Molly's Reviews

Cactus IslandCactus Island
A Stan Turner Mystery
William Manchee
Top Publications

Exciting Read ... Recommended ... 5 stars

The narrative opens on March 8, 1991. Stan and his are in the midst of sorrow as they attend the funeral of Peter Turner, Stan and Rebekah’s third child. Six months earlier Stan’s law partner Paula Waters accepted a divorce case against her better judgement. Stan found himself caught up in defending one of Peter’s friends who was accused with murder. The murder was based on the fact that Scouts Peter, Steven and Jimmy were involved in an auto crash that killed Jimmy. Steven claimed he had seen a spaceship and that is what caused him to lose control of the vehicle. Paula’s case goes from bad to worse when her client’s soon to be ex husband goes missing. Despite no evidence and no body, Police are sure Cheryl Windsor has killed her wayward spouse. Stan’s case too is becoming rocky as tabloid newspapers flock to Cactus Island where there is supposed to be evidence of alien presence. Cheryl Windsor’s children are abducted. When a charred body is found the authorities feel they have rock solid case against Cheryl. Things begin to heat up when Stan learns that Jimmy Falk is actually the missing Martin Windsor’s son. Paula makes a trip to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to check on a bank where Windsor money may be hidden. That trip turns out to be a big mistake and Stan finds himself with the Windsor case dumped in his lap. Space ships, covert action, mysterious disappearings all are a big part of he tale.

With ‘Cactus Island’ William Manchee offers another riveting tale in his ongoing Stan Turner series. The reader is hooked immediately from the first line in this gripping, keenly portrayed story theme. The narrative is told in the first person, chapter by chapter by Stan and law partner Paula Waters. Initially I had a little problem deciding who was talking, but I soon had that figured out and zipped right into the story. Transitions are handled well, I wondered how Manchee could pull plot and sub plot together in a believable manner, and found that Manchee has done it again with wit and adroit writing. As always Manchee’s characters are uncontrived, well portrayed and plausible. I have found with Manchee’s character there is no middle ground, we really like the likeable, and really despise those deserving our aversion. Colloquy flows naturally as the characters work to unravel problems. The plot zenith and outcome are handled with usual Manchee aplomb. I have no problem believing that Stan would have dealt with the situations he faced in Cactus Island : a Stan Turner Mystery precisely as is drafted by author Manchee.

Writer Manchee has set together another great milieu of engaging, convincing characters, predicaments and blunders. The tale Manchee weaves in ‘Cactus Island’brings us another great romp with full time lawyer part time sleuth Stan Turner and his law partner Paula Waters. With the character Doc Verner and his insistence that aliens have landed on Cactus Island, Manchee has added a little plot twist to titillate and surprise the reader. ‘Cactus Island’is a well-written tale filled with many of the characters we have come to enjoy from the first works in this ongoing series. The Turner children are now nearly grown up we see Stan, Rebekah and their family much as our own. And that is in part what makes this series so engaging.

‘Cactus Island’ is a good choice for those who enjoy well written, fast paced Mystery Thrillers in the fashion of Gresham and Queen. Good choice for the personal pleasure reading list, and high school library shelf. Little profanity makes this a good choice for the mature teen as well as adult mystery reader.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.


Black MondayBlack Monday
William Manchee
Lean Press

Entertaining Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

The narrative opens as Stan Turner laments Mondays. By late afternoon a frantic telephone call from an old client, Tex Weller closely followed by a visit from Derek Donner convinces Stan that Mondays really should be banned. Donner, Stan’s casualty insurance agent, has arrived with the news that one Lottie West has been found dead and Stan is the executor of her estate. The widowed Mrs West and her dozen or so dogs all have apparently died as result of a gas leak. Stan’s last appointment of the day is with Robert Huntington, who needs an attorney desperately, however Huntington cannot really say much about why. ‘This is a matter of national security. You don’t have the proper clearance.’ Once again Stan Turner is off on an invigorating, if at times puzzling, series of events that will ultimately lead him to uncovering not only unintentional homicide but also the looting and recovery of the long lost Ludinburg collection of priceless art treasures.

