Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Universal Stories

February 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Face of Fear book cover.jpgA Chilling Tale Set Nearby
Book review by Effie Speyer

In his debut novel, The Face of Fear: A Powers and Johnson Novel, R.J. Torbert utilizes the infamous ghost mask from the Scream movie franchise. That’s not all that’s instantly recognizable, however — the location for this murder mystery is set in the village of Port Jefferson, New York, an area known to locals and visitors alike.

The story begins with a kidnapping on the ferry from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport. When a string of murders occur that are connected to the case, no one is above suspicion.  Residents of Port Jefferson, the Suffolk County Police, and the FBI are all suspects!

While the FBI feels mounting pressure from the media to solve the murders, killings attributed to the “The Ghost Face Murderer” continue. It seems as though locals and officials alike have some link to the crimes committed, keeping readers wondering about motive behind the murders.

Torbert’s writing had me convinced that I had solved the mystery, only to reveal another piece of information to refute my theory, sending me back to analyze the clues again. The Face of Fear is a suspenseful page-turner, enhanced by how the author seamlessly weaves fictional characters with real residents and establishments. This intermingling makes the horror seem all too real — and too close to my home!

Amidst the spine-chilling tensions are two budding love stories involving Detectives Powers and Johnson, the lead officials investigating The Ghost Face Murderer. But the story never veers far from the gruesome killings. The mask the murderer uses to hide his identity even comes from the apartment of one of the detectives!

I recommend The Face of Fear to every reader, as it has something for everyone — crime, murder, romance, humor, and history, all happening in one of Long Island’s prettiest port towns.

webPlus_web_green1 Read an excerpt from The Face of Fear by R.J. Torbert

Ron, Eric and Brian drove to Cliff Road and parked the car about one hundred yards away from Bell Circle.  Ron and Eric had hand guns called Grandpower R100 Slovak semi-automatic pistols while Brian carried a pump action Remington 870 Shotgun.  They walked in the still of the night and stopped about 25 yards away from Officer Dugan now sitting in the cruiser.  The three of them split up to their assignments while Ron attached a silencer to his gun.  Ron walked to the left of the road and was given four minutes to peacefully cause Dugan to take a walk or to get outside of the car.  The plan was to eliminate him before he could request back up.  Once he was taken out, they figured they had five minutes to decoy what would be happening about a mile down the road to allow Simpson, Phil and the voice to secure the cash.  The only thing that the three of them didn’t realize was Phil had already beaten them to the money.  Ron began his walk in front of the house and true to form Dugan got out and stood by his car.  What the three intruders didn’t realize was Dugan had texted Lynagh there was a pedestrian on the road before he got out of the car.  Lynagh told bud and the detective started looking out the front window.  He had started to tell Lynagh to get his shotgun but he heard the officer already pull the gauge back.

“Probably nothing,” Bud said, “but lets be ready.”
“Excuse me, sir,” Ron said.  Officer Dugan spoke,

“Kinda late for you to be walking the streets alone, even in Belle Terre.”  As Dugan spoke, Eric was able to quickly climb from the side of the house to the front bedroom window where Lindsey slept.  The twelve year old girl had heard noises on the house but was used to creaks and noises, especially from the heating system.  This time her gifted hearing heard someone working quietly to open her window.  Lindsey began getting nervous but was too startled to even run.  She started throwing her plush pigs she always slept with against her room door to awaken Healey.  By the time the window was open, she had thrown her last and final pig against the door.  As she started to pull the covers over her head, Eric was already sitting inside the window ledge.  He pulled out his knife in order to keep it as quiet as possible and even liked that Lindsey covered her face with the covers.  He noticed the door slowly opening and he pulled his gun out from his sleeve and pointed it at Lindsey just as he saw officer Healey standing there with his 9mm Glock on him.

“So,” Eric said. “You are truly the good bodyguard.  How did you hear us?  Healey stood there.  No words but with the gun focused on the intruder.  Lindsey lowered the covers and without moving her head, her eyes were rotating from Eric to Healey.  Eric continued to speak.  “Looks like we have a problem, I’m not leaving here ’til she’s  not breathing and you will most likely shoot me, so either way, you have failed because she won’t be alive.  You have failed officer.”  Still, the officer with his arms straight out would not respond.  The silence was uncomfortable to Eric but he continued to speak.  “You shoot me, I will still pull the trigger.  The question is who will shoot first.”  Healey focused on Eric’s eyes without saying anything.  Finally, the twelve year old girl spoke in words barely audible.

