Apr 15 '04
Authors Product Rating: Four Stars
PROS: Dialog and action sequences
CONS: Description lags a bit at first
Bottom Line: Interesting storyline and engaging rural cast bump this one above average; an entertaining read.
The story opens with an unseen arsonist and hit man savoring his latest work. As an old farm burns to the ground, there's satisfaction expressed over the awful deaths of the elderly couple, caught unawares, then burnt to the point autopsies will be necessary to identify the blackened remains.
Here Gallinger's story line reels us in while his prose has that slightly flat, self-conscious style that hopefully soon will be submerged with the plot-driven tale. Luckily for the reader, it is, and soon a handful of interestingly flawed characters take center stage.
A number of inter-related story lines thrum independently at first, and then increasingly intersect as the central plot takes shape and gels. Nefarious land grabs, reluctant property owners, shocking murders and strong-arm tactics, and behind it all, a nest of arachnoid wheelers and dealers in smoke filled rooms enact their own spin on the Elks' Club.
Gallinger offers up a decent story line, mostly believable characters, (think Dukes of Heat Of The Night, with shades of Billy Bob's own Sling Blade), and realistic dialog.
I enjoyed this book, especially the realistic action sequences and glimpses of small town life. Enjoyable too, is the sort of cat and mouse adversarial games between one dedicated FBI agent and his prey who incidentally murdered the Fibbie's parents in that harrowing opening scene detailed above.
That the author avoids formulaic devices, (the hero always wins, the fiendish killer never does anything wrong, the bad guys are always 100% evil), and can offer up tasty bits of psychological insight and parallels, help to flesh out what could have been a 2 dimensional story line.
Fortunately, Gallinger brings to the tale, what he knows. Pacing and sense of place doesn't leave the reader squirming and I can give this self-published novel, one of many for this retired military marvel, a thumb's up.
Thanks, Robert, for this opportunity to review your novel. It was a positive experience and helped me while away the hours of an otherwise dull weekend.
Scribesworld Review of Suffer the Fool
In this novel of suspense, a man still suffering over the loss of his only son five years earlier conjures up a plot to gain forgiveness for what he sees as his sins. David Maloney's behavior since his son's death has given his wife, Gail, good reason to fear for his sanity. Now he manages to convince his best friend, Harvey, to allow David to fake his gruesome death. David is certain that by being arrested and convicted of his friend's grisly murder that he will gain fame and fortune after he is eventually released. He plans to write a book to tell the whole story.
But Suffer the Fool is full of twists, turns and subplots. The FBI is busy investigating a series of fires, some of which that have been fatal, the small Southern town is packed with greedy folks eager to make a pile of money and then run, and David's own plot is at jeopardy due to all of the action. No one knows, including the FBI, who are the good guys and who might have gone over to the other side.
As a debut novel, Mr. Gallinger has the ability to weave an entertaining story. I found Suffer the Fool to be a quick read, with an equal number of sympathetic characters and those who you'd never want to meet in real life. His bad guy is as bad as they get and no one is really too good to be true. I look forward to reading Mr. Gallinger's next novel.
Reviewed by Conny Bryceland, (Scribesworld).
Epinions.com Review of Deadly Encounters
Deadly Encounters leaves you wanting more from Gallinger.
Epinions.com ID: kid718
Jul 07 '03
Author's Product rating: Three Stars
Pros: Unique story line, good writing.
Bottom Line: a thrilling yet predictable mystery
Three years ago, a man lost his wife and daughter and he now dreams of loosing himself. A reaction to the anniversary, maybe? Obviously, because he awakes from a dream and finds himself in the hills over Heidelberg, Germany. But he's not alone, the body of a dead woman lies next to him. One that he had tied up himself, and had done unspeakable acts to. And he thinks about his dream…his Petra and Katja both dead.
It seems the man now has revenge on the brain, killing his first tourist (the woman) as a way to take revenge on those that were responsible for killing his wife and daughter. The finding of the body in the hills comes as a complete shock to those in town, and the killer is dubbed, “The Prince of Darkness.”
