Perhaps too elementary.

Sherloc: Reboot, by Nathan Boeker

109 pages

Published on November 7, 2017 by Boekerbooks

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Website

John is an ordinary student at an extraordinary school. When his phone is taken over by an artificial intelligence program, John becomes an unwitting accomplice in a broadening web of intrigue. Get drawn into a high-tech world of adventure and suspense.

I’m always down for a Sherlock Holmes remix, and teaming up a teenaged Watson with an AI version of everyone’s favorite detective is a concept I haven’t seen before. However, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left some big shoes to fill, and the storytelling in Sherloc: Reboot just doesn’t compare.

The writing is rather threadbare – a torrent of simple sentences that do nothing to build suspense or emotion. Have an excerpt for one of the more gripping scenes:

A few seconds later the door to the cage squealed closed and the lock rattled again. Footsteps retreated. Lights turned off. A door closed.

Darkness again.

I started breathing. I looked down at the phone in my hand and then up at the network router. The rows of green lights went dark. A single red light began blinking on the left side of the box.

“Sherloc?” My mouth was dry and my voice sounded shakier than I liked.

His voice was reassuring in the darkness. “I have changed the security protocols and rebooted the routers. We can now access any network from this building without being tracked.”

I pulled the cable out of the router and stepped off the bucket. I walked as quickly as I could back between the dark storage cases. Enough secrets for tonight.

The elevator ride back to Floor 17 was silent. Sherloc was probably inside some network somewhere.

It’s just not doing it for me. I want my heart to pound with worry the whole time John’s in danger! Instead, the action is over within a few sentences and John comes across as only faintly discomforted.

With more attention to detail and evocative prose, this bland novella could easily turn into a thrilling YA novel. The substance is there – it just needs a little extra oomph.

No place on my Kindle either

No Place in Heaven, by David Lee Dambrosio

307 pages

Self-published on September 19, 2017

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Website

Under the safe, family-values façade of the suburbs of a city in the Midwest lies infidelity and corruption.

Gina is not an innocent Catholic girl anymore. She’s both a devil and an angel. Gina loves the wrong man. More and more, she learns how wrong. A theft leads to a murder. She’s involved up to her rosary beads. How many times before the stay-out-of-hell card, offered through confession and forgiveness, is revoked by God? She needs to atone or there may be no place in heaven for her. Isn’t a contrived miracle better than no miracle at all? Life is short. Life after death is forever.

What is Sub Rosa? No one would suspect Sub Rosa’s existence in these quiet suburbs. What happens at Sub Rosa needs to be kept secret. Secrets exist because revealing secrets can be deadly.

What about Sam Price, Phil Price, and their lifelong friend Stan? Although everyone likes Sam, his only true friends are Stan and his brother. Sam believes his brother would choose Stan in a life-or-death situation, though he hopes it would be a difficult decision. Sam also hopes it will never come to that.

This page-turning, sexy, smart, and suspenseful story is a mystery of romantic danger and consequences, of money and bad behavior. Who reaps what they sow? Who doesn’t.

The Amazon blurb is a really good indication of what you’ll find in this book: simple sentences, matter-of-fact storytelling, and an unfortunate lack of emotion. Even with all the cops, intrigue, and seduction, No Place In Heaven was about as suspenseful and sexy as a technical manual. For example:

Bob worked long hours. His donuts were homemade and delicious. His coffee was strong – but not too strong. His business struggled. Competition came from donut franchises, coffee franchises, and every other business from burger joints to gas stations claiming good coffee. More and more people were on diets and cutting out donuts. The worst foe was the current depressed economy.

The characters are described only in the broadest of strokes, and it got more and more difficult to tell them apart as the book went on. Even the more adult scenes were bland and soulless. There was hardly any sensory description to be found, so the whole thing ended up being decidedly less than captivating. There’s the makings of a good story in there, but it needs a serious rewrite before I’d want to give it another shot.