PERILOUS SHADOWS by Nike Chillemi

Reviewed by Tammy Doherty –

Book #3 in the Sanctuary Point series sees the return of Argus Nye. This time, he’s the hero of the story. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two novels in this series, though previous plots and characters are referenced, these novels are each individual and enjoyable on their own.

In the opening chapter of PERILOUS SHADOWS, a body is discovered in the supply closet at WSAN radio station where Argus works. Beautiful, vivacious intern, Clarissa Vreeland, is dead of a broken neck. Station manager Jim Heaney puts Argus on the case even as the police investigate. Argus juggles his desire for justice with the need for news for his radio broadcasts.

Kiera Devane is a newspaper reporter swiftly making a name for herself as a woman working in a man’s world. Unfortunately, that name isn’t all good. Though her skills as an investigative reporter are mostly respected, people say she’s cold-hearted. Kiera struggles with demons from the past that cause her to keep people at arms’ length.

Kiera and Argus join forces to solve Clarissa’s murder. Ever the gentleman, Argus finds himself attracted to Kiera. He wants to protect her from not only physical threats that arise during the investigation but also from emotional pain, past and present. Kiera is drawn to Argus through his kindness and friendship. The budding romance is firmly established when Argus learns Kiera’s terrible secret—and isn’t turned off.

PERILOUS SHADOWS is set in post WWII 1940’s. Ms. Chillemi does a nice job of describing fashions of the time and accurately portraying people’s attitudes and morals. The reader is immersed in the era with a movie quality feel. Despite her “ice princess” reputation, Kiera is immediately likeable; it’s easy to identify with both her ambition and drive as well as her fears. Angus is loveable, yet it’s almost difficult to imagine someone so chivalrous, which is a sad reflection of society today. He’s not too perfect to be true, though. His temper nearly gets him in hot water several times and his unwillingness to report scandalous material allows Kiera to get “the scoop” occasionally.

Red herrings abound in this novel. The mystery is masterfully developed and the list of suspects grows with each turn. Who killed Clarissa and why? Was it lecherous Paul Gregorski, Angus’ co-worker? Or Edward Harper, spurned ex-boyfriend? Perhaps Paul’s new wife killed Clarissa in a fit of jealous rage. Then again, it could be someone else yet undiscovered. The trail of clues seems to clearly lead in one direction only to peter-out. The end has a surprising twist.

No Safe Haven by Kimberly and Kayla R. Woodhouse

Review By Nike Chillemi

This debut novel by a mother and teen-age daughter team portends of good things to come. This is a terrific action-adventure novel with no mere romance, but a wonderful love story. The novel is based on real life, as co-author Kayla, the teenage daughter, has a rare nerve disorder preventing her from regulating her body temperature or feeling pain. They have created a mother-daughter team (Jenna Tikaani-Gray and teenage Andie) whereby the fictional teenage daughter has the same disorder.

The story opens one year after Jenna’s husband and Andie’s dad died in a car crash. Mother and daughter are flying in their private plane back to their home in Alaska and have agreed to give a lift to a man named Cole. When Cole begins struggling in the cockpit area with their pilot Hank they become more than concerned, they’re terrified. And that’s just the beginning of their problems. It’s going to get a lot worse.

It turns out Hank has sabotaged their plane and they’re about to crash into Sultana, perhaps the most remote and dangerous peaks in Alaska. The crash leaves Jenna with a horrid gash in her leg and tremendous loss of blood. Bad men are chasing them and the ladies don’t know why. It seems Cole might know more than he’s letting on But Jenna isn’t sure she can trust him. Her only thought is the protection and care of her daughter. She knows she must keep Andie safe from the bad men who are chasing them, and she fears she might have to protect her daughter from Cole as well. All logic says they should get off the mountain as fast as possible, but Cole insists they hike further up its brutal slopes. His thinking is if they go higher and hide in ice caves cut out of the packed snow, the bad men will not see them going down the mountain and will think they’ve perished in the crash.

