I have recently joined the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. You can visit my writer’s profile on the site. Just click on the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance button at the bottom of the page. Once the site opens, click on the “Programs” drop down menu and then click “Find Maine Writers”. Naturally, your comments are always welcome.
I spent this May once again teaching students at the University of Lodz in Poland. Always an enjoyable experience. Before I departed for home in early June, my dear friends Muhammed and Agnieska held a fete for me at their language school in Lodz. Muhammed wanted to recognize the publication of my first novel, The Illuminati Protocol. I told him that while it was thoughtful, I didn’t need such recognition but Muhammed being Muhammed, the event went off as scheduled. And, of course, it was delightful.
He and Agnieska had arranged a large instruction room in theater style and all the seats were taken with friends and clients of the school. I was seated embarrassingly in front with Muhammed and my good friend and colleague, Dr. Joanna Michalak, who was also invited. Among the guests were three teenagers, one an aspiring writer.
Muhammed introduced me to the audience, I talked a little about the book and about writing, and then we had an hour-long conversation about many things. It was both delightful and enjoyable. Muhammed and Agnieska had brought together a warm and gracious group. Prior to our discussion, Muhammed had distributed to the attendees a business size card with my photo, name and book cover. The man knows how to market.
We then had refreshments, including a massive, scrumptious, chocolate covered mousse cake with both my name and the title of the book artfully inscribed on top. The cake was a gastronomic tour de force. Photos followed.
What more can I say about Muhammed and Agniseka. They both cared for me while I was sick and when I was well, celebrated me as if I were family. Two lovely people. My thanks and appreciation, always.
From the opening pages of “The Illuminati Protocol” I knew it would be different from the books I’ve been reading lately and I was right! Mr. Ristino sets the scene and characterizations in a skillful way that not only pulls us in, but creates great visualizations and elicits genuine emotional investments. I truly cared about the characters’ fates, and was shocked and saddened at certain things (no spoilers). An interesting and diverse cast of characters, along with several intriguing plotlines interwoven against unique international setting makes this a memorable read for me. The way this book was written is different from many I’ve read before, but it totally hooked me right from the beginning and kept my attention throughout. It was intelligent, weird, sad, dark, funny, deep, tragic… I thought the storyline and the character development to be very well done and thought out. I feel like this level of complexity could have easily ended up badly, but instead I darn near gobbled the whole book down in just a few evenings. There were some pretty disturbing events that may upset some readers but I thought the author handled the sensitive subject matter well. This book will haunt me for a long time, but in a good way. Recommend for mature readers only. (5 stars) Essie Harmon— Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
I found myself wavering around while reading “The Illuminati Protocol” by Robert Ristino. At first I was immediately grabbed into the story and the fact that Lyle (total freak) was going to stalk and kidnap a young girl to deliver to a sex trafficker. Terrible, yes, but yet an intriguing storyline that I’ve never read about before. I was horrified and indignant at the same time, and strangely transfixed. I loved and hated the characters, but they were all well developed and we could picture them perfectly (for better or worse). There were times I felt the story wasn’t as focused as I’d like, with some conversations and scenes maybe weren’t necessary and perhaps could have been eliminated to tighten the narrative some. But at the same time, the storylines were amazing, and there was pretty much nonstop action and some definitely crazy developments toward the end. It felt fresh and unpredictable, always a nice experience, especially in a genre that is fraught with copycats. All in all I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written thriller/suspense with memorable characters that will open your eyes to a real problem in the world and see what really happens out there. Recommend for fans of James Patterson, Dan Brown, etc… (4 stars) Darla Ortiz— Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
I’m almost finished with the first draft of The Illuminati Circle, the sequel to The Illuminati Protocol. The sequel is a continuation of the original plot but with an international flavor that was touched on in the first book. As you recall, members of the FBI CARD team had travelled to Abu Dhabi to find the man who ordered the abduction of Katie Gaines. Now Interpol has requested the team join an international task force to rip apart the heinous international child sex trafficking network in Europe operated by members of the Illuminati Circle.
Our intrepid Card team, led by its idiosyncratic leader, Bing Ingram, joins the EU task force in Paris. The task force includes an Interpol inspector from Sweden, an inspector from Britain’s Metropolitan Police (aka Scotland Yard), a French National Police Captain from Europol, and a gregarious Polish National Police inspector.
The sequel features, tension, suspense, action and good old fashioned police work as the task force members travel from the United Arab Emirates, to Marseille, the French Alps and then to Warsaw and Lodz, the cultural heartland of Poland, the crossroads of Europe. And, of course, there’s a modicum of romance. Bing begins an intense relationship with Trish D’Amadeo that heats up more than my pages, and in Paris, where the air itself is an aphrodisiac, Larry Coughlin, the tall, quiet FBI special agent, meets….well, you’ll have to read the book to find out who he meets in Paris (that’s called a teaser!).
