Tag Archives: St. Petersburg area

Failure to protect a witness rocks self-esteem of protagonist

A Beautiful Voice, by Robert Lane. Mason Alley Publishing. 404 pages. Trade Paperback $14.95.

Lane

It’s difficult, and not terribly important, to summarize the plot of Robert Lane’s latest novel, the sixth in his “Jake Travis” series. The attraction of this crime thriller is less in the plot line than in the high quality of characterization, physical setting, and moral ambiance. Meeting Jake and his friends, his girlfriend Kathleen, and several other well-drawn characters who are newly developed for this novel is the real pleasure.

 

Here’s the set-up: When a government agency assigns Jake to safeguard a witness who is brought into the U. S. to testify about the head of a major drug syndicate, the idea is that the witness will keep a low profile. Without warning, this man, an accountant with priceless information, arrives with a family – a wife, two young daughters, and an even younger boy. When the family disappears just a few days later, Jake gathers that he has been misinformed, but why? What has happened to Alejandro Vizcarro and his young family?

Lots of surprises follow, including the fact that the gorgeous wife, Martina, is actually the accountant’s first daughter, much older that her siblings. And it’s possible that one of the children is not a sibling to the others.

The Mexican drug cartel leader, Sergio Flores, has a thriving business. His tainted drugs kill thousands of Americans. No wonder the U. S. government wants him brought to justice. In addition, he has murdered two DEA agents. Some of his books are kept by an American, Richard Bannon, and it’s the hope of Jake’s associates that Mr. Vizcarro’s testimony will tumble Bannon and, in turn, Flores.

Well things just don’t work out. Vizcarro’s protection, set in place by Jake, is just not sufficient. A remaining part of the mystery is the to discover and protect Vizcarro’s children. Assuming they are still alive.

As readers follow the plans that Jake puts in place for himself and his comrades, they enter Jake’s world more fully. This is a world of weapons that Jake’s team knows how to use. It is a world of waterways along the western edge of the Florida peninsula (the St. Petersburg area) that is at once the setting for Jake’s home and the action center of the novel. It is a world of magnificent boats and crime-busting accessories that Jake has long mastered. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 4, 2019 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the September 5 Bonita Springs and Charlotte County editions, and the September 12 Naples and Key West editions, click here: A Beautiful Voice

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Politics and power block the truth about mysterious disappearance

Naked We Came, by Robert Lane. Mason Alley Publishing. 355 pages. Trade paperback $14.95, Kindle e-book, $4.99.

This fifth Jake Travis Novel has plenty of Mr. Lane’s familiar mix of grit and literary style plus a more personal premise than the earlier titles. When a man who was the primary suspect in his missing sister’s disappearance is found dead on the beach near Jake’s home, the floodgates of emotions long held in check open and threaten to overwhelm him.

Why now, thirty years after her abduction, has this man Hawkins been left to be discovered? Is the confession he wrote just before his body washed ashore genuine or coerced? Jake feels that latter is likely, and that the identifying DNA evidence has been manipulated.

The discovery of the corpse raises hundreds of questions, but three are central. What happened to Jake’s slightly older sister, whom Jake had last seen when she was seven? Is there any chance that she is alive? Was Jake in any way responsible for leaving her vulnerable?

Riddled with long-suppressed despair and guilt, Jake commits himself to find the answers and mete out personal justice to whomever is responsible for her disappearance and possibly her death.

Robert Lane

All of Jake’s investigative and martial skills, along with those of his loyal friends and the understanding of his devoted girlfriend, will be needed to sustain Jake in this time of raging personal need.

Before long, Jake discovers that people in private and governmental corridors of power are determined to thwart his quest. The truth about what happened to Brittany includes secrets that they need to keep hidden. Following up on the long-terminated official investigation of her disappearance does not get Jake far, but it does bring the forces arrayed against him to attention.

Searching for a starting point to pursue the thirty-year-old crime, Jake retraces events at the southwest Florida Vanderbilt Reef Motel where he and his family were vacationing. His efforts lead to three linked figures who would have been young men spending time in the area back then. Well-connected attorney Bernard Carlsberg is one of them. Carlsberg has a connection to a shady Russian wheeler-dealer named Peter Omarov. And Omarov has connections to U.S. government agents who protect Omarov because he is a valuable source: a conduit to what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine. The third man, David LeClair, is clearly a key – but Jake learns that LeClair has been dead for thirty years. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the November 1, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the November 2 issues of the Naples, Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Naked We Came  

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Motives and means collide in shadowy Sunshine State thriller

The Gail Force, by Robert Lane. Mason Alley Publishing. 341 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.

This fourth title in the Jake Travis series maintains the powerful rush of suspense, the intricate observations about places and personalities, and the complex tradecraft of its hero that has come to be expected. The task that Jake undertakes is unusually convoluted, the stakes are high, and the women are so very, very attractive. gailforce-hi-res

Karl Anderson and his pretty wife Riley have found trouble. Karl has disappointed a sinister fellow named Phillip Agatha who under the cover of running an art gallery is an entrepreneur in blackmail and murder. Karl does not escape Agatha’s wrath, but he manages to get Riley on her way to safety. Soon she is depending on Jake to protect her, which means eventually dealing with Agatha.

Agatha, known as the Fat Man, is the target of an FBI investigation, but he seems to lead a charmed life for one in this position. Though there may be people he deals with who would like to rat him out, he may have influence inside the FBI, someone whose personal and professional interests benefit from Agatha’s services. This is truly one of those “you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys” situations, and Mr. Lane handles all the implications and nuances of this morally murky environment with great skill.

Jake and his long-time, super-skilled buddies team up with an FBI sting meant to bring down Agatha. Millions of dollars flow in and out of various accounts to make this happen. This alliance is managed by Jake’s FBI insider, attractive female Agent Binelli with whom Jake has partnered before. This task brings him, under cover of course, to Agatha’s offices and his super yacht, “The Gail Force.” Agatha is a man of incredible taste and the money to indulge it. He’d like to keep it that way. He sends his lovely assistant Christina to show Jake around. She is quite a distraction, and their relationships builds from role playing to flirtation and is on the edge of becoming much more.

Robert Lane

Robert Lane

In fact, just as suspenseful as the painstakingly schemed mission is the growing magnetism between Jake and the much younger Christina. Jake’s attraction to her complicates the reader’s understanding of his healthy, uplifting, and fortunate relationship with Kathleen. It’s clear that Kathleen, developed in the previous Jake Travis novels, is the love of his life, the perfect mate, and perhaps more than he deserves. The scenes between them are magic in every way. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the November 23, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the November 24 Naples, Bonita Springs, Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter, and Palm Beach / West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – The Gail Force

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