September 6, 2018 at 00:20 #435
BROKEN PREY #16 In The Prey Series
Sometimes it pays to be lucky rather than smart. Well, actually I’m not sure what smart would have to do with it but. . .
I had finished the last but one of books on my nightstand and I started that one but just couldn’t get into it. So I went to my bookshelves and looked over several assuming that I had read them all. I kept coming back to Sandford and finally reached up and randomly selected Broken Prey. It turns out that I hadn’t read it! Therein is the luck.
I don’t remember when I first began reading the Prey series or what book I started with, I know it wasn’t the original, Rules of Prey. (Interesting fact; Dennis Rader, the BTK killer of Wichita, Kansas used Rules of Prey as a guide when he began killing.) I do know that I became an instant fan and nothing has changed in my fandom since.
Broken Prey is one of the best of the Prey series and I hesitate to say that for fear that it denigrates others in the series. Perish the thought! Sandford writes with an attention to detail and a bam, bam style that continues through his novels. You never get a chance to catch your breath until you put the book down. Nor do you want to. Each paragraph leads you into wanting more, and so you don’t put the book down until you fall asleep and it falls onto your face. (Why yes, I do read in bed, how did you know?)
Lucas Davenport, the protagonist of the Prey series, starts out as a Minneapolis cop, leaves the force for a bit and then rejoins it on a consultant basis, leaves it again and joins the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the law enforcement arm of Minnesota. There he is a big wig, a supervisor with a team of detectives and a couple who are more adept at enforcement than detecting.
In this novel Lucas is faced with a serial killer; one who tortures his victims before cutting their throats and Lucas knows he has to find and stop him before he kills again and again.
One of the things that I appreciate about Sandford’s writing is his attention to details large and small. He uses small details the way a cook will add a spice to enhance a dish; his details may have nothing to do with the story but they do enhance. One example from this book is when he pulls into a trailer park and a cat comes out from under one of the trailers and pauses with one paw raised (a very cat like pose if my cat is an example). It has absolutely nothing to do with the story and once it’s mentioned the cat disappears from any further involvement. But it has added that touch of spice, that flavor, a distant bird painted in a landscape, a making it whole and especially making it real. That’s John Sandford and one reason why I am a fan.
If you are squeamish, don’t read Sandford because his crime scenes are not for the faint of heart. If you prefer dull, stories in gray instead of vivid colors, pass him by. If the mundane is to your taste. . . well, leave him to those of use who enjoy a tale filled with wit, reality, action, familiar characters, because that’s what Sandford writes. And he’s damn good at it.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
October 12, 2018 at 10:13 #2698
BELIEVE ME: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, DEATH AND JAZZ CHICKENS by Eddie Izzard
I was introduced to Izzard’s comedy about 13 years ago by the love of my life. (I wasn’t the love of HER life and so onward and upward.) Though she’s now a dearly departed (not dead, just departed) she left me with the wonderful gift of some very funny stand up routines.
If you haven’t seen any of Izzard’s videos and you love . . . well, you can compare him to Monty Python or Robin Williams in some ways but he is his own person. . . and you love the absurd, so absurd that it makes you think, then watch him on Netflix, buy a DVD, catch him on HBO, do whatever you have to do, but find him and rejoice!
The best way to describe his stand up work is, just as I said; take a part of Williams, a lot of Monty Python, the matter of factness of a Will Rogers and be prepared to laugh. There is nothing wrong with laughing at his work. After all, that’s what he’s trying to get you to do; but after you stop laughing, think. Dwell on what he said and the logic of it. Not all of it of course. You don’t need to dwell on James Mason as God, though that is absurdly funny, or Jesus and dinosaurs, or flags, or monkeys with bananas and guns, or any number of things.
Don’t laugh at him wearing a dress; that’s not an act. That’s who he is, at least some of the time. He’s transgender and sometimes he’s in girl mode and sometimes in boy mode. Whichever it is, it’s not an act. As I said, that’s who he is.
Now if you read this autobiography you will learn that, and about how difficult it was for him to come out. And you’ll learn a lot of other things about him; some funny, others quite sad.
Eddie Izzard is a stand up comedian, an actor in mostly dramatic roles, a pilot, a marathon runner, (he ran 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa to honor Nelson Mandela and the 27 years Mandela spent in prison), an atheist, a transgender, and maybe most of all, a thinker.
I was a fan of Izzard before I read this book and now I’m a far bigger fan. I respected his ability to do great and funny stand up and now I respect him as a thinker even more.
If you are already a fan, don’t expect this book to be a written example of his stand up routines. While there are some very funny lines in the book, it is more the story of his life from point A (born in Aden) to point . . . M, N? It’s hard to say where in his life he is now.
