It’s in the Eyes – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘”Please get him.” Lars looked down at her and flashbacked three years, as if he was seeing his own daughter at the morgue. Candance Hawthorne, the fourth rape and murdered coed, was almost an identical twin of Lars’ daughter, Lisa. As he looked at Candance’s face, he recognized some of those facial features. And the blue eyes seemed to be staring intently at him. A tear stung Lars’ eyes. Even though the temperature outside the Lubber Run Nature Center was a warm 62 degrees Fahrenheit, he felt a chill.’
Lars Neilsen is a West Pointer who served three tours in Vietnam as a ranger/paratrooper, Special Operations. He was awarded the DSC, three Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts and many other awards while serving his country. He knows the streets, is clever and has good instincts. He also believes in justice for the victims and has no problem in carrying out whatever needs to be done to acquire that justice. But most important, Lars heads a team he created called the Alpha Team. The Alpha Team takes their position seriously and won’t stop until their job is complete.
Nathan Green, called ‘Tiger’, originally from New Orleans, served with Lars in Vietnam. Tiger was a sergeant in the military and was very accomplished in the Special Ops by performing top secret missions. He, as well as Lars, has a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and won’t hesitate to use this art of defense when needed.
Doris Wagner was a former FBI profiler and recognized as their best. Her husband died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, draining her emotionally. She now does part-time work for the FBI. She’s clairvoyant, into astrology and develops clinical psychological leads to uncover criminals.
Brenda Little is a journalist who helped break a big murder case in Richmond. She was hired by the Washington Post but burned out after six years and now does freelance work. She studied criminal justice at the University of Maryland, her father was a metro cop killed in the line of duty and she has a black belt in Tae Kwo Do.
Now you know the Alpha Teams. When Candance Hawthorne was raped and murdered the Alpha Team was hired by the family to find her killer. This case turns out to be the toughest case the team has encountered.
I’ve enjoyed following Lars and his team as they search for the ‘Coed Killer’, only to find out that there is not one killer but two, bringing even more excitement to the story. Charles Toftoy created 4 characters, dedicated them to justice, but still give the reader the feel that these 4 characters are normal everyday people. He does this through the jokes and humor of ‘Tiger’, the compassion of Brenda, the confused lifestyle and childhood memories of Doris and the pain felt by Lars due to the death of his wife and daughter. I couldn’t help but enjoy It’s in the Eyes and look forward to reading it’s sequel Eyes of Cold Case Killers.
The place is New Orleans and the event is Mardi Gras. The insanity of the carnival is at its peak as Rex rolls down St. Charles Avenue. On the prominent float of this most prominent parade is the exalted and very prominent new King of Carnival, one Chauncey St. Amant. Chauncey is stamped indelibly into the social register as upper class, albeit not afraid to come down from his lofty perch for worthwhile causes. On a balcony high above the street and the screaming crowd a costumed Dolly Parton fires one shot and ends the King of Rex’s life.
So begins New Orleans Mourning, by Julie Smith. Skip Langdon, rookie cop, but with connections to the upper-crust which reign over New Orleans twelve months out of the year, not just at carnival time, is taken off street beat and assigned to the case because of her connections with the family of St. Amant. The two other detectives assigned to the case are not at all that enamored by her and treats her almost contemptuously. Skip, realizing that this is a career-in-the-making case dives headlong into it, although with a few misgivings and old hurts which haunt her, arriving as old memories about her social-climbing parents.
A free-lance photographer was shooting a video of the parade and the crowd and accidentally captured the Dolly Parton look alike in the actual act of committing murder. But, of course the film comes up missing as Skip and the photographer ease into a “relationship.” As Skip questions members of the St Amant family she is not taken seriously at first, and then is hated for her persuasive investigation. She is not the perfect detective. She has ghost from her past that plague her and she tokes on marijuana to try and calm herself down from time to time, because the intensity of the investigation is overwhelming.
