Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review of JASPAR’S WAR By Cym Lowell

Jaspar’s War is about the wife of the U.S. Treasury Secretary. After her husband is murdered, Jaspar Moran must save her two kidnapped children.  She is promised she will be reunited with them if she remains quiet about a scheme to manipulate the world’s financial markets.  In order keep her children alive and because her government is suspicious of her, Jaspar goes on the run in Italy.

Jaspar will do anything to save her children even if that means dealing with traitors and assassins. She doesn’t know who to trust as she races around the world to stop a madman, save her children and get the life she once knew back.

This is a suspenseful thriller filled with description, games and intrigue. The novel jumps into action right away and never really slows downs.  This is a great read for anyone who likes a strong action packed suspense thriller.

Cym Lowell was born in Montana to academics with a youth of traveling the world. To be polite, he was an undistinguished student, rewarded with assignment to the U.S. Navy at 18. After two years in Vietnam, college and law school were a challenge. Being a veteran in the political turbulence of the late 1960s and early 1970s taught humility. Raising three children in the Midwest and Texas brought love and responsibility. An international tax practice in the financial crises of the past 40 years provided insight into motivations of actors on the global stage. Friends, clients, adversaries, and colleagues, like victory and defeat, added color and context. The result is a thriller writer with a treasure trove of experience to frame compelling characters enmeshed in heart-thumping challenge about endearing people caught-up in events that one would never dream possible. For more, visit Cym Lowell’s website at


Excerpt from
By Cym Lowell

Chapter 1
Greenwich, Connecticut

POCK!” The distinctive sound of a plastic bat driving a Wiffle ball into the outfield triggered shrieks from children as they ran and played. My ten-year-old daughter Chrissy dropped the bat and raced toward first base, actually a luminous orange Frisbee.

“Run, Chrissy,” I shouted as she rounded first, heading toward second. Auburn ponytails, woven with my fingers, flew in her wake. Theo, my twelve-year-old son, played shortstop. Chrissy watched his face.

“Go!” he telegraphed. I clasped my hands, hoping that she would not slide face first into base. Scratches and cuts were no deterrent when she was so focused.

It was Easter weekend, a time for relaxation and family in Greenwich, Connecticut. Neighbors, friends, and local dignitaries filled our park-like estate. We had room for a ball field where neighborhood kids could congregate. Private security personnel were out of sight.

It was an annual celebration of faith. Parents and grandparents sat all around, absorbing the beautiful sunshine and mild weather. They brought coolers of drinks, soda pop for the kids, beer and wine for the adults. It was my version of a neighborhood tailgate party. My dream of family and community had come true.

“Throw the ball,” the other team yelled as the outfielder cocked his arm.

“Down, Chrissy!” Theo yelled.

Their father had taught her to ignore the ball and watch the coach.

 “Your agility will always give you an edge,” he said.

Small thin legs churned as the ball was launched. I cringed watching her dive. Dust flew from the infield side of the base. The second baseman caught it just as the little fingers touched safety, and the catcher’s hand smacked her hip.

“Safe!” the father serving as umpire shouted, crossing outstretched arms in exclamation.

I jumped for joy. Theo stood back, pride on his face. Chrissy brushed grass and dirt from her bottom, beaming at her brother. She gave me a thumbs up. No blood. I was relieved. Taunts from the other boys about coddling his sister only amused her proud big brother.

Neighborhood kids enjoyed the afternoon Wiffle ball game on the lawn between our pool and tennis courts. I organized the games just as I had played them as a child. My dad called it “scrub.” As a player made an out, she would go to right field and the catcher moved up to bat in the prescribed rotation.

“Jaspar, when will Trevor get home?” my best friend Crystal Jamison asked about my husband. I took my seat, still reveling in the joy of observing my children care for each other. She sipped a glass of Sancerre, basking in the sun and relaxing in a rocking chair brought from the pool.

“Trevor is so good at teaching passing techniques,” she said watching her own son. “Joshua will be a senior this year, so he needs to make a strong showing for college scouts. Trevor is his hero.”

I remembered Trevor dropping back to pass on the sacred turf of Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, then stepping forward to deliver his trademark bullet to a receiver streaking across the goal line to seal a national championship. The memory was so strong. I longed for him to be back at my side. Before departing, he told me of his fear that his fabled career on Wall Street had been a fraud. Our conversation had to be completed.

POCK!” brought my attention back to the kids on the grass. They all raced to field the ball. Chrissy was on her way around third as the batter ran to first, the wobbly ball flying just over the head of Theo. He ran after it, looking over his shoulder at Chrissy racing toward the plate. Reaching the ball, he turned and launched a strike to the catcher, doing his best to nail her.

