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AL-QUEBECA: Terrorist strike in Montreal

8 Jan


They said it could never happen here. But it happened yesterday in Paris. My mystery-thriller AL-QUEBECA provides a chilling account of a terrorist strike in Montreal. Read the top 10 reviews:…/al-quebeca-fiction-that-could-be-tomo…/…/1115214961

FELONIOUS MONK: the NCGR book review

2 Jan

FM ebook thumbThis book review, written by Donna Van Toen, first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of the NCGR Memberletter.


Axel Crowe is back! And who is Axel Crowe? He’s the astrologer-detective who solves murders while throwing out snippets of Vedic astrology, amazing his friends and irritating his enemies in what Alan Annand calls his NEW AGE NOIR series.

While Felonious Monk is the second book in the series, it won’t take you long to get to know Axel, so don’t think you have to read the first book in the series (Scorpio Rising) before reading this one. Just jump right in – you can go back to the first book later.

The story opens at an ashram in Vermont where a retreat is in progress. However, not all of the participants are exactly peaceful. There’s a reporter there hot on the trail of a story. There’s also an ex-CIA agent who specializes in smuggling antiquities in and out of countries. We first meet them as the smuggler is slugging the reporter. Fortunately, they are observed by the head of the ashram. The smuggler is sent on his way; the reporter is taken back to the retreat house to deal with the damage to his head. Later, the reporter is found dead.

Crowe is called in by the head of the ashram, who knows him from time spent in India, where they had studied Vedanta together. In fact, Crowe chose the electional chart for the ashram. So of course he’s going to help. But before he can do much, the police arrest his friend for the murder.

The plot twists and turns like a winding road – from Montreal to Vermont and New York, to Thailand, to Maine and back again. Along the way, there is the NYC Riverside rapist, sex trafficking, heroin smuggling, and of course all those antiquities being smuggled in and out of countries. And Crowe who, with the aid of astrology, manages to solve a number of mysteries and close some cases.

Annand writes well. His descriptions of people and places are vivid. The plot grabs you and refuses to let you put the book down. And Guruji’s pithy sayings show up at regular intervals, providing wisdom and lead-ins to astrology and Vedic metaphysics. The mix is good – intense and dark in spots, with enough levity and irony to keep it from being too dark.

If you like crime fiction as well as astrology, come and hang out with Axel Crowe. If you’re like me, you’ll never settle for Alex Cross again. In fact, I’m anxiously awaiting the third book in this series, which is due out in 2015. By the time you finish this book, you may be too.

The National Council for Geocosmic Research, Inc, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, education and research organization dedicated to raising the standards of astrological education and research. For more info, visit their site at

Donna Van Toen is a Canadian astrologer and organizer of the annual SOTA Conference that brings together Canadian and American astrologers, typically on the cusp of the Ontario/New York state border. For more info, visit her site at


Alan Annand is a Canadian astrologer and palmist with an education spanning both eastern and western astrology. He has diplomas from the American College of Vedic Astrology, as well as the British Faculty of Astrological Studies for whom he was their North American correspondence tutor for several years.

He is also a writer of crime fiction, including his NEW AGE NOIR series (Scorpio RisingFelonious MonkSoma County) featuring astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”


Read the highlighted reviews of Scorpio Rising on Pinterest.

Buy Annand’s New Age Noir series and other crime fiction on Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Flipkart, Kobo and Smashwords.


FELONIOUS MONK: book review by Horoscope Guide

1 Nov

This review first appeared in HOROSCOPE GUIDE, August 2014, and is reprinted here with the permission of editor and reviewer Ken Irving:


A little over two years ago I reviewed a mystery novel called Scorpio Rising, by Alan Annand. This title was actually the first in what he calls his “New Age Noir” series, and now the second installment, Felonious Monk, arrives just in time for a review in this issue of Horoscope Guide.

The hero of the series is a Canadian named Axel Crowe, a private investigator licensed in all 50 states of the USA (and presumably all provinces in Canada). Although like any detective he knows the ways and wiles of criminals, he has one thing extra going for him: he’s what might be called a trained intuitive.

By this I mean that, although his primary tools are much the same as those of any good private investigator, possibly the most important item in his toolkit is astrology. He uses both natal and horary astrology, added to which is an intuitive awareness of a symbolic ebb and flow in the environment around him. The astrology he uses is “Vedic,” the astrology of India, and the two astrological techniques just mentioned are integrated into that ebb and flow, with astrology and its symbols interacting with various elements of the spaces in which Crowe finds himself over the course of his investigations.

