Susan Russo Anderson
Susan Russo Anderson is a writer, a mother, a member of Sisters In Crime, a graduate of Marquette University. She's taught language arts and creative writing, worked for a publisher, an airline, an opera company. Like Faulkner’s Dilsey, she’s seen the best and the worst, the first and the last. Through it all, and to understand it somewhat, she writes.
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Smashwords book reviews by Susan Russo Anderson
- The Titanic Plan
on Feb. 10, 2012
A Cinematic Immersion Into Another Time
I loved reading THE PLAN. The story, the writing, the characters engaged me from start to finish. And a hefty book it is, over 8100 locations. By my reckoning, that’s somewhere between 160,000 and 200,000 words.
Compared to the size of a mystery or western, it’s portly. But THE PLAN is a respectably-sized historical novel. With his rich imagination, Bockman fills in the holes left by history, giving his readers plenty of intrigue, gritty action, surprises, loss, love, and mystery. Bockman’s words flow, his sense of story, unflagging.
The theme of the book is social upheaval, the attempt by powerful financiers at the turn of the twentieth century to manipulate and control commerce in America, contrasted with the gathering storm of the labor movement.
Take the Prologue. It contains the seeds of the whole novel. Picture it, the fall of 1907. J.P. Morgan, in morning suit, bulbous-nosed and full-throated, is singing his favorite hymn. He’s really into it, along with three thousand others, when a messenger hands him a telegram. The news, for anyone else, would be a life changer—the suicide of Morgan’s friend and former head of the Knickerbocker Trust, the institution whose insolvency touched off the Wall Street Panic of 1907. But Morgan continues singing. Punctuating the narration are lines taken from “Rock of Ages.” It is a human portrait of this sharp-eyed financier, a major player in THE PLAN.
And the rest of the novel is as absorbing and full of life as the opening scene.
There are two story lines occurring throughout, held together by the main character, Captain, later, Major Archibald Butt who functions as the plot’s linchpin. In real life he was the military aide to Roosevelt and Taft.
One story deals with Archie’s attempt to find the killer of his friend and fellow soldier in the Civil War, Mick Shaughnessy. It takes him to Greenwich Village, to Washington, to Rome, and traveling back to New York on the Titanic. This story functions separately but is connected through Archie to the second, the attempt by Astor, Vanderbilt, Morgan, and others to control commerce.
THE PLAN pits the worker’s movement against Wall Street barons and has a wealth of characters, presidents and anarchists, painted larger than life. Meet J.P. Morgan, his librarian, Bella da Costa Greene, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Major Archie Butt, John Jacob Astor IV, George Vanderbilt, Emma Goldman, Clara Lemlich, Big Bill Haywood.
Scenes take place on sea and land—in the White House, in a smoky back room of the Brevoort, in the slums of Five Points and The Bend, in McSorley’s Pub in the East Village, and Rome. Major events of the age, like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the sinking of the Titanic, are woven into the story’s fabric in a way that made this reader feel like she was there.
Needless to say it, but I will, anyway: I recommend THE PLAN to anyone who likes to be immersed in a cinematic sweep of another time, to the reader who, aware of the history of American financial and social movements, believes that the past is prelude.
About the Author. Writer and filmmaker Michael Bockman has four produced screenplays to his credits. His feature screenplay about the Beat Generation, Starving Hysterical Naked, is the basis for the short film he directed, available for viewing on YouTube.
Between screenwriting assignments he has written numerous articles that have been published in newspapers and magazines. He has collaborated on three best-selling self-help books with English author Lynne Franks—Grow (Hay House), Bloom (Chronicle Books) and The Seed Manifesto (Thorsons). THE PLAN is his first novel.
THE PLAN by Michael Bockman, Story by Ron Freeman
Copyright © Michael Bockman 2011
- Endless (Crescent, Book 1)
on May 03, 2012
ENDLESS: Fantasy in a Brave New World
There is something both cleansing and scary about fantasy, especially the kind that is woven by Matt Bone in his novel, ENDLESS, a detailed, structural wonder. The book is beautifully written and professionally presented, the first in the author’s Crescent Series. And it gives the reader a brand new world experience.
After an unexplained catastrophe destroys everything he knows on earth, the main character, John, finds himself in the small village of Milnadon in the country of Ireledor on another planet, Crescent. He is cared for by Wimda, a herbalist, who makes a brief but enchanting appearance, and is reprised at the end of the book in the thoughts of John who wonders about her wellbeing. He meets a fellow earthling and is introduced to a panoply of humanoids and beasts. As he regains strength, John learns about this new world he has fallen into, joins two women fleeing their subjugated city, and becomes involved in a catastrophic war when supernatural entities called the Endless return to plague the planet.
From the start I was completely immersed in ENDLESS. The descriptions of Crescent are a marvel, so rich and plentiful in contrast to Earth’s parched landscape and I was in awe of the the author’s deft world building, the completeness of it and, at times, the whimsy of his creation. I totally loved the characters, especially John, a sensitive, intuitive thinker who suffers and ponders and at times waxes lyrical. He meets his foil in Manvedian, an interesting character indeed. I rode the joorun along with John when he “grabbed handfuls of shaggy fur as he hung on, the ropes grating against his wrists … and saw the buildings dwindling behind them, a faint curl of blue rising into the sky above.” And when the Endless first appeared, I felt like a kid gazing up at fireworks in the Magic Kingdom.
It is estimated that the printed version of ENDLESS would contain 375 pages. Be ready for a long, but thrilling ride, one I highly recommend to all lovers of fantasy and high adventure.
- The Evelyn Project
on May 13, 2012
THE EVELYN PROJECT: An International Thriller that Bewitches and Surprises
Nothing is as it seems in this breathtaking adventure that catapults an Italian professor and his lover, a beautiful French actress, into the heart of northern Italy and Switzerland in search of a century’s old formula before it gets into the wrong hands. The story sucked me in, faster than a Steven Spielberg movie fills a theater.
The book opens when the chairman of the European Historical Communication Society enlists the aid of Franco Lorenzi, professor of Latin and descendant of the Honorable L., a loving father who attempted to save his daughter, Evelyn, from consumption in 1894.
On one level, THE EVELYN PROJECT by Kfir Luzzato is shimmering entertainment, a magical romp that whirls its readers from one European watering hole to the next, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed the story and the setting and the characters, especially the haunting Mrs. Cecchi and Maria, the cool and calculating Dr. Benini. I loved the scenes in Venice, Asti, Lugano, the quick pace of the action, the smooth, transparent style of Kfir Luzzatto’s writing, and the main characters, Eva and Franco.
The action circles back and forth in time, like an ageless spider spinning its web. Eva and Franco overcome one spine-tingling terror after another, only to be overwhelmed by another set of almost insurmountable odds. International conglomerates like the Vatican and Great Britain’s Secret Service vie for control. Treacherous villains à la James Bond and Batman are thrown into the mix as we, the readers, nail bite our way through the story, mesmerized—one eye on the traitor in back of us, the other on the lush scenery whizzing past.
But on a deeper level, THE EVELYN PROJECT deals with the age-old longing for the elixir of life, humanity’s quest to harness death and thereby alter the course of history. It also deals with the corrupting effects of absolute power on institutions and individuals who abuse the innocent to achieve their own ends.
A thriller with plenty of twists and turns and just the right touch of the paranormal, a mystery that spans the centuries—these are the ingredients that make THE EVELYN PROJECT an irresistible dish and I recommend it to all readers who love memorable yarns.
- Fatal Whispers
on Dec. 31, 2013
Mesmerizing and unputdownable, Fatal Whispers, the thrilling new mystery by Sandra Nikolai, stars the romantic duo of Megan Scott and Michael Elliott as they attempt to unravel the steamy secrets behind three shocking murders. Set in Portland and Falmouth on Maine's craggy coastline, Fatal Whispers will sweep you away by its wealth of intriguing suspects and breathtaking action. You'll be guessing to the last page of this nail-biter.
Megan Scott travels with Michael Elliott to Portland, Maine where they stay with Bianca, Megan's cousin. Michael, an investigative reporter has been assigned to uncover the facts surrounding the strange death of a woman living rough. The woman is well-known to residents as Glad Rags Gladys and she is found dead from a mysterious substance close to Bianca's flower shop. Events take off and very soon there are three murders.
The book is a fascinating mystery. It's about the logical steps taken to unravel the puzzle of three seemingly benign and unrelated deaths, and we meet some engaging characters on the way as they struggle to stay alive--Megan's cousin, Bianca and her husband, Victor, and George are among my favorites, along with the setting which has such a strong presence in the book that it's a character.
But the book is also about the relationship of Megan Scott with Michael Elliott and her gnawing back and forth. As a recent widow, should she become romantically involved with another man, Michael, so soon after her husband's death? I must add that I loved Bianca's flower shop where much of the action takes place. And the final scenes brought me to the edge of my seat as Megan and Michael realize a deadly killer is on the loose.
If you like action-packed mystery and thrillers with characters who grow as they come to grips with what is happening to their relatives and friends before there are more murders, you will love Fatal Whispers, the second book in the Megan Scott and Michael Elliott series.