My Blog

Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cotton FBI Collection #2

EPISODE 5: THE INFECTION. The man with the inflamed stab wound in the Bedford specialty clinic is no ordinary patient. His name is Jeremiah Cotton, agent of the FBI, and he thwarted a biological weapon attack. Because he might be carrying the pathogen himself, he cannot leave the hospital grounds. Then one of the other patients dies under peculiar circumstances. Cotton starts to investigate - looked over by personnel as just a hobby detective and viewed with suspicion by hospital management. But then there is an attempt on Cotton's life and things get serious - and personal ...
EPISODE 6: BONY BEACH. Human bones were uncovered by a winter storm on one of Chappaquiddick's beaches. While examining the remains the police found a dozen more buried in the sand. Philippa Decker and Jeremiah Cotton from the FBI's G-Team are on the scene to investigate. They are supported by Dr. Connors, a retired forensic doctor from homicide. For a long time he had been convinced that there is a serial killer active on the island, but no one ever believed him. He asks the two agents to help him find the killer. Just as a blizzard blows over the island, a dramatic showdown takes place ...
EPISODE 7: THE KUMO CARTELL. John Saito, an American business man of Japanese descent, lies in his penthouse. He was murdered. All he had on was a condom. He had two Asian ciphers scrawled on his forehead which together form the word ?kumo' - the spider. It seems that the man was killed by some poison during sex games. Saito is not the first person to be killed in this manner. The G-Team is called upon to help solve the murders. Special Agent Jerry Cotton and Philippa Decker first suspect the Yakuza, or a similar organized crime gang, to be responsible for the killings. However, the true meanings of the homicides go far deeper. The traces lead to a network of dirty business and to a woman who is more dangerous than a Spider ... and deadlier.

Cotton FBI Collection #2
By Various Authors
Bastei Entertainment
Price $3.99
258 pages

“Fast, Pulpy Action.”

This second collection in the Cotton FBI series contains the next three stories: The Infection” by Linda Budinger; “Bony Beach” by Peter Mennigen; and “The Kumo Cartel” by Mara Laue.
“The Infection” starts out with Cotton following a suspect with a suitcase of biological germs. During the capture, Cotton is accidentally shot by a G-Team sniper. He is ordered into Belfort Private Medical Clinic for a period of treatment. He’s not there long when he notices things are not on the up and up. The story is actually a bit slow, and not much action with him inactive in the clinic.
“Bony Beach” is set on the island of Chappaquiddick near Martha’s Vineyard, where a mass grave site has been discovered, revealing the bones of many women of different ages. They appear to be the bodies of missing woman the Boston police were investigating for years. When one was discovered in Connecticut it brings the FBI in, but they never find the bodies or killer. Now, with the mass grave throwing new light on the case, Decker and Cotton are sent to the island to investigate. Like the first story, this one was also slow, and a bit boring.
“The Kumo Cartel” has the FBI trailing an assassin who is killing high-ranking members of the Kumo Cartel, a group of Japanese dealing in gun smuggling. Evidently the Yakuza hired the assassin to kill the Kumo Cartel members, but the assassin, a mysterious woman named Yuki, is working for a Brotherhood of ninjas. She is a kunoichi, a Dragon Lady, trained in ninjutsu since childhood, and disappears from every trap. The story follows Yuki as she assassinates her targets, escaping before Cotton and Decker can capture her.
After reading the first two stories I was ready to give this collection a 4-Star rating, but “The Kumo Cartel” blew the collection up to a 5-Star on it’s own merits. This is one of the best stories so far in the series, and I’m anxious to read more stories by Mara Laue. Needless to say, Yuki was not captured and will make a return engagement in the series. For action and character, Yuki probably deserves her own series. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories
& Night To Dawn Magazine

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tom & Ginger

Tom & Ginger at the local library. Tom is discussing his latest book release, “Pangaea: Eden’s Planet” while Ginger looks on wondering what he’s talking about (lol).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Murder: Take Two

