The Thieves of Stonewood: Book I of the Stonewood Trilogy: Jeremy Hayes

Unions provide benefits for their employees. You get a pension; health insurance and hopefully people to get you pay raises and defend you when things go wrong. But, what happens when you are a down and out thief, which is your profession or trade and cannot get accept into their Guild which is the equivalent of a union in order to be able to commit crimes and steal? Poor Harcourt is sullen, withdrawn, and down and out on his luck and on top of everything else gets caught for stealing and is thrown in the dungeon for four months. Adept at sleight of hand and quite agile, Harcourt, if allowed could reap in a huge haul if no one stopped him. But, alienated from the most powerful guild, hated by the guards and constantly hit, beaten and abused Harcourt needs to find another way to survive. But, how when al he knows and ever wanted was to be a first class thief. Living in a world riddled with crime, corruption, police that are on the take, thieves, muggers and killers Harcourt needs to press hard to survive. Once a thief always a thief but with a good heart and a definite motivation to help his precious, Jalanna, his true love. Jalanna was seriously burned and her face permanently scarred in a fire causing her to cover her face with a black veil. Many shun at the sight of her bringing tears to her eyes. In order to provide the cure Harcourt needs to present a priest, who claims he can cure her with five thousand dollars worth of gold. But, where is a homeless thief to get such a stash? Throughout the start of the book you get to meet many different thieves, hear their voices and find out much about their world. Within this framework or Stonewood where this story takes place not only is there a Thieves Guild, a demon cult more dangerous than the thieves, the City Guard and corrupt police. The people of this city within many economic groups as it are divided into several districts and only those living in other than the South District are treated fairly.

Illusions are created in many ways and not everyone or everything is what it appears. Forced to leave Stonewood or be killed or beaten by the guards or the guild again he comes face to face with the most notorious and famous bandit or thief in the world. The One-Hand Bandit is what he is called but most know him as a wealthy nobleman. Listening to Harcourt’s story he decides to present him with something special that would change his life and his destiny. What if you could change your appearance at will? What if you could use this magic to create an illusion so powerful that you could pull off crimes and no one would ever know?

Finding his way to the Den to see his girlfriend the encounter allows readers to know where his heart really lies and that the disguise really works. But, everything has its limitations and as Cinderella had to be home at midnight or her coach would disappear, Harcourt could not use this special present for more than three days. Why? No one knows. Hoping to rob as many rich, get the five thousand pieces of gold to help cure his girlfriend, Harcourt forges ahead. But, not before he helps those that were kind to him and one young girl learns the true meaning of friendship and another will now be able to provide for so many others.

The true villains are Randar, Serdic and a guard named Zenod whose love of inflicting pain is almost as passionate as Harcourt’s goal to succeed and safe so many. But, Harcourt is impulsive and at times does not always think things through. Like a kid who wants ice cream and has to have it now, his capers often run awry. Angered by their lose of gold, the King beefing up security, the guard and the guild are definitely on their own high alert hoping to find out who is taking what they think is belongs to them.

Things take a different turn and Harcourt is able to get the gold need to repair his girlfriend’s face and remove her scars. But, one man’s hate for Harcourt turns his fate in a different direction. Facing a lifetime in jail Harcourt is wrongly accused of a murder he would never forget. Captain Dornell, although not one of Harcourt’s biggest fans decides to become his champion four years later. So, can Harcourt become part of an Investigation unit and help solve crimes? Will he find the man who committed the murder he was accused of? Just who is behind the murders of the guild members and who is behind those of the cult? Who committed a murder to mirror that of the one the cult would commit? What was their fatal mistake? Stonewood is not somewhere most people would want to live. A city filled with corruption, murder, hate and revenge on the part of those that are supposed to protect as well as they that want their bounties paid in gold. The innocent have no recourse and the guilty seem to be running the show. Author Jeremy Hayes takes us inside the minds of thieves, muggers, killers and one man you have to love, Harcourt even though he is a master thief.

Just how Harcourt learns the identity of the person who committed the murder he was accused of and why the Captain enlisted his help you won’t believe the twist of fate. Harcourt is smart and not just a thief and saving the life of one of the members of the Guild might help him get what he was after in the first place. How does he trick them into allowing him in? Who else that is close to him is in a position of authority? So many twists, turns and surprises that the author keeps readers guessing as Harcourt takes on more than just the Thieves Guild but the ghosts and the demon cult too. The scenes are quite graphic so not for the feint of heart but definitely so vividly depicted you can paint your own picture and reproduce it in your own mind.

Who winds up as the top thief at the end? What is Harcourt’s plan for revenge? An ending where you might say some get more than their just deserts and another gets an unexpected ending. What’s next for Harcourt and the Thieves Guild? Will the demon cult be eliminated? What about the corrupt guards? The answers we hope to these and many other questions in Book 2 of this trilogy.

Characters so unique and well crafted and groups intertwined to create this intricate plot author Jeremy Hayes will keep readers spellbound using the special magic that he has given Harcourt hoping to make sure that no one closes the book until you reach that very last page.  Deceit, betrayals, trust, loyalties tested, new friendships formed and a caste system within the city and even within the guild, just how will Harcourt survive and what is next for him? Scenes that will make you hold your breath and others that will bring smiles to your face. Who is more corrupt: The Guards, the demon cult, the Thieves Guild or everyone? Who can be trusted? Would you want to entry into one of these groups? Is it worth being a thief? You decide for yourself or you can ask Harcourt!

Fran Lewis: reviewer


The Covert Element by John Betcher

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