I’ve seen many of his taped shows, I’ve seen his documentary about his life and now I’ve read his book. Everything I see makes me respect the man more and more.
This is a good book. You can learn something from reading it. You can learn a lot reading it. Read it. You’ll be a better person for it.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastOctober 13, 2018 at 21:15 #2766
NOWHERE TO RUN (Joe Pickett, #10) by C.J. Box
I have read several of Mr. Box’ novels, most of the Pickett series, all of the Highway Quartet and his stand alone novels. This is the best of a very good lot.
This novel has a lot in it; the usual adventures (misadventures?) of Joe and his family and friends as well as many he doesn’t really care that much for, but though all of the novels with Joe contain thoughts, feelings that Joe has, this had the most in depth philosophical thoughts of Joe and the other characters.
This book has adventures from the very start as well as the beauty of the land and animals that Joe and the others live and work with. It also contains the bad things that Joe deals with; poachers, those who violate the rights of the land and the animals. (Rights of the land you say? Is there such a thing? I think so. The right of a tree to exist as other than for wood products for mankind; the rights of wildflowers to cover a hillside with color and beauty, the rights of an animal to live as nature intended. Hunter rights are a different story completely.)
As so often happens Nate joins Joe in this adventure, and shares in the philosophical discussion. That discussion has to do with rights; this time the rights of individuals versus the rights of the many through government, and when and how those rights on either side can be corrupted. For a more in depth reading of how that’s addressed one must READ THE BOOK.
I noted the reviews of others regarding this book and they are all over the board, from 2 to 5 stars and all in between. Considering how in depth that philosophical discussion is handled is the primary reason given.
If you are a Pickett fan and you haven’t read this one then I urge you to do so. It gives Joe more depth than previous books have done. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Box’ work then I urge you to pick up one of his books. They don’t have to be read in order (well, the Highway Quartet should be, in my opinion at least) though it might help. But if you enjoy books that involve the great outdoors, how mankind acts and acts up with nature, family life where one parent is away so much of the time, a book filled with adventure, love, often heartbreak, then pick up a Box book. You’ll be glad you did.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastOctober 17, 2018 at 19:13 #2979
THE FALLEN (Amos Decker #4) by David Baldacci
I like books that teach me but what this book taught me was more horror than I wish that I knew.
Baldacci gives us a story of murder fueled by greed, hate and more than a little by the opioid crises. It’s a work of fiction but the opioid crisis isn’t fiction, it’s all too real.
Amos and Alex are on vacation, until they’re not. While relaxing with Alex’s sister and her sister’s small family of Frank, her husband and Zoe, their 6 year old daughter, Amos comes across a crime in a house in the neighborhood. It turns out that the two dead men he finds are part of a crime spree that includes other murders, murders committed for money. There are three sources of the money inciting this crime spree; the sale of drugs, profit from the death of drug addicts and buried treasure. And so they are drawn into the investigation along with the local cops and the DEA.
Baldacci weaves a tale involving those three motives and the men and women who commit them. But as he does, he inserts facts about the crises we are undergoing in America from opioids. And those facts aren’t pretty. There is the monetary cost of this crisis and then there’s the human cost, the cost to the users and the ones who love those users. We find out that those users run the gamut of people; teens, parents, even grand parents.
The story includes the misappropriation of punishment and funds to fight the war on drugs, when the culprit was coke, heroin and even reefer madness. As a nation we fought the good fight by sending people to prison and did little to rehabilitate those people. We told them to “Just say no.” When that didn’t work we sent more to prison.
And then the focus of what people became addicted to changed to medication, pills prescribed by doctors and pushed on an unaware populace by drug pushers disguised as big pharma and doctors all too willing to take the money that their pills generated.
And so that crisis came to Baronville where Amos and Alex are supposed to be on vacation.
How do all those factors mix together to create the chaos that our two protagonists find? My mantra; READ THE BOOK.
Decker is a typical character in a crime novel, a detective, but Baldacci makes him somewhat unique considering his memory, his personality, his determination.
I’ve said that Baldacci is an up and down writer; that he will write a very good story and at other times a so so story. This is one of the good ones.October 23, 2018 at 11:01 #3282
CONSENT TO KILL (Mitch Rapp #8) by Vince Flynn
It has been a while since I last visited a book about Mitch Rapp, killer extraordinaire, and I felt I needed a bit of a breather. Subsequently, I ordered Consent to Kill and Act Of Treason. Now Act Of Treason is sitting on my nightstand with a few others to read. I’m going to put a few of those others in between this one and that one.