Set in Dallas during the savings and loan emergency of the late 1980s "Black Monday" is an easily read tale filled with conundrum, chicanery and mystery. Dallas Police Department Detective Bingo Besch, accused murderer Jimmy Bennet, Stan’s partner Paula Waters and Rebekah, his wife, all figure in the tale. Included in the narrative are a polemical turf battle between the FBI and CIA involving the Iran-Contra Scandal, three Dallas homicides in a single night and a profusion of flash backs to various 1987 events.

With his invariably astute adroitness, writer William Manchee has once more crafted one of his greatly enjoyable Stan Turner mysteries. Stan is again embroiled in scenario and subplot as Manchee intertwines the diversified elements of the tale with his usual dash and skill. Fully drawn characters are well fleshed, filled with imperfection and foibles and often given to perplexing artifice.

"Black Monday" is a thrilled packed compelling read filled with a masterfully engineered story line, snappy, first class dialogue and spine tingling action. Liberal conflict is judiciously resolved in this cleverly written work "Black Monday" provides the reader a glimpse inside the daily lives of characters who are engaging and interesting and thoroughly supposable. "Black Monday" is another in what this reviewer hopes is to be a very long series of William Manchee’s ‘Stan Turner’ mystery thrillers. The work remains my favorite type of book of good solid writing filled with credible characters and circumstances. As with other Manchee works there is no graphic sex thrown in an effort to sell the book or to try to cover up lack of writing skill. "Black Monday" is just a satisfying, well written edition.

Fans of a fast paced suspense thriller are sure to find "Black Monday" more than satisfies their longing for an excellent book for whiling away a long winter evening or during a summer after spent reading out on the front porch. A must have for the home library, the pleasure reading shelf and high school reading list. We who enjoy suspense filled mystery thrillers can only hope writer Manchee continues hard at work on the next in the series. I look forward to that next one and each of the ones to follow. "Black Monday" is a narrative that will grab you from the first line and will hold interest steady right on down to the last page.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Deadly DistractionsDeadly Distractions
William Manchee
Lean Press

Pleasantly puzzling Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

Stan Turner, Dallas based Attorney, husband and father along with his family are on vacation in July 1986. Stan's wife Rebekah is looking forward to having some special time with Stan. The kids are hoping for fishing and white water rafting. Stan has a brand new partner; Paula Waters who has brought some much needed cash as well as 'a head for business' into the firm, and is set to enjoy so time away from Dallas and the pressures of his law practice. It isn't long before Stan finds himself flying to Texas to meet with an old friend. Dusty Thomas, a bad luck kid from way back, is accused of shooting and killing a federal officer. Bobby Tuttle was just doing his job in trying to confiscate some the Thomas farm machinery for back taxes. The worst of it is: there are witnesses who saw Dusty, weapon in hand, standing over the body. Before the tale plays out Ecuador, a radical paramilitary group known as the CDA … Citizen's Defense Alliance, a DC income tax protest, scrutiny of both Stan and Paul by the press and the FBI, soft ball sized hail stones, a woman with a crush on Stan, 1.8 million dollars and a hit and run all figure in what appeared at first glance to be a simple case.

As always Manchee has a tale to tell, and he does so in the same fast paced, action packed thriller rounded out with a well developed theme manner as he so known for from past works. Manchee's penchant for presenting an intriguing tale wherein little is as first seemed is getting better with each book he writes. Manchee's writing skills are becoming finely honed. On the pages of "Deadly Distractions" there are enough twists and turns to please and perhaps lead astray even the most discerning reader. Action addicts will be pleased, the lively tale has something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn, an intriguing mystery and just plain a good read. Manchee's genius for taking knowledge from his own attorney background experience and bolstering his scenes is evident from "Deadly Distractions"' outset.

Writer Manchee's legal thriller brings us in contact again with Stan Turner, one of my favorites of Manchee's characters. Watching the amicable, at times bumbling Stan trying to balance family with work against a woman determined toward more than a casual relationship brings more than one smile to the lips of any reader who may have found themselves in any part of the particular scenario.

Manchee's characters are well developed, dialogue is gritty, believable, hard hitting at times, milieu are filled with sights and sounds and enough description to draw the reader into the setting. "Deadly Distractions" is a gripping tale grasping the readers interest from the opening lines as we nod in agreement with Stan 'never call your office while you're on vacation' across all 300 pages and right down to the last paragraphs where we discover Dusty's luck remains the same.

