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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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

First Contact

Aliens are coming to this world. But why? And what is their ultimate aim? Will our first contact with an alien civilisation be like this? Please note that this is fiction and not a discussion of UFOs, etc.

First Contact (SF)
By Hugh Ashton
Independent Publishing Platform
Price Free (Kindle)
Short Story
Rating 3-Stars

A ship explodes on the sea, and there’s no debris as evidence it ever existed. Then a huge Mother ship (UFO) comes from the dark side of the moon and settles on the water where it just floats for awhile. Finally, as military ships gather around the huge mother ship a text message appears all over the world. The aliens want to see the leaders of the world. At first every nation sends their leaders, the opposition parties, and general, etc, but the aliens blow them out of the water, and once again demands just the leaders.

The ending was a surprise, and the whole thing kind of curious, but it wasn’t really worth becoming involved with the story, as it offers very little imagination. Just a short writing experiment at best - maybe for a book club assignment. Maybe 15 minutes to read it, then another fifteen minutes to read a chapter of one of the author’s novels, which was also added. If you have a few minutes between books, take a chance, you might like it.

Tom Johnson


Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Hong Kong, 1970. The Dragon Head (also known as the Mountain Master) of the Fanling Triad has died and there is a struggle to replace him among senior members of the gang. Normally, the Deputy Mountain Master is next in line, but this one is weak and ineffectual and has only survived because of the protection of the Dragon Head. Up to this point, the Fanling Triad has operated in relative isolation from neighbouring gangs, but the Dragon Head’s death has drawn attention to the area — and to its wealth. Other gangs start to make threatening moves and it’s obvious to the senior members of the Fanling Triad that they need a leader who can fend off the threats, unite the membership, and maintain their prosperity. There are several candidates. The least conspicuous is the White Paper Fan, their young administrator. His name is Chow Tung, but many of those who work with him already refer to him as “Uncle” . . .

Fate (Mystery)
By Ian Hamilton
House of Anansi Press
ISBN #978-1487003869
Price $15.95 (Paperback)
Price $9.99 (Kindle
304 Pages
Rating 3-Stars


This is the story of Chow Tung, known to friends as “Uncle”, a form of respect, though he’s still a fairly young man in his thirties.  His position in the Fanling triads is that of White Paper Fan because he’s good with numbers. It chronicles his escape from communist China to Hong Kong, then jumps ahead a decade when the Mountain Master of the Fanling triads is killed by a hit & run driver, leaving their leadership vacant. Basically the story follows the trouble of electing a new leader. How boring can you get?

Readers of Ian Hamilton have been familiar with Uncle through the Ava Lee series, about a Chinese/Canadian girl who follows the money in crooked deals leaving someone needing her help. One of her cases came to the attention of Uncle, and he uses his power to assist her. The early stories of Ava Lee were topnotch and interesting mysteries. But the last couple of Ava Lee stories were below par for the author, and left the reader less satisfied in her, and for some reason the author has decided to feature Uncle in his own stories. Unfortunately, this first entry was boring. We’re talking triads, and criminal gangs in Hong Kong, so you would think there’d be lots of action. There isn’t.  When there is action, there’s really no tension in the setting. We do learn the command structure of the triads, and even an overly long funeral for one of the leaders. We know from the beginning that Uncle will end up as the new Mountain Master, even though he’s trying to put someone else in the office. It’s Uncle that sees the problems and sets things on the right course, so he’s already performing as their leader. If you’re interested in the structure of the triad gangsters, this book will help you. Although I would suggest you read the early Ava Lee stories for that. If you’re looking for a good action novel, it isn’t here. Again, those early Ava Lee entries are your best bet.

Tom Johnson


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Jericho's Trumpet

“Rousing gunfire and espionage elevated by an indelible protagonist.” – Kirkus Review Jericho’s Trumpet is a sequel to Robert Gallant’s Satan’s Stronghold which is also an action-packed plot but of more complex threats. This narrative showcases more of what Chesney Barrett can offer to Travis Weld’s team and to the government. Chesney Barrett has finally accepted a life different from what she is used to. After accomplishing her mission of working as an undercover spy to locate the drug den and help capture the perpetrators; she has continued living from a different perspective. She has finally come to terms with deception being the norm, as what Weld has instilled in her. Chesney now shows-off her charisma as a science-fair judge in order to trace the smuggled nuclear bomb into US. While seemingly this focuses on Chesney and her undeniable talent, Weld on the other hand remains being the tough guy and works on his own with Cassidy as his partner. Weld’s impatience and desperation to get the thing done will likely put their lives at stake. Will they make it the second time around and find the smuggled bomb before it’s too late?

