Book Review: The Thruway Killers by Harvey Havel

Buckle Up For The Thruway Killers:
A Rollicking Commentary On Greed, Murder And Mayhem

When values collide and money is thrown in the mix, anything can happen. Author Harvey Havel is back with The Thruway Killers (America Star Books), a delightfully fast-paced crime novel that also points out the absurdities of our times.

Havel does not shrink away from touchy issues of race and religion. Droogan McPhee is the eldest son of a prosperous businessman, and he lacks his father’s sense of propriety and drive to succeed. To his father’s horror, the unemployed, overweight, crack-smoking Droogan becomes romantically entangled with one of the family’s African-American maids. His father uses money to put a wedge between the couple, and Droogan is motivated to act.

A botched murder plot follows, and Droogan and his beloved Angela begin their odyssey up the iconic New York Thruway, pursued by Agent Roderigo Rojas of the FBI and a mercenary named the Spartan. When Droogan slips into a shadowy religious cult, his problems begin to multiply. Havel, with an outsider’s perspective and a keen sense of fun, explores American cultural and political fault lines and whether crossing lines leads to ruin.

Havel, born in Pakistan with family ties to India, is a prolific writer. His third novel, Freedom of Association, was published in 2006.Other novels include Charlie Zero’s Last-Ditch Attempt, and The Orphan of Mecca, Book One. He is formerly a writing instructor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. He also taught writing and literature at the College of St. Rose in Albany as well as SUNY Albany. Copies of his books and short stories, both new and used, may be purchased at and by special order at fine booksellers everywhere.

The Thruway Killers
America Star Books
Available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon
and other online retailers
ISBN: 9781635080384

###

Reviews:

BN 5 starsTexas Book Nook
Harvey Havel has great attention to detail and makes everything from the setting, to the characters feel very real. It makes for a wonderfully written and very suspenseful novel. Definitely not for the faint of heart as this one definitely left me looking over my shoulder. Fast paced and filled with surprise moments.

Kirkus Reviews: “…Police chases and social commentary come together in this rollicking murder story about an affluent family torn apart by greed, prejudice, and its own foibles….Havel packs a good deal into his novel, which at first glance may appear to be a simple crime story. Themes of interracial or interreligious marriage predominate, from both a black and white perspective…a lot of fun.”

Novel News Network: “I liked the diversity of the novel. It pulls together different elements, all of which are executed well and come together seamlessly….I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoyed the fact that Harvey Havel was able to surprise me a couple of times. I always like a novel that keeps me guessing.”

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Book Review: Hyphema by Chelle Cordero

I read the book ‘Hyphema’ in one stretch. Very well researched and well written. The element of suspense was maintained throughout. I liked it very much. Great work.” ~ NS (5/11/2016)

2015_Hyphema__for_ACX lite

Hyphema won the Dec 9, 2011 Friday Book Cover Vote on the
Shades of Love
 website & was recommended in the book
Summer Reading: 2012 Blue Ribbon Selection published by the
Ewen Prime Co.   EMSWorld posted about both of
Chelle’s EMS novels Final Sin & Hyphema
.

~~~~~

This is my first book by this author and I would read another one of her stories.

This is Matt, Sudah and Raja’s story. Matt is white and his wife is Pakistani. Matt is a paramedic. Sudah is a stay-at-home mum who takes care of their son, Aden, but she wants to finish her education.

The story is told mainly from Matt’s perspective and you can feel the love he has for his wife. Sudah appears to love her husband. She is a Muslim and very traditional in the way she treats Matt. She is very subservient to him although he does not require this from her.

Sudah asks her husband if her cousin can come from Pakistani and live in their home with them so she can go back to school. Matt knows in his heart this is a mistake but because he loves his wife he says yes. Raja brings trouble to their happy marriage.

In the meantime there is a deranged man seeking revenge against Matt. Every harassing activity perpetrated against Matt and his family makes everyone believe these events are happening because Sudah is a Pakistani and a Muslim; but nothing could be further from the truth.

I read the book in one sitting; it was a page turner and I had to discover what happened in the end. I found the story to be an emotional roller-coaster ride because I did not believe that Sudah’s love for Matt was as deep and as unconditional as Matt’s love was for her. Even though there is a happy ending, I could not enjoy it because I thought Matt had been short changed by Sudah’s lack of trust in him. She believed Raja over her husband who had never given her any cause to ever doubt him. I was cheering for team Matt.

What would have made this book a better read for me was to hear the story from Sudah’s perspective, as well, because it was very difficult to understand her reasoning at times.

Definitely worth a read.

-Reviewed by Marcia  (from Romance Novels in Color  1/4/2016)

Buy Links

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Scribd.

