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The Inside Story
By: William LeRoy
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: November 2014
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: August 21, 2017
Tricksters, archenemies, and unveiled secrets abound as the plot thickens in author William LeRoy’s sequel to The Same Old Story.
It is Christmas 1998, nearly two months since the mysterious death of Johnny D’Agostino on Halloween night. The story opens with a televised news show reporting on an altercation that goes awry between people closely connected with JohnnyD. As a result, a person is supposedly dead, and Captain Patrick Riley arrests one of his men, Peter Angelo, charging him with the murder. Regardless of the arrest, Peter, who investigated JohnnyD’s case, is confident that Matt Finley—one of the people caught up in the mysterious love triangle with JohnnyD—is JohnnyD’s murderer. Further investigation into JohnnyD reveals that Johnny wasn’t a “he” as many believed, but a “she.” Even more noteworthy is the fact that Johnny is the niece of the notorious local gangster—as well as Riley’s longtime nemesis—Bruno Giordano.
But in the “new universe of virtual [or cyber] reality,” which seems to have been “created overnight,” JohnnyD is not the only person with a dual identity. Captain Riley determines to find out the truth about JohnnyD’s case. But the more he investigates, the more the facts become convoluted. It doesn’t help that it appears that “the devious head of Internal Affairs” is waging psychological warfare against him to undermine his standing as police chief. In fact, Riley feels as though he is “trapped in a boardwalk fun house at the beach, surrounded by chaotic reflections from warped mirrors.” It’s not until he studies the cryptic text messages leading up to JohnnyD’s death that Riley feels challenged to not only re-evaluate his stance on the case but also does a bit of introspection in the process. Amid all the confusion, more twists and turns ensue as the case draws to its outcome.
Readers who thought The Same Old Story was replete with multiple plot twists are in for a big surprise when they get started with LeRoy’s sequel, The Inside Story. LeRoy shifts gears from alternating viewpoints between Peter and Matt to take his audience through behind-the-scene situations connected to JohnnyD's case. A bit dizzying but fascinating, LeRoy's plot will keep readers hopping as he introduces a plethora of new and multifaceted characters, many of which are used as red herrings.
Over the course of three days beginning with Christmas 1998, LeRoy packs his story with seemingly out-of-the-blue people and accounts that tightly tie to JohnnyD's life. One would think that with additional clues, there would be more clarity to the mysterious case. Not necessarily so. With each new situation comes added confusion, especially when many of the new characters become shifty. That said, it is easy to throw them into the mix of possible murder suspects.
In the midst of plot perplexity, LeRoy jabs at religion (primarily the Catholic Church since there are plenty of Irish overtones), conservative religious views, politics, and sex. The latter continues with the nostalgic romance stories, operas, and movies from The Same Old Story with additional nuances. He also includes some Bostonian history connections with Irish immigrants. Of particular interest is the way LeRoy coincides dual identities with the advent of the Internet and chat rooms. In reality, the new form of communication provided many opportunities for people to disguise their true personalities.
Quill says: The Inside Story will keep mystery and melodrama aficionados hopping until the very end.
The Ostermann House
By: J.R. Klein
Publication Date: June 2017
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: August 19, 2017
Married couple Michael and Audrey Felton are hardworking professors at a local university in Houston, Texas. Together they decide that they desperately need to get away from their strenuous jobs, and purchasing a house in the country, isolated from the craziness of Houston, but not too far, is just what they want for their much-needed respite. After spending considerable time in search of the perfect place, they are just about to give up when their real estate agent presents them with a house in the small town of Krivac. Despite some initial misgivings, Michael and Audrey purchase the property, known locally as the Ostermann House. Sure, the house is a one hundred and seventeen-year-old fixer upper with a possibly dubious past, but they were hard-pressed to find a farmhouse complete with land, a barn and in a remote location, for such a low price anywhere else.
A month later, the Feltons are happily settling into their new vacation home by keeping themselves busy cleaning, painting and furnishing the place. During the home inspection, a mysterious stone doorway was discovered in the basement, and now Michael, who can no longer stand the suspense of wondering what it is, decides to painstakingly remove the old bits of stone until he is able to slip through to what appears to be a dank, creepy, but basically empty room. On his way out he manages to discover an unusual coin-like object stuck in the dirt floor that has nine flat sides and a few odd symbols on it. To rid himself of the eerie feeling he’s having, he makes a decision to eventually completely knock down the walled-in doorway, and open it up to the entire room.
