Shooting Star Author Michael Embry Reviewed by Fran Lewis Every teen’s dream is to become a star on the court, but not every one has the talent, the drive and the incentive like Jesse Christopher. Unassuming, polite, reserved, respectful and hoping to attend a high school that provides a good academic program which is primary to his mother, and an opportunity to shoot some hoops and play basketball, to his father, this young man seems to have what it takes to succeed. Observing him on the court both the coach and assistant coach of Walker County High School become overly enthused excited and think he is the answer to winning games for their school. But, there is so much more that needs to be addressed before he can play. Entering a new school, being the new kid on the block is not easy. All too often whether you are over six feet tall as Jesse is or even the short kid on the block, obstacles need to be faced, dealing with the other kids can be hard and choices need to be made. Meet Jesse and learn more about him as I review Shooting Stars by author Michael Embry. Jealousy and prejudice can rear their ugly heads when you least expect it. As Jesse starts school he begins to feel uneasy about his teammates and their reaction to him. Some seem lukewarm and others quite distant. Some feel he’s an asset to the team others would prefer their own school members and not someone knew. Added to the mix is his literature teacher’s questions and reaction to him on his first day. I found that a little unsettling that a teacher would ask such personal questions of any student. But, that might possibly be the norm when someone does not know how to react the right way or harbors prejudices of their own. Will Mr. Dickson every change his opinion of Jesse? Yet, Jessie’s mom realizes from the start that something is wrong and reminds him to verbalize his concerns and not harbor any fears. But, high school kids like to deal with things on their own. Jesse is Hispanic American and as the coach stated that could sometimes be a problem but it should not. One young basketball hopeful whose family migrated from Florida to attend high school and just play basketball. Jesse Christopher is a natural but never played on a team before and questions arise with his team members as to whether he will benefit them or not. Problems arise within Jesse, the team and at times as he states he feels Invisible. Not so unusual in today’s world where kids judge you by your appearance, race, the clothes you wear and how much money your father has or gives you. When he tells one of the players he has to go home and mow the lawn and has family obligations the reaction is astounding as the other states his father pays someone to do that. Character, stamina, challenges and much more will hinder Jesse as he learns that rebounds are not only on the court and shooting baskets not his only hurdle. Jesse’s father has a mild heart attack while they are shooting some hoops and prejudice once again rears more than its ugly head in the form of a brick thrown at one of their windows leaving Jesse to wonder who and why this would happen. Befriending one of the players named Rashawn, practicing really hard for the first game and just trying to fit in seems to be a full time job for him. Dealing with race issues, learning that not everyone wants him on the team, worrying about his dad, and hoping that they won’t have to keep moving are just some of the issues this 17-year-old young man has to deal with. But, Jesse is rare. He is kind, understanding, polite, respectful and supportive of his other teammates and family. His parents are amazing where others insist that college is a must; his parents are willing to leave the choice up to him. In the mix is Maggie Leach, the daughter of his father’s boss. His father works at the stables and cares and tends to the horses. I have a 15-year-old niece that would envy that position. She tends to her own horse and loves riding. But, there is much more to learn before the story ends and much more to unfold as I continue my review of Shooting Star. Author Michael Embry’s characters are true to life, realistic and definitely typical high school kids that strife for attention, want to be in the limelight, do not want their court time shortened and definitely have issues with having Jessie, an outstanding player that most admire and aspire to on their team. Meet Cody who seems to resent him and just about everyone and everything else. Harry, who is dating Maggie and would not appreciate Jesse being her friend and the rest of the team whose feelings are definitely mixed. But, wait until the first game and let’s see what happens to our star. Everyone wants to be a shooting star. Everyone wants his or her chance to shine. Imagine shooting 250 shots everyday which is what his father taught him to do in order to be the best he can be. The one question that seems to gnaw at him is why everyone thinks he is Mexican and that he and his family are migrants. Prejudice and bias just from looking at someone from their outer appearance and predetermining who they are before getting to know them. How sad is that? Added to that some teammates are resentful of the new staring lineup and feel that Jesse might ruin the chemistry of the team. One special manager named Freddie with Down syndrome who connects with Jesse yet the others treat him differently. Eddie Joe and Cody, smiling at you on the outside and definitely another agenda on the inside as Jesse learns some hard and fast lessons