Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Original Sin by Beth McMullen



Sally Sin is a spy with Ian Blackford her personal nemesis.   Her retirement, marriage and motherhood complicate her life. 

Lucy Hamilton, not her real name, is an inept ex-spy.   She seems far more realistic than many of the two slick to be real “normal” spy characters.   There is a lot of humor in McMullen’s approach to spy stories.   Lucy/Sally/? Does her best to be a good wife and mother but life hands her complications.  

I enjoyed the characterizations and as polarized as some of the caricatures were, they didn’t seem all that far fetched.   The book was entertaining and held my interest.  Sally Sin isn’t exactly a butt kicking protagonist but she holds her own.  

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Beth McMullen

Web Site:   http://bethmcmullen.com/


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Gray Zone by Daphna Edwards Ziman


This was a sobering story about the corruption of the foster care system.

Ms. Ziman is a foster care improvement advocate.   This does not in anyway decrease the power of her story.   The protagonist is a chameleon like victim of a corrupt and morally bankrupt program of victimizing the most defenseless members of our society.   Foster children frequently bear the brunt of budget cuts and foster “parents” whose goal is to game the system to enrich their pockets as opposed to enriching the life of a child.

The story is bracing in it’s description of the futility of opposing deep pockets and the inequity of justice in a profit driven system.   There are a lot of messages in a story that remains a good mystery with provocative overtones. 

I recommend the book.  

Body of work of Alan Dean Foster



Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Interview with James Mace Author of Soldier of Rome: The Legionary

Author Interview Questions for James Mace


Thank you, James Mace, for your response to these questions.  I have to say that your answers were among the more interesting and thought provoking I have received.   Oddly enough, the only thing that got me through my second year of Latin was Caesar’s Gallic Wars so I have a smidgen of understanding of your motiviation.  I also liked the advice for those of us who want to write, perseverance is sadly underrated, Mr. Mace makes it clear that perseverance is crucial in writing.  Thank you for your time and your insights.

1.) What motivated you to write this book?
I chose the campaigns of Germanicus Caesar because they had always fascinated me, yet were scarcely talked about. Most ancient historians know about the disaster in Teutoburger Wald, where three Roman legions were betrayed by the Germanic war chief, Arminius, ambushed and destroyed. What is not covered in detail are the campaigns of retribution that took place six years later, when the Emperor Tiberius sent his adopted son, Germanicus Caesar, with a huge army to destroy Arminius and the Germanic Alliance.

I made the protagonist, Artorius, very young because from the beginning I contemplated turning this into a series. I got the idea from the C.S. Forrester series, ‘Horatio Hornblower’, which follows a British Naval officer throughout his entire career. I wanted to do the same with a Roman legionary, since it had never been done before.

2.) How has your personal military experience impacted your writing?
I believe my experiences allow me to help the reader reach a mental and emotional bond with the characters and their experiences. One thing I have found is that throughout history soldiers are soldiers. Whether it’s the Greek hoplites, Roman legionaries, Japanese samurai, British Empire soldiers in South Africa or modern American GI’s in Afghanistan, there are certain similarities that can be found amongst all of them. My own experiences allow me to convey the grind of everyday life, as well as the abject moments of terror in battle. It also allows me to share more readily the bond that exists between soldiers who are willing to fight and die for each other.

3.) Is your process to outline and then fill in the blanks or just sit down and start to tell a story or ?
Since I am writing about historical events, the basic outline of significant events is already done for me. I can’t say that I sit down and write out an actual outline, although I will look at how long of a time period I want to cover in each book and what historical events took place. I am more inclined, though, to let the story take itself where it wants to go, regarding the main characters. I believe it was Stephen King who said that books take on a life of their own. I first realized this when writing the second book of the series, The Sacrovir Revolt. Events started happening that I never planned on, and certain characters who had once been bit players or one-off jokes all the sudden became an important part of the story.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?
Well since Artorius as an idealized version of my alter ego, I confess that I’m a little biased. Vitruvius was an early favorite, because he was the invincible killing machine who all the legionaries looked up to and wanted to emulate. An unexpected favorite that occurred later in the series is the perpetual letch, Valens. He was meant to be little more than comic relief in The Legionary; that soldier who every veteran knows that has no sense of shame whatsoever.  In the third book, Heir to Rebellion, events happen that suddenly give Valens a lot more depth as he suddenly becomes a significant player in the overall story arc. He became such a favorite that I’ve written a short story about him called Centurion Valens and the Empress of Death; which will be available soon on Amazon Kindle.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?
I like the idea of telling stories to a large audience and perhaps getting them interested in the historical eras that I cover. I hope that when someone reads The Artorian Chronicles it will inspire them to pick up Tacitus or Cassius Dio; or perhaps some of the phenomenal works by Dr. Adrian Goldsworthy, who is probably the most respected ancient historian of our time.

