Book Reviews

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite   5 Stars

Houseboat: A Novel by Paul Shadinger is an engaging story steeped in mystery, with distinct, well-developed and enjoyable characters. Matt Preston is a guy addicted to the game of poker, a man who had once lost a 57 Chevrolet convertible in a card game. Then he bets on another game and wins a houseboat belonging to Slim. Soon after, Slim, the former owner of the houseboat, is murdered and every finger seems to point at Matt. Could it be because of his military past? Could it be Slim was murdered by Wheeler, who seems to have suffered a devastating loss at the card game and didn’t receive any sympathy from Slim? Follow the tale of Matt Preston through a gritty investigation, a tale that involves a beautiful girl and a powerful enemy lurking in the dark.

The reader is immediately introduced to Matt’s world, with his poker friends and acquaintances such as Slim, Tom, Scott, and others. The story is told from the perspective of the protagonist and in a powerful first person narrative. The author delves into details and pulls the reader in to follow the scenes closely. The scenes are focused and the descriptions are terrific. Whether the author is describing himself as “My body was sore and I was just plain dog assed exhausted!” or likening Wheeler’s looks to those of a kindergarten child caught with his hand in a jar of cookies, there is a refined sense of humor that hits the most dormant nerve in the reader. Paul Shadinger’s Houseboat is fast-paced and riveting.

Amazon Customer  5 Stars

A real page turner...loved it...give me more

Stanley J. Czuba   4 Stars

I enjoy mysteries 

I enjoy reading mysteries and this book fit the bill. It's unusual to win a houseboat in a card game but Matt Preston does and this creates the plot for the entire novel. His experiences with his new "house" are the foundation of the plot. Enjoyed the characters including BJ!

Amazon Customer  5 Stars

A great read, hard to put down

A great read, hard to put down! I really enjoyed reading the book as it was written in a "first person" format. Looking forward to the next book by Paul Shadinger.

BAB  4 Stars

Entertaining October 30, 2018

This was a good story and I most enjoyed the dog throughout the book. He obviously is an animal lover.

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite   5 Stars

I have always longed for characters one can stick with like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and James Patterson’s Alex Cross and in Code Name: Crescent, A Matt Preston Novel by Paul Shadinger, I have found another interesting character to journey with, a man with an unusual love for poker nights, a shady military past, and a rare wit. In this mystery, Matt Preston’s poker buddy enlists his help to solve a difficult problem. Matt will need to use his connections and tread a very dangerous path in search of a missing girl. This sleuth/mystery tale is seasoned with steamy romance and secrets coming to light. When the past catches up with him, will there be a chance for survival?

As I stated before, I love stories with compelling characters, and Matt Preston is one hell of a character, developed at different levels, three-dimensional, and memorable. I loved the way his background comes out in the narrative, and the way the author uses his point of view in the story. The protagonist is the narrator and the author demonstrates an unusual mastery of the first person narrative. The setting is in 2000 and it comes out beautifully with the media hype at the time and ideas like the imminent end of the world pervading social media. The conflict is introduced quickly and the tension builds up fast, quickly reaching staggering proportions. Paul Shadinger’s writing is confident and he has a great gift for narrative and plot. I have never read anything from this author, but Code Name: Crescent, A Matt Preston Novel has made me an avid fan.

Amazon Customer    5 Stars

Well-developed, believable characters; interesting twists and surprises; and a healthy dose of humor and entertainment. This is a creative book with a robust and adventurous story line. It all compels me to read the author's first book (Houseboat). I'll let you know if I enjoy that as much! 

J. B. Thomas, PHD   4 Stars

I really enjoyed the first Matt Preston novel, "Houseboat", and now I can say that I am even happier to have read "Crescent"! The reader is invited into the Gordian plot as Matt talks about his past time in Southeast Asia, and friends like Walter and Mouse. A real page-turner

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite   5 Stars

It’s not always the magnitude of the crisis that makes a novel great, but how it is handled and Paul Shadinger shows incredible skill in conflict development in this novel. The first book I read from this author was Code Name: Crescent and, seduced by the writing, I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on other books by him. So, I picked up The Gypsy Queen and it has been a great delight, a masterly entry in the Matt Preston novels. Again, helping one of his friends from the poker game, he quickly discovers that he is in a dangerous game and will have to fight to stay alive while pursuing a notorious international hacker simply known as the Gypsy Queen. Can Matt’s undercover skills and military background help him this time?

The Gypsy Queen is one of those rare books I have had to read nonstop, thanks to the author’s unique and clear narrative voice. It is compelling and it rings with originality. The second thing that captivated me was the deft handling of character. The protagonist is a very interesting character, a man with a disturbing penchant for poker, a lover, and a very gifted investigator. He isn’t perfect; he is flawed in many ways and readers will find him very intriguing and genuine. While the characters are compelling, this novel focuses on plot and the author succeeds in handling the conflict in a way that contributes to the pacing and keeps the reader’s interest. This novel is engaging, and Paul Shadinger makes the reading experience even more enjoyable by imbuing the work with great humor.

Christian Sia   5 Stars

Another compelling Matt Preston novel, The Gypsy Queen by Paul Shadinger is a rollicking ride in the genre of crime fiction. The protagonist, ex-undercover operative Matt Preston, is keen to help his friend from the card game accomplish a mission which may require his old skills. In this spellbinding crime novel, Matt is out to locate a cunning international hacker known as the Gypsy Queen. He has to make use of his uncover experience, but can he survive the life-threatening challenges that are stacked against him?