Time continues to rush by for Michael and Audrey, and except for occasional and odd encounters with the locals, things continue to be positive for them. While Michael appears to sometimes be disturbed by the wildly crazy stories told by these locals relating to the old owners of their home, Audrey simply chalks it up to the locals trying to test the nerves of the newbies in town. However, things start to take a sinister turn for the worse after Audrey leaves Krivac to return to her job in Houston, leaving Michael behind and alone in the house. Words mysteriously appear on computer screens, and objects disappear and reappear in other locations; it all seems as if someone is somehow getting into their house, but security cameras say otherwise. The tension escalates when not only do bizarre things happen outside the home on their property, but the town police officer, Rainey, makes matters worse by telling Michael tales of the crazy happenings of the previous owners, only to deny ever speaking with him, on another day. As time passes, an increasing amount of scary events take place forcing the Feltons to consider selling their home and ridding themselves of the Ostermann property and the whole strange town of Krivac. Unfortunately, their hesitation comes at a considerable price near the end as they are forced to abandon their quest to find out what’s causing all this paranormal activity, and to immediately flee from their vacation home. But will they be successful, or will they be victims of something that is not only greater than themselves, but greater than all humanity?
Author J.R Klein is a master at crafting tales of paranormal suspense. Readers will easily look past the simple and sometimes overused plot, and will become quickly engaged in The Ostermann House for what it really is, a well-written novel that is so creepy you may want to turn on music so as not to scare yourself too much while you’re deeply engrossed in reading this page-turner. The characters, even the strange-acting townspeople, are realistic and likable, and definitely set the tone for a disturbing story that displays an increasing urgency to find out what went on at the Ostermann property years ago, and how it relates to what the current owners are being subjected to. Many scenes unfold at a slow, detailed pace but Klein has the ability to keep readers not only engaged throughout, but craving more.
Readers should be advised that the ending of The Ostermann House may come as not only a shocker, but a disappointing and jarring end to an otherwise great paranormal suspense story. Events and occurrences throughout seem as if they could be a part of real-life situations right up until the ending. If you’re looking for a read that has a predictable and tidy finish, perhaps even leaving readers on a positive note because the characters resolved their conflict, look elsewhere; this is not the book for you. If however, you are a fan of the paranormal who has a passion for the tension and suspense in these type of stories, and enjoys a considerably twisted ending, this book is a must-read.
Quill says: The Ostermann House is a fast-paced ominous tale for fans who love to read a good paranormal suspense that will keep you thoroughly engaged right up until a whammy in the ending.
After finishing law school, Kay Powell wanted to start her own business and the one thing she knew for sure was that she preferred working with animals over people. With a background in theatre, as her parents are both stage actors and she was once involved in their act growing up, she decides to start an agency that represents animal actors. Little does she know how this will change her life...
With her new business, Kay sees all kinds of animal talent from many different species including cats, birds, reptiles, and even dolphins. Her latest client, however, is a lovable dog named Bruno. As soon as Kay meets Bruno she can see he has potential to be a great actor for he’s obedient, calm, and above all has a face that all of the audience will fall in love with. Unfortunately, Bruno’s owners Trent and Louise Barclay are not as simple to deal with, making it twice as hard for Kay to seal a contract for Bruno. For you see, Kay is so close to getting Bruno the part of the dog Sandy in the play Annie, if only she can convince Trent to keep his opinions to himself about the director, Les McMaster.
After some negotiation with both parties, Kay thinks she has the role captured for Bruno and is proud of her client’s bright future, but everything takes a drastic turn when the next morning she is informed that Trent Barclay has been murdered. Suddenly Bruno’s future is not so bright as an investigation starts to find a motive for Trent’s murder. This is when Kay finds herself in an odd predicament - she represents Bruno and by all means wants to look out for his best interest and keep him safe. However, if someone was angry enough to murder Trent then Bruno could possibly be in danger too. The situation becomes even stranger when Trent’s wife, Louise Barclay, accuses Kay of dog napping the morning of Bruno’s first rehearsal. Louise doesn’t seem to recall that Kay called her many times to arrange a drop off time for Bruno. Instantly distraught, Louise tries to get Kay arrested, but is quickly told there is no grounds for arrest. Louise, angry with the whole situation, storms away leaving her dog yet again with Kay.
Because Kay is in the center of all the theatre drama, Detective Rodriguez, who has been assigned the case, asks for Kay’s help in searching for clues. At first Kay is a little apprehensive for shouldn’t the police handle all of this business? But then, knowing that the safety of her client Bruno is in her hands, she agrees to help and soon uncovers a dog pile of secrets.
Before I even started to read this book I was pulled in by the unique main character of Kay Powell, for being an agent to the animals is just such a fun and creative place to start. Then throwing in a lovable dog like Bruno, I was instantly hooked to the bond this pair had throughout the story. It was perfect for the reader to see the dog’s perspective in a unique way for the main character keeps the reader in tune with all that is transpiring with Bruno, while still keeping up with a fun dialogue between the human characters. This is a great first novel in this series and I’ll be looking for the second one.
Quill says: Could not ask for a more unique and fun story!