Reader Review of Strangle Hold by Robert Rotenberg

This past weekend I became a new fan of Canadian fiction novelist Robert Rotenberg. Mr Rotenberg is a criminal attorney with quite a writing resume, and not just for writing fiction. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him in person at a writers’ symposium, and was able to tell him how much I enjoyed his book, Strangle Hold.

Strangle Hold is the fourth of his “crime dramas” with many of the same characters. The central event of the story is, of course, a crime, which means that of course much of the story involves police procedure and courtroom tension. Once the reader starts page one, he/she won’t be putting the book down until the end–turning page after page in the hungry search to know who did it, why was it done, when will he or she be caught and will justice be served.

Yes. I will repeat that. Readers will want to keep reading from start to finish, as non-stop as possible.

There are many elements that make Strangle Hold a page-turner of this sort.

*Streets and neighborhoods of Toronto are an important part of the setting and the story. I don’t know Toronto–I am not Canadian. But I felt like I was walking or driving those streets, passing those stores in the strip malls, riding on the subways, seeing the buildings in which the police and the mayor worked, or the houses in which the people lived.

*The Canadian legal system was not just key to the story and characters–it was depicted with an intimate familiarity that made me as a reader feel like I was part of its society. What an honor to be a Crown prosecutor–I felt that pride jump off the page.

*The tension of the story never stopped. From the first page we get to know the central character, a police detective named Ari Greene (familiar to readers of Rotenberg’s previous books, but even if, like me, this is their first, we will become intimate acquaintances of Detective Greene, living and breathing his fears, his sorrow, his anguish as he walks a line between his job and his personal life. The crime happens early, and Greene –knows a lot– about the victim. This is not a spoiler–it is an incredibly brilliant hook to the reader. We don’t just want to know who did this, we not only want to know how the murderer will be found–we want to know how Greene and his friends will be affected. Our intimacy with Greene is enhanced by his relationships, good, bad, strained, comfortable, with other important characters, such as Jennie Raglan, a Crown prosecutor, with Daniel Kennecott, another police detective mentored by Greene who also appears in previous novels, with Hap Charlton, mayoral candidate.

*The most important element, in my opinion, that makes Strangle Hold impossible to put down, are the characters. Each is wonderfully conjured, with distinct qualities, quirks, endearing and frustrating–people I feel like I might know sitting next to me at a coffee shop or standing on the supermarket line. Ok–yes readers will be fascinated by the police investigation, the lawyers’ strategizing and the courtroom suspense. But fundamental to that fascination are the characters who take our hands and draw us through into that investigation, the strategizing and that suspense.

Masterfully crafted characters and masterfully crafted story. Makes for an unforgettable page-turner. I will be happily reading Rotenberg’s earlier novels and I am eagerly awaiting all his later novels.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Write what *Matters*

One of those little writing axioms (and admittedly a reasonably good one) is “Write what you know.”

One might know a lot about a lot of things–music, movies, woodcarving, sculpting, wine, biology, computer games, etc.

But, maybe it’s not about what one knows, but rather, about what matters to one.

The writer should *know* about the inner workings of a vineyard and wine-making, of course, if the characters and plot demand such accuracy and passion. But that knowledge, knowing the many facets of that business are not what drives the story.

The story may center on a romance, or on revenge, or…you get the idea.

The *knowledge* at hand is not driving the story. Knowledge of the vines is not at the wheel.

The story that needs to be told, is. That is not knowledge.

That, dear reader, is the Passion of the Writer.

Hold to that passion, dear writer.

Write what *Matters* to you.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary

Two Mothers I cherish

I am the product of two marvelous amazing mothers. I probably have had more maternal care through my life (a marvelous piano teacher and friend, a wonderful 4th grade teacher, various mentors and confidants).

But who I am, at my core, I credit to two particular women–my biological, and my adoptive, mothers.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Commentary

The Sinners and the Sea-A Review

The Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's WifeThe Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah’s Wife by Rebecca Kanner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sinners and the Sea is the story of Noah’s wife, through her own voice. Whether or not one believes the literal truth of the flood story, one might ponder how Noah met his wife, what their relationships might have been with the sons she eventually bore, and their wives–and more so, from whence did Noah’s wife even come? What was her life like before Noah and the flood?

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Book, Reviews

Children of Apollo (Eagles and Dragons #1) – A Review

Children of Apollo (Eagles and Dragons, #1)Children of Apollo by Adam Alexander Haviaras

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first half of this book spent a lot of time in the character’s introspection. Far more than expected, Lucius Metellus Anguis (the Dragon) pondered the desert, the battles, the motives of the commanders, and his own destiny or lack thereof. It felt odd for the beginning of a book, rather than the middle.

The latter half of the book however drew me in and kept me fascinated and waiting for more.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book, Reviews

To Jerry, my Dad

My dad Jerry died in February of 1975, the year before I graduated college. He and I had just begun the best relationship possible between a parent and child–that of becoming friends as adults. He missed my graduation, missed meeting the man I eventually married, missed seeing the births of our two fantastic sons, missed hearing them both play violin and flute, respectively. He missed so much of life that, to this day, it breaks my heart and brings me sorrow and regret.

But at the same time, I fervently and firmly believe that Jerry is somewhere watching, smiling, and quite possibly adding a nudge here or a hug there. I think just probably he did catch a few of those music recitals, and that he kept my children safe when neither I nor my husband could not be present.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary

HerStory Anthology-Including The Speech of Hortensia by Marie Antonia Parsons

The preceding post announces wonderful Giveaways celebrating the March 8 release of the HerStory anthology. This collection of twenty-seven short stories, including my very own, entitled “The Speech of Hortensia,” celebrates women throughout history.

Please take note, give a look and celebrate with us. Perhaps you will also buy the anthology–one for you, for your mother and aunts, your daughters, nieces–any women you know who inspire, support, and embrace everyone around them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Excerpts from Published Story “A Deal is a Deal” by Marie A Parsons (1994)

“Let me see the contract, Merick.”

I pulled that insane piece of paper out of the desk drawer and quickly scanned it. Nick Redburn grants Lucas Merick seven years of good health and every opportunity to play poker, after which he may collect Lucas Merick’s immortal soul.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Original

The Chalice: A Novel – Review and Recommended

The ChaliceThe Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Should prophecy determine one’s actions? How much should one sacrifice in order to see a prophecy fulfilled? Who determines what the prophecy really means?

These are some of the questions that build the tensions and the conflicts in The Chalice. While this is a sequel to the earlier novel The Crown, it can be read on its own merits (but don’t ignore the earlier!)

Joanna Stafford was hoping to enter the Dominican order as a nun, but while still a novice, King Henry VIII shut down the monasteries and abbeys. As if life is now not difficult enough–England was torn between those who still wanted to follow the Catholic faith and practice, and those who were now devoted to the Reformed, non-Catholic (not quite yet Protestant) faith taught by Luther and others–Joanna is also anguished by her feelings for Constable Geoffrey and for the former Brother Edmund. She also is conflicted by her being directly named and involved in a strange “prophecy,” which has been interpreted by those who wish to use her in a plot to overthrow the King, bring back the Catholic faith, and change England forever.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book, Reviews

No Cause for Concern–Roman period historical fiction – a Review

No Cause for Concern is set in ancient Roman times, the year 38 AD. It is a  mystery by David Wishart.

The story is a nicely, tightly-written mystery that moves smoothly to its resolution–one which caught me by surprise, but which was quite satisfying and well-developed.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book, Reviews