Here’s an example of how this works – at a point when Crowe is in the apartment of the main victim, Seth Greer, whose murder he’s investigating. One notable thing about Greer’s murder is that within a day or two after he was killed, someone has systematically gone through the offices of The Village Voice (where Greer worked as a freelance journalist), his apartment, and anyplace else where he might have used a computer or saved a file. By the time these mysterious intruders are finished, they’ve destroyed or stolen hard drives, paper copies of Greer’s work and notes, and anything else that might have a word or two on it.

A cursory inspection of documents remaining on the premises (file folders scattered across the floor) reveals little of obvious interest, but Crowe sits down and begins to organize a search based on his astrological thinking:

He sat for a moment at Greer’s desk and surveyed the mess. What was he looking for? A clue to what got Greer killed.

With too many file folders to look through, he decided to narrow his choices using ruling planets – the day lord, the ruler of the Moon sign, and the Ascendant lord. Monday was ruled by the Moon, whose color was white. That was no help. There were too many off-white folders.

The Moon was in Taurus, ruled by Venus whose color was blue. So blue folders might be relevant…

The blue folders do not yield much of interest either, so Crowe opens up his smart-phone astrology app and takes a look:

…Documents were signified by the third house, Libra. Its lord Venus was in Taurus with the Moon in the 10th house.

Since that was a fixed sign, the files had to be nearby. But Saturn, which sometimes obscured things from sight, occupied the third house. Perhaps near a doorway, which the third house also ruled…

He looked in the hallway closet adjacent to the entrance. Several jackets and coats hung on a rod. Near the back of the closet was a long black winter coat.

Saturn in the 3rd house: something stiff in the arms. He felt inside the coat and withdrew three blue file folders that had been rolled together and hidden inside the coat sleeve. Each file was almost half an inch thick. He immediately got the sense this was what he’d been looking for….

And indeed it was. By outlining an example of Crowe’s astrological thinking, I want to emphasize that I’m doing this only because I’m writing for an astrological audience that might find this interesting. But I don’t want to give the impression that the novel is like this, page after page.

Astrology or not, this is a murder mystery through and through, and you don’t have to know anything about astrology to read it. Crowe shuttles back and forth from locations that range from New York to Vermont to Thailand, among many other locales, all in pursuit of a motive for the killing of Greer, a muckraking reporter who was thrown off a cliff to his death during a peaceful week-long retreat at an ashram run by a friend of Crowe’s. The local police quickly decide that Crowe’s friend is the culprit, and throw him in jail, so Crowe is off on the trail of the real killer.

Greer’s murder is not the whole of it, however, and by the time we’re a few chapters into the story, Crowe is actually investigating Greer’s murder while simultaneously consulting with the NYPD on several unsolved serial killings. In order to get needed information for the Greer case from the police, he works a trade by consulting on the unsolved killings, and at times the two cases seem destined to intertwine, while at other times they seem to have nothing to do with each other. Crowe sticks with it, however, until every last murderer is dead or in jail, and every last murder is solved. I guarantee that if you pick this up you won’t be able to set it aside.

With Felonious Monk, Alan Annand has written a worthy successor to Scorpio Rising, and by the time you finish this fast-paced, wide-ranging tale you’ll be anxiously waiting for the next book in his New Age Noir series.

~ Ken Irving

Ken Irving, editor of Horoscope Guide, is an astrologer specializing in locality mapping, Astro*Carto*Graphy, and related subjects. See his website for more information.


Alan Annand is a Canadian astrologer and palmist with an education spanning both eastern and western astrology. He has diplomas from the American College of Vedic Astrology, as well as the British Faculty of Astrological Studies for whom he was their North American correspondence tutor for several years.

He is also a writer of crime fiction, including his NEW AGE NOIR series (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) featuring astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”

Read the highlighted reviews of Scorpio Rising on Pinterest.

Buy Annand’s New Age Noir series and other crime fiction on Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Flipkart, Kobo and Smashwords.