Mitch is becoming all too predictable. Bad guys, either all Muslims or acting at the behest of Muslims, piss off Mitch in some way and he kills them. The details are what matters the most and the details are becoming more of the same with each book.
Adventure without end for the most part, as Mitch goes about his somewhat self appointed tasks of killing and killing again to save the United States from the Muslim menace. I will admit that Mr. Flynn gave voice to “not all Muslims are bad” but that voice is barely a whisper, tepid in a sea of heat. I am not an apologist for Muslim terrorists but I decry the atmosphere that permeates uber conservatives that the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. That little bon mot is attributed to Philip Sheridan though the proof of that is scant.
If you want a book filled with action; you don’t mind people being killed in grotesque manners, lots of blood and guts, or that we are given the opportunity to buy into all the ills of the world fall at the feet of Islam, then you will enjoy this book.October 28, 2018 at 17:41 #3635
BLOODSUCKING FIENDS by Christopher Moore
As much as I wanted to give this at least 4 stars I just couldn’t do that and feel good about the review. It wasn’t a bad book, very amusing in spots, laugh out loud at times, but not often enough for that 4th star. Maybe 3.25 but not enough for 3.5.
It’s another vampire story that plays fast and loose with the vampire tradition. Stoker must be rolling over in his grave with all of the pseudo vampire books; Twilight series (vampires do NOT glitter!) Let The Right One In and now Bloodsucking Fiends. I admit that I’m anxious to read Dracul by Drace Stoker, an author and descendant of Bram Stoker, and J.D. Barker whose novel Forsaken was a finalist in (ironically?) the Bram Stoker Award.
But back to our current blood suckers.
Tommy meets Jody who was bitten by the vampire after the vampire bypassed The Emperor and hilarity should ensue. As it is, hilarity is somewhat short in this novel. It’s not absent, just not that much of it or that high hilarity that one hopes for.
So read the book if you like a decent vampire story, you’re not a traditionalist, and the fact that the story is a bit disjointed is OK with you.
There are too many 4 and 5 star books in my future but I’m not regretful that I read the book. I have found some very good reads by choosing authors I’ve never heard of.November 2, 2018 at 13:29 #3936
THE GLASS DEVIL (Inspector Huss #4) by Helene Tursten
Irene Huss is one of the most realistic heroines in crime fiction. She’s talented but hardly perfect. She’s a Jujitsu master but still can feel fear in confrontations. She was assaulted and hurt badly by bikers a couple of years before the events in this book and still feels very uncomfortable when she has to be face to face with one, even in the police interrogation room.
Inspector Huss, along with her group, is tasked with investigating a triple murder, a son in his cottage and his parents, including his pastor father, in the church rectory. All 3 were shot in the head with a high powered rifle and both locations had a pentagram painted in blood on their computer screens.
The work of Satanists? Possibly, but that’s why there’s an investigation, to find out what’s happened and maybe why.
During the investigation Ms. Huss realizes how petty even church staff can be; gossipers and spreaders of rumor.
While investigating Irene makes a couple of trips to London where the sister and daughter of the murder victims lives and works. And it’s in London that the truth comes out.
I can’t say that I was surprised at the gist of the outcome. About midway through I began to suspect some of the details of the ending, but it was still a very good read. If you read the book you may well determine that same thing but hopefully it won’t spoil the ending for you.
We become more acquainted with Kirsten, Irene’s husband and their twin daughters, Katarina and Jenny, now 18 and we will see those daughters continue to grow into adults. (Both are ready to take their drivers license test; oh the horror.) We learn more about the group of detectives who make up the group as well as Sven Anderson, their boss.
This series is interesting because it shows us both the professional and the personal life of Inspector Huss and that life is interesting.
Do I like this series? Oh yes and I certainly look forward to the next story.November 4, 2018 at 10:57 #4080
TRAVELS WITH CHARLIE: In Search Of America by John Steinbeck
I don’t remember when I read this book; probably in the late 1960s. Whenever I read it, it was like a well presented lesson in a philosophical look at life in America. Some of the lesson I learned immediately upon reading it and others came a bit later in my life.
Steinbeck sets out on his odyssey from his home on Long Island in a pickup truck with a camper shell and Charlie, a black standard poodle. The year was 1960, a time of turmoil in the U.S. He travels west through the northern part of the country and encounters sights and people along the way. His comments are sociological prose at its best.
After visiting friends and places from earlier in his life in California, the intrepid duo head back home using a more southerly route.
One of his stops was in Louisiana where he witnessed a protest of whites against black children entering a formerly all white school. Steinbeck comments on the protest and the protesters and it isn’t pretty.
