Book Review: Hour Game, by David Baldacci

Hour Game (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, #2)Hour Game by David Baldacci

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars

Once again, David Baldacci has hit the nail pretty much on the head with a tale of mystery, murder, action, and intrigue. As an avid reader of this genre, I found the book to be well written but straying from the original thesis of our murderer who sets a clock to a specific hour of the day in a copycat murder mystery. Sean King and his sidekick, Michelle Maxwell are the center of attention throughout this book as they charge from one murder to the next in hopes of finding a clue that will bring to light a maniac who is terrorizing a small town in the backwoods of Virginia. As a reader, I am generally inspired by author Baldacci’s tightly woven plots that lead us through a sequence of events that eventually lead to a blow-out ending. In this particular novel, I felt that the author got us built up to that point of beginning to lay out the clues leading to the denouement and final climax, and then got sidetracked. It’s almost as if two separate shorter novels have been cobbled together to make the six hundred page tome that was published. A pity as the murder mystery disappeared into a series of random killings that when finally explained at the end was not an overall well thought-out plot. I enjoyed the read, but there was too much mental downtime and fluff without enough thinking meat to really keep me coming back. Better luck on the next Baldacci book I pick. You will still enjoy the overall story.

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Book Review: Leopard at the Door, by Jennifer McVeigh

Leopard at the DoorLeopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is probably the best I have read for elucidating the role and experiences of women at the end of the colonial period in Kenya. It shows the independent spirit of the women who ‘went out’ to Africa and how that independence could run contrary to the colonial views of how women should behave and act, not just Kenya, but in all the colonies when it came to mixing with the ‘natives’. I understand her passion for the African continent, having lived and worked there myself in my own contrarian roles. McVeigh has taken the role of telling the life of Rachael who returns to Kenya to live with her father and stepmother ion their bush farm. The book is sensitive to Rachael’s having grown up with Kikuyu friends as a child and having run and played with them for years while growing up on the farm. Now, seeing them in a different light through the eyes of a grown woman, she is drawn to them due to her childhood memories, while being chastised for doing so by her stepmother and the other women who are set in their colonial mannerisms of keeping black Africans in their place. Racheal’s life of colonial tranquility and clandestine love affair with former servant, Michael, reveals within her a mixture of contrasting emotions that cannot be resolved without tragic consequences. The aura of fear, abject terror and horror at the atrocities to which Rachael is exposed, both through rumors and actual experience begin to tear her apart in her effort to continue her love affair with Michael. The reality of her being sent to an insane asylum for living out a pathway in life that contradicts a tightly normed colonial mentality is something that our twenty-first century brains have a hard time grasping. At the same time, thoughtful readers will understand that this rigid adherence to and backlash to protect a dying lifestyle is something we are experiencing in our own country even today. Absolutely top notch writing and a book I would certainly pick as one of my very best reads of the year!

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Reminder! Free Kindle Giveaway Dec. 7 – 11, 2018, for Civil War History – “Rough Enough.”


That’s Richard Headley Clow in the header picture. At 17 years of age he enlisted in the Union Army to fight at Petersburg and the final battles of the Civil War.  Stationed at Fort Hayes outside of Petersburg,  Richard Clow was in the first troops to enter Petersburg when it finally fell.  The fortitself is long gone, but a few ramparts remain under the blackberries.


Named After General Alexander Hays, nicknamed “Fighting Ellick” was killed on May 5, 1864 in the Wilderness  so the fort was named after his demise.


Built with a central pit and sites for 2 cannon, the fort was a part of the long North-South line that kept the Confederate troops from receiving any support by sea. Thus when the railway was finally cut, they were doomed and had to retreat from Petersburg towards Appomattox.


At the front of the fort would have been a pit to prevent troops from crossing without being exposed to cannon and musket fire.


If you were a Confederate approaching Fort Hays it would have looked much like this! Note that cannon muzzle between the sandbags.


If you were with the Union Troops, your view would have been much like this. With a clear swath of killing ground in front of the fort. Remeber that most of the trees were long gone al around Petersburg by the beginning of 1865 due to cutting for firewood, blasting to clear ground and constant cannonades.


“Rough Enough” traces Richard Clow’s life journey to the battlefield, letters to his sisters from Petersburg and then following the war traces his journey west to Montana in 1867 to build forts and fight in the Indian War against the Sioux and Cheyenne at Fort Shaw, Camp Cook, and Fort Buford.  His emplyment by the frontier sutler, Charles Larpenter, and life with that family are covered in some aspects of his diary which continues onto Deadwood, South Dakota and the gold rush in 1876-77 where he struck it rich.

Rough Enough - Front Cover
A uniques personal history of the last months of the Civil War and the life of a young man as he then continues his military career and then moves on to the Deadwood Gold Rush.