trying to fit in but will he? Locker room talk, the coaches pep talks to two players, unusual practices that throw Jesse’s momentum off and one Coach who is so on top of things, caring and considerate you just might want to suit up and play on his team. Teaching the players understanding, teamwork and definitely not allowing any harassment, bullying or name calling, will our stalwart and strong minded young Jessie be able to withstand what others just might dish out? Will they win the championship and come out on top as more than just winner? That remains to be seen. But just when things seem to be on an uphill swing, Jessie has a major setback, gets seriously ill and has to miss several weeks of school. His friendship with Maggie disturbs Harry and Cody seems to want to find a way to eliminate him from the team no matter how much of an asset he might be. Jesse is despondent hoping to return to the game but not quite ready. With his team losing games and not performing as well without him just returning to the bench seems to spark them on but some players on one father seem to feel they would do better without him and one reporter digs deeper into his past, how he got on the team and trouble ensues where it should not. As an educator I definitely admire the coaches, their integrity and the way they expect the players to handle themselves. Yet, some of the players were still rude to him, unfeeling and even one teacher had trouble warming up to his kind, polite and what every teen should be young man. Trying to set the right example proves difficult at times for Jesse but with the support and kindness of Maggie he just might succeed. Returning to the game proves to be a challenge for him but not the game. Teammates are resentful, some would like him to remain out and others are just glad to have him back. One true friend named Rashawn, a star in his own right seems to have it all together and watches his back. But, Cody and Eddie Joe have other plans in mind and Cody’s dad seems bent on making trouble for Jesse and Cody is right in front of him if not running up ahead. The end result is quite compelling as Jesse is injured several times, the team learns some hard and fast lessons about loyalty and friendship and his time on the court is jeopardized by one reporter whose facts are misplaced and unfounded. Coach Webster is one man who won’t take the heat from the reporters and will definitely step up his team’s game but not before some learn some hard and fast lessons. Will they win the High School Championship? Will they ever get to the state finals? Will Cody and Eddie Joe become part of the team? Just who tipped off the reporters and started the investigation into how Jesse became part of the team? The final score: Read the book and find out all this game plays out. Prejudice, hate, intentional fouls in more ways than one, players that need lessons in sportsmanship and leadership and two players that would not give up nor allow anything to stand in their way: Jesse: Rashawn two Shooting Stars: But let’s not forget Tim and Freddie whose truly an inspiration. This book gets FIVE GOLD HOOPS: Fran Lewis: Reviewer
I would like to take this time to welcome author Melissa Foster. Melissa is the author of Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda. Megan’s Way is an award-winning novel and is now being cast as a movie. Chasing Amanda is Melissa’s latest release and deals with child abduction. I am honored to interview Melissa today.
Please give our readers a brief Summary of Megan’s Way
What would you give up for the people you love?
When Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist living on Cape Cod, receives the shocking news that her cancer has returned, she’s faced with the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make. The love she has for her daughter, Olivia, and her closest friends will be stretched and frayed.
Megan’s illness reawakens the torment of her best friend, Holly Townsend, whose long-held secrets and years of betrayal come back to haunt her. How does one choose between a daughter and a life-long best friend? Can the secret she has been keeping be revealed after years of lying without destroying everyone in its wake? Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Olivia’s world is falling apart right before her eyes, and there’s nothing she can do about it. She finds herself acting in ways she cannot even begin to understand. When her internal struggles turn to dangerous behavior, even the paranormal connection she shares with her mother might not be enough to save her – her life will hang in the balance.
Megan’s Way is a journey of self discovery and heartfelt emotions, exploring the depth of the mother-daughter bond, and the intricacies of friendship.
Fran: Why did you decide to write this book?
The main inspiration for Megan’s Way came from the surgery that my mother had years ago. She had told me that she was having a very benign surgery. A year or so later, she told met that they had thought she had cancer, and if she’d had cancer, she had decided she was not going to have treatments (if it was malignant). I went through many years of torment trying to come to grips with this decision and thanking God that it never came into play. After many years (ten+) I had transitioned through reverting back to being a child and wondering how she could decide to leave me, to coming full circle as a parent and understanding where her decision had come from.
Fran: How did you develop your main character?
