Category Archives: criminals

Is Vengeance ever right? An Interview with Anthony D’Augustine

Interview with Anthony D’Augustine author of Just Vengeance

  • Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

One of the tenets of good writing is to write about what you know. After 37 years of investigative work, I felt my strong suit was the detective mystery genre.  I didn’t want to write a book, though, on police procedurals or true crime. I wanted to create fictional characters and challenge them on ethical and moral grounds. Molding the attitudes and actions of these characters held a great deal of appeal for me. I believe my approach is different from other detective mysteries in that my stories go beyond the plot driven variety. My characters are described not only by their actions, but by their inherent nature (Best Enemies) and their metaphysical viewpoints (Just Vengeance).

  • How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I spend a great deal of time formulating a sub-text for my books. I don’t take notes during this period of time. In Best Enemies, for example, the underlying theme is “Man in Nature”; in Just Vengeance it is “Man’s view of God”.   After I decide on a sub-text, I begin to work on the plot. I spend a lot of time thinking about the opening chapters, about how to grab attention and set a base line for my plot. I do make notes at this time; however, I never make outlines. Why? Because I never know in which direction my stories and characters will go.  My characters always seem to create the story.

  • How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

 I like to work backwards when it come to researching a section of my story. Instead of researching then writing, I write, then research. I do this because as the story develops on its own, I let it take me where it wants to go. After I see what I have written, I go through it section by section. That’s where the research comes in as to accuracy/preciseness, and corroboration/conformation with other sections within the story.

  • What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

My areas of research generally consist of conversations with law enforcement personnel, the use of Internet search engines, news feeds, and maps.

  • How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

Being a retired police officer, I have no problem discussing police matters with other officers, active or retired. Were I not associated with police work, I would approach a police officer for information or advice by being straight forward. I would tell the officer I have a high regard for his/her profession and that I would like to learn about their successes as well as the difficulties they face. Then, I would be honest about the reason I would like that information: I’m writing an article, a book, doing a video, establishing an organization, etc.

  • How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I believe my first book was rejected five or six times by agents. I try not to remember the negative aspects of the book marketing business. I don’t recall my first book, Best Enemies, being rejected for any specific reason. I can understand not being accepted at the start. I was a first time author with no published track record; I had no history of articles or books; no literary degrees or awards; I didn’t have celebrity status or any other form of name recognition; nor did I have a large following. Agents and traditional publishing companies like a sure thing. I was not that. It was then I looked into self publishing.

  • Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

No, I didn’t need to self-publish on e-book before going to a publisher.

  • Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

 I would recommend self-publishing for first-time, non-celebrity authors in the fiction genre for the following reasons: -1- total control over you work product, -2- total control over the marketing and distribution of your book, and -3- you have an opportunity to establish an audience from the bottom up. Self-publishing allows the author to set his or her own parameters. The self-published author controls all aspects of the publishing process.

  • Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

 In my opinion, the vast majority of authors do not make a sufficient income—by writing alone— to live on. They generally supplement their love for writing by working a separate part time or full time job, or, as in my case, living on a retirement income. There are exceptions, though. Like the multi-millionaire actors in Hollywood, there are those in the literary world who have achieved great fortunes. Others have made a comfortable living writing for newspapers, magazines, blogs, television, radio, advertisers, or as speech writers.

  • What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I don’t have any funny stories to tell about book tours I’ve been on, because I haven’t been on any. I’ve chosen to promote both my books through other venues, most notably through the use of the Internet and its worldwide marketplace.

Outskirts Press Announces the Highly Anticipated Sequel to Best Enemies:

Just Vengeance: A Detective Novel by Anthony D’Augustineperf6.000x9.000.indd

“The only justice I’ve ever seen in my life came at the muzzle of my gun.”

December 1, 2015 – Denver, CO and New York, NY – Retired detective lieutenant Anthony D’Augustine has released Just Vengeance: A Detective Novel, published by Outskirts Press. The new book is the sequel to his well-received debut novel, Best Enemies, in which readers first meet Mac Taylor, a rough-and-tumble ex-Newark cop.

Now married and recently granted a PI license, Mac’s very first case finds him embroiled in a global terrorism investigation. Originally hired to investigate a reported suicide, he soon uncovers a sinister plot that involves murders in Scotland and Italy, and plans to destroy several U.S. landmarks. Shortly after his discovery, Mac and his pregnant wife, Cheryl, become targets of international terrorists; specifically, a psychopathic killer named Dirk Conroy, aka Ahmed Sal Mohammed.