Jenna struggles to understand why their pilot, a family friend, betrayed them. Cole finally reveals what he knows about her deceased husband. Jenna is devastated to find out her husband was involved in nefarious and corrupt activities bordering on treason. She begins to allow herself to trust Cole and grows to love him. Cole’s heart has been in a deep-freeze since the death of his wife and daughter, but it’s beginning to thaw as he allows himself to experience intimate emotions he hasn’t felt in years. I was deeply touched by the way Andie’s simple and beautiful faith was presented. I think that will be a breath of fresh air to long time Christians and will explain the faith to any non-Christians reading the novel.

I enjoyed the different points of view and thought that was handled well. The way they did it enabled me to get to know many of the characters in a deeper way. If I have one bone to pick it’s that the brave and stoic Jenna, who confronts every challenge on the mountain head on, turns into a whiny, weepy female as soon as she gets to safety. I would’ve liked her character to retain her strength. That aside the novel is a page turner. Action-adventure lovers will enjoy this novel, I’m sure.

FALLEN ANGEL by Major Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

Review By Nike Chillemi –

This is one of the best, if not the best novel I’ve read this year.

A United States spy satellite, Angel 12, has dropped from space and is headed for the interior of China. However, when Space Command at the Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska takes a second look, they realize the Chinese have deliberately knocked the satellite out of orbit, intending for it to fall on their soil.

Space Command manages to make some adjustments to the orbit just in time and the satellite crashes in Siberia not far from the sea, which is a much more accessible location. Now it’s up to Sgt. Major Eric Moyer and his elite Special Ops team to find the satellite and retrieve it’s technologically advanced nuclear jet fuel that cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of the Chinese or the Russians. And both nations are on the hunt for it.

From the beginning the team has an uphill battle. First of all their mission puts them on Russian soil, a hostile nation they have no permission to be in. Second of all, since the breakup of the USSR, this particular part of Siberia is controlled by insurgents. These insurgents have already captured one US team and are torturing them.

As I turned the pages, there was always a silent clock ticking. Would our special ops team find Angel 12 in time? That was often in doubt. At one point it seemed as if both the Russians and the Chinese were ahead of Major Moyer’s team.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sub-storyline showing the difficulty of Army special ops families who get little to no notice that their husbands and fathers are shipping out to parts unknown. All they know is the mission is super dangerous. In this novel the team doesn’t even get to say goodbye to their families face-to-face, but is only allowed to make a few quick phone calls before they ship out. When a family member is kidnapped, that means there is an intelligence leak somewhere in the military chain of command on this operation…perhaps even treason.

I had no trouble understanding the military jargon. I enjoyed the competitive banter the members of the special ops team constantly threw back and forth – up to a point. But eventually it put strain on the suspension of my disbelief. I thought, it’s not like this on an actual military special ops mission. There would be at least a few off color remarks. For my part, I would’ve liked a tad less jocular banter and would not have minded a few, only a few, mild “bad words.”

This is a must read for anyone who is a fan of military action-adventure stories. Suspense fans will also greatly enjoy this story. There’s no romance in the usual sense of the word when we speak of the different genres. But these special ops soldiers and their wives share deep love stories which the authors depict in a multi-facetted way. Not to mention the love they bear for their children. It becomes obvious what type of sacrifice this type of soldier makes to keep the American public safe and secure.

Shadowed in Silk by Christine Lindsay

Review by Nike Chillemi –

SHADOWED IN SILK by Christine Lindsay won the 2011 Grace Awards in the Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category. This story is a page-turner packed with action and suspense. It’s a dramatic love story much more than a romance. The writing is lush, transporting us back in time to the Raj period in India. The research done on the time period was outstanding. The descriptions of Indian life, exquisite and detailed.

Main characters Abby Fraser and Major Geoff Richards have been thrust into a situation that is complex, awkward, and sometimes brutal. These two engaging characters meet aboard on ocean liner bound for India. Major Richards is returning from the battlefields of Europe with what is left of his brave Indian troops to rejoin his regiment. He’s shell shocked and mourning the loss of his men. The daughter of a British officer, but having spent her teen years in America, Abby is returning to her childhood home where she and her young son Cam will rejoin the husband she has been separated from during the war.

When they disembark, sadly, Abby’s husband is not on the pier to meet her and the boy. Geoff is about to help her when they bump into Miriam, an old friend of Geoff’s, an Indian Christian woman who runs a shelter for widows and orphans. To her surprise, Abbey discovers her hard drinking husband is so much less than the man she thought he was. The treatment she received for years at the hands of her neglectful father and aunt has made Abby feel invisible and now her husband’s rude treatment only serves to reinforce that. Abby and Geoff are drawn to each other and he would like nothing better than to help her and little Cam. However, he is a Christian and would never allow himself to become involved with a married woman. Inadvertently, he pulls back at times when she is most desperately in need of a friend. Left adrift, she becomes the pawn of a Russian spy dedicated to stirring up unrest in India.

This is at the time when Gandhi is organizing his “peace revolution.” The reader is deftly brought into what life was like in the 1990s in India…Indian culture, food, clothing, customs, wilting heat and humidity. The British and the native characters are three dimensional, well crafted, and believable. My only problem is with the numerous Indian words. A glossary is provided, but I eventually gave up looking them up and simply guessed at the meaning. The reader gets a wonderful glimpse of the world of missionaries and native-Christians at that time. In fact this makes it easy to care deeply about these characters, especially Miriam, who had a committed and gentle walk with the Lord.

I highly recommend SHADOWED IN SILK. This story has enough twists to keep readers up into the wee hours of the night turning pages. It you’re a lover of historical fiction, especially novels in exotic settings, this is a must read.

Pattern of Wounds by J. Mark Bertrand

Reviewed by Nike Chillemi –

I was so looking forward to getting my hands on J. Mark Bertrand’s PATTERN OF WOUNDS, the second in the Roland March series. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It’s Christmas in Houston, TX, but don’t be fooled. This is not your typical jingle bells and deck the halls Christmas who dun it.

March is investigating a series of murders characterized by a certain pattern of knife wounds. The bodies of attractive women have been brutally stabbed and theatrically positioned. In addition, these current murders are eerily reminiscent of a murder committed by a man March put behind bars ten years ago. Did March arrest the wrong man years ago, or do they now have a copycat killer?

To further complicate things, March starts getting taunting emails from the killer. This cruelly demented killer is making it personal and forcing March to deal with his complicated and painful past. On September 11, 2011, he solved the original murder investigation that mirrors this one. That awful and infamous day was also the date when a drunk driver killed his only daughter. The new investigation becomes even more personal when March’s wife is brutally attacked in their home. In this novel, just as in the first, nonbelieving March wrestles with the question how could a loving God let brutality like this happen.

In this novel, March is in a healthier frame of mind than in book one. He’s more adept now at handling the sordid side of life his job forces him to deal with. His marriage is in better shape, though he’s not at all sure he likes his wife’s new found faith. The characters are well developed and have depth. March and his wife are an ordinary couple who face true-to-life situations and have realistic problems.

Internal police politics is about the same as in the first novel, a complicated minefield. The original serial killer gets wind of this new case and starts and appeal. A police officer in another jurisdiction tries to further his own career by making it look as if March bungled the original case. Of course, March’s superiors don’t back him up, but instead lean toward the other officer’s theory. In addition, a true crime writer betrays March in an attempt to get a crack at putting out a best seller.

This is a fascinating read, a true thriller-chiller. The reader has a sense of foreboding. Something horrific could happen to the main characters at any time. There is a race against time before the killer strikes again. Bertrand weaves a fine murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

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