Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Spectrum" A Special Novel of Suspense

In this exciting Karen Vail story, the reader follows Karen's graduation from the New York Police Academy as the first in her class. As a reward for her performance at the police academy, Karen is assigned to the detective bureau. She's assigned to ride with the highly regarded detective, Carmine Russo.

In the ensuing events, Karen and Russo answer a call in a dangerous area. Two hoodlums get the drop on Russo and there doesn't seem much hope but Karen shows her courage and ability to think outside the box and saves Russo's life.

A second story line follows the story of a woman from Greece. Lavania is in America with her husband Basil, her two children, Cassandra and Dimitri and their close friend Fedor and his son Niklaus. This group is together for an evening of enjoyment at a bowling alley. An altercation ensues leaving a victim blind and Basil arrested.

The victim is the son of a man with ties to the mob and this fight begins years of hardship for Lavania and her extended family.

Vail's career continues to show her abilities and she comes across her first involvement with a murder victim. The killer eventually is given the name the Hades Killer and Vail develops a lifelong interest in profiling and the FBI.

Other cases come and go and we view the dangers that law enforcement personnel experience in a suspenseful and dramatic manner.

The trail of the Hades Killer and Karen's career are portrayed in a realistic and thrilling manner. Thrills continue as Karen gets closer to the serial killer and Lavania and her extended family continues to have problems.

Karen's bravery in the face of danger reminded me of Kate Murphy, the first year cop in Atlanta in Karin Slaughter's "Cop Town.

New York is also well described with various restaurants, traditional foods and a view of the horror that police and firefighters faced in the 9/11 terrorism strike.

I highly recommend this book. Although I felt it could have been a bit shorter, it held my interest throughout and the characters jumped out of the pages with their realism. I will look forward to the next novel by Alan Jacobson and the exploits of Karen Vail.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Edgar winner by a master story teller

In the 1990 Edgar Award winning novel, "Black Cherry Blues" Dave Robicheaux is mourning the death of his wife, Annie.

Dave's troubled college roommate Dixie Lee Pugh tells him that he (Dixie) overheard two men discussing two men they murdered in Montana.

When Dave checks into it, the two men become aware of Dave's interest. They make a mistake in threatening Dave's six-year-old step daughter Alafair. Dave reacts with a rage that he's known to release at times like this and he is arrested. He's charged with the murder of one of the men and the other is the main witness against him.

We follow Dave's actions as he travels to Montana. He runs into his old homicide partner Clete Purcel who is currently working for a minor gangster, Sallie "Sal" Dio. Sallie has Dixie Lee purchasing land deeds and there is a conflict with AIM, the American Indian Movement.

Dixie is an interesting character who is an accomplished musician and tells of being such places as Brooklyn, New York where he appeared at a concert with Chuck Berry. Clete Purcell is memorable for his idiosyncrasies and loved for his fierce loyalty to Dave. Dave's adopted daughter, Alafair, is a sweetheart. She wonders why her fellow students and teachers think it's odd that she speaks with a Creole dialect.

Dave Robicheaux is a troubled character who fights against his alcoholism, his bouts of rage, and his torment of letting down people in his past such as his murdered wife.

Burke is one of our most talented suspense writers. "Black Cherry Blues" was his first commercial success. Dave is a defender of the defenseless and is often pitted against big business and governmental bureaucracy.
He's also a highly literate author.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Memories are made of this

In "Remember Me Like This," we follow the Campbell family from a different point of view. Many novels conclude when a kidnap victim returns home. In this well conceived story, it is the start. Justin Campbell went missing at age eleven.
There were 'missing' posters placed around the area and law enforcement searched everywhere, even divers searched under water but with no findings. Townspeople in the community outside of Corpus Christi, Texas, were compassionate and supportive but less so with each passing year.

Then, Justin is found.  He's returned and his kidnapper arrested. But, how did the family adjust? His parents reacted differently and his younger brother, Griff, now age fourteen, has his world turned upside down once again.

Many families split up when a child dies or goes missing. Unjustly, they often blame themselves for what happened. They'd give anything to change back to life before their loss.

We observe what happens to Laura and Eric, Justin's parents. There is bitterness with the kidnapper but eventually there seems a betrayal at the legal system.

Griff has a new girlfriend and a teenager's life that is filled with changes encounters more as some people wonder why Justin didn't attempt to escape from his captor.