In the world of espionage, where it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad, Mac deftly maneuvers among agents, operatives, and confidential informants as he sets out to find Conroy. His partner, FBI Agent Sara Dillon, wants Conroy captured alive, but Mac wants him dead at all costs.

His old friend from Vietnam days, Nick Polsani, tries to convince him that seeking justice is the only course of action to be taken, but Mac disagrees. He’s going to settle a score, regardless of the consequences, and in the process he hopes to save thousands of innocent lives and the financial future of America. It’s not justice he’s looking for. It’s Just Vengeance.

Just Vengeance is fast-paced, exciting, and insightful, offering the reader a realistic view of detective work and an understanding of its psychological impact. The book is dedicated to the author’s son, Staff Sergeant Joseph D’Augustine, who was killed in Afghanistan on March 27, 2012.

At 312 pages, Just Vengeance is available online through Outskirts Press at www.outskirtspress.com/bookstore. The book is sold through Amazon and Barnes and Noble for a maximum trade discount in quantities of 10 or more, and is being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets with a focus on the mystery & detective category.

ISBN: 978-1-4787-6307-9

ISBN: 978-1-4787-6361-1

Genre: FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Hardboiled

For more information, visit the author’s website at http://outskirtspress.com/bookstore/justvengeance.

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About the Author: Anthony D’Augustine is a former detective lieutenant and firearms training supervisor with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey. In addition to working with the county, Anthony served ten years as a Dumont, New Jersey, police officer. He and his wife, Patricia, have three daughters and five grandchildren. Retired from law enforcement, he now donates much of his time running a charitable memorial fund in his son’s name. The fund provides scholarships to local students and support to military families in need. For details, go to SSJDMF.com.

 

 

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Why Tuesday is Best

Tuesday Falling

By

I. Williams

 

A NetGalley Review

 

This novel was written for me personally – I swear.

S/he [profile picture shows a male but…] has picked all my favourite topics to write about, from a feisty young woman who stands up for herself – and others – against immense odds and some real nasty villains, to hidden London. And the Internet and world of the Dark Net and coding and…And all in an easy, acceptable, riveting [and amusing] style, that makes a story compelling you to read until the very end.

Williams says s/he got the idea Whilst travelling the London Underground and spying an indy girl with stay away eyes and F you clothing I immediately wanted to write a book with her in. And so he did.

For me this book ticked so many issues including what it must be like to grow up in such an abandoned area of social environment, where lawlessness has ruled for a long time and where retribution is unknown. A world in which you believe you deserve what you get and thus don’t protest or protect yourself from harm. The baby mothers who are just children themselves but are needed for their homes for drug trafficking in ‘comfort’. What is clear from the various UK Governmental deprivation indices available, is that these deprivations tend to occur as clusters – ie social deprivations go alongside economic, health, physical environment and activity deprivations, and have a tendency also to cluster crime within these boundaries of deprivation. In London the deprived areas are also clustered around the areas where immigration is a key factor such as Hackney.

Within these deprived areas, housing is an issue as is skills and education with many children not completing their secondary schooling due to health or other factors which can then lead to criminal behaviours to obtain money or to maintain a social role and standing within the peer group. And thus we gain a culture of crime being an everyday, expected and anticipated occurrence with no attempt to live outside the criminal mentality.

This is the setting from which Tuesday appears on the street as a young abused child, homeless but with a razor sharp intelligence that enables her to learn fast and to plan strategies with the best generals – Sun Tzu would be proud of her. She benefits from the online culture of today to assist her in her plan. Her plan, that has every move calculated precisely with all the potential outcomes also factored in and thus responses also provided. Her plan to help those abused like herself turn the tables on the abusers – with ferocity and determination that astounds all who encounter them and her.

 

So I went through the novel bookmarking madly.

Firstly there are all the computing aspects – which not all of which I knew about, and I do try and keep reasonably up to date here. For those less techno-able I have collected a few and will now try and explain very briefly what they are about.