I think that women are much stronger than people sometimes realize. We are mothers, sisters, lovers, workers, professionals, housekeepers, cooks, and so much more, all rolled into one. I wanted Megan to show the strength and the vulnerability of a woman in such a torturous and tenuous position, which is why I showed all aspects of her personality.
Fran: What was Olivia’s problem?
Olivia was dealing with so many deep seeded issues. Her mother had already undergone treatments for cancer and had gone into remission. Lay all of that on top of being fourteen-years-old, a time of complete and utter confusion, and therein lies Olivia’s issues in a nutshell. At fourteen, she’s not equipt to handle the issues she’s presented with – hence her behavior turning to dangerous.
Fran: What was her relationship with Jack? How does Olivia deal with what is happening to her mother?
Olivia’s relationship with Jack has always been that of her mother’s close friend to his friend’s daughter, another adult that loves her unconditionally.
To deal with her mother’s death, Olivia has to pull herself up by her bootstraps. She’s in a position where she has to confront her worst nightmare and learns of her father’s identity at the same time. Olivia is pressed into a coming-of-age sort of introspection, and I think she comes out the other side a new young woman.
Fran: Why does she rebel?
Most teens rebel at some point, and if any teen has a reason to, I’d say Olivia is at the forefront of that list. She doesn’t know how to handle all of the changes around her. She does what a lot of teens do, they reach out to strangers, to people they think might “get” them.
Fran: Why does Olivia have this special connection with Meghan? Melissa:
Olivia’s paranormal connection with Megan was brought on by the fortune teller Megan and Holly visited when they were teens. “She will need you, and you will know,” she had said, and then she cast the spell, “I empower thee.”
Fran: What is the ritual?
Megan and her friends had developed a birthday ritual for Megan that they carried out annually. They would each take turns, around the bonfire, stating what they hoped for and were thankful for that year. It was a spiritual connecting of friends, a coming together of the mind and washing away of the chaos of life. After they had their say, they said thank you to the Powers-That-Be and then they’d celebrate with dancing and music.
Fran: Why does Olivia feel she is ready to join her mother and her friends?
At fourteen, Olivia feels like an adult. She’s watched her mother and her friends take part in the ritual for as long she could remember, and has always longed to be part of this secret, special part of her mother’s life.
Fran: How do emotions come into play in this novel?
Emotions are paramount for me. I am a very sensitive, emotional person, and in order for Megan to be a real, three dimensional character, to have raw emotions and for the reader to feel those emotions right along side of her. I actually acted out many of the more powerful scenes of the book while writing them so I could feel what she would feel, how her body changed, what she might be thinking. Hopefully, doing so created more vivid scenes for the reader.
Fran: After losing recently losing both my mom and my sister I often feel them around me when I look at their pictures and talk about them: Did you mean to create an angel?
I didn’t mean to create an angel, per say, but I love that word, and think both Olivia and Megan were angels to each other.
I truly believe in spiritual connections, Fran. I think you are very blessed to have your mother and sister around you. Love is real, and when it’s powerful, I don’t think there is much that can stop it. I’m sorry that you’ve lost people you have loved, but you are truly blessed to have them looking over you, and they are blessed to have you thinking of them. Love lives on.
Please give our readers a brief summary of Chasing Amanda
Fran: Tell everyone about Chasing Amanda and how this book differs from Megan’s way.
Chasing Amanda is a suspense/mystery with a women’s fiction slant. It differs from Megan’s Way on many levels. The genre, the characters, and the overall voice and dynamics of the books are very different. Below is a summary of Chasing Amanda:
Nine years ago, Molly Tanner witnessed a young girl’s abduction in the busy city of Philadelphia, shifting her occasional clairvoyance into overdrive. Two days later, the girl’s body was found, and Molly’s life fell apart. Consumed by guilt for not acting upon her visions, and on the brink of losing her family, Molly escaped the torturous reminders in the city, fleeing to the safety of the close-knit rural community of Boyds, Maryland.
Molly’s life is back on track, her son has begun college, and she and her husband have finally rekindled their relationship. Their fresh start is shattered when a seven-year-old girl disappears from a local park near Molly’s home. Unable to turn her back on another child and troubled by memories of the past, Molly sets out to find her, jeopardizing the marriage she’d fought so hard to hold together. While unearthing clues and struggling to decipher her visions, Molly discovers another side of Boyds, where the residents–and the land itself–hold potentially lethal secrets, and exposes another side of her husband, one that threatens to tear them apart.