With Griff and Justin being teenagers experiencing how cruel life can be this writer was reminded of the young characters in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

This would be a great read for a book club with unforgettable characters and a dandy plot. One of the best books of the year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Die trying


                                   GIVEAWAY

Tess Gerritsen, a physician, has written a long string of well written and entertaining novels about the exploits of Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner, Dr. Maura Isles.

In "Die Again," a group of tourists on safari in Botswana come upon one calamity after another. Their bush guide warns the group not to stray from their camp at night.
His warning doesn't work for their tracker whose screams awaken the group. They rush to where the sounds were coming from and find his dead, maimed body.
Then, their vehicle breaks down and another member of the group is killed by animals.

In Boston, six years later, Rizzoli and Isles are ordered to the scene of a sinister murder. They find a noted taxidermist who was killed and his body left as if a leopard had killed him and left the body hanging for a later feast. The many animals that the taxidermist had on display in his home added to the macabre image of those who entered his home.

Something in the victim's home leads investigators to another body. Rizzoli and Isles continue to look for connections between the victims and Dr. Isles finds records of murders around the country where the victims were left in the same manner as the taxidermist.

More is learned about the safari party. There was only one survivor, a woman who followed a river and a herd of elephants until she came to a civilized location.

This is a novel that is best to read slowly and savor the puzzle that the author has provided. How she links the murders of members of the safari to the victims in Boston was cleverly conceived.

There is a surprising plot development and the suspenseful story line is well paced. It displays the author's literary talents and story telling ability.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Deadline" a call of the wild

Virgil Flowers, chief investigator of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is asked to come to Tripton, Minnesota to investigate a scheme where someone is stealing dogs. Many of these dogs will be resold to regular people but many others are sold to medical laboratories.

 This isn't the kind of case Virgil normally investigates but he does it because the caller requesting him is a friend from college.

While looking for a place in the hills where the dogs are being hidden, Virgil comes across a hidden meth lab. He calls a friend in the DEA and they stage a raid.

A major change in the story occurs when a country reporter who was researching a major theft by members of the school board, is murdered.

Virgil is generally an easy going detective. Instead of hard knocks, he gets results from befriending people who might be involved in criminal activity and they often confess to him.

This is an enjoyable story with a number of surprises so that the reader can't guess the next part of the story. It reminded me of a Stephen King novel where the character doesn't know who to trust.

I enjoy Virgil's down home style as seen when he takes time out from chasing criminals to just watch life along the Mississippi and see the fishing boats pass by.

The reader also observes the activities of the school board and their panicked reactions as they try to save themselves.

The dog owners are a colorful group as many of them are hunters in the Minnesota countryside. There is also a group called the Minnesota Woman's Anti-Vivisectional Group who I wouldn't want to cross. If you get these ladies mad, watch yourself!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One plus one passes my test with flying colors

I thank my wonderful wife for recommending this entertaining book.

It tells the story of Jess Thomas, a gutsy woman with a never say die attitude about life.

Jess is divorced and raising her ten-year-old daughter Tanzi and her teenage stepson, Nicky, who wears wears eye makeup and is bullied because of it. Norman is the family dog, a big slobbery gas hound who leaves a trail of dog hair wherever he goes.

Jess tries to run the household with her job as a cleaning woman and with her part time work at a neighborhood bar. Her former husband, Marty, failed at many job attempts and finally left Jess. He hasn't sent any alimony and claims he's too depressed to find a job.

Ed Nicholls is a part owner of a software company but under investigation for insider tracing.

Jess learns that there is a scholarship offered to a prestigious private school but Tanzi has to take the exam for the Math Olympics and Ed offers to drive them.

Their trip to Scotland was the trip to hell. One thing after another happens along the way, Tanzi gets carsick if Ed goes at high speeds, they can't find nighttime accommodations because of the dog, Ed gets food poisoning and on and on.

Unpredictably, a romance develops between Jess and Ed and the family comes together in a manner which will make the reader cheer. The story is told from the four main characters points of view and this enables the reader to get a clearer idea of their thoughts and reactions to what is happening in the story.

I credit Jill Moyes for her imagination and story telling ability.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A thriller about weapons of mass destruction

Army Captain Ben Hawkins is ordered to follow up on a report of possible missing material from the Tupelo Chemical Research Facility. He thinks it's going to be a simple matter but he's wrong. Some of the deadly chemicals that were part of a weapon system and were gradually being destroyed, have gone missing.

He speaks to the commander of the facility and a report is written to higher up personnel in the FBI and other government agencies.  Soon, officials verify the missing chemicals.