As she goes about her business she begins to uncover layer after layer of good old fashioned southern, aristocratic trash in high places. Skip digs beneath the façade of the upper class and beneath the glamour and adulation she finds more layers of lies, cover-ups and degeneracy. And, a book about the south would not be complete if race was not seen in a not too flattering way.
Who killed Chauncey St. Amant? And why? Skip finds plenty of possible suspects in the high-toned family’s skeletons and even finds herself pursuing a black prostitute suspect in the ghetto. As the story unfolds, pointing the finger this way, Skip sees other possibilities, and on and on in a confusing labyrinth of who can you trust. The final pages are exquisitely written and the reader can only read, open-mouthed, at the revelations and finally the identity of the murderer. I highly recommend New Orleans Mourning to anyone who loves a wild and woolly mystery. Thank you Pam for turning me onto to it.
You remember those gripping tales mixing legal suspense and Southern charm that flowed from the pen of John Grisham during the last decade? Or the great Southern drawl of earthy tradition from William FauIkner in an earlier time? It seems we have among us a modern author of similar talents, a gentleman nurtured in the steamy culture of the moist land in that network of slow-moving southern Louisiana bayous a hundred miles southwest of New Orleans. This author is none other than Jerry Bolton.
Jerry’s adroit skills at weaving poetic wonder and short stories that play to the often flawed characters that one just knows have been an intimate part of his life, in part or in whole. Jerry has a throng of memorable literary bits and pieces and other novels to his credit.
In “Write To Murder,” Jerry spins a great yarn mixing two common household ingredients that are, by themselves not too alarming, and can even be inert. But when poured together through Jerry’s pen, they combine with a dangerous explosive force, like rubbing alcohol and peroxide. We are all familiar with one of these elements: a great yearning to write prose and poetry that is “outside the box” in its ability to penetrate the consciousness of its audience — literary derring-do that puts our wares on a shelf above those of others.
The other common element is found in abundance in that too-long list of flawed character traits of the human race. Greed, lust, avarice, cupidity, rapacity and covetousness, among others, meld into the scabs on the festering rash that Jerry meticulously picks at for fodder for this book. What results is a set of colorful portraitures that tangle in a race through a Shakespearean-plotted story-line to a climactic and dramatic finish.
What more could one want in a murder-mystery than Voodoo tainted Cajun swampland harboring such a volatile mixture? Not a lot, in my opinion. Jerry’s latest will keep you entertained at the beach this summer or curled up in your reading chair at home. You won’t even notice the blondes strutting by in the sand or the clock ticking toward midnight at home. This is a good book. Four stars! Congratulations Jerry!
Buy from here . . .
After the savage torture and death of her mother, whom she had guilt feeling about, mafia princess Kathy Albertini is drawn into a world of sexual excess and alcohol in an attempt to rid herself of her demons. She is also trying to distance herself from the “Family,” and it is difficult because her dad is the Godfather of the Dixie Mafia. When she has given up on love a new man in her life is giving her feeling she had never experienced before, plus he brings some shameful secrets of his own that surface violently and unexpectedly. Adding to the emotional upheaval, Kathy has a stalker. My Mother’s Revenge is a 335 page thriller set in New Orleans and the bayous which surround the city.
Here is the address to purchase the book
A “Sleeper Cell” is agents or spies who are placed in a target country or organization, not to undertake an immediate mission, but rather to act as potential assets if activated at a later point in time. They have infiltrated into the target country and ‘gone to sleep’, sometimes for many years. That is, they do nothing to communicate with their sponsors, or any existing agents, or to obtain information beyond that from public sources. They can also be referred to as deep cover agents. They acquire jobs, attend schools of higher learning, get married, and have families, and identities-ideally ones which will prove useful in the future-and attempt to blend into everyday life as a normal citizen. In a sense, the best sleeper agents are those who are not paid by their sponsor as they are able to earn enough money to support themselves. This avoids the possibly of tracing payments from abroad. In such cases, it is possible that the sleeper agent might be successful enough to become what is sometimes termed an agent of influence. Those sleeper agents who have been discovered have often been natives of the target country who moved elsewhere in early life and been co-opted (perhaps for ideological or ethnic reasons) before returning to the target country. This is valuable to the sponsor as the sleeper’s language and other skills can be those of a ‘native’ and thus less likely to trigger suspicion. Choosing and inserting sleeper agents has often been problematic as it is difficult to predict which target will be appropriate some years in the future. If the sponsor government (or its policies) changes after the sleeper has been inserted, the sleeper might be found to have been planted in the wrong target.
