Cat Ellington’s review of Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets

Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets (HoneyBun Shop Mysteries #2)Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets by M.E. Harmon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those of us in the literary community don’t call cozy mysteries cozy mysteries (or “cozies”) for nothing. It should be said that when regarding this fabulous subgenre of crime fiction, you can almost always count on the majority—if not all—of its tales having five major attributes: exciting, captivating cover art; a cute, lovable, witty, and meddling leading lady; a tall, handsome, distinctive, and physically powerful male co-lead; delicious pastries teamed with a variety of comfort food; and murder.

Fortunately, it is an enthusiasm-inducing formula that never ever gets old. The mesmerizing genre just keeps on going, exfoliating to renew itself time and time again. And despite the genre’s set-in-its-ways nature, the stories (whether short or protracted) are forever introducing all-new heroine sleuths (each one in her own right, with her own separate life and unique experience) who consistently bring fresh new adventures in crime-solving mysteries to the pages of the category’s humorous narratives for the eyes of millions of “cozies” fanatics (myself included) to enjoy.

In the case of M.E. Harmon’s short culinary cozy, Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets, book 2 in the HoneyBun Shop Mysteries series, there is no exception.

Our free-spirited main protagonist, Ali Daniels, is the adorable owner of HoneyBun Sweets and Sandwiches. And as this scrumptious literary puzzle begins to progress, Ali and her business partner, Al, watch from the balcony of their store as a large group of protesters march along the Brooklyn Bridge, chanting in unison and soon becoming unruly with the authorties who have been assigned to police the march—in order to ensure that the demonstrations will be kept peaceful. At the Mayor’s request, many business owners are closing up their shops earlier than usual due to the angry demonstrators. And Ali has chosen to parrot the other entrepreneurs in a similar action. But just as Ali is closing all of her store’s window shutters, along comes the lusciously handsome Detective Avery Hamilton, with whom Ali already has a platonic acquaintanceship.

In the wake of their pleasantries, Detective Avery Hamilton, after he has been informed by friends that they will be unable to honor a Groupon date to dine with him at the swanky new barbeque joint, Grover’s, in Manhattan, asks dear Ali if she would care to join him in their place. And of course, the weak-in-the-knees Ali accepts. For it is an impossible offer to refuse, what a delectable dinner of tasty barbecue washed down with the finest of Bourbon while in the cozy company of an imposing, chiseled man who himself should be edible. Ooh and ahh. What a charming evening it’s going to be.

Eating Barbecue Can Get Messy.

Business is booming at Grover’s and the line is practically around the block, but Avery and Ali have to wait—for at least an hour—before they’re escorted to their table inside. Once seated, the duo are then greeted and served by their waitress, Debbie, who not only provides big tip-worthy service, but also takes Avery and Ali on a kitchen tour of the fine new establishment, introducing them both to the entire on-duty staff, including Grover’s head chef and co-founder, Greg. Everything is perfect on Avery and Ali’s first date: their waitress, their food, their Bourbon, one another’s company, and even their imminent dessert of fried ice cream—which Debbie has informed them will be served compliments of the House. Everything is just dandy… Until they—along with the other diners—hear the ear-splitting scream resonate through the dining room from the kitchen.

Who Killed the Owner of the Hottest New Restaurant in Manhattan?

In this amusing and gloriously sweet treat of a whodunit, that is exactly what our amateur sleuth of a leading lady would like to know.

The dead owner’s name? Rick. Rick (a former Wall Street money man) had been the co-founder of Grover’s and a connoisseur of some of the most luxurious brands of Bourbon in the world before he was mercilessly cut down, shot, in his own entity’s kitchen during the distracted dinner rush. And according to his bio, the arrogant Rick had made acidic enemies, particularly of those who were closest to him.

As Rick’s corpse lay on the restaurant’s brand spankin’ new white tiled floor bleeding out, an immediate investigation ensues as Detective Avery Hamilton goes straight into cop mode, closing in every employee and patron on the premises, not allowing even one to leave. For they all must stay put until the authorities arrive. And that may take awhile considering that the department is stretched thin as a result of the protests.

Someone in the kitchen killed Rick. But whom? And why? As our busybody Ali takes it upon herself to “help” Avery get to the bottom of this mystery, she secretly questions a few of the eatery’s employees before creating her own makeshift list of possible suspects.

Whodunit?

According to the aroused suspicions of the intrusive Ali, the killer can be either one (or more) of the following:

• Greg, the head chef and co-founder of Grover’s who had one twisted reason to want the Bourbon savvy and drug-addicted Rick out of the way: Rick’s wife, Alma, with whom Greg is engaged in an extramarital affair.

• Alma, Rick’s contentious and adultress wife who harbored a long-standing resentment towards him, and covertly coveted having both the booming new business that is Grover’s and her inamorato, Greg, all to herself. Also, it doesn’t help that Alma and Rick were seen “quarreling” only a short time before he was killed.

• Debbie, the bouncy and way-too-chipper waitress…and Greg’s jilted lover.

• Connor, the habitual nail-biter and lowly dishwasher at Grover’s whom, despite carrying a burning torch for Debbie, is perpetually ignored and overlooked by the object of his desire simply because her burning lust is reserved primarily for Greg.

• Sylvie, the quietly bitter human directional. Sylvie’s job is to stand (on her sore, tired feet) outside of the restaurant for hours on end holding up a welcoming sign for its newfound customers, all of whom have an estimated wait time of between 1-2 hours before they can be seated inside. Rick had assigned this humiliating duty to Sylvie and she hated him for it.

Each one of the suspects had a motive to murder Rick in cold, crimson-hued blood. And following along with this amazingly homey and respectably penned plot to discover just who that person is will not leave the reader even the least bit disappointed. In fact, its aftereffect will have the reader’s mouth watering for more … for more of our endearing sleuth, Ali Daniels.

I absolutely loved this culinary cozy! Like with many other narratives of its categorical kind, I truly felt a sense of warmth and comfort while reading it, as it kept me smiling and completely absorbed from start to finish.

Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets is (52) pages of perfectly grilled fun. And for a job well done, M.E. Harmon is worthy of my genuine commendation and recommendation the same.