Two years later, Police Commissioner Kurt Schiller, is still left pondering the murder...along with three others that have been committed since then. All four tortured, mutilated women who had been killed during the Springtime Festival and left in the hills.
Schiller calls his friend, Inspector Stephen Krupp, into his office to discuss his new assignment. It seems that the disorganized, alcoholic inspector used to work with Schiller in homicide. Except Schiller received a promotion, and Krupp received a demotion. But Schiller knows Krupp's competencies and decides to put him on the case.
After the meeting, Schiller makes a trip to the Church of the Holy Ghost...telling his secretary Monica that he is going to say his prayers. Schiller actually goes to the church to meet up with someone that supposedly has information on the murders, but no one shows. Except Father Lotze, who continues to urge him to go to the police with what he eludes to knowing about the murders. He obviously believes that Schiller is involved in something sinister, while Schiller refuses this notion.
Meanwhile, Sergeant First Class Kafka gets a surprise; the Army is getting an inspection from Krupp and another uniformed German Policeman. Kafka is taken in to police headquarters' for questioning when Krupp and the policeman find a knife in his belongings. This seems to be a very important knife to Kafka, because he goes ballistic when Krupp decides to take it from him. None of the other soldiers seem upset to see the big man go.
Everyone seems to have their own agenda in this story, including the mayor of Heidelberg, who wants to find the “Prince of Darkness” on his own and claim the notoriety it will cause. Alice Chambers, a Battalion Sgt. Major who is also on a secret mission of her own, but cannot help her feelings towards the enchanting Krupp. And it certainly doesn't help when Alice is targeted to go down next.
Will Krupp discover who the “Prince of Darkness” is before his actions intensify with his subsequent growing rage? Will Alice's undercover work put her in even more jeopardy? Will Schiller finally confess everything he knows to Father Lotze?
*~ MY THOUGHTS ~* Robert A. Gallinger, I was so excited because it sounded right up my alley. I enjoy murder/mystery/thrillers and often times seek them out over most genres. This story also didn't seem like one I had read before and I looked forward to the change. And reading the fact sheet, I learned that Gallinger had spent over 40 years in the Army (and with the federal civil service) and his previous military (and civilian) experience lends a ring of truth to the story.
Gallinger's writing was fresh and I definitely needed that after reading some of my favorite authors lately. I swear, some of them have just been publishing whatever
comes into their minds lately. It seems the uninspiring stories coming out now are always the same and can be mistaken for previous ones by the same author.
Deadly Encounters provides a prime example of how it is important to rid yourself of grief and tragedy, not allowing it to fester inside of you and turn you into less of a
human being. Upon the loss of his wife and daughter, Schiller found himself on the
brink of madness, enacting his revenge instead of coming to grips with the reality that his loved one's were gone forever and nothing would bring them back. He was unable to find peace within himself, thus taking his rages out on those that he most associated with killing his wife and child.
**END SPOILER ALERT
Deadly Encounter was definitely a story that I am glad not to have missed, and I will be definitely looking into getting more of Gallinger's books in the near future, when I have the time to spend reading them. Yes, it was predictable, but there was just something about it that just stuck with me.
Gallinger's Other Novels
No Time To Die, Suffer The Fool, A Crooked Path, Dead Light, A Debt of Honor, Whispers, Escape, and Taken By Force
Epinions.com Review of A Crooked Path
A Path to War
Epinions.com ID: rocketgirl
Nov 12 '03
Author's Product Rating: Three Stars
Pros: Believable characters, decent action scenes
Cons: Slow in places
Bottom Line: A story most appealing to men, especially military men for its depiction
of war-time trials and tribulations.
In this story, Vladimir Antonovich, is a young Russian man. He lives with his mother and abusive step-father who constantly beats them both. He enlists in the Russian army to escape his step-father's abuse. He rises in the ranks, growing physically and mentally stronger. He vows one day to return home and avenge himself on his stepfather, pay him back for all the abuse he has suffered.
