced capacity and devoured every piece before praising it to anyone who would listen. Nicholl has worked the ‘West Wales Police’ theme into most of his novels, and used a younger Laura Kesey before, but now hands her the baton. Kesey is well-suited to the role of protagonist, having learned a great deal as a cop from her mentor, whose demise left a great hole in her heart. Kesey balances work and home life, though some might wonder how effectively. She has her eye on the prize and seeks to get a handle on this most disturbing case. With a killer trying to make her look the fool, she is in no mood to have her team lose control of the case. Other characters help enrich the narrative throughout this piece, which has many twists and turns. Nicholl places all those who have a role in the story in their own spot, shaping dialogue and plot development with the varied personalities he chooses. The reader will surely enjoy all that he does throughout and the various perspectives that make the book all the better. The narrative and plot are strong throughout and keep the reader guessing how things will progress. This is surely harder in a piece where the solution has their own narrative perspective, but it is joining the two that makes things all the more exciting. Nicholl mixes shorter and long chapters together to create a forceful story that propels itself forward throughout. Those who have read some (or many) of John Nicholl’s work will see some repeating themes throughout, but this is a good thing, rather than being burdensome. I cannot wait to see what else John Nicholl has in store for his readers, but this one is not to be missed!

Kudos, Mr. Nicholl, for another winner. I know I am in for a great (and quick) read each time I receive one of your novels.

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

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

Nine stars

New to the world of Jeffrey Eugenides, I turned to this book that was recently recommended to me. Its premise seemed not only intriguing, but an essential topic in this day and age of rebranding and gender fluidity. A story that takes the reader on an adventure like no other, I was hooked from the opening pages until I turned to pen this review. Calliope Helen Stephanides was born twice, once in 1960 and again in 1974. Such a bold statement to open the novel, though one that will make sense at a later point. After some housekeeping introductory narrative, Eugenides takes the story back to 1921, in what might now be called Turkey. There, Desdemona Stephanides is growing up as the country is at war. She idolizes her brother, Lefty, who is also a distant cousin by some odd coincidence. As the fighting heats up, they flee the country for America, where a distant cousin awaits them. After fudging the truth a little, both Desdemona and Lefty made it aboard a ship. They pretend not to know one another and end up falling in love and marrying. They try to use their long bloodlines to dispel some of the less than savoury aspects of this. When they arrive in America, they are shuttled off to Detroit, where the story gets richer as they live with family who have secrets of their own. Married in the eyes of the law, Desdemona and Lefty embrace the American way, without losing their Greek heritage. Eugenides spins quite the tale from there, as they have children—genetic abnormality-free—an try to provide as best they can. As the story progresses, their offspring begin to lay roots of their own, with new and exciting twists to the genetic situation. By 1960, young Calliope Stephanides is born and the oddity of her birth is missed by many. Calliope adopts the name Callie and progresses through life as a typical girl of the time, doing everything that is expected of her, at least until her early teens, when everyone around her seems to be changing. Callie cannot understand, yet there is a feeling of difference that exceeds being a late bloomer. Callie has her own life adventures, which eventually leads to a trip to the doctor. This begins even more appointments, as far away as NYC. There, it is discovered that Callie was born a hermaphrodite, with genetically male leanings. A syndrome passed along from generation to generation, Callie no longer simply feels like an outsider, but a complete stranger. Social and biological expectations rear up and the family must decide how to cope and what ought to be done. Callie seems ready to take the lead, but feels a need to ostracize from the others, if only to protect them. As the story reaches its climax, Eugenides takes Callie through 1970s America and the place gender and sexuality play in shaping the young person. With flash forwards throughout of “Cal”, an established career civil servant for the US Government in Europe, the reader can see how the protagonist landed in their feet, though there is much to tell before that point. A powerful book at every turn of the page, Jeffrey Eugenides packs so much into this piece. Recommended to those who are open-minded enough to read and enjoy discussion of the roles sex and gender have on society, as well as the reader who wants something impactful and told in a multi-generational format.