Although Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets (# 2) was my very first M.E. Harmon experience, I eagerly anticipate reading the other efforts in the HoneyBun Shop Mysteries sequence:

• Sweet and Salty Treachery (#1)

• Candy Canes and Criminals (# 3)

• Macaroons, Mummies and Murder (# 4)

• Secrets and Sweet Rolls (# 5)

• Chaos and Chocolate Mousse (# 6)

Palatable in both titles and synopsises, oh, these are going to be a tasty pleasure to read.

As for Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets, who could ask for a more finger-licking appetizer?

Five hickory smoked stars.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Harmon Publishing for the complimentary copy of this fiction. On behalf of Reviews by Cat Ellington, the house has my sincerest gratitude.

Congratulations, Michelle!

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Cat Ellington’s review of The Prophet of Marathon

The Prophet of MarathonThe Prophet of Marathon by Bob Waldner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Initial Commentary.

A true Man of God once asked me, “Cat, which is harder to live with: the pain of change or the pain of regret?”

And my answer to this true Man of God had been, “the pain of regret.”

“Why is that?” he queried.

“Well,” I began to answer, “because one can adapt to change, but to regret? not so much. Regret eats away at the very core of the human spirit. It breeds depression, self-hatred, and self-pity. Regret is the foundation, if you will, of mental anguish, because it is based in decision and indecision.”

“Please, enlighten me further, Ms. Cat,” he playfully encouraged.

“Listen,” I obliged in an extended answer, “a person, regardless of whom he or she may be, after they have carried out poorly decided actions in their lives, cannot go back and re-do those actions. What’s done is done. Once they have made ill-advised decisions to conduct themselves impulsively, without first seeking out wise counsel, those decisions become the more difficult to reverse. And that, my dear man, leaves a door wide opened for the thief of guilt to walk through, resulting in a robbery of that very person’s ability to live a peaceful, joyful, and rewarding life. Regret is like a millstone around the human conscience, dragging it down into the darkness of depression, and that’s dangerous because it will tempt people to live in the past. . . and keep them there, where they’re never able to move forward. But change is more enriching because it leaves room for growth and peace. We as people may not always like change, but eventually, we mold and get used to it. And in most cases, we even find ourselves happier in the process. No one wants to live a life of regret, but if one does not guard themselves against negative temptations, and they go through life doing what is hateful and harmful to others, or even to themselves, they will one day realize, when it all comes back, that they have fallen into the clutching, tugging, and unforgiving embrace of what’s called regret. And life then becomes about “shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

Peering at me from over the top of his wire-rimmed glasses, the scholarly minister with whom I communed, could only smile and nod his head in agreement and understanding, all while caressing his coarse, graying beard with his right hand’s thumb and index finger.

Good Lord Almighty, I love that man!

My analysis will now commence.

• “The lazy man says, There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!
As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.”
— Proverbs 26:13-14

The Indolent.

New Jersey – 30-year-old James Bennett, whose given name is Malcolm James Bennett, is not only our star protagonist who narrates this religious-based tale in pristine and well-spoken first person fluidity, but also a young man living—and in a rather inharmonious state—with the pain of regret.

The 3rd generation from an absurdly wealthy clan of New York City investment bankers, James Bennett has a hardened heart towards any form of ambition in life, preferring to take up his lazy and unmotivated lot in the tents of unrighteously earned mammon by means of illegal online poker gambling, rather than earning his degree from the prestigious Princeton and following in the hard-earned and hard-working footsteps of those of his well-heeled forefathers.

Though his life as a professional gambler had once been quite lucrative, the whole kit and kaboodle came crashing down due to the meddling government and those ‘f***ing bureaucrat a**holes’—as James Bennett would so repugnantly refer to them—shutting down online poker in the United States for good.

James continues to witness, in hindsight, of how these lawmakers ruined what had been his full-time job for more than three years, bitterly adding that had the government not interfered with his career as an online pro poker player and froze his monetary assets accumulated through the same, then he would never have been forced to move down to the Florida Keys . . . or met John Wainwright . . . or Wainwright’s daughter.

Yes, the pain of regret is certainly more difficult to live with than the pain of change.

• “Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words:
How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.
Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
Because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke,
I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes…”
— Proverbs 1:20-26

A Foolish Son Is A Grief To His Father.

During a conversation with his strict and overachieving father, Frazier Bennett (one of Wall Street’s most prestigious and successful bankers), James rolls off of his tongue a series of lies about the status of his employment to his dad, whose in the process of interrogating his shiftless son about his stalled life and just what he plans to do with it. Father ultimately reminds son that a multimillion dollar beachfront property which had belonged to James’ deceased grandfather in Marathon, Florida is still sitting on the market unsold. The elder Mr. Bennett has become frustrated with the seller and tells his son as much, vowing to travel to Marathon and sell the property himself. But much to his father’s surprise, James quickly imposes his own idea, asking his father if it would be alright—in so many words—for him to go to Marathon and handle the business instead, ensuring his father that he could clean up the place, get everything situated for any potential buyer(s), and so forth. Initially, the elder Mr. Bennett flat out refuses, insisting that his ineffectual son stay put on the East Coast to pursue stable employment, but James continues to insists, twisting his father’s arm and practically daring his old man to prove him in this. And after some consideration, even against his better judgement, Frazier agrees to send James to Marathon, Florida to handle to sell. A coaster through life, the younger Bennett conceals his elation at knowing that he would be able to live, rent-free, in a luxurious oceanfront property, even if his father capped his time to a minimum of (2) weeks.

Alas, Mr. Frazier Bennett would have nothing in the edifying voice of sensible wisdom, instead preferring to heed the insistent words of the futile and unlearned son to whom he is the sire—both figuratively and literally.

Yes, the pain of regret is certainly more difficult to live with than the pain of change.

• “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”
— II Peter 2:1-3

Blind Leaders of the Blind.

