Friday, August 28, 2015

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, let it snow, let it snow" Lyrics

Perhaps it's because I've been diagnosed with a serious health issue but I've found that I just don't want to spend time with a story or characters that I don't particularly care for.

Although I've enjoyed Jo Nesbo's writing in the past and shared good comments about his novel "The Son," with my book club, "Blood on Snow" left me cold. (Get it?)

Olav is an extremely talented fixer for one of Oslo's most powerful crime bosses. He does his job until his boss, Daniel Hoffman, assignes Olav to kill his "Hoffman's) wife.

Olav shows empathy for the people he is asked to "fix."  He tells the reader that there are certain assignments he just doesn't accept. He can't work with drugs or the people using them. He doesn't work with prostitutes and, unusually, he doesn't work with communists.  I guess he gives his subjects a little political questionnaire before pulling his gun out???

When Olav sees Hoffman's wife, his feelings are moved and he rescues her from what would have been her fate. Then he must take steps to avoid his powerful boss and find a place to hide

I thought Olav was well described but not likable. The description of his childhood and his abusive father was one of the interesting sections of the story. I would have enjoyed more of the descriptions about Oslo so I could picture it more completely.

Another part of the story that bears discussion is that on one occasion, Olav listens to his heart instead of his brain and he kills the wrong person. This was a man who was abusing his wife. Olav probably went back to his early adulthood with his own father when Olav turned the gun on the abusive person instead of the woman being abused.

Where I do enjoy Jo Nesbo's writing and will look forward to the next Harry Hole novel, I expected more from this novel.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Day by Day, Oh Dear Lord these things I pray

Two of my reviewer friends recommended this book highly and we've usually had the sam opinion on mystery novels so I decided to read this.  Thank you Tom and Bobbewig, you were both right on the mark.

Dewey Anders a former Deata working as an agent for the CIA is still not himself after the shooting death of his fiancee. Time doesn't stand still and he's needed for another mission, this one could save the lives of many Americans, perhaps more people would die from this nuclear weapon as did in Hiroshima.

A derranged but brilliant hacker has gotten his hands on a nuclear weapon and he wants to have revenge on the United States from his parents murder. This was done by two U.S. agents right in front of the boy, Pytor Varagarian who is now a grown man and skilled hacker known as Cloud.

Cloud has gotten this nuclear weapon from the leader of the Mafia in Moscow. Now Cloud sets up a plan to get the weapon to the United States and blow it on Independence Day at the Statute of Liberty.

Dewey Anderas is one of the excellent action packed heroes. These days he's move in front of Jack Reacher in my list of great characters in suspense novels.

The plot moves as swiftly as hot butter pouring out of a popcorn machine. First Dewey has to be convinced to go on the operation. Then we learn some of the obstacles he has to overcome. We also learn of his childhood and upbringing in Castine Maine where he was a local hero. As a runner, I really enjoyed Dewey's participation in a holiday fun run sponsored by his town.  He ran along with a nephew and a teenage niece and their give and take was heart warming to read about.

Codes must be broken, there is a corrupt politician who tries to smear Dewey. We learn more of what Dewey is currently going through but also the history of Cloud and why he turned out the way he did.

There are gun battles, motorcycle chases, characters diving off helicopters onto high rise buildings,  we also have the memory of Dewey's past romance. In fact, what separates Dewey from many of the other thriller heroes is his humanity mixed with his bravery.

The secondary characters are well described and the setting is visual. A few times I turned to the back page to see if the book might be in the midst of being filmed.

Highly recommended and thanks again to my reviewing friends.



Sunday, August 23, 2015

King Pawn

I went out of my normal reading realm for this book and I'm glad I did.

For a while, I've felt that I didn't know enough of what was going on in Syria. When I read about the battles of Aleppo and Homs, they were just words and I didn't have anything that would make the participants more personal.

Reading "King Pawn" changed that for me. It provided an enlightening read and a good story. For my part, I had my computer handy and refreshed my memory by going over accounts of the battle and somewhat of their meaning.

"King Pawn" basically tells the story of Robert Frost who, we are told, has two enemies, the U.S. Army for unfairly dismissing him and the Syrian regime for destroying his mother's family during the 1982 Hama uprising.

There are a number of people who use various aliases and politicians who seem to have one agenda but that is just for show and they really want something else.

Robert Frost becomes Iftikar and then someone else. He's a highly paid mercenary sent to Syria to destabilize the Syrian regime. He makes friends with a number of people who are idealists and for a democratic government. He also uses people as in one case, his people kidnap another man's child and hold her hostage until the man agrees to do Ifkar's bidding.

I had thoughts of some novels I've read where it was difficult to pick the good guys or the bad guys. It would seem that the people fighting for democracy would be who a reader would root for but in fact, situations were staged so that it would seem that government forces were doing something wrong, like destroying a temple of historic value. All the time it was Ifkar who had become Louai who had rebels under his command who he knew would be beaten but it would look good to the world press as if the Syrian government didn't care about historical artifacts.

