<i>Date with Malice</i>: Excerpt Date with Malice: Excerpt Julia Chapman The second book in the Samson and Delilah Mystery series. Discount: <i>The Nearest Exit</i> by Olen Steinhauer Discount: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>The Silent Companions</i> by Laura Purcell Review: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell Gabino Iglesias Read Gabino Iglesias's review! Review: <i>Last Ferry Home</i> by Kent Harrington Review: Last Ferry Home by Kent Harrington Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review!
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Showing posts by: Brian Bandell click to see Brian Bandell's profile
Mar 26 2018 3:00pm

Review: The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer

In The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer, a mortician for fallen soldiers becomes an unlikely hero as he helps a young woman from his past battle a murderous organization.

Brad Meltzer has returned to his roots as a thriller author in The Escape Artist, a fast-paced novel with protagonists who are easy to root for as well as some nuggets of history about magician Houdini’s history with the U.S. government. After Meltzer took time from his fiction to work on TV shows, comic books, and an inspirational children’s book series, longtime fans of his thrillers should be pleased with this novel.

Some of Meltzer’s novels focus heavily on uncovered historical conspiracies. The Escape Artist has some historical revelations centered on the magic tricks Houdini turned for the government, and Meltzer does strong research, as always, into the inner workings of the government. But it’s main focus is the two engrossing protagonists and their battle for survival.

As a middle-aged mortician at Dover Air Force Base, Jim “Zig” Zigarowsk isn’t the most likely candidate to battle wits and fists with professional killers. The man lives with death every day, taking pride in dressing up the corpses of national heroes so their families can view their remains in peace. His life is in paralysis. Zig has never gotten over the death of his young daughter, 14 years ago. He can’t sleep until he check’s his ex-wife’s Facebook page.

[Read Brian Bandell's review of The Escape Artist...]

Feb 19 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Throne of Caesar by Steven Saylor

The Throne of Caesar by Steven Saylor is the 16th Novel of Ancient Rome, which turns to the most famous murder in history: It’s Rome, 44 B.C., and the Ides of March are approaching (available February 20, 2018).

Author Steven Saylor had a real dilemma on his hands. With 15 historical mystery novels set in ancient Rome under his belt, he eventually had to address perhaps the most famous murder of ancient Roman times: the murder of Caesar.

The mystery part is the challenge here. Anyone who’s heard the line “Et tu, Brute?” from Shakespeare is familiar with at least one of the Roman dictator’s killers. Saylor still does a great job building the tension towards the anticipated stabbing of Caesar in the back, showing both the chaos and the odd politics of the aftermath, and throwing in another famously savage murder as a twist. When the destination of the story is known, it’s the journey that’s important, and Saylor delivers a fascinating eyewitness account of one of the seminal events in ancient times.

Gordianus, who has a reputation for solving murders and causing people to unwittingly divulge information, is summoned by none other than Caesar himself on March 10 to ascertain whether there’s a plot against him that he should be concerned about before he leaves Rome on his latest conquest of a foreign land. The date Caesar is to address the Senate one more time before leaving? March 15. The Ides of March, of course. Spoiler alert! 

[Read Brian Bandell's review of The Throne of Caesar...]

Dec 22 2017 1:00pm

Review: Death at Nuremberg by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV

Death at Nuremberg by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV follows a crafty American soldier caught between scheming Russians and secretive Nazis in post-World War II Germany in the fourth novel of the Clandestine Operations series (available December 26, 2017).

With more than 50 novels to his name, W.E.B. Griffin is one of the most prolific writers of military fiction, and his latest collaboration with his son, William E. Butterworth IV, explores the cloak-and-dagger games of post-World War II Germany—a time period that isn’t covered by authors nearly as much as the war itself. Everything should be set up for success with Death at Nuremberg, which follows Captain James D. Cronley Jr. as he’s assigned to guard a justice assigned to the Nuremberg trials of captured Nazis.

Even with a strong premise and interesting characters, it’s hard to become fully immersed in this novel due to the limited writing style. The dialog is terrific, but there’s too much of it. The novel is lacking in descriptions of setting and place, which is a shame because post-WWII Germany must have been a haunting sight with the ruins of war apparent on every street.