There were 3 incidents that stand out in my memory of this book; driving through Yellowstone Charlie goes ballistic when they encounter bears. Both Steinbeck and Charlie were safe in the cab of the truck but I remember Steinbeck commenting how he had never seen Charlie acting that way. The second incident was when parked on private land a caretaker came to the truck, knocked on the camper shell and was upset that Steinbeck was there without permission. Instead of reacting to this in your face attitude with an in kind attitude, Steinbeck invited the man into the camper shell and served him coffee with a bit of a kicker. The result is that the caretaker calmed down and let Steinbeck stay the night. The third incident was the protest in New Orleans.
Considering the nature of politics in our nation today this book is as topical today as it was when first published. Steinbeck had the ability to look at situations with a critical but impartial eye. He then had the talent to put pen to paper (more likely he used a typewriter) and give us words that make us think.
What were Steinbeck’s politics? I think that can be summed up in his own words. He worked as a war correspondent for a small paper covering the Vietnam war. He was interviewed on a national news report and was asked whether he was a hawk or dove. To paraphrase his answer; “I’m not a hawk but I’m no pigeon either.”
Where would he stand today considering the nation’s political divide? We can only guess but I think his comments about the protest in Louisiana gives us a clue. What is that clue? Read the book.November 7, 2018 at 01:23 #4197
HARD LANDING (Dan Shepherd #1) by Stephen Leather
After having read The Chinaman by Leather (the movie was called The Foreigner and starred Jackie Chan in a dramatic role with a bit of martial arts but much less than normal; and a very good movie at that) I then read Once Bitten, an odd but good vampire novel also by Leather. So I expected more of the same when I ordered Hard Landing.
3 stars indicate that the novel you bestow those stars on is good. I would say that’s correct, but I’m disappointed that Hard Landing didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I think part of it is an overload of fantastically adept while male accomplishes fantastically conflicts and comes out the winner. I’ve read more than my share of those recently and though some of them are still getting 4 stars or more from me (see The Fallen, Nowhere To Run, Chasing a Blond Moon to name but a few) nothing made this novel stand out. In short, it wasn’t bad, which would mean, I suppose, that it was good, but still not quite on a par with previous Leather books I’ve read nor several others.
We have a British undercover cop who is sent to prison to get next to a drug lord who is on remand until trial but is manipulating the case against him. Bob McDonald’s job (real name Dan (Spider) Shepherd) is to find out how he’s effecting that manipulation without letting the bad guys (all of those around him) find out that he’s a copper. How does he do that? Well, read the book if you care to. It’s not a bad one but there are others that I feel are better.
Oh, I’ve already mentioned that.
This is an action thriller without a lot of mystery or suspense to it. If you read it I hope you enjoy it. I can’t recommend it but I can’t say it’s not a good book either.November 16, 2018 at 16:29 #4784
11/22/63 by Stephen King
I don’t remember when I read this but it was pure King, excellent, thought provoking, a world both good and evil and a bit of in between painted with words.
King is an artist and I admit that I am a fan. I’ve never read anything by him that I didn’t like, even those things panned by critics.
Some of King’s works translate better to the Silver Screen than others. This is one that, well, not the silver screen but the boob tube, translated quite well. I am not a James Franco fan but this was quite the exception.
The premise of going back in time to change history isn’t new. King’s take on it, how such actions affect the world of his novel is certainly new and disturbing. But then that’s typical King and typical King is pretty damn good!
If you like your horror tales mixed with a good dose of history then you should love this. I know I did.November 17, 2018 at 05:11 #4799
THE KREMLIN’S CANDIDATE (Red Sparrow #3) by Jason Matthews
I want to make a joke about Matthews and his recipes with onions but I have moments ago finished this book and I am mentally exhausted. I hesitate to say why this is so for fear of including a spoiler or two in my review and I don’t want to do that.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two of this trilogy but I’m not sure what verb would be appropriate for this third book. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading it, but . . . I think I need to leave it at that. If you want to know why, read the book.
This story has all of the action and intrigue that the first two included and then some. It is told with Matthews prose, written on a level higher than most action/spy thrillers. I value Matthews; words and that they make me grab my dictionary far more often than most authors will make me do. I like that.
Intrigue, suspense, sadness, despair, and yes, even laughter at times; they are all included in Mr. Matthews’ works and never more so than in this one.
One wonders how much truth Matthews includes in this trilogy regarding the workings of spies of the various countries. I am guessing quite a bit, but then, Matthews is the expert, not me, so yes, it is a guess.
