Category Archives: thriller novel

“Towards Yesterday” by new writer Paul Antony Jones blows hot and cold, but many may enjoy this fast-paced science fiction thriller


So, once again, for the 7 billionth time in science fiction, a brilliant scientist (you know, distinguished, silver haired, white lab coat) working on some super-high-tech contraption flips a switch and – BLAMMO! – he plunges the entire planet into chaos!

I hate it when that happens. Well, I guess it can be okay if the situation results in some thrilling science fiction fun — and I will grant there is some of that in this worthy effort, TOWARDS YESTERDAY, which is a first-time novel venture for writer and journalist PAUL ANTONY JONES.

There is much to like, but equally as much to criticize in this attempt to write a fast-paced, pot-boiling sci-fi yarn very much in the tradition of Dean R. Koontz, although this offering blows a tad more technological, whereas Koontz leans more toward horror.

In brief, this is a time travel scenario in which the entire human race gets thrust 25 years back in time by an experiment with tachyon particles that goes badly awry. The situation offers plenty of opportunity for interesting premises – such as the dead being “revitalized” when they are allowed to wake up again 25 years in the past. Old people are young and vigorous again. Widowed husbands are joyfully reunited with dead wives, a man gets to see his long-dead child alive again. And this is juicy: Adults suddenly find themselves back in their childhood bodies, but with their grown up minds and memories all intact! Nice!

But the shock of the sudden and inexplicable time quake also creates societal chaos and a period of readjustment, forcing all of humanity to come to grips with a mind-numbing set of circumstances. The calendar gets instantly dialed back from year 2042 to 2018. Yow!

What’s agonizing about this novel is that it often misfires even when the author is doing all the right things. I mean, he gets and “A for Effort” is his ability to keep the action going – but unfortunately, some of the action scenes come off as numbingly tedious in their rendering. For example, if you want your hero to bash in the head of a bad guy with a car bumper – why spend a whole page or so describing in minute detail the process of tearing the bumper off a wrecked car as we wait for the head-bashing?

The bigger problem for me, however, was the uneven inner psychological workings of the characters. For example, the main character, Jim Baston, alternates back and forth from tormented “inwardly destroyed” man who killed his own daughter and ruined his marriage, to happy-go-lucky brilliant scientist and writer who easy-breezily falls in love with a sexy young mathematician. In one scene, Baston endures a gut-wrenching reunion and conversation with his ex-wife whom he thought was dead (along with his little girl) — and right on the next page he is enjoying wine, a candlelight dinner and hot romance with his new number-crunching honey!

Also, one of the most promising and primary characters, the preacher Jacob Pike, just kind of recedes into the background of the plot and basically fades out of the story — which is kind of inexplicable. A final and truly critically flaw of the story is the way the toughest challenge the characters are grappling with resolves itself – not through direct action of the heroes – but rather through a happy circumstance of science. This sort of “oh, we never thought of that” situation destroys the punch of the ending.

But, you know what? – I am going to do some of my own time traveling right now and predict the future. My prediction is this:

That one day Paul Antony Jones is going to be a millionaire because he will be a best-selling author. No, I’m not being snarky or cynical, or just trying to be nice. Not in the least. I just bet it happens. This author has everything it takes. His writing skill (which is considerable) can produce the kind of mass-market page turners that publishers love to promote, and gazillions of readers like to buy to read on the beach, or while riding the bus, or just to enjoy.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

The Hangman’s Daughter: Part Historical Fiction, Part Horrer, Part Mystery Thriller, All Good


THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER is an English translation of a German novel that achieved best seller status in Europe and began doing well in the U.S. market after being offered as a Kindle selection on The translation is well-handled by LEE CHADEAYNE, a member of the American Literary Translators Association. Its original title is Die Henkerstochter.

Author OLIVER PÖTZSCH creates a vibrant fictional world set in 1659 Bavaria. The action takes place in the tiny village of Schongau, which is a real location in Germany near the Alps and the Lech River. In fact, Pötzsch was inspired to write this novel after an intensive study of his family’s genealogy, which led him to discover that he is actually descended from a long line of professional executioners, or hangmen.

The title is something of a misnomer because the hangman’s daughter herself plays only a supporting role. The hangman, Jakob Kuisl, is our main protagonist, and he’s a wonderful character indeed – that’s because he is complicated mixture of stunning contradictions. When ordered to, he will hack off the head a convicted man, no matter how flimsy the evidence, or torture women before he burns them at the stake based on ridiculously trumped-up charges of witchcraft.