~~~~~

What else has been said about Hyphema?

In Hyphema, author Chelle Cordero meets headlong a number of real problems facing her characters. She doesn’t sugar-coat cultural differences and prejudice. The series of incidents and the deaths faced by Matt and Sudah cause them to face these problems and gives the love story a depth well-done.” —Janet Lane Walters

Ms. Cordero tackles such amazingly current topics-hate, prejudice, fear of the different, with such enjoyable, suspenseful, and well-researched background, that this reader will be following her closely to see what she writes next. Each medical scene resonates with reality, and each chapter flows into the next with a flutter in the pit of the stomach for what is coming, as well as what has been.” —Brian Davidson

I sat down to read Hyphema late one night. I thought I would start it, read for about thirty minutes and then go to sleep; instead, I stayed up till almost four in the morning reading it. Immediately immersed in the story, the tension never let up enough for me to even consider putting it down and coming back to it later.

Matt is an air ambulance EMT, a flight medic. He has just moved his son, and his Pakistani wife, to a small town in North Carolina from New York so he could have this job. The job is his dream job and Sudah, his wife, couldn’t be more supportive. She is patient, caring and so obviously in love with Matt and their son that it just spills over onto the page. She’s the kind of person I’d like to have for a neighbor, but not everyone, even within the circle of Matt’s work buddies and their wives feel that way, but Sudah handles the anger and prejudice with grace and softly spoken words meant to soften hearts and break down the walls of misunderstanding.

On one particularly heartbreaking call, Matt and his team are dispatched to a motor vehicle accident involving an SUV that had rolled over. The mother was unconscious, trapped in the car and her toddler son was bloody, unresponsive and pinned in the back in his car seat. To get to him they had to get the mother out.

Knowing there was no time to wait for fire trucks and ambulances Matt and his team pry open the car door and get the mother out, but when they get to the little boy, they realize he is dead. Wanting to be able to tell the mother when she regains consciousness that they had done everything possible to save her son, Matt opens IVs wide and begins CPR on the boys still warm body, handing the CPR off to an EMT on board Matt goes to work on the mother, trying to stabilize her condition. Even though the team does everything they can the little boy is pronounced DOA at the hospital. His devastated father comes into the ER and discovers that his son is dead when he wasn’t even supposed to be with his wife, her sister was supposed to be babysitting. Overcome with grief he screams how he’ll make everyone pay.

Life for Sudah is difficult at times, even though she is a happy person with an optimistic attitude. People won’t talk to her and sometimes call her names. Her own parents will not even recognize her marriage because it is a Muslim/Christian marriage. This is extremely hard on Sudah because she loves and misses her parents, but it becomes especially hard when they refuse to even accept a picture of their grandson because they view him as illegitimate.

Sudah becomes the victim of apparent hate crimes; a rock is thrown through their window when she is home alone with a message that appears to relate to 9/11 on it. Another note is found taped to the house after the family had been away, every time they report the incidents and every time they police act as though there is simply little to nothing to do. After one particularly frightening incident the police even threaten to arrest Matt for filing a false report because they think he is making it up to make the police look bad – a task they are managing quite well on their own.

Matt and Sudah face obstacles that severely test their relationship and their marriage. I do not want to go into anymore of the specifics here, but while Matt and Sudah’s relationship plays an important role in the book, the story is much more of an extremely well written thriller and I definitely recommend reading it.” — Tracy Riva

Chelle Cordero tackles a difficult subject this time in her latest release HYPHEMA: bleeding in the eye caused by trauma. A mystery thriller with love, prejudice, and first responders makes HYPHEMA a must read in this climate where compassion and understanding will lead toward peace.

