Book Review: ‘The Man in the Black Fedora,’ by Tom Johnson

4.5 Stars for ‘The Man in the Black Fedora,’ by Tom Johnson


Wrap a mysterious vigilante with a unique gift in an intriguing crime story with plenty of underworld hoodlums terrorising innocent people and you have a winning plot.

Add to that mix, a cast of believable, likeable characters, a swift and steady pace [this story never drags] and the result is not only a compelling story, but a fun one.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead]

The Man in the Black Fedora opens like a Hollywood screenplay with the authorThe Man in the Black Fedora dropping you right in the middle of the action. ‘You have to love books that grab you from the opening page. This one does!’

Kay Shannon, a 22-year-old nightclub entertainer, witnesses her boss dealing drugs with gangsters and is suddenly on the run.

Cornered, and moments from losing her life on a bridge, her White Knight saviour arrives in the form of a man in a black Fedora with his vigilante squad. The rescue is swift, and Kay is recruited.

From there, the story winds through a series of events including a rare and invaluable art heist, the murder of a pair of innocent shopkeepers, and a neighbourhood falling under the intimidation of a diabolical gang of ruthless hoodlums.

The author also, cleverly, employs some praiseworthy character development, and further elaborates on several mysteries, including the identity of the main vigilante, The Man in The Black Fedora.

The mysteries, there are several, build throughout, giving this story a nice appeal. When one is solved, the author quickly shifts to another never allowing the pace to falter.

The mobsters are vile, corrupt and murderous and well-deserving of the justice ahead. The vigilantes are good, decent and driven by a lust to see the streets safe and the good people protected beyond what the police can facilitate.

In writing the above, and while reading, I continually had the feeling I was in the midst of a script of a Batman film. And there are elements of that in the story. For someone who thoroughly enjoyed the recent Batman films, this made The Man in The Black Fedora even more gratifying.

[What I liked most]

Character development: The author was thorough with his descriptions, both of their physical appearance and of their motivations. I was able to visualise them. This is an intrinsic element in good story telling and Mr Johnson did a fine job.

Mysteries: For someone who has read every story Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote, more than a few times, this is a formula guaranteed to satisfy my literary desires.


One: I felt the author released the identity of the Man in the Black Fedora a bit early thus losing the opportunity for that final twist. It would have been nice, in my opinion, if it was left until the very end, or not released at all. This would have left the reader guessing and possibly set the stage for a sequel.


I give this a Very High recommendation. Though missing any great profundity, it’s good vs evil – light vs dark, the imagination is laudable, and I so liked the author’s creativity when depicting the rare gift the vigilante boss employed and how he used it against the underworld villains. The Man in the Black Fedora makes no claim that it is more than a fun mystery / adventure. And it satisfies all the requirements of that genre.

I enjoyed it to the very last page.

Review by T. E. Mark – Author



Book Review: ‘Twiggles Bound’ by Louise Pohl

41/2 Stars for ‘Twiggles Bound,’ by Louise Pohl


Suspend, in fact, expel your imagination for this creative Fantasy / Adventure with a nice side of Science Fiction.

Sci-Fi, in lit or film, typically reaches a point where it crosses that fine line and ventures into the realm of fantasy. Time Travel – Advanced alien civilisations – Traversing interstellar space and time via wormholes, etc.

Twiggles Bound, by Louise Pohl, interestingly does the opposite.

Here is a pure fantasy tale, replete with a witch in the form of a sweet, sensitive girl, a Twiglers Boundtelepathic dog who is actually an alien from a distant galaxy, Trolls, and an incredibly powerful magic wand, to name a few incidentals, that just happens to cross that line into the world of Science Fiction. [Genetic mutation, radioactive fallout and a robot army are a mere smattering of the Science Fiction devices found in Twiggles Bound.]

And to top things off, Ms Pohl’s effort was distinctly meritorious.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead]

The world has been ‘mostly’ destroyed following a meteorite strike at a nuclear power plant, ‘remote probability, but feasible, right?’ and Earth’s remaining population is now divided between zombies and rapidly mutating Halflings. [Humans that are typically good natured and seldom, if ever, have a taste for human flesh,]

So far so good, as they say, and a fine setting for a good Sci-Fi yarn.

Enter Mike, a young, resourceful and richly idealistic Halfling who could very probably find brightness in the deepest darkest tunnel or mineshaft, and his devoted dog Twiggles. And Cherry, a young and deeply sensitive Gypsy, her preferred title over Witch, and her equally devoted cat Gompie.