On the other hand, Kuisl is highly intelligent and in his chest beats the heart of a humanitarian. He is smarter than just about everybody else in town, and he’s even a far superior healer and physician than the two local “quacks.” In short, he is a Hangman with a Heart. (Hey, maybe that would be a better title)?

Anyway, the plot centers on an accusation of witchcraft against a kindly midwife – who just so happened to have delivered the Hangman’s kids – and who is also known for her kindness toward orphaned children. The charges are prompted by the brutal murders of several local children, whose lifeless bodies are discovered to have “witch signs” tattooed on their backs.

The plot quickly thickens, however, as the Hangman suspects the midwife is innocent, is certainly no witch, and he begins snooping around for the truth. With the aid of a young doctor, Simon Fronwieser, the pair proceed like a post-Medieval version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They began to uncover a tangled conspiracy that reaches to the very center of the Schongau’s wealthy burgomaster and aldermen elites.

For me the novel works on almost every level. Superior character creation, good enough plotting, excellent description of scene, setting and background – although I will say there are stretches of tedium with too much detail inserted as the author does his best to keep us turning pages while dangling mysteries just in front of our noses, but always out of reach – until the end. There was a tad too much of this unnecessary teasing for my likes, but others might disagree.

The sensitive reader should be warned that there’s plenty of violence and bloodshed, gruesome scenes of torture and killings – including the violent deaths of sweet children – and other descriptions of sundry bloody human processes – not to mention and unflinching look at the all of the basic feces, urine and filth (human and animal) that the people of this time period lived in close proximity to before the advent of modern plumbing and sewer systems.

The Hangman’s Daughter is ultimately entertaining, loaded with dark humor, and the author has a natural sense of irony, which is generated by showing us the stark differences is the societal norms of 1649 Germany as compared to what we think of as rational and sensible today.

Looking back from the vantage point of our lofty perch of 2012, the people of the mid-17th Century seem a bunch of hopelessly violent, greedy, superstitious lunatics – but we have to remember – their world was “normal” and “rational” from their point of view. Before we judge them too harshly, imagine what the people of 400 years into our future will think of our “rational” society of today.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

A Sexy International Thriller That’s Boring

Review By Ken Korczak

An incredibly lovely young American woman, oozing with allure and sexuality, jets off to Europe. She parlays her irresistible sensual powers into a small fortune by sleeping with as many super-rich, handsome men she can lure into her 5-star luxury hotel mattresses – sound good?

I suppose if you are an average woman living in, say, Iowa, and you have a boring, soul-killing job working as a stock clerk at, say, Wal-Mart, it would be very pleasant indeed to enter the world of Megan Nolan, whose serial whoring has enabled her to pack away $600,000 of sex money in a Swiss bank account. Sweet! But her adventures are only beginning!

Ms. Nolan manages to get herself involved with a devilishly handsome Saudi millionaire, who is not only a soul-shattering sex partner, but also gets her entangled in the world of international politics and the war on terror!

The jam she gets herself into is so severe, her sublimely handsome, muscular father with amazing Robert-Redford-caliber hair must also flit off to France, where police detectives have some awful news for him about his bed-hopping daughter.

Fortunately, the detective assigned to his daughter’s case is no snotty French gumshoe in a wrinkled trench coat, but a sizzling hot, sexy female bombshell cop who instantly volunteers to get a DNA sample from the troubled dad by getting her, er … hands … on some of his sperm! (I’m not making this up!)

Yes, author James LePore knows that you don’t want to be bored when you read an international thriller novel. He knows you crave stories about beautiful people having a lot of sex, punctuated by violent encounters with brutal killers, thugs, low-lifes and spies!

All this, and LePore manages to write a fairly flaccid book that has about as much tension as a game of Scrabble. On the other hand, this is an okay enough read for a lazy day on a summer beach, or if you need something to read on a long plane ride, or maybe on the bus as you travel to your crummy job at Wal-Mart.

It’s typical genre fiction that does not rise to the heights of the best Ludlum or Forsyth, perhaps, but it manages to eek out maybe a C-Plus from a jaded, obscure book reviewer like me.

Ken Korczak is the author of MINNESOTA PARANORMALA