I’ve been reading this series out of sequence, starting with book three, The Body Market, then the prequel novella A Killing Truth, and now book one. I recommend reading the prequel first. Although the books work well as stand-alones, and the author handles backstory well, giving short doses where needed, Leine Basso is a complicated woman with a complicated life. I understood this story better for having met some of the off-stage characters previously.
The other books I’ve read so far by this author (I’m also a fan of her Kate Jones series) are pure thriller. This one, due to the macabre nature of the villain and the crimes, has an element of horror, including the dark humor that’s often found in that genre. Leine is hired as security on the set of a reality TV show that pairs ex-cons with beautiful “bachelorettes.” The concept is bizarre, a satire on the culture of reality television. When one of the contestants is killed, the show’s ratings go up, and one of the contestants’ reactions is the ultimate commentary on the loss of reality that can happen in this part of the entertainment industry. I wish I could share it, but it would be a spoiler.
Leine is a compelling, unique character. Her emotional life, her relationships, and her professional skills are drawn with finesse. She’s tough, but she’s multidimensional, not just an action figure with an occasional emotion. Detective Santiago Jensen is a perfect complement to her character, and their relationship feels real.
Berkom is an unpredictable author, in a good way. I can count on a riveting pace, but I don’t see her falling back on a formula the way some thriller writers do. Each book is different. I plan to keep moving through this series and to read book two soon.
Buy links are on author’s web site.
True or false:
“Bad boys” are sexy.
Dangerous men are exciting.
A man with money and power can make a girl’s life magical.
False, all the way through. Ask Kate Jones. She made the youthful mistake of believing these things were true. This series of novellas chronicles her attempts to escape the consequences of a very bad romantic error, from her first break-out to the follow-ups years later. Each episode is hair-raising and intense. Even though I knew Kate would survive—after all, it’s told in the first person, in her irresistibly frank and sometimes sassy voice—I still couldn’t stop reading, feeling as if she somehow might not make it. I was glad these are novellas so I could reach a stopping point and get some sleep.
In the first novella, an old man in Mexico warns Kate that she has ‘bad spirits.” Without this set-up, some of her extraordinary bad luck in subsequent episodes might not quite work, but instead, it creates a subtle shamanistic element in the series. Kate not only attracts danger but also seers. Their presence reminds the reader that she’s enmeshed in a web of forces largely outside her control, some spiritual, some all too physical, as she keeps fighting, and sometimes running, for her life.
Find buy links and more about the author and her other books at http://dvberkom.com
I’ve reviewed several of her other books and recommend them all so far!
The following books are bargains right now. Everywhere, not just Amazon. Book title links go to Goodreads for more about the books. Sales links take you Barnes and Noble, Kobo, the iTunes bookstore, and/or Smashwords. Review links go to my reviews on this site. (I didn’t review my own book, of course, so there isn’t one for The Calling. See Goodreads for reviews.)
Mystery mixes with political intrigue for an American in Poland
A Blind Eye by Jane Gorman
Sale dates: through end of March
Sale price: 99 cents
Kate Jones Thrillers Series, Vol. 1 boxed set of the first four novellas by DV Berkom
sale dates: through the end of March
sale price: 99 cents
review of a Kate Jones short (second half of review)
Innovative twist on the mystery genre: no murder and a touch of the mystical
The Calling by Amber Foxx
Sale dates: through March 26th
Sale price: 99 cents
Suspense with an unforgettable protagonist, introduction to the Amsterdam Assassin Series
Fundamental Error by Martyn V. Halm
Free everywhere all the time
One of Martyn V. Halm’s many gifts as a writer is his ability to get inside the mind and heart of a protagonist who ought to be unsympathetic and to make the character’s experience so compelling that the reader roots for him. Wolfgang, narrator of this suspenseful tale, is professional pickpocket. He smokes heroin. He lives in his van with a pet rat. He’s not connected to a family or close friends and that’s how he wants it. Life is safer that way. A young man on the wrong side of the law, he has to live without fully trusting anyone, and even then he never can be quite safe. Not someone most of us would identify with. And yet Halm tells his story in a way that makes the reader empathize with the tension of living on the edge and connect with those aspects of Wolf that a law-abiding citizen may fantasize about: the desire to get away with something, to take from the rich and give to oneself, to work only a few hours a day, and to answer to no one.