Following their accidental discovery of a baby in a gutted bunker, and Twiggles’ ill-advised, albeit fortunate, feeding on Zombie flesh, the story makes a rapid departure from Sci-Fi into the realm of Fantasy / Adventure

As the delightful couple, and their pets, set out for safety, they will encounter the story’s excessively wicked, delightfully vile antagonist, the evil Dr Knarf, who, with his army of genetically mutated dogs, and determined plan to take over the world, as is in this case, is the embodiment of all evils.

Twiggles Bound, is bounding with energy, imagination, charm, likeable characters and wit.

From Twiggles repeatedly scolding Mike for his wandering thoughts about how beautiful Cherry is, [No jealousy here, there’s just a bit too much going on right now for romance pal] to Dr Karf’s vociferous outbursts, such as:

“Gibbles, with my evil Goo Gum army, and the vicious dogs, nobody will be able to defeat me. I’m going to rule this world, while making it miserable and evil.”


“Who is down here, and who dares disturb my evil sleep? When I find you, I’m going to use you for my warped experiments. I also intend to do nasty things to you, so come out and make my day.”

 And so on. [Okay, I admit freely that Dr Knarf was my favourite character in the story.]


This is a warm, entertaining, fanciful and heartening tale which delineates and elaborates on the brightness and darkness within people. It also touches, delicately, on the issue of the fragility of our planet from advancing technology.

With all the author put into this story, I could go on and on describing the intergalactic space travel, the collection of an infinitely powerful wand from a distant planet, the radiation eating Goo Gums, a robot army, an underground palace, and the final battle. But, I do believe I’ve reached my spoiler limit for this review.


Minor, and purely technical which made this a 41/2 rather than a 5-star review.

Chapter Length: Twiggles Bound, I believe, is mainly intended for young readers for whom shorter chapters are more appropriate.

Explanations: Again, for the younger readers, I believe better explaining Genetic Mutation, Radiation, and Accelerated Evolution due to radioactive fallout would have been prudent.


Did I like this book and would I recommend it?

The answer to both questions is a big, resounding yes.

Twiggles Bound was craftily written for young and mature readers. It makes a profound moral statement which neither dominates nor detracts from the story. It’s both simple and complex, credit the author for the neat balancing act, making it an ideal read for the entire family.

And if you’re an animal lover, which this author so undoubtedly is, you will love Twiggles Bound.

Review by T.E. Mark – Author


Book Review: ‘Stories of an Awkward Size’

Five Stars for ‘Stories of an Awkward Size,’ by Jonathon Swords-Holdsworth


So, how does one approach reviewing a book of five imaginative, unique, intrinsically different and exceptionally well-written short stories?

This question germinated when I finished the second story and was in full bloom Stories of an Awkward Sizemidway through the fourth.

Chucking my typical format, I believe I will, relying on my own instincts and imagination, just have to ‘Wing it!’

‘Stories of an Awkward Size,’ by Mr Swords-Holdsworth, may not only be the best book I’ve read by a contemporary fiction writer, it may also be the best compilation of shorts I’ve read to date.

The author blends his superb writing style with his equally vivid imagination and tosses in the perfect serving of credible science and technology [The writer obviously has a background in a tech field] that makes each story resound with a thumping bass line of plausibility.


[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]

‘The Black Prince.’ Story one.

Henri Roseboro’s marriage ended three months earlier. He ruminates on the sour feeling he now has for his house. Directionless, and disconsolate, he ventures into his alley where he encounters the shadow apparition of Rufus, a long deceased cat, on a Graf Wall, a white anti-graffiti stretch of masonry, in his alley.

The apparition of the cat consumes Henri as it responds to him as he passes – as he approaches – as he attempts to communicate with it, first with visual gestures, and later with direct Wi-Fi communication via a tablet computer and an obscure terminal buried within the wall.

His research will bring him to Viktor, a neighbour, his son Erik, and an elegant story of the wall’s designer, Alley Ellie, who, he concludes, may have designed Rufus.

There is also a tale of an unsolved crime which Rufus may have observed, adding to the mystery and allure, but, as this part is integral to the story, I’ve chosen to omit it from my review.

‘The Black Prince’ is nearly flawless. The detail is laudable, and the author’s stylistic writing is inspiring.

‘Mr Devries’ Red Bowler Hat.’ Story two.

It’s difficult, in my mind, to assert an argument with an imaginative story that opens with, ‘I died.’