Fran: Who is the main character?
Molly Tanner is the main character. She is headstrong, sensitive, and very curious. With a backstory of witnessing an abduction—that she didn’t realize she had witnessed—she was carrying a lot of guilt and insecurities throughout the book.
Fran: How does Molly differ from Megan?
Molly and Megan are both strong women, but Molly has more insecurities, and what she stands to lose in her story, is much different than what Megan stands to lose. While they are both selfless in different ways, Molly is also a bit selfish in her need to clear her conscience. Molly is clairvoyant, while Megan is not.
Fran: Why was Molly so determined to find Tracey?
Molly had already failed one abduction victim, and she wrestled the guilt of that for years. She wasn’t going to let that happen again.
Fran: Why was she so connected to Amanda’s Murder? Why did she think she could have prevented it?
Molly witnessed Amanda’s abduction, though she didn’t realize it was an abduction at the time. Molly is clairvoyant. She had nightmares about what was going to happen to Amanda before Amanda had been killed. She didn’t believe in her own clairvoyance enough to stand up to her husband and try to help—she was too weak. She pushed past that for Tracey.
Fran: What message do you want children and parents to get from reading Chasing Amanda?
Even the most innocent of environments can be wrought with danger. Tracey knew her abductor—far too many children do. I would hope that parents would take away from the story that in today’s society, their ability to protect their children has to be their number one priority at all times—whether it’s monitoring emails, knowing who they meet and talk to, or even as simple as knowing exactly where they are at all times. It’s a sad realization, but our world has far too many openings for predators these days.
Fran: What are some safety tips that parents need to put in place to protect their children?
Most importantly, don’t assume your child knows what to do in different situations. Teach them, even if it’s scary. If they are grabbed by an adult and can’t run away—do they know to drop on the ground yelling for help? Dragging dead weight is much more difficult than little running feet. Do they know the ploys strangers use (candy, puppy, Mommy said to come with me), and will they use what you’ve taught to be safe? Talking is the only way your children will know about these things. Open those lines of communication, even if they’re scary.
There are so many, and I’d hate for people to think I don’t give my children any freedoms, but I’ll give you a few that I think are paramount.
Monitor all internet use—from profiles on accounts to emails. Even the child who you believe is the most responsible can (and probably will) make poor judgment calls when it comes to being accepted.
Know where your child is at all time. Speak to the parents of their friends, open the lines of communication so you can be certain that when your child says a parent is home, they really are.
Don’t trust texts. Texts are great because they can be sent from anywhere. We all want to trust our children, but teens are sneaky. In Megan’s Way, Olivia’s trip to the “library” almost landed her in the morgue. That type of scenario is very real in today’s society. Follow-up. Know your child’s whereabouts.
Being the bad guy is not a horrible thing if it keeps your children safe.
Fran: What is the knowing?
The Knowing is Molly’s paranormal ability to see what is yet to come.
Fran: What lessons were learned in this novel?
I think the biggest lesson is that people are often not what they seem. There are other lessons, of course, never judge a person or ability too quickly, and if you have a gut feeling about something, follow-up. You never know what the universe is trying to tell you.
Fran: What made you become a writer?
I have wanted to become a writer since 1990. I had stories and characters running around my head and needed a venue for them.
Fran: How did you choose the subjects for both of your books?
Megan’s Way was born from an event with my mother, and Chasing Amanda came to me as I was running down a White Ground Road (a very creepy road mentioned in the book). Both books, however, stem from my worst fears.
Fran: What research did you do for both books?
With Megan’s Way, I spoke to people who had endured cancer and people who had lost loved ones to cancer. I also spoke to medical professionals and teenagers, mothers, and daughters and husbands. When researching Chasing Amanda, the research was all internet related.
Fran: How did you get your books published?
I took Megan’s Way through Outskirts Press to see if my writing was strong enough for readers to enjoy. With Chasing Amanda, I was referred to a publisher by a fellow author, and chose to go that route.
Fran: What awards have you received for Megan’s Way?
Megan’s Way has won the 2011 Beach Book Festival Award for Spirituality, and was nominated Finalist in the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, also for Spirituality. Both Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda have been nominated for the Dan Poynter Global eBook Awards—winners TBD later this summer.
