Cross Fingers by Paddy RICHARDSON

Cross Fingers

author Paddy Richardson

If asked to produce a televisions documentary on the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand, how would you go about putting a new spin on it when it’s been hashed and rehashed in news media so many times? 
That’s a quandary faced by Rebecca Thorne, television journalist, in a gripping story of sleuthing, old case files, stalking and personal danger, as she strives to find not only a ‘new angle’ but once found, to follow it up and learn how it was resolved.

Paddy Richardson puts us in Rebecca’s place, and we follow the leads, interview the relevant parties to the acts of rebellion and hostility during the tour, read police interview files from the time, and meet some of the families and people who took part in the tour protests (or in the police Squads).

This was a thoroughly enjoyable, “not putting it down till I’ve finished” read. Richardson’s intriguing plot line allows her to use the technique of slipping “old files” into the current story line  smoothly and realistically; no sense of a producer calling “cut” between takes old and new. And the “old files” are so realistically like a police report they are utterly believable.

Her unique twist on an historical event is conveyed in such a believable style I’ve caught myself Wiki’ing the tour and the police squads and protests. She has sparked something – I have a question I can’t mention here as it would be a spoiler if I did. And this is one book I’d suggest parents bought for their offspring too young to have been aware of how that tour affected New Zealand. It’s fiction, sure – but Richardson provides real food for thought better than any History teacher ever could!

I don’t usually “rate” with my reviews, but for Cross Fingers I will – 10 out of 10, for readability, for a well-told twist of crime vis á vis community, for writing a crime story in a unique style.

2013, Auckland, Hatchette New Zealand
ISBN: 978-1-86971-307-2

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A Talent for Loving, by Virginnia De PARTÉ

Virginnia de PARTÉ’s

A Talent for Loving  –

the third in her futuristic romantic series about g-altered people, set in Australia, is a most loving tale.

William and Belinda had reached the age of seven, managing to hide their talent from the Defence Department in order to ensure they would be released to an adopting family. Years later as adults, William seeks Belinda out, with a proposal to use his I.T. skills and position to ensure she would drop from sight within the database of the “orphans” who were checked for signs of having changed and developed a g-altered trait.

Their talents are completely different, but complement each other’s, as we watch the events which embroil their involvement in one way or another. Belinda is unsure of William – he seems to her to be secretive; he has to be, as she comes to realise. William is watchful over Belinda, knowing how little she knows of her own talents, and realising she is not always comfortable sharing his talent for “jumping” from on location to another.

Throughout the story, the tone is warm and loving, the romance is gentle and tenderly described. When the loving results in the creation of their baby, they realise the baby is the result of their talent for loving.

A beautiful read of circa ninety pages, and a wonderful addition to the series.

Available at


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GUN MACHINE – author Warren Ellis

– a crime thriller cum mystery by action-comic writer Warren Ellis ELLIS_Gun Machine

The best part of Ellis’s work here is the way the changing points of view, from the protagonist’s (1st Precinct detective John Tallow) to the antagonist’s (“the hunter”) – it brings closer the ability to see the hunter’s desparation in his crazed world.
And it took an accidental discovery for the hunter to enter the story.
When called to a disturbance in an apartment building, in which Tallow’s partner is killed by a naked tenant gone mad on learning his home is to be sold out from under him, Tallow has to kill the angry tenant. Who’s shot and killed his partner. During the aftermath with medics, police and CSU people swarming, Tallow examines a hole in another apartment’s wall, blasted earlier by the tenant. Inside the room he discovers a puzzle.
No, an enigma, a mystery, a symbolic almost mystical gun display of as yet unrecognised significance.
Ballistic tests on a few of the guns link them to unsolved killings from years ago, and Tallow has “reopened several hundred homicides” – considered cold cases with any evidence long locked away in the vaults of the sub-basement of the Propery Office. The sheer numbers of cases to be reopened are overwhelming, and all are dumped on Tallow to work, with a team of two young CSU staff.
From the hunter’s point of view, the disturbance at the apartment block is unsettling – he watches his collection being brought out from the building in crates and boxes, loaded into a police truck and disappearing. Right from the moment we meet the hunter, we see his double life – unhinged and switching from a cold modern reality to a self-created mystical identification with the native americans who’d inhabited the sites of New York during pre-European settlement. 
Tallow, under increasing pressure from superiors and fellow detectives, is expected to work alone as he uncovers corruption among colleagues and top citizens and bigwigs in both the commercial and the criminal worlds, as the hunter becomes more and more unable to control his delusions. Becoming increasingly dangerous: blackmail, manipulation, payoffs – all when revealed contribute to the resolution of the network of lies, murder and threats.
Ellis has written a gripper of a thriller, and I expect to become just as rapt in his other novels, starting back with his first – Crooked Little Vein.