Excellent book for a long lazy afternoon when you have time to savor a well written thriller, watch the red herrings. Manchee does his usual excellent job leading the unsuspecting astray!

Plastic GodsPlastic Gods
William Manchee
Top Publications

Absorbing Read … Happy to Recommend … 5 stars

As a follow up to "Death Pact" in which we met Rich Coleman and his wife Erica, comes "Plastic Gods". The book opens with attorney Coleman ruminating over his life with Erica, his children and his law practice. Coleman is surprised when eldest son Matt announces his marriage plans to a woman he has only recently met. Matt and Lynn hold an almost single minded determination to quickly become very wealthy. Their plan is to tap into the potential bankruptcy market. Lynn's college professor Swensen is convinced that disreputable forces are at work behind easy credit enjoyed by many until they can no longer pay their bills. Rich cautions both Matt and Lynn against investing all their money too quickly. But, before long Matt's charm and knowledge of bankruptcy law along with Lynn's penchant for marketing the pair engender a TV campaign that brings in more work than either dreamed.

It doesn't take the banking industry long to notice that bankruptcy filings in the northern part of Texas are suddenly burgeoning. MidSouth executive vice president Douglas Barnes, chairman of the board Frank Hill and a treacherous ex Marine, Hans Schultz join forces to coerce Matt out of the bankruptcy scene. Matt will not budge. Hill and Schultz step up their campaign to include murder, defamation and lots of dirty tricks. Following Matt's being set up by a supposed landscaper needing debt relief; Matt faces not only jail and probation but a hefty fine as well. When the depraved banker and his deadly henchman endanger Lynn they have gone too far. Matt uses his jail time to fine hone a strategy for settling the score between himself and Frank Hill. The FBI, police from Texas to
the east coast, the stock market and even Federal Congressmen all figure in this tale.

One of Manchee's best "Plastic Gods" is a nail biter. From the opening paragraphs when Rich Coleman reflects over his own life and muses about his son's surprising decision to become an attorney through the whole action packed tale we follow Matt on his headstrong journey into a life he never expected. Matt's impulsive determination carry him and those with whom he associates into jeopardy, lethal danger and a crassness the naïve young man never suspected existed. Writer Manchee's long years as an attorney hold him in good stead as he guides the reader through what might be far less interesting reading if offered by a less gifted writer. The reader is drawn right into the setting as Matt faces questioning by the Texas Bar Association, trial and incarceration. Manchee's writing skills only increase as he continues producing narrative after narrative filled with zestful characters, absorbing premise and spine tingling action.

I did not find Lynn a particularly likeable character when first introduced, however she grew on me, and I was saddened to read of Hans' attack upon her. Matt's terrified concern for his wife, his predictable desire for revenge against the banking entity and chairman Hill in particular were handled with deftness. This reader was caught up in the tale and wanted Hill brought to swift and certain justice as well. Potent emotions, perilous conspiracy, treachery, perplexing tale, a keen eye for detail are all bound into this stunning work as writer Manchee offers the reader a peek into a side of banking and credit most of us never realized might exist. I enjoyed following the strategy outlined for bringing Hill and those associated with him to justice. While "Plastic Gods" is a work of fiction the tale offered by writer Manchee certainly gives the reader something to think about when we receive our next bank card credit offer in the mail.

Not for the faint of heart. Excellent read, happy to recommend.

Death PactDeath Pact
William Manchee
Top Publications

Enjoyed the Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 Stars

When thirty one year old Dallas Attorney Richard Coleman is asked to become trustee for Franklin Fox estate he has no idea that within a few weeks his life is going to make a complete change. Pretty, headstrong seventeen year old Erica Fox is used to getting her own way, and how.

Rich receives a frantic call from Switzerland where the elder Fox has just died in an accident and a tearful Erica needs help. Rich soon finds himself beguiled by the seductive young miss, making poor decisions and even marrying his young ward. When Erica's tight lipped aunt is found dead and Erica is charged with murder Rich is enmeshed in a fight for his own professional life and for the life of his wife. The pair are nearly frantic in their efforts to effect a favorable outcome to the trial Erica must face. Erica vows she would rather be dead than face life in prison without Rich. Rich knows he feels the same.