6.) Where do your new story ideas come from?
I sometimes wonder if I will always write military historical fiction or if I will come out of my comfort zone and cover other topics. Until I find something that overwhelmingly inspires me, I will probably stick with what I’m good at. The story ideas for The Artorian Chronicles came simply from the desire to cover the life and career of a Roman soldier. Once I decided what time period to cover, I looked at historical events that occurred over a span of twenty-five to thirty years that I could insert Artorius into.

The major events in every book are based on actual events, and I like that I’m covering events that are largely unknown, even to those with an interest in Roman history. For example, I have yet to meet one person who knew about the rebellion in Gaul under Julius Sacrovir before they read my second book. The Battle of Braduhenna, which serves as the climax for Book Four, The Centurion, is one of the most tragic and heroic stories of ancient battles that I have ever read, yet sadly most have never heard about it.

The stories for my non-Roman books come from a variety of sources. Brutal Valour came from my love of the Michael Caine movie, Zulu. I then read numerous books on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 and am traveling to Brecon in Wales to conduct research for this project. I want to reintroduce this generation to the valiant stories of the British and Zulu.

The inspiration for another project I have been doing on the side came from an unusual source. I love Heavy Metal music, especially bands from Europe. I was listening to a song called 40 to 1 by the Swedish band, Sabaton. The lyrics caught my attention, especially the end of the chorus where the singer shouts, “Soldiers of Poland, second to none! Wrath of the Wehrmacht brought to a halt!” I did some research into the song, and discovered they were singing about the Battle of Wizna (pronounced ‘Vyzna’) in September 1939. It is a heroic story about seven hundred Polish riflemen under Captain Władysław Raginis, who held for four days against the entire XIX Panzer Corps of over forty-thousand men under Heinz Guderian. Research has proven to be a nightmare, since so many records about the actual defenders were lost during the war. Despite this, I am determined to tell the story of Captain Raginis and his men. It is a long term work in progress under the working title, Wizna Kampf: Wrath of the Wehrmacht.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
The idea of story arc has been invaluable to me. A good friend introduced me to the series, Babylon 5; though it is science fiction, it is a great model of how to build an overall story arc when writing a series. Having numerous people proof read my work has also helped, not just to correct spelling and grammar, but also to make sure I don’t use the same descriptive words over and over.

8.) Your Artorian Chronicles seem very successful, has that success impacted your work on "Brutal Valour"?
The success of The Artorian Chronicles has given me the confidence to branch out into another era in history. I wrote a couple of sample chapters to see if I can write battle scenes involving firearms as effectively as I can those with swords. I have not yet decided if Brutal Valour will be the name for the entire series, or just the name of the first book. I’m leaning towards using that name for the series, which will be broken into three parts.

 I am trying to strike a balance and tell the story from both the British and Zulu perspectives. In order to do this, I am reading books about the infrastructure of the Zulu Empire, along with its culture and political makeup. The Zulu government was extremely complicated and rife with political rivalry and intrigue; a far cry from the depictions of mindless barbarians in loincloths wielding spears. Intertribal politics severely complicated matters for the Zulu king, Cetshwayo.

I think that readers who are fans of The Artorian Chronicles will be willing to give Brutal Valour a chance. One thing that I am conscious of is that I don’t end up recycling characters from one series into the other. In other words, I don’t want to give Private Arthur Wilkinson the exact same personality as Legionary Tiberius Valens.