Ellis, W., 2013. Gun Machine. London: Mulholland Books, Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN (paperback)  978-1-444-73064-7
ISBN (ebook)          978-1-444-73065-4

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LOVE’S RED HEART, by Virginnia de Parté

Red Heart

Now six years on from where Love’s Bright Star left us, we are on a small holding in the Australian desert. Siobhan and James have raised Stella far from where snooping agents charged with locating all g-altered people are likely to easily discover Stella’s secret ability, nor her parents and family’s..

James’ sister Jill has joined Siobhan on the farm, enjoying a break from Melbourne’s bustle and the opportunity to be with her niece – exasperating as Stella’s talent can make things.

The author has a delightful ability to write of these g-altered people’s lives and domesticity in a way that makes them seem completely unsurprisingly ordinary. These characters’ Sci-Fi element never intrudes on the storyline of  a family with a secret which sometimes becomes a problem. It’s all perfectly naturallly handled, making for a comfortable read throughout.

Stella, born in Wellington New Zealand, has a visit routinely from her personal physician, Dr. Michael Scott, who is well aware of the particular factor in the family and Stella, and does what he can to ensure she develops well. He flies in for a customary visit, and also to travel parts of the desert, treating the aboriginal children – his offical excuse for the trip and its funding.

An almost-romance begins to develop between Michael and Jill – but something disrupts their relationship, neither fullyl understanding why, nor each other’s reasonings. Michael leaves the station abruptly, to travel to the far flung settlements of aboriginal peoples, to vaccinate and gather data on health and diet conditions. After too long a period of no one hearing from him, the family decide to track him and Charlie (his aboriginal tracker), rather than call the police. While considering their options, Stella forces their hand by announcing where she has seen Doctor Mike.

Stellla now becomes an integral part of the action, as her g-altered powers assist those who need to locate and rescue Doctor Mike and Charlie. The author’s ability to so delightfully and accurately convey the mannerisms of a talented but unprecocious six-year old girl allow Stella’s role to remain utterly believable, as James and Jill set off on their rescue mission.

The villains of the piece are unscrupulously callous of their mining workers’ conditions, and when James and Jill drive away with Doctor Mike and Charlie they follow in pursuit, hoping to protect their mine from being closed down. But our family gives them the slip, and Dr Mike wants to carry on serving the small communities, using Jill’s g-altered talent to help reach the peoples’ belief system, and undo the damage caused years ago by an anti-vaccination campaigner.

Jill’s talent, once revealed to the people in the settlements, causes them to believe something spiritual has come among them and they accept Mike’s vaccinations of their childen without further hesitation. Jill is determined to retain a friendly relationship with Mike – we learn better.

Nearly discovered by Defence Department agents, Mike and helper Willie clear out of the settlement, leaving Jill undiscovered and safe, under the care of the aboriginal people of the settlement. Mike has to continue his work, for appearance’s sake, but his moments of worry about Jill reveal more of his feelings than he has shared with other characters. Jill too worries about Mike and his safety, as she travels overland in Charlie’s truck back to the homestead. Stella is now being their courier, using her skill to bring messages and small items of news.

