Leine Basso travels to Thailand and Tanzania in her anti-trafficking work, under circumstances that require her to forge an alliance with an Afrikaner poacher, a complex and fascinating rogue. A tightly structured page-turner with vivid settings and compelling characters, Cargo deals with some of the worst in human behavior: cruelty to fellow humans and to wildlife, motivated by greed. The harm to animals takes place offstage—the reader isn’t forced to watch—but the aftermath is tragic and appalling, and the scenes detailing a trafficking victim’s ordeal haunted me. This is an intense read, but I still recommend it. The last line troubled me, though. It’s closure, full-circle justice of a sort, but it’s disturbing, too—not healing.
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.
Leine Basso has a complicated life. In this series prequel novella, she’s a professional assassin for an ultra-secret agency, the lover of a man in the same line of work—and a single mother. Things get even more complicated when her boss at the Agency seems to become as dangerous as her work itself. Berkom’s writing is tighter than ever. The pace is riveting, the plotting masterful, and the characters deep. A shocking twist at the end is gut-wrenching. I’ve read one of the Leine Basso thrillers, The Body Market, and I know I’ll be reading more of them. Berkom is one of my go-to authors. I can turn on my Nook and start the first page assured that not single page that follows will let me down.
Find sales links for this and other great thrillers at http://dvberkom.com
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!
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that takes so many heart-stopping sudden twists in so few pages. The novella begins dramatically and only cools down enough at times to let the reader and the protagonist recover for the next brush with death. Kate Jones is a character I want to follow through the rest of her adventures. In this book, she attempts to escape from a life-changing mistake, a romantic involvement with a man who turned out to be a drug lord. It’s a classic tough-choice plot, with no good options. Kate takes the bravest route, with best potential long-term outcome but also the greatest risks, and she does it her own way. With a Mexican setting the author clearly knows well, Bad Spirits will take you on hair-raising ride with a kick-ass heroine. I look forward to the rest of series.
This first in the Kate Jones thriller series is currently available free.
Lois Winston’s Crewel Intentions is a mini-sequel to the first book in the Anastasia Pollock crafting mystery series. It’s light, tight and cozy, with the mystery neatly set up and solved in a few chapters. Anastasia is as delightful a narrator as ever, with her humor and knowledge of crafts. A fun read for anyone who enjoyed Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, and is curious about what happened to Erica next.
Many of Winston’s books are listed on this site with buy links:
DV Berkom’s Let Sleeping Dogs Lie is a chilling mystery/thriller set in the Arizona desert.
Skinwalkers, A woman kidnapped by a bad boyfriend. Clues in petroglyphs behind an abandoned gas station.
I kept wondering how Berkom could tie it up in twenty-three pages—it just kept rolling, getting more intense. But she pulls it off brilliantly. This was my first venture into the Kate Jones series, and won’t be my last. A boxed set is in my Nook and I’ll be reading it soon.
Buy links and information about Berkom’s other books can be found at http://dvberkom.com
You’ll also find some of her work on the mystery page on this 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:
It’s a cliché to say a book was hard to put down—but this one was really hard to put down. The story concept is original, and Berkom is a master of pacing. Every scene is crafted to move the plot and keep the reader wanting to know what happens next, with a balance between intense action scenes and suspenseful scenes of quiet tension that build to the next explosion.
Leine Basso, a former assassin, is now working to rescue victims of human trafficking. When she tangles with the traffickers, her skills from her old profession are needed. Leine is a kick-ass heroine, but not super-human. She networks with people who can help her accomplish a mission, and those networks are set up early in the plot so none of the events becomes a deus ex machina twist. With everything set up so precisely, the Body Market peaks with one of the best surprise endings I’ve read in a thriller—and yet another one, if you read the bonus short story at the end. (You should.)
The scenes in the point of view of Elise, the kidnapped teenager Leine is trying to rescue are even more gripping than those in Leine’s point of view, because this girl has no weapons, no training, no access to people who can help her, and no experience outside of her Beverly Hills rich kid world. I never knew if Elise would survive, or how, though I could see the roots of her strength beneath her spoiled-brat surface.
This book recently received a well-deserved B.R.A.G. Medallion, which is given in recognition for the best in indie writing. To learn more about the B.R.A.G. Medallion go to http://www.bragmedallion.com/
Berkom has such an extensive list of publications I can’t fit them all on this site. You’ll find The Body Market on the mystery page—it’s both mystery and thriller—and can find sales links for Berkom’s other books on her web site. The newest in the Leine Basso series, Cargo, came out August 1.
The first Leine Basso thriller, Serial Date, is currently free, and when I went to Barnes and Noble to download it I was pleased to discover the Kate Jones series as well. I’m looking forward to reading more by Berkom.