Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli “The Mentor”


The Mentor, by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, is a fast-moving Crime/Detective novel originally written in Italian and translated into English. That does leave the reader struggling a bit from time to time with specific words used in the text, but those aside, the writing translates well into a  good novel, providing you don’t mind the story and characters sounding like this is happening in some random US city and not London.

This work was published by Amazon/Crossing in November of 2015. The text is 226 pages and on my Kindle, there are 3015 positions.

As the story begins, Eric Shaw is a forensics detective who investigates a triple murder and finds a small child, still alive, under a bed. Why this child is never interviewed about the murders is a mystery to me. So this is Mystery, more than a Detective story.

There are plenty of twists in the plot, and in the minds of the bad guys, but the most twisted mind is the main character, Eric Shaw, since he manipulates his own forensics work to punish and convict criminals when they can’t otherwise bring them to justice. This isn’t Jack Reacher taking the law into his own hands as a private citizen, this is the head of the department presenting falsified claims. Hmmm.

Characters are sometimes presented and forgotten but for the most part, at least the “good” guys have some backstory and aren’t just cardboard cutouts. Unfortunately, I had no respect for the protagonist. That makes this review tough. However, if you are reading this to see a bunch of false reasons to read this, forget it. If you want a quick read with some gore and plot twists, the book is $5.99 at Amazon Kindle.

As for the police and forensics work, well, the author does admit:

“Although I included some real information about the organization of police forces in London, I nevertheless took full artistic license concerning professional positions of numerous employees, as well as the logistics and procedures utilized by the Forensic Science Service Laboratory and Murder Investigation Teams of London’s Metropolitan Police Service in order to better adapt them to the plot.”

I don’t think every book can be perfect, and some “poetic license” is always fine with me, but I’ve grown to expect a little more specific about actual procedures, and I love to learn something new, providing it is accurate.


Characters: 15 Honesty: 13 Originality: 14 Plot and Pacing: 16 Storytelling: 14

CHOPS Review total on a scale of 100: 72 Points

Star grading: up to 19 points = 1 star, 20-39 points = 2 stars, 40-59 points = 3 starts, 60-79 points = 4 stars, 80-100 points= 5 stars




Robert Masello “The Einstein Prophecy”

the-einstein-prophecy-coverRobert Masello’s World War II epic, The Einstein Prophecy reads a bit like Indiana Jones, not quite as campy, not quite as cute, but it carries the same time frame and involves a college professor lured into the action by an ancient sarcophagus that everyone wants, especially the Nazi’s. Granted, we do have some prominent figures like Albert Einstein – home in Princeton, NJ – to spice things up, but then I kept thinking about the movie IQ with Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins. Wahoo.

Masello tells a good tale, moving well from location to location, and there is certainly plenty of motivation for all characters since there is a very true-to-history race to be first to develop the atomic bomb.

Whether a World War II novel needs demons, since the world was already dealing with Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, is up to the reader. On the whole, readers have had many opinions about the book and it has sold quite well.

This novel was published by 47North – Amazon Digital and is 338 pages. In Kindle speak, that’s 4741 positions on my Kindle. Overall this is an enjoyable read and leads to an exciting conclusion. Keep in mind that this is a novel, not a historical fiction, since the author does take some liberties with historical figures and their place in time. And since Einstein was included, I have a feeling he would have understood the significance of the events as they unfolded, otherwise, he wouldn’t be Einstein.


Characters: 14 Honesty: 15 Originality: 14 Plot and Pacing: 14 Storytelling: 15

CHOPS Review total on a scale of 100: 72

Star grading: up to 19 points = 1 star, 20-39 points = 2 stars, 40-59 points = 3 starts, 60-79 points = 4 stars, 80-100 points= 5 stars

Jane Paterson “Gatekeepers of the Grapevine”

gatekeepers-of-the-grapevineAuthor Jane Paterson’s first novel, Gatekeepers of the Grapevine is a solid offering. It offers a look at the lives of several women as their struggle through relationships, time and the fortunes of living in Cape Town, Africa. Paterson, herself born in South Africa, has a natural flair for the vernacular, and her storytelling is good.

This novel is considered women’s literature, or women’s fiction, only because the main characters are all women as if that negates men from having an interest in the story. Right now the book is available on Kindle for $2.99 and runs 258 pages, about 3650 positions on my device.

This isn’t Out of Africa, nor a James Michener tome, so don’t expect a narrative deep in African culture.  Instead, consider it lighter fare, perhaps equal to the 1980’s US TV hit Dynasty, with the main characters all female and the gatekeeper of Vintner’s Estate, the puppet master.

Pacing is moderate, a good novel to sit and enjoy a cup of tea with, and the plot stays steady. The characters and their traits are established early, although not in great depth, and the story begins in


Characters: 15 Honesty: 15 Originality: 18 Plot and Pacing: 16 Storytelling: 16

CHOPS Review total on a scale of 100: 80 Points

Star grading: up to 19 points = 1 star, 20-39 points = 2 stars, 40-59 points = 3 starts, 60-79 points = 4 stars, 80-100 points= 5 stars