I made a list of the characters and have to admit that I referred back to my list a number of times to see who was who. But I felt rewarded for my efforts and feel that I've learned more of Syria and Aleppo and Homs and had the benefit of a good story in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

History of a brave young woman in WWI and shortly thereafter

This is a wonderful story for many reasons. Maisie is a woman ahead of her time, she's gutsy, ambitious and smart as a whip.

Maisie Dobbs began her first job at age thirteen. Her parents wanted to send her to college but the unexpected death of her Mum changed that and her father found a job for her in a suitable position.

Maisie became a maid in an home of Lord and Lady Rowan Compton. Lady Compton was a suffragette and was for the advancement of woman in general. In Maisie, she noticed her in her library and Maisie told her she wanted to read books and learn. Lady Compton was impressed and kept her eye on Maisie. Later, when Maisie became an investigator she sent Maisie customers.

Later, as WWI began, Maisie took nursing training and went to France to help care for the soldiers who were being injured in many ways with gas, shrapnel, bullet wounds and psychological injuries. While overseas, working with the soldiers she was drawn to one.

After the war, Maisie uses some skills learned from one of Lady Compton's connections. Dr. Blanche was a trained psychologist and detective. He taught Maisie deductive thinking and since she had good common sense, he told her to trust her instincts and to beware of coincidences.

Her first case leads her to a woman who would travel to a cemetery twice a week to mourn a young soldier. Maisie travels to a convalescent home being used for wounded and maimed soldiers.

What I liked about the book was Maisie's compassion, her desire to raise above the situation to which she was born, and her manner in working with patients and the people around her.

The scenes in France are well described and we get a look at the difficulties the young nurses faced during the Great War. They not only had to deal with soldiers wounded grievously but they had strict rules of behavior and little understanding for their plight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"Eight days a week." Song lyrics

Members of a mysterious cult have decided that Jane MacGuire, Eve Duncan's adopted daughter, will be their ultimate sacrifice.

Eve is a painter and one of her paintings, titled "Guilt" promotes blasphemy, according to the cult.

In this multi layered story, there is travel from such places as England,  Paris, Tel Aviv  and Scotland as Jane and her group of good people oppose Jack Millet and members of Sang Noir- a cult that deals back to the time of Christ.

There is good suspense in the story that should be read slowly in order to get the various meanings and spiritual elements. However, I did find difficulty in a couple of areas although I was reading much of the story while in the hospital so the problem may be with me. My reading difficulties were with the great number of characters, there were times when I wasn't sure who was speaking and I had to go back to an earlier time to learn the identification of a speaker.  Also, some of the characters just appeared in a paragraph without identification or background, just their name.

The forces of good vs.evil did remind me of "The Stand," which I believe is Stephen King's best novel.

I do enjoy Iris Johansen and look forward to reading more of her novels but this book just missed the mark with me.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places." Song lyrics

Kendra Michaels is attempting to convince police officials that the serial killer who helped send to his execution has escaped. Frustratingly, Kendra feels that Eric Colby staged his death with the help of the medical doctor in charge of the execution. She can't prove it because soon after the execution, Colby's body was cremated. Not long after, the doctor and his wife were found murdered.

This compelling page turner continues as Kendra is asked to consult in a murder case and sees the victim posed in a position in the same manner of Colby's other victims.

Then a reporter who humiliated Kendra is found murdered and there is DNA evidence that points to Kendra. It becomes clear that Colby's goal is to set Kendra up.

The mother and son authors Iris and Roy Johansen write with clear dialogue and the action moves along in a nonstop manner.

Kendra is an admirable character. She was blind at birth and it was only twenty years later that a medical procedure enabled her to see. Perhaps due to that, her other senses are heightened.

We follow the killer as he taunts Kendra and plays a deadly game while we await the inevitable confrontation.

There are a number of surprises and there are times that the reader wants to shout, "don't go there" or "look in the back seat" but overall, I enjoyed this novel and recommend it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Father's Sins

Since I'll be having a number of tests at the hospital next week, I wanted to find an author I enjoy and an easy read. I was successful in both with "The Fixer" by Joseph Finder. The only problem is that it's such a good story that I kept reading and finished in a couple of days. Darn.

The novel opens with investigative reporter Rick Hoffman moving into his father's former home. His father suffered a massive stroke years ago and is in a convalescent home - unable to communicate.

Rick is down on his luck, with a break-up with his fiancee and the loss of his job. Now, he decides to renovate the house and maybe sell it for a profit. When he breaks out a wall, he finds neatly bound stacks of money at over three million dollars in value. (Have to admit that as I was reading this part, I checked out the walls in my house wondering...)

His father, Leonard, had been an attorney with a questionable clientele. With Rick's reporting background, he decides to look into his father's past, thinking that there might be a good story that he could write and revitalize his reporting career.

The idea behind the story was sound and as Rick's places the money into various banks, he changes his lifestyle and starts spending the money.

He's noticed by some unsavory characters and a group called TPB - the powers that be and something happens that I won't divulge and spoil the story.

Rick meets an old girlfriend and things begin looking up.

The pace was fast and the story kept me awake at night wanting to see what would happen next.
However, I was never drawn to the leading character and didn't have sympathy for his plight.

3.5 * but not quite 4.

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