What has six legs, black stripes and kills people? A homicidal magician and the biggest tiger in his world-famous show. Murder will be hard to prove, though, because the dead guy never existed, all the evidence seems to have been eaten, and the victim’s corpse isn’t the only thing that has disappeared. When Maureen O’Brien suddenly vanishes, P.I. Blake Ervansky learns about her shocking former life, a past he doesn’t think he can live with. Then, before he can tell her their partnership is over, a call from a client in hysterics reveals that a recently solved case has come messily unsolved. Putting aside their own differences, Maureen and Blake circumvent a corrupt sheriff and draw closer to the truth, until Blake winds up in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in which he’s the mouse, and the cat outweighs him by 400 pounds. It’s a cage match he won’t survive unless the skills Maureen learned in her dark past can neutralize the killer before Blake becomes cat chow.

Murder: Take Two (Murder Mystery)
By April Kelly & Marsha Lyons
Flight Risk Books
ISBN #978-0615645348
Price $14.95
396 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

"Fast-Paced, Easy Reading, With Fascinating Characters"

Ex police detectives Blake Ervansky & Maureen O’Brien are now working as private investigators at their E&O Investigations in Hollywood, when Maureen suddenly disappears. Her father tells Blake not to worry, she will be back, but can’t tell him where she is. Upon her return Blake learns that his partner was involved as an assassin with the CIA before coming to work in the BHPD, and this worries him. What is he doing working with a trained government assassin? But her background just might come in handy with their current assignment.  E&O is hired by a rich entertainer from Nevada to find her missing husband, who she suspects has been murdered by his magician partner.

Setting up camp is Madison, Nevada, where the magician has his compound with the caged tigers from his act, the investigators quickly learn that the killer has the sheriff and town in his pocket, and if they are going to prove their client’s husband was murdered, they will have to come up with a little magic of their own.

This is the second novel in the Ervansky & O’Brien series, and proves that the authors weren’t a one-hit wonder. This second novel, filled with intrigue and humor, takes up where the first novel left off. The prose is fast-paced, easy reading, with imaginative characters, and great plot. With no chapter breaks, it’s a reading marathon, as the reader hates to put the book down until the final page – and it’s almost 400 pages in length! The writing is humorous, while the dialogue is realistic, though the reader must keep in mind that this is Hollywood, where things might not be like they are elsewhere.  I got a real kick out of the scene where Maureen’s father breaks out in song with a waitress, like some Hollywood musical. Highly recommended for mystery fans, and any lover of entertainment.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories
& Night To Dawn Magazine

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Bottom

The Bottom (Murder Mystery)
By Howard Owen
The Permanent Press
ISBN #978-1579623920
Price $28.00
208 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A Masterful Tale of Murder And Mystery.”

Richmond, Virginia is going through some growing pains at the moment, as an ex senator, now a building contractor, is trying to build a business center on the site where slaves were buried and the black community is up in arms. Newspaper crime reporter, Willie Mays Black is on their side, but he and the ex senator have a past connection that goes back to when the ex senator was caught in bed with a 14-year-old girl, and Willie helped ruin his political career. The ex senator is looking for reasons to sue the newspaper because of Willie and their stand against his building project. But Willie has other problems at the moment. The fourth victim of the Tweety Bird killer was just found at the train station, and Willie is working on that case. The victims are all young girls, runaways, raped and tortured, then tattooed with the image of Tweety Bird on their ankle before they were killed. Willie thinks that maybe the ex senator is the guilty party due to his preference for underage girls. Now, the lawsuit may bring a stop to his investigation.

