Category Archives: Political Intrigue

Hard to Die

Hard to Dieunknown

by: Andra Watkins

Word Hermit Press LLC   Charleston, SC



I tagged this book with “historical fiction” because the characters are certainly historical.   The primary character is Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr (remembered primarily for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel).   Theodosia died under “mysterious circumstances” and therefore has found herself in Andra Watkins Afterlife series.

Those whose deaths are unresolved find themselves in Nowhere.  They have limited memories of the circumstances of their deaths, and no memories of their time in Nowhere.  Each has a “conductor” who charges them to help a living person make a better choice in their lives.  The dead have 13 chances to find resolution or they will be trapped forever in this in between place.

Theodosia’s life was filled with political intrigue.  Her father was tried for treason.  Her godfather was probably a spy.  She herself was highly educated and involved with many of the movers and shakers of her time.  (She makes an appearance in the musical Hamilton.)  It is not a surprise that her Afterlife story would also be filled with spies, treason, and political intrigue.

Set in the Hudson River Valley near West Point, the geography and legendary history of the area also play a role in the story.  The scenes in New York City revolve around Grand Central Station and its starry skied ceiling.  Theodosia is having her past life in 1950.  Her mission is to help one of the West Point cadets make a good choice towards a better life.

Unfortunately for Theo,  Nowhere is hardly a solitary place.  There are several other characters from Theodosia’s life who are also struggling with resolving their deaths.  The interplay between what has past and what is happening in the story, still our history, adds to the intrigue and suspense.

Andra’s novels bring historical characters into three dimensions. She makes her characters come to life and places them in settings that contribute to the story telling. Hard to Die grabs the reader from the start and hangs on tightly through all the twists and turns. I’m not sure I like Andra’s Theodosia, but I found her fascinating. Looking forward to more Nowhere novels.


Also by Andra Watkins:






To Life Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis   This is Andra’s first novel and the first in the Afterlife series.  Meriwether Lewis is quite the character and the harrowing run towards the place of his death along the Natchez Trace adds color and history to the story.


Not Without My Father   A memoir of her journey as she walked the Natchez Trace, her father along as her back-up and support.


Natchez Trace: Tracks in Time   The photo journal of Andra’s walk


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The Joshua Effect

The Joshua Effect51v5Ld5ks-L._AA160_

by: P. S. Meronek

Ponytale Press, San Diego, CA  2013

ISBN: 978-0-9857096-3-1

It seems like forever since I’ve written a book review.   I’ve done a few in my head of course.  It’s not as though I stopped reading.   I just stopped being motivated.

Then I learned about Goodreads “First Reads” program.   This is an area where authors consent to give away a limited number of books to interested readers.  It’s not a lottery.  They get to pick and choose among the applicants.   I’ve seen thousands of readers sign up for the chance to get one of three available copies.

In return the readers agree to write a review of the book (good, bad, or otherwise.)   I got lucky.   I signed up for several books that looked like they might be interesting, and a few that seemed like a good chance.  When I actually got a book I was thrilled.

Then I opened the package and wondered why I’d signed up for this one.  The blurb on the back reads like a detective novel.  The first paragraph describes the book as “this clever, nail-biting who-done-it.”  I’m an eclectic reader, but that’s not typically my first area of interest.

This novel fits better in a category with All the President’s Men or The Manchurian Candidate.   It’s much more Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn than Arthur Conan Doyle or Laura Childs.   Which, oddly enough, makes it much more my style.

The novel is written from the first person point of view of Jonathan Strickland.  He’s a real estate tycoon, whose father was in construction.  He’s a self-made man with more money than he knows what to do with.  We learn he’s blown the best relationship he could ever hope to have with his self-centered lifestyle.   But he’s got good roots, a solid foundation, and friends who are talented and loyal.

Then a building collapses.  His building.  The building he was just about to land on for a reception he’d scheduled.  His high roller friends were waving hello and then disappeared as the skyscraper disintegrated under them.

For all of Jonathan’s high finance, he’s got a solid ethic.  He knows construction from the ground up and he’s safety conscious.  Now he has a mission.  He needs to find out what happened, how it happened and (are you ready for it?) who-done-it.

It’s a compelling, hair-raising, white knuckle ride.   The setting is international and the stakes are very high.  How many more building will go down?  To compound the issue Homeland security is involved in its own investigation, as are several other government agencies.

Like an episode of Covert Affairs, sometimes the government is willing to lend a hand to the business man who can cut through the red tape.  Other times they are very reluctant to share information and resources.   It becomes more and more difficult to tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys”.

The ending isn’t solve the worlds problems satisfying.  Like the rest of the story it keeps one foot solidly in plausible.  But I will say once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down until it was over.

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Fiction, Political Intrigue


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