  • Open-source hacking: if you go to the Internet you can actually find articles about how to be a hacker. A hacker is not just the adolescents who break into NASA but also the people who create new ideas within the software world – crackers break, hackers don’t. hackers solve problems and build things and believe in mutual help to solve problems. Open source software is software that doesn’t belong to a company such as Microsoft but is created free to use. Thus an open source hacker is using free to use software to solve a problem. In this novel, Tuesday is often a cracker rather than a hacker as she uses the software to break connections etc.
  • Mirror protocols: a mirror is basically just that – a second site or set of protocols that mirror – replicate – the original site or protocol so that the instruction goes to both and thus can be intercepted before action.
  • Spirit-slide: this seems to be something quite difficult to find but seems to be related to mirroring and shielding and routing in programming and you need to be able to program in C++ to be able to do it!
  • Silk Road: Now I already knew about the Silk Road but it had been shut down by the police and FBI in 2014. It was basically an online illegal (and anonymous) sales site especially for drugs and guns but it seems that it was so popular that Diabolus Market (cannabis only) immediately went into business as the new Silk Road [https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/good-bye-silk-road-2-0-welcome-silk-road-3-0/]
  • Dark Web: I had also heard about this – [http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/internet/what-is-dark-web-how-access-dark-web-deep-3593569/] this site explains the dark web as a series of web sites that are publically visibly – such as the Silk Road – but hide the IP addresses of the servers behind them. They are thus effectively anonymous and difficult to police. The Dark Web can be useful for legitimate uses such as when you live in a country that has banned external contact, you can do this through the Dark Web, but mainly it is for illegal activities.
  • The Deep Web: includes the Dark Web but also all user databases, webmail pages, registration required web forums, and the pages behind paywalls. This means that every page visible on the internet has maybe millions of Deep Web pages behind it which can be accessed.
  • The Dark Internet are further networks, databases or websites that cannot be reached over the internet and are proprietary, niche, or very private.
  • BMR – ebay for dark Webbers – Black Market Reloaded – another illegal sales site.
  • Interzone: which is described as –scuba-diving through a police sea – in the book is the place where the internet’s heavy users inhabit. They live through the use of digital media and physical presence is secondary to virtual presence.

“If the Interzone as William S. Burroghs anticipated it represents a transitional phase in between, the Internet would then be an interzone between real life and the virtual life that creates the illusion that what you see is what you get” [The Internet as an Interzone by Laura Borràs Castanyer, (University of Barcelona), p5 2011?]

 

The second major aspect of the book is all about Secret and Underground London – and there is so much of this favourite topic of mine in this novel, that I am going to give this its own post and take my readers through the places mentioned and some more they maybe also hadn’t heard about!

I really can’t believe myself here, but I’m going to give this novel, 7 stars out of 5!

Screaming Out from a Fire

The Summer of Fire

by

Kitty Pilgrim

A Netgalley review

In March of 2015 – this year – it seemed that Iceland’s largest volcanic eruption for 200 years ended.

It was the Bardarbunga volcano that was causing a lava field to form in Holuhraun. The eruption had lasted 6 months. This lava field was 8 times bigger than the 2010 Eyjafjallajökul eruption that is showcased in this book but still very much smaller than the 1783 Laki eruption which was the one that caused mass famine and death.

Volcanic eruptions cause our skies to change colour and it was noted by Turner and other great artists as they painted in the 1780s.  Eruptions made the sky redder [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2588838/How-19th-century-art-painting-picture-Earths-polluted-past-Turners-sunsets-reveal-volcanic-ash-gas-sky.html] and it is claimed that Turner’s  famous picture of The Lake was a good example of this. The 1815 Indonesian volcanic eruption demonstrated how this could happen as the particles scatter sunlight and the effect can be seen in Europe for some 3 years afterwards.

Also, the famous painting The Scream by Munch was meant to depict a volcanic eruption. – it was originally called The Scream of Nature. This was painted after the Krakatoa eruption of 1883. painting eruption hawaii erupts

This book not only has volcanology but also archaeology and oceanography within it for the scientist to explore further.

We learn some science along the way including that in psychopaths, the amygdala area of the brain is markedly less active than normal people and that the frontal cortex where the receptors for emotions such as empathy and remorse are contained are impaired.

 

Included in the characters that take part in the story are an Italian Gang boss aka Mafiosa; naive young boys; brave photographers; royalty; billionaires; and English country gentry. Was there any stock character that the author left out?

