suspense

“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni

 

 

The 7th Canon of the American Bar Association code: “A lawyer should represent a client zealously within the bounds of the law.” Whenever that phrase is uttered in any media platform, it’s a dead giveaway that the case under consideration will be challenging. The defendant is in a lot of trouble and we, the audience, are in for a thrill ride.

 

Peter Donley, three years out of law school, is working for his Uncle Lou’s law firm in the Tenderloin section of San Francisco, not the best address in town. He is indebted to his uncle for helping him and his mother at a rough time in their lives and is grateful for the job, but a growing family dictates that it is time to move on. He has a plum offer and is about to give his uncle notice, when Lou is hospitalized with a heart attack.

 

Uncle Lou's biggest client is the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and when one of the priests is charged with the murder of a teenager in his care, as well as possible pornographic acts, Donley catches the case, since Lou will need time to recover. The assignment looks dicey, but Donley owes it to his uncle to follow the 7th canon.

 

Father Tom Martin, complete with shaved head, an earring, and a tattoo, is not the typical parish priest, but he’s just right for the boys’ shelter in the Tenderloin. He’s been the dedicated champion of this safe haven for street kids for years. The disconnect? The evidence points to the priest; there is blood everywhere and Tom had opportunity, if not motive. Thing is, he says he didn’t do it.

 

Fr. Tom is being railroaded, but why? And why is everyone in such a rush to file the motions and convict the guy?

 

Donley must deal with the murdered teen, elusive complicit witnesses, and the evidence found at the scene, all pushing him to his emotional limits. In the process, Donley’s personal demons are forced to the surface, and Dugoni delivers another complex central character. An ambitious DA, the Chief Prosecutor, the former Governor of California, and a cop gunning for revenge, are among the tightly drawn supporting cast. There are lots of secrets with people very interested in hiding them, and we are reminded that evil often wears a suit and tie.

 

This book (a dozen versions ago) was written before the critically acclaimed David Sloane series, but placed in a drawer in favor of other novels that were published at the time. “The 7th Canon” is a standalone novel, but fans of Dugoni since the beginning will recognize certain similarities between the Sloane/Jenkins team and the Donley/Ross team. It’s great fun to see the differences in personalities, and how they approach the cases, as well as the impact that their backgrounds have on their behavior and life choices. Fun fact: “The 7th Canon” is set in the late 1980s, so no emails or cellphones figure into the plot.

 

Politics, sex, police procedure, religion, abuse, and the courtroom, make for a powerful combination, and Dugoni has woven a masterful tapestry of suspense.

 

“The 7th Canon” is a finalist in the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award Fiction Adult Thriller category.  Well deserved!

 

*Note: contains adult situations/themes and sporadic adult language.

 

Read my review of “In the Clearing” here.

 

Please visit www.robertdugoni.com for information about Dugoni’s appearances, his awards, and his other terrific books. Read ‘em all, folks.  🙂

 

 

 

Macavity Awards – 2017

 

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The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International (and friends) as well as subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. The winners were announced at Bouchercon, the international mystery fans convention, this year held in October in Toronto. Mystery Readers International, Mystery Readers Journal, and the Macavity Awards, were created by the Fabulous Janet Rudolph.

 

Presenting the nominees & winners (indicated in red) for the Macavity Awards – 2017:

Best Novel 
You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott

Dark Fissures, by Matt Coyle
Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
Real Tigers, by Mick Herron
Wilde Lake, by Laura Lippman
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny


Best First Novel 
The Widow, by Fiona Barton
Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry
Dodgers, by Bill Beverly
IQ, by Joe Ide
Design for Dying, by Renee Patrick


Best Short Story 
• “Autumn at the Automat,” by Lawrence Block
• “Blank Shot,” by Craig Faustus Buck
• “Survivor’s Guilt,” by Greg Herren
• “Ghosts of Bunker Hill,” by Paul D. Marks
• “The Crawl Space,” by Joyce Carol Oates
• “Parallel Play,” by Art Taylor


Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel 
A Death Along the River Fleet, by Susanna Calkins
Jane Steele, by Lyndsay Faye

Delivering The Truth, by Edith Maxwell
The Reek of Red Herrings, by Catriona McPherson
What Gold Buys, by Ann Parker
Heart of Stone, by James W. Ziskin


Best Nonfiction 
Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats, by Jane K. Cleland
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin
Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, Margaret Kinsman
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula, by David J. Skal
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer, by Kate Summerscale

 

Congratulations!  🙂
 

The 2016 Macavity Award winners were:

Best Mystery Novel  The Long and Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney
Best First Mystery Novel  Past Crimes, by Glen Erik Hamilton

Best Critical/Biographical  The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story, by Martin Edwards
Best Short Story  “The Little Men,”  by Megan Abbott
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award  The Masque of a Murderer, by Susanna Calkins

 

The 2015 Macavity Award winners were:

Best Mystery Novel  The Killer Next Door, by Alex Marwood
Best First Mystery Novel  Invisible City, by Julia Dahl
Best Mystery Short Story  Honeymoon Sweet,by Craig Faustus Buck
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award  A Deadly Measure of Brimstone, by Catriona McPherson

 

Great titles!  Happy reading!  🙂

 

“Relic” by Fiona Quinn

 

Book Cover - Relic

Fiona Quinn has been writing multifaceted female characters throughout her eleven published novels and novellas. Her Lynx series was well-received and featured Lexi Sobado, female psychic and puzzler for Iniquus, a top-secret group working to rid the world of evil in its many forms.

