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Ray Palen


Ray Palen

Ray Palen is an award-winning actor, drama teacher, and former executive producer/director for 15+ years of a highly successful regional theatre group that is still based on Long Island. Additionally, he is a published playwright with several short plays being registered with the Writers Guild of America. One of his short plays that featured his fictional hero, Sherlock Holmes, won first prize in a Holmes short play contest.

Ray's go-to pastime, however, has been reading. He has been an avid reader and writer throughout his life --- reading at least three books per week for as long as he can remember (a love of reading and lifelong insomnia being the dual cause of this). His book collection numbers in the thousands, and he prides himself on his rare and signed first editions. Ray has been reviewing books, movies and theatre for decades with several online and print publications.

In 2015, Ray relocated from the New York City area, where he lived his entire life, to Central Florida for a job opportunity with Walt Disney World. He also satisfied his burning itch to act again when he starred as the psychopath Harry Roat Jr. in a production of Terrence Knott's "Wait Until Dark," which was performed at Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort. Recently, Ray has been acting at a popular theatre in Central Florida where he had starring roles in both "And Then There Were None" by Dame Agatha Christie and "Dial 'M' for Murder" by Terrence Knott. Ironically, he was cast in both plays as the villain --- which he plays off as both preferring more complex, villainous roles and relishing the opportunity to show off his native British accent! Currently he works as a Customer Operations Supervisor for the sports-tech entertainment company FanDuel.

His greatest personal production to date is his beautiful daughter, Anna, who is now seven and loves growing up in the shadow of Cinderella Castle. She already has a fond appreciation for books and reading! Ray resides just 20 minutes outside of Walt Disney World in Clermont, FL, with his wife Debbie, his little Princess Anna, and three cats (Mickey, Rory and Lorelei). There is a very good possibility that he is probably reading a novel right now. Cheers!

Ray Palen

Reviews by Ray Palen

by John Katzenbach - Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Connected through a secure internet location, five serial killers communicate in a unique chat room they have named Jack's Special Place in homage to their ultimate model: Jack the Ripper. And so they are Jack's Boys. They delight in each other's crimes. They relish in taunting police around the world with odd clues and deep confusion --- the modern version of the Victorian-era killer they emulate. They feed on each other's killings and think they're untouchable. Until one day they are hacked. Two teenagers are fascinated by the world of the dark web, where they accidentally stumble upon Jack's Boys in their private space and immediately mock them. This triggers a landslide of anger and revenge as the killers decide to teach the teens a lesson in humility and respect for their betters.

by Christina Henry - Fantasy, Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Suspense, Thriller

Harry Adams has always loved horror movies, so it’s not a total coincidence that she took the job cleaning house for movie director Javier Castillo. His forbidding graystone Chicago mansion, Bright Horses, is filled from top to bottom with terrifying props and costumes, as well as glittering awards from his career making films that thrilled audiences --- until family tragedy and scandal forced him to vanish from the industry. Javier values discretion, and Harry has always tried to clean the house immaculately and keep her head down. But then she starts hearing noises from behind a locked door. They sound remarkably like a human voice calling for help, even though Javier lives alone and never has visitors. Harry knows that not asking questions is a vital part of working for Javier, but she soon finds that the sinister house may be home to secrets she can’t ignore.

by Quinn Connor - Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Magical Realism

In a small southern pecan town, the annual harvest is a time of both celebration and heartbreak. Even as families are forced to sell their orchards and move away, Lil Clearwater, keeper of a secret covenant with her land, swears she never will. When her twin Sasha returns to the dwindling town in hopes of reconnecting with the girl her heart never forgot, the sisters struggle to bridge their differences and share the immense burden of protecting their home from hungry forces intent on uprooting everything they love. But there is rot hiding deep beneath the surface. Ghostly fires light up the night, and troubling local folklore is revealed to be all too true. Confronted with the phantoms of their pasts and the devastating threat to their future, the sisters come to the stark realization that in the kudzu-choked South, nothing is ever as it appears.

by James Lee Burke - Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Clete Purcel is Dave Robicheaux’s longtime friend and partner in detective work. But he has a troubled past. When Clete leaves his car at the local car wash, only to return to find it ransacked by a group of thugs tied to the drug trade from Mexican cartels to Louisiana, it feels personal. Just as Clete starts to trail the culprits, Clara Bow hires Clete to investigate her scheming ex-husband, and a string of brutal deaths all link back to a heavily tattooed man who seems to lurk around every corner. Clete is experiencing shockingly lifelike hallucinations and questioning Clara’s ulterior motives when he and Dave start to hear rumors of a dangerous substance with potentially catastrophic effects. The thugs who destroyed his car might have been pawns in a scheme far darker than they could have imagined.