Set in New York City, Marathon, Florida, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada, Bob Waldner’s The Prophet of Marathon is an exceptionally eloquent crime drama that gives its reader an up-close and personal look into the grifting world of profit, where lying conmen simulate piousness, and creep into households to make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, being led away by various lusts. For such men are the same of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Men like the antagonistic John Wainwright, this narrative’s answer to the infamous and discreditable Warren Jeffs, except that “prophet” John Wainwright is in the brides-for-cash business. The ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing sells young, beautiful girls into marriages with very old, rich men, among many other works of abominable wickedness.

It is in the Floridian coastal town of Marathon that James Bennett meets the notorious John Wainwright, a former litigator turned evangelist/televangelist and founder of Wainwright World Ministries, while working as a makeshift spy for Bob Baker, a drunkard of an attorney with whom John Wainwright does legal business. While standing in the lobby of Baker’s law office, Wainwright approaches the credulous James, whom, by the way, is still residing, rent-free, in his grandfather’s opulent beachfront property, and offers the young, penniless Bennett a job. Wainwright encourages James to visit him at his home in order to discuss what the job entails. And after some thought over a few days, James concurs to the meeting. Once he arrives at Wainwright’s own beachfront property, the older man inquires of James as to whether or not James had ever heard of him or Googled him for research purposes. James had not. And from there, Wainwright spins his web. With the pleasantries out of the way, the two men then begin to discuss Wainwright’s job offer: James is to deliver a package (on Wainwright’s behalf) to a man in a hotel, who would then pay James in cash in exchange for the mysterious item, which James would then take back to Wainwright, and for the small job done, Wainwright would pay James $1,000.00. Sounds simple enough. But is anything ever? Chances are that if it sounds too good to be true, it may very well be.

And despite a little voice in his head that tries in vain to steer the impressionable James Bennett from having any dealings with this old man named John Wainwright, and to just turn around and walk away, nevertheless, the young man rebels against that small voice, using human logic instead as a means to go along with it: It’s just a quick dropoff of a package. . .and an easy grand earned, right? No harm done, right?

Yes, the pain of regret is certainly more difficult to live with than the pain of change.

• “Say to wisdom, You are my sister, and call understanding your nearest kin,
That they may keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her lips.”
— Proverbs 7:4-5

The Harlot.

After becoming spiritually—or rather, religiously—entangled with John Wainwright, whom with time has become like a true father to him, James begins to nurture some trust for the old man, even going to work for Wainwright—with a little bit of coaxing from the old preacher himself, of course—as a personal assistant. Wainwright has invited James to hear him preach a Sunday sermon at his respectable Church, and convinces James to work with him in his efforts to build an entirely new building where his parishioners could gather to worship their Lord and Savior. And it is a “questionable” job proposal to which James—after some doubtful, however ignored, concerns—is compelled to accept.

As one day leads to another and John Wainwright continues to win more of the gullible James’ trust, the old preacher soon tells his new “apprentice” about his long lost daughter from whom he has been estranged for quite a while; her name is Jill. Wainwright tells James that he just wants to get her back into his life, to make peace. And over the course of the sob story, James begins to feel Wainwright’s pain and considers the old man’s request when he asks if James wouldn’t mind taking an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas to have a talk with Jill in person, that perhaps he, James, may be able to convince her to return home to her dad in Florida. James ponders the idea and becomes internally excited about two major perks: the free trip to Las Vegas, and a chance to revisit his old casino stomps, where he would use a nice portion of Wainwright’s dough on the roulette wheel and at the poker tables. James “decides” to go. But it will be a decision that Malcolm James Bennett would soon bitterly regret.

As it turns out, Jill Wainwright toils as a stripper in a colossal Las Vegas gentleman’s club. And it is at the private establishment where James finally meets her and explains his purpose for being there. Already equipped with knowledge concerning her estrangement from her cultist father, James endeavors to reason with the pretty brunette, reiterating her father’s regret and his desire to have her return home to him in Florida. But the hatred for her father which proceeds out of Jill’s mouth comes forth from her heart; and it defiles any hope that James may have of getting through to her and pleasing his boss, the prophet John.

With the passing of days, James would continue to contantly pursue Jill at her place of erotic business until she finally commits to connect with him off-duty. And while assembled in a private bedroom at the home of a wealthy gay couple during a pool party, Jill would at last open up and testify about what her devoutly religious father had done to her during her teen years: he attempted to sell her into marriage to a much older man. In fact, she had not been the only one…

After her enraged confessional, Jill’s wanton stripper suddenly emerged to seduce the persuadable James, and the indiscriminate action would be the start of their extremely intimate affair. . .and a hellish future.

Yes, the pain of regret is certainly more difficult to live with than the pain of change.

• “…For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”
— Proverbs 23:5

A Fool And His Money Are Soon Parted.

Once returned to Florida from Las Vegas, James—angry about everything that Jill spoke to him regarding her father—goes to confront the old preacher for the point of judgment, as well as to demand some answers. Wainwright doesn’t deny the allegations, but rather insists that he had been attempting to do his ungrateful whore of a daughter a favor by selling her to not just any old man, but a very rich old man. James, nonetheless, is skeptical; he isn’t buying John Wainwright’s excuses. Regardless, Wainwright—whose way seems right to him, although its end is the way of death—couldn’t care less.

Before long, Jill appears on James’ doorstep—all the way from her desert oasis—with revenge secretly weighing in heavy on her mind. Happy and surprised to find her at his door, James welcomes the long-lost daughter of John Wainwright into his home, and the two pick up where they left off, intimately. The love-giddy James just wants to settle down in his new relationship with the ecdysiast and make a quiet life together, but Jill refuses to forgive the sins of her father, and sets about using her vaginal cavity to trap the lovestruck protagonist into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts, in order to drown him in destruction and perdition.

To exact the perfect revenge on her notable clergyman of a daddy, by way of destroying his business dealings, Jill will need capital in the amount of $550,000.00. And she knows exactly whom to ask, even if only indirectly: the filthy rich Frazier Bennett, James’ dad. Feigning disappointment when James explains to her that his father would never supply him with that kind of money, Jill begins to withhold her affections from him until James finally caves and agrees to fly back home to New York for the purpose of pitching the lucrative real estate deal—in which John Wainwright is involved—to his dad, and also to ask the monied banker for the investment capital with which to gamble on it, in the hopes of turning a huge $1.2 million profit. And while able to once again twist the doubtful Frazier Bennett’s arm, however reluctantly, James secures the $550,000.00 needed to throw a monkey wrench in the real estate transactions of prophet John Wainwright.