Fran: What are some ways you promote and market your books?
Most of my promotions are online. I work with lovely bloggers, such as yourself (thank you, Fran), I use social media, and I connect with readers through as many reading sites as I am able.
Fran: What makes both of your books five star books?
I believe it is the emotional impact of the story and the depth of the characters.
Fran: How important do you think a book review is?
They are of utmost importance. Even poor reviews give a writer something to consider. Some reviews are just plain nasty, and those are not helpful, but typical reviews are always helpful. They are also the readers first glimpse at what readers think of the books, and that’s paramount.
Fran: Where can we buy your books?
Both Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda are available on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and a few of the Borders around town. They can be ordered from just about any bookstore, as they’re distributed through Ingram and Baker and Taylor.
Fran: What are you websites and blogs where readers can learn more about you and contact you?
Follow me, Facebook, Twitter, FB Fanpage
Chat w/me on The Women’s Nest
Thank you so much for this outstanding interview. One final question:
What is your next project? What subject have you chosen to address?
Thank you for asking, Fran. My next novel, COME BACK TO ME, has just been sent to my editor. It’s an international love story/tragedy. Below is a brief summary of the story.
Coming Soon: Come Back to Me (working title)
Tess Johnson has it all, Beau, her handsome photographer husband, a thriving business, and a newly discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decides to wait to reveal her secret—only she’s never given the chance. Beau’s helicopter crashes in the desert.
As Tess struggles to put her life back together and deal with the pregnancy she can no longer hide, a new client appears, offering more than just a new project.
Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing Honor Killings find Beau alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.
What happens next is a test of loyalties, strength, and love.
Fran, you are a joy to work with. You are interested beyond just the words on the page and your reviews are always well detailed and insightful. Thank you for all you do for the writing community.
I hope you will pass along that I love to discuss my books with readers, and I’m happy to visit book clubs and reading groups, in-person or via Skype.
Many thanks for the enjoyable interviews.
Language of the Sea
Author: James MacManus
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
Leo Kemp is an outspoken man who finds himself in a serious situation. A marine biologist whose life is taking a downward spiral, he seems more focused on understanding the seals and not on his wife and daughter. Leo works in an Institute in Cold Harbor. His students do not seem that enamored with his lectures and often ask questions that are menial and not challenging. Fascinated with seals their existence, how they communicate, live and much more he loses his job at the biology facility when he speaks out against certain policies. But, Leo wants one more hurrah. Deciding to take his students on one last outing would cost him more than the job he lost. Reflecting on what really matters to him, looking deep inside himself and trying to understand what he really wants, this outing would be life altering not just for him but for many others too.
Forgiveness is not always granted. Accidents happen but not always forgotten. The book opens with a tragedy. The death of Leo and Margot’s son Jacob during a research trip on the Atlantic Ocean would send their lives in different directions. All that was left was his wife and daughter Sam. Was that enough for him or did he thirst for the sea and much more?
Confronting the media and putting himself in the limelight did not endear him to the head of the Cold Harbor Marine Institute. Implying that the private donations and investments in marine research were improperly used, claiming that the monies should target finding out “ the big things that we don’t know.” Based on research about seals and true events surrounding one unique seal, named Hoover, author James McManus relates this history and story of this harbor seal that spoke English. Discussion groups in Leo’s classes centered on questions about the language of seals, the seas in which they live but never about what he thought were the big pictures. Obsessed with seals, thriving on learning more about hem and less about humans, Leo shared the true story about Hoover with his students during his off campus sessions.
Hoover was orphaned and picked up by a fisherman in Maine on May 5, 1971. Alice and George Swallow were the couple that found him and took him home. Hoover was treated as if he was their own child and definitely a member of their family. But, Hoover outgrew the bathtub he lived in and was finally donated to the New England Aquarium. The Aquarium kept copious records of his behavior and on November 12, 1978, seven years later, this seal said his name, Hoover. Hoover was named after the vacuum cleaner, Hoover because he sucked up food as fast as a vacuum cleaner. Hoover was the only non-mammal to speak. But Leo pushed the buttons of those in charge of the Institute, and his outspoken attitude finally did him in.