9.) Who is your favorite author and why?
I have a number of favorites, though Tolkien will always be at the top for me. His works are timeless and still as relevant today as they were sixty years ago. This is evidenced by the huge success of the Lord of the Rings movies as well as the upcoming Hobbit prequels. Another current favorite is J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter books are the only ones I have ever seen that truly transcend generations. I don’t know of any other series that an eight-year old and fifty-year old can both get the same joy from reading.

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
The sad truth is most people who set out to write a book never even come close to finishing what they started. I constantly have aspiring writers asking me for advice regarding publication before they have even finished their first book. Knowing that most of these will quit before their work is done, to even talk about publishing is a waste of time. So my most blunt advice for the want to be writer is, finish what you start! In order to do this, you must have belief in both yourself and the story you are writing. Yes, we all get assailed with self-doubt about what we are writing; however, if you let this become your focus, then you will quit and all your previous work will have been for nothing.
While one needs to have a clean and edited product when finished, don’t get too wrapped up in that when writing a first draft. Even if it is a grammatical mess, one can easily tell if there is a viable story within. If there is, then spend the money to have a professional copyeditor proof read it. Also, don’t take constructive criticism as a personal attack. You want proof readers to be critical, because it will only improve the end result of the story. Once it is finished and proofread, then you can look into publication and sending your story out to the world.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One Summer by David Baldacci


This is NOT a Camel Club book with a complicated and convoluted conspiracy.  It doesn’t have the flavor of The Christmas Train either.   This is a Baldacci that demands a box of tissues.   A family is subjected to the ultimate stress of losing a member.  This is a story of how they cope with the emptiness that results and how they re-knit the fabric of their lives.

Just when you think you have David Baldacci’s modus operandi well in hand you discover unseen depths and different directions.   Although this book seems more appropriate in the Harlequin genre, it grabs your attention and emotions in typical Baldacci fashion.   You do not want to put  it down, you want to know what else can possibly go wrong.

Succinctly (I know not my normal MO) this book is a in-depth revelation of family turmoil and reconciliation amidst a devastating tragedy.   Most frequently in Baldacci’s work and other action adventure authors’ work we become immersed in the fast pace and thrilling circumstances.   This book forces you to think about the impact of death on normal folks, not action heroes but perhaps the next door neighbor.  

David Baldacci has a breadth of talent that is awe inspiring.   This book is akin to a reverse 180 while cruising along at autobahn speeds.   It is a major change of pace but certainly a winner.  
                                                                                                       
I highly recommend it.

Body of  work of David Baldacci </a>





Sunday, August 14, 2011

Soldier of Rome: The Legionary by James Mace


 
 A snapshot of the life of the Roman Legionnaire is the most succinct description of this book.

Artorius begins the book as a young boy lamenting over the death of his brother in a treacherous attack by German tribes.   He ends the book as a seasoned campaigner in the Roman Legions.    Artorius’s anger and need for revenge seemed realistic.   It was easy to see his motivations.   James Mace has obvious experience in the military and has done his research for this novel.   The only reason I passed Latin in high school was the war stories.   This novel had a believable flavor.   Looking at James Mace’s web site, you see he has immersed him historically in the Roman time.   

I also liked the fact that Mace was not one sided in his approach.   I thought he showed the tribal perspective of seeking freedom from Roman domination quite well.  It is hard not to be enamored of the efficiency and capability of the Roman Legions.   It is easy to ignore how astoundingly advanced Roman civilization was in a time period that had most peoples wallowing in ignorant misery.  

Anyone fascinated by military history will love this book.  Historic fiction fans, in general, will also enjoy the book.   

I recommend the book.   

Body of work of James Mace

Web Site: http://www.legionarybooks.net/


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Guest Post by Whit Gentry Author of Revenge:No Statue of Limitations

Whit Gentry has been generous enough to allow me to  post this short essay.  It is truly a window into someone's personality.   I have corresponded with Whit and thought he was a good guy.  After reading this essay I concluded without a doubt, I am correct, he is a good guy and a very good writer.  He conveys a lot of feeling and emotion in this short essay.  It evoked strong childhood memories of my own.   Kudos to Whit for his insight!  Read this, I bet it will evoke memories for you as well.  

Life is but a Collection of Memories

I recently found out that a childhood friend and dear memory of mine had passed away.  Even though our paths had not crossed in well over fifty years, the memory was always there for me to call upon.  My life after sixty seven years remains to be touched by the time we spent together.

