Wednesday, January 4, 2017

REVIEW: The Diamond Head Deception (+$50 Walmart GC Giveaway!)

Title: The Diamond Head Deception
Author: James Blakley 
Pages: 216
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source:Goddess Fish Blog Tours
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After putting Iowa crop insurance cheats out to pasture, independent insurance fraud investigator Luna Nightcrow heads to Hawaii, but not for a vacation. The Shilpa, an Indian ocean liner, sinks and Luna is hired to determine if it still carries "Pacific Splendor" (a rare diamond insured for $15 million). The trouble is that Luna's not the only one looking for the diamond. Secessionists, sportsmen, and other suspects might sink to any depths to recover or smother Pacific Splendor.
~My Thoughts~
A plain and simply mystery that will lead you through highs and lows and twists and turns like nobody's business. 

This book is very plot-motivated. It goes raging forward with little care for painting the setting/imagery or really delving too much into the characters. This made for a rapid, energetic read, but I did feel as though I wanted a little more from the main characters and much more from the side characters to give me a fuller picture of who they were and how they were working through the context of the story. Luna Nightcrow was probably the most fleshed out character, which makes sense given that she's the lead, however it did feel like she was really the only one who had a whole lot of depth to her. Many of the side characters felt very much the filler material and lacked a sense of motivations and desires of their own outside of the plot device that they fit. 

Blakley's writing style is intelligent and professional. I felt that good old feeling like I was watching a movie while reading, and this "movie" was full of excitement and adventure. I read it quickly, in just one sitting as I flew from DC to Florida and it was a great exercise in adventure and storytelling. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
When dispatch confirmed, Valerosa hit the brakes and twirled a U-turn. The squad car took off in the opposite direction and didn’t stop, until it reached a small, red-and-white colored light house state park off the highway. And parked on the road that led to the historic marker and small picnic area was a battered, gray cargo van with a blown back tire.

Valerosa brought the squad car to a screeching halt. She drew her Smith & Wesson 9 MM pistol and got out. Luna followed, but Valerosa signaled for her to stay back. The Detective Sergeant moved swiftly toward the van. Once there, she peeked through the driver’s side window. No one was inside. Then, Valerosa proceeded to search around and below the van.

Meanwhile, Luna decided to try the light house. She crept down the narrow dirt path to the cliff on which the old structure stood. Once there, she noticed the door was ajar. The insurance investigator drew the Browning semi-automatic handgun from her back pocket. She pushed the door open and stepped inside.
~Meet James!~ 
James Blakley was educated at Missouri Western State College and Washburn University. While at MWSC, he was a local and national award-winning columnist and section editor of "The Griffon-News." Blakley worked 10 1/2 years as a page and as an Assistant Librarian for the River Bluffs Regional Libraries of St. Joseph, MO. He currently lives in Topeka, KS where he worked for The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and several years in clerical and customer support capacities for international computer companies, such as EDS and HP.
 James will be awarding a $50 Walmart GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. I would love to read your book it sounds great.

  3. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance!

  4. What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

    1. To Joseph Wallace: I look forward to continuing to read more imaginative self-published and small press-published authors' books in 2017. Here are just a couple...

      Lior Samson is a favorite whose sci-fi/pop fiction anthology ("Requisite Variety") is captivating in its Arthur C. Clarkesque approach to futurism. That is to say, a relatively bloodless one with intelligent storytelling that is further bolstered by a multicultural spectrum of characters faced with an equally multifaceted set of technological conundrums. Samson's "Flight Track", a modern thriller with an uncanny resemblance to a real life incident, is on my TBR list.

      Another favorite self-published author of mine is W.T. Keeton. His Cadmus Lincoln series hits close to home, as it also chronicles the cases of a Southern insurance investigator. A bit more grounded in the everyday reality of insurance sleuthing, Keeton's "Cadmus Lincoln: The Goddess of Strife" and "The Serpent on the Plain of Panope" are nice contrasts to my more cinematically-styled Luna Nightcrow series.

  5. Andra, I appreciate your hosting and reviewing "The Diamond Head Deception."

  6. Great post! Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway :)

  7. Additionally, Andra's review mentions that “The Diamond Head Deception” feels like a movie. She's spot on. Here is more about my inspiration for creating Luna Nightcrow.

    The novel's leading lady is a Cherokee Indian insurance investigator named Luna Nightcrow, and solving offbeat insurance frauds is her m√©tier. And the idea to make Luna non-white came from the stylish, often groundbreaking, TV crime fighters of my youth. Whether it was “Get Christie Love,” “Hawaii Five-O,” or “Miami Vice,” a lot of minority sleuths cropped up in the 1970’s and early 80’s. Also prevalent were then-exotic locations and professions for these crime fighters. Honolulu, Hawaii and Des Moines, Iowa serve as two rather unusual settings for “The Diamond Head Deception”: Made so by the fact that neither has an historic connection to diamonds.

    As for why I made Luna an insurance investigator rather than a policewoman or P.I.? I liked the old NBC Wednesday mystery series “Banacek”, starring George Peppard as the titular Boston bon vivant who handled high-end, hard to solve insurance frauds. Though white, his Boston base and jet-setting sleuthing were refreshing changes from the usually hardboiled, urban gumshoe image. Thematically, Luna is more in the vein of “Banacek” than your average 8 a.m. til 5 p.m. (Central) insurance agent. Despite not having Banacek’s Polish proverbs and doting chauffeur, she is witty and charming, but equally determined, daring, and even caring.

    Luna also draws conceivable inspiration from the then avant-garde TV show “Charlie’s Angels.” You might say that she exhibits Sabrina Duncan’s brains, Kelly Garrett’s penchant for dressing to impress, and Jill Munroe’s…well, everything else. (lol) Coupled with Nani Nyoko (a jewelry appraiser) and Narmata Buddhiman (an Indian interpreter) and you have a nice multicultural trio of female crime fighters for “The Diamond Head Deception.” This also allows more glamor and even romance to creep into this Nightcrow outing, thus appealing to a broader range of readers.

    You might also see a slight secret agent connection to Luna's freelance insurance investigator. I jokingly call her the "007 of insurance sleuths" because she's often the first choice of insurers to crack a difficult case, travels to fairly exotic locales, is a clotheshorse, bends the rules, and carries a James Bond-like gadget that is a stun gun concealed in a smartphone protector--a real device, incidentally [The Yellow Jacket Rechargeable Battery Pack Stun Gun iPhone Case].

    So Andra's insight is right: Much of "The Diamond Head Deception's" adventure, excitement, and characterizations have roots in silver and small screen inspiration.

    1. That is awesome! Thanks for sharing these tidbits :D

    2. I'm glad you enjoyed the behind the book scenes, Victoria.

  8. Thanks for hosting such a wonderful giveaway!

    1. As for my rather out of the normal choice of giveaway, Heather, you're welcome.

  9. Oh sounds really good! Sounds like there will be a lot of twists as Luna searches!

    1. "A lot of twists" for sure, LauraJJ! (lol) "The Diamond Head Deception" is a short read, but a very detailed one. I mean, if you skip a page or two, you may miss important character traits or clues. Some twists, I hope, will come as big surprises to readers and make the story feel fresh.

  10. Congrats on the new book and good luck on the rest of the book tour! I really enjoyed reading this book and following along on the tour!