This, in my opinion, was the author’s attempt at writing a story guaranteed to bend the minds of even the well-seasoned hard Science Fiction readers.

Jon dies in an automobile accident, then wakes and meets Gwenn who died falling from a balcony. Together they meet Tom who has also recently perished. Then, of course, they meet a road which takes them to, where else, ‘The Conference Centre.’

[I mean, where were you thinking you’d end up after this life-on-Earth thing wound down?]

From there, the author delivers up a brilliant and creative smorgasbord of mind-rattling fantasy, surreal imagery, and afterlife hypotheticals.

From ‘The Numbers,’ who endlessly walk the Conference Centre’s grounds, to ‘The Quiet,’ the purported afterlife’s boundaries, to Mr Devries himself who, as it will turn out, may have this entire afterlife ‘Realm’ manifesting in his mind.

And there’s oh so much more. Including some of the cleverest, albeit modestly abstruse, dialogue I’ve yet found in a fiction work.

Here is one example [I highlighted 20 passages as I read] of the author’s writing prowess.

“Four-hundred years passed. Yes, I know that sounds flippant, but there really isn’t much about that era to report.”

“Well…. Ok. Maybe a few things.”


This one story would make the book a worthy purchase if the others were complete rubbish. They aren’t!

‘Come Silent Winged Sleep.’ Story three.

In story three, the author shifts gears and takes us into a crime investigation with elements of an Arthur Conan Doyle mystery.

Detective Andrew Mahoney witnesses a military grade drone missile strike that takes down a hotel casino. Was it terrorism? If so, why that hotel and why was the determined target the 31st floor?

And, as they will later discover, why were two city councillors and a local media tycoon meeting with the minister for air safety? On the 31st floor?

This story goes deep into drone technology, special interest groups, and an undisclosed entity, or organisation, [This part is left unclear – intentionally] with unthinkable power wielding it for some assumed greater good.

Spectacular writing –superb pace – plausible plot, and, again, just enough science and technology to make the story real and compelling.

‘The Ghost of Magritte.’ Story four.

As this was my favourite story of the book, and one I would label a ‘Must Read’ to anyone, I will trim my review as to avoid spoilers.

Fiction writing, in my opinion, doesn’t get much better than this.

The theme is enhanced VR (Virtual Reality) experimentation, and the company is called Pacific Dwarf, and some test subjects are having disastrous residual effects causing them to blur the line between actual and artificial reality.

The author, in story four, ‘The Ghost of Magritte,’ reaches into the world of mind science and something AI designers have termed Phenomenal Consciousness, and pulled out a thought provoking winner.

‘Elsewhere,’ the VR world, essentially a construct, is un-real, but, at which point does the mind decide what is real? And, if our minds have the ability to create reality out of the un-real, will we one day see reality as something producible, or in this case, programmable?

Will reality one day evolve into something flexible? Less defined? Less definite?

Great, great story.

This one scores slightly above my highest recommendation. Read it!

 ‘The Thousand Yard Stare.’ Story five.

The subject, in story five, is the quest for longevity, and, in a sense, immortality.

Though my least favourite of the five, this story, with admirable depth, touches on the questions that have plagued mankind from the Sumerians and Egyptians to the 17th century European alchemists who searched, inexorably, for the elusive ‘Elixir of life.’ Why do we age? And, is there a way to reverse the process thus making us essentially immortal beings?

Here, in ‘The Thousand Yard Stare,’ we have technology replacing Egyptian mummification and misguided 17th century Alchemy in the form of manually imprinting cellular technology and 3d cellular printing.

People are having tissue, skin, organs and their skeletal structures re-layered. And, as a result, reversing the aging process.

The author also does something rather crafty, and decidedly clever. He touches on the potential societal and political consequences. People are living longer. How many people can the Earth support? Tolerate?

With so many elderly people (Voters) hanging around, how will this affect the political climate?

And what about the young? What will their response to this development be as they see themselves at a potential disadvantage?

As I stated in my preface, this story may have the most depth and relevance to our present world environment. There are also some rather clever twists near the end with one that put an almost painful grin on my face.


Brilliant selection of stories. Almost phenomenally imaginative and the author’s style is, as I stated earlier, unrivalled by the current authors I’ve read.


Remarkably, I have not a single one.


Buy the hard copy. This is a book you’ll want in your library as you WILL be reading it multiple times. I’m currently rereading it myself. This time just for fun!

