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Into the Black: Janey McCallister Mystery by Beth Barany (Book Review)

She wanted to make her mark. How hard could it be?

In 2130, at Bijoux de L’Etoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, you can get anything you desire.

Newly-hired as an investigator, Janey McCallister wants to solve her first big case—the theft of a priceless gem.

When her case of theft escalates to murder and points to the seedy underbelly of world affairs, Janey has to rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator, Orlando Valdez—before a killer escapes into the black.

***

Into The Black is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough heroine with secrets.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

Into the Black had mystery, suspense, deception, murder, and sexual tension. Janey and Orlando’s interactions reminded me of Castle and Beckett, the lovable characters from the hit detective show — Castle. 

In the television show, Richard Castle brings out the fun side of Kate Beckett. He’s handsome, sneaky, flirty, quick to mischief. Hmm, yup, it sounds a great deal like Orlando Valdez. Janey and Beckett have some of the same qualities, too. Tough, intelligent, leaders, goal-driven beauties, but can let their hair down at times as well. Plus, they both seem unable to resist their partner, who was thrust upon them against their firm objections… (Figuratively, not literally, of course) 🙂

 

This story is labeled as science fiction, but I can see certain elements coming to pass as technology grows. 

*Casino in outer space? Sure, why not? Casinos are popular on Earth already. 

*Ocular eyeballs? I’m surprised Elon Musk hasn’t created that already.

*Personal AI assistants? TOTALLY!

*Penal colony on the moon? Alcatraz is known as The Rock, so would that make the moon The Rock 2.0?

 

Joking aside, buy the book. You’ll like it, I’m sure. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

 

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Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/itbnews.

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The ‘Janey McCallister Mystery’ Series by Beth Barany (Multi-Book Showcase)

She wanted to make her mark. How hard could it be?

In 2130, at Bijoux de L’Etoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, you can get anything you desire.

Newly-hired as an investigator, Janey McCallister wants to solve her first big case—the theft of a priceless gem.

When her case of theft escalates to murder and points to the seedy underbelly of world affairs, Janey has to rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator, Orlando Valdez—before a killer escapes into the black.

***

Into The Black is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough heroine with secrets.

Kindle Purchase Link
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Her implant flagged a quick movement in the crowd. Out of place, a shadow shifted. She clicked on her video. She’d get irrefutable evidence this time. Hope and determination fluttered in her chest.

A short, grey-haired man wove his way through the crowd, shoulders hunched, barely jostling people. Her implant flashed an ID: Mortimer Xang. His hotel record showed he’d arrived via space jet a week ago, and he had a room in the mid-priced level. No others in his party. He was leaving on the next transport Earthside in a few hours. Payee: Xang Enterprises.

One minute left.

He looked innocent enough, except for how one corner of his mouth quirked up in a faint smirk even though his gaze was downcast. His arms seemed pasted to the side of his body, and he took tiny steps as if to make himself even smaller.

Classic moves of a thief. Suspicious, though not evidence.

Her vid was recording, but all the other thefts had happened under the casino cameras and had not been detected.

She’d always trusted her intuition and her ability to read body cues before. But since she’d come to the station, she’d gotten it wrong twice. Should she wait for another sign that Xang was guilty? No, her gut told her he was up to something. She trusted that.

If she waited for the pickpocket to strike tonight, they could be here all night and still come up empty. She had to act now.

But if her instincts were wrong again, she’d be looking for a new job tomorrow.

“Got a possible,” Janey said to her team. “Shawhan, guard the exit. Lane, converge on my position. Kou, take our six.”

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At Bijoux de L’Etoile, the high-end casino orbiting Earth, anything can happen.

It’s a quiet day for L’Étoile lead investigator, Janey McCallister, until a young woman runs screaming through the blackjack tables. She looks like a victim of abuse, but when her boyfriend turns up dead the next day, she becomes the prime suspect.

Determined to investigate every angle, Janey searches for clues and uncovers a world of high-priced escorts and human trafficking—a world just like the one that took the life of her best friend long ago.