As officials search for answers, one of the army handlers goes AWOL and Ben knows there is a bigger problem.

We also learn of an Iranian named Mahmoud who has thought up a plot to give the United States a payback since the U.S. supplied Iraq with weapons in the war against Iran. Mahmoud's father was in the Revolutionary Guard and he suffered from the chemical weapons Iraq used in the war. Mahmoud has also recruited a young Iranian woman who wants revenge against the U.S. for shooting down an Iranian passenger plane that was flying toward a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf in 1988. The woman's parents were passengers on the plane.

The plot thickens and we see events in Iran where Colonel Kashani is made aware of the plot and considers the repercussions against his country if the plot succeeds.

The action moves swiftly and the suspense mounts. It is a story that made my heart beat faster and faster.
Ben is well described but for an officer involved in an intelligence operation, he reveals quite a bit of information to his girlfriend. There is also a surprise toward the conclusion that didn't seem logical based on the information about the character involved.

D. C. Hampton knows about chemical warfare and tells a good story. I look forward to his next novel.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jack Reacher in action

Jack Reacher is doing his thing, traveling around the country without a steady job, living each day as it comes.

He's contacted by a high ranking military officer from his past who needs his help.

Someone has shot at the president of France. The shot hit the glass in front of the president but didn't wound him. The officials triangulate the direction from where the shot was fired and observe that it was three quarters of a mile from the president.

Only a few snipers have the ability to hit a target from that distance. Since Reacher is a noted sniper, he's asked to help identify the shooter. In addition, a sniper who Reacher arrested when he was a military policeman has just been released from Leavenworth and has disappeared. This man could have a grudge against Reacher and so Reacher is asked to check him out. In addition, there is an upcoming G8 summit scheduled in France and if the sniper was using his shot at the French president as a warm up, the results could be catastrophic.

Reacher works with a bright young operative, Casey Nice. She's a rookie analyst who needs her Zoloft to calm her nerves and help her sleep. Reacher must rely on her assistance and act as a substance counselor.

Lee Child always writes exciting action fiction and this book hits the mark. The author shows Reacher eliminating the possible suspects and when he discovers that the shooter has allied with a London gang, Reacher goes into action.

Somewhat of a formula novel but still exciting.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The treasure of love is easy to find." Song lyrics

After reading the sparkling review of this book by an internet friend, I wanted to experience the story telling and literary quality of the book myself.

I'm so glad I did.

This is a story of Gu Bao who goes from an inexperienced eighteen-year-old law student in China to a woman determined to have her own child and peruse her chosen career. She also becomes a voice of defiance to those authorities who insist on the rules in China in the time of the Tiananmen Square Protests in 1989.

The story develops as Bao is a law student when female students weren't permitted to date.  She meets and falls in love with Tong, who is also a student. He's attending the Nanjing Army Command College and is due to graduate in the near future.

The couple must keep their romance secret because students at the military college aren't allowed to date prior to graduation with the Chinese idea that the student must devote full time and energy to their studies.

We learn of the protests at Tiananmen Square and other places in China. This was a new development for Bao who was taught to obey and bow down to Chairman Mao Zedong.

As her character develops, Bao returns to the home of her grandparents and must decide what to do with the child she is expecting.  Later, she meets a young woman living in the mountains because of the oppressive rule of only having one child. This woman's determination and love of her husband and first child is well described and heart catching.

The development that we see in Gu Bao is tenderly displayed as her character begins to flower. To see the determination and pride that she begins to feel for herself and the strict rules of her government gives the reader a good view of China at that time and a wonderful view of an excellent character.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Curiously good novel

"The Cabinet of Curiosities" is an exceptional read and an intelligent literary accomplishment.

In New York, a tunnel at a construction site leads to a storage area where there are the bones of thirty-six people.

Nora Kelly a museum archaeologist at the New York Museum of Natural History is asked to use her expertise to help learn the time when the bodies were placed in this area. She tells officials that the bodies date back to 130 years prior by an unknown serial killer.

Special Agent Pendergast and Dr. Kelly work together to learn more. The construction site was the area where a costly building project was underway and access to the site is denied as construction continues.

Kelly and Pendergast are assisted by a sergeant of the New York Police Department named O'Shaughnessy and Kelly's on again off again boyfriend, reporter William Smithback, Jr.

Gradually, the investigators look at historical records from the Museum and other reference areas. They learn of the serial killer was creating a cabinet of curiosities where unusual items were placed for personal or public interest. As the investigation leads to a mysterious doctor in the past, a copy-cat killer begins killing people in New York. This killer is dubbed "The Surgeon" by news media.