The stepfather is so cruel, figuring he can beat manhood into his stepson. You can't help but hate the man, and hope that Vladimir gets even. Provoking strong emotions in the reader is a sign of a good writer. There are some real jerks in Vladimir's army unit. They are the type that try to humiliate the recruits. Again, the writer provokes emotion in the reader, hoping that these two get their just desserts. Vladimir is much more of a character to cheer for.
The book chronicles Vladimir's experience as a raw recruit and how he rises through the ranks of the army. Assuming the training regiments described and tactics are accurate, it seems to be not much different than what American troops would experience. It is interesting to read about Vladimir's war experience from that perspective. Also, A crooked path refers to the path of life. The author skillfully winds this theme throughout the book, to explain why the book is titled the way it is.
Part of the story was set during the Russian conflict in Afghanistan, an actual historical event in the early 80s. Almost 20 years has passed since then. I think that the book could have benefited from at least a small description of why Russia was at war with Afghanistan and who were the Mujahedin they were fighting.
The overall technical writing skill of Gallinger is very good. His use of dialogue to advance the plot is well developed, especially during the combat scenes. There are several action scenes that will appeal to the war buffs. There is even a romantic relationship with his wife that is necessary to round him out as a person, but does not make the book overly mushy, a very skillful balance. There is violence, but little
profanity or sexual scenes are described.
I look forward to seeing his other works.
Epinions.com Review of Whispers
Didn't Ask; Didn't Tell
Oct 31 `03
Epinions.com ID: scmak
Author's Product rating: Three Stars
John Scully dreamt of growing up to be a soldier like his two brothers before him - and as soon as he came of age, he presented himself at the recruiting station. The year was 1949.
Boot camp introduced Scully to new worlds: he met farm boys and city boys from around the country; their accents falling oddly on his ears. He quickly learned who
his enemies were - the Swede, whose every word bore the taint of falsehood; and Johnson, who walked the walk and talked the talk of a brutish bully. And he also
made friends like Howie Sullivan, who became his best chum. Scully was every inch the soldier of his day: gung ho, strong, proud, upright. Howie, on the other hand, had
a dirty little secret (Don't tell!)
The quartet transferred together to their first posting; where late one night Scully came home from leave to find Howie barely clinging to life; beaten, raped and stabbed. With his dying breath Howie told Scully that it was Johnson, who had mortally wounded him for being “different,” and that he had also killed the Swede in the melee. Scully held his friend in his arms as he took his last breath.
At his overseas posting in Germany, Scully lived the life of a young soldier abroad to the hilt: fraternizing with the frauleins and drinking plenty of German beer. Yet there was always in the back of his mind a sense that a few of his fellow soldiers were “different,” in the same way Howie had been. And finally one morning he was called upon to teach his fellow soldiers that the measure of a man is not his sexuality but his courage - a courage that Howie and Scully had in common.
On becoming a man
Whispers recounts the processes that turn a boy into a man. Certainly, seventeen-year-old Scully could bed a woman, but that fact no more made him a man than counting sheep at night made him a shepherd. He grew up - learned how to tell right from wrong, and how to stand up for what is right. And more to the point, he learned how to tell who is right and who is wrong. Since it is through the army that Scully grows up, Whispers
is another in a tried and true genre; the military coming-of-age-tale.
Whispers is a simple tale with a simple message. Gallinger draws heavily on a forty-year military career for setting and attitude - in some cases forgetting that not all his audience will be quite as savvy as he about abbreviations and other features of army life. The language rings true for the period - “pals,” “chums,' and “soda jerks,” just like Richie Cunningham and the gang in “Happy Days.”
For being a sensitive treatment of a difficult topic, Whispers deserves my praise.
Epinions.com Review for Escape
Run For Your life
Epinions.com ID: rocket girl
Mar 23 '03
Author's product rating: Four Stars
The bottom line: This is a good suspense novel that is not a cops and robbers story.