If you only saw the Red Sparrow movie and you haven’t read either of the first two books then you won’t quite follow the beginnings of this book. I am a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan from before her Hunger Games stardom, and while her acting was very good in the movie, the plot left so much out that it was hard to reconcile the differences between that movie and the first two books.
I don’t know what Matthews’ plans are for future books but I’m anxious to read them if he writes them. I just hope he leaves out some of the onions.November 20, 2018 at 05:26 #4963
HOUNDED (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne
4 Stars, almost 5
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! What? No Lions? No tigers? Not even a bear? Sheesh!
I guess the reader will have to do with witches and werewolves and vampires and ghouls and god and goddesses. Oh yes, there’s a Druid in there too. And Oberon. Oh, and Mrs. McDonough. She’s a hoot! I shouldn’t forget her. All in all I think Hearne did quite well without those lions, et al.
Hearne has given us a setting of present day Tempe, AZ and the surrounding area. He’s given us all sorts of creatures who are exactly what you think they are. . . if you think that you don’t know what they are or what their motives are or who can be trusted and who can’t and . . . well, you get the idea. For additional clarification, READ THE BOOK.
This story is filled with humor and death, pain and laughter, sex and chastity, suspense and hope.
I don’t know how I came across this series for sure; I think, but can’t swear to it (and I swear a hell of a lot!) on Goodreads. However I found it I’m glad I did. I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Hearne nor this series at all but if the subsequent books in the series are anywhere near as good as this first, I’m a fan.
So what’s the plot? Well Atticus (not his real name but you’ll have to read the book to find out his real name and how to pronounce it) has a sword. He stole it. Uh, sort of, but not quite. It is a magical sword and he didn’t really steal it, it almost literally fell into his lap in the middle of a battle over a couple of millennia ago.
This book was fun to read, full of subtle and not so subtle humor, suspense, action, mayhem, magic and one of the great characters for a sidekick, Oberon.
Fantasy and action and mystery and duplicitous characters and many things that aren’t all what they seem to be. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I’m very anxious to read the next in the series.November 23, 2018 at 20:30 #5186
THE HUNTING WIND, (Alex McNight #3) by Steve Hamilton
Hamilton writes a good story. This is the 5th book that I’ve read of his, the 3rd in the Alex McKnight series, and all 5 have been very good.
Mr. Hamilton doesn’t write stories with neatly wrapped endings with a pretty bow. If there’s a bow at all it’s ragged and frayed. Sometimes you want that neat ending and that pretty bow but sometimes you want things that are a bit more realistic. Sometimes you want a story where the bad guys don’t necessarily get their comeuppance because that’s the way life can be all too often.
This little tale has an old teammate of Alex’s who shows up and needs Alex to help him find a lost love for 30 years or so ago no matter how unrealistic that is. And that’s the best part of the story from Alex’s point of view, because nothing other than a pretty girl seems to be true in this story.
And that’s a typical Hamilton story.
If you are looking for a neat little story, all wrapped up in that bow I mentioned earlier, pass this one by. If, on the other hand, you like a tale that keeps you guessing, that the only thing you’re sure if is that there’s nothing you can be sure of, then read this book. There’s a lot of that in here.November 26, 2018 at 09:44 #5275
THE PHARAOH KEY (Gideon Crew #5 By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
The Pendergast novels by Preston and Child are some of the most fantastic stories dealing with suspense, action and often the mystical. Sometimes that mystical is explained away, but other times not.
The Gideon Crew novels are usually like the Pendergast novels but more on the lite side. This is, apparently, the last of the Crew novels and unfortunately the series is going out on a whimper rather than a bang.
Preston and Child are fabulous at taking the fantastic and allowing you to suspend your belief in reality. You can feel the chill in the air, taste the salt spray of ocean waves pounding the shore, sense the macabre and the fantastic with shivers up and down your spine in most of their Pendergast books.
This happens less so in the Crew novels but still they are a thumping good read for the most part. I found that to be even less so in #4, The Lost Island, and much less in this novel. I gave it an extra half star just out of respect for their previous works, both as collaborators and as sole novelist, but it deserved, at best, 2½ stars.
Our team of Crew and Garza go from improbable to more improbable situations with cliff hangers being resolved much like those old serials at the Saturday matinees, where the hero faced certain death at the end of the chapter only to be saved in the next with usually a ridiculous event. I remember one episode where the hero was about to be run down by an automobile when, in the next chapter it turns out that he laid down behind a bump in the road and the car sailed over him leaving him unscathed. Right. Sure. Don’t try this at home folks.
So too, Gideon and Garza and an interloper name Imogene (there always has to be a damsel, not so much in distress but certainly pretty to attract Gideon’s attention) face end of the world, cataclysmic events only to be saved at the last moments by a figurative bump in the road.