The gradual destruction of Wolf’s chosen way of life begins with Lilith, a young woman who wants him to teach her his trade. Something isn’t quite right about her, though he can’t figure out what it is. He also encounters the dangerous and enigmatic woman he calls Q, who occasionally hires him when she needs his subtlety and dexterity for some secretive task, and he dares not turn her down. Readers who are familiar with the Amsterdam Assassin series will feel an added layer of threat when they meet Q, though Wolf never learns her name or her occupation. Fans of Halm’s other books will know.
The story is framed within a series of short present-tense reflections after Wolf has been severely injured in an alley at night, alternating with longer past-tense flashbacks revealing how his life came to this point. This narrative pattern heightens the tension as the events that cracked his isolation and then swept him into deadly entanglements are revealed.
Recommended for readers who enjoy thrillers, suspense, strong characterization, and books that go off the beaten track.
Find buy links on the In Pocket page of the author ‘s web site.
The latest in the Amsterdam Assassin series is the best yet. Like the others, it strikes a balance between action thriller and psychological suspense. The immersion in Japanese culture as well as Amsterdam life is masterful. There are layers upon layers of complex manipulation, making the imagery of strategy games, both chess and the Japanese game of go, key elements in setting the tone. As always, Halm writes both love scenes and fight scenes with intimate realism and finesse. Neither the sex nor the violence is gratuitous. Both are part of the development of deep and intriguing characterization. Halm portrays the protagonists and antagonists in their full humanity, with no sense that one side of the law or the other is inhabited by morally superior people. It’s not even clear that there really are two sides to the law. The story reveals a multi-dimensional moral universe, nothing as simple as good vs. evil or cops vs. criminals, in a plot that flows from Jamaica to the Netherlands and back with unending suspense.
I’m reviewing early because I recommend reading this series from the beginning and reading the short fiction as well All the prior works lead up to this one. Though each novel tells its own complete tale and reaches a resolution, reading the books in sequence lets the reader follow a unique and compelling set of characters through a larger—and habit-forming—story. Start now. Ghosting comes out December. 1
Additional sales links on the author’s web site:
Other books in the series:
Everything listed on this site is a bargain, of course, indie prices being what they are, but these are a few of the super-bargains.
Chains of Prophecy by Jason Crawford
Sales links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-urban-fantasy
Reprobate by Martyn v. Halm
Sales links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/suspense-and-thriller
Time Shifters by Shanna Lauffey
sales links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-science-fiction/
The Outlaw Women by Amber Foxx
Fundamental Error by Martyn v. Halm
both can be found on: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/short-story-singles-and-collections
and one of the books I just reviewed, Lost Cause by J.L. Simpson
download links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-mystery
This long short story or short novella is one of the four of its kind that make up the Amsterdam Assassin Series along with three full-length novels. (I’m glad to know that a fourth novel is on the way.) One of the many things I like about this series is that Halm’s style is so unique and his characters so original that I can’t describe his work by referring to other books or authors. The protagonist is a professional assassin—a complex woman, strong and unusually intelligent, with expertise in many areas related to her occupation. In Fundamental Error, Katla’s skills with technology and explosives and her capacity for careful planning, self-control, and observation are central to the plot. There’s a deceptive calm to the narration that somehow raises the tension. The shifts in time and point of view are structured masterfully, shifting back and forth between the minutes before a terrorist’s attempt to blow up an Amsterdam shopping center and the weeks leading up to the attack. The target’s horrific goal makes this story less morally ambiguous than the others. I didn’t feel the “Oh my god, I’m rooting for Katla and she’s an assassin” amazement that has struck me as I got swept up in the novels and the other Killfiles. Not that I mind having that experience. In fact, it’s one of the marvels of this series. Halm somehow makes a woman whose job is unsympathetic—to say the least—into a riveting lead character for a series.
If you’re new to the series, you could start here (free)
Or jump in with the first full-length novel in the series, Reprobate, for only 99 cents
You can see my reviews on the Goodreads links for all the other books and Killfiles in the series.