Buttonholed Book Reviews


companionably invites you to these Tours & Spotlight readings:

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Deep Zero
 (A Dana Hargrove Legal Mystery)


V. S. Kemanis

It's one a.m. Do you know where your teenagers are? Prosecutor Dana Hargrove makes it a point to know. But one night, in the dead of winter, she should have known more.

In February 2009, Dana is the newly-elected district attorney of a suburban county north of Manhattan, where she lives with her husband, attorney Evan Goodhue, and their two teenage children.  The Great Recession has seen a rise in substance abuse and domestic violence.  It's also the era of burgeoning social media, an intoxicating lure for wayward and disaffected teens who find new methods of victimization: a game to some, with no thought of the consequences.

During an arctic cold snap, the body of a high school student is discovered, lodged in the ice floes of the Hudson River.  People are crying for justice, but there doesn't seem to be a law that fits.  Days later, in one hellish night, Dana's children are sucked into a criminal investigation against several of their classmates, making her a convenient target for community outrage.

In Deep Zero, the fourth standalone legal mystery featuring the dynamic prosecutor, Dana walks the tightrope like never before in her tricky balance between professional ethics and family loyalties.

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Recycled Love


George Henry

 A dream journey across India turns into a nightmare for Dan Palmer when escaping from a dangerous past he encounters murderers, cops, drug traffickers, a vengeful woman and the future president of the United States. Falling in love with Charlie, a young and oddly behaved American woman traveling with her aunt and cousin forces him into a life-changing decision—for both him and Charlie.

Escaping from a dangerous past that’s catching up with him, Dan Palmer hides in a tour group in Mumbai for a trip across India to see the massive fortresses of Rajisthan, the red palaces of Akbar the Great, the Taj Mahal, the holy city of Varanasi, Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini and the living goddess in Kathmandu.

The journey of a lifetime turns into a nightmare when he runs afoul of murderers plotting a kidnapping, a cop chasing a drug trafficker, an Indian detective’s amorous attentions, a vengeful woman and the machinations of the future president of the United States.

When he falls in love with Charlie, a young and oddly behaved American woman traveling with her aunt and cousin, he has a life-changing decision to make: should he grasp his last chance at love when it may break Charlie’s heart?

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 The Last Straw


Ed Duncan

It started with a run-of-the-mill carjacking.  An inner-city kid with no priors and no experience with a gun fumbled the ball, and the driver ended up dead.

A teenage girl witnessed the whole thing, and now a target has been placed on her back.  The carjacker’s father, a notorious crime boss, is willing to move heaven and earth to prevent her from testifying, even if that means having a hitman kill her.

Richard “Rico” Sanders, the best in the business, was his first choice for the job.  But there was a problem.  He was a “killer with a conscience” and a killer with a conscience doesn’t murder teenagers.  The crime boss reluctantly turns to someone who has no such qualms, John D’Angelo.  There was bad blood between him and Rico, so knowing that Rico had passed on the job, he eagerly accepted it.

Rico forms an uneasy alliance with the girls lawyer, Paul Elliott, to try and protect her from the hitman.  As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

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The Iron Line


L. M. Merrington

December 2017

“There’s a ghost train that runs along here at night. They say it carries the souls of those bound for hell.”

Jane Adams is only twenty-three, but she’s already a widow.  A daughter of the railway, after her husband’s death she takes a job as a level-crossing gatekeeper in the little town of Tungold, out at the end of the line.  But all is not right in Tungold.  The townspeople are frosty and unwelcoming, and Jane’s only ally is the new young police constable, Alec Ward, an outsider just like her. 

When a railway superintendent is murdered, Jane and Alec become determined to get to the bottom of the town’s secrets.  Who killed Brian Mathieson?  And what is behind the mysterious ghost train? 

But Jane is also hiding a secret of her own — one that will put her life and everything she cares about on the line.

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Also by L. M. Merrington


How did Lucy Greythorne die?

From the moment Nell Featherstone arrives at Greythorne Manor as a governess to eight-year-old Sophie, she finds herself haunted by the fate of the mistress of the house, and entranced by the child’s father, the enigmatic Professor Nathaniel Greythorne.

When a violent storm reveals Lucy’s body is not in her grave, Nell becomes suspicious about the Professor’s research.  But what she discovers in his laboratory will turn all her ideas about life and death, morality and creation on their head.
Enthralled by a man walking a fine line between passion and madness, Nell must make an impossible choice between life, death, and life after death, where any mistake could be her last.

Greythorne is available in ebook and paperback from all major online retailers, and signed paperback copies can be purchased from the web store.

Please, read my review of this fantastic tale.

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Horror Guide to Northern New England,
Maine, New Hampshire, & Vermont


David Goudsward


Scott T. Goudsward

Horror Guide to Northern New England is a map to geographical locations, real and fictional, utilized in horror tales and films set in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  And just for good measure, they’ve included some true stories and events that should be horror stories or at least the inspiration for future ones.  Sea serpents, ancient sacrificial tables, Barnabas Collins, Stephen King, Rick Hautala, and Shirley Jackson all call the area home – small wonder that the weird and horrific find sanctuary in the shadow-choked forests, decrepit doomed villages, and fog-shrouded mountains of Northern New England. 

Join the brothers Goudsward as they offer the latest volume of their Horror Guides.