“Run Chrissy,” I yelled rising again. She jumped on home base in triumph as the floating ball was caught too late.

“Batter up,” Theo yelled as I returned to my seat.

“Trevor’s on his way home from London,” I answered my friend’s question.

Crystal and I first met when we came to New York after college. Her husband Raymond played football with Trevor at Notre Dame. They were quite a team. A fleet, sure-handed receiver, Raymond caught the passes that Trevor threw. Trevor’s career ended in a national championship game. Raymond came to New
York drafted by the Jets. Trevor took an entry position on Wall Street. I dated Raymond early in college before I met Trevor or he began dating Crystal. She and I were kids just off campus coming to the big city. Neither of us had any real preparation for the strange new world. We found jobs in finance, me at the Federal Reserve on Wall Street and Crystal in a research office of a secretive private equity firm owned by an Indian tribe. Similarity of situation and background facilitated fast friendship. Her drawl from rural Georgia complimented my odd mixture of Australian Outback and Northern Indiana twang. As our husbands succeeded, we searched for a place where we could live in relative obscurity. Greenwich was perfect. Our children grew up together, like the extended family of my dreams.

“He’s gone so much now,” Crystal responded. “You seemed excited when he went down there. Almost as if he were answering a call to duty.”

“He’s been seeking European agreement for the president’s stimulus plan.”

Trevor took to Wall Street. He began as a runner for energy traders and became fascinated with learning to anticipate market movements. His skill expanded in a master’s program at Columbia, propelling him to a position where he implemented a strategy to take advantage of an inconsistency in risk pricing. Successful exploitation brought us success.

Trevor’s firm, Westbury Madison & Co., became the pre-eminent Wall Street investment bank, profiting whether the economy flourished or crashed due to what Trevor believed was his own strategy. When the financial world crashed, President Hamilton Henrichs asked him to lead the effort to resurrect the economy of America and the world as secretary of the Treasury, a position once held by Alexander Hamilton. The financial press criticized the appointment. “Wolf Hired to Rebuild Hen House?” asked
headlines in the financial and popular press.

“I am proud of him,” I answered, anxiously twisting the everpresent bangles at my left wrist. They were gifts I’ve treasured from my Indian friends. “He works hard and travels constantly trying to plug holes in the economic dam of the world.”

Inside, far different feelings had germinated. Something was wrong. What happened to you, Trevor? He was distant, ignoring me in ways that I had never experienced. He seemed to avoid me. Is he having an affair? I wondered, fearing that a slowly ebbing sex life could be a marker of something more than job stress. Have I become less desirable or is there something troubling in his new life in Washington that he cannot find words to tell me?

“You seem distant, honey” I finally said as he was leaving days earlier. “Have I done something?”

“I know,” he answered, with an unusual tone of resignation in his voice. “It’s not you, sweetheart. Please don’t think that. I’m sorry. I’ve discovered treachery that you may be able to understand better than me. I need your help,” he blurted out, taking me in his arms with a grip that felt desperate.

“Is it something at Treasury?” I asked, relieved that his distance was due to business. But his distance troubled me. It was so unlike anything I had experienced in our life together.

“Yes, it’s there and also in the White House. It’s unbelievable,” he answered in a voice that trembled as his hands shook. “I’ve been used by people I trusted. It began at the firm.”

“At Westbury?”

“Yes. I’ve tried to piece the story together. We can discuss what to do when I return.”

My relief soon gave way to fear. Trevor was afraid; I had never seen that in him. Was my intrepid hero cracking?

* * *

“Hey Mom, come pitch,” Theo yelled as one player jumped into the pool. The scrub game was more fun with full teams in the field and at bat. The kids liked me to pitch because I threw softly. “Like a girl,” Theo would say, happy that he could always whack my pitch. His friends tried to throw curves or fastballs with the plastic sphere with holes on one side. I learned from my dad how to pitch so the ball hung right in Theo’s sweet spot. Of course, I did the same for all the kids; unfortunately I usually struck out as batter. My father was a missionary. After my mother died when I was just three he raised me. For many years we lived in the Australian Outback. When it was time for college, we moved to South Bend,
Indiana. I was the first member of my family to go to Notre Dame on a scholarship. Dad was proud. He lived long enough to express his pride. His greatest joy, he often said with breaking voice, was that I had grown as a woman of faith: “Your mother’s heart would burst with thankfulness.”

