Escape From Hell by Shervin Jamali

“So this is what depression feels like.  Sinking in quicksand, with only the Devil extending a hand to pull you out.”

Wow! The first book in this series, The Devil’s Lieutenant, was awesome. This sequel continues the winning streak.  Here we follow Michael from Hell to Heaven and back again. A lot.

Sassy as ever! Our anti-hero tells it like it is:

“Did God send you to punish me for killing my parents, Michael?”

“No, Maddie,” I respond.  “Unfortunately, I work for the other guy.”

Along with saucy writing and a kick-bottom plot that twists more than a pinwheel, the author’s cashed in Geek cred with pop culture references to everything from Groundhog’s Day and Star Wars to The Sixth Sense.

Strongly recommend!

The Photograph by Grant Leishma

This is a somewhat off-the-wall novel – not at all what I expected.  It begins decidedly British and somewhat stiff – “Oh sure, the cut-price, generic whisky’s, or even a cask of supermarket wine; Chateau de Cardboard, will get you pissed, but if you want to do it in style and with a modicum of aplomb, you can’t beat an eight-year-old or more, single-malt, true Scotch and that was exactly what Glenfiddich was.” The dialect is apparent throughout. At one point, the wife of our comic relief complains, “Bloody hell, he’s gone and gotten himself pissed again, she thought. God, he really is turning into an old sot.”

Quite frankly, the main character Tony is a bit stodgy. I found him a bit stilted.  But the supporting cast is a hoot.  The “girl friend” is sassy but believable with endearing dialogue like, “Get off your knees you silly, old bugger, you’ll get arthritis or something. Of course, I’ll marry you.”

But the best character by FAR is the snotty brother-in-law, Frank. This is a character with so few redeeming qualities you’ll simply LOVE to hate him.  He’s a caricature within a caricature you’ll find impossible to turn away from. First, he begins as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons.  “As Frank often did when faced with a situation outside of his control or knowledge, he closed his eyes and began to count pound notes in his head.”  But he goes on to put Walter Mitty to shame. He begins the book with a legitimate possible promotion, but mid-point he’s “day-dreaming about his future illustrious position, as Chairman of the Bank and of course, his exalted knighthood to come. There was a smile creasing his face as he fell into a deep sleep, filled with dreams of royalty, tiaras, morning suits and corgis.”

All vestiges of stodginess are far gone by a third of the way in, and the priest and housekeeper definitely put the book out of PG-13 territory. In fact, the further you get, the faster the twists and turns come. Be prepared to be surprised!

Definitely recommend!

– Read via Kindle Unlimited.

Revenge of Zeeka by Brenda Mohammed

The Revenge of Zeeka was an interesting story. The premise is quite original. The consequences of the Zika virus can indeed be catastrophic. The slide from microcephaly to zombie is believable in an especially sad correlation. So 5 stars for originality and creativity.

The writing was crisp and grammatically clean, although a tad limited in terms of vocabulary. I wondered at several points if this was intended for a teen/pre-teen audience. Still, it was clearly written and free of typos and formatting errors, so 5 stars again for presentation.

Where the work fell short for me was in its claim as a medical thriller. There just wasn’t any science to support the science fiction, nor were there significant details on the medical aspects. If you’re looking for a creative and original zombie fable, you’ll really enjoy this. If you’re expecting a realistic medical thriller a la Robin Cook or Michael Crichton, you probably won’t. I was hoping for a medical thriller so I’m giving this 3 stars for implementation, leaving the book with an overall rating of 4. I’m also giving it the benefit of the doubt and going on to read the next in the series. Maybe the medical details are still to come?