Monday, September 1, 2014

Put your eyes on this target

This is an excellent thriller where the reader is presented with one exciting episode after another.

Will Robie and his partner Jessica Reel are given a new assignment but they have to go through requalification first. This presents many obstacles they have to overcome including being waterboarded.

Jessica's father is in a prison on death's row. He contacts Jessica supposedly to say goodbye but it is really something more. This includes kidnapping Julie Getty, a teenage girl who Will and Jessica are protecting after she had been a target. 

In North Korea, there is an influential politician who the US is backing, secretly. They want him to become the head of state but the coup d'tat isn't successful and the man suffers the consequences and his family is put into a penal colony.

Will and Jessica have to sneak into North Korea and rescue the family.

Later, they are assigned to the first lady who is taking a short vacation.

Chung-cha is given the assignment to pay back the US for their audacity of helping people escape from a North Korean prison/colony.

 This is just the highlights of some of the action. The reader will enjoy each exciting scene after another. "The Target' is David Baldacci at his best.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Coming of age

This is a coming of age novel about Danny Kelly. We are introduced to Danny as a young adolescent with a remarkable swimming ability. He dreams of becoming an Olympic gold medal winner for Australia.

It's hard to enjoy a novel where the main protagonist isn't a likable character. Danny is self centered and arrogant with a chip on his shoulder. He's from a middle class family and gets a scholarship to a prestigious high school for his swimming. He's confident as a swimmer but outside of the pool his arrogance stands out. As in many private schools, there is teasing and bullying. Danny receives his share of this with haughtiness and vows to show everyone when he wins the Australian under sixteen swimming competition.

The story moves between Danny's high school days and his adulthood where he's attempting to put his life together after a major incident with the law. Can we relate to Danny? I didn't but the author presents Danny as having only one chance to succeed in life and that is through his swimming.

There is a competition and the parts of the story leading up to the competition are well done. There is success and then failure. The reader can observe this and understand why so many people who had great success in high school, do not succeed with the rest of their lives.

Finally, he realizes that there is more to life. He meets a cousin who has a brain injury and he sympathises with the cousin and befriends him. Thus, from the ashes, a sincere character is born.

I had difficulty following the story because the author jumped from Danny's adolescence to Dan's adulthood in a manner that was difficult to follow.

It was gratifying to see Dan as a person in his thirties when he took responsibility for himself and had compassion for others. He proves to be a worthwhile person. It just took a long time for him to achieve that status.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A brief visit to Bostswana

"In the Company of Cheerful Ladies" is a story of a short time in Ma Ramotswe's life.

Mma Ramotswe is the founder of The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Botswana. She's surprised when she comes home after a trying day and discovers a man who crawls out from under her bed and runs away. What made her even more surprised is that the man wasn't wearing any pants.

The start of the story seemed to be a prequel to what would be happening later on. The scene of the man running from Ma Ramotswe's home in that state of undress seemed like a scene of a Pink Panther movie with Inspector Clouseau.

Other mysteries in the story are of Mma Ramotswe's former husband returning home and attempting to blackmail her. The other area that she attempts to investigate is what was behind an employee of Mma Ramotswe's husband who quits his job to be with a wealthy woman.

We never find out what the story was about the man under the bed and the rest of the story is a simple story with no violence and filled with happy people

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't rock this boat

This is the story of nine men who were members of the University of Washington crew team. It shows the hard work the men went through to make the team and their goal to qualify for the 1936 Olympic team and win the gold medal.

The story is well research and follows one of the men in detail. Joe Rantz was a hard working young man from a poor family who had to work to help support his family at a young age while continuing his studies.

He meets Joyce Sanders and realizes that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Joe's mother died young and his father remarried. His stepmother never demonstrated any love for Joe. She'd give all of her love and attention to the three children she gave birth to. Joe even had to deal with abandonment at a young age.

His hard work is recognized and he's invited to attend the University of Washington and try out for the crew team. At that time during the depression, there wasn't any athletic scholarships but part time work was made available for crew members so they could pay for their expenses.

As Joe and his crew mates are moulded into a championship team, depression held the country at bay. Jobs were difficult to get and the dust bowl was a term for the terrible wind storms that blew topsoil away and caused many farmers to go bankrupt.

