Damage Control: My review

Damage Control


Jonathan Graves and his team had one objective and that was to rescue four adults and five students held captive on a school bus for five days. The captors demanded three million dollars and Jonathan was chosen to be “the bag man,” allowing them to take the money and free the hostages. But not every mission is successful and an unexpected twist would change the course of the mission and take many lives. A group of soldiers get in on the kill and the carnage is beyond devastating. Students handcuffed together for five days and in close proximity of each other, unable to move about freely hoping to survive. But, the situation gets out of control, shots ring out from all directions and the Jonathan and his team lose sight of the situation and the end result is anything but what they expected. Shooters down but one still standing and left of the bus were all it took to kill the hostages in cold blood. But, what one young man recounts at the end would send chills down the spine of not only the survivor but Jonathan’s too. No mercy is shown and the shooter takes out the hostages in such a brutal and sadistic manner it would haunt the normal person’s dreams for a long time. As the scene comes into focus and the author relates the events to the reader, you can see the body count rising, the smell of blood and death all around and the end result is far from over. The carnage has yet to be counted and the final outcome of the mission is not resolved as someone made sure that Jonathan and his team’s position would be followed and the end result manipulated to what it turned out to be. His partner, Boxers, a sharpshooter and the decisions made to take out the opposition should have been enough to complete the mission and bring home the hostages. Their SUV destroyed, their alternate identities in the vehicle and their working identities compromised leaves them no option but to regroup and try and find out what happened. Did the Reverend from the Crystal Palace Church sell them out? Who would set them up but one thing rings true is that there are many players and the police and FBI are among them and not on their side but why? Added into the mix is the corrupt Mexican Government. As Boxers and Jonathan rehash the events that led up to the executions of the hostages they recap and try to formulate a new plan.


Two men discuss their part and both are part of law enforcement. FBI agent Trevor Munro and hired contractor Jerry Sjogren discuss the incident and what still needed to be done for Felix Hernandez the man who hired them. The end result would be a huge pay off and the one lose end was Tristan Wagner the sole student survivor that had to be added to the death list. Why would the heads of the Crystal Palace Church go along with this dangerous plan and endanger its parishioners? Three million dollars to take the risk is a lot of money but is it worth lives? Crystal Palace parents waited for their children to come home were they guilty too?


Venice Alexander aka Mother Hen is the director of operations for the legitimate side of Jonathan’s business called Security Solutions. Dealing with the situation and discussing their options she explains along with another partner what needs to be done and how they should proceed. Gail Bonneville is the other member of the investigative team and she handles the legitimate side of the business and watches the covert side with a keen interest. Facts come into light and the scene comes clearer as the sole survivor of the attack explains what went down in graphically described and brutal account of the executions. But, safety is from their reality as changes have to be made, new identities needed and the quest answers just beginning. Just how did the killers know their position, how and why were they set up and how many other groups and players were involved in this plot.

As the team meets and discusses the situation information about the finances and donations at the Crystal Palace church come to light and a strong conclusion is drawn that they might have sanctioned the kidnappings in order to increase their treasury and to be able to fund their programming on network television. Contributions made before the major outlay and new donors belonging to corporations and funds equal to twice the amount of the ransom. Father Dom D’Angelo is part of the team working with Security Solutions as the author recounts his back-story we get know how and why he and Jonathan met and became close friends. Jonathan’s father was in the mob and took many lives and the father’s family was connected too. Creating a school for children whose parents are in jail and having the father, as its primary counselor was a stipulation when he bought the building for the church.


Meeting with the Director of the FBI Father Dom D’Angelo learns the background behind what is happening with Crystal Palace, the huge donations and who is behind it and why. One CIA agent named Trevor Munro who went by another name is key to the operation and the kidnapping. So, why was she departing this information in the form of a confession and hoping that he would somehow repeat it to the right sources? Learning the connection between an American named Mitchell Ponder and Trevor Munro would help fill in some of the puzzle but not all. Munro was into the sale of drugs and Ponder manufactured the product, which he sold to his best customer a dangerous man named Felix Hernandez. Ponder was killed by Jonathan and the kidnapping and the murders were supposed to weed him out as he was the target. Explaining the chain of events of the donations, the ransom and the link to the Crystal Palace Church is really frightening knowing that somehow someone there allowed the murders to happen. With the help of an informant they hope to find out about the smuggling tunnels in the many different states. His reaction to her words startling and the end result remains to be seen.


