Authors Showcase: Hard Laughs, Hard Love

The Book: Doing Max Vinyl

The Author: Frederick Lee Brooke

The Story:  Max Vinyl’s type of success story can only happen in America. Rising from humble beginnings, he has reached the height of the computer recycling racket. Problem is, he’s using Lake Michigan as his own personal profit center. Even that wouldn’t have been a problem if his environmentalist girlfriend Tris hadn’t found out his dirty secret. And while Max is devastated by his love crashing down around him, he’s about to learn that the rage of a woman scorned packs far more firepower and potential for destruction than he had ever imagined.

Iraq War veteran Annie Ogden has spent three tormented months living in a cabin alone trying to re-discover her purpose in life. When two of Max’s thugs threaten Annie’s sister, she is dragged into his corrupt world in an unwitting alliance with the environmentalist, Tris. Which is really lousy news for Max. Will he hold up under the coordinated attacks of two furious women? As things spin completely out of control and complications mount, it’s all Max can do to stay one step ahead until it’s all he can do to stay alive!

A farce full of hysterics and chicanery, Frederick Lee Brooke’s first installment of the Annie Ogden mysteries is an incisive examination of corporate lunacy, greed and modern disconnection. Having received multiple four and five-star reviews on Amazon and, Doing Max Vinyl: An Annie Ogden Mystery is loaded with razor-sharp dialogue, ingenious plotting and so much fun it should be illegal!

A Review by Nat Larson: “Characters must be Brooke’s stock in trade, and they are on full display in Doing Max Vinyl. Whether absurd, sympathetic or playing on our stereotypes, his characters are compelling and memorable. Ethnically diverse thugs, the Iraq war vet, the sleazy entrepreneur and sexy tree-hugger, all come to life with hilarious banter in a noir vibe while colliding in a 100-mph Hollywood car crash of plot lines.

“Like most of Hollywood stories, don’t worry too much about the plot – can our lakes really be filling with our discarded techno-detritus? That’s only Brooke’s vehicle for doing what he does best: invent unexpected twists on familiar dramatic roles, and craft unerringly clever dialogue around unexpected characters. Hopefully there’s more to come from this new author. If you have enjoyed such books as “Wake Up, Sir!” by Jonathan Ames or “Light House” by William Monahan or any humor of T.C. Boyle, you need to read Doing Max Vinyl”

A Review by Deborah Court: “Doing Max Vinyl by Frederick Lee Brooke is a wonderfully written, very unusual story in the style of detective novels (although there isn’t a real detective but a female war veteran, Annie Ogden). It doesn’t deal with the usual whodunit but with problems we all have to face nowadays: Environmental pollution and illegal waste disposal. But instead of simply stating his message, Brooke delivers it in a highly addictive, very funny story, which isn’t just educational, but an intelligent, entertaining read.

“The heroine, ex-soldier Annie Ogden, is an interesting, strong female character. The fact that Brooke takes his time to introduce a whole bunch of characters at the beginning requires the reader’s full concentration and doesn’t make it an easy read from the start, but Brooke delivers his story masterfully, with a fine, ironic and witty humor that reminded me of Douglas Adams or Sci-Fi author Neal Stephenson. He places his characters into situations that range from mysterious to completely absurd. It’s a great, highly recommendable read. Can’t wait for the next installment in the Annie Ogden series!

The Book: Sub-Prime

The Author: Emma Calin

The Story: Two powerless beings are swept together in a transient struggle for survival.
Could the human spirit transcend the brutality and indifference of their brief experience before they are once again swept helplessly apart?

Far more than a love story – this is a story about love.

A Review by Lana L. Higginbotham: “Emma Calin’s short story, Sub-Prime, has equal shades of the bleak economic times found in both the past and present day. Her lead character, Mike, is a man reduced to a place of destitution after being unemployed for two months.

“In order to provide for his family, he must take a job slaughtering turkeys at Celestial Farms. Here he meets a poverty-stricken young woman. These contrasting characters present a contradiction in appearance and internal fortitude. The working conditions and sociology in this story have shades of works by Charles Dickens and Hannah Tinti, except they are set during present day.

“The spark of a reciprocal connection lending support between two people in dire straits is endearing. The language barrier between them shows loving hearts need no words. This five star short story leaves you wanting it to continue.”

A Review by Bert Carson: “Emma Calin is one of the finest authors plying the ancient trade. I make that statement for three reasons: First, because she has been there. Second, because she is willing to share what she has seen, heard, and learned. Third, because she is an amazing wordsmith.

“Writing without experience is akin to walking into total darkness without a light. Sub-Prime is not a fun tale, but it’s truth, and truth, even well stated, is stark, in-your-face, and eye opening. If you have the courage to read Sub-Prime you are going to experience truth told with an eloquence that is difficult to find today.”

A Review by Bibliofille: “This is a gritty short story that is brutal and stark. It is very well written and evokes the scenes, smells and emotions of life at the sharp end of urban deprivation and desperation. This is not a glamorous frothy love story – but is a powerful condensed full-flavoured shot of reality. Moving stuff.”

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