When Orlando Valdez, inspector for Sol Unified Planets, shows up with a new suspect, Janey isn’t sure she can trust the mercurial man who stopped returning her phone calls. But as the threats escalate and she unravels a deeper conspiracy, Janey and her team will need all the help they can get. If they fail, it could be the end of everyone on L’Étoile.

***

Lured By Light, the second book in the Janey McCallister Mystery series, is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys, and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick-ass heroine with secrets.

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She said good-night to Faizah and stood up to go. Just then, from deeper in the casino, a young woman in a short, rainbow-sequined, barely-anything-there dress dashed past the bar. Fear tightened the young woman’s mouth, her olive skin splotched red. Her short brown hair flopped in her bloodshot eyes as she pushed through the crowd, saying something Janey couldn’t hear above the clamor of the huge room.

The young woman made barely a ripple in the boisterous, game-playing crowd, but Janey noticed her. She was trained to notice anything out of the ordinary, but this was more than different. This was startling. The young woman bore an uncanny resemblance to her best friend, Christine, who’d been dead for over four years now.

Time to intercept and find out why the young woman was in such a hurry and so distressed.

Janey rushed to interrupt the woman’s trajectory toward the casino exit.

She strode through the crowd while her ocular implant ran a facial rec and dished her the woman’s name and hotel registration: Amelia Gain. Her check-in date was seven days ago, her hotel registration and premium room service paid for by the Eshe Kamal Coffee, a corporate city-state inside of the Independent Empire of Ethiopia. She looked young, no more than twenty-three, but corporate often sent their staff to L’Étoile as a corporate perk or for bonus vacations. And five to ten percent of L’Étoile’s guests came from Eshe Kamal Coffee.

Amelia’s heart rate accelerated and her breathing shortened, all details Janey registered in a flash on her ocular implant in her right eye, which scrolled data continuously across the top of her visual field.

Janey was two arm lengths behind her, then one. Close enough to hear what the young woman was saying under her breath.

“Oh my god, no! No more. I can’t…He can’t…I won’t…” Amelia’s words burst out between sobs.

Near the slot machines at the casino entrance, Janey reached out to touch Amelia’s shoulder to slow her progress and get her attention. “Can I help you?”

Amelia flinched from Janey’s outstretched hand and shook her head. Tears streaked her cheeks. “No!” Her strident voice carried above the whine and buzz of jangling slot machines.

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Coming April 14, 2021

L’Étoile’s lead investigator Janey McCallister faces her hardest case yet.

On the eve of the hotel space station’s twentieth anniversary celebrations, Janey must discover who robbed the casino’s vault, killed one security guard, and left another badly wounded.

Since the casino has only a day’s worth of cash on hand, she needs to solve the case before the theft creates a mass panic and puts the casino-hotel out of business—and before the criminal strikes again.

During the search for those responsible, Janey and Orlando Valdez, her on-again off-again lover, and undercover cop for the Sol Unified Planets, are kidnapped in mysterious parts of the station.

Not only does Janey have to work together with Valdez to get free, but she’s faced with a terrible choice between saving the life of someone she cares about and protecting the hotel casino guests and staff. Janey must face enemies from within and outside unexpected quarters.

***

Gone Green is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick ass heroine with secrets.

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 Janey McCallister Mystery series
Into The Black (Book 1)
Lured By Light (Book 2)
Gone Green (Book 3) – Coming April 14, 2021
Red Running Deep (Book 4) – Date TBD

 

 

Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/itbnews.

 

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Nexilexicon by Keith Anthony Baird (Book Review)

NOTE: A story which incorporates similar themes to major motion pictures such as these – JURASSIC PARK, ALIENS, ALIEN RESURRECTION, STARGATE, THE LOST CITY OF Z.

From the sworn oath of an ancient curse a cult rises. She is the ocean vast, its deadly rake, and primal power. Her first ones commune from across the great divide and make their new hive in the emptiness of men. A secret project, born from the ambitions of a young nobleman, transcends the passage of time and reaches through the veil of life and death for her reawakening. Deep beneath a mountain, inside a secure facility at the heart of a covert black op called Nexilexicon, a team of scientists, the military and the CIA are about to punch a hole through to another dimension. What could possibly go wrong?