 

Quinn’s new series, Uncommon Enemies, still has Iniquus crews providing the adventure, but features other members of the Strike Force that Sobado assisted in the Lynx series. In “Relic,” Brian Ackerman is the guy front and center, a man with a tie and a gun, and a heart in conflict. The gal he is tasked with protecting, Dr. Sophia Abadi, is a woman with whom he had a memorable one-night stand years before. He hasn’t forgotten, but she would like to. Sophia wants to keep Brian as far away as possible, but he will stop at nothing to keep her safe. If only their past will stop getting in the way.

 

Sophia is an archeologist committed to removing important relics from the path of ISIS terror, both to place the items in safekeeping and to eliminate them from being used as funding for extremist acts. Quinn reveals the real-life modern day method of discovering the probable whereabouts of the artifacts thousands of miles away.

 

The more relics found by Sophia’s team, the less the terrorists will have available to fund themselves, so this is dangerous work with a deadline. But Sophia has security issues at home and she comes under suspicion from a couple of alphabet agencies, even while dealing with crazy neighbors and family estate challenges.

 

Brian Ackerman is a guy conflicted by duty to his country and love for a woman who may be out of reach. The many questions raised, both personal and professional, keep the pages turning. Lexi Sobado appears in a supporting role, nicely tying the two series together.

 

“Relic” is topical, full of likable/complex characters, and is an entertaining addition to Quinn’s resume. Please visit www.fionaquinnbooks.com to see what other projects Quinn has in the works.

 

 

 

2017 ITW Thriller Writers Awards

 

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Thriller writers bring us thrills and chills, keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning and leave us begging for more. You’re also likely to see many of them on top mystery writer lists all over the world. Once again, there are amazing finalists for the ITW Thriller Writers Awards. Take a look at the nominees and winners (indicated in red):

 

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL

Megan Abbott – “You Will Know Me”
Reed Farrel Coleman – “Where It Hurts”
Noah Hawley – “Before the Fall”

Laura McHugh – “Arrowood”
Ben H. Winters – “Underground Airlines”

 


BEST FIRST NOVEL

Bob Bickford – “Deadly Kiss”
J.L. Delozier – “Type and Cross”
David McCaleb – “Recall”
Nicholas Petrie – “The Drifter”
E.Z. Rinsky – “Palindrome”

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Robert Dugoni – “In the Clearing”
Anne Frasier – “The Body Reader”
Paul Kemprecos – “The Minoan Cipher”
Jonathan Maberry – “Kill Switch” 
Stephen Maher – “Salvage”

 

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL

James Scott Bell – “Romeo’s Way”
Sean Black – “The Edge of Alone”
Sibel Hodge – “Untouchable”    
J.F. Penn – “Destroyer of Worlds”
Richard Thomas – “Breaker”

 

Please visit www.thrillerwriters.org for the nominees and winners in the YA and Short Story categories.

 

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the International Thriller Writer Awards! The 2017 winners were announced at the ThrillerFest XII banquet, held on July 15, 2017 in New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

Greatest Love Stories of All Time

 

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It’s the time of year when bouquets of flowers fill the stores, the gift of a box of chocolates takes on new meaning, and love songs (and movies) fill the airwaves. Swoonworthy stuff, ya’ll.

 

Instead of creating a post about current titles that inspire hearts to flutter, I put out an open call for men and women to name their favorite Greatest Love Stories of All Time. Thanks to Mari Barnes*, Sarah Bewley, Leah Canzoneri, Kait Carson, Peggy Clayton, Joy Ross Davis, Missy Davis, Laura Di Silverio, Saword Broyles Ellis, Terri Gault, Courtney Carter Girton, Sherry Harris, Cynthia Kuhn, Joyce Laferrera, Marj Lilley, Alice Loweecy, Gary Miller, Sylvia Nickels, Debbie York Parker, Nanci Rathbun, Jeanie Smith, Ellis Vidler, and Lynn Chandler Willis for their wonderful suggestions.  *drawing winner  🙂

 

Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, and where available, links to the Greatest Love Stories are included.  Click on the titles and read more about them.               

 

At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon

“Cinderella Story” by Wendy Logia

Come Rain or Come Shine” by Jan Karon

Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak

Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry

Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

Persuasion” by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen

Shadow of the Moon” by MM Kaye

Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson

Soulless” by Gail Carriger

The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye

The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper 

The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks

The Princess Bride” by William Goldman

The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy

The Second Coming” by Walker Percy

The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough

 

Are you thinking romantic, weak-at-the-knees thoughts?