And just when you think that nothing more can happen because all the baddies have been killed off – they turn up again and something new and nasty happens!

I wish that I liked it more, but it all seemed a little too contrived and a little too full of the stock characters of crime novels. We didn’t explore the characters sufficiently as there were just too many of them…

 

3/3.5 stars.

 

 

What does it matter? Marine or Trucker? Legal or not?

Title: Yeager’s Law
Author: Scott Bell
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Abel Yeager is dead broke, down on his luck, and suffering from a serious case of what-the-hell-does-it-matter. His transition from active Marine to stateside long-haul trucker hit a wicked speed bump when his rig was involved in a wreck that claimed the life of a pregnant woman and laid him up for several months.

Back at work but deeply in debt, Yeager meets bookstore owner Charlie Buchanan in St. Louis and jumps at the chance to haul a load of remainder books to Austin for her. On the way south, a crew of truck thieves tracks his every move. But none of them know what Charlie’s ex has smuggled inside the book pallets, who he stole it from, or how far the owner will go to get it back. Charlie’s the first person Yeager has cared about in a long time, but as their bond deepens, so does the danger they’re in.

With enemy forces closing in, Yeager battles greed, corruption, and his own fatalism in a bid to hold true to Yeager’s First Law: come home at the end of the day.

Yeagers-Law-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

 

Author Bio:

Scott Bell has over 25 years of experience protecting the assets of retail companies. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice from North Texas State University.

With the kids grown and time on his hands, Scott turned back to his first love—writing. His short stories have been published in The Western OnlineCast of Wonders, and in the anthology, Desolation.

When he’s not writing, Scott is on the eternal quest to answer the question: What would John Wayne do?

 yeager

Author Links:

Goodreads

Fixed in Writing about Blood

Author Interview: T.E.Woods

The Justice Novels: Fixed in Blood

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

I’ve been interested in the notion of justice for a long time. When you think about it, is there really such a thing? If someone has wronged you, can you ever really be made whole? Surely you can be compensated or you can learn to forgive and forget. And certainly you can punish. But once someone has harmed you, you can never go back to that pre-harm moment, can you? You are forever changed.

My curiosity about the notion of justice led me to develop this series. I like the idea of a female avenger. We don’t see much of that…well, there’s Xena, Warrior Princess. I also liked the idea that Lydia is finding her own healing by providing whatever justice she can to others when no one was there for her when she needed it most. I also like the relationship between Mort and Lydia. There’s genuine love there…without the typical romantic side of it. Theirs is a different kind of love…but a love nonetheless.

I think my years as a clinical psychologist give me a unique perspective through which to view my characters. I’ve been told by many that they seem more fully developed than most characters in the murder mystery genre. It’s probably my trained-in tendency to go for the deep, underlying motives of behaviour that allows me to write my characters in what some view as a rich and layered way. Anyway, I hope the readers find it unique.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I don’t think about things very long at all, actually. If I think something’s a good idea, or if I have a thought as to how to move the plot along, I’ll start writing. I’ll let it develop as I write. There’s an organic side to writing that sounds odd, but really does happen. Once I start writing, the story and the characters lead me along to what should happen next. Now, this style of operation means a lot of words get edited out, but I’d rather capture my ramblings as they’re popping in my head than to overthink and self-edit before my fingers touch the keyboard. Besides, lots of things I’ve edited out wind up finding a place in another story, so the words aren’t really wasted.

Sometimes (often?) I get stuck. For that I use a whiteboard I have mounted to my office wall. I’ll diagram the scene and sit back and look at it…always hoping there’ll be some magical glowing arrow that will appear and tell me where to take the scene. So far, no luck with the magic neon. But if I stare at something long enough, the way out will emerge for me.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I research as I go. If I get to a point where, say, I need an untraceable poison for my murderer to use, I’ll not research it beforehand. I’ll wait til I’m at the point in the scene and then I’ll look for the answer. Sometimes I’m researching when I’m not even planning to. I might walk into a restaurant or drive by a particularly steep cliff, and realize this would be great to use in a story. I’ll whip out my phone or my tablet, take a few pictures, jot a few notes, and file them away until my writing seems to find a place for them.