When finally reunited, Mike and Jill come to an inevitable understanding – the heart’s needs outweigh old promises, and the romance is free to progress at its own pace – complete with words of wisdom from a six-year old.

Within the final chapter, de Parté once again shows her skill in creating romance scenes of pleasure and delight, and will win fans eager for the third in the series. Be on the watch in April for the prequel of this series, A Talent for Loving

A Secret Cravings Publishing Book
Love’s Red Heart

Copyright © 2013 Virginnia de Parté
Cover design by Dawne Dominique
All cover art and logo copyright © 2013 by Secret Cravings Publishing

First E-book Publication: January 2013

E-book ISBN: 978-1-61885-519-0

Links to buy: Available at

Barnes and Noble,

Secretcravings Publishing

 Follow Virginnia de Parté at facebook, and/or on blogspot

Writing as Virginnia De Parte:
Love’s Bright Star (pub.July 2012),
Love’s Red Heart (pub. Jan. 2013),
A Talent for Loving (release date April 2013

Read the writer’s poems at:
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Jillianne HOFFMAN, "The Cutting Room"

 The Cutting Room, by Jilliane Hoffman

 by Jilliane HOFFMAN
Published by Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 978007 311675

The Cutting Room reminds us that prison incarceration is not necessarily able to end the machinations of sick-minded prisoners, who can reach beyond the walls and have others commit crimes for them.

Carefully constructed in three parts, this 410 pager is a skin crawler in some chapters, and its story – beginning with a filmed snuff movie – concludes in a quiet and personal (but slightly disturbing) conquering of mental demons by the female Prosecuting Attorney, C-J.
Between those two points, we follow the progression of serial killings, mutilated victims, sick voyeurism, corrupt and perverted members of the criminal and justice systems and high society, and the personal turmoil of a surviving ex-victim. We see the strain on relationships of those working the case at its early and final stages. We lose one character who we expect to be the surviving puzzle solver.
This is a “re-reader” – I’m into my third round, revisiting scenes for the quality of the writing, the characterisation, the dialogue. And picking up on nuances I’d missed in earlier readings, so cleverly has the author drawn me into the world of sick crime and determined investigation.

Ms Hoffman’s style is a pleasure to read, the plot structure intertwines events past and current, from New York to Miami, to California, Orlando, the Santa Ynez Mountains, back to Miami and hints of the future. Rivetting stuff!

I love criminal justice and forensic drama – CSII, Law & Order, NCIS., Bones, Criminal Minds, Cold Case, et al – so The Cutting Room  couldn’t have been sent to a more biased reviewer. I found myself wanting a whiteboard to chart all the victims and perpetrators and their links, but chose to re-read instead.

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Nikki FRENCH: Tuesday’s Gone


Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph imprint
ISBN: 9780718156961

I have one isssue with Nikki French[i]’s Tuesday’s Gone – it is the second of a planned FRIEDA KLEIN series, and I have not yet read the first!
Of course I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of this mystery ‘slash’ thriller. Every thriller needs a “good” villain – and Nikki French has created many within the pages of this gripping novel.
Psychotherapist Frieda becomes involved in assisting – sometimes at her own insistence – a police investigation involving a harmles but seemingly dangerous woman with a predilection for regarding inanimate belongings she has collected (including a corpse) as friends, serving the moldering corpse tea and sticky buns.
Frieda, in talking to the deranged Michelle, realises she has nothing to do with the corpse’s demise, but police working under constraints from “upstairs” close the case, with Michelle regarded as guilty but insane and unchargable.
A police ‘management consultant’ raises the spectre of budget cuts. Young police officers resent her presence as a consultant on the team. Frieda is judged by her psychiatry seniors for meddling in a diagnosis and in police work. She becomes a newspaper ongoing feature, drawing unwelcome attention both to herself and to the police handling if the case.
The investigation is a chase to find the corpse’s identity, the motive from his killling and mutilation, people with whom he interacted before his death. During the hunt for leads, an old case of Frieda raises its head. The investigation is permitted to continue, with limits on Frieda’s access to information.
We encounter a strange young girl living alone, deserted, on a barge, fearfully following the instructions of the crazed captor who has left her alone. Somewhere out there is a superbly clever and evil conman.  The conman’s success is the result of grooming his victims, by sharing their interests, or assisting with work. More people – and their money – go missing and turn up dead. The link is the mouldering corpse Michelle was looking after, whose identity is revealed as fraudulent. Just when they have a name, it is revealed to belong to someone else, also missing assumed dead. 