Jericho’s Trumpet (Action Thriller)
By Robert Gallant
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN # 978-0578208107
Price $11.99 (Paperback)
Price Free (Kindle)
287 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

Travis Weld works for a secret government group that searches for and kills terrorist groups. They’ve just discovered sellers with two suitcase nuclear bombs from Russia. They kill the sellers, but find one bomb missing. It’s been sold to someone and they must find out who has it, and fast. One of the dead men has a daughter who is involved in a science fair, and she may know whom her father sold the second bomb to. But it will take someone with more finesse to get the information from the girl. They go to their ace in the hole, Chesney Barrett, a recent recruit into their game of death. Chesney is an athlete, an Olympic swimming champion, and a biologist, plus she’s sexy and beautiful. The story follows her as she infiltrates an ecological terrorist organization run by someone they think has the second bomb.

This was an exciting action-packed story with fresh characters that pulled me into the story from the beginning. I did find it a little far-fetched that only this one team and one lonely FBI agent is out looking for the terrorists when the whole alphabet soup agencies would have been put on the case if it was real. In fact, the FBI agent doesn’t even know there’s a nuclear bomb in the mix. The special team is the only ones who know about the nuclear suitcase. The author’s story telling is superior and the characters are topnotch, but there are so many wrong words page after page that it became a distraction. An editor or proofreader could have cleaned it up, and the author would have had a great book to present to readers. As it was, I had to knock it down to a 4-Star rating, when it should have been a 5-Star novel. Still, highly recommended.

Tom Johnson


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Angkor Away

Paul is a graphic designer with a history that has included organising events on the London rave scene and supplying recreational drugs across the capital. Disillusioned by the way the scene has been taken over by organised crime, he turns his back on it and, after a few years working for a prestigious design company, he leaves the UK to travel the world, picking up the odd bit of legal and illegal work on the way. After meeting some gifted Thai chemists, Paul sets up a lab in Northern Thailand producing high-quality LSD. When his new business comes to the attention of the local crime lord/army general he has to leave Thailand quickly and relocates to Cambodia where his friend has a bar. There he meets Aya and falls in love. But through Aye he meets her brother Chamreun, a former air force colonel who is now involved in the Cambodian drugs trade and who knows far more about Paul's life than he should. It's not long till Paul is pulled back into the world of drug trafficking against his wishes and is involved with the biggest drugs cartel in the region. But when things turn sour, Paul finds himself in a frantic hunt across South East Asia as they look for answers. But when they find them in a bloody climax, the answers are not at all what Paul had expected.

Angkor Away (International Intrigue)
By Steven W. Palmer
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-1514300367
Price $9.99 (Paperback)
Price $3.00 (Kindle)
246 Pages
Rating 3-Stars

Paul Johnston has settled in Cambodia and Thailand where he operates his drug distribution. Until a local general makes him an offer he can’t refuse –turn over all his contacts and leave Phnom Penh, and leave the drug business to him. All is well and good until he falls in love with Aya and meets her brother, Chamreum, who knows more about him than he does. Colonel Hoen Chamreun wants to be a part of the big drug trade also, and makes a suggestion to Paul. It all sounds like a workable plan, and he returns to Phnom Penh to meet with the general, this time making a counter offer that interest the general, and a deal is made. Unfortunately, a life in drugs doesn’t promise a happy ending, and when Aya is killed in a home burglary, the evidence leads back to the general and his people. Now Paul and Colonel Chamreum must retaliate.

Unfortunately, the novel wasn’t of much interest. Most of it was like a travel guide, and the drug plot was even less of a highlight for me. None of the characters, with the exception of Chamreum, held little promise. Paul Johnston, who narrates the story, was the least likable character in the story. The only thing the story had going for it was the location. Usually, Cambodia and Thailand people and the nightlife on the strips are enough to hold most readers, but this story had trouble keeping my attention, and the book was easy to put down while I did other things. Not something an author wants the reader to do.

Tom Johnson