Jonathan meets with Father Peron and hopes to enlist his to get out of Mexico. While Jonathan meets with the father Pastor Mitchell receives a disturbing phone call which leads to her placing one using a number she hoped to never employ. While recounting the events he reminds her of her transgressions and the Pastor might have to rethink more than her career. The end result of the children taken would be more than any parent could bear as the truth behind murders would be hidden in burnt carnage. Just how cruel are these players and what is next?


The next two scenes play out like a movie that would keep you fixed to the screen and waiting for more as Jonathan and Boxers come face to face with the police and Tristan learns the true meaning of more than just fear while Gail is about to interrogate Reverend Mitchell and hopefully learn the truth behind Crystal Palace. The betrayals and deceits are many and the death toll rises as more than just simple damage control will settle the dust before all is finally said and done.


The end result is tragic and the trust level lowered as one member is thought to be gone, the police are definitely out to get Boxers and Jonathan and one teen learns many life lessons that most would normally want to forgo. Tough, smart and hardheaded Tristan learns more than he wanted in order to stay alive and just about become part of the team.


What if your parents were brutally murdered would you risk everything to bring down the killer? Maria Elizondo sold herself you might say to Felix Hernandez in order to help bring him down. When approached by this man she stood up for herself but was she safe? When leaving and returning home she finds someone else there? Was this person going to really help her or make things worse? Why was there a tunnel in her bathroom and what was the purpose? Why did the parents of the missionaries agree to allow them to be kidnapped? Why when approached did one think it was no big deal and the other could not believe the truth? What was the real reason they wanted the kidnapping to go down and who was behind it? How would it benefit the church and its members? When Father Dom bears it all to these people what would the end result be when they realize what they had done?


An ending that will make the reader pause for thought as one young teen’s life is in danger, one woman would give up her life for them and some unfinished business will have to wait until the author decides what is next for the team. One drug lord and one CIA agent so corrupt would they get it away with it all? One teenager named Tristan what is his final fate? 

A fast paced plot that kept this reader glued to the printed page as it read the book in two hours and could not put it down until I read the dramatic and explosive ending. Why would parents put children in danger? What happens to Crystal Palace Church and the leaders? Just how far will someone go for money and just how corrupt are governments and our agencies included? Author John Gilstrap leaves the reader wanting to find out the next chapter in the lives of Jonathan and Boxers and hopes that Tristan might make it back in the next one too. Great novel. Great plot. Outstanding characters and great mystery thriller.


Let give this book: FIVE SCORPIONS


Fran Lewis: reviewer






Being Anti Social My review

Being Anti Social: Leigh K. Cunningham



Mace Evans is considered anti-social. Her family and friends feel that she never enjoys the company of others. Defining who you are takes perspective, ingenuity, creativity and of course total honesty. Facing yourself in the mirror and taking a pad and pencil to write down what you see might be a unique way to start. Some of us enjoy the company of family and friends while others prefer their own company and limited interaction with others.


Mace Evans is about to impart her story to readers. Told in the first person from her own point of view and perspective you hear her voice, concerns, feelings and opinions loud and clear as author Leigh K. Cunningham explains just what it means to be anti-social and much more. With her story there are many layers that need to be peeled away in order to find the real Mace. Mace as her sister Shannon states is definitely anti-social. She does not deny it. Stating that she does not like to engage in social activities, “ an unwillingness or inability to associate in normal or friendly ways with other people,” are just some of the definitions attributed to Mace. Mace seems to feel like the center of a cookie with all of the frosting glued to the sides of the top and bottom of the outer pieces. The fourth child out of five felt feels sandwiched in and her few seconds of glory when she was born overshadowed by her sister Shannon her mother’s clone. But, she is not devoid of friends although upon reflection you learn they are not your typical bunch. As she continues to allow the reader to learn more about her life and herself she explains about her failed marriage, her deep regret for cheating on Ben, her casual affairs, the reason behind the breakup and her hope to find someone else. Mace continues with a full description of her family unit describing each sibling and parent in vivid detail so that by the time she finishes you feel as if you would know each one when they entered a room. She also includes a detailed account of the lives of her friends, which might appear rosy, or one way on the outside but definitely not when you look closer. As you hear Mace and listen to her speak you realize that she is smart, astute, sarcastic, angry and alone. Even defining her friends and their relationships shows another side of her, as she feels possessive of her friend Kimba and betrayed when she marries Kenneth. Her mother, the one person she thinks does not really approve of her will show a different side before all is said and done. Mace feels that no matter what she does it is never right so why try and why adhere to the rules set out in the Evans family. Yet, in many ways just attending the mandatory family events she adheres to her mother’s wishes and attempts to fit in. One mother who on the surface appears to favor the other four children yet Mace does not see what is right in front of her.