My day job (I’m a shrink, remember?) allows me work with incredibly brave people who are working hard to change their lives. I hear stories of abuse and abandonment; urges and obsessions; secrets and shames. It’s hard to un-ring that bell once their experiences have made their way into my awareness. While I would never duplicate a patient’s story in one of my books, I guess you could call my daily exposure to the glories and the darkness of the human condition a sort of research. I’m always amazed when a reader tells me “Oh, that was so entertaining, but of course something like that could never happen in real life”. I want to tell them that I’ve heard countless stories of experiences much more bizarre than the scene I wrote. But, of course, I can’t. But wait, didn’t I just?

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I use the internet incessantly. I tell my husband he’s only allowed to die of natural causes after a well-documented and easily explained illness. Should he perish suddenly and detectives pull the searches from my laptop? Let’s just say the cuffs would be on my wrists faster than butter on popcorn and I’d have some explaining to do. I also use my colleagues. My job has me interacting with social workers, physicians, police, crisis workers…any number of professionals one might imagine would be involved should there be murders or mayhem afoot. They’re quite generous in answering questions like “How does a regular person get in to see someone in prison?” or “Where would a person need to be cut so that they could bleed out in less than thirty seconds?” I also use Google Maps a lot. It’s amazing that I can be sitting in my home office in Madison, Wisconsin, decide Lydia is going to have dinner in some bistro on Whidbey Island, and with a few strokes of the keys learn not only the names of the streets she’d take to get there, but also how long it would take and how many miles she’d travel.  The last two books I’ve written have characters in the Russian Mob. I’m learning all about translator apps. I can type what I want my character to say using English, press “enter”, et voila, the Russian translation instantly appears.

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

Like I said, I use my buddies. I’m lucky in that regard. The old cliché is true. Ask someone to start talking about themselves, especially if they love their work, and all you have to do is sit back and listen. I think professionals want authors to get it right, so they’re eager to help if you convince them you’re going to treat their profession respectfully. Sometimes they’ll ask that I use their name for one of my characters. I have no problem doing that. It’s interesting, though. I’ve not encountered one person who wanted me to use their name who asked that I use it for a character in their same profession! Everybody wants their name to be either the powerful millionaire or the bad guy. What’s that tell you about the kind of people I hang with?

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

You know how people use grains of sand or stars in the sky to denote big numbers? Let me tell you, a new, probably more accurate, metaphor for gigantic numbers is how many times a writer gets rejected. My agent shopped the first book I wrote to every agent around…big, small, independent, corporate…you name it, she pitched it. So many houses “loved” it. Yet not one of them bought it. Fortunately, I have a bull dog of an agent. She told me to go write another book. I did. She started shopping it around. It took nearly two years and dozens of rejections before Random House bought it. So, if you’re a writer who’s reading this…don’t stop. Don’t give up. A “no” means nothing more than “Not this house, Not this time”. If your writing is strong and your story is good, (and if your agent is a bull dog) you’ll find a home for it.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Yes. I think that’s a strategy more and more houses are using. Self-publishing has, in my opinion, become somewhat like the minor leagues for the major baseball franchises. If you self-publish and demonstrate you can build an audience and bring in the sales, a major house will be much more inclined to invest in you. But you’ll need to sell big numbers. I’m talking several tens of thousands of self-published books.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I think first and foremost any writer should get an agent. Let your agent guide you. Let your agent become your champion. He/she knows the business, has the contacts, and knows who’s buying what. If, after your agent has tried his/her damnedest to sell your book and your agent tells you it’s a good book, then go ahead and self-publish. Build those numbers. Give your agent the ammunition he/she needs to go back to the houses that rejected you and convince them they missed an opportunity. Let your agent guide you. Let your agent guide you. Let your agent guide you. Then trust your agent. (In case you haven’t noticed, I’m crazed about my agent.)

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Depends on how you want to live. This is my first series. I’ve got four books out now. That means I’ve got five units on the market: the four books and a boxed trilogy of the first three books. Random House pays me quarterly. I make enough money now to live a VERY simple existence. Did you notice the VERY was in capital letters? I’m hoping, of course, those royalty checks grow and someday I’ll be able to write full time. Nothing would please me more. I love the time I spend writing. I love the marketing. I love hearing from the readers. Alas, at this age and stage of my life, I’m not interested in living a VERY simple existence. I keep my day job. Blissfully, it’s a day job I love. I’m a very lucky woman.