Our work is done.  😉    

 

Photo credit:  Patti Phillips

 

 

“What She Knew” by Gilly Macmillan

Book Cover - What She Knew

 

 

 

In “What She Knew,” Rachel Finch hesitates, but finally gives her son, Ben, permission to run ahead of her to the swings in a park they have been to many times before. She doesn’t want to be seen as an over protective mother. But when she reaches the swings, he isn’t there and is nowhere to be found.

 

A sense of sorrow envelops the reader at the beginning of “What She Knew,” as Rachel shares the story from her point of view – what could she have done better/differently/instead of, during those minutes leading up to and after Ben’s disappearance? Her story is heart wrenching as she explores her own actions and reactions in the face of enormously challenging circumstances.

 

Macmillan spares no one, however, and the other stakeholders – the father, the new wife, the investigators – all take turns at center stage, examining their own guilt and excuses as the 8-day search continues. There is plenty of ‘would have, should have’ to pass around when fingers are pointed and accusations fly. People try to help her cope for a while, but Rachel pushes them away in despair, certain that they cannot truly understand. And, of course, they can’t.

 

Is Rachel or some other trusted adult at fault? People even remotely involved with the child are questioned, then questioned again. The detective work is painstakingly difficult; the media attention excruciating and sometimes misplaced and vicious.

 

Do we, the readers, remember every detail about every person, bush, swing, and shrub that we pass on our daily walks in the park? Unless we are in the middle of some kind of memory training game, probably not. And, yet that’s exactly what Rachel is asked to do. Every second, every step, every motive, must be accounted for.

 

“What She Knew” is an astonishing page-turner, and by seeing the reactions to the crime through the major players involved, Macmillan gets us, the readers, highly invested. I found myself defending the parents, then faulting the parents, defending the detectives and faulting the system as the kidnapping details were explained and suspects revisited.

 

Macmillan has written fully fleshed out characters, with emotionally believable reactions and dialogue, with devastating twists and turns. Who did it and why? Were the right people investigated/punished? ‘Is the investigative process itself, flawed?’ may be a question that haunts you long after the last page of “What She Knew” is read.

 

Although the action in “What She Knew” takes place in England (where the book is called “Burnt Paper Sky”) the themes are sadly universal and missing children remain a terrible part of our culture. Check out NamUs.gov and the UK missing children’s sites for more information. Read “How long has your daughter been missing?” for related details about missing persons.

 

Please visit www.gillymacmillan.com  for news about Macmillan and her other work. “What She Knew” is an international bestseller and her latest book, “The Perfect Girl,” was published in the USA in September, 2016.

 

 

 

“The 14th Protocol” by Nathan A. Goodman

 

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In “The 14th Protocol,” Cade Williams is a skilled computer geek and the admin for the largest email service provider in North America, Thoughtstorm. Williams is called to the mysterious 17th floor to fix what looks like a systems crash, alarms sound, he finds the problem with a minute to go, but is told NOT to fix it. Williams wonders what was really going on.


A college friend, Kyle MacKerron, is graduating from the FBI Academy and Williams goes to the ceremony, then shares his concerns about his odd work day. Kyle tells him to follow his gut and look into it. A series of bombings have occurred across the country and the severity and body count ramps up with each new attack. The FBI is investigating and Jana Baker, a rookie recruit, happens to get the assignment that leads her to the Thoughtstorm building.

 

Thoughtstorm is so security conscious that bulletproof glass protects the first eight floors of the building, and rotating digital codes are used to gain access to the different floors and work areas. What kind of company needs all that? Probably not people that are sending out e-flyers for shopping coupons.
 

The email mystery in “The 14th Protocol” covers up something so sinister that the parties involved will do anything to keep it quiet. Williams, MacKerron, and Baker are brought together to expose the truth. And what a truth it is. Nathan Goodman has penned a riveting look at what can happen when high stakes secret operations step outside the bounds of common sense. Just because we can do a thing, should we?

 

The players in Goodman’s book are intense, the action non-stop, and there are plenty of surprises along the way. The Cade Williams character hits all the right notes of a computer savvy guy, facing abject fear at being caught up in something outside his normal realm of experience, yet willing to help stop what’s happening.


The issues of privacy are raised as an aside to the action in the book. It’s fairly unsettling that someone with Cade Williams’ kind of clearance can also read the content in your  emails. This concern has been raised repeatedly while our real-life law enforcement agencies pursue terrorists and other criminals. There are pros and cons to the arguments and Goodman handles them as his absorbing tale of spies and villains unfolds.

 

There is a certain amount of tech speak in “The 14th Protocol,” but Goodman presents the information clearly and simply. We know as real-time email users that too many emails going out at once will crash the server when spammers run amuck or systems overload during a major world event. These days, there are redundancy systems in place for backups in case one goes down or needs some updating. A person like Williams anticipates surges and makes sure the system works smoothly. What could go wrong?


Pay attention to current events and you might be convinced that parts of the storyline are ripped from the headlines. I have to admit that more than one scene in “The 14th Protocol” was so intense that the book has left an indelible impression.

 

Please visit www.nathanagoodman.com for information about Mr. Goodman's other books of edge-of-your-seat suspense.  🙂
 

*Contains frequent adult language.