Writing from years of experience as a first responder, Ms Cordero paints an accurate, thrilling story of the lives of flight medics in North Carolina.

Matt Garratti brings his wife, Pakistani born Sudah and their baby son to begin a new life. Before long, Matt wonders if he is bringing his family into a nightmare from which they may never wake.” — Charmaine Gordon

Twenty Questions for Matt Garatti from Hyphema

Hi! I managed to get Matt Garatti off of the Hyphema pages long enough to answer some questions that I thought would interest our readers, but, ssh… he doesn’t know that I am the one asking questions — he thought he was making time for some famous journalist. I hope you enjoy getting to know more about him.

2015_Hyphema__for_ACX lite

  1. What is the name of the book where we would meet you? What genre is it?

My story is in Hyphema; a hyphema is blood in the front chamber of the eye usually from an injury and the story’s title comes from a line in the book. English is my wife’s second language and she has trouble with some common American idioms; at one point she refers to the expression “an eye for an eye” and she comments that makes for bloody eyes. I actually was introduced in the book Final Sin, another Chelle Cordero novel. Both books are EMS-based thrillers.

  1. What do you think of the author? You can tell us the truth.

Once you get past her ego, you realize she is very passionate about what she does. I have to say as one of her characters, she really loves us, we can feel that and I’m sure the readers can, too.

  1. Tell us a little about yourself. How would you describe your appearance? Give us enough detail to get a clear idea of how you look.

I think I am sort of average, my wife thinks I am “handsome in my uniform” — I’m a flight paramedic so I wear a uniform every working day. I’m pretty fit, I have to be considering my line of work, and I’m trim, again I have to be as a flight medic. Other than that I have dark hair, I keep it cropped pretty short, I stand about five-eleven, and I’ve been told I look a little like that actor Justin Chambers… I think he’s on some TV medical show, I don’t see it.

  1. What character are you in the book? Are you the hero, the best friend, the side kick, the hero/heroine’s child or someone else?

In Hyphema I’m the hero, in Final Sin I’m the best friend.

  1. Who was your best friend in Final Sin? What brought you together as friends?

I was best friends with Julie Jennings, the female lead character in Final Sin. Julie and I were paramedic partners and we rode together for our job. When you spend a lot of time with someone in a job like that you learn to depend on each other while you work to save lives. It’s very high stress and your partner is the one who understands because they are there right alongside you. There’ve been a lot of jokes about your EMS partner being the equivalent of a work spouse.

  1. Is there a specific reason why you’re in the story? Don’t give us any story spoilers, but you can share some teasers if you want.

By the end of Final Sin I had met and married my wife, Sudah. I was also looking for some kind of career advancement. When Hyphema opens, we’ve just moved to North Carolina and I have a job as a flight medic. Like the tagline indicates, I worry that I brought my family to a new place where we deal with unexpected prejudice and possible danger.

  1. What time period do you live in?

It’s pretty much contemporary, that’s the kind of stories that Chelle writes, although I have a really ironic story about that. My wife was born in Pakistan and she’s a practicing Muslim; we run into quite a bit of prejudice because of 9/11. There’s a scene where my buddy’s wife yells at Sudah that the Pakistanis are hiding Osama Bin Laden; ironically the e-book came out the week before Bin Laden was finally found… in Pakistan.

  1. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in New York State, central New York to be exact.

  1. Do you live in the same place now?

Nope. Sudah and I, and our son Aden, moved to North Carolina. We’re a bit inland from the Outer Banks. It’s a really nice area and I love to take them exploring.

  1. What special skills or abilities do you have?

I’m a paramedic turned flight medic. Being a paramedic is never boring. I enjoy the excitement and I meet a lot of people in my work. I’m there for them when they need help; I use the skills I’ve been taught to save lives, offer reassurance and sometimes just offer comfort. I admit, I feel good when I get to help someone.

  1. Are you happy with the story?

Yes I am. Chelle was a NYS Emergency Medical Technician for almost 30-years so she is really familiar with the type of things EMS responders do. The story is all very realistic. The way she deals with the cultural differences and prejudice is really down to earth and significant.

  1. Do you have some ideas that the author should consider about the story? You can share them with us. We’re all friends here.

