Review: Black Widow by Mike Wells

 

Book 10 of Lust, Money & Murder

Title: Black Widow

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2017

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: “I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

Warning: Lust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the first book and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing it, because this article contains spoilers from the first book!

In case I haven’t bored you enough or even annoyed you with my favourite espionage series, today I’m going to write a few paragraphs about Mike Wells’ most recent book in this series, Black Widow, where Elaine is forced to confront and relive her past.

Six months after the events from the ninth book, Elaine Brogan receives an unexpected visitor, whom she hasn’t seen in years.  Kathy, whose identity I won’t reveal, came to Elaine’s farmhouse to ask for help and to reveal a terrible truth about Patrick Brogan’s death. As if the reencounter with this strange yet familiar person wasn’t enough to shock Elaine, now she was to cope with her old wounds too. In order to find out the truth about the suspect aka Spyro Leandrou aka Kathy’s husband, Elaine needs to go to Santorini (Greece) and pose as a governess for Leandrou’s illegitimate son. Meanwhile, Luna goes to Pittsburgh to investigate Patrick’s case.

Kathy is a character I didn’t like that much because she had the gut to appear again in Elaine’s life out of the blue to seek help because she feared for her life. No wonder Elaine reacted the way she did in the first chapters because she didn’t trust Kathy even a bit.  However, things might begin to change in Greece, where the two will pretend to be employer and employee. Kathy is apparently refined and ladylike; instead, she’s insecure and she hasn’t quit her lifelong vices. The thing that annoyed me the most about her was the way she got rid of the Canadian governess. Okay, I understand that Kathy needed to make room to facilitate Elaine’s access into Spyro Leandrou’s house, but the way Kathy did it made me shake my head in disapproval, to say the least.

As for Spyro Leandrou, who is a criminal, according to what Kathy and Cattoretti said: the Greek tycoon seems to have a good side too: he shows his unconditional love to his son Alex, for whom he provided a thorough education both for his mind and body. On the other hand, if we look at Kathy and Elaine’s relationship, it will change a bit for the better; Elaine discovers qualities and abilities Kathy didn’t seem to have before.

This book was pretty steady-paced (with a few exceptions) because Elaine, Luna and Dimitry go on this new mission to gather information and to enable Elaine’s access to Leandrou’s criminal activity. The book has beautiful descriptive passages about Dubrovnik (Croatia), Oia and Fira (Santorini, Greece) which made my heart swell with joy because I’ve visited those places at least twice until now. The narrator makes fun of the unspoken rules of Greece, which seem very strange for Westerners, as well as Dimitry’s mentality, which I can understand to a certain point. Anyway, it was an interesting read and I’m really curious to see what happens next.

Review: Escape from Sudan by Mike Wells

Book 9 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: Escape from Sudan

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 5/5 stars

Warning: Lust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the first book and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing it, because this article contains spoilers from the first book!

Blood diamonds, she thought. That’s exactly what these are. She felt almost as superstitious as the Africans now, as if the pink diamonds themselves had somehow caused all this hardship and death.” (Loc. 2421-2423).

As some of you already know, Lust, Money & Murder is one of my favourite series and, even though I’ve taken a break from it for a few months, here I am writing a review for the ninth book, which is entitled Escape from Sudan.

Elaine Brogan reveals her true identity to Stanley Ketchum, but the former-CIA agent doesn’t believe that the pretty blond is a U.S. Secret Service agent, but ‘some gold digger who was working with Raj to get her hands on the diamond mine”. (Loc. 456-457) Therefore, in order to push the mission forward, Elaine must convince Stan to cooperate and she hopes that he will not inform Raj about her (and Luna’s) unofficial investigation on Malik and his illegal smuggling. Will Ketchum’s conditions change the initial plan? How will Cattoretti react? Caught between Cattoretti’s plan and the investigation, Elaine Brogan must also cope with the frequent attacks from the Janjaweed warriors, who constantly follow them.

Meanwhile, back in Tangier, Nick LaGrange has problems of his own: from questioning his wife’s relationship with Cattoretti, finding out the truth about Isabella, to being held prisoner by some Ukrainian gangsters. What’s real and what isn’t? How will Nick manage to escape and what other risky missions will he have to go on?

This book was an emotional roller-coaster for me because some plans change; others almost fall apart due to dangerous situations, mistrust or new information, which took me by surprise as if they punched me in the face. This novel is one of the bloodiest of the entire series and almost everyone gets shot or hurt at least once. I was shocked, I was surprised, sometimes even disgusted, but I laughed when a character or a scene was funny and I rooted for Elaine and Nick to escape from the life-threatening situations they were into. You never know how things will end even when you are inches away from finishing the book.

Review: Blood Diamonds by Mike Wells

Book 8 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: Blood Diamonds

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book, because this article contains spoilers from it!

Towards the end of Book 7, Elaine Brogan is obliged to join forces with Giorgio Cattoretti, in order to bring Raj Malik down as a revenge for what Malik did to her and Nick. According to Cattoretti, Raj’s wealth is based on the profit he makes from smuggling diamonds from a secret cave in a war zone from central Africa. Though Elaine thinks this mission is very risky, she wants to bust Raj for everything he has done, while the Italian mastermind is most of all interested in the rare pink diamonds themselves. For this mission, Elaine has to track down Stanley Ketchum, the ex-CIA agent who supplies Raj Malik with the precious diamonds and to use her charms to find out the exact location of the mine and to give the coordinates to Cattoretti.