Al-Quebeca: fiction that could be tomorrow’s headlines

27 Sep

AQ ebook thumbMy police procedural AL-QUEBECA, in which a female Montreal homicide detective investigates a hit-and-run and discovers a terrorist cell, has received 30 Amazon reviews averaging 4.5 stars. The top 10:

“A police procedural with such atmospheric detail I was reminded of Inspector Renko of Martin Cruz Smith fame.”

“Fascinating novel with just the right amounts of procedural, mystery and suspense! Detective Sophie Gillette is a mix of tough and tender, trying to keep it together and do her job in spite of her own pain.”

“Annand’s hypothetical telling of an unfolding terrorist strike in Canada chills with its realism. Riveting story-telling on multiple levels.”

“Hard to believe the author’s a man, since his insight into the feelings of his female lead are so sensitive.” 

“It starts as a police procedural, shifts to suspense/thriller and winds up as an action joyride to a surprise ending. Right up there with Clancy and DeMille!”

skull-bomb@50%“What do you get when you weave renegade bikers and a terrorist cell with weapons of mass destruction into a police procedural? So many threads masterfully twisted, then unravelled to a satisfying ending.”

“Very entertaining and just enough truth to be scary. Fiction that could be tomorrow’s headlines.”

“Annand has a knack for quick, realistic, witty dialog. His lead police officer Gillette gives us everything we want in a female character. She’s smart, tough, vulnerable and real.”

“Intense and captivating, very hard to put down. Highly recommended for anyone who likes thrillers and complex police procedurals.”

“A timely subject and a plausible plot. Montreal’s atmosphere is rendered with a touch evocative of Graham Greene!”


AL-QUEBECA is available at Amazon, AppleBarnes&Noble, Flipkart, Kobo and Smashwords.

Book review: Moving Targets by Margaret Atwood

25 Sep

moving targetsMargaret Atwood hasn’t spoken to me in 40 years (for that story, see here) but I haven’t held it against her. I’ve continued reading her books, like any Canadian bibliophile who hopes that someday she’ll receive a Nobel in recognition for her impressive body of work. Until then, let me add this positive review for one of her non-fiction books.

Moving Targets is a broad-ranging compilation of book reviews, critical essays, and reflections on the writing life. Amazingly enough, I found a signed first edition in my neighborhood bookstore, proving once again that the world is indeed small. But since we both live in Toronto, maybe someday she’ll see me on the street; hopefully I’ll see her first and dodge her car if she tries to run me over.

Reading Moving Targets reminded me once again what a magnificently erudite woman she is. It goes without saying that she knows Can Lit inside out, and in a number of essays and reviews pays homage to Canadian writers Margaret Laurence, Carol Shields and Mordecai Richler, plus many other lesser northern luminaries.

Her admiration also ranges from the crime fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Elmore Leonard to the speculative dystopias of Ursula Le Guin and George Orwell. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether she’s writing about dark fairy tales, modern literature or the folly of nations at war, she brings to every piece the focus of her wit and intelligence, like someone with a flashlight showing us where to find the best books in a vast unlighted library.

As I read this book I soon found myself infected by her own enthusiasm, and started a list of other authors I should read. And although I had not thought of it until now, she seems to me like a Professor of Zoology who could never be content to lecture from the podium. Rather, she must don her hiking boots and camouflage jacket, and lead her class into the woods to see first-hand the denizens inhabiting the vast forest of literature and, if one were so inclined, learn how to live among them.

As the book flap says, Moving Targets is an essential collection for Atwood fans everywhere.


Alan Annand is a Canadian  astrologer  and writer of crime fiction.

One-man Canadian crime wave

19 Sep

AA & halloween handsThey call me Canada’s answer to Dan Brown and Michael Connelly. They are my parents. They’re biased, but also great fans of mystery, suspense and thrillers. They fed me a diet of Elmore Leonard, Michael Crichton and Nelson DeMille.

I write novels that offer a cocktail of action, mystery, suspense, thriller, humor and literary pretension. Think of me as Canada’s answer to Larsson, Mankell and Nesbo. Or Hemingway and Spillane mixed in the same highball. Beaten, not whipped.

One reviewer called Harm’s Way the closest thing yet to being the classic Canadian hard-boiled mystery. Set in Montreal, it showcases Lee Harms, a hardened man with a tender heart, in a case involving a local politician’s runaway daughter.