The story is cleverly penned with most unusual and interesting characters. Agent Pendergast likes to investigate unusual cases. He also has the ability to go back in time to get more facts to aid with the case he's working on.  Bill and Nora have been seeing each other and seem just about to move in together when complications in this case get in the way.

A further complication is that Nora's boss, Roger Brisbane, is a controlling person who is trying to cut costs at the Museum and doesn't want Dr. Kelly taking on pro-bono work with the FBI.

There are numerous plot twists and we read the novel as if were were trying to fill in the answers to a "New York Times Sunday Puzzle" The action begins slowly but builds up with lightening speed so the concluding moments pass by quickly and in a suspenseful manner.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A story that's more than worthy

Phillip Margolin is one of those special authors who, when a reader picks up their book, they know they are in for an entertaining experience.

I was sent this book from Amazon vine, in return for my review and I couldn't be happier that I picked this book.

The time is 1860 and Oregon is really beginning to grow.  Matthew Penny and his wife decide to move west from Ohio and travel by wagon train. However, Matthew losses his wife when a wagon is swept down a river crossing.

With this burden behind him, he moves to Phoenix, Oregon where he's appointed to defend a man accused of theft.  When he wins the case, another man approaches him and tells him that this man has information that Matthew can use to win another case he was preparing for.  All this man wants is the promise from Matthew that if the information helps, Matthew would promise to return the favor. (For just a bit, it seems like the devil in Damn Yankees).

Matthew wins the new case and what the man wants is Matthew's help in getting his daughter who is being kept as a slave by a wealthy but unscrupulous man.

It's difficult not to give away plot but the story moves along swiftly. The characters are vividly drawn as is the setting of the early days of Portland, Oregon. We see such things as the first steam locomotive in that part of the country.

This is one of the best books I've read this year. My heart was beating faster and faster as I approached the conclusion. High Recommendation!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Cold Dish



Four white high school students lure a female American Indian high schooler to a meeting and rape her in a cruel and brutal manner. The woman, Melissa Little Bird, suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and her reasoning powers are impaired.

The trial ends with a ridiculous sentence of two years suspended and then probation. The Indian community is incensed with the light sentence.

Two years later, the ring leader is found dead. Sheriff Walt Longmire is attempting to make sense out of the killing of one of the rapists when another of the boy is killed in the same manner. Now Walt knows he's dealing with a revenge killing and wonders why the killer waited two years and if he can protect the other two boys.

We follow the story with interesting characters and crisp dialogue. It is an interesting start with very colorful characters led by Longmire and his undersheriff, the foul language using Vik.  It is easy to see why this character was the central character in the TV drama "Longmire." 

Walt is a boozhound living in a home he built years ago but stopped when his wife died. The home is unfinished and doesn't even have a door to the bathroom.  As a Vietnam vet, Walt must be in his  sixties so is a hero for many senior citizens. His friend, Henry Standing Bear is trying to fix him up and encourage him to begin dating. We also learn that there are other women in town interested in Walt as a partner.

The conclusion is long in coming.

All in all, there were many well done scenes and the description of the countryside was well done. It is easy to see why this author is having success with his future works.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christmas giving

Walt Longmire is listening to Christmas music and getting ready for a quiet Christmas when he has an unexpected guest.

The woman appears to know Walt and asks about his predecessor, Sheriff Lucian Connally.

Walt tells the girl that he has been the sheriff in Absaroka County for almost a quarter of a century and that former Sheriff Connally is a resident at Durant Home for Assisted Living.

When the girl asks where it is, Walt takes her there since he was going to visit Lucian anyway.  When she sees Lucian, he doesn't remember her and then she whispers "Steamboat," and the story comes back.

In 1988 there was a terrible car accident with only one survivor, a young girl who was flown from the accident scene by a lifestar helicopter. However, she needed more medical care immediately and there was a raging storm with most of the roads closed.

Walt get Lucian away from a card game and they find an old B-25 airplane at the local airport. It's the only plane that could make it trough the storm to medical facility near the Stapleton - Salt Lake airport.

A crew of brave people, including Walt, Lucian, a co-pilot and medical officer brave the storm and icy conditions to get the girl to the medical hospital and save her life.

There is good drama in this novella. Craig Johnson details the heroic actions as the crew makes its way.

An enjoyable story with good descriptions as we get to know the whiskey soaked Lucian Connally and learn of Walt's wife and young daughter at home.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How much fear can a man take before he strikes back?