This novel (Escape) by Robert A. Gallinger was an interesting suspense novel. Gallinger was a career soldier and since retirement has written seven other suspense novels before this one. I was not familiar with any of his other novels, but looked forward to reading this one. If I liked it there would be more of his writing to choose from.
I found the cover blurb to be a bit misleading as to what the book contained so I will provide a more comprehensive description: Pilar Brighton is having some difficulties with her husband Rich. He leaves town one day on one of his many “business” trips. In frustration, Pilar goes out for a jog, which is something she does often. While out jogging at Blakely Park in small town Alabama, three men pursue her. She doesn't know why they want her but she runs for her life. Eventually they outlast her and take her to their leader.
Leo Croker is a self-proclaimed prophet, the leader of a commune known as Willnook Springs. His flock does whatever he tells them, including kidnapping Pilar. The commune makes a living selling toys and dolls. But something more sinister is behind the commune. And Pilar is being held there against her will, for some evil plot engineered by Croker.
As far as the author's technical skill, I was impressed. The story was suspenseful and kept me reading. The book has a nice balance of narrative and dialogue, contributing to the fast pacing. Even the narrative is usually told from one of the character's points of view, instead of just destruction of the surroundings or events from an involved narrator, which also contributed to the book's fast pacing and tendency to suck the reader into the story.
There are many characters in the book, some of them on the side of the good guys and some of them on the side of the bad guys. Characterization is such that it is easy to tell which is which. It ends up that Pilar has some allies on the inside of the commune that aid her, which also heightens the suspense, because these people have to maintain their facade to Croker, but at the same time build trust with Pilar. Her husband Richard is also a good character, because when he comes home to find his wife missing, he realizes that their marital problems have been his fault and he wants to mend them. But he has to find her first.
An aspect of this novel I liked was that you get a sense of Croker's mania right from the beginning. You know he's got something else in mind besides just what he's telling his underlings, adding to the suspense. His thugs are even in fear of him. Conversely, though, the author didn't give quite enough hint as to exactly HOW Croker was evil. Was he plotting to unleash destruction against the town, the country, the planet? Or was he just seeking to manipulate people into serving him, like a God? I felt if I understood better the nature of Croker's threat it would have helped me feel more compassion for Pilar and more worry about who was going to stop him.
Another minor negative is the characters of Sanchez and Martinez. These are the “Florida people” that Croker keeps saying are coming to the commune. You get the sense there is a plot afoot, that Croker is going to turn against them. However, again, there is not enough hint of just what Croker has in mind. Of course you wouldn't want to outright tell what is going on, that would eliminate the suspense altogether. But a hint of the scope of the plot (like against all humanity!), what Croker hopes to gain (money?), and the method of his madness (is it a drug plot?), would have helped add to the suspense. The reader needs to know how important it is that this guy is stopped. If it's just a drug deal, for example, I don't think that many people are going to care that one drug lord takes out another. Instead the author throws in that the “Florida people” are coming to shoot a movie. Boy did that read weird in the midst of everything else that was happening. It does play out in the end, but its relevance seemed odd when first mentioned.
My only other complaint is that the ending seemed a bit anti-climactic and seemed to tie up everything too quickly. It does not tell what happens to the people that helped Pilar. It does tell what happens to Croker and his lieutenants but it is done too quickly and I think the bad guys needed to suffer a bit more. And though the author does provide an explanation for Croker's plan, I felt the description was minimal and needed much more detail. At the end of a book I need to feel outraged over this maniac and triumph that he has been dealt with. I didn't really feel that here.
Despite a few minor plotting “problems,” I enjoyed the book. It was definitely a unique plot, a big plus in its favor. It was also set in a unique place, small-town Alabama, which is also a place that you don't read about much in novels. I liked how the real-life unstable weather in the area was used as a plot device in the story. I liked the fast pacing and the sense of approaching danger. It was also a book that teens could read as it has no sex or profanity. There are a couple of violent scenes, but nothing worse than you would see described in the evening news. There is even a Christian message in it, at the point when Pilar is feeling hopeless about her situation and is reaching for inspiration about persevering. This book was good enough that I would likely read another book by this author.