Tragedy strikes and her mother is diagnosed with cancer and her whole world and her entire family’s changes. The dynamics of their relationship will change if she can try to reconnect with her in any way before it is too late. Mace is the Director of Finance for a corporation who dislikes her co-workers immensely to the point that they only communicate with her by e-mail. The one person who seems to understand her and respect her is her secretary. Rachel seems to know how to get along with Mace and the one things Mace does is appreciate this woman. Next, we meet several of her colleagues and one man named Thomas who gives new meaning to underhanded and sneaky.


As her mother has a short remission the family rallies together to support her and spend as much time with her as possible. New romances bloom as sister Lauren meets Patrick and a wedding might definitely be in the air. From girls night out which proves interesting, humorous and definitely filled with drinking, men and gossip these five women although different manage to bond, stand together and work through many difficult situations. From Sophie whose marriage is rocky, to Amber who can’t seem to find a right guy, to Erin who wants to become a writer and a group of friends she asks to review her new book. Kimba who loses a child and Mace who found a younger man, just where will all five wind up when all is finally said and done and will their friendships last?


When her mother passes away all the regrets pour out and then a letter written to Mace reveals the hidden truth behind her mother’s feelings for her. Sometimes parents back off when they want their children to blossom on their own and grow. Sometimes what appears as not caring is a parent’s way of not feeling unwanted. The spirit that Mace had and the feelings that her mother expresses to her in her final words in this letter will bring tears to your eyes. Feeling that she never wanted her attention and her sister Lauren needed it, her mother felt left out. When she saw her with her father and how much she loved being with him, she was glad she adored him yet hurt she never felt that way about her. Sometimes words come too late and feelings are buried along with the person. Just how Mace reacts to this letter and will she make an effort to be closer to her family remains to be seen. The whole in your heart when you lose a parent never heals, as I know since losing my mom last year. The memories you have together and the pictures are precious but the lost time together and the angry words can never be taken back or wiped away. Will Mace reconnect before it’s too late?


Although she might not be close to everyone in her family, she and her brother Jason seem to understand each other, she adores her friends, hates her monthly board meetings and is determined to live her life her way. Loyal to her family in many ways as she attends the mandatory family dinners, parties and events and finds time to care for her mom before she passes away. This is one family that might seem dysfunctional yet her mother seemed to make them come together at all costs. Just how this affects her father you will have to learn for yourself.


What is the final fate for Mace and will she ever find another Ben? That still remains to be seen. She has many short romances and one that she might want to pursue but that might be for another book and a later time. So, what if she wants to stay home with her chocolate, merlot and pizza and read a good book. So what if she wants her own space and needs only her own company. So what is she just wants to live her own life her way and not be a carbon copy of anyone else. What if she is headstrong, honest to a fault and definitely a true blue friend who comes to the rescue when needed? Her life she says “ is a river coursing its way through the landscape. At times, it slows to a mere trickle and other times it breaks its banks and floods green pastures.” Mace Evans is unique and wants to be accepted for who she is not who others want her to be. She is definitely someone you want in your corner as a friend. With the help of her four friends, her bottle of merlot, pizza and chocolate and let’s not forget her life coach and mentor whose sayings she quotes throughout this book, Oscar Wilde, Mace recovers to a small degree but hopes to find the reasons why people and even she defines herself as Being Anti-Social. What does life have in store for Mace? Author Leigh K. Cunningham is the only one that knows the answer to that question and hopefully she will bring this cast of characters and Mace back again to find out the answer. Vividly described in detail, situations that will make you laugh and cry this novel asks the question: Just what does being Anti-Social Mean and is it okay to be that way?


Fran Lewis: reviewer