Leo and Margot married at a young age and were happy for a while. Fun loving, full of life and unpredictable he kept Margot happy until the untimely death of their son, Julian that deeply affected her and changed their lives. Focusing his attention more on the media, creating controversy and the seals, Leo damaged the reputation of the Institute and hence his dismissal.
Freedom of speech and expression can only go so far. When it tarnishes reputations those involved seek more than just answers. Author James MacManus brings to light what happens when one man is dissatisfied with his life, the status quo and wants more than just what’s in front of him. Leo Kemp loves the sea and on this last journey with his students he hopes to record underwater conversations among the seals. But, fate steps in and Leo is thrown overboard by an errant wave and then things spiral out of control.
As Leo’s family learns of his fate and joins in the search for him; Leo begins his trek to shore, joins the seals in the water and listens to underwater chatter of the dolphins, seals and other sea creatures hoping to find land. Taking the reader along with Leo on this seafaring journey the author relates a story of a man truly obsessed with the language of the sea and its inhabitants. While Margot, Buck, and Sam frantically search for any sign of him, Leo is consumed with the seals hoping to learn more about them.
Flashbacks to other nights, groups discussions and different events that led up to this day, both Leo and Margot’s dreamlike fantasy states add to the harsh reality of the story allowing the reader to understand why their life together fell apart.
Leo’s priorities were definitely misplaced. Family, friends and career might have been important at one point but put on the backburner and often held at bay. Leo’s life and only priority was learning how the seals, dolphins and other sea creatures communicated, interacted and lived. Unfortunately for Leo he was born human and not a seal. As Leo is searching for land and Margot for Leo or any sign that he’s alive, the author takes a step back and describes their life before this point.
Also in the mix is his best friend and reporter Sandy who won’t give up on hoping to find Leo and of course the story. Taking a boat to Monomoy Island and retracing Leo’s journey, Sandy hoped to find some answers or even Leo. But, the search ended after three days and the headline read: “Missing at Sea, Presumed Dead.” Some thought he just might be alive. But, his family held his funeral services and now would have to move on with their lives. Where was Leo? Why didn’t he even try to contact anyone to find him? Leo Kemp was one in the same with the seals. Living and breathing the sea and becoming totally assimilated in the lives of these creatures not trying to understand the rationale behind his fate. But, reports of his existence on the sea did not escape his reporter friend and the Herald as observers claimed that they saw a man’s head among a pod of seals. But, would anyone believe this?
As Margot hopes to move on to another life, Sandy, the reporter tries to encourage her stay in Cold Harbor thinking that Leo might turn up. Did she really care or want to know the truth? The vivid descriptions of Leo’s time at sea, watching the whales, hearing their voices, understanding his joys and sorrows. Leo ate the clams, the mussels and sustained his life with the food of the sea. Enjoying his dives the sunsets and much more Leo was finally happy and content. Leo was finally free. One more time Margot and Buck went out on the Antoine to search for Leo. What finally happens you won’t believe. Faith, hope, never giving up Leo is finally found after being missing for 6 weeks. Leo would not divulge anything about his experience. He kept silent.
What happens next and how they get him to speak you will have to learn for yourself. With a surprise ending that you won’t see coming and events that would change the course of many different lives, author James MacManus leaves us with many unanswered questions about Leo, his final destination and the pain he caused so many.
Leo, Margot and Sam moved to Scotland. Leo led and expedition to North Ronaldsay. The rest you will have to learn for yourself. What is Leo’s final fate? Where is Leo Kemp? Ask the seals maybe they will tell you because Leo won’t. The research done for this book was extensive adding to the excitement of the story helping the reader visualize and understand Leo’s journey at sea and his inner most thoughts.
This book gets Five Gold Hoovers: Fran Lewis Reviewer
Thank you for giving me the honor or reading this really interesting and exciting narrative.
The Covert Element
Author: John Betcher
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
What would you do if someone were cooking up meth in your backyard? What would you do to stop it and how far would you go? Drug cartels do more than just sell, create, profit and make their own drugs. Their leaders are dangerous and their henchman even more. In 1985 Master Sergeant Fuentes proved to be equally as dangerous by executing, planning and orchestrating a plan to bring down the major drug cartel family on their home ground. Fuentes and his Alpha team along with Team Bravo pulled off a covert operation that rocked the inner core of a Mexican Drug cartel right in the heart of their operation. The end result: Boom! But, our Master Sergeant was not satisfied with just this one mission he needed to rid the world of every drug cartel, every drug dealer and those who tortured, raped, pillared and destroyed his own family and their fishing business.