“Gotta go,” I responded to Crystal, touching her shoulder and grabbing my mitt. Theo was the next batter. I picked up the ball as I marked my territory around the luminous strip of plastic that served as the pitcher’s mound. Theo looked like pictures of my dad at the same age.

My son stepped to the plate, pointing the bat at me. “Gotcha, Mom!” he declared for the entire neighborhood to hear. I had to play the role. Glove on my knee, I leaned forward with the ball behind my back as if I were looking for a signal. I glanced at runners on base, then the batter.

“Strike the turkey out!” Crystal yelled.

“Yeah, yeah!” our friends echoed.

“Strike one!” the umpire shouted as Theo’s bat slapped the back of his shoulder, so intense was the swing.

“Mom?” his lips mimed, looking at me.

“Strike two!”

The words roused cheers from parents ringing the field. Beer and wine had flowed long enough to produce a boisterous mood. Adults always lost in these games, so the prospect of me striking out the best of the kids triggered excitement.

I gripped the Wiffle ball, knowing where to place my fingers for an underhand throw. It could be a screwball, twisting into the right-handed batter, as I had done on the first strike then reversed for the second. Or, I could push the ball with my knuckles, and it would drop as he was getting ready to swing. Theo’s focus was like his father’s. He looked straight into my eyes, curious. I was jolted back to the moment. In throwing strikes, I had allowed my anxiety to overcome Theo’s needs.

“POCK!” The sound rewarded me as the ball sailed over the head of the left fielder. Theo winked as he ran to first. It would be a home run. I had thrown his pitch. Maternal pride filled my soul.

“Yeah, Theo!” Chrissy yelled in a squeaky voice. He also leapt on home plate in triumphant exclamation, ending the game. My boy led them all to the pool with Chrissy at his side.

* * *

After the game, Crystal and I organized the food brought by our friends and neighbors. Fathers and older boys unloaded tables from a rental company trailer in our driveway, arranging them in a horseshoe around the pool so we could eat and talk.

 “Have you seen the kids?” I asked her when Theo and Chrissy seemed to have been absent for a long time.

“Oh, come on, calm down,” Crystal responded. “What could happen here?”

We joined our neighbors at a tent erected on the ball field. One of our traditions was to have entertainment as the late afternoon set, so the children would not be so impatient for darkness and the fireworks. I had arranged with the local Mohegan tribe to have a troupe perform traditional dance routines of celebration. Crystal and I worked for many years with the tribe. Our project was developing job opportunities, which had evolved into a business of creating replicas of art, apparel, and pottery from their rich cultural heritage. Our work was gratifying and successful. Members of the troupe mingled in the crowd entertaining the kids. On stage, each child was outfitted with handmade costumes complete with colorful feathers and leather trim. Tribal artists applied face and body paints to duplicate markings from the proud history of the Mohegan people. We were all lost in the magic. It became difficult to separate child from tribal dancer.

“This is amazing?” Raymond declared, enjoying the collage of color and laughter. His career with the Jets ended suddenly when a vicious cross block broke his ribs and punctured his heart muscle. He became a youth counselor in the Greenwich school system, close to home and family.

I searched the faces of dancers and children trying to find Theo and Chrissy, ignoring the conversation surrounding me. I had not seen either since the game ended. Always in the midst of the children, they should be playing and laughing. I tried not to panic, but was failing. When the exhibition was at an end, darkness began to envelop the scene. “Crystal, they’re not here!”

“Raymond, get the officers,” she directed, taking my arm.

“No child has left the grounds,” the head of security detail assured me, deploying his team to search. As the fireworks display began, the Greenwich police, as well as the Connecticut State Police began checking cars, trucks, and the equipment of the Mohegan troupe. No one was allowed to leave. Backup security teams arrived as the dark sky was illuminated by a kaleidoscope of color.

I barely heard the increasingly anxious discussions of friends and security people. Chrissy did not like chaos and always curled up in my lap at such times. “Where are you, sweetheart?” I asked pacing back and forth.

Neighbors were herded onto the driveway as officers checked each person. Police cars with emergency lights blocked the entrance to our property. Flashlights illuminated fence lines as the search broadened.

“Who delivered the tables?” the senior security officer asked, trying to confirm all who had come and gone.

“I, I, I don’t know,” I stammered, my mind not able to focus on even a simple question.

“Where are they officer? They can’t be hiding this long. They wouldn’t run off. Who would take them?” I asked.

“Ma’am, we’re trying to . . .”

“Mrs. Moran?” a man in a suit asked politely, interrupting the security officer’s response. In the midst of the chaos, a dark sedan had been allowed to enter the driveway.