  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I enjoy book tours so much. It’s great to meet the readers and hear what they liked/disliked about the book. There are always funny stories, too. I guess two pop into mind as I think about your question. One is a woman at a signing. You could tell she was a serious reader…and she took her critique of what she reads very seriously. During the Q and A she stood up, nodded to me, and promptly turned to face the audience. She started off on the character of my detective. She went on and on about the symbolism and metaphor he represented. She equated him to various characters in other works ranging from Shakespeare to Voltaire to Hemmingway. At one point she dramatically announced “Even his name…Mort…speaks to the death that surrounds him.” Finally she sat down. I thanked her for her kindness and called on the next person. I simply didn’t have the heart to tell her I’m not that deep. Mort was named when, as I was conceptualizing the book, I sat my husband down and told him I needed a name for my detective. “It should be one syllable,” I said. “Strong and clean.” Without thinking he said “Mort”. And that was that. Of course, he was drinking a can of soda just before he answered. My Mort could have been nothing more than a simple belch.

Another funny thing that occurs to me happened at a book club. One of those “meet the author” kind of things. The group had read my first book (The Fixer) and invited me to come to their meeting. Now, I don’t write cozy mysteries.  At the book club this sweet lady, older by several decades than the other members of the group, waited patiently while the others asked me their questions or shared their comments. Finally this lovely lady raised her hand and said, “You use the fuck word a lot in that opening chapter. I’m not that used to reading the fuck word. I was happy to see the fuck word wasn’t used much throughout the rest of the book, but I was wondering why you felt the need to use the fuck word so often in that first chapter. Aren’t you afraid of turning people like me off?” As she was speaking I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. I respectfully apologized for any offense she felt and explained that my bad guys talk like bad guys. Like with the first story I told you, I didn’t have the heart to tell her most folks say “the f-word”. I mean, once you say “the fuck word”, you’ve pretty much let the cat out of the bag.

Kill? Who me?

Fixed in Blood by TE Woods

A Netgalley Review

This is part of the Justice Series. The 4th book.

Justice is being dispensed by an assassin. In the manner of a vigilante. Unofficially she is a law enforcer that dispenses death for a perceived injustice that the ‘real’ legal system is unable to deal with. The sentence never changes. And to carry out these sentences she is skilled in disguise, deception and dealing out death in unusual manners – all without incriminating herself.

However, the assassin has a day job. She is also a Psychologist and as such she realises that perhaps her manner of behaviour is perhaps not quite what it should be. She is also trying to develop a long term relationship without her partner knowing about her little sideline.

A long-service policeman has discovered her secret but he has also helped her in her work or has asked for her help in his work and thus they are joined together. He cannot turn her in now as if he did, he would also lose his job. Yet his son doesn’t know his secret and writes about the assassin through the stories in the newspapers.

What you start to question is your own morality.

When is it Justice and when is it murder?

Are vigilantes above the law?

Is it right to be the accountant for a crime family even if you can’t get another job?

Should you keep secrets from your partner? Even if it could send you to prison to tell?

And if you are a lawman, should you overlook criminal acts committed by a person that sometimes helps you solve other crimes or manages to punish those you can’t?

An interesting article (set of photos) in the Washington Times details the top ten vigilantes in US history – some fictional: http://www.washingtontimes.com/multimedia/collection/top-10-vigilantes/

Listverse says:  “in real life, the issue of vigilantism is a lot more complex. While some vigilantes are sympathetic figures, others go too far in their desire for revenge. In some cases, completely innocent people wind up losing their lives.” http://listverse.com/2014/01/30/10-controversial-cases-of-vigilantism/

For instance in a number of U.S. cities, individuals have created real-life superhero personas, donning masks and costumes to patrol their neighborhoods, sometimes maintaining an uneasy relationship with local police departments who believe what they are doing could be dangerous to the costumed crusaders caped crusadersthemselves, or could devolve into vigilantism.

Look on the web and you will find many such stories as these. When, is ever, is it right to put yourself above the law is a decision we can only make for ourselves and perhaps also, it depends on the situation?

Flying high above the world

High Altitude by Carol Kelly. A netgalley review.

Another example of what to a UK citizen with the NHS of the horrific consequences of the US health system.

