Yeah, yeah, I know. I have lost all credibility when it comes to the author interviews. But fear not (actually, does anybody even care?), these author interviews WILL be coming. Enough of the mea culpa (AKA "my bad"). I've got 2 reviews for your reading pleasure. Let's get to it.
1. Leader of the Pack by David Rosenfelt. This guy is a solid B-lister (yes, I know, I'm not supposed to call the B-listers B-listers - but he's no Follett, Silva, Flynn, Coben, Iles, et al). This is his 10th Andy Carpenter book to go along with 4-standalones, and I have liked them all. Andy is an attorney in New Jersey who doesn't need to work. He's got enough money to easily last him the rest of his life. He only takes on cases in which he has a personal interest. The stories are all legal murder mysteries (similar to Sheldon Siegel's Mike and Rosie books) and very entertaining. There is a lot of laugh-out-loud stuff, which I alway enjoy. And for you dog-lovers (I know you're out there), Andy's dog, Tara, has a central role in all of Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter books. I like his stuff despite that!
This one centers on a case that Andy lost 6 years earlier, which led to his client being convicted of murder with a lifetime prison sentence. Andy comes across new evidence which gets his client a new trial. Andy, of course, irritates dangerous people who don't want the case re-opened. This leads to Andy encountering life-threatening situations and who then has to rely on his cohorts/bodyguards - Marcus, a bodyguard par excellence, Laurie, his live-in love interest and private investigator who is also an ex-police officer, and Willie, a convicted killer who Andy got off of death row and back on the streets. Then there's Sam, who is his accountant/computer expert, Hike, who is another attorney that helps Andy with his court cases, Cindy, who is an FBI agent and friend of Laurie's, and Edna, who is Andy's assistant in the office and excellent cruciverbalist (let's see you look that one up!). Finally, there are his 2 drinking buddies, Vince, who is the editor of the Bergen News, and Pete, who is a police lieutenant in Paterson. All of the characters are true characters and provide humor and support in roughly equal doses. There really is nothing not to like about Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter books. Plus, if you don't want to start at book 1, you can read them in any order. Go for it - lots of fun.
2. Dark Magic by James Swain. I have never blogged about Swain (continuing a theme, he is another solid B-lister). He has written 11 books, which I have read, and 3 ebooks, which I haven't read (I like the book in my hands, whenever possible). Of the 11 "real" books, the first 7 are about Tony Valentine, an ex-cop whose specialty was the New Jersey casinos. What he does now is work in Vegas as a consultant and help the casinos uncover scams. Swain, himself, has a special interest in gambling and gambling schemes. These books are all interesting and fun to read. I learned a lot about gambling which comes in handy when I'm at the casinos. Oh, wait, I don't gamble. Oh well.
The other 3 books are centered on Jack Carpenter, another ex-cop, who was removed from the force for using excessive force against someone who actually deserved it. He is now a private investigator who handles cases involving kids. As much as I enjoyed the Valentine books, I think the Carpenter books are better-written. But I would recommend all of them.
So what is Dark Magic about, you ask (and why did it take me so long to get to the review? - an excellent, unanswerable question!)? I don't know if this is a standalone or the first in a series. Either way, it's a solid read. Peter Warlock is a young, professional magician in New York City. He's also a psychic. In fact, he's part of a group of 7 psychics that have regular Friday night seances. Pooling their psychic abilities, they are able to summon the spirits and see what widespread criminal activity is going to take place. They then alert the police anonymously. They never expose themselves because one of Peter's psychic friends had been discovered by the CIA and was then sequestered against his will on The Farm in Virginia.
One Friday night, during a seance, Peter sees a vision of an unspeakable tragedy, affecting tens of thousands of New Yorkers, occurring in the next 4 days. Peter ends up connecting with an FBI agent, and the 2 of them work on uncovering the perpetrator before the doomsday scenario takes place. Peter also learns that his parents, who were killed when he was 7, were members of the Order of Astrum, which practices dark magic and has a central role in the plot. If you can accept that there are psychics, witches, and warlords (which I do), then for you this book is very plausible. P.S. Swain is also a magician and has written 3 non-fiction books about magic.
The story takes place exclusively in NYC and in the present. There are obviously magical elements to it, but much of the book revolves around relationships. And although I don't need to beat this into the ground (when did that ever stop me!), I cared about these people - all of them (Attica Locke, take note).