Thursday, October 01, 2020




By Libby Fischer Hellman

ISBN: 978-19387-33673

A 2020 release from

The Red Herring Press

The author is known for her crime fiction—award-winning stories at several levels. This enthralling story contains many mysteries, many still unanswered sixty years on. Why were American soldiers fighting in Viet Nam, being one of them. But this is not an academic examination of the politics of the 1960s, although international politics, brought down to an intensely personal level, is a thread that weaves throughout and informs this excellent novel.


This is an intimate look at the lives of two young Vietnamese sisters who see their family and their village near the shore of the Mekong River, obliterated by American army action. But the novel is not an excoriation of the American expedition to Southeast Asia, nor is it an apologia for the actions of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. The novel is instead, a close examination of the diverging lives of two children who are both determined to persist and to attempt to live normal positive lives in the midst of war and constant turmoil. Throughout their personal and professional development along widely divergent paths, Mai and Tam must respond, however unwillingly at times, to the implacable forces that uproot society, alter their circumstances, bring love and despair and validation.


Carefully researched, thoughtfully organized and appealingly written by a master storyteller, A BEND IN THE RIVER will teach readers about the Viet Nam era in the world while illuminating and venerating the stubborn persistence and humanity of two sisters caught in the vicious tentacles of a wartime society. I fully endorse and recommend this novel. It is an emotional, thoughtful and ultimately positive story.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


The lakes are open and boating is on our minds. Here's an adventure in the British Virgin Islands, a prime sailing area. Tanner and Whitney journey to the Caribbean for a much needed vacation. Things take a wry turn when Tanner finds some currency floating near their anchored sailboat. Murder, mystery, smuggling and encounters with aggressive smugglers occur. Books available from various bookstores and especially from Once Upon A Crime and

Monday, May 25, 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Annie Robinson is FALLING INTO CRIME

Here’s a fascinating trilogy of stories that follow the burgeoning career of a fledgling private investigator in the United Kingdom. Annie Raymond is a sharp young girl out of a small town not far from the Scottish border, who looks at her contemporaries and yearns for something more. Now she’s in Hull, a small city just south of Scotland on the Eastern side of the U.K.
Her dad is a local cop and Annie’s desire is to have a career as a private investigator. She’s been recruited to a job in a tiny agency in Hull. It will be her introduction to life as an investigator and her training ground. This story is called “Like False Money,” the second which takes place several years later with a different cast of characters is called “The Jawbone Gang,” and the third,  set in a later time after Annie has moved to a larger agency in London, is called “The Doll Makers.”
Even though the three stories cover a span of many years, nearly all the action takes place in and around Hull. Annie Raymond interacts in meaningful and logical ways with youngsters, adults and even some on the verge of conclusions to their long lives. The crimes she investigates and solves are varied and unusual. There’s a lot of description of people and places in this book, all adeptly handled such that it adds to tension and the narrative pace. Never will you find characters misplaced or misread, the writing is strong, consistent and enthralling.
Annie Raymond is a fine investigator, and an excellent protagonist. There are additional volumes to her life and career and her stories are attractive and addicting. I have no hesitation strongly recommending Annie Raymond as a private investigator readers will enjoy coming to know and follow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


The Guilty Die Twice  
By Don Hartshorn
A 2020 release from
TCK Publishing

An emotional, intense, persistent battle between attorneys who are brothers. Jake Lynch is the fictional District Attorney in Austin, Texas. His younger brother, Travis, also an attorney, struggles to make ends meet as the novel opens. Texas is a capital punishment state and part of the novel deals forcefully and thoughtfully with that issue. 

The story is not, however a sociological or psychological treatise on the rights and wrongs nor on the social implications of an existing approach to capital murder. This is a bare-knuckle, stirring confrontation between opposing points of view in the persons of Travis and Jake.

The well written narrative switches between a decades old execution of a truly evil and unrepentant character and the truly awful results of the penetration of the modern drug culture into every aspect of Austin’s society. And while the well-defined characters raise several important tragic issues in the investigations and trials of some of the characters, the pace of the novel drives the narrative in relentless fashion through personal, political and even racial aspects.

Readers can ignore the sociological aspects and read the novel as a fine fascinating adventure. Or one could use the story as the basis for thoughtful debate. Either way, I recommend the novel without reservation.