"Death Pact" is another in the growing body of hard hitting, well written books being produced by talented writer William Manchee. In Rich Coleman we find a very likable if somewhat befuddled man besotted by his young wife. Writer Manchee weaves a carefully crafted tale around the human frailties of greed, immaturity, unreasonable demands and the often incomprehensible behavior of the human critter.

Filled with the same good writing, eye to detail and awareness of the not always pretty human condition we have come to know and enjoy so well in his previous works, Undaunted, Second Chair and Brash Endeavor author Manchee makes a bit of departure in "Death Pact". Language is a little grittier and sex scenes are a little sexier than found in the Stan Turner series. True to his well developed professional writing style Manchee does not rely on glitz
or sensational to carry the tale; rather he draws the reader into the narrative from the outset and holds interest tight with a good narrative, well developed characters and believable dialogue.

Not for everyone; some graphic language and some graphic sex.

Cash CallCash Call - A Stan Turner Mystery
William Manchee
Top Publications

Highly Recommended

Dallas attorney Stan Turner again faces too little money, clients who won't or can't pay, a baffling murder, friends who need his legal expertise and lots of artifice from unexpected sources. Turner and his wife Rebekah become friends with the Don Blaylocks. Before long both Blaylocks are facing legal and IRS problems. A poorly thought out investment on the part of Don Blaylock and a group of entrepreneurs in obtaining a Golden Dragon franchise has plunged them first into dire financial straits which is quickly followed by the murder of the unscrupulous restaurant promoter.

Stan is holding on to his legal practice by his fingertips as his creditors demand money he cannot pry loose from tight fisted clients. The Turner kids are growing up, Marsha is now 8 and her brothers are 10, 12 and 14. Stan accepts a boat as payment in kind from one of his 'impoverished' clients. The boat is another in a series of missteps Stan has made when it comes to client payments, Rebekah is furious of course. A fishing trip to Lake Texoma nearly becomes the end of the line for Stan and daughter Marsha.

The Blaylock legal problems mount. Stan faces the insistent attentions of an old flame along with Rebekah's jealous fury. A wrongful death suit worth enough money to bail himself out of his own money hassles gives Stan a little hope for a brighter future. Diamonds hidden in another 'payment in kind' set of pottery and just plain danger all are part of Stan's days as he tries to unravel his own problems along with the hassle the Blaylock's are facing.

Writer Manchee has set together another great setting of entertaining, convincing characters, predicaments and blunders. The tale Manchee weaves in Cash Call brings us another great romp with full time lawyer part time sleuth Stan Turner. Turner has a lot of Perry Mason in his methodology but works without Mason's perfect record. Cash Call is a well written tale filled with many of the characters we have come to enjoy from the first works in this ongoing series. As the Turner children grow up we see Stan, Rebekah and their family much as our own. And that is in part what makes this series so engaging.

The reader is hooked immediately in the first sentence of this gripping, creative story theme. Transitions are handled well, with plot and sub plot all tied together in a believable manner. Manchee's main characters are natural. Dialogue is not contrived as the characters work to resolve conflicts. Climax and conclusion are handled with usual Manchee skill. I can easily believe that Stan would have handled the situations he faced in Cash Call exactly as is set down by writer Manchee.

Poor Stan and his ever present cash flow problems does manage to again prove his clients are not guilty of the murder of the smooth talking scoundrel who was the cause of so many of their money and other problems. The ongoing joke in the books concerning the 'payment in kind' fiascoes are just plain fun.

Writer Manchee continues to grow as a writer. Cash Call is a well crafted novel in the manner of the best of Ellery Queen, Gardner and Gresham. Dialogue is fast paced. The narrative moves smoothly from Stan and his personal situation to his interaction with clients, the romantically inclined gal who just will not accept no and even a mobster or two.

Entertaining read, Highly Recommended.

UndauntedUndaunted - A Stan Turner Mystery
William Manchee
Top Publications

Highly Recommended

Not long after OCS candidate Stan Turner arrives to begin his Marine Corps career he is horrified to find himself both a prime suspect in a horrific murder and a resident in the Quantico brig. The fact that Stan's fingerprints are all over the murder weapon used to do away with his drill sergeant does look bad, real bad, for the recent college student.

Turner is married, the parent of one child and soon to be father of the child Rebekah is carrying. Rebekah's ever present jealousy clouds her thinking when the best hope for proving Stan's innocence is provided by an attractive journalist and a libidinous nurse who finds Stan every bit attractive as does his wife. Rebekah has stomped home before either the baby is born or the murder trial Stan must undergo is completed. Turner has always wanted to be an attorney, his joining the Marine Corps comes as much of surprise to him as it does to others. Little does he realize that the fellow he befriends upon his arrival at Quantico has a hidden secret.

In this introductory volume to the Stan Turner series Writer Manchee weaves a fast paced, tightly wound narrative filled with intrigue, deception and circumstance which are not always as they seem. Undaunted proves Manchee's understanding of the justice system; not a wholly surprising situation for this successful Dallas attorney. Undaunted has it all. Love, duplicitous murder, a serial killer, The Corps, suicide, and a bigoted white supremacist all race the reader through the pages of this gripping work.

Writer Manchee always weaves an excellent account. Stan Turner is a 'common folk' stumble over his own feet at times type hero…. just the kind of hero most of us feel most comfortable knowing. Undaunted sets the groundwork for the novels to follow. We meet Stan and Rebekah, get to know them and find them likeable despite their little imperfections. In this first in the series Stan manages to evade the gallows, complete his bar exams and remain married to Rebekah. None of this is done without some wear and tear on our hero.

Watch for red herrings. You may find yourself caught by surprise with the ending! Delightful read, highly recommended.

Top Pulications

My favorite kind of mystery! Lots of action, keep you turning the page intrigue, skillful weaving of more than one theme and no 'obligatory' sex scene plunked into the mix in the mistaken belief that 'obligatory' sex will perhaps make up for poor story and will sell books anyway.

Dallas Texas Attorney Manchee puts his knowledge of the legal scene to good use in this well written tale. Little does Stan Turner, attorney, and his wife Rebekah realize when they invite friends and business associates to a holiday party that death, lawsuits and an ice storm will result that night. In the wake of the holiday party mishaps Stan Turner accepts a nearly impossible client to defend against a horrifying murder even as he finds his own life turned topsy turvy. Writer Manchee cleverly plaits the various strands of the story and brings them all to a satisfying conclusion.

Fuse the fast paced excitement of Les Roberts' Pepper Pike with a hearty slosh of good old time Ellery Queen intrigue for a notion of what writer Manchee's SECOND CHAIR is all about. This fifth mystery by author Manchee is a highly entertaining read. The consternation felt by Stan Turner is obvious as he faces an apparent madman, defends his client and gets himself into hot water with the judge sitting the case. The interwoven issues Turner must deal with as he struggles to discover the truth behind his client's problem, and his own, are ingeniously wrought in this exhilarating thriller. Author Manchee has an awareness of the legal scene many do not have. He puts that understanding to excellent use to present a narrative so gripping that you will not want to put the book down until you have reached the last page. Manchee's characters are imaginative and well thought out. From the enigmatic fellow lawyer to the patient Rebekah each is singular and wholly plausible.

SECOND CHAIR offers the reader a fast paced, action packed thriller and makes me sorry I have only now discovered this particular series. I am now most anxious to read the first two of Manchee's Stan Turner mysteries. SECOND CHAIR is an entertaining yarn that will grab you from the opening line and will carry you right on to the last page. Highly perspicacious and highly recommended.

Trouble in TrinidadTrouble in Trinidad
William Manchee
Top Publications
Highly Recommended

High School student Kevin Wells is caught up in a web of deceit, danger, duplicity and intrigue not to mention flatout heart stopping DANGER as a response to his throwing himself in front of the bullet intended for a visiting dignitary. The Trinidad-Tobago Prime Minister is saved by the young ROTC cadet. His gratitude prompts an invitation to visit his home when Kevin comes to Trinidad to testify against the supposed assassin. Kevin's wound is healing well when the time comes for him to board the plane for his Trinidad adventure. The resulting visit is fraught with confusion, murder attempts, unexpected help and Kevin's finding of a soul mate.