As usual there are treasures of one sort or another to be had. What kinds of treasures you ask? Read the book! Or not. I can truly say read or not read. If you want to read the very last of a series then by all means, read. If you don’t want to be disappointed then maybe you shouldn’t read.
I saw the ending of this story well before the final page. It, like those old serials (he says showing his age) was fairly obvious. The only suspense was what kind of bump in the road were our intrepid heroes going to hide behind. And some were as ludicrous as that bump in the road in the old serial. The only problem is that I wasn’t a young boy willing to believe as easily as I was then.
I don’t mind the fantastical, the hard to believe depending upon how it’s presented. I love fantasy novels/serials, from the Harry Potter books to the world of Pern. This just didn’t have it for me.
RIP Gideon Crew series and Mr. Child, Mr. Preston, give me another great Pendergast story. I know you can do it, you’ve done it before and. . . WAIT! Verses Of The Dead is coming out on December 31st! There is light at the end of the tunnel! Good job guys!November 30, 2018 at 13:01 #5463
ACT OF TREASON (Mitch Rapp #9) by Vince Flynn
Page 75, middle of the 8th paragraph: “Now the American people might have loosened their morals a bit over the years, but they sure as hell aren’t about to accept a whore as their First Lady.”
Considering the politics of today I found that and many other comments and situations in this book extremely interesting. I would point to many similarities to the elected official in this novel that bears a striking similarity to a current elected official in their shared egocentric narcissism. It’s almost prophetic considering that this book was copyrighted 12 years ago.
There are those that will take extreme offense at my referencing that quote and will say that I am calling our current First Lady a whore. I am not. I will let you think about the extremely graphic nude modeling she did and let you decide what label you would put on that.
This book was sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to read it or ignore it and I seldom ignore a book. I had grown tired of the repetitious themes of the Mitch Rapp series; Muslims are bad guys, Rapp kills bad guys through his superior skills, fights his own government, repeat in next book.
So this book was a welcome change.
Muslims are barely mentioned and the antagonists are European and (well this part is repetitious) high powered figures in our own government. (Own being the U.S. government; apologies to all those constant readers out there from other shores.)
What was indeed repetitious about this book is that there is a problem and Rapp using his superior skills takes care of the problem in a drastic, lethal way.
I gave this book 3 stars just because you were kept wondering how the good guys would win out.
I mentioned in a recent review about an author who doesn’t end his book with a neatly clean ending and puts a nice bow on it, but Flynn tends to do that, though with leaving dead and mutilated bodies in Rapp’s wake.
If I order any more of the Rapp series it will be because I want some light reading; Flynn taxed my imagination with his first couple of books but subsequent ones much less so.
If you are a Rapp fan or offended by my thoughts on how characters in this book are similar to politicians in our (U.S.) government today, so be it. No apologies from me.December 6, 2018 at 14:51 #5717
STEALING TRINITY by Ward Larsen
I am now engrossed in the 4th David Slaton thriller and having read the first 3 I decided to read Stealing Trinity.
VASTLY different! VASTLY I say.
I felt that this was almost a WWII love story and I still feel that, and not a well written one. You have Lydia who is in love with Alex Braun, unbeknownst to her a spy for the failed Third Reich, and you have Michael Thatcher. (Any relation to Margaret?) Michael is a major in the intelligence branch of the British army, a widower who lost his wife and the love of his life when a German plan taking part in the blitz was shot down and crashed with their load of bombs into the Thatcher home. And now he hunts Nazis with a vengeance and wants none to escape just because the war is over.
Braun is charged with stealing the secrets of the Manhattan Project, the brain trust created to develop the atomic bomb. With the war in Europe over before he is delivered to the U.S. shores his motivation comes not for any love of the Faterland (Germany if you didn’t know) but rather for whatever he can get for those secrets.
And so begins the improbable chase across America and even into the far Pacific with Braun now having been revealed to Lydia as the scoundrel and cad that he is and in hot pursuit are Thatcher who has taken leave (of his senses?) to pursue Braun in spite of the FBI telling him to go home and who try to arrest him just to get him out of their hair. Oh, and Lydia joins the chase also. And the FBI? They really are unconcerned for the most part.
Did I mention improbable?
The skulduggery is weak, the chase is . . . what’s that word again? Oh yes, improbable, and the romance is tepid at best.
Larsen’s David Slaton series is the opposite of this book; thrilling, action, romance though hardly graphic but certainly not tepid, so you can see why, with my estimation of this book that I was disappointed.