About the Book:
THIS IS A FICTIONAL NOVEL OF ADVENTURE, CONSPIRACY, FOREIGN INTRIGUE, DEAL MAKING, FINANCIAL STRATEGIES AND THE ISSUE DU JOUR–TERRORISM.
Jonathan Wainwright Skyler, a U.S. soldier, befriends Ben Kalib Ali, a seven year old orphan in Iraq. After eighteen months of duty, Jonathan “gyros” back to the U.S. and musters out of the National Guard. He goes back to work for a wall street firm and in the ensuing years becomes a successful venture capitalist. While having lunch with clients, he notices a young man, dapperly dressed, having lunch with a group of diners. The young man looks familiar, they look at each other and eventually they meet in the restaurant’s restroom and begin talking. Jonathan says hello to Ben Kalib Ali, a strapping young man, handsome and well spoken. Ben tells Jonathan that he was adopted by a California family and sent to the US. After arriving, he completed his primary, secondary schooling and finally University of Southern California. There he majored in chemical engineering and later finished law school at Georgetown University. Ben also said that he was newly married, employed as an attorney with a New York Wall Street firm and was living in Westchester, taking the train everyday to Grand Central Station and then by subway to his office on Wall Street. Little does Jonathan know, but Ben has been programmed to be a “Sleeper Cell” destined to carry out one of the most devastating events in New York City.
The story takes place in the years 2000 – 2024.
About the Author:
This is Ralph L. McNeal, Sr’s first novel. He has spent most of his professional life in the Venture Capital Industry. He has authored a novel that brings into play global financial considerations and futuristic financial uncertainties. Ralph has been employed in financial and management capacities in both the public and private sectors. The author is a graduate of Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and served his country as an officer of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 50th Armor and the 102nd Armored Cavalry (Essex Troop) Regiment. Ralph is currently working on his next fiction novel “The Venture Capitalist,” a sequel to “Sleeper Cell.”
Mr. McNeal has written articles appearing in the “US Congressional Record” and the “Planning Executives Institute” magazine. His bio has appeared in the Marquis’ “Who’s Who in America” and “Who’s Who in Finance and Industry.” He is a recipient of the 2000 US Small Business Administration’s New Jersey Small Business Financial Services Advocate of the Year Award,” and the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Companie’s “1992 Kool’s National Achievers Award.”
|Our conspiracy theories were right, April 4, 2009
One of the good things about Sleeper Cell is it’s ability to make you look over your shoulder and wonder about the person next to you. You also begin to see the potential for bad in everyone, even a small child. The story spends a lot of time talking about the short relationship between the soldier and the boy and even gives you glimpses of Ben’s “all American” life after the tragic death of his family. The frightening part is how the author can take the scenes of triumph over tragedy and pieces of normalcy and sew threads of plotting and evil into everyday life.
|”Foreign Intrigue: Friend or Terrorist?,” April 9, 2009
In this novel the author displays the ever increasing multitude of problems the world will face as it enters into the near future. We also learn of some of the solutions that might take place if we set our minds to correcting the problems. One of those solutions is designing our cities to operate in an environmentally friendly manner. A case in point would be to develop such a plan for the rebuilding of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.
Robert A. Harris (New Hampshire)
Author Ralph L. McNeal Sr.
“ Begging For a Sequel.”
