In author Rocky Leonard’s debut novel, Coastal Empire, Savannah private detective Robert Mercer, finds himself in the middle of an elaborate, illegal real estate scheme after taking a job to track a suspected philanderer. What begins as a simple case soon becomes a tangled web of fraud and murder. Mercer risks his on life as he works to save the remaining targets on the criminals’ list. This story has a complicated plot that moves in unexpected directions.
After receiving a thank you card from a jeweler in Atlanta, Sarah Reid hires Robert Mercer to find out if her husband, Barry Reid, a prominent local real estate agent, is cheating on her. Mercer accepts the job and spends a couple of days in Atlanta searching for the man who sent the thank you card. During his investigation, Mercer meets Kelly, a woman who originally presents herself as an employee of the jewelry store, but who Mercer later discovers is a significant figure in his case.
Upon his return to Savannah, Mercer meets Nick Mason when Nick runs out into the middle of the street as Mercer and his dog Ox are making their way home. This chance meeting turns into a partnership when Nick informs Mercer of strange real estate transactions involving multi-million dollar properties and a local attorney. When the men discover that the owners of two of those properties were killed just months after a real estate trust on their properties was set up, they investigate the key players in the scheme. Barry Reid happens to be one of them.
Leonard has created an intriguing storyline that demands the reader keep up with each twist and insertion of new information in order to comprehend fully what the characters are up against. Mercer emerges as a powerful force in the book, as he makes capturing the criminals and saving prospective victims his mission. His intelligence, military background, and compassion make Mercer an attractive lead and a solid anchor for future books in the Robert Mercer mystery series. There are many characters in this book whose roles must be defined and connected to the main plot. Fortunately, Leonard successfully connects all of the dots and doesn’t leave a single loose thread as the story ends.
Coastal Empire is a terrific start to the Robert Mercer mystery series and a strong first effort from a new author.
Archives for July 2012
John Leonard and his wife Lisa have been involved with animal rescue and fostering in Georgia for many years. Their children learned to live alongside dogs and cats whom the Leonards had taken in while awaiting their “forever home”. Author John Leonard comes across as the soul of kindness. From his writings the reader will know that Leonard is an expert at rescuing animals, taking them to a veterinarian when needed, and judging with wife Lisa what a dog or cat needs in the way of petting, feeding, playing, and tending to toilet needs. He tells of German Shepherd Sheba who protects Sparky from a bully named Cole, of Maggie the border collie chosen at a shelter by Leonard’s son, of Belle the dalmatian who has gastrointestinal issues and lets loose with smelly farts, of Simone the cat who thinks she is one of the dogs. As he writes on page 42, John Leonard will convince the readers to “never underestimate the healing power of a stable pack.”
“Always a Next One” is a wonderfully written story of a family’s involvement with taking in foster animals until their permanent homes are found. Readers who like Herriot’s animal stories will be drawn to John Leonard’s writings and will want to read more than the sample chapter of dog stories featuring Leonard’s beloved Ox at the book’s end.The writing in each story is consistent and not maudlin and the animals’ characters come through believably. Simone the cat is a cat, not a human in disguise. This is a book that belongs on animal lovers’ reading lists everywhere.
Wow! Any comparison to the author of the classic book All Creatures Great and Small is a tremendous compliment that could easily go to one’s head.
But James Herriot’s book was a bestseller. There’s still no comparison to be made from book sales. I’ve got miles to go–but heading in the right direction…perhaps.
Next, Annie B. gave my short story collection its third consecutive 5-star review. She wrote,
From the moment I saw the title of this book I was very excited to have the opportunity to review it. My son and daughter in law are very involved in our local animal shelter and have fostered several dogs. John L. Leonard begins his book “Always A Next One: true stories of dog fostering” by sharing how he got involved in fostering dogs. He is eager to admit it was his wife who first got involved. She began with Thursday afternoons and soon added Saturdays. The next step was to provide a “safe house” for an animal. Repeatedly the couple reminded each other that they could not keep the animal, just as my son and daughter in law found that it was mere meaningless words.