It’s all set. The younger Bennett is feeling proud of himself, but still unsure as to whether or not he’s making the right resolution in helping Jill get back at her father. James is in love and just wants the beautiful Jill to be proud of him because no one—especially his dad—has ever been proud of him. James Bennett sees closing this deal and making a killing on his father’s investment as a chance to redeem himself with the great Frazier Bennett, and he forges ahead to double-cross the old preacher, closing the deal behind Wainwright’s back, and looking forward to rubbing the old man’s face in it. James is on cloud nine until one day, Jill, who is supposedly visiting with her ailing mother in Georgia, never returns any of his many phone calls and left messages to her. She’s gone. John Wainwright is gone. All of those individuals involved in the real estate deal are gone. And his father’s $550,000.00 is gone.

Yes, the pain of regret is certainly more difficult to live with than the pain of change.

• “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”
— Deuteronomy 18:18

Get Understanding.

What is a prophet? My dear men and women, in short description, a true prophet (or prophetess) of God is a young man (or woman) who has been chosen, anointed, and ordained by Father God to carry the Testimony of His Christ, the Lord Jesus. And in order for that chosen man (or woman) of God to be able to carry the Testimony of the Christ, he (or she) must first be anointed with the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit), so that the Divine Trinity, even the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit may together work through the ordained servant of God on one accord, to administer the Word of God and to interpret prophecies spoken by Father God to each true prophet (or prophetess) of God in dark sentences, otherwise known as “dreams.” For he (or she) must first have the Witness in themselves.

My Summation.

Magnificently written, articulately delivered, complex in plot, and super rich in detail, The Prophet of Marathon is a razor-edged and ingenious anecdote of which its masterly scribe, Bob Waldner, should be tremendously proud. Indeed, the enrapturing plot doesn’t miss a heartbeat — from its intriguing beginning to its bittersweet end.

Teeming with greed, crookery, evil deception, and lawlessness, The Prophet of Marathon is a full-bodied script with a talented—even if rarely there—cast of supporting players who well compliment the literary vision’s top-billed corps of James Bennett, Frazier Bennett, John Wainwright, and Jill Wainwright.

Despite its fleeting pagination of 291, Bob Waldner’s The Prophet of Marathon swiftly reads as though it were a literary work of greater length, due to so much complexity in the details of his character’s fascinating lives, and how they all skillfully interweave. Here lies a work of fiction commanding of much awe and praise. And I am delighted to bestow as much upon the fantastically talented Waldner. Exceptional writing! Exceptional education! Exceptional effort! And Exceptionally recommended!

In addition to the great fiction which would follow, the author’s beautifully penned acknowledgements section literally moved me to tears; so humbled in spirit are the words of it. And I admire the loveliness of the witness. We should all have people in our lives who love and support us fully and unconditionally. God bless you, Bob.

Five deeply spiritual stars.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank CreateSpace Publishing Platform, as well as Bob Waldner, for the author-issued copy of The Prophet of Marathon in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “The Prophet of Marathon” by Bob Waldner is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com

Date of Review: Saturday, December 9, 2017

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Cat Ellington’s review of Watching You: A Thrilling Short Story

Watching You Watching You by Gemma Halliday

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Crafitily written and surprisingly gripping, Gemma Halliday’s Watching You is thirty-two pages of intriguing, alluring, and captivating suspense that throws the reader one helluva curveball!

Set in a hot and humid San Francisco, the swiftly-paced plot swelters in a sauna of vengeance, obsession, voyeurism, and jealousy — surrounded by perfectly constructed cedar wood walls of deception, hatred . . . and murder.

One of the most fascinating novellas that mine eyes have ever enjoyed the pleasure of reading, Watching You is a movielike narrative that I would highly recommend to those readers in the literary community who fancy the enrapturing effects of dark, arousing, and wholly dramatic apprehension. Loved it!

Five peeping Tom stars.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Halliday Publishing for the complimentary copy of this fine and wonderfully fulfilling work of fiction.

Congratulations, Gemma!

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Cat Ellington’s review of Day of the Tiger

Day of the Tiger (Carlos McCrary #5)Day of the Tiger by Dallas Gorham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”
— Titus 3:10-11

Applicable to this proverbial parable of the Holy Scriptures is one Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice, an individual for whom any said person could pray fervidly, and still have his or her prayer fail to avail.

In a place called Port City, a steamy little town in South Florida, is where Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice lives out a dastardly existence in the constant financial debt of a bone-breaking and death-dealing loan shark named Montgomery Moffett, most commonly known by his dreadfully transfixing moniker, “Monster.” And it is to the morbidly obese and deprecating Monster Moffett (this particular effort’s “Bugsy Calhoune”) that the doleful Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice owes an equally gluttonous tab of $200,000.00. Two-hundred thousand dollars that endeavors to elude and dodge the dejected Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice, determined not to give any honor whatsoever to his physical possessions, few as they are.

Failing to barely make yet another interest payment to the grossly corpulent antagonist, Moffett, on his incurred arrears, Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice receives—from the bloated Monster who is Moffett—a most barbaric punishment: Moffett smashes Rice’s left hand with a ball-peen hammer, successfully shattering metacarpal bones and crushing veins and capillaries, all whilst reminding the “bum” who is Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice that should he again neglect to meet his financial obligations and pay off his mounting debts to Moffett’s organization, that he, Moffett, would surely send Teddy after Rice as an unfriendly reminder that his bill is due. But in reality, Monster Moffett knows that Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice can by no means pay him back the money he owes. For Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice is a broken man . . . hanging by a string . . . over an opened sinkhole wriggling with diabolical pit vipers.