Hope you enjoy the book!  Happy Holidays!

Read about a Black African Hero! – Ghosts of Ukuthula – Last Day of 2018 giveaway

My 2018 holiday giveaway period for my historical fiction novel, The Ghosts of Uhuthula, is almost over. At 12 midnight tonight, November 27, 2018, the coach will turn back into the pumpkin!  Get it here – Free!

If you are into:

  • Recent History of Southern Africa.
  • The Black African Liberation Movement that brought down Apartheid. 
  • Historical Fiction that brings to life a period most people are ignorant of.
  • An African Hero for African Peoples.
  • The life of Nelson Mandela and Liberation Theology.
  • The manipulation of African Politics by outside governments.

Then this is the book you will want to read.  You can also get it here!

Happy Holidays!


Rick’s Happy Holiday Free Book Give-Away Time!

2018 Holiday Giving Time!
It’s that time of the year! Rick’s Kindle Giveaway Time!! Keep these dates when you and your friends will be able to receive free books of your choice. Forward this to as many of your followers as possible so they can share in the Holiday Joy!

What am I doing? I’m doing a worldwide giveaway!>))

    1. The day when most books sell is Saturday! Check it all out! Sooooooo……
    2. I decided to rotate my Kindle Kindle Direct Publishing books through the offers they allow authors to give during a 90 day period. This means I will give enjoyment to others by offering my books FREE! For a limited period.
    3. With only a few weekends between now and when holiday celebrations begin: Christmas Eve Christmas Customs, Hanukkah Hanukkah Customs, and Kwanzaa Kwanzaa Customs , to name only a few of the celebrations this time of year. It’s a great time for people everywhere to relax and celebrate with a good book.
  • I will be giving away my South African Liberation Novel: The Ghosts of Ukuthula for 5 days: November 23, 2018 through November 27, 2018 between the hours of 12AM PST and 12PM PST (that’s GMT minus 8 hours for those of you on the other side of the planet. Check it out!


Best Front Cover without border





B. For all of you true to life history buffs, I will be giving away my Civil War History Book: Rough Enough, for 5 days: December 7, 2018 through December 11, 2018, again between 12AM and 12PM on each date (GMT minus 8 hours) Check it out!

Rough Enough Cover jpg 185

C. And Last but by no means least! For all of you traveling to Florida or the Caribbean I will be giving away my Seashells of the Caribbean book for 5 days: December 14, 2018 through December 18, 2018, also between 12AM and 12PM on each of those dates (GMT minus 8 hours) Check it out! 

Book Cover Front 22Feb14-1

Enjoy all your reading this year. And Guess What? After a two year haitus, I finally found that I still have words coming out the tips of my fingers! So there WILL be a new book out in 2019. Hip – Hip Hurray!

Enjoy Thanksgiving and have some very Merry Holidays! All the best for 2019!

My books are also available in Paperback on Amazon at reduced Prices -Not free!



“Fear” by Bob Woodward a Book Review

Fear: Trump in the White HouseFear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bob Woodward has done an amazing job of filling in the blanks of the news stories we have all heard in the past 18 months. As a book of new revelations, it falls short of its hype and all the reactions that have come out regarding it being a pack of revealing truths or just a bunch of lies. Well researched, the book is a monument to further understanding the characteristics of a President who apparently bathes himself in the aura of yes-men and stomps on those who dare to cross him or seem to want to control his erratic impulses with concrete researched arguments for numerous causes. The characteristics of President Trump that stand out and seem to govern both what he can accomplish and why his major accomplishment list is so low, despite having complete political party control of Congress. These traits include hyper-attention to worthless minutia, high distractibility, a flash-point temper when confronted with opposition, and a penchant for micromanagement, all of which contribute to his inability to focus and make major grand scale decisions that can then be worked on by his more specialized and experienced cadre of secretaries and generals. Time and again as the books cycles through the topics of nuclear disarmament of Korea and Iran, our troop involvement in Afganistan, solving key points on immigration, building a sustainable economy, or dealing with international diplomacy through current treaties and accords, the reader will see how the discussions go off topic, spark Presidential outbursts of anger and acrimony against experts in military, economic, legal and diplomatic fields, leading to humiliation and the resignations of key persons dedicated to “making it work” for America. Any reader who has raised teenagers will empathize with the men and women who stick it out and try to bring order out of the constant chaos created by a President who would rather shout diatribes against the latest commentator blips coming out of FOX or CNN News. Those readers who are upholders of ‘Due Process’ will be aghast at the trivial manner in which our President tweets messages to cast off and take on high level appointed employees of our government. Here is the profile a man who will use his kowtowing aides for his own purposes until he deems them worthless and then capriciously cast them off with no more than a shrug of his shoulders, the way a snake slides out of an old skin and slithers on its one-track mind way. Does the book engender its title, “FEAR”? Yes. If you are a loyal American citizen you will wonder at the men and women in high places, including the hundreds of Congressional leaders who make up a third of our governmental process, who have smiled and kowtowed while viewing the Presidency’s new clothes, but remain sitting on their thumbs for eighteen months while nothing gets done and our country lives in an era of trying to erase the past and never focusing on a clear mission for our future. I didn’t enjoy the book, but I am extremely glad I read it.

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Voices from Vietnam by Barry Denenberg: Book review

Voices from VietnamVoices from Vietnam by Barry Denenberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book for the post-Vietnam conflict era reader to gain insight into a very complex 30-year war that dragged the French and then the Americans into a conflict that underscores how colonial and neo-colonial efforts to maintain the status quo in the face of a grassroots independence movements failed miserably.

The synopsis of the war is punctuated by sections of letters written at each period during the conflict by our nation’s leaders as they attempted to persuade the American people that things were going our way, that we needed more troops, that if we only pushed a bit here or there, we would force the indigenous peoples to bend to our will. In the process, the reader gains an understanding of how self-delusion on the part of national leaders leads them to twist and falsify claims of victory, when then privately are haunted by a deeper knowledge that a quagmire has been entered, from which there can only be a retreat. The strategies enlisted by our government of initially supporting what appeared to be local elements in a civil war, descend over time into limited warfare, fortified enclaves, carpet bombing, mass defoliation, and the indiscriminate use of shelling, bombs and troops to take and retake the same territory time and again, while never setting a firm final objective cry of “Take Hanoi!” the way previous wars had centered on concrete goals such as “On to Paris!” or “Take Berlin!”

Most interesting are the letters from the soldiers, news personnel, nurses, doctors, and embassy personnel on the ground in Vietnam who lived with the day to day uncertainties and consequences of the war. The hopes of the short-timer are contrasted with the fatigue, depression, and disillusionment of the personnel on the ground. The letters home are never able to communicate the full depth of the feelings being shared by the nurses, the wounded, the new recruits and the observers on the ground, all of whom interpret their sections of the conflict in different ways.

Additionally, the book underscores how Americans misunderstood the goals, and desires of both the leaders and the peasants of Vietnam. On one hand the desire of an elite to maintain control of a country in which they were a minority, by military means, in contrast with the hand to mouth agricultural lives of the peasants who needed to switch loyalties, on pain of death, almost on a daily basis, depending on which military group was occupying their village.

Read the book with the knowledge that this is not the only interpretation of the Vietnam conflict and is certainly only a primer on the politics of the time. The author puts in snippets of the protests within the U.S. as well as comments on the effects of the draft and our concurrent civil rights movement within America as a backdrop to this war. It should be taken in as an eye opener for young readers about the terrible aftermath of any war which goes on to affect a nation for multiple generations after the papers are signed ending what might have been a situation better left alone.

Suitable for readers from 8th grade up through adult for discussions and meditation on wars, their purposes, and the baggage leaders take to the table when they become involved in any war.

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Thomas Ingoldsby and Thomas Jefferson Signatures?

Here’s your’s truly doing a bit of a mystery search today.

It starts when I pick up on old book formerly owned by Thomas Littlehales, lately of Forest Grove Oregon (passed away circa 1945) my great grandfather on my mother’s side.  He owned two copies of Thomas Ingoldsby’s “The Ingoldsby Legends” or “Mirth and Marvels.” See Modern Copy

Mine is a bit older – 1869! And a bit more used: Note The signature of Thomas Ingoldsby on the right hand side of the page about halfway down. See enlargement

T. Ingoldsby signat on pg  T. Ingoldsby signat magnified

Wow! Oops! Ingoldsby was really Richard Harris Barnham a parish priest in England in the 1800’s who firtpublished these tales in 1840 undeer his pen name.  See more on the book!

But it was what was inserted in the middle of  the book on two brown, tattered and torn pieces of paper wrapped in plastic cling film that really threw me! What appeared to be the signature of another Thomas, Thomas Jefferson.

Was it true? This is a blown up scan of some of the flowery writing off the pages!

“Tom Jefferson with Aunty Howard’s best wishes.”

