Book Review: ‘Crush at Thomas Hall’

When Cassandra Martin attends Crush Weekend at Virginia’s Thomas Hall Winery with her good friends Sarah and Michael, she experiences the multiple meanings of the word “crush” in Beth Sorensen’s soon-to-be-released romantic mystery Crush at Thomas Hall.

In wine making, the crush–often called a grape stomp when it’s done with bare feet–gently splits the skins of the recently harvested grapes allowing the juice to escape. Thomas Hall’s annual Crush Weekend is a festive event in which long-time friends of the powerful Baker family gather to help with the harvest, taste the wine and enjoy each others company.

Cassandra quickly develops a crush on winery CEO and confirmed bachelor Edward Baker. The feeling is mutual. Yet, she has recently buried an abusive and controlling husband, and Edward–for all his gentle intentions–is used to being in charge. His behavior is not only emotionally crushing, but reminds her of the worst moments of her marriage.

A college professor on sabbatical to rediscover her life, Cassandra is a highly intelligent protagonist, eager to soak up not only the ambiance but the art and science of wine making. Yet, in personal matters, she is indecisive, vacillating between losing herself in Edward’s arms and running away to a safe place where she can avoid the danger of emotional commitments.

Complicating her evolving romance is talk of millions of dollars of funds embezzled from the winery, a dead body in the wine cellar, and an attack that sends Cassandra to the hospital. Beth Sorensen has spun a compelling mystery of champagne dreams and family intrigues in Crush at Thomas Hall. Sorensen’s protagonist must decide whether to continue her round-the-world travels or seriously consider whether she should make a commitment to Edward and his winery. No matter that she decides, she’s in jeopardy, for there is every indication that the killer wants her stomped dead and out of the complicated picture.

Crush at Thomas Hall is an exciting, romantic and highly recommended fine-vintage debut novel.

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “The Sun Singer,” “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,” and “Garden of Heaven.”

‘Garden of Heaven’ Takes Readers into World of Magic, Quantum Entanglements

In my second novel set in the high country of Glacier National Park, Montana, “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” I tell a multi-layered story about a man whose life is twisted by the Vietnam War, compromised by the denizens of a corrupt college, and destroyed by a lover out for revenge.

When nineteen-year-old David Ward climbs the sacred mountain Nináistuko seeking a vision, the golden eagle of earth flings him back onto the prairie and the black horse of dreams shows him the future. Though his eyes are opened, fate hides exactly what he needs to know.

The spiritual journey that follows leads him through the mountains of Pakistan, the swamps of North Florida, the beaches of Hawaii, the waters of the South China Sea and the ivy-covered halls of an Illinois college as he attempts to sort out the shattered puzzle of his life.

A blend of realism and magical realism, the novel’s robust, non-linear structure emulates the randomness of memory while its multi-column sections illustrate the simultaneity of time’s pathways in a quantum universe.

Like my first novel “The Sun Singer,” also set in Glacier National Park, “Garden of Heaven” follows the late Joseph Campbell’s mythic hero’s path journey of personal transformation popularized in such films as “Star Wars” and “The Matrix.”

While “Garden of Heaven” has characters and themes in common with “The Sun Singer,” the two novels can be read independently of each other.

Available in both a paperback and an electronic edition, “Garden of Heaven” can be found at Amazon, OmniLit and other online booksellers and by order from any bookstore. I am also the author of the comedy/thriller “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”


‘Notes in a Mirror’ author coming Dec 8

I’m looking forward to interviewing Helen Macie Osterman, author of the new thriller “Notes in a Mirror” on December 8.

This compelling book, released November 15th by Weaving Dreams Publishing, is set in a grim, 1950s mental institution where the treatments are as archaic as the dark. cold buildings.

The author worked as a nurse for 45 years. During her training, her rotation took her to such a hospital for three months where she witnessed hydrotherapy, Insulin coma therapy and electroshock. These were once accepted treatments for the mentally ill, and they are part of the world protagonist Mary Lou Hammond and Kate Stephens are plunged into at the fictional Hillside State Mental Hospital.

But there’s more. Somebody is trying to contact the sensitive Mary Lou. Is it her imagination, a former patient, or perhaps the mad house is driving her mad. This 213-page mystery will keep you guessing while making you thankful you were never committed to Hillside–or the real-life institutions on which it is based.

As the Osterman writes in her introduction, “The treatments provided were primitive and sometimes dangerous, but at the time, considered state of the art.” The author’s experience as a student nurse in such an institution gives her the knowledge to make this an accurate and chilling novel.

Malcolm, author of “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire” and “The Sun Singer”

Book Review: ‘Staccato’ by Deborah J. Ledford

Staccato Staccato by Deborah J Ledford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Staccato” is staccato: sharp, crisp, almost percussive–like gun shots, like a cane tapping on the floor or striking a shoulder, like light reflected off a black Porsche Targa, like the piercing cold of a Great Smoky Mountains night.

Two years into his career as a world-class concert pianist, young Nicholas Kalman finds his absent father’s journal. It’s written as a warning to Nicholas, or perhaps a confession. “Beware of this man you call, Uncle,” it says.

The uncle is Alexander, the tyrannical, club-footed, cane tapping maestro and mentor. He’s crafted the talented Nicholas into a dazzling musician who crushes the competition in every venue. He drinks. He expects perfection. He lashes out when angry.

Alexander demands unquestioning obedience from Nicholas, the cloyingly submissive second-string pupil Timothy, the imposing butler Sampte, his niece Elaine, sheriff’s deputy Steven Hawk, and everyone else who dares enter his ten thousand square foot mansion in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Deborah J. Ledford’s thriller tears through mountains and music with a steady rhythm in perfect time with the maestro Alexander’s music room metronome. Nicholas finds a his lover’s body in his Porsche. Timothy perfects his Prokofiev to steal the limelight. Sampte does what he’s ordered to do. The metronome ticks and the cane taps as the bodies pile up, as Nicholas searches for a killer and runs for his life, as Hawk investigates a grim case, as Alexander orchestrates notes and lives, as readers turn “Staccato’s” pages, quickly, crisply, sharply throughout Ledford’s Toccata-like virtuoso performance.

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Tomorrow: A conversation with Pat Bertram, author of “Daughter Am I.”

Copyright (c) 2009 by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”