Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Review of Deji Bryce Olukotun novel AFTER THE FLARE: “Fascinating Blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy”

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment

By Tim Chamberlain

In his latest novel AFTER THE FLARE, Deji Bryce Olukotun delivers a fascinating blend of science fiction and fantasy from a new point of view.

It’s the near future, and massive solar flares have crippled North America, Europe and Asia. Not only does this cause massive disruption on the ground, but all satellites are in danger of crashing, including the manned International Space Station. Nigeria has the only functioning spaceport in the world, and they are scrambling to send a rescue mission to the ISS. Enter our hero, Kwesi Bracket, a displaced American NASA employee thrust into a whole new world in Nigeria.

Fans of plausible, near-future science fiction will enjoy Olukotun’s many inventions which include the Geckophone (a moving, lizard-like phone that can crawl up on

Deji Olukotun Photo © Beowulf Sheehan

the roof to charge in the sun), food-based security (it’s Tuesday, so you have to eat a kola nut and blow through a straw to pass–it’s complicated, and Olukotun does a much better explanation), and the future of currency–cowrie shells. It’s the many little touches like these that make this story vibrant.

But it’s not all just solid science fiction–from the beginning there are mysterious goings-on at the spaceport, and it soon becomes obvious that something beyond science is also somehow involved. Beyond that, the very real members of Boko Haram menace the entire situation, and the terrorists must be dealt with. Olukatun expertly brings all of these various elements together by the end.

The plot of AFTER THE FLARE itself is action movie-worthy, never keeping still for very long. But perhaps the most interesting parts of the book to me were the little asides on life and culture that weave a fascinating picture of Nigeria as it exists now, and how it would evolve in this solar flare ravaged future. The descriptions of the interactions of different local ethnic groups alone is instructive for someone like me that is mostly unfamiliar with the intricacies of Nigerian culture. Also, the fact that Bracket is American gives Olukotun a very natural way to get into these things–the American needs to know what’s happening.

In the end, AFTER THE FLARE is a seriously satisfying journey through a dystopian future and Nigerian culture that keeps itself grounded with interestingly plausible tech and frighteningly real monsters. Any fans of classic sci-fi should enjoy this new entry that puts things in a setting not typically seen in this genre.


Coffee and Books: Lynchings and a Murder Mystery

September 28, 2016 Leave a comment

BEYOND THE ROPE: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture by Karlis K. Hill and THE HEAVENS MAY FALL, a murder mystery novel set in Minneapolis by Allen Eskibs, are the books I’m currently reading for upcoming interviews for KAZI Book Review.

Coffee & Books: The Hemingway Thief by Shaun Harris

August 12, 2016 Leave a comment

If a first draft of a novel by Ernest Hemingway ended up in your hands and clues to the location of a suitcase of unpublished writings by Hemingway, what would you do?  Further sweetening the plot of THE HEMINGWAY THIEF by Shaun Harris, is that the protagonist, Henry Cooper, is a successful romance novelist who writes under an assumed name, Toulouse Velour, and his horde of female fans think Toulouse is a woman.

I’ll be taping an interview with Shsun Harris and I’ll be sure to ask him if he has been writing romance novels under an assumed name.

Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele Novel Inspired By Jane Eyre

April 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye, author of the novel Jane Steele, is today’s guest at 12:30 p.m. CST on KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7 FM in Austin.  The inspiration for Lyndsay Faye’s new novel Jane Steele, is the Classic 1847 English novel Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Bronte.  What makes Jane Steele so fascinating is her novels protagonist has read Jane Eyre and is inspired by it, but has lived a life in 1840s England that subverts the expectations of a gentile, woman protagonist.

As I have learned fro reading 3 previous Lyndsay Faye novels, imagebringing light to the history and social justice issues in the mid 1800s is in her wheelhouse, and with Jane Steele she does not disappoint.  Whether she schools us on the Anglo-Sikk War in the late 1840s and the limited rights of women of the time, she makes learning history as entertaining as an HBO miniseries.

Lyndsay Faye is the author of four novels including the Timothy Wilde Trilogy, an actress, and a lover of all things Sherlocke Holmes.

Review of Robert B. Parker’s Blackjack by Robert Knott

March 19, 2016 Leave a comment

By Tim Chamberlain

Knott has obviously become even more comfortable with marshals Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole in his fourth installment in the series, and he’s showing that as Appaloosa grows, so does the trouble that comes to town.

The novel starts with the incident that pulls in Hitch and Cole–a man is shot in front of the luxurious new casino that’s being built–but the mystery leads all the way back to Colorado.

The shooting that begins our adventure leaves a newcomer, Boston Bill Black, on the run along with his two gun hands. Black is a dashing raconteur with a reputation for being at ease with both gambling and women. But, as our heroes give chase, they begin to understand that the seemingly simple shooting they’re investigating is just one thread in a complicated series of events leading back to a dead woman in Denver.

As the town is growing, so are the types of trouble that they have to deal with–including big city lawmen. It’s a lot of fun watching Hitch and Cole deal with the “Denver contingent” that has come to town with very clear ideas about what they want to see happen to Boston Bill Black. It’s a classic big city/small town clash, and our men from Appaloosa are more than up for the challenge.