The teen is determined that he live a 'normal' life albeit remaining chaste in our society is not only difficult for a normal young man, it is not always considered to be the norm by many. Before setting out for his meeting in Trinidad with the Prime Minister Kevin finds himself fending off advances from 'friends' who are determined to 'help' him with his 'problem.' The immaturity of Kevin's peers is evident even as he is facing head on more serious issues of life and death.

William Manchee continues to further his role as premium writer by producing another in a series of bang-up works. This narrative is a bit of a change from writer Manchee's Stan Turner series. And, this reviewer found the change to be as compelling as Manchee's other publications. Filled with vigorous, well developed characters, vibrant dialogue and as much hair raising action as the reader can handle; TROUBLE IN TRINIDAD is a gripping novel readers will find hard to put down.

Right from the prelude Manchee's adroit crafting embraces the reader, carries that reader along on a breathless roller coaster of emotion and action and at last leaves the feeling of 'sorry it is over.' The work is well written, and convincing. It carries a subtle message for pre marital abstinence without overpowering the storyline. The 'bad guys' in this work are really louts who deserve our disdain, the 'good guys' are ones we hope will emerge the victor.

Watch those red herrings! Don't be caught napping with the surprise in store near the end of this fine, fast paced Manchee novel.

William Manchee
Top Publications

Stan Turner and his wife Rebekah are unaware exactly how their lives are about to change when Stan determines to open his own law practice. Following this decision the only steady, reliable income coming into their home is derived from Rebekah's work a few hours each week at the nearby Central Receiving Hospital where she in ICU/ER nurse.

Much to the delight of Stan and Rebekah clients and the promise of constant income do soon appear, Stan's old friend Kurt Harrison sends the flamboyant Gena Lombardi and her problems to Stan, Inca Oil needs an attorney to do land title searches, Kurt introduces Dan Kelley. Things are looking up.

An offer for a percentage in an oil well rather than a fee for work performed is viewed by Stan as a method for insuring a good steady income. The only fly in the ointment is Rebekah's growing dissatisfaction and plain old wifely jealousy for the attractive women Stan meets in the course of his work.

When Stan and the nubile wife of a client are found in a clinch out at the 'coming in' party held at the newly opened well Rebekah is sure her suspicions are well founded. A short time later Stan finds himself facing the fact of his wife's arrest for the death of that wife of a client, caring for his four young kiddies with the help of Rebekah's mother and trying to unravel how it has all gone so wrong.

Merge Robert B. Parker's 'Paper Doll,' with 'Traitorous Intent' by Charlotte Lacey along with a generous splash of plain old Erle Stanley Gardner intrigue for an idea of what BRASH ENDEAVOR is all about. This mystery thriller by clever writer William Manchee is a 'keep you turning the page' read.

The jealousy felt by Rebekah is plausible and the desperation driven behavior of her husband to find answers to incomprehensible questions is as thinkable. Stan knows no matter how upset Rebekah may have felt; the woman he has married, loved and had four children with could not have done such a thing as to kill someone. He knows he will have to sort it all out, find the actual murderer and rescue Rebekah from the morass in which they find themselves. The interwoven personal issues between husband and wife, between Stan and his clients, between Turner and the police are all very believable in this intricately wrought thriller by Dallas, Texas attorney Manchee.

Manchee's deftness for the human situation and his expressive narrative draw the reader straight into the tale. This experienced writer has a discernment of the human psyche many do not possess. He uses that understanding to present an assemblage of characters so distinctive and credible the reader believes they must be actual people.

BRASH ENDEAVOR offers the reader a peek inside the daily lives of individuals who are interesting and fun and wholly plausible. BRASH ENDEAVOR is another in a series of William Manchee's 'Stan Turner' mystery thrillers. My favorite type of book, good solid writing filled with believable characters and situations, no graphic sex thrown in just to sell the book or to try to cover up lack of writing skill, no silly posturing, this is just a good, well written book . We who enjoy thrillers can only hope writer Manchee is hard at work on the next in the series and that many more Stan Turner novels are soon forthcoming. BRASH ENDEAVOR is a tale that will grab you from the first line and will hold you tight right on down to the last page. Very perceptive and highly recommended.




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© 2006 by Molly Martin