I started Assassin’s Code this morning and the only reason I’m not reading it still was due to my own hunger and my cat demanding to be fed as well. I will read more of Slayton and I’ll delve into Larsen’s Jammer Davis series and even his stand alone, Cutting Edge novel. I consider Stealing Trinity to be a literary bump in the road and so far I haven’t seen that same bump in his other books.December 9, 2018 at 11:45 #5879
ASSASSIN’S CODE (David Slaton #4) by Ward Larsen
David Slaton is an improbable individual that Larsen makes quite believable. He survives by his wits and his talent and procedures learned as a kidon in both training and then in the field. All of that makes for some great action, reasonable, not so much over the top as some action heroes.
Some authors can write love scenes, some cannot. Larsen is one of those who can write a love scene complete with sex, subtle, not graphic but you certainly know what’s going on. Others are quite graphic such as Anne Rice who would make Anais Nin proud. Others make sex seem silly. I think the first two make for good reading; the last, not so much. Why do I mention this? Just because.
Slaton, unlike so many action figures, doesn’t hop from bed to bed nor succumb to feminine wiles. (Oh those terrible women seducing us poor, defenseless males. Don’t you feel sorry for us?) David is married, finding a second chance at a life with wife and child, his first having been lost in a bomb attack on a bus in Israel.
Larsen has become one of my favorite authors. (Don’t get too big of a head, Ward, it’s a pretty big list.) In spite of my last Larsen book, the just read Stealing Trinity which I wasn’t that enamored of, his books keep me interested, wanting to know what happens on the next page and when that last page is read, wanting more.
One of the things I appreciate in this book is that Larsen doesn’t use stereotypes to condemn a particular race or religion. His bad guys vary as do his good guys. But whomever the good guys are, whomever the bad guys are, Larsen makes it interesting.
If you enjoy your action heroes as maybe a cross between Bond and Rapp, you should enjoy this series. More cerebral than a straight action novel but with more than enough action, not to mention suspense, than novels that rely on action alone or even primarily. Don’t believe me? Read the book.
This is the 72nd book that I’ve read this year. As a member of Goodreads I set a goal of 60 books in my reading challenge, an increase of 5 over my 2017 goal. I imagine I will increase my goal by another 5 for 65 for 2019, giving myself a bit of wiggle room to reach that.
But the number of books I read isn’t predicated on my challenge; it’s done for pleasure and it’s a rare book that I don’t get more than a bit of pleasure from and several that I learn something from.December 15, 2018 at 17:34 #6401
UNSPOKEN (Anders Knutas #2) by Mari Jungstedt
When I read my imagination allows me to feel myself right there in the story. Oh I’m not delusional, I know what’s real and what isn’t but I still feel myself in the story in almost every book I read. Good authors allow me to do that more than so so or bad authors will. Usually that’s a good thing. Not so in this book to an extent.
This is the first Scandinavian mystery I’ve read for a bit and I enjoyed coming back into the land, feeling the cold, seeing the snow, the cold waves crashing on the beaches. And the people; the procedures of crime investigation, the social dynamics are all interesting to me.
So what was bad about this book? I’m not sure that’s the right question. The right question would be, in spite of a very well written book, a good plot, interesting characters, why was this book so unsettling to me?
Fanny was a 14 year old girl, bi racial, bright, pretty, lonely, depressed. Her father was absent in her life though she knew where he was. Her mother was present in her life but in a very fractured way. The mother was an alcoholic and spent far too little time being aware of her daughter, of how her daughter felt, of offering comfort and love.
Fanny didn’t have friends. You might say part of that was her fault and it would be true, but how much blame can you lay at the feet of a child who has to go home, to be the parent to her dysfunctional mother, to walk the dog because that mother can’t be bothered, to fix dinner, to clean, in short, to run the house? How could she have friends when she didn’t have time to be friends nor if she had friends, could she bring them to her house?
So it’s little wonder that when an older man showed interest, complimented her, boosted her ego, that Fanny was impressed.
But the man wasn’t a friend, he was grooming her. And when Fanny tried to back out, to end the relationship he not only didn’t accept that but raped her instead. He continued to bully and groom, to groom and bully. But eventually Fanny had enough. In spite of her fear of this man she told him no. So he killed her. And I cried.
Fanny is not the only victim in this novel nor is indicating that she was murdered a spoiler. That’s told in the dust cover blurbs. There is another murder victim, there are violations of friendships, of marital vows, of lovers.
This is a good mystery, filled with hidden clues and the interaction of police with colleagues, with husbands and wives, lovers and other strangers (OK, I’m stealing that from an excellent 1970s era movie but it’s appropriate), and between police and suspects. But if that sounds good to you then be aware, Fanny can steal your heart and her fate may just break that heart.