We are introduced to the protagonist right off the bat and he is in bad shape, still stricken by the sudden death of David, one of their friends at the poker game. Readers get to know that Matt is a womanizer and that he loves poker. But the request that Ralph asks of him opens up an exploration into Matt’s background and the stuff he can do, like finding missing people and other skills. Ralph wants him to find someone. From this point on, the conflict grows with the mystery and readers will enjoy the background that comes along with it, allowing them to get a complete image of the personality of the protagonist.

The themes of cyber crime, romance, and sleuthing are seamlessly woven into the narrative fabric. I also enjoyed Matt’s group of friends, buddies united by one thing: poker. The plot is fast-paced and it is intelligently done. The dialogues are great and plot-driven and they offer real great insights into character development. The first person narrative voice is as strong as in other Paul Shadinger novels. You’ll find humor at its best and suspense that keeps you turning the pages. The Gypsy Queen is a great achievement and a work of huge entertainment.

Lit Amri    4 Stars

The Gypsy Queen (A Matt Preston Novel, Volume 3) by Paul Shadinger starts off with Matt’s usual poker night. One of the regulars, Ralph, comes up to Matt for help. He met a woman named Melissa at a software seminar six months prior and he’s completely enamored with her, but she has disappeared. Ralph also used her ideas for his company’s new software game, and he doesn’t want to end up getting sued in the end. Ralph’s begging leads to Matt’s agreement, although he’s suspicious and has a bad feeling about the job. His suspicion proves to be true, as Melissa is an internationally known hacker dubbed The Gypsy Queen, and Matt is not the only one who’s looking for her.

Since this is already the third book of the series, I expected to miss some depth of the protagonist and other characters’ backgrounds. That said, I don’t feel that I missed much detail, and The Gypsy Queen is sufficient as a standalone. Some parts of the dialogue could be more concise, but the writing and the pace are good, and the narrative draws you in. There are several mysterious and dangerous events happening to Matt, so waiting for these events to connect to one another or see how they will influence the plot was interesting. With a good balance of gritty moments and humor, Shadinger’s The Gypsy Queen is a solid read and explores its themes and concept satisfyingly for fans of the genre.

BookLife Prize - 2018

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10

Originality: 8 out of 10

Prose: 6 out of 10

Character/Execution: 7 out of 10

Overall: 7.25 out of 10


Plot: An unwilling private detective embarks on a dangerous search for a mysterious mastermind in an eventful and plucky narrative.

Prose: Shadinger writes in a clipped, casual, and unvarnished prose style. Sharp dialogue carries weight within the development of the story, while the narrator’s voice offers a contemporary, hardboiled tenor.

Originality: While Shadinger utilizes familiar mystery genre tropes, the author invigorates his story with distinctive storytelling and humor.

Character Development: Witty monikers assigned to Shadinger’s cast of characters amplify their personalities. His living characters are vibrant, tart, and youthful, whereas the deceased characters still possess very influential roles in the storyline.

Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite  5 STARS

''Quick, Quick, Slow: A Matt Preston Novel is a sleuth mystery novel written by Paul Shadinger. Before everything seemed to go drastically awry, Matt’s biggest issues had been an increasing sense of boredom with the poker games that had been part of his life for so long and which seemed to have changed into a somewhat boring and silly waste of time. Winning a game that he hadn’t even known how to play that night seemed to underscore that sense of dissatisfaction. As he was driving home that night, he also started thinking about Nicky, the young Middle Eastern waif who had appeared on his front step one night along with her dog. He had taken her in and was pleased to have done so, but her recent attempts to seduce him were troubling. He was so much older than she was, and he just wasn’t interested in the commitment and complications that such a development in their roommates situation would entail. His malaise was interrupted, however, when Nicky announced that Ilox had summoned her. Matt knew Ilox was not to be trusted. When he learned that a Vietnam buddy who had saved his life had also been summoned by Ilox, Matt decided that he would not let Nicky go on her own. Their final destination would take him back into a war zone.

Paul Shadinger’s sleuth mystery novel, Quick, Quick, Slow: A Matt Preston Novel, is a thoroughly enjoyable hard-boiled detective tale that will thrill fans of that genre. I loved encountering Shadinger’s sly references to poker games, houseboats, and collector cars, and those brief passages had me fondly remembering those great authors of classic mystery novels. The author’s characters are finely drawn and authentic, and the scenes set in Seattle, Florida and the Middle East easily transport the reader to each of those locations. Quick, Quick, Slow is a thinking person’s novel that is never predictable and constantly keeps the reader guessing and on their feet. And while it’s not the first book in the series, the author gives more than enough background information to allow it to be enjoyed on its own. Quick, Quick, Slow: A Matt Preston Novel is most highly recommended."

Tom Frost - Amazon Review Another fantastic book by Paul Shadinger  5 Stars

February 24, 2019

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I was caught up in the story from the very beginning. Mr. Shadinger has created a fascinating hero in Matt, and his creative ability as well as being a excellent wordsmith left me wanting more and more to read his books in the future.
Well done Mr. Shadinger. You have a new fan.

Amazon Customer  A GREAT READ  5 Stars

March 12, 2019

Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

I have read all of Paul's books, they have all been great reads!

Sandy Welker Creech     recommends Paul Shadinger Author

March 20, 2019

His books are great! Nice guy as well!

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