I was drifting into shock.

“Mrs. Moran, I need to speak to you,” the man repeated gently taking my arm.

“Who are you?” the security officer asked.

“I am Peter McGuire with the FBI,” he said, holding out identification.
“What’s going on here?” he asked, looking at dozens of flashlights sweeping grounds and trees. Neighbors stood by the garages. The Indian troupe clustered by their vehicles.

“My children have disappeared,” I blurted out.

Crystal had called my priest, Father Michael O’Rourke. He was the priest in the rural Australia diocese of my childhood and my dad’s best friend. When I got to Notre Dame, Father Michael was there as a youth pastor. “I am your guardian angel,” he often declared. The image was an essential element of my faith. He had been present throughout my life. He came at the first hint of trouble or joy. Father Michael explained the situation as the security leader departed to check how the search was going.

Something passed over the FBI agent’s face. “Mrs. Moran, is there someplace we could speak in private?”

“Let’s go in the house,” Crystal suggested as she and Raymond led us inside.

We stepped in the front door. The FBI officer motioned for Crystal and Raymond to sit on either side of me on a sofa.

“May I get you anything, Mrs. Moran,” he asked.

“No, what is it?”

He knelt and took my hand. “Mrs. Moran, we regret to inform you that Secretary Moran’s plane en route from London has apparently crashed into the ocean near Iceland. Search planes are on their way. It will take several hours. The conditions are horrendous in the remote area where the plane disappeared.”

I barely heard the words. The rest of the evening was a blur. Friends took turns staying with me throughout the night. Father Michael was at my side when I awoke to the distinctive cathedral chime of my phone.

“Theo or Chrissy at last!” I said grabbing for a ray of hope.
“They must have gone to a friend’s house.”

The chime continued. My mind cleared enough to sit up, hold
Father’s hand, and look at the phone.

“It’s Trevor!” I blurted. His name was on the caller ID. My mind jumped to the conclusion that he was safe after all. “Thank God!”

“Honey, where are you?” I asked. He’ll take care of this.
Long moments elapsed in silence as I pressed the phone to one ear then the other. “Trevor? Honey?”

“A text message will arrive momentarily,” a mechanical voice enunciated slowly. It sounded as if the words were spoken from underwater. The connection terminated, leaving only a cold dial tone.

I looked at the phone.

“Jaspar, what is it?” Father asked, standing next to Crystal and Raymond. I looked up at each of them. Their eyes narrowed with questions. Anxiety blew through me like a chill Arctic wind.

“I . . . I don’t know. The caller ID said ‘Trevor Moran.’ Then there was this scary voice.” I startled when the chime for a text message sounded. My eyes riveted on the words:

Your children are gone because you asked about something not your business.
Your husband started to answer and is being digested by sharks.
If what he believed becomes public, your children will also become ocean shit.
Your silence is their only path to life.

Excerpted from the book JASPAR’S WAR by Cym Lowell.  Copyright © 2014 by Cym Lowell.  Reprinted with permission of Rosemary Beach Press.  All rights reserved

I did not receive any compensation for this review. I did, however, receive a free copy for my review from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review of The Collector of Dying Breaths by M. J. Rose

The Collector of Dying Breaths is a tale of love and treachery that alternates between 21st century France and Italy in the 1500s.  It is brings together the stories of a mythologist and a long deceased perfumer.

From Italy in the year 1533 is René le Florentin who becomes the perfumer to young duchessina, Catherine de Medici. The two are travelling from Italy to France carrying recipes for fragrances and medicines, some so powerful they can wake the dead.  René eventually becomes a great perfumer and also a creator of poisons that the Queen will use against her enemies.  René is doing a job and has no idea what consequences and tragedies are in store.

From present day Paris, France, is renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile. Jac is recovering from heartbreak by throwing herself into her work. She soon learns about René’s work and the dying breaths he collected during his life. With the help of her former lover, Griffin North, a linguist, she soon discovers an heiress in possession of a very important fine art collection.  The heiress has her own plans for the poison created by René all those years ago.


M.J. Rose is an international bestselling author of twelve novels, and has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek, and New York Magazine. She is also the Co-President and founding member of International Thriller Writers, the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz and runs the blog, Museum of Mysteries. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. For more about M.J. Rose, visit her website at


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Eyes Closed Tight by Peter Leonard Review

Welcome to the March 11, 2014 blog tour stop for Eyes Closed Tight by Peter Leonard.

About the Book:

Former Detroit homicide detective, Oak O’Clair, has retired to Florida where he runs a motel with his younger girlfriend, Virginia, who is beautiful and can fix anything. Everything seems to be going great for him until the day he finds a young woman dead in his motel after a party from the previous night.

Then, there is a second murder and he realizes someone is trying to send the former detective message. Further, the way in which the victim is killed is a reminder of a case he worked on when he was still with the Detroit Police.  With this in mind, he returns to Detroit to figure out what he is missing especially since he now realizes the wrong man is behind bars.

While he is away, Virginia is kidnapped and he realizes that the murders are personal. The killer is trying to send him a message.

My Thoughts

Eyes Closed Tight is full of surprise and suspense and it will give your goose bumps until the very end. O’Clair is a likeable and believable character and Virginia is a perfect match for him.

The plot is messy and makes you nervous, especially as you try to figure out what the killer will do next. Here is the interesting twist, the reader knows who the killer is while O’Clair is scrambling his brain to make sense of it all.

About the Author

Peter Leonard lives in Birmingham, Michigan. He is the son of the late author Elmore Leonard. For more about Peter and his books, check out his website at 


Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Number of Pages: 300 pages
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
ISBN-10: 1611881145
ISBN-13: 978-1611881141

I did not receive any compensation for this review. I did, however, receive a free copy for my review from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


My Thoughts on RETRIBUTION by Anderson Harp

I received a free copy of RETRIBUTION from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.  

This is an action packed suspenseful military/political thriller.  And it is one heck of a thriller!  Anderson Harp has written an amazing story filled with disaster, terror, and suspense that leaves you wondering “what if?”. 

This is a great book if you are a fan of authors like Tom Clancy. The story is a bit complex but it is quite convincing with its many twists and turns.  

You can purchase RETRIBUTION at one of these fine retailers:

Praise for Retribution

Tense and authentic—reading this book is like living a real-life mission.
Lee Child, #1 internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers

Want to see what the military’s really like?  Harp knows his stuff.  Retribution proves that the scariest story is the true story.  Here’s the real intelligence operation.”
Brad Meltzer, #1 New York Times author of The Inner Circle

Retribution is just outstanding.”
Douglas Preston , #1 bestselling author of Impact  

"I seldom come across a thriller as authentic and well-written as RETRIBUTION... a global plot that's exciting, timely, and believable.” 
David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Protector

“A stunner…reminds me of Tom Clancy at his finest.”
James Rollins, New York Times bestseller of Bloodline 

Anderson Harp served 30 years in the U.S.  Marine Corps, rising through the ranks to become a Colonel He has served as the Officer in Charge of the Crisis Action Team for Marin Forces Central Command.  His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service

Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal.  As an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, he was mobilized for Operation Enduring Freedom and served with MarCent’s Crisis Action Team. Using his up-to-date knowledge of cutting edge technology, and the kind of military experience that a make for great thriller writing, Harp has created a fast-moving and totally riveting thriller that will make Anderson Harp a leading name, like  Ludlam  and  Brad  Thor,  in  the  military/political thriller.  RETRIBUTION  (Pinnacle Books, $9.99 ISBN: 978-0-7860-3421-5) by Anderson Harp, the first book in Will Parker thriller series will be published in mass market by Pinnacle Books this March, now with full national distribution.

The remote and impenetrable Pakistani mountains have offered refuge to the worst enemies of civilization since the time of Alexander.  Now, the world faces a new challenge. Reared from birth to harbor a seething hatred, a lone man is about to unleash a firestorm that will rage for centuries.  And the window of opportunity to stop him is shutting much faster than Washington D.C. can hope to deal with.

A top lethal operative, Will Parker is embedded within the terrorist’s ranks to stop this catastrophic disaster.  But with a nuclear core on its way to the U.S., Parker will go to any lengths to stop a biological terror more lethal than anything the USA—and the world— has ever faced.

Anderson Harp served 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, rising through the ranks to become a Colonel.  His stations included:  the Pentagon, South Korea, Central America, the Persian Gulf, Europe, Camp Pendleton, the Marine Mountain Training Center, Fort Benning, Fort Sill, and Camp LeJeune. He has served as the Officer in Charge of Crisis Action Team for Marine Forces Central Command. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. As an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, he was mobilized for Operation Enduring Freedom and served with MarCent’s Crisis Action Team.  Anderson Harp lives with his family in Columbus, Georgia.

By Anderson Harp
Pinnacle, an imprint of Kensington: March, 2014
$9.99; 528 pages
 ISBN: 978-0-7860-3421-5