Author: Travis

Ex-Purgatory

Ex-Purgatory

Review by Travis Starnes Ex-Purgatory starts you in the middle of a story already in progress with characters you should already know but who don’t seem to know themselves.  If you have read the previous volumes in this series then this book has an interesting opening that should keep you riveted.  If, like me, this is your entrance into the series then you will spend the first 30% of the book trying to figure out what the heck is going on. To be fair this clearly was not intended to be a place for new readers to pick up the series and the book makes no qualms about it.  There are really two ways you can go with a series, the stand alone approach where each book resents for new readers and each installment works unto itself or the episodic approach where each title builds on what came before it. … Read more »

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When Soldiers Fall

When Soldiers Fall

Review by Travis Starnes Since Vietnam the public discourse of casualties has become a major issue in American politics but it has been something examined and considered for since the first casualty reporting during World War I.  When Soldiers Fall examines how the government has dealt with the issue of military casualties and the reporting of casualties to the public. Often when a book examines a very minute and specific area of public policy I expect something more academic then geared for entertainment.  That was my expectation when coming into When Soldiers Fall and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  While there was clearly a lot of in-depth research done for this book Casey does an excellent job of presenting his data and thoughts on the subject in a very conversational and accessible manner.  The book flows very well and is a fast and easy read if you… Read more »

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Secret Prey

Secret Prey

Review by Travis Starnes Secret Prey is the 9th book in the Lucas Davenport series and this time he is trying to find out why the CEO of a bank was murdered.   While the main plotline follows this search for truth we also have the fallout of Lucas’s troubled relationship with Weather and the personal drama that comes with it. Davenport books come in two flavors, adventure/thriller style and mystery.  The adventure/thriller style books we already know who the villain is and even most of their motive.  In those it is more about the chase between the crook and Davenport rather than a mystery.  Then there are the books that are mystery, or at least semi-mystery, where the reader has to figure out who the criminal is along with Davenport.  Secret Prey, as the name might imply, definitely falls in that second camp.  Not only do you not know who… Read more »

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Fear Nothing

Fear Nothing

Review by Travis Starnes Fear Nothing is the 7th book in the D.D. Warren series and follows her on the track of a gruesome serial killer and recovery from an excruciating injury.  As seems to be the trend lately this is a book in the middle of a series that I am coming into cold.  Luckily this is another one that works without having read the previous adventures of Detective Warren. As characters go Gardner’s seem fairly aggressive, which isn’t unusual for detective style mysteries, but it does make them a lot less likable.  It is hard to tell if this is an offshoot of the story, seeing as how a character sidelined because of a debilitating and extremely painful injury would indeed be very angry and aggressive, or if this is just her way of writing characters.  Regardless the continuing characters get enough of an introduction to be fully… Read more »

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Hive Monkey

Hive Monkey

Review by Travis Starnes With Zeppelins, a gun touting monkey, some cross dimensional hygienic, Neanderthal assassins, and a cult made of hive-mind connected creeps, Hive Monkey really throws a lot of stuff at a reader.  This alternate earth sci-fi story set in almost present day on a world that took a different path then our own. I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started this book.  I had never heard of the series and the only reason I picked it was l loved the cover.  Turns out it is the second in a series about Ack-Ack Macaque, an up-evolved monkey that curses, smokes, and flies a Spitfire to relax.  While I enjoyed this book I did find it a little bit difficult to get into.  I think I might have been about to get into it more, and even enjoyed it more, had I read the… Read more »

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The Invisible Code

The Invisible Code

Review by Travis Starnes The Invisible Code is a classic detective style mystery turned on its head by the addition of the mystic and the supernatural, but not really. I will start by saying the overall core mystery in this book isn’t bad.  It has some interesting twists to it, although the “ah-ha” moment where the facts are reveled do not stand up to scrutiny of the original passages of past events.  When the “real” way an event in the book went down is revealed, it in really doesn’t resemble what the reader actually experienced.  That however isn’t too big of detraction since that is not so unusual in mystery books and it is the journey and not the re-read that is the real test of a book. My big issue with this book is the detectives specialize in puzzling murders and during the investigation put up all sorts of… Read more »

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Interview with John Gwynne

Interview with John Gwynne

Interview by Travis Starnes John Gwynne, author of the fantasy novel Malice and it’s upcoming sequel Valor, was nice enough to connect with me and agree to my request for an interview about his book and the rich world he created for it. One thing that I found interesting was that while this is an old school fantasy novel it isn’t in the wizards and orc school of fantasy that we see so often. What was your inspiration for the style of this? Did you intend for it be unique from the standard style of fantasy or was that just a coincidence? The short answer is that I tried to write something that I love, and I love reading fantasy and historical fiction, so I wanted Malice to reflect something of both those passions. I didn’t have a game plan with Malice, it started as a hobby, evolving from very… Read more »

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Hammett Unwritten

Hammett Unwritten

Review by Travis Starnes Hammett Unwritten is an interesting take on the author and his creation.  It starts with the premise that the events in the Maltese Falcon were autobiographical and that Sam Spade was in fact Hammett himself. I have to give this book points for uniqueness.  I haven’t read a novel quite like this and considering how many books, and specifically mysteries, I read that is saying something.  The book takes meta to a whole new place and for that I commend Fitzstephen.  If you are knowledgeable about Hammett himself then this book might be tough to read as it completely recreates the author’s life and experiences.  However if you only know him from his works then this book is a unique mystery worth checking out. There is however some reliance on knowing the original works.  If you haven’t read any of Hammett’s books then first, shame on… Read more »

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Interview with David Rollins

Interview with David Rollins

Interview by Travis Starnes David Rollins, the author of the Vin Cooper series and it’s latest installment Standoff, was kind enough to take the time and answer a few questions I had after reading his book. This is my first time reading a Vin Cooper story, but I didn’t feel like I missed much when reading Standoff. Did you try and make it easy for new readers to get into on purpose? If so, was it tough trying to both make him accessible for new readers and still play on earlier connections? The answer to your first question is yes. I recognize that many readers won’t start at the beginning so I put enough backstory into each book to make it a stand alone. Hopefully that backstory doesn’t drag and you get to know Cooper well enough to want to hang out with him for a while. It’s not helpful or… Read more »

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Interview with Ellen Larson

Interview with Ellen Larson

Interview by Travis Starnes I had the opportunity to connect with Ellen Larson and ask her son questions about her book In Retrospect.  I have to say I was a fan of hers just from reading this book but I am more so now that I have had a chance to talk to her.  She clearly loves to write and has a passion for her material that is heartening to see.  She mentioned after answering my questions that one of the reasons for writing a time travel story was the challenge of making the readers head explode from the “ah-ha” moment.  How can you not like a writer has that as a goal. She also sent a brief background of the world she created for In Retrospect.  I have included that at the bottom of the interview.  You can find the full text along with other information about the series www.inretrospectbook.com/backstory.html…. Read more »

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