I knew only what the dust jacket covered offered when I began this book, but was so enthralled that I could not put it down. I have chosen to remain very vague in the summary section above, as it is the numerous reveals that occur there that make the story for me. Jeffrey Eugenides tells a story of a Greek family’s setting up roots in America, as they struggle to come to terms with the culture shock. Woven into the piece is the foreboding—though unknown to them—of the coming birth of Calliope, who symbolizes all the choices that were made over the decades. The story is so rich and uses a number of key characters that I cannot automatically turn to a single protagonist. The brilliance of the storytelling brought each story to light and tied things together in a masterful manner. Pushing the norms of the time (and now), Eugenides tells a tale that needs to be explored, if only to take the veiled secrecy from around it. There is so much within the pages of this book that tackles so many issues, I cannot hone in on one that is the most important. The dedicated reader will find a theme all their own and stick to it, dazzled throughout as Eugenides paints many an image. The writing was smooth and flowed effortlessly as the story spun in many directions. Eugenides seeks to shock, then lulls the reader into a degree of comfort by not scandalising things. I cannot say enough about this book and hope others I know who have not taken the time to read this do so, if only to challenge their notions of right and wrong, normal and outlandish, or expected and shocking. I know I will be back for more of Eugenides’ books, when time permits.

Kudos, Mr. Eugenides, for such a sobering tale. I cannot even begin to thank you for opening my eyes and mind to so very much!

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

Stone Cross (Arliss Cutter #2), by Marc Cameron

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Marc Cameron and Kensington Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

A great fan of Marc Cameron’s work, I was pleased to read this second novel in the Arliss Cutter series. Set in Alaska, Cameron takes the reader on quite the adventure and uses the setting as an integral part of the thriller. Stationed in Anchorage, Arliss Cutter is a key member of the US Marshal’s Fugitive Apprehension Team, while also trying to care for his widowed sister-in-law and her family. When he is asked to help with security for a federal judge, Cutter is not entirely sure he is well-suited for the job. It would seem that this judge has a hearing in a remote community, but threats have arisen that might cause his time there to be less than peaceful. Even with the judge dismissing the needed for security, Cutter takes his job seriously and agrees to help. When they arrive in the community of Stone Cross, Cutter realises just how remote things are for a city dweller like himself. A predominantly Inuit community, Cutter sees the poverty that pervades the town, but also the tight-knit nature of those who share the area. While trying his best to provide security, Cutter and his team become aware of a missing couple and a few murders that have stirred up trouble. Working both protection and some investigation as best he can, Cutter learns that crime of a serious nature is rampant. With a killer lurking in the dark and cold, Cutter must determine what he can do, or whether the local lore of a ‘Hairy Man’ might hold some truth after all. A great piece by Cameron that takes the reader well out of their comfort zone and to a locale about which few with have experience. Recommended to those readers who enjoy a thriller that uses unique settings, as well as those who love the world of Marc Cameron.

While I became addicted to Marc Cameron’s other series, this one surely has grown on me after two books. Taking the action to rural Alaska had me hooked from the early going and I am looking forward to learning more with additional books. Arliss Cutter is back as a strong protagonist, working as best he can in the somewhat isolation of Alaska, far away from his native Florida. As well as being a stellar US Marshal, Cutter has a military past that he chooses to lock away, much like his idol, a grandfather whose work ethic drives him to be the best he can. Compassionate but slow to show it, Cutter finds ways to keep himself involved in both work and family life, without becoming too ensconced in either. His drive and ability to cut through the erroneous makes for a highly intriguing character that many will enjoy. Others, both returnees and new faces, help to support this book, which surely offers much for the open-minded reader. There is a strong sense of community found in some of the Stone Cross locals, which helps support the plot and ever-advancing narrative throughout. The story was strong and while not entirely unique, the setting makes it a story that will stand out for many. Poverty in remote communities is one thing, but with crime and limited resources, the reader is forced to see how things can be done on a shoe-string budget. Cameron conveys this effectively, while also pulling the reader in for more throughout this impactful piece. I learned a great deal throughout and hope Cameron will work at building this series, which has begun to rival his other work in its intensity.

Kudos, Mr. Cameron, for another winner. I cannot wait to see what else you come up with soon!

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