In the early 1950’s, it was common and expected of the grown children to return to their parents house with the grandkids in tow.  My parents were always pleased that I wanted to take the forty mile drive to grandpa and grandma’s house at least once a month.  My grandparents were also always glad to see us and pleased that their grandson wanted to see them.  Well, I did want to see them and I did love being with them on their small farm with a garden, cows, horses, and chickens.  What really pleased me though was the opportunity to see the neighbors.

Gordon and Vera Black lived in the next house down the gravel road.  They also had two horses but what they had that really interested me was three daughters.  To me Gordon Black was one of the king pins or pillars of the community of Foreman, Arkansas, population 903.  Mr. Black worked at Welch’s Department Store on Main Street and was located across from the hotel and the Sheriff’s Office which had a jail cell.  As far as I was concerned, Mr. Black owned Welch’s Department Store.

I respected Mr. Black but I admired his three daughters more.  The oldest daughter was Amanda, several years older than me and since she was considerably taller than me, I came to just about her waist; I knew that I never had a chance to win her heart.  The youngest daughter, Carol, was still in diapers that seemed to always be fouled and my memory of those garments was just too fresh for me to consider being her best friend.  The middle daughter was by far the pick of the litter to me.  Yes, she was a little taller than me but love can overcome some steep obstacles.  To this day I can remember a round faced beauty with ample freckles framed by brownish blonde hair and a smile that could melt the hardest of hearts. 

After visiting with the grandparents, I would sprint down the gravel road or cross the two barbed wire fences and pasture to get to the Black’s homestead.  The first vision at the Black’s house that lit me up was the radiant face of Jane Black.  In my sixty seven years of observing many sun rises, I must say that it was never as bright as Jane Black’s face on those Saturday afternoons.  I was eight and she was ten, life was good and its memory is as if it were last month.

Saturdays were special in the pre television days, we would each get a quarter from our parents and would then walk the gravel road to town, which seemed like many miles of houses, farms, a stream and a railroad; but today the distance has been reduced to hardly more than a mile and the people that travel it today don’t know what they’re missing.

What an adventure walking to town and when we reached downtown Foreman, a whole city block of bustling stores on each side of Main Street and cars parked in front of the stores on the paved street, we were in awe.  We would stand on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and just take in the enormity of it all, it was mind boggling.  The picture show was at the other end of the block from the hotel and next to my Uncle Rob and Aunt Willie’s grocery store that was a bank at one time and had a walk in vault where the potatoes and onions were kept so they wouldn’t sprout.  I liked to play in the big black vault but the onion odor could be overcoming at times.

With our treasures of twenty five cents each, we would pay Mr. Stuart a dime each to get into the movie house and we could buy a six ounce bottle of Coke for a nickel and a box of popcorn for another nickel, leaving us each with ten cents since we shared the coke and the popcorn.  The serial of Flash Gordon was my favorite and Jane liked Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  I think she liked them because she had a horse that looked like Trigger.

When the movie was over, we would get a nickel’s worth of candy at Uncle Rob and Aunt Willie’s store and would walk the sidewalks that were filling with people coming to town on Saturday.  Wooden benches lined the sidewalk and were a prime location for people to occupy as they visited with folks walking the sidewalk.  Other folks sat in their cars and visited as people passed by.  My dad and grandpa would drive both cars to town Saturday afternoon and park one in a prime place where the family could sit and visit with passersby that evening.

One of the most entertaining things for Jane and me to do was to peek into the pool hall, a forbidden place for young people.  We loved to peer into the pool hall and be swished along by the grownups walking the sidewalk.  “You kids get along”.  I guess they thought they were saving our souls.  Of all the time that we sneaked a peek, we never saw anything that resembled the stories of what happened at the Pool Hall; what a disappointment.  Before we rode home with our parents, we would spend our last nickel on an ice cream bought at the drug store, the place where the big kids hung out.  The drug store with its’ black and white tile checkerboard floor, small metal tables with metal chairs, and marble counter with bright red swivel stools was a place you had to grow into to be accepted.