The cast of characters we’re getting to meet is expanding along with the town–we get to know a few of the deputies better, along with several key townspeople such as Appaloosa’s two lawyers. We spend several chapters in a series of courtroom scenes that, if simple by our TV courtroom-drama standards of today, are entertaining, both dramatic and comical at turns.

Another surprise that adds to the story is the introduction of a member of Virgil’s family. Virgil has never really been forthcoming about any of his family, so it’s quite a shock when a family member shows up. It’s another sign that Knott is making these characters his own and is willing to tell stories that help us understand how Virgil got to where he is today.

We’ve also got a new love interest for Hitch, the pretty bookkeeper for the new casino, the conveniently-named Daphne Angel. It seems like something that could work out for once for Hitch, but you’ll have to finish the book to see how it all plays out.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed. Blackjack is full of the terse but meaningful conversations Hitch and Cole are known for, and the action is both tense and realistic, though there isn’t as much gunplay as in some of the previous novels in the series. 

Knott, as always, gives us a mystery that is hard to unravel, but actually has a relatively simple explanation. The growth of Appaloosa gives him the opportunity to explore new ways to send Hitch and Cole on adventures–it’s always interesting to see what he’ll take on next.

Tim Chamberlain is a contributor to KAZI Book Review. He recently interviewed Robert Knott and it airs Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CST on KAZI 88.7 FM.



PODCAST: Mystery Writers Discuss Short Stories in Murder on Wheels

October 24, 2015 1 comment

Murder on Wheels

Austin Mystery Writers members Gale Albright, Kaye George, and Scott Montgomery discussed their short stories featured in the new book MURDER ON WHEELS: 11 Tales Of Crime On The Move, on the Sunday, October 25 edition of KAZI Book Review.  Here is the podcast:

Book Description

The eleven stories in Murder on Wheels put the pedal to the floor and never let up! Whether by bus, car, tractor, or bike, you’ll be carried along at a breakneck pace by the talented Austin Mystery Writers. These eight authors transport you from an eighteenth-century sailing ship to the open roads of modern Texas, from Alice’s Wonderland to a schoolbus yard in the suburbs of Dallas. Grab your book, hold on to your hat, and come along for the ride!
Included are:

A NICE SET OF WHEELS, by Kathy Waller
FAMILY BUSINESS, by Reavis Z. Wortham
ROTA FORTUNAE, by V. P. Chandler
MOME RATH, MY SWEET, by Gale Albright
BUON VIAGGIO, by Laura Oles
APORKALYPSE NOW, by Gale Albright
HAVE A NICE TRIP, by Kaye George
HELL ON WHEELS, by Kathy Waller
RED’S WHITE F-150 BLUES, by Scott Montgomery

Gale Albright Bio

Gale Albright

Gale Albright

Gale Albright has two short stories in Murder on Wheels, a crime fiction anthology published by Wildside Press. She is Vice President of Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas chapter and a member of Austin Mystery Writers. At present, she is working on a children’s book and a new mystery.

Kaye George

Kaye George

Kaye George Bio

Kaye George, national-bestselling and multiple-award-winning author, writes several mystery series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat (Berkley Prime Crime cozies). Her short stories appear in anthologies, magazines, and her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. She reviews for Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN. Please visit her at

Scott Montgomery

Scott Montgomery

Scott Montgomery Bio

Scott Montgomery is the crime fiction coordinator at BookPeople, Texas’ largest independent bookstore and a main contributor to its MysteryPeople blog. His short fiction has appeared on the online sites the Big Adios and Slagdrop.  He is currently working on his depute novel DOROTHY & THE TIN MAN.

A Taste of Texas Book Festival Authors Featured on KAZI Book Review

October 10, 2015 Leave a comment
Attica Locke

Attica Locke

KAZI Book Review will feature excerpts from interviews with four authors appearing at the Texas Book Festival on the October 11 edition of KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7 FM:

James McGrath Morris photo by Patty Morris

James McGrath Morris

  • Attica Locke, author of the novel PLEASANTVILLE, a murder mystery set in 1996 revolving around a campaign to elect Houston’s first black mayor,
  • James McGrath Morris, author of EYE ON THE STRUGGLE, a biography of the Black newspaper white house correspondent Ethel Payne,
  • Laila Lalami, author of a historical novel about the first Black to explore America, THE MOORS ACCOUNT, and
  • Laila Lalami

    Laila Lalami

    Vu Tran, author of a mystery novel about the search for an enigmatic Vietnamese woman, DRAGONFISH.

    Vu Tran

    Vu Tran

The Texas Book Festival is October 17-18 and more information about all the authors appearing is available at

Be sure to tune in Monday, October 12, for the Monday edition of KAZI Book Review which will feature an interview with Wendell Pierce, author of a memoir about his efforts to rebuild the New Orleans neighborhood he grew up in after Hurricane Katrina, THE WIND IN THE REEDS: A Storm, A Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken.