Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, December 2003
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The Orion Protocol by Gary Tigerman

William Morrow, December, 2003
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN: 0380976706
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The Orion Protocol
 by Gary Tigerman Ambitious science journalist Angela Browning receives a mysterious package which contains photographs of archeological ruins on Mars. Angela researches the photos and finds that they came from the Mars Observer probe, which NASA said was lost over ten years ago. The photographs turn out to contain incontrovertible proof of ancient life on Mars and a concerted conspiracy by the U.S. government to keep the fact of alien life concealed from the public. After verifying the source of the photos, Angela sets out to find one of the men who last walked on the Moon: astronaut Jake Deaver. Together, Jake and Angela begin to explore the puzzle of the photographs and what they could mean for humanity. But by now, certain elements have become aware of Angela's discovery and are determined to discredit both Angela and Jake. The governmental cover-up machinery necessary to suppress the information from the Mars Observer probe is vast in scope, and Jake and Angela quickly find both their professional reputations and their lives are in grave danger.

Gary Tigerman delivers the goods in his first novel, a tightly plotted, exciting work of speculative fiction. Tigerman deftly weaves in true facts with the fictional to create a gripping, believable narrative. Included at the back of the book is a fascinating list of true facts which support the book's premise: such as the fact that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter repeatedly requested certain documents from the Vatican on the subject of UFOs, but was denied access to the documents. Fast paced, with plenty of action, an intriguing puzzle and appealing characters, The Orion Protocol is a compelling novel which will appeal to fans of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. Gary Tigerman is definitely an author to watch.

--Claire E. White

Mean Woman Blues by Julie Smith

Forge, August, 2003
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 0765305526
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Mean Woman Blues
 by Julie Smith New Orleans police detective Skip Langdon has been hoping that she's seen the last of psychotic killer and megalomaniac Errol Jacomine, but that hope is about to be dashed. Errol has gone for an extreme makeover in order to start his life over again. With a little help from his ex-wife and a lot of plastic surgery, Errol has now emerged as a charismatic talk show host whose show is quickly becoming a national hit. But Errol hasn't forgotten his old enemy, Skip Langdon and has some nasty plans for his old nemesis.

A former reporter, author Julie Smith once actually met the notorious Jim Jones, whose followers killed themselves by drinking the infamous "Guyana punch". Inspired by that magnetic personality -- who could induce followers to lay down their lives for him -- Errol Jacomine embodies the worst of Jones' characteristics plus some others, solely dreamed up by this imaginative and skilled author. Julie Smith uses the backdrop of a steamy, sexy and moody New Orleans to great effect here, as the characters confront Formosan termites and muggy heat while battling both their inner and outer demons. With a raw energy and smooth writing, this series is as vibrant as the Big Easy itself.

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