I feel it necessary to come clean now about an affair I had while being friends with Jane.  It was the forth grade and Miss Casey became the center of the universe for me.  As I reflect back on the forth grade and try to identify what I learned most, the only recollection I have is the long beautiful legs of Miss Casey.  She’s probably about a hundred years old now.

After entering the fifth grade, Jane and my relationship took a leap forward.  She was thirteen and I was eleven, almost.  She had free reign to ride her horse and my grandpa occasionally allowed me to take his plow horse for a ride with Jane.  There is no telling how many miles we covered both on and off the road.  Sometimes we would take a lunch and be away from home five or six hours and no one ever expressed a concern about our absence or what we were doing.

  My grandpa spanked me only one time in my life and it was because of Jane.  We had left in the morning, riding our horses, and ended up in town that afternoon.  After we drank a coke, we untied our horses and rode them slowly down Main Street, like we were grownups.  After we crossed the railroad tracks and were on the gravel road home Jane said, “I’ll race you home” and she took off like a banshee.  I took off after her and I quickly discovered that I was no longer in charge.  The old plow horse knew where he was, he never caught Jane but when he got to his farm he abruptly turned right and didn’t stop until he got to the backyard of the farmhouse where grandpa happened to be sitting under a shade tree.  When the old horse made the right turn, me and the saddle slid to the left side of the horse and that is where I was when he stopped in front of grandpa.  The horse was covered with lather and breathing hard.  Grandpa pulled me off the side of the horse and took me to the smokehouse where I was made to understand that it was not acceptable to run the horse from town.  Fearing embarrassment I never told Jane about my dramatic arrival or the lesson that had been pressed upon my behind.

As Jane and I grew older, the time we spent together waned.  The advent of hormones, teens, and cars separated us from our frequent gatherings.  The forty miles between us seemed to grow.

I haven’t seen, spoken or communicated with Jane in over fifty years, and now I’ll never have that chance.  I wish I could have told her that I was blessed to know her and am a better person for knowing her.  I miss you but you will always be with me, Jane Black.

I’ve just finished writing a novel and the heroine of my story, an FBI agent, is named Jane Black.  When I was writing the story I came to this character and without pre-thought or planning, my two fingers typed out Jane Black unconscientiously.  Being of a simple mind, it never occurred to me until a year later when I was told of Jane’s passing that my heroine, Jane Black was really my Jane Black.

The mind is scary sometimes.

Whit's book, see my review several posts back.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thou Shalt Kill by Daniel Blake

This is a complex and compelling murder mystery set in Pittsburgh, PA.

Growing up in western Pennsylvania, I found the setting for this story quite interesting.   It is always fun to be able to picture exactly where the author is taking you.   That is not to take away from Blake’s descriptions.  He did a good job describing both the environment and the people.   For Pittsburghers, the Steelers are not so much a sports team as a life style cult.   I haven’t been in Pittsburgh for 15 years and yet I have a Steeler sticker on my car, I have a terrible towel, black and gold scarves, more Steeler ball caps than I can count, Steeler head covers for my golf clubs a Steeler swim suit and more and I don’t even live there any more.   Black captured the essence of the community quite accurately. 

The characters were believable as were their motivations.   The emotional vacuums in the protagonist’s lives were clearly responsible for their aberrant behavior.

The story line was clear but complex so it kept your interest and never got boring.   Current events were incorporated to provide a very up to date feel for the setting.   Daniel Blake did an excellent job with this book. 

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Daniel Blake

Web site:  Did not find one.  





Thursday, August 4, 2011

An interview with Whit Gentry Author of Revenge: No Statute of Limitations


Thanks Whit for taking the time to respond to an interview. 

Q:        Am I correct in saying this is your first book?

A:        That would be correct in the sense that we are talking about a book and publishing a story for reader’s entertainment.

Q:        So you have published other types of books?

A:        No, I have no other books that have been published but I do have extensive research papers that can be reviewed and read in the Pentagon library.  Quite lengthy papers that address the use of stationary satellites in the early 1970’s.  Those that are unclassified are available to the public today.  By now they are all probably unclassified.

Q:        What inspired you to write a fiction story?

A:        I think it was a combination of several things that lead me to pick up the pen to start this adventure.  I had been retired two years, so my wife and I had plenty of time to get a lot of our dream adventures completed.  Television had become even more boring than it had been and I had just completed all the current books of the author’s that I prefer to read.  It was winter and we were snuggled up to the fireplace and I decided I would write a story since I didn’t have a book available.  Two years later I finished it since my wife kept encouraging me to proceed.

Q:        You’re a first book author.  Why would readers want to read your work?

A:  I believe readers will be entertained by the story because I wrote it with the reader in mind.  Don’t get me wrong.  A reader that likes fantasy, romance, horror, sci-fi, etc. will not enjoy this story.  Folks that like Patterson, Sandford, Parker, Johansen, etc will enjoy this story because it will keep them guessing.  Does the protagonist get caught?  Does he abuse the women?  How do the women react?  Does the FBI know who he is and why he is doing it?  Can the lawyer of one of the kidnapped women catch the pervert?

            Readers are not dummies, they read for entertainment and to solve the mystery before “The End”.

Q:        You seem to have a lot of characters in your story.  Do you think that confuses readers?

A:        If a story is good, it will hold the reader.  It’s up to the author to not confuse the reader.  I read stories with a lot of foreign names that I end up calling them whatever I want so I can remember them.  I read stories where the author keeps shifting from a characters first name to the last name and then back.  I don’t consider that as friendly.  I try to make my stories reader friendly; this is not a test, its entertainment.  A publisher told me, “I like your characters, they are believable and real.  I thought I knew some of them.”

Q:        Why would you have someone or some people kidnap four women?  Why four?

A:        That does come across as strange.  When is the last time you heard on the news, “Four women kidnapped in Omaha!”  That is one of the great things about fiction; you have to read the story to determine the real reason.

Q:  You said earlier that a publisher remarked about the character’s being believable.  Did that just happen or was it your design?

A:        It was totally by design.  I wanted to make the characters like the people the reader knows.  That’s why there is a workaholic corporate dad, a mother of two pre-teens, a professional woman with no kids, and a closet alcoholic wife of a lawyer running for federal office.  Most readers will be able to put real faces to these characters and that my friend starts a whole new process between the ears of the reader.  

Q:        Why did you write about revenge?   Is it some part of your life?

A:        As Richard Nixon said, “I’m not a thief.”  I will say, “I’m not a kidnapper!”  When the story in my head started showing up on my laptop, it didn’t have a title, it was just a “story” filed in documents.  I can’t remember how many different titles this story has gone through in the past two and a half years.  But, I must say my wife was brilliant in selecting the final title.  There was some grumbling when the old title was replaced with the current title but after some thought from the grumbler, they embraced the new title.  Thanks, Becky.

Q:       You didn’t answer my questions about revenge being a part of your life.

A:        I was hoping you had overlooked that.  No, I was just kidding.  Revenge is the nature of the beast and we are the beast.  Jesus was the only perfect one to walk this earth but even he took revenge in some cases.  That statement will bring down the walls of Jericho.  Back to your question; revenge is a part of our daily being and we don’t even recognize it as revenge because it is so so minor.
           
            For instance, a coworker says, “He never puts up the sugar up when he is done.”  Well he didn’t put it up because he thought he was being courteous and leaving it for others.  So he takes revenge, he puts the sugar back in the cabinet after he has used it, on the third shelf.  To him that was not labeled revenge.

            We normally think of revenge as a dastardly act but it doesn’t have to be.

Q:        Are you saying Revenge in your story is not a dastardly act?

A:        That will be for the reader to determine and I assure you it will cover all the numbers on the scale from one to ten and that is the way it should be.  The reader is in command.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pompeii: City on Fire by T. L. Higley




This is a journey of discovery for a patrician and a slave set in Pompeii just prior to it’s devastating eruption.

I just finished Soldier of Rome: The Legionary by James Mace.   You wouldn’t know that the same Rome is being described.   This book focused far more on the short comings of the Roman Empire than the strengths of their military.  

A classic take of good versus evil with a religious overview characterizes the plot.   The main characters of Cato and Ari are well developed.   Each characterization is suffused with overt angst.   The evil is obvious and the dirty politics are familiar.  In some ways it is always surprising how little the world has changed in human interaction.  

I recommend the book.  

Body of work of T. L. Higley