We have a friend with a house in Florida who last year, when on holiday there, caught his finger in his garage door up-and-over. He went to his local hospital but because he had broken the skin and was bleeding as well as having broken his finger, he was not able to be treated there. He was therefore transported for 4 hours across Florida by private ambulance to a hospital where he was anaesthetised and operated on – they felt they could not stitch up this (minor) laceration without putting him to sleep and using an operating theatre. In the UK they would have done all of this in the Accident and Emergency Dept – which can stitch under local anaesthetic! Anyway, this then resulted in our friend staying over-night. Given drugs and a bill of $40,000! Just for a broken and slightly lacerated finger… he is still quivering at the size of the bill.

So cancer treatments become horrendously expensive and members of the family resort to all sorts to pay the bills. Of course. Here it seems they resort to flying with very dodgy characters into very dodgy areas of the world to undertake very dodgy missions.

High Altitude refers to the height of planes – jets – as they fly over mountains of course, but also the risks that are taken when you don’t know quite what you have let yourself into.

Not being an expert on flying I relied on the author for accuracy here and as a  former stewardess or flight attendant I am happy to assume that she was correct.

Salwar-Kameez1

Now as for the style of dress worn, the Salwar Kameez is a traditional Indian outfit, which I love – and actually have a set of – bought in Bangladesh. But technically the Churidar Pyjamies are the leggings – or tight trousers that are worn under the dress part. The name Churidar comes from the fact that these leggings are long, tight and intended to fold into wrinkles at the ankle, thus looking like churis or bracelets – see photo. With a salwar, the leggings are looser at the ankle. In fact, on my first visit to India I wanted to get some white cotton trousers as I thought they would be very cool, and discovered to my surprise, and the amusement of the shop assistants, that white are only worn by men and yes, are called pyjamas or pyjamies. So now we know where our ‘English’ word comes from! And also, if you wanted to buy them off the peg, you couldn’t buy women’s clothing anyway, as in India they were all made to measure. So mens’ white cotton trousers with a string waist pull cord it was – and my own salwar kameez also has a pull cord on the leggings part.

I also agree with the statement about Islamic beliefs – they are not the problem, it is the men who use them for power and control who are – after all, it is the men who insist that women are covered up so that they – the men – are not tempted…!

The Pashtun warriors mentioned are often fairer of skin as they may be descended from Iranian tribes, or some would also argue, from the offspring of Alexander’s men who stayed in India rather travel all the way back to Greece! Some also argue that they originate from the 12th Tribe of Israel, that was one of lost Tribes. They are certainly Caucasian and more Mediterranean in skin colour and feature. The tribes of the Pashtuns or Pathans traditionally originate from the Pakistan/Afghanistan borders – the high mountains. They are well known for their fierce demeanour and warrior/fighting skills. As well as sporting. They are of course, traditionally Muslim in religion, of the Sunni variant being converted around the 8th century, although some also argue that they were always followers of Mohammed and are descended from his original disciples. They are identified through 4 tribal confederacies: Bettani – ‎Ghurghakhti – ‎Karlani – ‎Sarbani; and are largely communal in culture as so many nomadic cultures are. They attach great importance to an unwritten code, called Pashtunwalli. This code defines the way members should behave to keep the tribe together. Hospitality (milmastia) is important, as is the use of the tribal council (jirga) to resolve conflicts and make decisions. Other Pashtun virtues include courage (tureh); taking revenge (badal); and protecting one’s honor (ghayrat). Another part of the Pashtun code of conduct is nanawati, a way of resolving differences through the group’s elders. [http://www.everyculture.com/wc/Afghanistan-to-Bosnia-Herzegovina/Pashtun.html#ixzz3WQqZvsvt]. It also true that Pashtuns are an integral part of the Taliban fighting force.

The interesting story that the characters wove about assessing needs for a school being funded by a private US philanthropist, is clearly a reference back to Greg Mortenson and his mission to create schools in this border area [see his book Three Cups of Tea, reviewed on this blog on 9th July 2013].

As always I am interested to research any flowers or native trees mentioned, so  the Kachnar tree is really Phanera variegate and  is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, from southern China, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The common names include orchid tree, camel’s foot tree, kachnar and mountain-ebony. Whilst often having white flowers, it can also have variations of pink from light to dark flowers – as in the photos.

Kachnar white kachna1-pink

So back to the overall story. Whilst rather fanciful, it does follow and does make sense logically and has some good suspense aspects. The romance is not played up too much but exists in the background.  Overall I would give it 3.75 stars.