I am not sorry I read this book, on the contrary, like the first book of this series, I liked it quite a lot. But my heart was broken.December 18, 2018 at 05:02 #6571
KILLING SEASON by Miles Corwin
Pete Razanskas tells a humorous tale about a man being killed. According to “Raz” an armed robber came into a store but his weapon was a play gun. He demanded the money and the owner pulled his real gun and shot the robber, wounding him. The robber then grabbed the cash register and ran out of the store. He discovered in short order that the cash drawer had fallen out so angry, he returns to the store brandishing his fake gun whereupon the owner shoots him again, this time fatally.
The man died from terminal stupidity.
Other than that there isn’t a lot of humor in this book.
In the summer of 1994 Miles Corwin rode along with Razanskas and Marcella Winn, Raz being a supervising homicide detective in the South Central section of Los Angels with a trainee homicide detective.
The streets of South Central are filled with gangs and good people; blacks, Hispanics and a few whites, and all too often those people wind up dead on those same streets. There are killings due to turf wars between rival gangs, robbery victims who didn’t move fast enough, drive by shootings where the wrong person was hit, and other assorted tragedies. South Central is the homicide capital of the L.A. area.
Corwin is alongside the two detectives and others as well as the look at bodies lying on the ground, inspect bullet casing, trajectories of rounds, interview witnesses, attend autopsies and other assorted fun events.
Corwin presents us with two vastly different individuals but both quite good at their jobs. Winn grew up in South Central, a black girl who stayed away from the gangs, graduated high school and went on to study law. Bored, she quit school and became a cop and a damned good one. Her supervisors noted her abilities and she rose quickly through the ranks until the opportunity to train for Homicide.
Razanskas was a veteran having served on the LAPD for over 20 years, most of that in Homicide in the South Central. He borders the edge of burn out but still maintains a high level of competence on the street. He also has a reputation with the citizens who have learned to trust him and that he will do his best to find those that killed the victim, something that those loved ones appreciate. Raz acts like a redneck though he is Lithuanian, raised in Venezuela and emigrated to the U.S. He wears cowboy boots and has a Marlboro Man type mustache and dips snuff. He goes hunting one a year in Wyoming and that helps to keep him sane.
He is a prankster and tells ethnic jokes which Winn isn’t appreciative of. In spite of ruffled feathers she values Raz’s guidance and he values her drive.
Corwin gives us many statistics but far from making this text dry and boring, it adds context to the story of South Central. He discusses the whys of the riots that happened during that era and the attitude of aggression that prevailed in the department at one time which led to a feeling of distrust and worse toward the department from the people they were paid to serve and protect.
This book isn’t a whitewash of gangs nor is it a condemnation of the police. It is a fair telling of what goes on and why and the toll it takes on both the citizens of the area and the cops detailed to find the killers.
Well written and a very interesting telling of recent history in one of America’s most violent neighborhoods. It’s well worth reading.December 22, 2018 at 07:55 #6896
AND ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (87th Precinct, #46), by Ed McBain
I don’t remember when I read this book, a few years ago at least, but of all of the great 87th Precinct books I’ve read this is probably my favorite. It’s a whimsical tale, ironic, endearing. It’s more a novella than a novel but still worth every bit of the $0.99 (plus 3.99 shipping) that I paid for it.
This is one of my favorite Christmas stories and I think it rates right up there with the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.
This review is coming a bit late to urge you to get this to read for Christmas if you haven’t read it already, but it’s a wonderful post Christmas read. Oh hell, read it in July if you like, it’s still good.December 22, 2018 at 13:01 #6919
STORMDANCER (The Lotus Wars #1) by Jay Kristoff
When I came across this book I wasn’t all too sure what ‘steampunk’ meant. The blurb sounded interesting so I took a leap and ordered the book and I’m glad I did.
The many terms, whether real or from Kristoff’s mind, were daunting and tended to slow down the reading somewhat, but not enough to make the story less interesting. It was a learning process and I enjoyed the learning.
I felt an analogy with repressive regimes in the real world, both historically and currently. I agreed with much of the morality lessons of the story and thought they could easily be applied to much of what is going on in the world today.
The ending felt rushed but I’m not sure how it could have been scripted better. There were things left out such as the final interaction between the Shogun and his sister and we are left wondering who will appear again in the next book – which I’m going to order straight away.
Overall the story kept me reading, turning page after page to see how things were playing out.
I enjoyed this book, obviously, considering both my words above and the 4 stars I’ve rated it at.
If you like steampunk, if you enjoy reading about a coming of age (to an extent) heroine, a dynamic beast, suspense, action, morals, you will like this book.
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