Thursday, December 16, 2010

Talion by Mary Maddox


Mary Maddox

Cantraip Press (March 27, 2010)


296 pages

Author Mary Maddox combines the best of horror-suspense and page-turning thriller with a hint of supernatural in her disturbing, yet entertaining debut, Talion.

A killer descends on Hidden Creek Lodge, one that needs to kill like others need food or the attention of a lover. Not new to murder, Conrad Sanders takes a sick pleasure in his ritual of torture and brutality. Sanders checks into the lodge using an alias; his appearance, average, unassuming, and forgettable.

Meanwhile, Lisa Duncan is staying with her Uncle Hank and Aunt Debbie, the owner-operators of the lodge. Back home Lisa is a popular teen with beauty queen good looks. Her parents sent her to the lodge for the summer as they believed she had fallen in with the wrong crowd. Bored and cut off from her friends, she explores her surroundings and meets Lu Jakes.

Lu keeps to herself, hiding in her room behind her glasses. She lives with an alcoholic father, Duane, and a severely abusive step-mother, Noreen. Normally, Lisa wouldn’t be seen with such a girl…but there is no one else to hang out with so she invites Lu swimming. Nearby Lu for most of the story is a trio of otherworldly beings. Lu is in communication with her beloved Talion, and is aware of his companions, Delatar, and Black Claw. Author Maddox is able to keep the reader guessing if these creatures are imagined, the products of a mentally ill mind, or if they are, in fact, supernatural entities. Sanders has already set his ghoulish sites on Lisa. When he notices Lu, he believes he can set the friends against each other in a wicked two-for-one slaying. Sanders makes his move and fully expects an easy kill; however, his experience and planning can’t prepare him for what only Lu can see….

Mary Maddox uses back story effectively with ample transition to show her audience what kind of a monster Sanders has become and from where his darkness originated. Her description of the murders is shocking, gory, and yet not over the top. She is skilled at turning up the tension and kept me riveted throughout. Lisa and Lu are interesting, well-drawn protagonists, and Sanders is a villain as horrible as he is captivating. All the ingredients are included for a frightening, enjoyable read for those who like their fiction dark. I would have liked to have seen the Talion character take on a larger role in the plot, but this is a minor complaint.

I highly recommend Talion and . . . I urge to you read it with the lights on!

By William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews

I received a complimentary copy of this title through "Pump Up Your Book". No other compensation was received.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Higher Court by John L. Betcher

A Higher Court
John L. Betcher
CreateSpace (November 3, 2010)
240 pages

Author John L. Betcher boldly places the existence of God on trial in his extraordinary new book A Higher Court: One Man's Search for the Truth of God's Existence.

We meet William Kensey shortly after his father was struck and killed in a crosswalk by a distracted soccer mom. At his father’s service, William turns down the reverend’s offer of a private time of prayer believing his time is best served with his wife and children.

A few days later, still troubled by his lack of distress over his father’s death, William receives a summons for jury duty. On arrival at court, he quickly realizes this is no ordinary trial. No juror could be excused, nor could any cell phone, time piece, or electronic device be brought into the courtroom. He, along with thirty-five other jurors, must hear evidence offered by witnesses claiming expertise regarding God’s existence or lack thereof. In the end each must render a verdict…God or No God! Handicapped and mysterious Judge Jonathan Cole presides over the case with two lawyers, Counsel for the Repudiation of God and Counsel for the Existence of God.

And so the trial begins with each lawyer calling witnesses including an anthropologist, philosopher, theologian, cosmologist, minister, and an average Joe, to name a few. Each witness gives testimony that proves or disproves the existence of a higher power. Four individual stories of tragic loss and hardship are also heard, both for and against God. These testimonials add a poignant yet disturbing element to the proceedings. Along the way are seven deliberations where the jury is split up into small groups of 4-6 to discuss the previous evidence. William’s group includes a Muslim, Native American, atheist, and a na├»ve teen, setting off some lively debates.

At first William believes the trial must be a hoax but before long he begins to understand the importance of what is unfolding in front of him. He is face to face with every human’s trial of a lifetime with no choice but to deliver a verdict that will change his life and perhaps the world as well.

This entertaining and thought provoking read will appeal to readers from all denominations, to those unsure of their faith, and even to those who consider themselves atheists. John L. Betcher doesn’t preach or push his own beliefs on his audience. His research is intensive and he presents the facts and his findings for the reader to decide. A Higher Court will definitely have you considering or reconsidering your thoughts on God. This book is well written in every aspect. It caught my interest early, and kept me hooked with insightful information, crisp dialogue, and then finally, an ending I didn’t see coming.

I can’t imagine anyone reading A Higher Court and not feeling moved to recommend it to a friend or family member. I asked my wife to read it.

Rated a Must Read by William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews

Available a Amazon in paperback and ebook Kindle