001 (2)

Ok, so what to do? First I go on the internet to see if there is a copy of 3rd President of the USA and an author of the Declaration of Independence. What does his signature look like? Here’s What Google Comes up with – Check it out. I go to The RAAB collection of Thomas Jefferson’s signatures in case the one on the Declation of Independence is just a fluke or a scribble after  long day at the office.  RAAB signature collection

Looks like this probably isn’t one of his signatures, but could it be from a relative?  So I go back and scan and blow up some more writing on the other side of one of the pages where it looks like an address?  Ahah! Will it be Jefferson’s home and someone is writing to him? Another example:

001 (6)

Hmm! Not our Guy – South Hackney is in England. And here’s another signature to confirm.  And it has grafitti on it.  001 (7)

Whoever “My Dearest gal, Aunt Dolly,” is, we’ll probably never know, nor the artist. Finally I come up with the whole name of our unknown Thomas with this last clip:

001 (8)

Apparently a present given on New Year’s day (what year we can only surmise being somewhere around 1869-70. And the full name is Apparently:  Thomas Howard Jefferson of Charles Terrace, Cassland Road, South Hackney, probably in England.

So much for my hoping I had a $10,000.00 signature of Thomas Jefferson, the president. Also unfortunately this copy of the 2nd Edition is in poor shape so not worth the $12,000.00 seen on the internet for sale: Buy a first and second edition What amazing penmanship people had in those days! Better Luck next time.

Enjoy! Rick


Into the Inferno – a novel by Earl Emerson

Into the InfernoInto the Inferno by Earl Emerson

This is a fast-moving firefighter book with a twist that may not be as rare as we would like to think. When a firefighter pulls open the door to a burning house, car or barn they have no way of knowing they aren’t walking into a hell-hole of a some psycho’s chemistry lab gone awry. What happens when this is a chemical so deadly and secret that it gets you killed to even know about it or try to investigate the deaths it causes? An ordinary winter pileup in the Pacific Northwest is sorted out by responding firefighters. It’s only in the ensuing weeks and months that these same firefighters begin succumbing to a ten-day illness. Invariably, they descend into a vegetative state. Jim Swope picks up on the symptoms of his fellow firefighters as they either die by suicide or are interned into institutions. When Swope comes down with symptoms, he doesn’t go down easily. As the symptoms creep through his body, time is running short. With Doctor Stepanie Riggs, he finds a lead in the case sending him on a race for life, knowing that in ten days he will be just one more mental case, or dead. As he closes in, the holders of the secret attempt to frame and then eliminate him and his family in accidents which will be ascribed to his mental incompetence. Author Earl Emerson has done a superb job of showing us the hazards of the firefighter’s job. He has a great scenario for a story which is not far from reality. His descriptions of how easy it is for us to gloss over symptoms, or ascribe deaths to normal causes or suicide when no discernable symptoms of illness exist is scary! How easy it is for the big money, the big corporation, the big government, to cover up the big secret is also an eye-opener. Enjoy reading this. It’s a quickie, but very thoughtful and worth-while.

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Book Review: Fatal by Michael Palmer

FatalFatal by Michael Palmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I think of chemicals and waste products that cause human cancers, deformities, life-threatening illnesses and such, I think of Erin Brockovich and her quest to stop the release of hexavalent chromium into the environment. Author Michael Palmer is right up that same alley with his work of fictionalized characters in an all too real world of West Virginia mining and the release of all sorts of really noxious waste into the streams, valleys, and atmosphere of what could be a really beautiful section of our country. Matt Rutledge is the doctor who gets thrown into the puzzle by accident when he goes back to his beloved hill country following the death of his wife, Ginny. There, in the county hospital, he encounters for the second time a set of strange symptoms which lead up to the development of fleshy lumps on the skin called neurofibromas followed by psychotic behavior leading to the ultimate death of the patient. In the ensuing weeks, as one thing leads to another, our doctor deduces that the Belinda Coal and Coke Company which controls all the mines in the area doesn’t seem to want any publicity of the strange deaths. The company is also hiding deadly waste in old mines and has covert links to a vaccine manufacturer named Omnivax which is coming under congressional scrutiny for deaths attributed to their vaccine for hemorrhagic Lassa fever. When Matt’s girlfriend Nikki stumbles onto further connections between the strange neurofibroma deaths, immunization sera and leached mountain chemicals in the area of Montgomery County, the two of them are targeted for elimination by the corporate schemers. They go on the run with Nikki barely escaping death after an accident and being treated by a doctor in the pockets of the coal company. They have to find the final link and the proof to stop what may become an epidemic of spongiform encephalopathy caused by the synergistic reactions of persons to the contaminated water and the vaccinations they need against diseases. It’s a well-woven tale, with very plausible characters, descriptions of rural West Virginian living conditions and misguided rugged individualism which allows them to be exploited by the corporations that dominate and control their lives. Read the book and apply the lessons to your own hometown. We are all being affected by the dumping of wastes into our streams and atmosphere as well as the chemicals we use to treat our fruits, vegetables and kill our weeds. Something scary could come with the next bite of the apple.

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