In Hide in Plain Sight, a mystery/suspense, a man impersonates his dead twin to conceal that his own bipolar wife killed him. But sharing a bed with his brother’s wife gives him a libidinous fever, and now someone else wants to kill him.

My New Age Noir series features Axel Crowe, an investigator who uses astrology, palmistry and other tricks learned from his guru. One reviewer called him Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope … who also knows martial arts and plays blues guitar.

Scorpio Rising presents Crowe a three-way murder whose wealthy victims across the USA all have beneficiaries with alibis. From New York to Frisco and the badlands of New Mexico, the trail ends where it began – in the heart of a frustrated writer.

In Felonious Monk Crowe investigates a reporter’s murder at an ashram. His search uncovers a series of Manhattan rape-murders going back 12 years, with connections to sex trafficking, drug smuggling and the theft of an ancient golden Buddha.

Al-Quebeca is a wintertime police procedural. Montreal detective Sophie Gillette investigates a fatal hit-and-run, only to discover a terrorist plot to assassinate a governor, disable the electrical grid, and kill 10,000 hockey fans.

And in a mash-up of genres, Antenna Syndrome dips Raymond Chandler into sci-fi to send up the hard-boiled genre. In a post-apocalyptic New York, an investigator searches for a kidnapped artist fascinated with insects. What a buzz!


SCORPIO RISING book review: “Speak to the stones and the stars answer.”

28 Jun

SR3 ebook thumb7th-star heaven! 

Every now and again, I get a book review that makes me feel guilty. First, it’s so good I don’t believe it, so I keep going back to re-read it. Make sure there’s no hidden sarcasm, some kind of back-handed compliment.

But no, it is true and well written, as Papa would say. I get a warm fuzzy feeling from re-reading it. Somewhere out on the west coast, a smart sensitive woman is stroking me, and I like it.

But it reminds me again of why I write for this niche – because I know my tribe is out there, and I write for them.

Here’s what Laura of Oregon posted on Amazon:

Seven stars (out of five) to Alan Annand!

As book one in a series named “New Age Noir,” Scorpio Rising lives up to its series name in every way. With spare, yet brilliant prose, multi-faceted character development and seamless dialogue, the complex stories within stories unfold, and suspense gathers momentum surrounding the many esoteric and intuitive profiling techniques of the humble and honest protagonist, Axel Crowe.

I will begin book two, Felonious Monk, immediately. Then I will set about reading everything Alan Annand has written to date. His intelligence, his mastery of his craft, his humor, and his keen insight into the precarious toe dance on the high-wire we humans are set upon to undertake is profound.

I have to say, without explanation, that there is a certain subtle balance inherent throughout this book. While in any murder mystery there are the inevitable terrible and dark elements, in Scorpio Rising the presence of the light and conscious elements are woven into the vast tapestry that comprises all life – not as opposites, not as existence being black or white, nor it being good or evil – but as necessary parts of a grand dance in which everything is connected in mysterious ways.

As poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “Speak to the stones and the stars answer.”


Alan Annand is an astrologer and writer of crime fiction, including his New Age Noir series featuring astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, a criminal profiler with a horoscope.



SR for print spread v3 jan 2013 web

Book review: The Experiencers by Val Tobin

14 Jun

the experiencersFor anyone who’s ever lent credence to the notion that aliens visit Earth, The Experiencers by Val Tobin is frighteningly real. Michael Valiant is a black ops assassin for a government agency that shields alien presence from public knowledge by silencing UFO researchers who know they are here among us. Carolyn Fairchild is a psychic medium who functions as a sort of spotter for her local research group, and when they see something they shouldn’t, Valiant and his partner are dispatched to shut them up before they blog about it.

Just when Carolyn’s group starts having fatal accidents at the agency’s hands, Valiant has a crisis of faith. He’s discovered our government is in league with the alien “establishment”, with the joint goal of global subjugation. But Valiant learns there’s a rebel alien base in a wilderness park, whose mission is to work with the people, not against them. So instead of killing Carolyn, Valiant enlists her help to find the base. Now the agency wants them both dead before they reach the rebels.

The Experiencers is written with a deft hand, and well-paced between thoughtful character development and straight-on action scenes. Lurking in the background is some entirely plausible bleeding edge technology. The few psychic episodes are both real and out there. And for the tender-hearted, there are a couple of poignantly human sex scenes between two people thrown together by fate and accepting it. Meanwhile, pursued by government men with stones where their hearts should be…

Amazon, Apple, Barnes&NobleSmashwords

William Gibson’s novel, Zero History = Zero Story

19 Jan

zero historyIf either the author or his publisher had subscribed to truth in advertising, this book should have been titled Zero Story.