 Frieda realises evidence links old crimes and this new gruesome crime. Now she too feels the pressure of nightmares and the burden of the case. Her friends see her becoming too involved, but accept her resolve to continue on behalf of Michelle and other victims.

Frieda’s knowledge of the human psyche helps her ‘spot’ clues missed by police crime scene investigators obsessed with courtrooom usable sampling, photography and collected samples. Frieda sees patterns in the lives of the victims, and therefore notices where a pattern has been disrupted. By seeking reasons for these changes, she learns more useful information than fingerprints or blood stains alone.
Thus she contributes to the solving of the case – and the indictment of the villains – which, by the way, are “good villains:  – ie as Nikki French has defined them they are utterly believable, not unreasonably able to blend into general society, and therefore really spooky!

[i]Pseudonym of partnership Nikki GERRARD and Sean FRENCH
29 July 2102,

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Love’s Bright Star – Virginnia de PARTÉ


Copyright © 2012 Virginnia de Parté

An erotic fantasy, under Secret Cravings Publishing

E-book ISBN: 978-1-61885-365-3

There’s an element of futuristic science fiction within the text, (set in 2079) which establishes  the drama and action – some characters are the offspring of trialled melding of human and animal genes, and have the animal characteristics to some degree or other, under some degree of control or other. They are referred to as “g-altered”. In this world, g-altered people are regarded as freaks, yet by some creeps as desirable as a sexual conquest. Defence Department authorities are interested of course in locating them all and “studying” them for possible military or espionage use.

The heroine (Siobhan) is a photographer by career, and of cat/human descent, complete with a cat’s natural defences – fangs and claws – and features like the third eyelid. As all g-alters must, she strives to keep control of her altered traits.
She is rescued from showing her cat defences by another g-alter person – James – a man whose genetic modification allows him to stop time for his own purposes. In his ordinary career he lectures in physics and fourth dimensional mathematics. Relax; as a reader you won’t be expected to attend a lecture – just to suspend disbelief.

As the novel passes beyond the point of their meeting, some of the Siobhan’s more amusing characteristics of a cat g-altered woman are revealed – delightfully freaky and you can read for yourself!

The author has a way of showing the increasing emotional arousal of Siobhan as she gets to know James more, without being too obvious – and nicely done too.  But Siobhan develops a yearning of her own – one which, she knows, would make James unhappy – angry even. She keeps the idea to itself, even after she has caused it to happen.

On realising what she has done, James departs in fury, leaving Siobhan and her friend Anna to create a cover story to keep Siobhan’s secret. She has tricked James into creating a next generation – and increased their danger from the Defence Department.

During what should have been a routine pregnancy scan, the foetus momentarily disappears. This event causes further complications for Siobhan with agents from the Defence Department.
James in the meantime makes plans for a safe future for Siobhan, Stella their daughter and himself .

Through frights, surprises, unpleasant encounters, the story closes in on a beautifully satisfying dénouement. Not usually a fan of the genre, I expect  Virginnia de Parté to produce more of this quality.

Footnote – Yes! A second novel by de Parté is due for publication.

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