Review by T.E. Mark – Author


Book Review: ‘Wham’ (Timewalker) Vol 1

41/2 -Stars for ‘Wham (Timewalker) Vol 1,’ by Carol-Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps


Unique, Ingenious and Precarious were the three words resounding in my mind while reading this book written by two skilled and extremely imaginative writers.

Unique, because the authors attempted something few others would – fusing Whamdystopian Science Fiction, a la G Orwell, HG Wells, and Aldous Huxley, with pure fantasy, a la Tolkien, CS Lewis and JK Rowling – complete with magic, Fairies and Trolls.

Ingenious, because they were able to weave the two making it a captivating, imaginative read without making the genre fusion seem peculiar.

And precarious, because the story, at times, skirted the line where the adult references may, by some, though carefully handled, be considered too adult for the younger fantasy readers.


Wham, in my opinion, tells three important stories.

The story of a civilisation that, not through war or plague or climatological catastrophe, but through some sort of societal decline, has fallen into an autocratic state of tyranny with constant state surveillance and control, and few, if any, human rights. The story of a driven young girl to win the freedom of her family, regardless of the obstacles, odds and obvious risks, and a story of the human spirit that drives people to adapt to even the harshest of conditions.

Parents are taken away during the night and their children are forced to accept it and move on with their lives.

Young girls who are ‘chosen’ are taken to the elusive and corrupt oligarchic capitol and forced into a degrading lifestyle as slaves to the aristocracy.

This is the part of the book that seemed intentionally dark and reeked of a statement or warning of a potential for our own world.  


When it happens to Tess, her family is abducted [relocated] in chapter one, the story’s main character, we have the brightness of that human spirit I spoke of.

Tess is driven, determined and committed to winning her family’s freedom and will learn something valuable about her father and herself as she seeks to find her family and the hidden capitol where her sister Nia is held captive.

I took four pages of notes while reading this book, but literally chucked them when crafting this review as there is plainly too much going on in this compelling tale to condense and summarise in a brief review.

I’ll simply say, that the imagination and research [Please DO read the appendix] that went into this book was astounding. The dystopian world is aptly described and the fantasy is rich, creative, much of it steeped in Gaelic folklore, and colourful.

I have but one criticism—a very slight one indeed, which kept me from giving this a 5-Star review. I love books that make statements and present warnings. Meaningful books which can be read on multiple levels. Wham, I believe, is that type of book. But, in this tale by Carol and Tom Phipps, I feel there may have been too many leaving little room to expound or extend upon the statements or warnings being made.

[Warning – Spoilers ahead]

The air is nearly unbreathable and everyone must use inhalers. But, why? How did this come about? Agricultural spraying is mentioned, but just briefly.

The Aristocracy, the oligarchic elite, along with the tyrannical ruler, have moved to a hidden Capitol. But when and how did this evolve? Did the people resist? Rebel?

It would have been nice to have a little background on these developments as well as the knowledge of how the world fell under the rule of this despotic supreme ruler buttressed by the world police force creatively labelled Children and Family Assistance.

[Final Thoughts]

Wham, by Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps, is a fine, absorbing read. The story is coherent, the pace is fast without being frenetic and the characters are well-developed making this a true page-turner.

I enjoyed this book tremendously, recommend it highly and am anxiously looking forward to the next book in this series.


Review by T, E. Mark – Author


Book Review: ‘The Country Girl Empress’

5-Stars for ‘The Country Girl Empress,’ by A. Piper Burgi


[Warning: Spoilers ahead]

Warm, endearing, turbulent, sensitive and captivating are a mere handful of adjectives I would use if I were to describe, briefly, A. Piper Burgi’s new novel: The Country Girl Empress. Add to those, genuine, exhaustively researched and historically accurate and you’d have my general assessment of this heartening tale that kept myCountry Girl Empress interest from the opening chapter to the final page.

The story, I admit, took me by surprise, as I ventured in expecting a romance loosely knitted around the accession to the Habsburg throne of Austria-Hungry by Franz Joseph and his eventual selection of a bride, the new Empress of Austria; Elisabeth Wittelsbach of Bavaria.

What I found, instead, was a neatly woven story of a simple girl from Bavaria who loved her eccentric father, riding horses, and just happened to be a princess during the time when the children of ruling families were useful for securing alliances and maintaining dynastic rule through planned marriages.

Elisabeth, Sisi, is a plain girl, a tomboy, with no regal aspirations. On the contrary, she, like her father, craves a simple, normal life of riding and travelling and enjoying the country and people.

The focus of the family is on Helene, her older sister, who is delicate and pretty and possesses the charm and grace demanded of the ruling aristocracy of mid-19th century Europe.

But, whether in fairy tales or real life, things seldom go according to plan, and Franz Joseph, the new Emperor, falls, not for the cultured Helene, but for her sister, the shy, suddenly vibrant young country girl princess.

A. Piper Burgi has done what all authors aspire to with this new book. She told a fine story and breathed life into her characters.

Duke Max, Sisi’s father, is real, pleasingly eccentric, a bit nutty, and someone you’d enjoy seeing at the pub or having over for pizza, beer and a ballgame. Ludovika, the young Princess’s mother, is loving, devoted, and, of course, clever and delightfully manipulative.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a story without a good antagonist. And the author gives us a good one in the Emperor’s mother, Archduchess Sophie. Elisabeth’s future mother-in-law.

But, enough spoilers.

This is a delightful book for anyone. Young or old, male or female, The Country Girl Empress is a satisfying read guaranteed to warm your heart while granting you a glimpse into the past and the aristocratic environment: Intrigue, wars, love and manipulation, of the royal European families of the 19th century.

 Review by T. E. Mark – Author


Book Review ‘Welcome to the Apocalypse: Book 2 – Cybernexis’



‘Is this still the game or is it real?’

This question arises again and again for the participants and the reader in this rivetingWelcome_To_The_Apocalypse_Cover_Bk2 sequel as Kelly Lawrence, Jack Minnow, Ash Brogen, Sasha Vaness, Reis Anderson and others are back, trying to stay alive while weaving their way through Pandora’s (The mainframe computer) many apocalyptic virtual reality games.

But, are they just games? And, can someone actually die in here?

The questions compound as the computer simulated worlds seem endless with each more fraught with danger than the last.

DL Richardson scores again with this fast-paced follow-up to her super first installment: ‘Welcome to the Apocalypse: Book 1—Pandora,’ serving up an imaginative, craftily organised story with 100 people participating in a full-immersion, VR computer game designed to grant the players an experience as close to real as the real thing. Or, is it real? And more importantly, if it is just a game, is there a way out?

Another thing worth mentioning. In book two, the author looks deeper into her characters and describes them and their motivations with much greater clarity making her second book not only exciting, but also awarding her readers a nice attachment to her main characters. In my view—the quality of a mature writer.

Ms Richardson also keeps you guessing and questioning your assumptions as you move along which makes this a fun read and a definite page-turner. (I literally stayed up two nights until dawn craving the finish line.)

I give this an easy 5-star review as it kept me guessing and questioning my conclusions throughout.

No spoilers in this review: Grab a copy! You will NOT be disappointed!

One final comment: As a writer, I am drawn to powerful writing. DL Richardson is a powerful writer. This line, from the last chapter of the book, is just one of the many strong passages you’ll find in this book. Lines like these make reading fun!

There is a philosophical dilemma which NASA appears to have overlooked. Are your friends alive or dead? At what point does existence or non-existence occur?”   Love it, DL. Can’t wait for Book Three!

TE Mark – Author

Book Review ‘The Two Story House’

FIVE STARS for ‘The Two Story House,’ by Gloria Ilene Madrigal


‘The Two Story House,’ by Gloria Ilene Madrigal, is a sweet tale told in two individualCover - 2 Story House short stories.

But they’re more than that.

These are two free verse poems, unique, genuine and brimming with sentimentality.

The writing style is richly poetic and reminds me, in ways, of some of my favourite Romantic Era writers: William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others.

The first story is told by a ninety-five-year-old woman who wishes to share with her great-granddaughter her childhood memories of growing up in this once majestic, now crumbling, old home that she describes as, ‘Like me, showing the ravages of time.’

In story two, Ms Madrigal craftily tells the story from the house’s perspective. How it ‘Remembered the first day it met its new family,’ and ‘how it slipped into its new white coat feeling quite handsome.’

Again, one comes away feeling touched equally by the story the author is telling as by the author’s obvious depth of emotion.

It’s a seasoned writer, and a true romantic, who can take the simplest of subjects and weave it into something beautiful and touching and compelling. The Two Story House is all three.

Hardly a criticism, but I would like to have read these two works as part of a larger collection. They’re truly wonderful pieces which, in my opinion, deserve to be squeezed into a full volume of similar stories.

TE Mark:  Author – Language Teacher

Book Review ‘Welcome to the Apocalypse’

5-STARS for ‘Welcome to the Apocalypse – Pandora’ (Book 1) by D L Richardson


Science fiction on Virtual Hyperdrive.

Welcome to the Apocalypse is a fast-paced, sci-fi/fantasy adventure that pulls you in from the opening and refuses to let you out until the very last chapter with the author craftily leaving Welcome_To_The_Apocalypse_Coveryou only partially satisfied and craving more.

One hundred players enter a total immersion virtual reality game designed to award each player a realistic glimpse of not just one apocalyptic future, but many. From Vampires to Zombies, and from Bio-toxins to an Alien Invasion, DL Richardson has taken the apocalyptic sci-fi sub-genre to another level. A high-octane, energy charged one with some really neat twists.

The action is constant, the creativity laudable and the characters are thoroughly believable making this a very enjoyable read.

My only criticism, one that was washed away after a second reading, was based on a personal interest. As a writer and avid reader of Sci-Fi, I am always looking for buried meanings, philosophical statements, subtle metaphors, and thoughtful warnings. Especially in this genre of fiction.

I didn’t find one the first time through but did on my second. To avoid dropping an additional spoiler in my review, I’ll just include what I feel to be a very significant, well-written, extract.

“I thought the premise of the game was ‘kill or be killed’,” he said. “But it’s not. You can’t pick and choose which rules you obey and which ones you ignore. When it all goes to hell, the thing that gets you through the chaos is order.”

‘Welcome to the Apocalypse’ is an imaginative wild ride and I will definitely be looking forward to the next installment in this series.

T. E. Mark


Book Review ‘Dark Day Dreams’

FIVE STARS for ‘Dark Day Dreams,’ a selection of clever stories.


James Hawthorne is an imaginative storyteller. He compels you to like his characters no matter who or what they are and excuse them for their flaws, failings, indecencies, or in some cases, atrocious actions.

A werewolf turned stand-up comic after moving to Los Angeles. Beings that reside in the worldark-day-dreamsd of dreams – some against you, and some there to protect you. A man who decides to become an ‘uploader’ transferring his consciousness into a synthetic being. These are just a few of the very real and likable characters in this set of 13 short stories the author has compiled under the title ‘Dark Day Dreams.’

Mr Hawthorne, in this compilation of shorts, tells his characters in a way that makes them jump off the page and take the seat next to you as you read.

His storytelling ability is thoroughly creditable, and he craftily packs into his clever tales either a thoughtful political statement or an alternate view of something you may have read before, each with just the right amount of rich sentimentality.

There is something else worth noting. The author, in almost every story, leaves you with the very profound question ‘what if?’

In my view, this one element distinguishes a good storyteller from a competent, even imaginative writer.

James Hawthorne is a good storyteller.

I liked this compilation of shorts and have but one criticism. I wish they had been longer.

T. E. Mark – Author

Book Review ‘Bot War’

4 1/2 STARS for ‘Bot War,’ by Ian J Miller


‘The years of corruption had removed the moral will to do the right thing from so many,’ writes the author in the closing chapter of this riveting, action-packed adventure by Ianbot-war_cover_pic Miller. And in my opinion, this powerful line fully encapsulates the author’s view and warning.

‘Bot War’ is a dense story which fits, in my opinion, just marginally within the framework of Science Fiction, with the principal theme being greed, high-level corruption, and the fragility of our economic system.

Mr Grey, a very powerful investment banker, is in league with a dangerous faction of Middle Eastern terrorists. Where Grey’s motivation is simple stock manipulation for financial gain, by any means, including murder, his partners have a more complex and destructive agenda.

‘Bot War’ is, I believe, a declarative statement by Mr Miller of how a country could conceivably be brought to its knees through the internal moral breakdown by the powerful rather than by invasion, (Though a robot invasion is part of the scheme) bio-terror, or runaway technology.

The intrigue and corruption are almost too real in this well-written book, and the action, from about the mid-point on, is almost frenetic.

I enjoyed reading this book immensely and have but one criticism. I drew no images of or felt any real attachment to the main characters while reading. Though I believe this to have been the intent of the author, one I’ve also found in classic works of literature, usually to make an additional point, it’s not my favourite approach to character development. Beyond that one criticism, I give this a solid 4 ½ star review and a strong recommendation.

Note: Mr Miller is very detailed in his writing, specifically about the inner workings of the Stock Market. For this reason, and this reason alone, I would suggest that ‘Bot War’ may not be suitable for very young readers. For others, who enjoy a fast-paced, high-intensity drama, this is a great piece with many clever and imaginative scenes.

T.E. Mark – Author – Language Teacher