Monday, January 25, 2010


The following review by Sue Ann Connaughton was posted at
Genre Review (used with permission)

The latest in a sailing mystery series, Devils Island follows the adventures of Seattle heiress, Mary Whitney.

Mary and her relatively new husband, public relations executive Michael Tanner, share a blissful, enviable life. Her vengeful ex-husband, Edwin Tobias, resolves to destroy that life. He gets his chance when Mary and Tanner plan a fly-sail vacation to Bayfield, Wisconsin and Tanner is delayed by work responsibilities in Seattle. Mary ventures forth alone, intending to sail, explore, and contemplate the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior before Tanner arrives. In Wisconsin, Mary meets a local gadabout with information about her ancestors; cultivates a sailing buddy; and interacts with a Coast Guardsman who enlists her to note any suspicious activity on the Lake.

Always, but unbeknownst to Mary, Tobias lurks. From a motor yacht, he stalks Mary on Lake Superior until he is able to set up the optimal conditions for kidnapping her: when she is isolated and without access to radio or cell phone communications. Thus follows a thrilling cat-and-mouse sequence of scenes in which feisty Mary struggles fiercely but is ultimately bound and hoisted into the icy lake to suffer a slow, tortuous drowning.

Because it’s a sailing adventure, Devils Island naturally includes characteristics of the sport of sailing. However, I found the explanation of sailing procedures and use of jargon to be so excessive that large portions read like a sailing manual. This could have spoiled the readability of the book as a suspense novel. Fortunately, enough of a foreboding atmosphere is maintained throughout to motivate the reader to keep reading by focusing on those aspects of the story that work best: the plot, the action passages, and the interesting characters.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Short PI, Sean NMI Sean, is up for escorting his statuesque lady love to the Great Minnesota Get-together, as the State Fair is known. The annual event draws millions of folks, most regular, law-abiding types. There are many opportunities for the irregular types. Pick-pockets, grifters, hustlers and scam artists. And that’s just the ordinary ones.

Minnesota and neighbor Wisconsin are noted for their cheese production, both hard and soft. So Sean, watching a small stage performance by a polka band, barely registers a comment about hard cheese when he overhears two men talking. But later, things get dark and slippery when he enters the horse barn. Well, here, see what I’m saying....

“We were somewhere in the center of the big barn, having encountered several enormous equine creatures being maneuvered here and there down the aisles. The horses’ hooves made sharp clopping sounds on the concrete. Some of the animals seemed a little skittish so we avoided getting close. I was a few steps ahead of Catherine, who had stopped to peer through a barred grate at a small brown ass. Maybe it was a donkey. I’m no expert on these things. I went on around the corner and came face to face with an open stall. I remember there was a lot of what looked like fresh hay on the floor. Also a body.
He was slumped on the floor against a corner of the stall, one arm raised as if he were about to wave at somebody. The effect was ruined because his wrist was pinned to the wooden wall by one steel tine of a pitchfork. His striped black and white boat shirt glistened red down the front. His head drooped forward but it looked to me like his throat had been slashed.”

The short story is titled “Hard Cheese.” If you want to know the why’s and wherefores, you can download this charming bit of diversion for a ridiculously low price from Echelon Press.
The easy way is to go to the website, Then click on my name in the lower left panel. Easy.

The page gives you access not only to this story but a few others I’ve produced for Echelon.
And do come back and visit. I’ve several other nice bits and a few pieces that Echelon has promised to publish in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Good reading!