“I trust you,” as she finished those words, Monty who was sleeping under the bed let out a small sigh.  Eric’s eyes quickly glanced to the bed and Healey took his shot.  The bullet hit him squarely in the head as he fell through the window onto the secondary roof and onto the ground.

Dugan turned around and Ron fired twice hitting Dugan in the back and his leg.  Healey’s shot was heard as Lynagh started to run upstairs but was held up by Bud.

“No! Stay here! Call for backup!  If there are more of them, you need to be down here! Justin! Justin!” Bud yelled.

“I have the girl!” Healey yelled from upstairs.

“Get the family all in one place!” Bud screamed , “Now!”  He saw Dugan on the ground in the circular driveway, he looked back at Lynagh.

“Nobody gets upstairs! You hear me!”  Lynagh nodded as he stood against the wall with his shotgun pointed up.  He had called for backup thirty seconds prior but it already seemed like ten minutes.  Bud left the front door and reached Dugan to pull him to cover.  As he looked down at the fallen officer, he could see he was still alive from wearing his vest.  As he pulled Dugan towards the car, Ron had moved to the opposite side of the cruiser when Eric had fallen out the window.  Bud tried to save Dugan, but he was about to realize it was a mistake.  Ron crawled around the front of the car, stepped around the side, and by the time Bud knew what was happening it was too late.  Ron raised his gun and shots were fired.  As Ron stood there, he looked down at his stomach and chest and saw blood coming out.  As the blood started coming out of his mouth, he fell to the ground.  Bud held onto Dugan and held out his gun as the figure started walking out of the darkness into the motion light of the driveway.  It was Paul.  Bud yelled, “What the hell are you doing here!”

“Saving your fat ass!” Paul yelled.

Text used by permission Entertainment 21 Corp.  All rights reserved.


Heading East for Answers

Montauk cover-McKittrick Book review by Lita Smith-Mines

In his short novel, Montauk, Christopher McKittrick raises lots of questions, including how can you feel so aimless when you’ve got a very specific goal, and are you ever really lost when you know exactly where to go?

Readers immediately meet James, an “eccentric” 27-year-old who is seemingly adrift in both his personal life and career. He’s plagued by a numbing job and a phone that rarely rings (except with callers looking for a woman who gives out his number to men she never wants to hear from again).

James’ father has recently died, and he makes no secret of how devastated he is. “Whether he wants to admit it or not,” James says, “any man’s story inevitably begins with his father.”

However, James’ mourning is not just for a parent’s loss. His father’s dying means the end of an unrealized childhood dream to ascend to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse. His dad, his sister, and he had boated to the lighthouse’s base on his 12th birthday, and James shares his feelings: “For one brief moment, with all the awe of my childhood overtaken by this overwhelming feeling— seeing the Montauk Lighthouse, this red and ivory monolith, a beacon through the overcast skies to the ocean beyond— it was too immense for me to comprehend.”

Chris McKittrick

Despite his pleas to climb the lighthouse, his dad set that aspiration aside for another day, vowing, “We’ll come back someday.” Part of James knows that the dream has died with his dad, but some other part of him clings to the notion he can rekindle his childhood if only he can ascend to the source of the light.

James’ quest to reach the Montauk Lighthouse involves train-riding, drinking, and a brawl by a bonfire, but there are also interludes of semi-productive navel-gazing (and some sisterly Snap out of it! moments).

McKittrick’s tale made me stop and think about vicissitudes of life, as James explains how our lives are more likely to worsen in an instant rather than improve. Think about it — if you fall down the stairs and break your legs, life immediately becomes limited, painful, and wallet-draining, whereas financial success is likely achieved over a long period of planning and implementing.  So while his dad’s death immediately shortchanged James’ dream, would a quick climb to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse bring him bliss?

You’ll find out whether James reaches up, out, or inside the light when you dive into this enjoyable story. Montauk is an e-book; ordering details may be found at


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