Book Review Omnibus: Sister-in-Law, The Chase, Fields of Lies

Sister-in-Law by M. R. Morgan. Black Opal Books. 2018.

Reviewed by A.M. Potter. ® 2019.

You don’t have to follow US politics or love political/psychological thrillers to be captured by this novel. It draws you in — even if you’re oblivious to Washington DC. If you’ve shut out the US Feds, disregard your past proclivities and dive into Sister-in-Law. Although I grew up in the US and Canada, I now live in Canada. However, place of residence doesn’t matter. Sister-in-Law is accessible to anyone and everyone.

Morgan’s plotline is clever without being unnecessarily circuitous. His prose is clear and precise. His characters’ motivations are easy to comprehend. However, he doesn’t spoon-feed you. He delivers exactly what you need. You fill in the rest.

I’m not going to expand on the plotline (a troubled seductress becomes the president’s sister-in-law to get to the president himself; echoes of Marilyn Monroe, anyone), other than to say that the sister-in-law gets to her target. And that’s not a spoiler alert. It’s what happens along the way that counts. Enjoy the twists. Get your politics with a bang (double-entendre intended). Given the current political climate in Washington (shutdowns, disarray, doublespeak), you might be wishing the president actually had a sister-in-law.

The Chase by Leonardus Rougoor. Black Opal Books. 2017.

Reviewed by A.M. Potter. ® 2019.

Leonardus Rougoor’s The Chase transports you to a place most people don’t go. You enter the mind of a vigilante. Joseph is a solo vigilante, a man who has taken the law unto himself. We only get his first name, which seems appropriate. It makes him more unknowable.

In his quest for justice, Joseph is judge, jury, and executioner. He’s not entirely at ease with his calling. As he relates, “if polite society and the police [in the USA] can’t or won’t do anything … then I guess the problem falls on me. God, I wish it wasn’t like this.” Yet Joseph doesn’t shirk his self-appointed duty. He kills those he finds guilty. In his mind, “a bad upbringing doesn’t give you the right to lead a bad life.” Furthermore, if “you live by the sword it is only fitting that you die by the sword …. This, of course, doesn’t apply to me. I’m on a mission.”

Joseph wields god-like power. In his mind, he has to. American Society has given him no choice. He avenges pimps, drug dealers, neo-Nazis, the Klan, and porn producers, among others. Yet his main target is personal – it’s the killer of his wife and unborn child, Dennis Jackson. Jackson is still a killer. He’s a wary prey, and his tracking takes patience and skill. Fortunately, Joseph possesses both in abundance.

The Chase bares the soul of America. Joseph rationalizes his killings, and yet he wonders if he’s any better than the scum he kills. As a reader, you inhabit his mind, you share his triumphs and doubts. Will you agree with him? Will you understand him? Jump in and find out.

Author’s website:

Fields of Lies by Sabina Gabrielle Carrara. 2019.

Reviewed by A.M. Potter. ® 2019.

What’s better in a murder mystery than a web of lies? A field of lies. How do you up the ante on that? Add more than one field. In Sabina Gabrielle Carrara’s Fields of Lies, multiple fields of friendship and marriage have been enjoying apparent peace for over twenty years. Yet the hand of death is simply slumbering.

As Fields of Lies opens in the quaint Irish village of Seacross, life seems benign. However, Bernadette and Michael Greaney are living a lie. They don’t love each other. The seemingly solid walls of their marriage are in fact unsteady facades. And then the facades are ripped open. A prodigal son returns to the village. The rift in the Greaney marriage widens. Gabrielle Carrara delivers all the elements of a cracking whodunit: seething discontent, extramarital affairs, deceit, payback, jealousy.

A man who was responsible for a crime two decades ago – and who escaped punishment – is murdered. We have motive: payback. But where’s the opportunity? It is cleverly hidden. A parade of lies unfolds before the perpetrator is apprehended. A high tide of red herrings expertly deflects the reader from the whodunit. Will the killer come to light? Will the denizens of Seacross stare down death and despair? Read Fields of Lies to unearth the answers. See how deceit awakens the hand of death.

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