Salem’s Cypher and Mercy’s Chase by Jess Lourey

I absolutely LOVED Bloodline, the newest series by Jess Lourey so I decided to pick up another book or two by the author. Salem’s Cipher is a fast paced thriller revolving around Salem and her childhood friend, Bel. The two women were raised under auspice of parents who belong to a secret society known as the Underground, a society that revolves around the power of the female. Of course, they are opposed by “the Order” a group of very powerful, extremely wealthy men. When Salem and Bel’s mothers are kidnapped, they are charged with solving a series of ciphers in order to discover what is truly going on.

Most reviewers compare Salem’s Cipher and the subsequent book, Mercy’s Chase, to Dan Brown’s books, particularly Angels and Demons. I’ve read all of Dan Brown and I found that this series is more similar to James Rollins’ books. Both include underground subversives, both revolve around a massive amount of history and both contain a fair amount of action. Also, they stretch the reader to the point of disbelieving…. except.

If you follow the history that is presented in both books, Salem’s Cipher and Mercy’s Chase, you’re going to find a whole lot of facts about women that you never knew existed. If you’ve been following current events in the US, well ever, but particularly over the past few month (November 2020 through the present, January 2021) you shouldn’t have any problem comprehending the fact that there ARE subversive groups in the US. Someone is funding these Fascist groups, now aren’t they? The interesting thing about both books is that they don’t necessarily lean one way or another politically. They lean hard on being pro-Female and that is where I fall as well. I’m tired of pretending that men are the best and brightest in our culture when, in fact, we – women – have sat silently on the sidelines allowing them to get the glory for OUR work. So, with that in mind, I hope you will read these books AND follow up with your research. You will be amazed at what history has to show you!

For the sake of reviewing both books simultaneously, Salem’s Cipher was a better read than the second book, Mercy’s Chase but both were fascinating.

Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw

I am fascinated by volcanoes and have even traveled around the US to view them. When I was offered Fire and Vengeance to read and review, knowing it revolved around a volcano, I jumped at the chance. I was so glad that I did. Not only did I read a great book, I discovered a new author and series to love as well.

Hurricane Ida has pounded the islands of Hawaii and has flooded the Hualapai Mountain’s volcanic crater, causing a build up of steam not unlike a pressure cooker. As the steam vents into the atmosphere, one of the vents opens under an elementary school, coating the students and staff in sulfuric chemicals and white-hot temperatures. Hilo Chief Detective Koa Kane is helicoptered to the scene where he finds mass casualties including multiple children. He vows to find the cause and the persons responsible for this tragedy.

There are several sub-plots intertwined with the primary story line of the school’s tragedy including Kane’s criminal brother who is dying in a jail cell. As Kane attempts to get his brother released for medical care, Kane finds himself caught between administering justice and helping his brother.

McCaw is an excellent writer, interspersing Hawaiian dialect throughout the book which lends to its atmospheric authenticity. He also walks that fine line between writing a taut thriller while adding enough personal details to make the book more interesting. I found Fire and Vengeance to be a great addition to the Crime Fiction genre and, if you enjoy series, this is a good one to follow. You can read Fire and Vengeance as a stand alone – I did – but I’ve since gone backward and picked up others in the series. All three have been terrific. Fire and Vengeance is available now.