Behrg Reviews “Hellbent” by Gregg Hurwitz

hellbent1500+ ratings at the time of this review with a 4.55 average. You don’t get a score like that by chance.

It’s no secret Gregg Hurwitz has long been one of my favorite authors. From his unique characters to the brilliant way he uses his settings to his carefully crafted prose, he’s truly a writer’s writer. This third installment in the Orphan X series is by far his best and there’s a comfort here as Hurwitz finds his groove, no longer trying to create his own Jason Bourne or Jack Reacher but letting his work shine on its own.

Evan Smoak and the Orphan program works best when the high tech thrills are brought close to home. Hellbent is Hurwitz’ most emotional exploration within the Smoak universe and yet he’s able to accomplish this with a book that never slows down. Some unforgettable character moments — one involving a candy cane which, trust me, if you read this you won’t be able to forget — and a set up for the series which guarantees there will be many more Orphan X books to come.

If you’re not yet familiar with Hurwitz’s work, there’s never been a better time to jump on board this train. And if I can make a suggestion, pick up the Audible versions of the series as Scott Brick is THE voice of Evan Smoak and delivers an amazing performance.


Behrg Reviews “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King

gunslingerStart throwing your stones now, Constant Readers, but despite my immense love of King and his works I have never read the Dark Tower Series. The Gunslinger I’ve read a few times LONG ago, and I think I finished Drawing of the Three back then as well, but for whatever reason it didn’t take hold.

Well that was then, and this is now.

2018 will be the year of the Dark Tower for me, and I’m really excited to read through the entire series from start to finish without the delay of years between novels. I remember book one being more episodic in nature, but this time through I really dug the story and where King took it. For someone as prolific and popular as King is, he’s never been afraid of experimenting with his work, of challenging the status quo and the rules a novel should abide by. The Gunslinger hints at a much richer and darker world (or worlds) than is encapsulated in this single book, and being somewhat familiar with the mythos, it will be fun to fully dive in.

So wish me luck as I venture down this path with our fellow gunslinger on his journey towards the Dark Tower.

The Behrg Reviews “A Guide for Murdered Children” by Sarah Sparrow

guide.jpg“A Guide for Murdered Children” has all the ingredients needed for an amazing book – a unique concept, an inventive hook, troubled characters, and some phenomenal and edgy writing. Unfortunately just tossing all the ingredients into a big pan and hoping it comes out in the end doesn’t always work.

What this book is missing is a solid through-line. There’s no plot. Nothing that drives the story forward. Instead we have half a dozen subplots and tacked together character lines that never coalesce into something stronger.

I really wanted to love this book. Sparrow certainly has some chops and there were some great moments in this, but overall it just didn’t deliver an experience and felt as if it were three drafts short of a final product. Worth checking out, if nothing more than for Sparrow’s unique style. Hopefully others will enjoy what just didn’t work for me.

“Every monster dreams. Every monster imagines, aspires.”

* I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. My thanks to the author and publisher.


Confessions of a Reviewer tackles “HOUSEBROKEN”

It’s always an unexpected surprise to get a notice that one of your books has been reviewed by a review site you respect, even better when said review makes you want to read your own book.

Nev Murray’s fantastic Confessions of a Reviewer site finally got to a book I submitted to them sometime last year. I don’t know the reviewer, Elaine Pascal, but man can she write! Seriously, one of my favorite reviews. Check out this snippet:

Contemporary fiction nihilistically portrays the consequences of complacent inaction, but none with more gusto than Housebroken.

Check out the full review of HOUSEBROKEN, and if you haven’t yet read it yourself, Amazon has the book on a special promo this month as part of their Prime Reading program where for Prime members you can pick up the book for free.

Housebroken is a fantastic horror novel that is not for the faint of heart. I have not been this swept away by a thriller in a long time!

Thanks again to Elaine and the Confessions team.



Book Review: “Lost Solace” by Karl Drinkwater

lost solace.jpgScience fiction is an easy genre to botch. Too much techno-garble, too little research, too much world building or an overabundant cast of characters; I find most authors lose the core of their story within the infinite array of possibilities they’re incapable of leaving alone.

Drinkwater’s latest is a great reminder of what makes sci-fi so appealing. Take a strong yet flawed protagonist who needs to accomplish something and then set obstacles in her way. It’s not rocket science but man does it make for a compelling story.

The set up here is great, with Opal coming upon a “lost ship” circling the outer rim of a potential black hole, a ship that is far from what it appears to be. It’s obvious Drinkwater is a horror author as the tension and atmosphere really keep this novel moving at full speed. Add a lot of questions and intrigue and a dynamic relationship between our protagonist and the ship’s AI and you’ve really got a unique story that’s just exceptionally executed.

Part “Alien,” part “Cast Away,” part “Interstellar,” this exceeded my expectations and came in as one of my top Sci-Fi reads for 2017. Definitely worth checking out.


Book Review: “Red” by Jack Ketchum

RedThis is probably as perfect of a book as you can get and just goes to show you don’t always need an earth-shattering, end-of-the-world apocalyptic event to tell an engaging story. Ketchum is a master wordsmith, adding flavor to the simplicity of this tale without ever overstepping his bounds. Letting his characters live without ever forcing them to bend to the demands of a preconceived plot.

This was quite simply a beautiful, if painful, glimpse into an ordinary life, where the darkest masks of mankind’s avarice and cruelty are put on full display, set against the backdrop of one man trying to do right. Absolutely loved it.


Book Review: “The Sound of Broken Ribs” by Edward Lorn

broken ribsThere’s been a plague lately, in my opinion, of great authors striving for subtlety in their writing. Taking a premise and, rather than allowing it to grow into something monstrous and completely unique, trimming it back so that you barely see the buds where there could have been roses. Or thorns. Big nasty thorns. I understand the reasoning behind it, in trying to make their work less fantastical, but I often disagree with the end results, left wanting more.

The Sound of Broken Ribs by Edward Lorn is the first book I’ve read that nails this concept. There’s a maturity here to Lorn’s writing that I haven’t seen before — and I consider myself a fan of his work. But while he lets this dark tale grow its wings he also doesn’t inflate them into balloons that fizzle and go flying around the room before petering out. Writing requires incredible balance, allowing your imagination to run wild while also pulling it back before it becomes unmanageable and ruins your story. I kept waiting for this to derail but Lorn rides that razor’s edge the entire story, teasing the fantastic while keeping you grounded.

And man, are there some big nasty thorns.

Breathing, flawed characters you come to sympathize with and a perfect balance of moments that make you cringe and others that will make your jaw drop, this is on my top 5 list for sure so far for the year. The premise may be simple, but the execution is what makes this book sing. Hats off E on a great story well told.

** Please note this book is currently only available as a special limited hard-cover edition from Thunderstorm Books. I received an advanced review copy of the book. This in no way influenced by review. **