The Leonards had few problems placing their first few foster dogs. Over the next five years their home became a safe house for numerous cats and dogs. Their house would never be quite the same with metal crates replacing end tables, paths worn through a once well-manicured lawn and tooth marks on the corners of all wooden furniture. Rarely do any of the fosters find a permanent home with the Leonards. They have a motto, “If I keep this one, I can’t help the next one. And there is a long line of animals out there needing our help. I don’t keep this one because I know there is always a next one who needs me.” What animal lover would not love this book? It is filled with stories that will occasionally make you angry at the former owners. It will warm your heart, make you smile and occasionally make you cry. Beware that it may also make you want to adopt a pet or at the least volunteer at your local animal shelter.
Perhaps I should write more short stories…
But in the meantime, my next effort as Rocky Leonard, Secondhand Sight, will be released September 7th.
To date, the anthology has received several very favorable reviews.
Lee Ashford from Reader’s Favorite wrote the following kind words in this very complimentary five-star review:
“Always a Next One” by John L. Leonard is a pleasant, enjoyable read with a powerful message. The author and his wife volunteered countless hours of their lives to assist their local no-kill Humane Society with the rehabilitation, care and nurture of unwanted dogs and cats. They accomplished this by establishing themselves as a foster home, primarily for dogs, to house companion animals in excess of the Humane Society’s capacity, as well as injured or otherwise less-adoptable animals. In this book of tales (pun intended), he relates the experiences his family had with the more than 100 animals they housed over the years they volunteered. These tales will entertain and delight you, and tug at your heart strings. The book is full of chuckles, and may even prompt you to volunteer some time at your local Humane Society.
“Always a Next One” is short, and can be read in a few hours. I have always been a “dog person” and knew I would enjoy the book, but it still surprised me how much I enjoyed it. The author wrote in a conversational manner, as if he were sitting with me and personally telling me his tales. I recommend this book with a sense of urgency; there are far too many unwanted pets euthanized each year, and there are only 3 basic solutions to the problem, any of which you can help with: 1) build more shelters, 2) get more volunteers to open their homes, and 3) spay and neuter your pets! I encourage you to read this fun book. I also encourage you to spay and neuter your pets.
Apparently, prestigious prizes ain’t what they used to be.
The downward spiral for the Nobel Prize began with Al Gore, awarded the Peace Prize for a movie that had nothing to do with peace. The film was nothing more than a propaganda tool advocating carbon taxes, disguised as a documentary.
Then, to make absolutely sure that everyone knew the Nobel Peace Prize had become a joke, Barack Obama won a Nobel Prize for not being George W. Bush.
Here’s some of what the Nobel committee wrote about Obama while giving him the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics.
This was a mere three months after his election, only a month after being sworn into office. While a senator, Obama developed something of a reputation for voting “present” as opposed to “yea” or “nay” on controversial legislation.
So early into his time in office, Obama hadn’t yet begun his efforts to completely destroy the reeling American economy. Still, the Nobel committee had faith in the neophyte president, for their vision of what ought to happen to America.
Their faith continues to be rewarded, even as I type these words.
Okay. So, the Nobel Prize sucks these days.
But the Pulitzer Prize is different–it’s only awarded to journalists who’ve reached the pinnacle of their profession…right?
Then why has Mike Luckovich won two Pulitzer Prizes?
Is he really that good? Or is the competition that bad?
As the editorial cartoonist of my hometown newspaper, Luckovich has been spewing ultra liberal claptrap and nonsense since 1989, typically playing to the worst, most blatant stereotypes to demonize conservative politicians.
Once in a blue moon he’ll gently chastise a Democrat for a really egregious transgression against boilerplate liberal Democrat policy–which is to spend lots of federal dollars on social engineering programs while they despise the military. At the same time, these ultra liberals unashamedly accuse conservatives of trying to do what they are actually doing–things like segregating and dividing the American people, creating strife through class warfare.