What begins in the wilds of the Amazon jungle in 1847 culminates in a threat to mankind’s very existence.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)


This story takes part in different time periods, so I’ve broken up my review into sections to discuss each area. Beware, there are spoilers! 

 

Chapters 1-8

The story begins with Sander van Straten embarking on a voyage. It’s not long before feelings of excitement turn to feelings of dread.

First, a mighty storm struck and they lost a young sailor.

Next, a swarm of insects descended on their ship and the crew had to hunker down below deck.

Then, there were the strange markings on the barrels and several stolen items.

Was the cook correct in saying this voyage was cursed? Even though I found Keith Anthony Baird (the author) long-winded at times, and the story seemed to teeter on the dull side, I was curious about the crew’s fate.

The crew’s trek through the Amazon jungle was quite adventurous, but I’d expect no less. They crossed paths with many exotic creatures, came face to face with a spider the size of a man’s head, and were ambushed by the natives. I wished they’d stayed in the jungle longer. I was thoroughly enjoying their time there, even though they weren’t at the least.

When they went back on the Eva, trouble again struck hard and fast. Rhames overtook their ship, and Eva’s crew members were held captive for two weeks, starved before released onto a small island. No drinkable water, no food, nothing but the clothes on their backs. The men turned into savages. They ate one of their own, had to if they wanted to survive. Sander couldn’t allow himself to partake of human flesh. I’m not sure I could’ve either.

 Life on the sea was hard, but life on land was no picnic either.

 

Chapters 9 -11

We jump forward in time to 1964. For over a century, Eva’s treasure has been lost to the sea but no longer. Wreck hunters have found the bounty and, with it, the curse that accompanies it. These chapters were laced with mystery, intrigue, suspense, death, and left me wondering what the hell was going on.

 

Chapter 12

It’s 1973, and an international team has been in the Al-Hajar Mountains for five weeks. Five weeks before the discovery of a chamber’s entrance. What they did find there is an archaeologist’s wet dream: mummified creatures, crystals, and a civilization that thrived and appeared highly evolved and intelligent. Unfortunately, their good fortune didn’t last long. Nobody’s luck remains good for long in this story.

 

Chapters 13 – 15

2012 – Project Nexilexicon was underway, and things were finally getting really good. Using DNA discovered at a dig site 40 years ago, scientists have reanimated/resurrected the creature Sander van Straten saw during his time in the Amazon jungle. The animals had six limbs, around 650 pounds, and had a presumed bite force that would resemble a crocodile’s.

I knew these creatures would escape their enclosure, but I didn’t realize how they would. They were extremely organized and intelligent in their escape. I won’t go into detail, but you’ll be amazed by what these creatures could and did accomplish.

Humans versus beasts… I knew it would be a bloodbath, and I was right. Keith Anthony Baird had the creatures biting heads off and separating limbs from bodies. Soldiers did everything to stop them, even sacrificing themselves for the civilians.

This set of chapters were my favorite out of the entire book. I actually could’ve used more action like this. In my opinion, I would’ve edited out much of the beginning time spent in 1847 and devoted more paragraphs to Project Nexilexicon. What the scientists and government were doing underneath a Nevada mountain range was the only reason why my score became a solid three stars.

 

Overall Impression 

The first eight chapters were mostly bland. Chapters 9-11 were okay. Chapter twelve had great potential but fell flat overall. However, Chapter 13-15 had me on the edge of my seat! I also enjoyed the epilogue because Keith ended with a nice twist. It’ll make you wonder what’s going to happen next for Project Nexilexicon.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤

 

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Keith Anthony Baird lives in rural Cumbria, England, with his partner Ann, a mad spaniel, two cats and two goldfish. He’s also inherited two daughters and a grandson. He’s had a varied career, having been a journalist for ten years, and also a designer and a retail manager in his time. The Jesus Man is his first novel, written throughout 2016 and based on an idea he devised just under thirty years ago.

Inspired by such luminaries as H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. G. Wells, his aim has been to deliver stories in a classic vein, but with a contemporary slant in both style and content. He aims to remain entirely independent, producing his works his own way, without interference from traditional publishing houses.

In his spare time, he and Ann indulge their shared love of the mountains by scaling the many peaks of the inspirational Lake District National Park.

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