Come one, come all into a fast-paced, action-packed, and wickedly enticed Floridian world soaking itself in a murky swamp of perfidy and human trafficking; promiscuous whoredom and felonious kidnapping; broken spirits and organized crime hits; double-dealing, habitual stealing, sexual healing, and diabolical killing; soul corroding regret and crooksters who aid and abet; offshore tax evasions and the wretched violation of vulnerable Asians; exotic dancers who shimmy and wink and mingle . . . with the wretched, the horny, the lonely, and the single; hunted humans who craftily sidestep the act of dying; and the spiritually blind who have their feeble minds boggled by the damaging effects of lying and denying.

This is Dallas Gorham’s wildly gripping, incredibly cozy, funny-bone tickling, and reasonably poesy Day of the Tiger. And its sole purpose is to expose the byword of those who subject themselves to the irreligious will of the conqueror and divider.

On these sharply scribed and zooming pages, the reader is snatched into the narrative’s scandalous world where its chief protagonist, Carlos “You’re not supposed to see my gun when it’s clipped on the back” McCrary, comes alive in vivid color and alluring poise. The tall, debonair, and handsome private eye with Mario Lopez dimples, an addictive and charming sense of humor, and a tough as nails work ethic is both a former Green Beret Sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and Port City police detective. Also known as “Chuck,” Carlos McCrary now runs a two-man operation that is McCrary Investigations, and prides himself on being the world’s “greatest private investigator.”

McCrary’s cocky, albeit humorous, self-proclamation is about to be put to the test when he is called upon by his good friend, retired NFL star Thomas “Tank” Tyler, who asks for his professional assistance in investigating an evil situation involving Tyler’s best friend, Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice, and the inimical Monster Moffett, to whom Al has become entangled with the monetary yoke of bondage.

With his left hand brutally mangled and shattered to bits, compliments of the Falstaffian Moffett, the anguished has-been athlete, who is Al Rice, contacts his super rich and successful “brother” and erstwhile UAC Falcons teammate, Tank Tyler, a once celebrated—not to mention enviably decorated—NFL defensive lineman for help. And nursing a years long guilty conscience about how his own personal life, even in retirement, skyrocketed while Al Rice’s hapless life lost its footing down a slippery slope, Tank moves heaven and Earth to assist his old pal in any way he can, hence the recruitment of Carlos McCrary, P.I., also known by his Mexican name, Carlos Calderone — the surname naturally evoking to my memory the very first barbarous opponent of 1980s Miami Vice fame.

After having his ears filled with Tank’s somewhat holey summary of Al’s self-destructive plight, Carlos subsequently agrees to take the case, eventually being brought into association with Al’s elderly mother, the darling Doraleen Rice, an appreciably articulate English teacher and unabashed enthusiast of poetry, especially those timeless productions penned by the great author after whom she named her only son, he being Alfred Lord Tennyson (1st Baron Tennyson), English Poet Laureate of the Victorian era.

The initial meeting goes fine and dandy with the well-spoken and sherry drinking Doraleen quickly taking a liking to the lovable Carlos, warmly referring to the freelance detective as her “Sir Galahad.” And Tank, who regards Doraleen as a second mother, is willing to do whatever it takes—and that would include parting ways with vast sums of money—to aid Doraleen in the salvaging of her only born child, the wayward Al. But what Mrs. Doraleen Rice doesn’t know is that her wayward son has sworn an oath on her life to the dangerously violent Moffett to repay his $200,000.00 debt, plus a hefty amount in interest. Moffett gives Al a payment due date of two weeks. And if the destitute Alfred Lord Tennyson Rice neglects to settle his bill on or before the due date, then Monster Moffett will be forced to lethally require it upon the graying head of she, Mrs. Doraleen Rice.

The clock is ticking . . . and time is flying.

Like a stick of dynamite, the atrocious action explodes, blowing out a marvelous cast of memorable and individualistic players who, in his and her own right, make significant performance contributions to an already outstanding script — ingeniously written to intrigue and exhilarate its readers as the adrenaline of every short chapter transports the same through the lives of each fascinating character with all the meteoric finesse of a Ferrari 812 Superfast.

The cast:

• Tegumosoto “Teddy” Ngombo is a human being equivalent to the evil and merciless Zuni fetish doll featured in “Amelia,” the third and final episode in the enduring horror feature, Trilogy of Terror.

The aboriginal African warrior who is Teddy Ngombo presents in Day of the Tiger as an extremely dangerous hunter who wears the skin hue of soot, tribal scar markings carved into his fierce countenance, and a crown of long dreadlocks. And much like the spirit of the Zuni hunter—appropriately named “He who kills”—that holds possession over the Zuni doll in Trilogy of Terror’s “Amelia,” Teddy Ngombo’s spirit animal is too that of one who walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

In Dallas Gorham’s masterful Day of the Tiger, Teddy’s employer, Monster Moffett, is the one who yanks the symbolic golden chain from Ngombo’s neck, only to spitefully unleash the beast from within. And with his inner hunter emerged, Teddy Ngombo, wielding not a spear but his own special brand of African knife, proceeds to lie in wait . . . for his gullible and unwary prey.

• Bones is this novel’s piteable “Phil Cantone.” A lowdown, dirty, and “quietly bigoted” cop on the Port City police force, the greedy and conniving Bones plays the part of Monster Moffett’s right hand man and boot-licking co-conspirator. Stationed in the department’s License Bureau Service division, Bones is the flunkie who keeps his oppressor, Moffett, one stop sign ahead of the mobster’s enemies, via license plate number leaks and other vital intelligence.

• Jennifer/Jasmine is a lovely exotic dancer, lap dancer, stripper, striptease artiste . . . you name it, with whom both the roly-poly Monster Moffett and the necessitous, alcoholic, and drug-addicted Al Rice are madly in love, er, lust. A failed ballerina, the limber redhead who is Jennifer/Jasmine can labor a pole in more ways than one, and serves as the main reason for the deadly opposition that has risen between Moffett and Rice.

• Bernard Prevossi and Leonard Satin are a perverse and depraved duo around whom the ill-gotten assets—human and otherwise—of Moffett’s sheisty organizations rotate, including a fleet of gentleman’s clubs and illegally acquired liquor licenses.

The coosome twosome of Prevossi (the permit holder) and Satin (an attorney/trustee) together act as venal tentacles in Moffett’s exploitative conglomerate, even fronting the seemingly legitimate companies of Tri-Patron Imports and TCL Enterprises, two of the main entities through which much abominable evil voraciously gorges itself.