I know that Chelle is busy writing some other stories with other characters, they’re pretty good also, but I would love to see another EMS story. Maybe Julie and Jake could come down from New York and I could get to work with Julie again. That would be fun.

  1. Tell us about your past. Can you share one really good experience and/or one really bad experience? I know that bad experience can be tough, but it would tell us more about what you’ve been through.

Well the bad part of my past, I used to not be able to talk about it, was that my father abandoned us when I was just a little kid. I was always afraid that I was going to grow up and be like him. I was really scared of having a family. When Sudah first told me that she was pregnant with our son I was really scared, but she showed me that I could be a good dad. She helped me to see that there is a difference in fathering a child biologically and being a dad who really loves his kid.

  1. Who is the most important person in your life?

I’d have to say that my wife is the most important person. She really has opened up a whole new world to me. She taught me how to love, I know that probably sounds sappy, but, she has made me very happy.

  1. What do you see in your future?

I love working as a flight medic, I dreamt of doing this kind of work ever since I rode in an ambulance for the first time. I also like the company I’m working for. Eventually I’d like it if Sudah and I had another child or two. I just want to provide for my family and watch our children grow with my wife.

  1. Do you like being a character in a book?

You know, I really don’t think of myself as just a character in a book. My life, my job and my family feel real to me. When Chelle created each of us in her mind she didn’t just give us lives for the beginning and end of the manuscript — she came up with real histories for each of us. I feel like I existed long before Hyphema’s epilogue, even long before I first appeared in Final Sin.

  1. If someone ever decides to make a movie based on your story, who should play you in the movie and why?

I guess we could give that actor Justin Chambers a crack at it, after all people think he and I resemble each other anyway, and I’ve seen a show or two he’s been in and he’s not too bad an actor either.

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Book Review: An Immoral Proposal by Jennifer B Grahm

An Immoral Proposal:
Forbidden Love Under Apartheid

Look around the room at any citizenship ceremony and every person has an amazing story of how they got there.  For Jennifer and Michael Graham, theirs was a love story.  At a time when, in 1974 under the Apartheid, it was illegal to marry outside your race, they made the decision to leave the only home they’d known in South Africa so that they could be together.

Picture this. She’s from a lower socio economic family, left school at sixteen, works as clerk in a factory. He’s from an affluent background, private school education, university degree, member of exclusive social clubs, home in the leafy suburbs. What’s the likelihood of their having a relationship: Intimacy? – Probably not. Physical? – For sure. But would it last? Not a chance. In fact, they’re courting danger. You see, she’s Brown and he’s White. Big problem. This is South Africa 1974, the height of apartheid. In her first memoir, Jennifer B. Graham takes an emotional journey back to her childhood in a hostile land that legally classified her as a “Coloured” – officially defined by the apartheid government as a “person who fails to pass for white.” Throughout her fragmented life, coupled with being both Non-black and Non-White, struggling to find a place to belong, she carves out her version of an ordered world. Her quest is exacerbated by the love of a man who dared to make An Immoral Proposal.

Reviews:

“…A most enjoyable book to read. Very well written, filled with vivid descriptions and wonderful and often quite funny anecdotes. The reader is easily drawn into a different world – that of Jennifer’s growing up in South Africa, and his/her interest and involvement grow stronger as this fascinating account unfolds: a mosaic of souvenirs, the surrounding world described with light touches and a refreshing, non-judgmental simplicity… But what I find most striking is the importance given to good manners and good behavior, the proud acceptance of one’s place in life, the adherence to strong values and, despite an unspeakable political system which divides its citizens into three categories, the respect for one another. Jennifer is left with her grandparents when she is one year old but chooses as a teenager to go back to her parents because she wants to belong to her family. The importance of belonging is very powerful and mentioned from the beginning of the story. Meeting and falling in love with Michael complicates further the notion of belonging: entering his world (and vice versa) is illegal and punishable by law.”  (Danielle Rae, St. Joe’s Book Club, Ontario, Canada)

This is a well written story which I was so sorry to finish… I wished it was longer! It is very true I think, to the South Africa I visited in 1969, but as a tourist I could only imagine the troubles and miseries happening under apartheid.
This is a very real account of two peoples’ lives almost ruined by the State. This exciting account is a wonderful, lasting account of perseverance and joy growing from the darkest place. I felt encouraged and uplifted by this story! (Louise Wilden)