In Germany, Hitler is rising to power and Dr. Joseph Gobbles was made the minister of propaganda. Both men hated Jews and unleashed a program to wipe out the Jewish population from Germany.

This is a story of sports, determination and a hope of something many shared during the dark days of the depression.

The crew travels to Germany and experiences the anti-Jewish tone and the intense pro Nazi feelings. It made them more determined to beat the German crew and win the Olympic medal for the United States.

I enjoyed reading the story and seeing the progress of the team and how that fit into the events of the time from 1932 to 1936. There are parts of the story that I will remember for a long time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"That lucky old son" Song lyrics

I listened to this story as an audiobook. It was narrated by Gildart Jackson. His delivery was precise and leisurely which was a good method to match the pace of the novel, which was at times brutal.

In the story, Sonny Lofthus ad been in jail for twelve years for crimes he wasn't guilty of. However he was promised a lifetime supply of heroin if he admitted to these crimes. Then he finds something about his father's murder and that his father was framed.  Sonny stages a clever prison break and proceeds to find and punish the people responsible for his father's death.

It is easy to sympathise with Sonny. He is polite and resourceful as he proceeds to punish the criminals responsible for tarnishing his father's name and his death.

There is also an element of mysticism in the story. With Sonny, the son, compared to Jesus, the Son of God.
Many times Sonny says a prayer for his victim and at one point tells the victim that if he repents he might enter heaven. This is similar to Jesus forgiving the repentant sinner who was on the cross when Jesus was crucified.

Simon Kefas is a cop chasing Sonny. Simon is an old time cop who some say is behind the times but others say he's one of the best cops on the job.

The conclusion is well done and Jo Nesbo carefully brings the elements of the story together in a nice package.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Cornered" a thriller

In "Cornered," Matt Brady is attempting to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of a number of young women in Temple, Texas.

He's frustrated because all of his leads don't pan out. It's as if someone else had the information he had.

We witness the kidnapping of three women.  The kidnappers are adept and before the reader can shout "Watch Out!" the kidnappers capture the women, tie them up and dump them in the back of a van.

One of the victims was a veterinary assistant. When Matt visits her boss to find more about her, the boss, Tracy Rogers, doesn't have any information but decides to see what she can find out herself. She does this partly for the missing assistant but also because she is attracted to Matt.

Matt and Tracy's interference of the operation of the kidnappers upsets one of the kidnappers and soon both Matt and Tracy become targets.

I consider "Cornered" to be among the top 4 or 5 thrillers I've read this year. I'm very impressed with the author's storytelling ability.

I wished for an electrifying conclusion and while the conclusion was most satisfactory, I was expecting greatness from this awesome author.

I recieved this book for an honest review.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Well written English mystery

Martha Grimes' "Vertigo 42" is an absorbing, character driven novel that kept me satisfied as I followed the well developed plot.

The story begins with Tom Williamson, a friend of a friend of Superintendent Richard Jury, asking him to re-examine Williams's wife Tess's death. She died seventeen years in the past and Williamson is convinced that she was murdered even though the official report is accident or suicide.

Jury takes on the case even though it's not in his jurisdiction. He learns that Tess had a party for children five years before her death. In that party, one young girl was killed. Jury believes that there might be a connection between the party and Tess's death.

Through questioning those who attended the party, we learn what the children had become in the seventeen years since that event.

Jury has a crowd of friends who become characters in the story. They serve as a sounding bell for Jury to examine the motives and possible suspects in both murders, Tess and the little girl. The crowd gathers at the Jack and Hammer pub and provide their thoughts.

Another death occurs and it turns out to have a connection with the children, now adults, who attended the party. Jury wonders what the connection might be but we see a connection in that the woman's body was found at the foot of a tower and Tess died after a fall from a flight of stairs.

The characters come to life as they debate about the crimes. It is interesting that much of the questioning occurs over a cup of tea and some tasty treats. While enjoying the food, discussions occur about the past crimes and the children from the party.

I enjoyed the liesurly pace of the story and the plot. The author keeps the reader in suspense as to who committed the crimes and provides a nice surprise bringing everything together in a nicely wrapped conclusion.

I received a free book for honest review.

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