Watch Out for the Snake Charmer

Hit The Road Jack by Willow Rose is first in a series of “Jack Ryder” books. The novel is divided into three parts. All of it is interesting and an entertaining read but it is in Part III that the action explodes. It was worth reading the first two parts to get there. The end has a series of surprises; two of them are huge in the sense of “no way I could have seen that coming.”

I have read four of Willow Rose’s novels in the past so I was not surprised that this one would be about a serial killer. Rose is always interesting with the variations she introduces. This novel starts out with a killer who takes on the name Snakecharmer. Whether he personally likes snakes or not is immaterial; he uses them to gain entrance into the home of his intended victims. Once he alerts the intended victim to the danger, he offers to help by removing or killing the snake. Of course, the snakes are harmless and he recycles them at the home of his next kill.

Jack Ryder is a detective in the small tourist town of Cocoa Beach, Florida. Nothing much happened there and he had been a detective in a larger and more active force. But when his wife, Arianna, had left him with young twin children plus a third teenager Jack had “adopted, Jack decided to join the smaller force. His mom and dad operated a small motel in the town so they would be available to help with the kids, Jack had a condo near the motel and near the most important thing in Jack’s life, a beach where he could surf. Several times in the novel I thought Jack’s addiction to surfing was going to replace his active homicide investigations.

A further subplot involves a popular country singer, Shannon, who has lived through fifteen years of spousal abuse until she decides to run away from hubby with her daughter, Angela. One huge problem for her is that she is so easily recognizable. She runs away to Cocoa Beach. She stays in the motel run by Jack’s parents. Can anyone see what is coming here? That is OK, the lack of surprise in this subplot does not interfere with the much larger issues going on.

The Snakecharmer is busy. He is on a mission to deliver a final solution to a certain type of woman. The entire police force relies on Jack’s imported experience as a detective to find out what motives are in play. Jack can find no connections. As a reader, I couldn’t find any credible motives. The Snakecharmer does reveal his loathing for a certain type of woman but I could not figure out what event had precipitated the hatred.

This is a fun read for fans of crime fiction. Willow Rose has delivered some interesting twists. I gave this a four-star Amazon rating. It is a Kindle Unlimited (KU) book so I could have read it for free. Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans But I purchased the novel for USD 0.99. It stays in my library that way and I show it to students as an example of the type of writing I like.


Reuniting the Pandas

One of the attractions of The Chief’s Runaway Bride by Bijou Li is the insights it gives to daily living in a country as vast and underdeveloped as China. China is a rapidly developing country but this story takes place in 1942 at a time when there was a war in progress with the Japanese and a revolution in progress led by Mao Tse Tung. Marriage was the best time-tested and true way to stabilize shifting loyalties between factions and tribes. That is the situation Magnolia found herself in when she learned that Zhaxi, chief of the Mosuo tribe, had selected her to be his wife. Her father surprised her by saying that he could do nothing. If she did not marry the chief, the entire family fortune and social standing would suffer.

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Don’t Try This (Lifestyle) At Home

Weird Trips by Mike B. Good is all about “Travel Adventures Gone Wrong” which also happens to be the subtitle. As a self-proclaimed professional expat (and no, I do not know what that means) I found the stories appealing. I don’t consider traveling to Hawaii a foreign adventure but other than that I think the stories will appeal to those of us who travel and have extended stays abroad. I got this book from Instafreebies. A day or so later I got an email in which the author explained some of his thoughts on how this book was received by many reviewers. The email is interesting. You can get one also if you follow the Instfreebie download path.

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Grief and Guilt

Cod Beck by Glenn McGoldrick is a collection of three short stories that McGoldrick labeled “dark.” Readers should watch out for time shifts in each of these stories. Perhaps due to Kindle formatting, I got confused in the first story when the time would jump forward by a few days or weeks. As I continued to read, I knew what to look for but sometimes the paragraph breaks were almost hidden.

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Twittering Tale #72 – 20 February 2018 – “Hopewell”

Following is something I wrote in response to a prompt from Kat Myrman. Just to note, there are places in the US that do not use house numbers and addresses in formats with which we are more familiar. Carmel, California, which describes itself as a village, is one. Friends have assured me that there are many similar “villages” in the Northeastern US.


Photo prompt by Leigh Heasley at

The Hoffnungslos sisters had remained in my home village. I called the younger sister, one who promised to wait so we could make a future together. Breathlessly, she gave me directions to her home. “As before, we don’t use house numbers, just look for my name on the gate.”

(274 characters)


Cold Cases

The Cryo Killer is a short story by Jason Werbeloff. Only 20 pages, it was for sale on Amazon for USD 0.00, my absolute favorite price. For this unbelievable price, you get an almost unbelievable story. Those with failing health will be able to contract for their own early death to come back to life one day when a cure for their diseases will be available. Their age at moment of temporary, early death will be the age at which subscribers awake thanks to cryogenics.

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Burning Everything At Both Ends

Watched Too Long by co-authors Ann Voss Peterson and J. A. Konrath is a fourth book in the Val Ryker series. Ann Voss Peterson is the sole author of the Val Ryker trilogy. In this cooperative writing effort, J. A. Konrath brings in situations and characters from his novels Webcam and Rum Runner but assures us that all novels are standalone stories.

This novel is too funny and humorous to review. Many times, a reviewer will mention that a novel is a laugh-out-loud experience. While I may chuckle occasionally, I usually do not laugh out loud. But I did so with this novel. The humor starts on page one with the introduction of the absurd name of Jet Row. I laughed out loud through pages one and two. Although Jet is not the main protagonist, he will burn himself into your memory.

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