About the Author:

Jennifer B. Graham is a self-proclaimed global nomad who began life in South Africa, left when she was 19 and since then hasn’t looked back. She’s also lived in England, Canada, USA and New Zealand. After earning her degree in communication/print journalism from the University of Mobile, Alabama, USA, in 2001, she wrote freelance feature articles on topics such as food, health, travel and profiles for miscellaneous publications that include Destinations, Connections, The Press, The Citizen, The Fairhope Courier as well as Triond.com. An Immoral Proposal is her first book. She lives with her husband near Toronto, Canada. Her five grandchildren split between New York and Regina keep her wandering.

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Jennifer Graham’s newsletter: http://bit.ly/1emJAdA

 

 

A Non-Stop Thriller ~ Hyphema

Hyp 3way

A Non-Stop Thriller that Will Leave You Longing for More

Reviewed by Tracy Riva
5 stars
(An Amazon review)

I sat down to read Hyphema late one night. I thought I would start it, read for about thirty minutes and then go to sleep; instead, I stayed up till almost four in the morning reading it. Immediately immersed in the story, the tension never let up enough for me to even consider putting it down and coming back to it later.Matt is an air ambulance EMT, a flight medic. He has just moved his son, and his Pakistani wife, to a small town in North Carolina from New York so he could have this job. The job is his dream job and Sudah, his wife, couldn’t be more supportive. She is patient, caring and so obviously in love with Matt and their son that it just spills over onto the page. She’s the kind of person I’d like to have for a neighbor, but not everyone, even within the circle of Matt’s work buddies and their wives feel that way, but Sudah handles the anger and prejudice with grace and softly spoken words meant to soften hearts and break down the walls of misunderstanding.On one particularly heartbreaking call, Matt and his team are dispatched to a motor vehicle accident involving an SUV that had rolled over. The mother was unconscious, trapped in the car and her toddler son was bloody, unresponsive and pinned in the back in his car seat. To get to him they had to get the mother out.

Knowing there was no time to wait for fire trucks and ambulances Matt and his team pry open the car door and get the mother out, but when they get to the little boy, they realize he is dead. Wanting to be able to tell the mother when she regains consciousness that they had done everything possible to save her son, Matt opens IVs wide and begins CPR on the boys still warm body, handing the CPR off to an EMT on board Matt goes to work on the mother, trying to stabilize her condition. Even though the team does everything they can the little boy is pronounced DOA at the hospital. His devastated father comes into the ER and discovers that his son is dead when he wasn’t even supposed to be with his wife, her sister was supposed to be babysitting. Overcome with grief he screams how he’ll make everyone pay.

Life for Sudah is difficult at times, even though she is a happy person with an optimistic attitude. People won’t talk to her and sometimes call her names. Her own parents will not even recognize her marriage because it is a Muslim/Christian marriage. This is extremely hard on Sudah because she loves and misses her parents, but it becomes especially hard when they refuse to even accept a picture of their grandson because they view him as illegitimate.

Sudah becomes the victim of apparent hate crimes; a rock is thrown through their window when she is home alone with a message that appears to relate to 9/11 on it. Another note is found taped to the house after the family had been away, every time they report the incidents and every time they police act as though there is simply little to nothing to do. After one particularly frightening incident the police even threaten to arrest Matt for filing a false report because they think he is making it up to make the police look bad – a task they are managing quite well on their own.

Matt and Sudah face obstacles that severely test their relationship and their marriage. I do not want to go into anymore of the specifics here, but while Matt and Sudah’s relationship plays an important role in the book, the story is much more of an extremely well written thriller and I definitely recommend reading it.

Hyphema

Hyphema: Bleeding in the eye caused by trauma…

Matt Garratti, a paramedic from New York, moves his wife and son to North Carolina to work at his dream job as a flight medic. Pakistani born Sudah, his wife, receives frosty stares and insensitive comments from their new neighbors.

Before long, Matt wonders if he is pursuing his dream or bringing his family into a nightmare from which they may never wake.

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