A Long Strange Trip

The Lost Years of Billy Battles (Finding Billy Battles Trilogy #3)The Lost Years of Billy Battles by Ronald E. Yates

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As Europe plunges toward war, German agents manipulate competing political factions in Mexico to draw Washington’s attention to its southern border. Kansas sand cutter, William Fitzroy Raglan Battles, who spent the first half century of his life fighting outlaws in the American west, rebels in the Philippines and in Vietnam, settled into a life of peace and harmony in Chicago with his second wife, Katharina. However, in Billy Battles’ life, adversity always arises. A phone call from his old friend and commanding officer, General Funston, lured him and Katharina to Veracruz on a mission to mingle with the German community in the hope of gaining intelligence regarding Germany’s meddling. The pair, being both German speakers, soon had knowledge of the Kaiser’s plan to arm the Mexican rebels in the north under Carranza, Villa, Zapata, and Obregón. They also unwittingly thwarted the delivery of a submarine load of gold and silver bars.

Villa’s incursions into the United States drew Billy back to the border, and he even joined Pershing’s expedition into Mexico in search of the rebel general. In the meantime, war erupted in Europe, and the neutral U.S. was unable to return the interdicted gold and silver to its rightful owner. General Funston entrusted Billy with the task of stashing it in a secret bunker on a nascent military base in New Mexico. Only Funston and Billy had a key.

Billy’s gallivanting around Mexico did not sit well with Katharina. To placate her, the pair made some trips around the country, since Europe was off limits. They renewed acquaintances with the likes of Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp. Remember that I said adversity always arises? On a short idyll to Michigan, Billy’s lifelong nemesis, the notorious Bledsoe clan, made a play for vengeance that had a life-shattering impact on Billy. His retaliation forced him to flee to Southeast Asia once again where he spent many years putting his life back together.

Ron Yates did me the great honor of allowing me to do a pre-release read of this final chapter in the incredible life of Billy Battles. Mr. Yates does extensive research, has a keen grasp of history, and is a world-class storyteller. He is also a professor of Kansas-speak. The colloquialisms and Kansas jargon Ron Yates puts into the mouths of his characters will amaze and delight. The Lost Years is a stand-alone book. There is plenty of backstory to keep the first-time reader current on how we got to where we are; however, I would urge readers approaching this book to go back and buy volumes one and two as well. This trilogy is a long strange trip, and you don’t want to miss any of it.

Amazon https://amzn.to/2Jt8pYt

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“Gravity Waves” by Scott Skipper: Another Hilarious Addition to the “Alien Affairs” Series

Marcha Foxe is a great writer and blogger. She is also a rocket scientist who used to work for NASA. Thanks, Marcha, for the great review.

Marcha's Two-Cents Worth


This is one of my very favorite series, ever, and this episode further confirmed that whatever science fiction sub-genre this happens to be, it’s what I’d choose if I had to, over just about anything else. I guess it could be called something like “snarky, politically incorrect, hard sci-fi” and I love it. It has technology and theoretical physics speculations to feed my nerdy, physicist brain; sarcasm that makes me wish I could be as witty; and snarky undertones to evoke hysterical laughter, such that my cat glares at me for disturbing her sleep when I’m reading in bed.

It was so much fun to get a glimpse of half-breed, Terrie Dreshler, now fully grown not only to adulthood, but middle age, to say nothing of her mother, Carrie Player, now an old lady, at least chronologically, and stepping into that role where she admonishes those around her for their…

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A Devious Woman

Blood and BlackmailBlood and Blackmail by Robert Trainor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Justine’s estranged husband raped and tortured her daughter by a previous marriage. Jesse was drawn into the matter through a chance encounter. Trent, the rapist, also took obscene photographs of his victim after the violation. Justine is adamant about recovering the pictures and convinces Jesse to help her break into and search the house. Before beginning the search for the obscene prints, Justine sneaks upstairs to verify that Trent is out of town as he said he would be. She discovers his body.

Blood and Blackmail is a well-crafted and clever mystery. The courtroom scene is especially well done with convincing legal procedures and norms. The characters are the best part of this book. They are superbly developed with unique voices. You are going to love Vanessa, she demonstrates the author’s brilliance. I will qualify that by saying that the characters tend to speak in lengthy monologues rather than the fragments most people use. There are a few other events that stretch credulity, but what is credulity for, if not to be stretched? Mr. Trianor’s prose is strong, smooth flowing, and grammatically accurate. The format of Blood and Blackmail is slightly unorthodox, however. It shifts from first to third person, and the police interview scenes are written like a court report or a script where the speaker is labeled before the dialogue begins. I cannot say that my enjoyment of the book was very much, if at all, diminished by this. I have high praise for Robert Trainor, and I look forward to reading more of his plentiful works.

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