I plan to have the book available sometime in the fall. Hope you will join Bing Ingram and his team as they hunt down members of the infamous Illuminati Circle.
This was the first book I’ve read by this author Robert Ristino, but I certainly hope it’s not the last. He has a gift for writing descriptive and life-like scenes that make us feel like we are really there inside the story, as opposed to it all just being “told” to us, as so many rookie authors make the mistake of doing. I like that this book didn’t feel stale or derivative of every other thriller/kidnap book out there, but instead like a new niche of action and suspense that serves well to help diversify a somewhat cookie-cutter genre (in my opinion). It was fast paced and very creepy and disturbing, but overall the entire novel was one that I thought was well-crafted and delivered an emotional win in the end. Recommend.(5 stars) Nicole Hastings— Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
“The Illuminati Protocol” by Robert J. Ristino has many of the elements I look for in a good book: genuine, fleshed-out characters, well-detailed locales and settings, a complex, but believable plot, and some emotional engagement. For the most part it was an easy read that held on to my attention, although at times I did feel the pace was perhaps a bit too erratic and lacked the necessary thrust to make me *have* to keep reading – but this was more in the beginning where there is more backstory and setup, and I feel it got better as it went along and the pace picked up. It has a very “big” feel to it, which I liked – it spans over different parts of the world and with a wide cast of characters. So even for a shorter book it still has that ‘epic’ feel, which is nice. Could benefit from an editor as there are some typos/punctuation things I noticed (very minor though) and to be honest I was confused by the fact that the trafficking ring was known as part of the Illuminati, but the Illuminati is actually a real thing, a real group (secret or not), but they are not sex traffickers – so I though there should have been more of a clear distinction made (or a different name). But other than that I thought the storyline was fantastic and I enjoyed the addition of the dogs as well. Recommended for older readers due to sensitive subject matter – definitely not a “teen” or “young adult” book. (3-4 stars)Sam Ryan— Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
Just in, a very good review from the Bibliophilic Book Blog. Here's a sample of what the blogger had to say: THE ILLUMINATI PROTOCOL is a well-written and fast-paced story. Katie, the FBI agents, and the local police are all very well-developed as characters. Even the dogs were an integral part of the story. You can read it all at http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/2016/02/book-review-illuminati-protocol-by.html. Give it a visit and share your thoughts with a post here.
Here's the second great review my book The Illuminati Protocol has received from an online blogger:
This novel by Robert Ristino was quite a change of pace for me, as I normally gravitate towards more fantasy/paranormal romance, but this was one captivating tale that I couldn’t put down! I did have to have some patience in the beginning until I felt that I was more caught up in the thrust of the story, but the author does a great job of explaining all the backstory and sub plots. I don’t rehash plotlines (That is what the book description is for), but I enjoyed the easy flow and dark drama and plot of “The Illuminati Protocol”, and really liked the characters, especially Tom and Giselle! Ha!. Happy to see the dogs in action. And the rest of the characters were not cliché, cardboard cutouts but authentic and real… even when being disturbing. I liked that I never quite knew where the story was going, and it was anything but predictable… my eyebrows shot up and my jaw dropped many times. It gets pretty intense, and I wasn’t prepared for where the book went, but I feel like it is an important story that needs to be told, as we know this sort of stuff happens in real life (unfortunately!). The author has a great way of writing, even if it took me awhile to get into the flow. Would read more from Mr. Ristino in the future. (5 stars) Gillian Hancock— Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
Here is the first of a group of indie book blogger reviews of my book, The Illuminati Protocol. All the reviews are either very good or good, not bad for a first novel. Here's the first of those reviews. I'll be posting others over the next few days.
I really enjoyed this book, “The Illuminati Protocol”. I thought it was unique, and excellently written (a few editing things aside) and kept my attention from the dramatic, heartbreaking opening to the satisfying finish. I was wondering how it was going to all tie together and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed! It is a relatively quick read, one I finished in the course of a few evenings. I think the narrative prose was well-done, and I was genuinely surprised at a few things that happened. Robert Ristino does a wonderfully convincing job of creating as believable background for the plot to unfold. This book does touch on some pretty heavy subject matters and there should be trigger warnings for the subject matter and shocking events. A powerful, mind-bending read that kept me captivated. Liked the characters and the pacing was solid. Although this is labeled as a YA or Teen book on Amazon, I believe that categorization to be incorrect and would recommend for Adults who like complex, dark thrillers and suspense. (4-5 stars) Steph Coleman— Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers