Archive for the ‘Contemporary’ Category

Book Review – The Racketeer by John Grisham

August 24, 2013 Leave a comment

The Racketeer by John Grisham

Book Description:

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price — especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.


Okay, how did The Racketeer end up one of Amazon’s mystery/thriller Best Books of the Month picks for October 2012? Must’ve been a lean month or maybe they were judging it by the first half of the book (which was great) and ignored how things went downhill in the second half? I don’t get it. I was so annoyed I wanted to chuck my copy out the window by the time I was done…

The Racketeer introduces the main character, Malcolm Bannister, to us as this 43 y/o black lawyer who is halfway through his ten-year sentence for racketeering. Malcolm explains that he is innocent and reveals the circumstances behind his unjust incarceration. He’s lost his wife to divorce and missed out on his son’s growing up years. Malcolm came across as a disillusioned (ex-idealistic) good & honest guy, so I was really rooting for him when Malcolm reveals that he has a final card to play in his bid for freedom.

Here’s the situation: a federal judge is found murdered –  the FBI is stumped, no leads, no suspects – but guess what, Malcolm just happens to know who did it, and why. Malcolm is willing to name names BUT only for the right price (aka his freedom). Like I said, it’s a GREAT start. There’s suspense, excitement, I’m devouring pages, hoping Malcolm gets some redemption, marveling at how clever he is….  and had things stayed the course, I would have declared The Racketeer one of John Grisham’s best legal thrillers to date.

But. And that’s a big BUT.

But in the second half, John Grisham pulls the rug out from under us. I don’t want to spoil things, so I won’t go into details, but apparently, much of what we’d been told earlier by Malcolm ranged from half-truths to lies.  Needless to say, I was pretty much pissed off for much of the second half of The Racketeer (hence, wanting to throw my copy out the window). The plot changes were so bizarre and came out of left-field. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t know the main character anymore – Malcolm was turning out the opposite of who he claimed to be, and was off stalking this new character we’d never heard of, and unbelievably, the ‘love of his life’ pops up too (a woman who was barely mentioned in the first half, nary a hint that there was anything more between them other than some flirting). The ending was something out of Wild Things (the movie) mashed with The Sting (the movie). Bizarre, just bizarre.

Malcolm may have sailed off into the sunset much like Neve Campbell’s character in Wild Things, but as far as I was concerned, he’d turned from hero to zero. Good riddance to him. And good riddance to this book too – word of advice, don’t bother.

The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday) is available on Amazon, B&N, Apple iBooks, Book Depository

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Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling by JK Rowling (Writing as Robert Galbraith)

July 23, 2013 Leave a comment

The Cuckoo's Calling by JK Rowling (Writing as Robert Galbraith)

Book Description:

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this.


Okay, I never heard of The Cuckoo’s Calling until it leaked out that this was really by JK Rowling writing under a pseudonym. When I found out, of course I had to get my own copy (together with a LOT of her other fans, sending the book up the bestseller lists!)

So, after practically devouring the book for the last three days – what can say? I liked it, really liked it – I forgot that this was written by JK Rowling even. I have no idea how some people are saying that they recognize JK Rowling’s style, since I couldn’t tell at all… Honestly, I’d had liked it even if  it really was written by a debut author named Robert Galbraith.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a good old-fashioned whodunit in the vein of PD James and Agatha Christie, very English – London front and center –  with a complex-enough puzzle, plenty of interesting suspects, good characters who I cared about almost from the start, and good story-telling that just sucked me into the page … in short, I really look forward to the next installment!

More reasons why I’m recommending this!

  • Very likable detective in  the PI Cormoran Strike – he reminded me a bit of Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody (from the Harry Potter books) but maybe only because I knew this was JK Rowling going in
  • Very engaging (and smart!) sidekick in Strike’s temporary secretary Robin (she was my fave character  – and I’ve got high hopes that she’ll play a more prominent role in future books)
  • Surprise (to me) ending – I had NO IDEA who the killer was (even with the plentiful clues). I like being surprised 🙂
  • And, a nice break from the gory details, violence and sex that’s pretty typical of the Scandinavian crime novels I’d been reading recently!

The Cuckoo’s Calling (book 1 of the Cormoran Strike series) by JK Rowling (Writing as Robert Galbraith) (Mulholland Books) is available on the ff sites: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes iBooks, Diesel, Sony and The Book Depository.

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Book Review – Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman

March 10, 2013 1 comment


Book Description:

Jonathan Kellerman’s “psychology skills and dark imagination are a potent literary mix” (Los Angeles Times), and this intensely thrilling blend has never been so powerful as in the acclaimed author’s new novel of murder and madness among the beautiful dreamers, seductive predators, and doomed innocents adrift in the glare of Southern California’s eternal sunshine.

A series of horrifying events occur in quick succession in the same upscale L.A. neighborhood. A backyard renovation unearths an infant’s body, buried sixty years ago. And soon thereafter in a nearby park, another disturbingly bizarre discovery is made not far from the body of a young woman shot in the head. Helping LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis to link these eerie incidents is brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But even the good doctor’s vast experience with matters both clinical and criminal might not be enough to cut down to the bone of this chilling case—and draw out the disturbing truth.

Backtracking six decades into the past stirs up tales of a beautiful nurse with a mystery lover, a handsome, wealthy doctor who seems too good to be true, and a hospital with a notorious reputation — all of them long gone, along with any records of a newborn, and destined for anonymity. But the specter of fame rears its head when the case unexpectedly twists in the direction of the highest echelons of celebrity privilege. Entering this sheltered world, Alex little imagines the macabre layer just below the surface — a decadent quagmire of unholy rituals and grisly sacrifice.

Before their work is done, Alex and Milo, “the most original whodunit duo since Watson and Holmes” (Forbes), must confront a fanatically deranged mind of such monstrous cunning that even the most depraved madman would shudder.


It’s 2013, and for Jonathan Kellerman fans like me – the new year means that Mr Kellerman will have a new book out. It’s like clockwork with him. And it didn’t take him long too – Guilt, which is book #28 in Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series, was released just this February, and I wasted no time in getting myself a copy 🙂

In Guilt, Alex and Milo are initially called in for a super cold case – the decades-old remains of an infant is found accidentally during a backyard renovation. But things do come in three’s, don’t they, and two more bodies – a woman and another set of infant bones – are discovered in a nearby park. Are the two cases somehow connected?  Alex and Milo dig into both the past and the present, and end up entangling with Hollywood (including a pair of Jolie/Pitt-esque suspects).

I finished this one pretty quickly (in two days flat) and as a long time fan of the series, I was okay with it (except for the bland ending). It’s not the best I’ve read from Mr Kellerman, but definitely not one of the bad ones (i.e. Deception). Warning to fans who really prefer the earlier Alex Delaware books, the latest one is still more of a police procedural than a psychological thriller, so skip it if you feel really strongly about it. And my problem with the ending? It lacked suspense and danger (Very Important for crime thrillers), and involved characters I was meeting for the first time. Ergo, a distinct lack of emotional punch for such a horrible crime (baby-killer).

I did appreciate that Mr Kellerman seems to be trying to bring back the psychology aspect, even if in a peripheral or subplot way like it is in Guilt. (The previous book Victims had Alex Delaware’s psychology skills more front and center.) I personally prefer Alex when he is contributing more as a expert psychologist (like in the early books, especially when he’s working with children) instead of just being Lt. Milo Sturgis’ sounding board &/or driver &/or Google-surfing police sidekick.

Another thing I liked with Guilt was that Alex Delaware was (finally!) humbled by being very wrong about many of his conclusions. That sounds odd, I know, but I was getting fed up with how ‘Mary-Sue’ the character was, as this super-sleuth who was always right, while there seemed to be a dumbing down of Milo. I mean there was an actual scene in the book where Milo’s boss tells Alex that he’s the better detective (?! – I was very offended on Milo’s behalf).

Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel (#28) by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books) is available on Amazon, B&N , Kobobooks and Apple iBookstore.

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Book Review – Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer @chriscolfer

March 2, 2013 1 comment

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer

Book Description:

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker.

At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school.

The film Struck By Lightning features Colfer’s own original screenplay. Colfer also stars in the film alongside Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Hyland, and Polly Bergen.


I haven’t watched the film Struck By Lightning yet, but after reading the book version of Struck By Lightning, I’m definitely planning on renting it. What can I say, I liked the dark, sarcastic humor and I even liked the antihero antisocial main character of Carson Phillips.

This is a kid who has only this to say when his dad abandons the family and his mom breaks down in the front yard:

“Thank God for the sprinklers; otherwise she might have been out there all night.”

Yeah, that was cold, but it told me right out the bat what to expect from the character. Carson is like that cartoon character who had a rain cloud following him around. So, fair warning, this is not a happy book (even though it is funny). Carson is one sad, lonely, bitter kid, and it doesn’t end well for him. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, since the movie’s trailer pretty much gave the ending away.)

To be honest, I was very surprised by how much I ended up liking the book (given how I couldn’t go through even just the first three chapters of Chris Colfer’s debut effort The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell). That one was pretty terrible, and really disappointed me.

This time around, I started reading the first chapter of Struck By Lightning and thought – hmmm… surprise, surprise… this is pretty good… I don’t hate the character… the writing is far from the stilted and awkward I was expecting… I’m actually laughing at the right places…  In short, I plowed through the book in one go and then promptly recommended it to a friend of mine.

The book is far from perfect, mind you – Colfer has a tendency to ‘tell us’ readers what happens instead of  just ‘showing us’.  Also, the secondary characters were treated pretty superficially (I wanted to know more about Carson’s only maybe-friend Malerie Baggs, for example) and the middle part of the book when Carson has a breakdown of sorts and ended up blackmailing people felt really rushed to me.

Overall though, Struck By Lightning is a book that I can comfortably recommend and not just to Colfer’s GLEE fans. If you like a bit of twisted, dark humor in your books, and you don’t mind revisiting the horrors of high-school, be sure to give this one a chance. Read a sample and see if it resonates with you too!

Note: Unlike Colfer’s first book, this one isn’t for kids. There’s some strong language in the book and there’s sex (not graphic).

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) is available on Amazon, B&N Nook, Kobo books, Google Books and iTunes iBooks.

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Indie Saturday – Author Alana Woods on her Thrillers ‘Automaton’ and ‘Imbroglio’

August 25, 2012 7 comments

Today, we have author Alana Woods featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her debut award-winning best-selling suspense legal thriller Automaton and follow-up suspense espionage thriller Imbroglio.

Here are 5 star reviews of Automaton and Imbroglio (respectively) from book blogger Here’s The Right Side Of It:

‘It’s difficult to decide where to begin with Automaton. This is an exemplary novel by a master of the craft. Set in Australia, it is so deep, so well written, so intelligently thought out and flows so smoothly that I felt like a participant and personal observer within the events, rather than a reader who was sitting comfortably in my office as the story unfolded. Woods’ experience as a Court Reporter makes her tale as authentic, intriguing and interesting as any you’ll ever read. It’s not a quick, shallow read – it’s a real novel … Regretfully, I can only give this one 5 stars. I assure you I’m waiting for Alana Woods’ next novel.’

‘Alana Woods’ suspense novel Imbroglio. This lady can definitely spin a tale … In short, it’s what any card-carrying crime fiction fan is looking for … ‘

Alana Woods writes :

Alana Woods

So, when is a good guy a good guy, or a bad guy a bad guy, or good bad, or bad good?

It’s the question occupying the minds of Elisabeth Sharman in Automaton and Noel Valentine in Imbroglio.

And when is a girl telling the truth or taking you for a sucker?

That’s the question occupying Robert Murphy and David Cameron – the aforementioned good guys, or are they the bad guys?

Let’s take Elisabeth Sharman and Robert Murphy first because they’re the main players in my debut novel Automaton, an award-winning best-selling legal suspense thriller.

Murphy is Sharman’s instructing solicitor in a murder trial, but he’s having a hard time of it. She’s prickly, unfriendly and downright uncommunicative until the night she lets him take her to bed. Problem is, the next morning she goes right back to being prickly, unfriendly and uncommunicative. He can’t help but think she seduced him to keep him quiet. But he’s hooked and when all’s said and done, they both have the interests of their client to look out for. A client who’s only 19 and allegedly can’t remember committing the crime he’s on trial for.

There are so many skeletons stuffed into the closets in Automaton they rattle.

A book store manager once remarked to me about Automaton ‘It’s quite literary, isn’t it’. I considered it to be a terrific compliment.

Once you’ve figured out the relationships in Automaton you can try to unravel Noel Valentine and David Cameron’s in espionage suspense thriller Imbroglio.

Not easy, I’ve been told. Valentine saves Cameron’s life and finds herself in a resulting spiral into trouble that has her head spinning. She’s already on very shaky mental ground because of something in her past. She desperately needs to care about something and her choice just maybe couldn’t have been worse. But when the bad guy’s gorgeous, it can be hard to see straight, let alone think straight, right? There’s car crashes, sharks, guns, traitors. It’s a wonder anyone survives until the end.

More on Alana Woods!

When I first started work, it was as a publications typist at a weapons research establishment. It helped put me in the right frame of mind when I wrote Imbroglio some years later.

Later I spent five years in court reporting. That’s when the idea for Automaton occurred. I’d sit in court and watch the accused and their families. Some were lost, had no idea what was going on. The words spoken may have been familiar but the language used was foreign. My heart used to break for the parents especially.

In fact, my jobs generally have been good sources of material for books. I’m working on a corporate crime novel at the moment that’s a direct result of my years as an editor and subsequently Director of Publishing at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. I’m tossing up whether to make it a trilogy. I know series are popular and sell well, but I also note a trend to short novellas in series. I like long books, so if I do decide on a trilogy I’d like each one to be the length of a traditional novel, which requires a bit of work!

Born in England but an Aussie in heart and soul, at the moment Alana Woods has a hankering to buy a masseria in Puglia and go live there. The food and wine are to die for. She just has to convince her other half … and learn Italian.

Writer, editor, book reviewer, reader, traveller, food and wine lover – all of these describe Alana.

Alana Woods’ books are all available in Kindle and paperback formats on Amazon. Samples are available on her Scribd.Com page (and also embedded here)

You might also like to check out her 25 essential writing tips: guide to writing good fiction that she wrote after critiquing manuscripts for many years. It’s aimed at aspiring authors but if the reviews are anything to go by seasoned authors are also giving it the thumbs up.

You can also check out Alana Woods’ Amazon author page for more info and her other books.

You can follow Alana on: her website:, Facebook: alanawoodsauthor, Twitter: @alanaewoodsGoodreadsGoogle+ and Shelfari


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Indie Saturday – Author James A. Anderson on his Thrillers ‘The Daily Express Chronicles’ (Deadline and The Scorpion)

August 18, 2012 1 comment

Today, we have author James A. Anderson featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for his planned trilogy of thrillers ‘The Daily Express Chronicles‘ which are set in a fictional Toronto newspaper. He has self-published two of the books already : Deadline and it’s sequel, The Scorpion.

James A. Anderson writes :

Thanks for the invitation to address your readers. I hope you enjoy books as much as I do. I’m an avid reader and have been all my life.

I am a retired Canadian journalist, 64 years old, with a 35-year career as a newspaper reporter and editor. It was an extremely satisfying and fun career and I use a lot of my experiences in my novels. Many of the news stories in both books are real cases fictionalized. I started writing thrillers two years ago after I retired.

I’ve been writing stories since I was about 8-years old. But I seriously began writing in my teens and sold my first short story to a Canadian teen magazine when I was 16. I wrote my first novel, a spy thriller when I was 18 but it didn’t sell or get published. It really wasn’t very good and too derivative of James Bond. But I enjoyed the challenge of writing a novel.

I became interested in journalism and pursued a 35-year career as a reporter and editor for weekly and daily newspapers after university. But it didn’t leave much time for fiction writing so I put it on the back burner until I retired four years ago and started to write thrillers based on my newspaper experiences.

My current release is The Scorpion and is a sequel to my first thriller Deadline. It contains murder, action and romance woven around a series of sub-plots which gives readers an insight into how daily newspapers operate and pursue their stories. It is the second of a planned three-part trilogy.

Deadline, my first novel, combines murder, action, and romance, with a glimpse into the world of big city media. This thriller, set over a 24-hour period in a fictional Toronto newspaper — the Daily Express, follows four central characters in Toronto and Afghanistan as they cope with both personal and professional deadlines in their lives.

A serial killer — The Wolfman – prowls the streets of Toronto kidnapping young professional women, then targets crime reporter Katie Cannon who has been writing about his rampage.

Meanwhile, Trevor Trevanian, a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, is abducted by al-Qaida and taken on a perilous journey to Pakistan to face an uncertain fate.

I originally planned this as a single novel but reader reaction has been so great and I received many requests in reviews and emails to continue the series. People wanted to know what happens to these characters. So the idea for The Scorpion was born. The Toronto Daily Express chronicles continued, picking up a year after where Deadline left off, bringing more news stories, more murder, action and romance.

This fast-paced, page-turning thriller will keep readers on the edge of their seats as the novel, like its predecessor, carries multiple alternating story lines involving a murder trial, a mad hospital bomber, and newspaper managing editor Braden Young who is facing a health crisis, a diagnosis of prostate cancer. The book follows one week in the life of the newspaper.

The Scorpion is a terrorist. A nameless, faceless killer leading a team that plans to attack North America bringing death and destruction in a daring scheme called Operation Saladin. The central plan is to blow up the CN Tower in Toronto with a suitcase nuclear device. A sidebar to the operation is an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister of Canada at his official residence 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa.

Reporter Katie Cannon and Daily Express Publisher Andrew Chase are planning their wedding with the reception to be held in the revolving restaurant atop the CN Tower, but their happy day may bring more than they expect.

Foreign correspondent Trevor Trevanian, who was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda and taken to meet and interview a high profile Al Qaeda leader in Deadline, has left Afghanistan and is now stationed in London, England. He meets a mysterious young lady Lynne Whitfield, allegedly another journalist, but actually an MI-6 agent who is assigned to follow him hoping he will lead them to Al-Qaeda contacts. She and Trevor attend the wedding in Toronto and play a key role in trying to prevent the CN Tower attack.

In writing The Scorpion, I decided to make the series – now subtitled The Daily Express Chronicles – a trilogy. I plan to start writing book #3 this fall and will wrap everything up. I then want to try something new.

More on James A. Anderson!

My favorite author is probably Michael Connelly. Like me, Connelly is a former newspaper reporter who writes fast-paced, page turning thrillers. I can only hope to some day write as good as he does. Selling millions of copies also would be nice.

I like to listen to classical music when I write. Mostly Mozart or Beethoven. I find them soothing, inspirational and great background music.

I usually write every morning from 9-12. I’m retired so don’t want to do it full-time. I have family, dogs and other interests. The afternoons and evenings are usually free for those things. But mornings are my writing time. It’s also when I’m at my freshest.

The books that have most influenced my life and creative writing are thrillers, mysteries and spy novels. Love ‘em. My favorite writers are Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Le Carre, Ian Fleming and others of that ilk.

Before I release my novels I have them read by critique partners or beta readers. My spouse, family and friends and former journalism colleagues read my early drafts and are most helpful in spotting my flubs and making suggestions to improve the manuscript or the story line. You need that independent input because as author you are often too close to the story.

Thanks for reading this and if you try my novels, I hope you enjoy them. I always appreciate reader comments and suggestions for future works. You can find my email in my author profile on or Facebook me at: James Anderson or Twitter me at: @janders003.

James A. Anderson is a retired journalist and graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He lives in London, Ontario, Canada with his wife Sherry and two basenjis, Remba and Wakili. They have two married children and four grandchildren.

Both Deadline and The Scorpion are available in ebook and paperback from,,,


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Indie Saturday – Author Ty Hutchinson on his Darby Stansfield Thriller Series

August 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author Ty Hutchinson featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for his Darby Stansfield Thriller Series. The series – described as “Tarantino meets The Office with a splash of romance” – is currently available as a bundled set (featuring CHOP SUEY, STROGANOV, LOCO MOCO plus a bonus novella THE ST. PETERSBURG CONFESSIONS).

Ty Hutchinson writes about the birth of his character Darby Stansfield

People always ask how I came up with Darby Stansfield.

I should have a brilliant answer but I don’t. I actually thought up the plot first. I thought it would be funny if a telecom company targeted criminal organizations and sold them wireless business solutions. If their product could help organizations like McDonalds or Apple, why not organizations like the Mafia or the Yakuza? From there the story unfolded.

How could a company do this? Why would a company do this? That was my first hurdle.

I quickly realized it would have nothing to do with the company. This would be the doing of one individual. Someone who felt the cards was stacked against him. If this person really wanted success, he would have to get creative and try something different.

What if the company had working for them a desperate salesperson that go’s rogue? That’s pretty much how Darby was born.

I knew he couldn’t be like others; he had to be different. He had to approach problems with unlikely solutions. Deciding to take on a criminal isn’t normal. It was important that Darby not be normal, like most people. His brain was wired differently. He’s not a criminal himself. He means well. He’s kind of a screw up, though. He’s like Larry David but with an edge. It’s probably why he’s polarizing for some. You either love him or you hate him. Some people have asked me if I’m Darby. The answer is yes and no. There are elements of myself in Darby, but I’m not really like him in real life. I would need bigger balls to be him.

Once I had those two elements in place it was just a matter of telling the story and that’s exactly what I did. I really filled in the story as I wrote. It was as if someone were sitting next to me asking, “And then what happened?” That could be the reason why my chapters are so short or it could be because of my background in advertising. All those years of telling a story in thirty seconds might have handicapped me. Who knows? I like short chapters, though. It makes me feel like the story is moving along.

With that said, it’s probably time I move along. Thanks for listening.

My name is Ty Hutchinson. Most days I’m a writer in the ad business. My work has appeared in all the major advertising award shows and reported on in publications like Advertising Age, Creativity, Communication Arts and Archive.