by Joyce Carol Oates - Fiction, Historical Fiction

In this harrowing story based on authentic historical documents, we follow the career of Dr. Silas Weir, “Father of Gyno-Psychiatry,” as he ascends from professional anonymity to national renown. Humiliated by a procedure gone terribly wrong, Weir is forced to take a position at the New Jersey Asylum for Female Lunatics, where he reigns. There, he is allowed to continue his practice, unchecked for decades, making a name for himself by focusing on women who have been neglected by the state --- women he subjects to the most grotesque modes of experimentation. As he begins to establish himself as a pioneer of 19th-century surgery, Weir’s ambition is fueled by his obsessive fascination with a young Irish indentured servant named Brigit, who becomes not only his primary experimental subject, but also the agent of his destruction.

by Charlie Donlea - Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

On the first day of an elite two-year fellowship, Sloan Hastings receives a research assignment in the emerging field of forensic genealogy. When she enthusiastically begins her research by submitting her own DNA to an online genealogy site, the results she receives are shocking. Sloane’s DNA profile suggests her true identity is that of Charlotte Margolis, aka “Baby Charlotte,” who captured the nation’s attention when she and her affluent parents mysteriously vanished. There were never any suspects in the family’s disappearance, and the case has been cold for decades. Sloan’s search for answers leads her to Cedar Creek, Nevada, a small town north of Lake Tahoe. Her birth relatives are mysterious and tight-lipped, and not everyone seems happy about her return or the questions she’s asking.

by Jaime Lynn Hendricks - Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The night of their senior picnic in 1999, Scarlett Russo and her best friend, Pepper, were involved in a car accident that left two of their classmates dead. Afterward, they lied to the police, protecting each other from the consequences. Then Pepper left town, and Scarlett never heard from her again. Twenty-two years later, Scarlett has buried that deadly incident deep in her mind and built a comfortable life for herself. However, her peace is disrupted when Pepper’s daughter shows up with news of Pepper’s death. Zoey has a cryptic letter from Pepper addressed to Scarlett that alludes to the events of that fateful night and Pepper’s initial intentions to get an abortion. Now Zoey wants answers about her mother’s past. Who is Zoey’s father? And what really happened after the senior picnic?

by Michael Crichton and James Patterson - Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Michael Crichton, the creator of Jurassic Park, “ER,” Twister and Westworld, had a passion project he’d been pursuing for years, ahead of his untimely passing in 2008. Knowing how special it was, his wife, Sherri Crichton, held back his notes and the partial manuscript until she found the right author to complete it: James Patterson. A history-making eruption is about to destroy the Big Island of Hawaii. But a secret held for decades by the US military is far more terrifying than any volcano.

by James Comey - Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

It’s been two years since Nora Carleton left the job she loved at the US Attorney’s Office to become lead counsel at Saugatuck Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. The career change also meant a change of scenery, relocating her to Westport, Connecticut, 50 miles north of New York City. But it was worth it to get her daughter, Sophie, away from the city. Plus, she likes the people she works with. Especially Helen, who recruited Nora because of her skills as an investigator. Then Nora's new life falls apart when a coworker is murdered and she becomes the lead suspect. Nora calls in her old colleagues from the US Attorney’s Office, Mafia investigator Benny Dugan and attorney Carmen Garcia. To clear Nora’s name, Benny and Carmen hunt for the true killer's motive, but it seems nearly everyone at Saugatuck has secrets worth killing for.

by Debbie Babitt - Fiction, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Linda Haley has no idea that her husband has been living a secret life. Now Guy is the prime suspect in a brutal murder that could derail Linda’s high-powered career and may be connected to a cold case. And Guy has disappeared. With a warrant out for her husband’s arrest, Linda sets out to prove his innocence accompanied by an ex-cop who harbors a secret affection for her. Together, they travel to the scene of a 40-year-old unsolved murder and a night of violence that shattered the serenity of a small fishing hamlet just past the Hamptons. But as the manhunt intensifies and she begins to uncover the shocking truth --- and the past Guy has buried deep --- Linda must decide if the stranger she married is innocent or guilty. And if he truly deserves to be saved.