[Read Brian Bandell's review of Death at Nuremberg...]

Aug 7 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Quiet Child by John Burley

The Quiet Child by John Burley is a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most (available August 8, 2017).

Wherever six-year-old Danny McCray goes, bad things seem to follow. People in the small town of Cottonwood, California, have been taking ill from various diseases at an alarming rate since his birth—especially those closest to him, such as his mother. It sounds crazy, but in this 1950s town, the little boy who has never spoken a word has been ostracized as poisonous.

After Danny and his 10-year-old brother Sean are kidnapped as their father’s car is stolen during a grocery run, many townsfolk feel it’s for the best.

[Read Brian Bandell's review of The Quiet Child...]

Jul 23 2015 2:00pm

The Top 8 Crimes that Went Viral

What do criminals post on their feeds? You’ve seen the cute images on social media of babies, puppies and new cars, but there’s no better way to seek validation for violent acts and to spread ideology than to make deadly exploits go viral.

At first thought, it seems counterintuitive. Are they trying to get caught? Do they think only like-minded friends will see, and no one will alert the police? Often it looks like a spur of the moment decision. This generation is so used to sharing every trivial moment of their lives that it’s only right that the most shocking thing they’ve ever done makes the cut.

I’ve found these eight as the best (or worst) real life examples of criminals brazenly showcasing their wrongdoing.

[But first, let me take a selfie...]

Jan 16 2014 9:45am

Brad Meltzer’s Newest Heroes are Children

Brad Meltzer is best known for his thrillers that incorporate historical facts and politics but now he’s taking a swerve in his career path, branching out into children’s books with the January releases of I Am Abraham Lincoln and I Am Amelia Earhart, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulous.

“I made this for the three most important people in my life and that’s my three kids,” the South Florida resident said. “I was tired of watching my children see reality TV stars and loud mouthed athletes as heroes. That’s fame, and fame is different than being a hero. I wanted to give them real heroes who are based on real people like them.”

The books start with the childhood of the historical figures and follows them into adulthood, although the drawing of the main character stays in child form the whole time. Meltzer creates beautiful parallels between the stories of their early lives and their great deeds, such as showing how Lincoln standing up to bullies as a kid prepared him to fight reject slavery and sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

Meltzer said his daughter wasn’t impressed when he told her Earhart flew across the Atlantic, because so does everybody else, but she was excited to learn that a young Earhart built a roller coaster on her barn and few through the air. “One of the most important ways you change someone’s mind is you tell them a story,” Meltzer said. “And when you show them someone like them and how they changed the world you can’t underestimate the power of that.”

The next figures that will be featured in the Ordinary People Change the World series are Rosa Parks and Albert Einstein, coming in June and September, respectively.

When his younger son was bullied at school, his older son told his brother to be like Rosa Parks and stand up to that bully. “That’s one of the best things I can do as a father is have my children convinced that this woman matters,” Meltzer said. “Of all my books, this series has been the least about a business proposition. These books are my heart in book form.”

Meltzer will be at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134, on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. The event will be webcast and archived on livestream.

Brian Bandell is a senior reporter at the South Florida Business Journal and the author of the science fiction thriller Mute from Silver Leaf Books. His viral murder thriller Famous After Death is planned for release in late 2014.

Aug 24 2013 2:00pm

Social Media Confessions: Seeking Viral Fame in Murder

Accused Facebook killer Derek Medina and his wife during happier status updates along with online confession.Derek Medina is no deviously clever Zodiac Killer, but he may be the modern version.

In a story that made headlines around the world, the Miami man shot his wife  and posted a photo of her bloody corpse on Facebook, along with his confession. But it was more than a simple confession. It was a stab at fame. Focus on one line of his statement: “You will see me in the news.”

And so it was. Without the Facebook post, this would have been another murder in what has become, sadly, a daily routine in South Florida. It would have gotten two minutes on the local news, tops, and not a blip nationally. Instead, Medina turned his crime into instant fame.

[The worse the pictures, the more they're seen...]