• Raymond “Snoop” Snopolski is also a former soldier in the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and Port City detective who now partners with his fellow battalion member, Chuck McCrary, at McCrary Investigations. Responding to the contract placed on Doraleen’s head, no thanks to Al Rice, Chuck involves Snoop to play bodyguard to the academic golden girl while he, Chuck, works to get to the bottom of the mystery pile in his case-solving mission. But no matter how good a shot Snoop is, or how razor-edged his training in combat with elements of opposition, still he proves no match for the terrible Teddy “Scarface” Ngombo, whom Moffett has sent—along with a few other worthless gofers—to retrieve the collaterized Doraleen. In fact, things get downright blood-soaked.

• Bettina Becker is cast as an attractive and statuesque German UAC student who becomes the “victim” of a rape gang bang, perpetrated by four UAC Falcons players during one fateful night of excessive drinking at a party on campus.

The licentious foreign exchange student actually throws her-braless-self (in a wet t-shirt and all) at the promising American college athletes under the lying guise of drunkenness, willingly supplying her body to the future NFLers, and then accusing the four of “rape” after she sobers up, takes a look in the mirror and sees a deplorable slut starring back at her. Refusing to take responsibility for her own prurient and aggressive actions, Bettina Becker becomes an evil trial, wreaking havoc on the lives of many.

Nothing good can ever materialize from such a dishonorable situation, and this specific scene, on which Gorham so expertly sheds light, is certain to invoke any number of emotional reactions in the reader, including a burning rage.

• Kelly Contreras is an Olivia Bensonesque police detective with whom Chuck has worked over many a year. A trustworthy ally, Contreras is brought in by her old pal, Chuck, to assist him in the Monster Moffett investigation due to her outstanding investigative skills. And while Kelly Contreras’ role is not exactly a hugely prominent one, she is still an important character, nonetheless, garnering a respectable amount of page time.

• Bigs Bigelow is a Port City detective and Kelly Contreras’ partner. Too a retired NFL player, Bigs is reunited with his heyday comrade, Tank Tyler, under the most unfortunate of circumstances when the two former pro ballers find themselves perilously entangled in the hostile conflict involving the sinister Monster Moffett and their old buddy Al Rice.

• Special Agent Eugenio “Gene” Lopez with the Federal Bureau of Investigations is another one of Chuck McCrary’s allies who just so happens to get assigned by the Bureau to head up the singular inspection into the questionable business practices behind Moffett’s Tri-Patron Imports and TCL Enterprises entities. However, there is only one problem: Gene Lopez does everything in his job description by the book, while the maverick McCrary vehemently rebels against such corporate conformity, much more preferring to do things HIS way. And it is for this very reason that the two friends often end up butting heads whenever they work together — with Gene being effortlessly outwitted by His Dimples every time.

• Flamer is a ghostlike researcher who readily keeps Carlos abrest of everything going on and everyone involved in the goings-on by way of furnishing the “world’s greatest private investigator” with a truckload of confidential information. A brilliant and thorough source, Flamer is a character who contributes mightily to McCrary Investigations.

• Pete the bookkeeper is a relatively mousy and elusive individual who spends his time tending to the influx of monies being accumulated at the Gentleman’s Clubs. Pete is a fellow who appears innocent enough — just an ordinary, Catholic guy working to feed his family. But is Pete really just an ordinary, Catholic guy? And why does the big, bad Monster Moffett tremble whenever he and his massive bulk sit or stand in Pete’s presence?

Supplemented by a compact gathering of bit players and extras who round out this impermanent and briskly-paced joyride of an effort, the unforgettable troupe of Gorham’s top-billed cast exhibit award-worthy performances and an impeccable dialogue delivery from which the narrative’s readers will find it difficult to unfasten themselves once the last few pages together make a sharp, screeching turn, and the baited down prologue finally brings the literary vehicle to a gradual end.

With the premise of its body, soul and spirit evidentally inspired by the classic, comedic style of the celebrated Carl Hiaasen, Day of the Tiger is at once a serious, thrilling, hilarious, and ridiculously enjoyable work of fiction. And for a job well done I ascribe much kudos to its amazingly talented author.

As it happens, I was strongly averse to having this story come to an end, but inevitably, it did — although not without leaving an instantly acquired taste in my mouth for more Carlos McCrary.

Too good!

To whet the palates of those readers who, like myself, will be left wanting—no, needing—more McCrary action in the wake of Day of the Tiger (considering that the said title is their first McCrary experience), the gifted Gorham serves six more tasty hors d’oeuvres in the form of entrancing previews from the Series that started it all.

While Day of the Tiger is the 5th installment in the entire Carlos McCrary Succession, the tale’s conclusion includes a batch of special previews that list as follows:

• I’m No Hero — A short military thriller detailing the story of the Green Berets Warriors and featuring Carlos McCrary

• Six Murders Too Many — Book 1 in the Mystery Thriller Series starring Carlos McCrary

• Double Fake, Double Murder — Book 2 in the Mystery Thriller Series starring Carlos McCrary

• Quarterback Trap — Book 3 in the Mystery Thriller Series starring Carlos McCrary

• Dangerous Friends — Book 4 in the Mystery Thriller Series starring Carlos McCrary

• McCrary’s Justice — Book 6 in the Mystery Thriller Series starring Carlos McCrary

Not only am I newly in love with this adrenalized protagonist, but also with the tremendous writing of his Earthly creator, Dallas Gorham.

I so enjoyed the pleasure of reading the aforementioned titles’ previews that I have excitedly purchased and added each one to the mystery thriller shelf in my e-library.

My fellow readers, if any of you share common with me that Day of the Tiger was/is your introduction to Carlos McCrary, P.I., then you will undoubtedly understand my witness per this analysis. And those of you who have yet to submerge yourselves in this juicy anecdote should be informed that the same is not a fiction of which any true mystery thriller devotee should deprive themselves.

Five passionately energetic, fearlessly daring, and elegantly stealthy stars.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Seven Oaks Publishing, as well as Dallas Gorham himself, for the author-issued copy of Day of the Tiger in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “Day of the Tiger” by Dallas Gorham is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com

Date of Review: Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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Cat Ellington’s review of Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1)

Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1)Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller by Lee Alan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“A strong woman is someone who is able to smile this morning like she wasn’t crying last night.”
— Harriet Morgan

The fabled quote which leads this review is admittedly one of universal appeal as it applies to an innumerable class of women. For there are millions—if not billions—of women the world over to whom the powerful words of truth relate. And even in imaginary worlds of fiction are we honored to make the acquaintances of such women. Women like the admirable leading lady of Lee Alan’s delightfully captivating effort, Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1).

Anna Price, also known as “Little Bird,” is an aspiring writer and a big dreamer. Anna has, since her childhood, dreamt of becoming a world famous author, but self-doubt, in the very essence of its negativity, has always had the stronger upper hand over her impressionable mind—forever planting its crusty seeds of unbelief . . . and the fear of failure.

Welcome to Kingman, Arizona, the setting place of this physically warm-blooded, although spiritually ice cold romantic thriller starring Anna Price, Julia Price, Corey T. Young, Tony Ackerman, Bill Moyer, and James L.B. Peterson.

The Battered Woman Affliction.

In act I, we come to meet our principal player, the beautiful, though dilapidated Anna, as she toils hours of her young life away working as a waitress in a small town greasy spoon. The job is a necessity as Anna direly needs it to support not only herself, but also her abusive boyfriend, Tony, whose sole ambitions in life are to wallow in rancorous self-hatred, drink his vulnerable liver into a cirrhotic stupor, and lay his angry, balled fists into the rawboned woman who is Anna.

Unable to liberate herself from the oppressive and enslaved hand that she has been dealt, Anna, irrefutably beaten into submission, continues to endure a great deal of unhappy torment at the enraged mitts of the man she once loved.

After arriving home from a difficult day’s work—where the roof above her head is bronze and the floors beneath her feet are iron—Anna only desires to do two things: take a hot bath to relax her sore muscles and go to bed. But lo and behold, Tony is there, in a drunken sleep on the ragged old couch the couple own, surrounded by a pigsty of strewn beer cans, vodka bottles, overflowing ashtrays, and what have you—which in Tony Ackerman’s case is entirely archetypal. Sighing in her exhaust, Anna commences to tidy up the area, only to unfortunately awaken the sleeping mad dog who is Tony Ackerman, and conjure up his fiery wrath.

As the long seconds pass into even longer minutes, Tony manages to berate the weary Anna for not bringing His Laziness any dinner home from her diner gig, punch her so hard that she literally falls backward into their bathtub—nearly injuring herself, grab a clenched handful of her hair in order to yank her aching head around . . . as if she were a rag doll of some sort, and get himself stabbed by his fed up victim in her own act of self-defense.

While her attacker lays sprawled on their kitchen floor, presumably bleeding out, our Anna, now terrified and not knowing what to do, can only think one thought: leave! And she does . . . not once looking back.

The Sisterhood.

In act II, we are introduced to Julia, also known as “Big Bird,” and Anna’s older sister. And it is to Julia’s comfortable bungalow in Scottsdale, Arizona where Anna heads after she flees from the dump she shared with Tony in the wake of his stabbing. Anna wills her beat up old station wagon to transport her from Kingman to Scottsdale in one piece. And luckily, the beat up old station wagon obliges. Once there (in Scottsdale), Anna is embraced and nourished back to some semblance of radiant health by her doting big sister, Julia. And as time strolls along, Anna’s life begins to positively change . . . in a major way, what with a new wardrobe, a new makeover, and a new job. Anna even resumes to believe that there is still hope for her in journalism—a field that she has dreamt of becoming a great writer in since her girlhood. And with both this newfound confidence and the way too lovable Julia’s tireless encouragement, Anna applies to community college where she selects an English course that includes creative writing and journalism. In all due time, she gets accepted . . . much to her doubtful surprise.

The Matchstick Men.

In act III, the Free Bird script enters James “Jim” Peterson, a Republican Congressman for the 1st District of Arizona, and Bill Moyer, a bedraggled crack cocaine addict and insufficient excuse for an attorney at law. Anna merges into the lives of this extremely questionable duo after she is unprofessionally hired by Moyer to fill an administrative assistant vacancy in his disorganized law office. Peterson, while visiting the office for an appointment with Moyer, is immediately taken with the lovely Anna and deliberately issues her his business card at his departure, insisting that she call him. And Anna promises him that she will.

Anna can hardly believe this turn of events in her once woebegone life: a new start living with Julia, a snazzy beauty makeover, some sleek new attire (compliments of Julia’s credit card), a new job in a law office, an acceptance letter from the community college to which she applied in order to pursue her passionate dream of journalism in creative writing, and now an unexpected date proposal—from a powerful and prominent U.S. Congressman, no less. It’s à la Cinderella. Or is it?

The Mysterious Mr. Young

In act IV, Anna arrives for the first day of her novice course at community college and makes the acquaintance of her lecturer, Mr. Corey T. Young, a handsome, however seemingly insecure professor with whom the entire class—including Anna—get off to an uncomfortably rocky start.

Mr. Young attempts to initiate a rapport with his class of aspiring writers to no avail as he fumbles his dialogue, humiliatingly, and brings on himself swift ridicule from quite a few of the scholars seated in the lecture hall—not including Anna.

The first day only grows worse, eventually leading to Mr. Young’s departure from the college altogether. And believing that she is partly to blame for his absence, Anna desperately sets out to find the attractive educator (to whom she finds herself attracted), even lying to extort his home address from a student faculty member.

Now equipped with Mr. Young’s residential details, Anna—with an excuse for her visiting him already concocted—drives her beat up old station wagon to the ultra-riche community of Paradise Valley, the most unshared district in all the state of Arizona.

Puzzled, Anna begins to ponder how a meager community college lecturer could afford such a luxurious zip code. And the deeper her enervated, albeit determined station wagon penetrates into the brazen opulence of Paradise Valley, the more Anna oohs and ahhs and questions to herself. She soon gets her answer. And the shocking disclosure of the mysterious Mr. Young sends her heart racing and leaves her tongue utterly speechless, as sparks begin to fly like a Gulfstream G650 between them.