Once upon a time, after reading Neuromancer a couple of decades ago, I thought William Gibson was a SF genius for the brilliance with which he’d described a wired world of the future.

A couple of years ago I read Spook County and was horribly disappointed with a vaguely-futuristic novel that appeared to have no plot. Since then, Gibson has apparently been pushing the limits of his ability to anesthetize unsuspecting readers with more of the same.

In all fairness, Gibson is a fine craftsman of prose. It was pleasurable and effortless to read Zero History, at least insomuch as I could feign an interest in the latest fashions in clothing, architecture, vehicles and interior design, to which he devoted an inordinate percentage of word count in this tiresome excuse for a novel.

For the life of me, I struggle to recount what Zero History was all about. Essentially, a bunch of characterless nerds trying to determine the identity of a designer of leading edge military clothing. But if I looked for a plot, I was out of luck. I felt like I was downtown on a Saturday night, endlessly circling the block in front of a popular restaurant, looking for a parking spot that never materialized.

I was fed up with this novel in less than 40 pages. I persisted to the end (400 pp) only in the vain hope that perhaps this once-esteemed writer would show some purpose and redeem himself in the next chapter… or maybe the next… or maybe the last. Never happened.

In the acknowledgements section, Gibson went to great pains to thank his wife and daughter, editor and literary agent, and a dozen others who supposedly helped to midwife this bastard. Of those, shame on his agent and editor, who didn’t have the stones to tell him, this is an insubstantial piece of crap and you can do better.

If ever I reach this stage in my writing, I can only pray I have more honest people in my life to counsel me.


HARM’S WAY: This 99-cent book is terrible!

14 Dec

AA & halloween handsAs a writer of mystery suspense, I try to be edgy. For the most part, it’s a juggling act – being the wild man I know myself to be versus the decent guy that my editor (wife) wants me to be.

All of my books cultivate an atmosphere of moral jeopardy, sex and violence. Most of the time, despite my editor, I manage to work in enough action, intrigue, mystery and suspense to keep readers flipping the pages, looking for more jeopardy, sex and violence.

Rarely do I get the kind of off-the-scale reaction I’ve secretly being craving, like this recent review on Barnes & Noble of my mystery/thriller HARM’S WAY:

“This book is terrible! It touched on every low-life, criminal thing in the world. Lying, cheating, stealing, kidnapping, rape, torture, murder, porn, snuff films, drugs, Mafia. I probably missed some, but if it’s bad, it was covered in this book.”

Okay, you had me with low-life.

Finally, someone has seen my inner wild man and damned him with faint praise. Well, maybe not so much praise as outright condemnation. But as some Hollywood agent said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Sadly, the condemnation of HARM’S WAY isn’t universal. Other B&N reviewers haven’t been quite so astute as the one above, and have mistakenly seen this book as an exciting and page-turning romp.

Some of them said: “Get comfortable, you’ll be up all night reading. Once you start you can’t put it down. Exciting, keeps you on the edge of your seat. Fast-paced suspense, interesting, plenty of twists and turns. Highly recommended.”

To date, there’ve been 19 reviews on B&N, averaging 4.5 stars. Clearly, I’m doing something wrong here, because most people are completely missing the point – that I am a low-life crime writer who wants to corrupt readers.

Meanwhile, the crowd at Amazon and Apple are obviously reading the book backwards, because their reviews are also far too complimentary. On Amazon, 20 reviews average 4.0 stars, while at Apple, 46 reviews average 4.5.


One-liners from Amazon: “One of the best reads in a long time. Everything you want in a story: suspense, action, strong characters, sex, romance and a great storyline. All the twists and turns in the plot make it a page-turner you can’t put down. Hot action keeps you on the edge. A great mystery and detective book.

So the jury’s still out. But did I not plan and execute the narration of multiple heinous crimes? Did I not portray men and women in acts of degradation and violence purely for my own gratification? Did I not kill their children – Innocence, Grace and Hope?

Why don’t more readers hate this book? Am I not edgy?

Read HARM’S WAY and cast your vote.

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