This was another fantastic Willie Black murder mystery in his little community of Richmond. The author recently retired after 44 years as a veteran newspaper man, and knows the inside and outs of newspaper work The reader is pulled into the story, and the characters come alive; the reader may even want to drop by Penny Lane for a couple of beers and a Camel with Willie, listening to his tales of growing up on The Hill, while he’s taking a break from the office. This is a masterful tale of murder and mystery, and Willie Black isn’t afraid of stepping on toes – publishers, police or perps. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories
Night To Dawn Magazine 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Minister's Shoes

Gambling! Casino deals! Embezzlement! An extramarital affair! Murder! Town gossips! This all happens in Corning, Alabama, a small southern town where Rev. Castle, a Baptist Minister, solves crimes. When Sada Sampson’s husband, Trevor is missing, she asks Rev. Castle to find him. She promises to give him a new pair of shoes if he can find Trevor. The Lord appears to Rev. Castle and gives him clues that help him solve the case. Rev. Castle meets up with a lot of nefarious characters. His quest to solve the case takes him to the Florida Keys and Gulfport, Mississippi. He must prove Trevor’s innocence when he is accused of murdering Cartwright, a partner in the Casino deal. Start reading it! You won’t be able to put it down!

Minister’s Shoes (Christian Mystery)
A Reverend Castle Mystery
Write Word Inc. 
ISBN #978=1613862445
Price $18.95
170 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“A Good Read.”

Reverend Clayton Castle is the pastor of a church in Corning, Alabama, and often gets involved in detective cases. When one of his members asks to see him, he learns that her womanizing husband has disappeared, and she wants Pastor Castle to find him and bring him home. Finding him is the easy part, but he turns up in jail for murder, and it appears to involve a casino under construction. Now the reverend has to prove he’s not only innocent, but bring him back to his wife and away from his adulterous affairs.

Remember those Scholastic Books we read when we were 10 to 12 years old. These were intelligent authors writing for children on the children’s level of education. “Minister’s Shoes” would have been a perfect fit, even if it does have adult themes. This was a good concept, and I want to encourage the author to continue the series. However, there are several problems with the writing that the author needs to work on. The dialogue was wooden, and didn’t seem real. The bad guys didn’t sound bad, though we have a murderer, an adulterer, gamblers, and gangsters. But everyone acted like good church-going Southern Baptists, praying at every opportunity. God appears in the flesh and talks to the preacher, telling him who to talk to, and what questions to ask, etc. At one point the preacher is captured by gangsters, and even rescued by God. This may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to see Christian books published, and I can highly recommend this for children and Christian readers.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Blonde For Murder

ARDINI, the famous Magician, was more pleased than surprised when his hand-picked "volunteer" from the audience was replaced by 110 pounds of lovely glamour running across his stage, chased by a bulky figure waving a pistol. Before long his admiration changed to chagrin, and wonder . . . why did fate have to hand him dynamite wrapped up in a package so alluring that he was helpless to stay away? Before he knew it, Ardini was a suspect, spectator, and detective in a case that startled New York; a case involving jewelry thefts, mystery, magic . . . and murder. Magic, and a better-than-average power of deduction, were on Ardini's side, though, and soon he was giving some crime-busting lessons to the police. He even had time to take some lessons himself, and he learned a thing or two about romance from a beautiful, 110-pound instructor with plenty to teach.

A Blonde For Murder (Mystery)
By Walter B. Gibson
ISBN #978-1505428568
Price $11.67
230 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

A Master Magician Unravels A Murder Mystery.”

John Arden, better known as the Great Ardini is performing to a theater crowd when a young girl being chased by the police rushes on stage, then disappears in one of his famous magic acts. Now the police think Ardini is a suspect in league with the girl in the murder of a private detective working for an insurance company.

It’s up to the Great Ardini to find the girl, uncover the plot, and reveal the true murderer. He’s up again a spiritualist, another amateur magician, and gangsters, one of which may be the real killer. Ardini brings the case to an explosive end with a séance.

This novel was originally published by Vital Publications in 1948, but holds up well almost 70 years later. The author was a magician, and created several magician detectives, including Norgil the Magician, though this was the first Ardini story I had read. He is better known as the creator and author of The Shadow, Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories