book reviews, thrillers & suspense
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Book Review: Serenity Engulfed by Craig A. Hart

So. Yesterday was launch day for Craig A. Hart’s new Shelby Alexander thriller, Serenity Engulfed, which we marked with a lengthy feature post including one fab interview with this author.

Today, I’m starting a cycle of reviews of Craig’s two thrillers series, The Shelby Alexander Thrillers Series, and the SpyCo Series — with a review of his latest book. Here it is.

 

Edition details:

  • File Size: 2680 KB
  • Print Length: 190 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1986153517
  • Publisher: Northern Lake Publishing (April 3, 2018)
  • Publication Date: April 3, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07B4Y76HC

the synopsis:

When Shelby’s daughter, Leslie, fails to show up at his cabin for her long-planned visit to northern Michigan, he’s concerned, but makes excuses.

When her car is found abandoned by the side of a tree-lined highway, he fears the worst.

When her cellphone appears on his front porch, he knows something terrible has happened and that he is to blame.

Enlisting the help of the new county sheriff, Shelby launches a search for Leslie, all the while dealing with a prostitute in fear for her life, a sexy writer interested in writing his life story, and the long-banished ghosts of his own past.

Familiar enemies resurface in this blazing new thriller that finds Shelby racing against time to save the most important person in his life: his own child.

the review:

Honestly, if I were Leslie, Shelby Alexander’s daughter, I would revoke paternity rights so fast Shelby wouldn’t know what hit him. Or anybody else, for that matter. Just as long as there would be some strange light, Men In Black style, and the whole world would just forget, instantly, collectively, irrevocably, that Alexander had ever been, for the flimsiest of moments, my father… Especially now, that she has a baby girl to think about. Honestly, if I were her, I would want my distance from him — as in, possibly, the Antipodeans, thank you very much.

And yes, I do know he just bursts in there practically everywhere, in a flurry of punches and bullets, together with his best mate Mack, setting the world alight until he finds and rescues her again. And I do know he, for all intents and purposes and as far as we can see, loves her dearly, and would never ever let her down again. And no, I do not think I’m being unfair on Alexander. Just think of the girl for a minute, and forget all about Alexander in Tom Selleck’s alluring skin, and the Shelby Alexander thrillers becoming something as visually and narratively satisfying, and as thoroughly aesthetically pleasing as Jesse Stone… Just put that aside for a sec, will you, and think of the poor girl…

There. Now you get exactly what I mean. Forever in the path of danger. And I’m not talking an uneven stone on the pavement. I’m talking about being kidnapped, caged, chained, shot at, manhandled, you name it. And whatever her faults, listen, she deserves so much better than becoming the currency of choice whenever any of the scum of the earth her father is so intent on cleaning from the face of Serenity, decides to have a go at exerting revenge for being hard done by by Shelby Alexander.

But anyway. Where else would we find the conflict at the source of our little instalments of simple pleasure? Because the fact is that Shelby Alexander is a cool dude, and he doesn’t give a damn about many things on this earth, and therefore to have him spring into action, and have enough to tell about, it has to be something that gets directly through his skin — and that is first and foremost his daughter. Poor, poor girl. She’s it, the permanent target, a walking bullseye for Serenity worst lowlifes. But how lucky the rest of us — because her misfortune is nothing if not our little literary fix, our shot of amusement.

This time, Hart has the infamous Ellises, the scum of what one could easily think of as otherwise near-paradisiac Serenity, back on the scene, the sociopathic Scott Ellis having been granted early release by a somewhat misguided parole board. Back on the scene are also arch-villain Darkmore, who defines himself to Leslie as her worst nightmare, and Grant Bachmann, he of Sid Bachmann descent, Shelby’s very own worst nightmare.

On Shelby’s side and apart from Mack there are still Quinn Edwards, who has now managed to sell the idea of a book on Alexander’s exploits to her publisher, a now estranged Carly pursuing her new life in New York, and a brand new Sheriff, Angela Hammer, who soon proves herself to be on the right side of Shelby’s fence, and ‘one hell of a woman’. And because good things reportedly come in threes, there’s also Katherine, a… erm… aesthetically pleasing lass right back from Shelby’s old school days — the chemistry promises, more than the dynamics with Angela, she of the growing hammer fame, who in any case is a member of the law — and, get ready for this, a cat.

Yes, ladies and gents, a cat. And what a cat! A cat that may or may not have a connection to Odawa lore and to the old Odawa man who taught Shelby most of what he knows. This, well, this promises. There’s all to look forward in the next instalment of Serenity troubles. And besides, I know Jesse Stone’s borrowed dog looked pretty much like him, only proving the old western lore that human and pet grow to resemble each other, but honestly, could you ever imagine a feline of Selleck’s quality with anything other than a cat companion…? My point, precisely. So there you go.

And then, when we think it’s all winding down towards those narratively fatidic words, The End, the cat goes and saves Shelby Alexander’s life… Craig, when’s the next instalment coming out? Can you make it pretty soon pretty please, and a wee bit longer (say, something like another 75 pages…?) Thank you.

the verdict:

I love the Shelby Alexander thrillers. They are simple, uncomplicated little stories that keep you entertained. To begin with, I love Shelby Alexander, the imperfect hero, the exasperating character who seems as lifelike as flesh — who, well, just like its maker I can only imagine as lifelike as Tom Selleck’s Jesse Stone — and who, apart from his propensity to being easily found by violence and misadventure, is comfortably familiar, expectedly complex, unexpectedly vulnerable… Alexander is “the hero next door”, and we can but love him.

Craig’s prose is straight forward, his plots are inventive yet simple — actually, it is Craig’s storytelling simplicity, coupled with a quiet cinematic quality of his books’ action, that is his greatest asset and the series best selling point, together with the reason why we so readily grab one of these books to keep us company during a commuter journey, or an evening by the fireplace when there’s no Jesse Stone in the box (because, well, Jesse Stone has everything Craig’s prose has, but it does have Selleck, which Craig’s unfortunately does not, not yet, and I do love my cherries).

Genre pegging: thriller
Verdict: recommended, perfect keep-me-company reading
Rating: ♥♥♥♥½
Shelves:
mystery & thrillers; “indies”

2 Comments

  1. Hi, Nina! I really enjoyed your interview with Craig. Thank you (both) for dropping my name once or twice. It’s a true honor to be associated with a guy like Craig. Make sure to read Serenity Engulfed, everyone!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Scott!
      Thank you so much — and for the follow too! I’m honoured to have you guys reading my stuff.

      Btw, did you know it’ll soon be your turn…?
      :-D

      Like

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