While advertising is a blast, I wanted to tell stories that were bigger. I’ve since created the Darby Stansfield thrillers and a few other pager turners. I’m in the midst of creating a new thriller series featuring one feisty woman. You can visit my blog at for the latest on my books and what’s going on in my head.

When I’m not building brands or writing thrillers, you’ll find me traveling the world, playing video games, eating, reading, and exploring SF’s Chinatown.

Darby Stansfield Thriller Series (Books 1-3 & Bonus Novella) by Ty Hutchinson is available at Amazon in Kindle format.

You can also check out Ty’s Amazon Author’s page for more info about his other books!

To learn more about Ty, follow  Ty on his website/blog:, Facebook page: and Twitter: @latersbra. Read excerpts from his books on his Scribd.Com page! Drop by and say hi!


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Book Review – Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka

June 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Sister Wife

Book Description:

In the isolated rural community of Unity, the people of The Movement live a simple life guided by a set of religious principles and laws that are unique to them. Polygamy is the norm, strict obedience is expected and it is customary for young girls to be assigned to much older husbands.

Celeste was born and raised in Unity, yet she struggles to fit in. Perhaps it’s because of Taviana, the girl who has come to live with them and entertains Celeste with forbidden stories, or Jon, the young man she has clandestine meetings with, or maybe it’s the influence of Craig, the outsider she meets on the beach. Whatever it is, she struggles to accept her ordained life. At fifteen she is repulsed at the thought of being assigned to an older man and becoming a sister wife, and she knows for certain she is not cut out to raise children. She wants something more for herself, yet feels powerless to change her destiny because rebelling would bring shame upon her family. Celeste watches as Taviana leaves Unity, followed by Jon, and finally Craig, the boy who has taught her to think “”outside the box.”” Although she is assigned to a caring man, his sixth wife, she is desperately unhappy. How will Celeste find her way out of Unity?

Torn from the headlines and inspired by current events, Sister Wife is a compelling portrait of a community where the laws of the outside world are ignored and where individuality is punished.


Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka is a thought-provoking book about the experiences of three young girls who belong to a polygamist religious sect called The Movement. In this isolated rural community of Unity, the Prophet’s word is law and strict obedience is expected (especially from women and children). Girls are brought up chaste (and uneducated!) – their only destiny to be a ‘child bride’ turned ‘sister wife’ or ‘plural wife’ whose grace are measured by their obedience and fecundity. It’s a world totally estranged from mine – so I was very curious when I started reading it. I thought Sister Wife was well-written (just don’t read the Epilogue!) and it certainly grabbed my attention (not to mention stirring up some strong emotions in me!)  I couldn’t help but think about the young girls and women who do belong to such sects in real life.

Sister Wife  is told from three separate first person POVs  (14-year-old would-be rebel Celeste on whom the story is concentrated on; her devout 13-year-old younger sister Nanette who is a  ‘true-believer’ ; and 17-year-old Taviana –  an ex-prostitute turned new The Movement disciple). The conflict in Sister Wife starts off when an increasingly rebellious Celeste develops doubts about her being assigned to an older husband when she turns fifteen. Her ‘impure thoughts’ aren’t helped by a burgeoning relationship with Jon (another Unity teen who is himself questioning his faith.) In contrast to Celeste, younger sister Nanette welcomes the attentions of an older man and can’t wait to be a bride herself. Their friend Taviana isn’t 100% sold in the tenets of The Movement, but she’s so grateful for the temporary safety she has found within its confines that it’s a crushing blow when she is asked to leave. I did like Ms. Hrdlitschka’s approach of having all the different perspectives presented to the reader, although it was confusing for me at first to distinguish between the characters as their voices were so similar.

Given the subject matter of the book, I didn’t really expect a happy ending. Ultimately, there are very little options open for a fifteen-year-old Unity girl who has only known that kind of life. There were many instances in the book  that were just infuriating, but in the end, I understood why the girls made their choices. Which leads me to why I was so disappointed when I read the Epilogue – it was a total copout, completely turning the entire story on its head. Instead of the relative realism of what came before, the Epilogue presented a Disney-esque ending where everybody (and I do mean EVERYBODY) inexplicably ended up with a happy ending. I felt like if the author wanted that as the real ending, then she should have written a sequel and shown us how the characters reached that happy point.

Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka from Orca Book Publishers is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition and Paperback.

It is also available as an eBook at B&N, Kobo Books and Apple iBookstore.

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