Twenty years later someone blew up a meth lab in Ottawa County leaving 23 unidentified dead bodies. From the author of the Missing Element and 19th Element comes another blockbuster novel starring our favorite lawyer, investigator the relentless James Becker: AKA BECK. Beck along with the Chief Deputy Sheriff and Beck’s wife Beth would hack into computers, skirt the law and work hard to find out who blew up the lab and much more.
Meet Walter Marsden a pawn in the hands of Los Cinco the drug cartel that has now infiltrated more than one state, country and city. Dangerous, lethal and fighting their own turf wars, this cartel take over businesses unknown to those running them. Bellechester was experiencing an economic decline. Our innocent friend Walter had a brilliant idea for restoring jobs and bringing economic life back to Bellechester. Creating an Organic Farming Elevator and Creamery Marsden hoped to create jobs. But, not unlike other hopefuls, he ran out of capital and needed some help. Unknowingly, he enlisted the wrong help and gave up fifty percent of his business and much more. As Marsden’s company flourishes he begins to question some of the financial and notices some discrepancies. Calling his partners he would soon learn the truth one that would make him an accessory to much more than just selling drugs.
Raphael Santos infiltrated the Los Cinco Cartel. He even married the leader’s niece. Playing the part of a caring soldier for the Calderon family, he managed to gain control after the untimely death of the man he referred to as El Jefe. Cunning, clever and wanting his own revenge on this deadly cartel, taking control and working to bring them down and much more.
Master Sergeant Fuentes is a dangerous man not to be trifled with. As he renters the story in the present and the reader learns of his past life and his reasons for wanting revenge on the cartel, you will learn just how cunning and deceitful he can be. Los Cinco: Is going more than down if he has anything to say about it and just how you won’t believe.
Red (Bull) Feather and Beck go way back. Bull saved his life more times than he can count. As the two reconnect and Bull explains why he needs Beck to help investigate the burning of the meth lab, who might have done it and hopefully stop them cold. But, introduces Beck to Fuentes and the truth behind his visit comes out and the dots are about to connect and if someone does not stop what is about to happen more deaths, tortures and explosions will occur. Red Wing is about to house their very own Mexican Drug Cartel and meth production is huge and they will stop at nothing to infiltrate as many places, cities and states in the United States.
Speaking to the reader, you understand and hear Beck’s voice, his thoughts and his every move as Beck and Gunner find a way to assess the crime scene and Beth uses her computer genius to assist. Just how: you will have to read and learn for yourself.
As Beck and Gunner mull over the facts and try to decide just where this meth factory really is, they uncover much more than they bargain for and the end result is not what you might expect. Learning the whereabouts, hacking into the accounts, finding out who the main person is not only surprised them but put Beth and Beck in grave danger. Just how far will Fuentes go to blow up the meth lab. Just how far will the cartel go to protect its investment.
A showdown that will keep the reader on the edge and in suspense even after the all is said and done. Just how will all the dots connect and will the plan to blow up the lab succeed? What part does Santos play and who is Elena? What happens when everyone is in place and all of the players ready to strike? Who wins? Who loses? Will the cartel succeed and keep their plant, their workers and their millions? Will Beck, Gunner, Bull and Beth bring them down? Who dies, who survives and who will be standing at the end? This is one action packed novel filled with surprises, twists, deceits, lies and many used as pawns to fulfill the greedy pockets of others. How this plays out will definitely stump the reader as Beck, Beth, Bull and Gunner create a plot so intricate and plan so well orchestrated that I wonder just who or what the real Covert Element Is?
Once again author John Betcher delivers a plot that only he can create. Characters so well defined and one woman that proves she’s got what it takes to take on more than just the cartel but Beck, Gunner and Bull too. Cunning, clever, crafty and definitely not to be taken lightly this team of investigators hoped to bring down one of the largest drug cartels. Beck is inventive, persistent and definitely at times no match for Beth as she proves to everyone her true womanpower. Never underestimate the smarts and strength of one CIA code breaker when angered. Watch out Clancy, Berry and Patterson : John Betcher: Is a mystery/thriller force to be reckoned with.
Fran Lewis reviewer