Title Sleeper Cell
Every so often, a writer is able to capture the moment with a story that address current day issues, events and circumstances which all readers, both young and older, can identify. Mr. McNeal’s’ Sleeper Cell delivers a hard hitting written tapestry that brings to life in bold strokes the good, bad and ugly on an international stage with a style that reminds the reader of novels written by the likes of Nicholas Pileggi, Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Norman Mailer. Sleeper Cell takes the reader to familiar places and while there introduces characters that could be your next door neighbor or business associate. Consequently, scary thoughts are made to enter ones’ mind when the curtain of secrecy is unveiled as you course through this novel. As you read, you will often pause in contemplation of the people you met during your travels and wonder if they might have been those who are the principal characters in Mr. McNeal’s story. As I write this review, I am tempted to provide some detail, but that would steal the books thunder. Thus the reader will have to “find out” on his or her own.
Although relatively short, this book is loaded with action and begs for a sequel.
Congratulations.. This one is a winner.
MLowery (Columbus, Ohio)
Reader Rating See Detailed Ratings
Posted June 15, 2009, 1:07 AM EST: This is a lively and readable novel of action, and situation, the narrative moves along at a great rate, dialogue is particularly well crafted. The characters are completely believable in the parts they play, and the end result is strong and effective. The story is able to keep you in suspense through its twenty-four years of activity, with today’s situations and circumstances soothsaying into the future. The international settings and places added to the foreign intrigue, deal making and conspiracy undertaking are strengthened by the strong and realistic drawn characters of Jonathan and Ben Ali. The futuristic financings and financial strategies dovetailing into today’s environmental needs set the stage for sequels to follow. A Sleeper Cell is agents or spies placed in a target country to be activated at a later point in time.
PhyllisPW (Hurdle Mills, N.C.)
Ralph McNeal’s Sleeper Cell
Reader Rating See Detailed Ratings
Posted July 11, 2009, 1:46 PM EST: Mr. McNeal’s Sleeper Cell is intriguing and so current that I had a hard time putting it down. He uses refreshing far-reaching knowledge of the various directions his book takes. Specific references of sports activities, the internals of the corporate environment, the military, even up to the Green Zone in Baghdad, all of which added to the excitement of his book. As a woman, his descriptions of the hotel rooms and the restaurants jumped out at me – so thorough that I could visualize details of the rooms. His excellent use of familiar attractions in various U.S. cities added pleasant memories. The descriptions of international projects brought a new interest that is both promising and unnerving, while the characters were believable and exciting. In his book, Mr. McNeal appears to draw from some of his own life experiences – all in the spirit of objectivity. I am anxiously awaiting the sequel with the hint of promised intrigue. This is a winner.
can be a dangerous place. Especially for a prosecutor.
Ryan Murphy is anwho likes her Tequila cold and her cops hot. With a mouth that doesn’t know quite when to stop, her attitude plays well in front of a jury, but has a tendency to tick off judges, defendants, and other attorneys alike. Battling demons from her past and checking her self-destructive streak take a back seat to her ambition, and she’s not above skating the line just a little to get what she wants. It seems her hard work is just about to pay off. If she snags a detective in the process, well, that’s just a little lagniappe for her trouble. Life should be good.
Enter a demented psycho, with a plan to ruin Ryan’s life before he ultimately kills her.
Set against the backdrop of pre-Katrina New Orleans, Gumbo Justice is the first in a series that follows the tumultuous life of prosecutor Ryan Murphy.
A New Queen of Thrillers,
By J. M. Orenduff, author of THE POT THIEF
By Sunny Frazier, author of WHERE ANGELS FEAR and others in the Christy Bristol Mystery series“Holli Castillo has the pulse on law enforcement beyond the headlines in pre-Katrina New Orleans. Her background as a public defender lends her debut novel authenticity and a strong voice to prosecutor Ryan Murphy. Part police procedural, part legal drama, Castillo is a welcome addition to both genres.”