Sometimes They Come Back.

Act V calls for the re-entry of the devil’s own Tony Ackerman—a man for whom there awaits a reserved dwelling place of spiritual finality . . . in the bowels of Hades.

Not only did the reptilian Tony survive his stab wound anyway, but he was also forced to live his self-destructive, worthless, and murderous life in the great outdoors, thanks to the wretched cuddle of homelessness in the wake of Anna’s emboldened escape. Sorely embittered—not to mention enraged—about the course of all that happened with Anna, and how the ‘weak (expletive) whore,’ as he so loved to call her, got away after nearly killing him, Tony knows there is only one place where Anna could be hiding . . . and starting anew without him: Julia’s house. And it is over the hill and through the woods that he slithers to get there.

For where Tony Ackerman is concerned, Anna Price is his, exclusively. And whomever he must unconditionally destroy to uphold this delusional belief, he will.

In this phenomenally intoxicating and dreadfully perturbed introduction to a 3-part series starring the beautiful heroine Anna Price, rivers of blood flow freely, salty tears cascade like sodium-packed streams, unsuspecting human beings get played like symphonic instruments, millionaires and billionaires callously collide, lucious man-eating love is fervently made, and rest—in its peaceful prudence—skillfully eludes the wicked.

Lee Alan’s writing is silky perfection! Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1) is—without even a hint of a doubt—one of the greatest novels I’ve read so far this year.

Smothered in a mouthwatering gravy of thrills, apprehension, and aspiration, the 146-page novella is both a succulent and deliciously seasoned plot that held my interest with an unrelenting grip of purified intensity. And I was averse to having its mesmerizing hold on me released with the turning of the final page—as the adrenaline loaded cliffhanger left me swooning in maddening suspense. A favorably recommended effort, Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1) is outstanding in absolutely every sense of the word.

The Continuation.

With the Thriller shelf in my e-book library already beaming from the privilege of having this well-scribed narrative gracefully placed upon it, I had an imperative duty to quickly unite the anecdote with both its sequel in Little Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 2), and its conclusion in Bird of Prey: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Book 3). Needless to say, I had not been purchasing the follow-up novels fast enough, as I am now in love with Anna Price and can hardly wait to read them, eager to find out what happens next—like whatever became of Hazel, Tony’s mother.

Regarding Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1), those of you potential readers should be prepared to have what we literary folks refer to as a “book hangover” no sooner than you’ve completed it. For assuredly, this storyline will not evaporate from your psyches with ease.

Five emancipation-seeking stars.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Honey Badger Publishing, as well as Lee Alan himself, for the author-issued copy of Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1) in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1)” by Lee Alan is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com

Date of Review: Thursday, October 26, 2017

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Cat Ellington’s review of Injustice 2 (2017-) #24

Injustice 2 (2017-) #24Injustice 2 (2017-) #24 by Tom Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this, the 24th issue of a graphic narrative collection influenced by the highly acclaimed series, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Bruce Wayne’s ever faithful butler, Alfred, is risen from the dead and determined to conform Wayne’s Batman and League of Assassins honcho, the flagitious Ra’s al Ghul (who also happens to be Damian Wayne’s grandfather), into the sincerest of world-saving allies.

The newly resurrected Alfred, in his elder wisdom, speaks in a serene and sensible voice that his listeners, including Batman, Ra’s, Damian, Batgirl, Talia, and Luke, all seem to be falling under the hypnotically obedient spell of. But just as Batman and Ra’s—Batman’s most egregious adversary, mind you—are beginning to deeply consider Alfred’s advice on teaming up to salvage the world at large together, Blue Beetle arrives, uninvited . . . and all Demon’s Head hell breaks loose.

Artfully created by the talented quartet of Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Juan Albarran, and Rex Lokus, the 23-page, 10-minute read that is Injustice 2 (2017-) #24 excitedly offers what only a superhero anecdote set in the DC Universe can: fun-filled excitement, character fascination, vivid illustration, vigilantism, and a good old-fashioned supply of self-destructive villiany.

Produced in a gorgeous russet color scheme, Injustice 2 (2017-) #24 is keen on dialogue, evocative in visual graphic, and not an edition that should be missed by any enthusiast following the series.

Great job, gentlemen.

Five . . . Lazarus Pits stars.

Thank you to Kindle, ComiXology, and DC Comics for the complimentary copy of Injustice 2 (2017-) #24. Indeed, it had been a genuinely pleasurable read.

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Cat Ellington’s review of Harley Quinn and Batman (2017-) #1

Harley Quinn and Batman (2017-) #1Harley Quinn and Batman (2017-) #1 by Ty Templeton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The maniacal action gets underway at the Joker’s headquarters—located in a warehouse on the outskirts of Gotham City—on a Thursday night…

While preparing to poison the fine citizens of Gotham with a special batch of hot sauce that he prepared for the Gotham City Barbecue Festival, the Clown Prince has his wickedly inspired plans foiled by none other than the Caped Crusader, Nightwing, and believe it or not, Harley Quinn, who has inexcusably betrayed her big daddy, Mistah J, in a fit of petty jealousy. And why? Well, because Joker had photos of Batman pasted all over the walls of his war room . . . and not a single one of her.

But madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little pushhhh.

Scribed by Ty Templeton and illustrated by Rick Burchett in the nostalgic style of Batman: The Animated Series, produced by DC Comics and Warner Bros. during the 1990s, Harley Quinn and Batman (2017-) #1 is the slapstick humorous, 23-page prequel to DCUA’s original motion picture, Batman and Harley Quinn, which had two separate release dates: July 21, 2017 (San Diego Comic-Con), and August 14, 2017 (theatrical).

Despite its rather fragmentary dialogue, this comic narrative’s storyboard illustration and color scheme compensate measurably for what it lacks in script. And being an admiring buff of Joker and Harley Quinn, I found the 20-minute read equitably enjoyable.

Also, those of you potential readers may be interested to know that Commissioner Gordon and Poison Ivy both make appropriate appearances in this characteristically zany issue.

Have fun . . . everyone.

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