“David and Scott Goudsward’s book is a gem. … crammed full of stuff you never knew and probably seldom thought about. It is a book about the places fictional horror happened. It is also a book about the places real horror happened. Real places. Places you can get to in the car. And along with the geography, there is a history about these stories. Yes, this is a book for fans of the horror genre. But it is also a book for writers and researchers and students and people who just love this place. What fun.”
– Fritz Wetherbee, historian, writer, iconic television host

“… shines a spotlight on the darkest, creepiest corners of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire --- states that harbor mysteries, curses, and locations for some of the spookiest, weirdest tales in the U.S. This encyclopedic guide is endlessly entertaining and bursting with surprising macabre tidbits from some of the oldest parts of our country.”
– Izzy Lee, writer, director, producer of Rites of Vengeance, Innsmouth, and Postpartum

“… a perfect horrorscape of New England's North Country, guiding you to a delightful assortment of shunned places, dark destinations, and frightening facts. Every page is brimming with a who’s who or a what’s what of Yankee marvels and menace -- history, literary and movie trivia, and things that man was never meant for to know. I am certain this would have been in Lovecraft’s library. It’s an essential addition to my own.”
– Joseph A. Citro, author of Shadow Child and Passing Strange, True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors

"What I like most about Dave and Scott Goudsward’s Horror Guide series is that while they are informative and involved, they are - unlike many reference works - a lot of fun to read and easy to navigate. The newest installment, Horror Guide to Northern New England: Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (HGNNE) is, like its Massachusetts and Florida companion editions, an extensive and intensive display of research from the Goudsward brothers. It is especially sweet for me because I was born and raised in New Hampshire and had lived there for forty years, until 2002. I had spent my formative years traipsing between the three states that are the focus of this book and recognized many of the towns, sites, and sights covered within these pages. But you don’t have to be native to these states to enjoy this book…or its predecessors.
For horror fans, non-horror fans, writers, researchers, or joy readers, HGNNE (and its companions) are a valuable and enjoyable guide and reference of all things fact and fictional related to horror (or “spooky” for the more sensitive reader), from the renowned to the obscure. It takes you on an alphabetical tour through each state, geographically correlating each town and site (both real and fictional) to works of popular fiction. As one would guess, the “Maine” section is loaded with Stephen King and Rick Hautala mentions, but for me - having read most of their works - it was a nostalgic trip that made me yearn to read these stories again. Thank you, Dave and Scott, for another fine Guide…now how about New York…or D.C.?"
– John McIlveen – award-winning author of Hannahwhere   (this link is my review)

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 The American Plan


David H Weisberg

The American Plan

Philip Narby is convinced he has been sent from war-ravaged Korea to a remote part of Florida to serve a clandestine role in the Cold War struggles rising to a boil in Cuba and Latin America. Yet nothing about Narby’s life is as it seems. His isolation and paranoia, and the dangerous secrets he carries with him, lead him into a maze of betrayal — political, sexual, racial and financial. Even as his journey crosses paths with the wealthy and renowned, from Willa Branton, the beautiful abstract-expressionist painter he falls in love with, to Sid Black, the hotel magnate who tracks him down in his jungle hideout, he remains an abject outsider, yearning to be let in, desperate to find a way out. In his quest to untangle the chaos of his blighted past, Narby resembles nothing so much as a Robinson Crusoe of the atomic age, sifting through the wreckage of his life for signs of salvation.

A daring and disturbing tale of survival set in Cuba and South Florida during the 1950s and early 60’s, embracing both the breadth of historical fiction and the intimate intensity of a psychological suspense novel, The American Plan is a vertiginous ride through the mid-century American psyche.

The American Plan is the first in a projected three-novel series exploring the rise and fall of sun-belt America, from the Korean War through the financial debacle of 2008.

Read my guest blog about how to craft an “antihero” on the Writer’s Digest website:

Praise for The American Plan:

“A grand, sweeping, postwar novel and a hard-boiled thriller…The American Plan never loses the pounding sense of uncertainty and risk that makes it a page-turner.”
-- Foreword Clarion Reviews
To read the entire review, click here:

“The American Plan is an exceptional pleasure, a sweeping tale of a soldier wounded in the Korean War who lands in pre-revolutionary Cuba, crosses the Florida Straits, and settles amid the scrub palmetto in the languor and humidity of southwest Florida. Philip Narby, clutching his fifth of Jim Beam and torn by internal demons, is an unlikely bit player in the runaway development that marked the mid-century Florida dream. The novel unfolds with rich detail of the Sunshine State, from the mangrove-choked estuaries to the hotels and dive bars of Miami Beach. As Narby awaits his cut of war-generated corruption, falling for a lithesome New York abstract artist and dwelling with her on a remote barrier island, the reader soon realizes that Narby’s story is the American Dream itself, shorn of its myths, rocked by racism, fueled by insatiable desires and reconfigured by powerful forces of nature.”
-- Tim Johnson, international correspondent for McClatchy News, author of Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama Conquered the World but Lost the Battle with China.

“It’s Faulkner meets Hiaasen in David Weisberg’s debut novel of lust, intrigue, greed, and environmental destruction set against the backdrop of Jim Crow race relations in Cold War Florida. Through the character of Philip Narby, a Korean War deserter with a hazy past and shady associates, Weisberg makes vivid Florida’s former tropical sensuality as it was being buried by the juggernaut of suburban sprawl. The novel’s great achievement is to contemplate the political sleaze and petty dreams behind Florida’s development while telling a compelling story that kept me turning pages late into the night. Readers will never think of Florida the same.”
-- Gail Hollander, Associate Professor of Geography, Florida International University, author of Raising Cane in the ‘Glades: The Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida.

“Engrossing…. An intriguing antihero’s perspective on his life and times.”
— Kirkus Reviews
To read the entire review, click here:
“The American Plan has history in its DNA.”
-- Benjamin Hale, author of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore and The Fat Artist and Other Stories.
“The American Plan is a page-turner -- beautifully written, with a cast of unforgettable and edgy characters and containing disturbing insights into an earlier era in U.S. history.”
-- Jack Litewka, author, editor, consultant.

& you can

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