Dead Reckoning: Descent into Dystopia

By R.L.Clayton (R. L. Clayton, $14.99)

In this second of his “Dead” series, retired Tucson engineer R.L. Clayton reprises his crack Afghan War sniper Kathleen (Kiki) Russell and his interrogator-par-excellence Nick Sabino (along with their demonic whisperer The Director) to try to save the US from a two-pronged bio- and cyber- attack.

Gone underground—and presumed dead—after refusing a government assignment they could not countenance, Kiki and Nick have been on an extended sail around the world. They briefly surface for family bereavement just as a lethal strain of smallpox is unleashed on an unvaccinated American population, and a computer virus shuts down the country’s infrastructure. With people dying by the millions, cities without electricity or the capacity to pump water, and the rule of law breaking down, Nick’s particular form of psychological interrogation becomes vital. Nick and Kiki are called upon to uncover international plots (think nuclear states) and to address the descent into anarchy within the U.S. itself.

Book Three’s on the horizon.

My Enchanted Garden / Mi Jardín Encantado

By Nina Duckett (Enchanted Desert Publishing, $12)

Her stated goal to draw contemporary children into the beauty of nature, Tucson acrylic artist Nina Duckett presents this slender illustrated, English-Spanish bilingual as a celebration of her own garden. A fairy/ bird house features in it, as do competing ocotillo brothers (‘I thought the smaller tree would die..../He didn’t”), a colony of fire ants, a “jealous” bougainvillea. The paintings are colorful and attractive, and the text has an appealing whimsy. Plus, reading the Spanish alongside is good for anyone’s language study.

As for drawing contemporary children into an appreciation for nature? We ran it by a couple of 9 year olds:

“Kids would like it because she makes things that don’t seem important sound magical,” says Victoria Bull.

“Yes;” agrees Leah Franco, “she writes about things we would never give a second thought to, like crickets and prickly pear cactus, and makes us want to think about them too.”

Trash Picker on Mars

By Gene Twaronite (Kelsay Books, $14)

This collection of poems, which came out last year, is an expression of the concrete, the contemporary, and—see the title—the imaginative unlikely. Two-thirds of the thirty-two poems previously published elsewhere, “Trash Picker on Mars” is Gene Twaronite’s first book of poems. Covering such subjects as a porn-peddling bus station, a sleeping woman in a subway car, a container store, the death of a mourning dove, the poems reflect upon gritty, working class life in modern American society and the nature of life itself.

A Case of Dom Perignon

By Alan M. Petrillo. (August Words Publishing. $15.99, $4.99 Kindle)

The atmosphere in the city of Hull — “…as quiet and dreary a place as any in England,” has become, quite literally, explosive: Irish Nationalist terrorists bent on high-profile destruction, have targeted the weekend shooting party of Hull’s leading citizen, railway magnate J. R. Earle, and his guests, President Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII. Hull Police Inspector Herbert Bradnum is charged with protecting the threatened heads of state while trying to make sense of the trail of mayhem that have followed them to town, but his adversaries are as elusive as they are nefarious. The poor, long-suffering inspector (a martyr to gastric complaints and head-strong dignitaries) seems always to be a half-step behind the dastardly assassins in this tautly-plotted historical novel—or is he? Nimble twists and turns will keep the reader guessing in this latest offering in the Victorian Carriage mystery series by Tucson journalist and author Alan M. Petrillo.

Random Murders

By L. V. Jagnow. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform._ $11.99 print, $5.99 Kindle

Three shots fired from a church steeple leave two victims dead and one badly wounded. Nothing can be gleaned about the motive the perpetrator except for the deadliness of his aim. Thoroughly baffled, the police call on retired detective Richard Silk for assistance. Bored with his new regime of painting, pinot and Proust, Silk is happy to oblige—perhaps a bit too happy, his former colleagues suspect. When a gunman is identified after a second, random shooting spree the police believe they have their killer, but Silk knows that the facts don’t add up. The reluctant retiree goes about coolly making his case in this tightly-paced whodunit, connecting the dots that lead him back in time and half a world away from the scene of the rustbelt town crime. As smooth as his name and as sharp as a tack, this dog-loving detective is worth getting to know. He is the invention of Tucsonan L. V. Jagnow, himself a retiree and former healthcare executive.

One Last Dance

By Ernesto Patino. (Deep Indigo Books. $11.95 paper, 4.95 Kindle)

Can hearts that beat as one in life really be parted by death? Author Ernesto Patino considers the metaphysical ramifications of love that transcends mortal limitations in this poignant tale of loss and renewal. Marco, devastated by the death of his fiancee in a car wreck, has reason to believe they are still spiritually joined. Because she was an organ donor, his fiancee’s heart lives on in the body of a young woman, whom he follows to a dance studio in Tucson. He has no doubt their spiritual connection is real, but so are the physical barriers that threaten a happily-ever-after conclusion. With this sweet, short novel, writer and part-time private investigator Patino raises interesting questions about life after life, karmic conjunctions, and love in its many guises.

Death at Papago Park POW Camp: A Tragic Murder and America’s Last Mass Execution

By Jane Eppinga (The History Press ($21.99)

During World War II, Arizona added a sixth “C” to its economy – concentration camps.

Detained POWs littered the state, including the 4,000 Germans housed at Papago Park Camp. Not all soldiers in the German military were Nazis, but Papago Park did not segregate, leading to violence between the soldiers. Though light on narrative, the book brims with the war’s intrigue, policies and maneuvering. Eppinga relates in graphic detail the beating and hanging of Werner Drechsler – a known anti-Nazi and U.S. government informant – and the ensuing investigation, interrogation, trial and execution of the seven Nazis who claimed, up to the gallows, that it was not murder but an act of war. Included are photos, two appendixes, notes and a bibliography.

An avid researcher, Eppinga has authored countless articles and books.

Anadarko: a Kiowa Country Mystery

By Tom Holm (University of Arizona Press $17.95)

It’s the early 1920s. Though still reeling from Tulsa’s deadly race riot, Oklahoma continues in the grips of the Klan. Prohibition is the law, but the only thing dry in the small town of Anadarko is the climate. The neighboring Kiowa elders fight the steady tide of moonshine and the white-colored crooks intent on claiming the oil-rich ground. When a wealthy associate hires Irish ex-cop JD Daugherty and his Cherokee assistant Hoolie Smith to locate a missing geologist, they discover a community governed by graft and corruption. Tension runs high between town and county officials as they vie for bigger pieces of the take, and JD declares that it’s time for “a town cleanin’.”

Holms tackles the turbulent times of Oklahoma’s lawless ‘20s in this fast-paced, atmospheric mystery and sequel to An Osage Rose.

Rancho Moreno: a Novella of Elder Life

By Evelyn Guymon, (Self-published $1.99)

In this slim novella, 83-year-old Beryl Braxton proves the adage that old age is not for sissies, as she muses about life decisions – including end of – while debating a medical procedure. In addition to the detailed account of a colonoscopy, Guymon includes loving family anecdotes and smatterings of good humor.

Christine Wald-Hopkins

Christine Wald-Hopkins

Christine Wald-Hopkins

Helene Woodhams

Helene Woodhams

Helene Woodhams

Vicki Ann Duraine

Vicki Ann Duraine