But it’s mostly to create an impression of being a moderate.
Republicans are frequently depicted by Luckovich as the party of angry white males who love their guns and hate black people.
All that aside, the Pulitzer Award committee spokesman said that choosing Luckovich was easy: “”His cartoons stood out as very pointed, very humorous and much sharper than everyone else’s.”
Really? As I speculated, there must not be very much in the way of competition…okay, so there are only about 90 eligible artists.
Still, one of 90, twice in less than 20 years? Perhaps not all of the cartoonists are sufficiently liberal for the Pulitzer people.
Ultra-liberal editor Cynthia Tucker wrote about his award, “Mike Luckovich is, quite simply, brilliant. His responses to the important social issues of our day range from wickedly funny to deeply poignant to decidedly irreverent. But they are always right on the money.”
True, Luckovich isn’t a bad artist–you can easily identify the target of his wrath most of the time. Newt Gingrich always has a very large head on a fat body–okay, maybe that one is a fair caricature.
As for his being wickedly funny…in your dreams. Wicked and vicious, yes. Horribly wrong, absolutely.
But wickedly funny?
I cannot ever remember laughing out loud at one of his cartoons, over twenty years. Not once. Not even a snicker. He’s much too biased.
And right on the money…since when?
For example, today’s cartoon features Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the cartoonist’s take on Obama’s horrific gaffe in a recent speech, now an Internet sensation. You know the mistake…”if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”
Incredibly, Luckovich’s take on the fiasco is that Romney somehow edited words out of Obama’s speech. Romney has new campaign ads with which he’s pounding Obama for that crucial campaign blunder. So Luckovich is trying to rescue the president from his own speech.
This joke of a cartoonist just implied that Romney is cherry-picking from the actual words of what the president said to distort their meaning, as opposed to actually quoting Obama verbatim–which Romney did.
Wait a minute, Mikey! Did you mean that Romney was doing a hatchet job worthy of Andrea Mitchell?
Unfortunately, it is the media that can no longer be trusted to provide accurate information these days. I’m no shrink, but I think a psychiatrist might diagnose this as “projection”, Mikey.
In fact, during the same speech, as if to hammer the point that business owners didn’t create their businesses home, Obama also said, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.”
So, how exactly did Romney misrepresent the truth there, Mr. Luckovich? Did Romney commandeer control of the teleprompter and put the wrong words into Obama’s mouth?
I ask because the raw tape of his speech, in full context, is even worse. You can easily find it on YouTube, although with brilliant critiques of the speech such as this one by Charles Krauthammer.
Well played, A.B.
In that now infamous speech, Obama openly expressed socialist views that are anathema to the entrepreneurial spirit of the capitalist culture that is the very heart of American society and pumps the life-blood of economic growth.
In stark contrast, “Zo” clearly knows the importance of entrepreneurship and capitalism to our society. I now proudly consider myself aligned with the Zonation, not an Obama voter/zombie.
Obama, a man who never had a “real” job or even so much as ran a candy store, yet wrote two autobiographies before he accomplished anything, truly does not understand capitalism.
Luckovich once again demonstrates that he is intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt, distorting the truth of what actually transpired beyond recognition. Someone just waking up out of a coma might actually believe that Romney is lying about what Obama said, when the truth is that Luckovich is lying about Romney misrepresenting the actual words of Obama rather than quoting him.
And, being the coward that he is, the comments are turned off so that readers outraged by his gross distortions cannot respond to Luckovich.
But I have a blog, Mikey. And I’ll use it to speak my mind about your pathetic liberal nonsense, you piece of work.
You are a liar and a coward, sir.
You lied about what Obama said, and in turn accused Romney of doing something he didn’t do.
You are a coward because you routinely refuse to allow comments to be posted in response to your bed-wetting liberal B.S.
Comments on this article remain open.