Two recent self-published paperbacks deal with a quest for a lost love that has unexpected results. Each focuses on a darker slice of reality, exploring intriguing relationships and sexuality.
"Mission: Shanghai" by MSU graduate Les "Buzz" Harcus (Sandhill Publishing, $15) is an intriguing, vivid tale that follows three strangers who meet on a 1945 military flight from the U.S. to Shanghai.
They discover they're each searching for a lost love - distinctive women that they had to leave behind in 1941. Dallas Thompson is a veteran war correspondent seeking a young Chinese girl who saved his life in Nanking.
Two marines are looking for other women; on is trying to find his wife, while the other wants to track down a cute Chinese girl he fell in love with.
There are many unexpected plot twists as the three men attempt to complete their missions, operating under exceptionally extreme time sanctions.
The China Marines face many challenges are they deal with thugs, prostitutes and out-of-control soldiers in their quest.
Harcus, who lives in Mancelona, writes from experience - he was on a four-engine Marine Corps prop-driven transport plane that flew from Tsintao, China to other locations in the late 1940's.
He's also written seven other fast-paced novels, including "Tainted Treasure", "Web of Greed" and "Surrender in St. Thomas". His email address is email@example.com.
"In Hiding" by Timothy Sheard (Hardball Press, $15) focuses on Peter Davies, who's searching for Angie, the woman of his dreams, who has disappeared.
His journey takes him deep into the underbelly of a sordid New York City, exploring unfamiliar areas involving sex trafficking, brothels and forced prostitution.
Davies gets help from unusual sources, including his cybernetic expert neighbors and a hard-working cop. His quest becomes a bit more bizarres as a radical feminist group intervenes, breaking into brothels and rescuing women held captive.
Although Davies wants to join the group, he's stymied; he feels he must prove himself and find Angie at all costs. While Davies is initially more of a harmless deviant, other characters are not; violence abounds as the novel progresses.
Sheard has written seven other crime novels including his Lenny Moss series; this is a dark, twisted and memorable tale. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on May 4, 2014.