Posts tagged ‘Frank Weber’

Book Review: LYING CLOSE by Frank Weber

Reviewed by Charles Johnson

North Star Press of St. Cloud

ISBN: 1682011100336 pages

Crime Novel/Fiction/Mystery

If it is possible after only three novels to have the fourth serve as vintage work by the author, then LYING CLOSE by Frank Weber fits that ranking.  Weber has made himself known for his dysfunctional yet likable characters, his page-turning, suspenseful style, and details that include topical news of the day and the latest in forensic police work.

The story takes place in central Minnesota, right in the middle of small towns and gravel roads – but then it will drive itself down the highway and the reader will be looking at seedy neighborhoods of Minneapolis.  This leads to the variety of a Frank Weber story.

The recurring characters in LYING CLOSE start with Jon Frederick, the resourceful investigator who knows all the procedures as well as how to circumvent them when it seems wise to do so.  His wife Serena is his devoted confidante who serves as a beacon and occasional conscience for Jon.  There’s Jon’s long-time friend Clay Roberts, who will make impulsive decisions that likely as not backfire, but in ways not expected by him or the reader.  There’s Jada, Jon’s one-time fling, who employs her news reporting skills that sometimes assist Jon in his cases, and in other times will thwart them.  The new characters – and there are going to be no spoilers here – are young, enthusiastic, decidedly bossy, totally and soulfully bankrupt of any emotion, completely dedicated to family – or a combination of any or all of these.

The suspense is paced well.  Weber has a nice way of cycling the tempo of the story so that the reader keeps interested.   At times there’s the quiet conversation over a drink in a bar, and the next thing you know, that bar isn’t so very quiet for so many other reasons, often nefarious and treacherous.

References to real-life crimes are a hallmark of Weber’s books – in this one you may be reminded by name (again, no spoilers – get the book to see what I mean) of kidnappings and murders of recent times in Minnesota.  And hey, some of these might actually intertwine with Jon Frederick’s mindset and work habits.

It’s not all police business in LYING CLOSE.  Weber, too, has a way with humor that’s witty to the point that the reader may have to stop and think as to why something is funny – or sometimes its just out and out chuckle time.

LYING CLOSE is an excellent fourth novel from forensic psychologist Frank Weber that serves as a fine page turner. It has just been released – look for it.


BOOK REVIEW: LAST CALL by Frank Weber Reviewer: Charles Johnson


Last Call Cover

By Frank Weber
Published by North Star Press
Of St. Cloud, Minnesota
296 pages
ISBN: 978-1-68201-103-4

When you read a book by Frank Weber, you will find that the concept of “Minnesota Nice” is not necessarily all that true. In his career as a forensic psychologist, Mr. Weber has come to know the less-than-civil citizens of Minnesota; those who taint any civility and decency that Minnesotans are so renowned for exhibiting. His first work, MURDER BOOK, is seamy. His second, I-94 MURDERS, is seamier. Guess where the pattern takes us with LAST CALL?

That pattern starts when a young convenience store employee is kidnapped on a harsh winter night. From there, the reader confronts dank basements, steel chains, drug lords, dangerous parking ramps, ill-based rumors and nasty one-on-one encounters between characters of an amazingly wide range of behavior. Throw in some misleading foreshadowing, a few untenable explanations and a red herring or two to suck in armchair sleuths out there and, voila! a suspenseful true crime book arises that good ol’ decent Minnesota reputation would otherwise deny.

That harsh winter runs through the entire book. Plan to need your warmest duds as you chill along on snowmobile rides and barefoot runs through the woods.
You can all but feel your parka and stocking cap as you sit in the local watering holes and listen in as our story unfolds, clue by clue, lie by lie, hint by hint, from those who populate the bars.

Characters – ah yes, those. You will meet the conniving lady who lies about this and that. You will find the man who bounces from woman to woman. You will find the handicapped computer geek who got that way in a rather questionable manner – and these flawed ones are our friends in blue – our police and investigators. Notice, too, they are also likable and driven by decency when it really comes down to it. Suffice it to say that the criminal element shares none of that ethical basis – one must wonder if their morality arises from their formative years or from a string of bad luck from their own sloppy powers of decision making.

Specifically, we have Jon, our lead investigator and his love Serena – assisted ably by Tony and others. And there’s Jada the news reporter, our prime victim Audrey, her captor Bryce and his accomplice, a bevy of tow truck drivers, underlings, shady beings, and a surprisingly secret young lady with apparently super powers of her own.

In a style Frank Weber employed in his first two books, each chapter is from the viewpoint of any of these characters. As you read of their actions, you learn their inner thought as well – and though one might expect the language to be quite “adult” and “blue” or “unsavory” for such dealings in the crime world, Mr. Weber deals out the vocabulary in a more literary and refined manner. The reader can also expect a few engaging moments of comic relief to counterbalance the otherwise dour nature of the book.

So, despite the dark and graphic topics and the myriad of characters ranging from youthful innocence to total rancor, author Frank Weber spins a tale that finds the experienced law enforcement community using the best of their wits to narrow down the list of suspects – and yet, it is not that easy when those suspects are no slouches at achieving their nefarious goals as well. Call it a high-tech game of cat and mouse, or call it hide and seek with no rules, but for sure you can call it a good bit of writing from Mr. Weber. It is an effective way to deliver such a tale as LAST CALL.