The Best

By Christopher Zoukis

The 2012 Summer Olympics are over.  Most of the Olympians have moved on to new challenges.  One of the most decorated Olympians is a woman most people have hardly heard of.  Her name is Kim Rhode, and she’s won five medals in Olympic shooting.  She shoots skeet. 

She’s a 21st century Annie Oakley.

In any other sport, she’d be endorsing products – like Winchester or Perazzi shotguns or alliant powder or Ray Ban shooting glasses – and making lots of money.  But not in shooting.  Only aficionados of the sport care what products she uses, and there aren’t very many of those.

In 1996, when she was only 17 years old, she won a gold medal in Atlanta in what’s called the double-trap competition.  Four years later, in Sydney, she took home a bronze medal.  Then in Athens, she won gold again.  At that point, the Olympics dropped the double-trap competition.  So Kim took up skeet shooting. 

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By Shane ‘Silky’ Thomas

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

“A lot of people know what it feels like to be a bad man, but I am the only bad man who knows what it feels like to be the baddest man.”

Silky Thomas’ real name was Shane Anthony Thomas.  His nickname was courtesy of his friends, who called him Silky because he was so slick and smooth.  Silky was a member of – and the leader of – a gang called the Ridgeway Bloods, which was part of the United Blood Nations, one of the ten most feared gangs in North America. 

Silky relates his story in his recently published memoir, which is entitled Unstoppable.  The title is appropriate.  For when he was a criminal, Silky was unstoppable.  Later, after he altered his lifestyle, Silky remained unstoppable.    Relentless would be a good word to describe Silky’s personality.

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Travel Check

By Toni Cameron

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

Assistant District Attorney Gary Parker gets in over his head when he tries to balance his courtroom career with his bedroom antics in this legal thriller.

The District Attorney’s Office issues travel checks to prosecutors for expenses.  Assistant DA Gary Parker is assigned a travel check for Hyde County, where he is to prosecute Darryl Robinson for attempted murder.  There’s one little problem:  most of the denizens of Hyde County believe Darryl Robinson did what any red-blooded man would do upon finding his wife in bed with another man.  They feel the charges should be dismissed.

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The Alabaster Roses

By P. H. K. Schoeffner

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

Two brothers search for a magical flower that will rouse their sister from her mystical slumber.

Jochen, Natalie, and Barbel are siblings.  One day, while exploring a nearby forest, they discover weird and wonderful black flowers.  Beautiful and elegant, the black flowers also exude an aura of horrible evil.  Cousin Thorsten, who is accompanying the siblings, relates the legend of Schoenboeck, a powerful magician, who laid a curse upon the flowers – anyone who approached the flowers would fall into a never ending sleep.  The only way to lift the curse is through the alabasters roses, which the wizard keeps inside his castle Drachrosenstein. 

When none of the others are looking, six-year old Natalie gathers a few of the black flowers.  She instantly falls asleep.  Her brothers determine they will rescue Natalie by finding the castle and bringing back the alabaster roses. 

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Gypsy Moon

By Michael Hurley

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

In a 32-foot sloop named the Gypsy Moon, attorney Michael Hurley sails solo from Annapolis to Nassau.

After losing his job and going through a nasty divorce, Hurley finds himself in a gloomy mid-life crisis.  He decides to fulfill one of his personal dreams – “to sail a small boat over the open ocean, bound for no destination but the horizon.” 

As he prepares for the journey, Hurley looks back at his life, narrating the events that brought him to his present status.  Speaking from the heart, he confesses his unfaithfulness to his wife and his subsequent feelings of regret and guilt.  This retrospective interlude, along with others throughout the tale, provides two important functions:  first, they integrate the reader into the story.  The reader knows what’s going on.  Second, they clarify Hurley’s humanity.   Like most people, he’s made mistakes.  He regrets some of his choices.  Yet he’s honest enough to share them, believing, hoping that most readers will sympathize.

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No Remorse

By Ian Walkley

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

CIA operatives accelerate from one electrifying moment to another as they try to stop a maniacal Saudi prince from starting World War III.

Lee McCloud –  aka “Mac,” a member of Delta Force – finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by the drug cartels.  Things go from bad to worse when the bad guys don’t play according to the rules.

Framed for two murders, Mac has two choices:  go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, whose group hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts, confiscating millions of dollars.  Mac is portrayed as rough and ready, the typical macho action-hero.  Yet his vulnerabilities allow the reader to identify with him.  However, there’s more going on than meets the eye.  Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history.  Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women and harvesting and selling human organs. 

When Wisebaum’s black op targets Khalid’s father, the action

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By Christopher Zoukis

I recently had occasion to watch the movie Absolute Power, starring Clint Eastwood.  The imaginative and provocative title of the flick was borrowed from one of the most famous aphorisms ever written:  “All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  An aphorism, of course, is ‘a short, concise statement of a principle; a maxim.’  The term comes from the Greek aphorismos, which referred to a definition or a short pithy statement.

The aphorism under discussion – “absolute power” – was composed by Baron John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, who was born in 1834 and died in 1902.  Lord Action was an erudite historian, and a bit of a rabble-rouser, for he was the leader of a liberal Roman Catholic minority that refused to accept the doctrine of papal infallibility.  The concept of papal infallibility for those who don’t know asserts that the Pope, as the supreme pontiff, is protected from the human capacity for error, when speaking about faith and morals.  This protection is provided by God Himself.  In other words, when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, he is non posse peccare, infallible.  The doctrine, sanctioned and published by the Vatican Council in July, 1870, is not a trifling matter.  The Holy Office firmly believes the doctrine to be true.  Anyone who disagrees is branded with the identifying mark of heresy. 

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