Meanwhile, Nick, who escaped from the black site with the apparently mute nurse, Alisha, discovers that she is actually Isabella, the woman who blew up one of his undercover missions from the past that might have killed him. Though Nick is disgusted with what Isabella did to him a few years ago, he wants to know if she was linked in any way to the attack from the black site and to those who hold Elaine hostage. Though the reencounter with Isabella stirs some mixed feelings in Nick, he is equally worried about what had happened to Elaine and even insecure at the thought of her being again with Cattoretti. Even if Isabella’s presence annoys Nick, he reluctantly accepts her offer to help him look for Elaine, in exchange for a service he has to return.

Elaine’s journey through Northern and Central Africa is remarkably built and written through the way Mr Wells depicts and outlines the local cultures of Morocco, Chad and Sudan, the issue of poverty, war and extremism, international aid and dangerous encounters with wild animals. Though changing her identity is a piece of cake for Elaine, I think that here she plays her best role pretending to be a Texas trophy wife with the purpose of seducing Stan and hoping she will have the opportunity to see the diamond mine up close.

Will she get what Cattoretti wants without making Stanley too interested in her? I’ll let you find out for yourselves.

Review: Off the Grid by Mike Wells

Book 7 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: Off the Grid

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Warning: Lust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it

In the beginning of the seventh book, Elaine Brogan and Nick LaGrange drive to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where they are arrested on the spot for letting Cattoretti go. Ouch! It looks like Raj Malik found out somehow what the two secret agents did and he decided that it would be better to put them in prison and interrogate them whenever he likes. There, we enter the abominable hell Elaine lives in; terrifying thoughts cross her mind that she will not see Nick or her children again, she endures the humiliation of staying in a windowless, stinky cell and she undergoes various methods of torture (such as loud metal music, sleep deprivation, starvation) which gradually affect her mind and senses. Unlike his wife, Nick copes a little better with this subhuman treatment, because he worked as a professional extractor if you still remember from book 6. But how can he escape without his equipment? Did Elaine and Nick reach a dead end? Will anyone help them get out of this obscure place? Read the book and you will find out.

A secondary plotline stretches in front of our eyes and we read about Luna Faye’s story: her mixed-race origins, the traumas caused by the kids at school who bullied her and made fun of her size and looks, the reasons why she became interested in Martial Arts and in a career as an FBI agent. For me, it is fascinating how mature Luna was in her teen years and what a strong sense of justice she had at that time in her life. Becoming an FBI agent, she is sent to investigate the case of a famous serial killer that inspired her to enter the field of forensics. In this part of the book, you will also understand why Luna is so afraid of flying and how she managed to stop the serial killer and his accomplice from getting away.

Elaine and Nick’s imprisonment and some events that take place in the second part of the book were a bit scary, thought-provoking, but they made me read on. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about Luna’ story. It was a little too long for my taste, as well as Dimitry’s mission to follow Raj everywhere he goes. I am a devoted fan of this series, but I had some mixed feelings while reading Off the Grid and I’m not so sure if I still want to continue reading it. The premise of the eighth book is pretty tempting, but what if the digressions or secondary plots bore me like it happened in this case?

I guess I’ll have enough time to answer this question until the next book comes out. I’m not a big fan of book series and I’m pretty surprised that I came so far with Lust, Money & Murder, which means a lot, but for my curiosity to be fully satisfied, the eighth book needs to be more dynamic (especially the first half of it) and maybe as engaging as On Russian Soil, for example. However, this is my personal and honest opinion and suggestion. I’m not scolding Mr Wells, but if nowadays we have the privilege to connect with the authors of our favourite books, why we shouldn’t analyse their works critically, for the benefits of both writers and readers? I hope that my thoughts about this book will not spoil your excitement about it, but a reviewer’s purpose is to notice both the highs and lows of a book. Until next time!

Review: The Extraction by Mike Wells

Book 6 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: The Extraction

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2015

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it!

I just can’t believe how addicted I am to this series. The cliff-hanger from the previous book was so well done and so intriguing that I couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen to Elaine Brogan and how she would overcome a certain life-threatening situation.

In the beginning of the sixth book, Raj Malik receives Elaine’s message and then the “head of the U.S. Secret Service operations in Europe” (Loc. 27) calls Leon Gilmour, a professional extractor, who rescues American assets from neutral or hostile countries. He must extract a young American agent who is suffering from hypothermia and wolf bites. It also seems that she is held hostage by an insurgent and Leon must deal with him too. Afterwards, he must destroy any evidence of struggle or gunshots before the police find them.

Some important events and secrets from Leon’s past are uncovered, though the hint given by the narrator in one of the first chapters will definitely make the readers of the previous books recognise him immediately. However, I will not reveal the name of the character. I can only add that life can sometimes be very ironic.

In this book, we can see how twisted Cattoretti’s mind is (more than ever if you ask me), what plans he has got regarding Elaine, her family and her saviour. How evil can a criminal mastermind get? However, after returning home, Elaine hatches a plan to find Cattoretti’s hideout, because he has kidnapped Tony, but also to find out where Lexy and Cattoretti’s son was taken without the mother’s consent.

The book is full of amazing elements: split missions through which the agents find more information about Cattorretti and his accomplices, epic fights in unexpected places, adrenaline, suspense, but also a bit of humour every now and then. However, the story is not over yet because we have to explore the seventh book.