"The Executioners" has been sitting on my bookshelf for ages. Something made me pick it up for a new reading. It was such a big hit and the basis for the thrillers, "Cape Fear," in 1962 and 1991.

I anticipated a good read and the novel delivered. There is reason why the book is on many lists of the top 100 mysteries to read.

Sam Bowden was a young officer in the navy when he witnessed a rape during WWII.  He testified against Max Cady and Bowden's testimony was the main reason why Cady was found guilty and sent to prison for life.

Years later, the court decides to lower his sentence and Cady is freed. Suddenly, he appears in Bowden's small town and begins to harass Bowden.

Bowden is an attorney and believes in the law. He has a wife and three children. As Cady begins tormenting Bowden, Bowden goes to the sheriff, the city attorney and others, looking for a solution but they can't find anything.

Cady's threats become more intense and something happens where Bowden fears that Cady plans to hurt him by hurting his family.

What would cause a man of the law to disregard the symbol he has believed in for his whole life?
Bowden becomes desperate as Cady begins making innuendos about Bowden's fourteen-year-old daughter and Bowden's wife.

This is a well written drama and re-reading it was like visiting with an old friend, definitely enjoyable and a highly regarded author from our past.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A person's actions can have long lasting consequences

Looking for a good read, I found "The Reckoning A John Madden Novel" by Rennie Airth. I've enjoyed that author's books since his "River of Darkness."

This story turned out to be just what I was in the mood for.  The plot was interesting in the manner in which the investigation went about to discover a killer's motive and then to identify and arrest the perpetrator.

Rennie Airth conceived this story where the investigators are senior officials of Scotland Yard and bringing out of retirement, John Madden. Madden has been enjoying his retirement and is active in the operation of his country farm. His gladly accepts when his friend, Det. Inspector Billy Styles, asks for his assistance.

The first person killed had been in the process of writing to Madden about an incident which happened in WWI.  As Madden begins helping with the case, he has no recollection of the man or an incident that might be worth killing for.

The writing is literary, speaking about young soldiers going to the front lines in France during WWI, "They all looked like that when they came out to France...they were determined to do their duty. They had no idea what was waiting for them."

We learn about a number of men who are killed in the same manner and with the same weapon. The investigators are tenacious in the manner in which they attempt to stop the murdering as the bodies pile up and newspapers criticize their effort.

It was also interesting to see Madden when he was not an investigator. We watch him help his wife's elderly aunt with her home renovations and see ourselves in similar situations.

Overall, a book I recommend and a story I will tell others not to miss.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do not forsake me oh my Darlin'

In a novel that takes place in Jericho, Mississippi, there were occasions when I felt that I was reading a John Grisham story.

Ace Atkins has talent for dialogue and description that goes together to give his readers a real feel for the action evolving before us. I've enjoyed his Robert B. Parker novels and was highly entertained with his new novel.

A shootout takes place before the action of the story gets underway and Sheriff Quinn Carlson and his chief deputy are under investigation for their roles in it.

The central story involves a teenage girl, Diane Tull, who is raped - along with her teenage girlfriend. Then the rapist, a black man, shot both girls, killing Diane's friend. Men from the community became enraged and searched for the criminal. Then, they took the law into their own hands.

However, a number of weeks later, Diane saw the real rapist in town. When she tried to let others know, they didn't want to listen.

Now, thirty-seven-years later, Diane tells Quinn what she knows and asks him to reopen the case.

We've all read stories where the wrong man was accused and made to pay for another's crime. The manner in which Ace Atkins writes makes the reader see how this could happen and wonder if it could be resolved.

Very entertaining story with good characters and a fine plot.

"Three Strikes and You're Dead" book signing

Enjoyed the book signing for "Three Strikes and You're Dead" at Breakwater Books in Guilford today.
It was a cozy setting and it allowed friends to visit and discuss the publishing process and the story.
What great fun to have something I created discussed and enjoyed!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

If "Blood and Ashes" was a cold cereal, it would be called snap, crackle and pop, pop, pop.

Ex-soldier, Joe Hunter, is asked for help from a former colleague, Don Griffiths who worked with Hunter in the past. They had taken down terrorist groups and stopped domestic terrorists before they could execute their schemes.

No sooner does Hunter arrive at the Griffiths' home then the action begins. He's forced to use close combat ability to dispose of two men who were watching Griffiths' home and decide to challenge him.

Later, Griffiths' family is attacked by a Neo-Nazi group who were supporters of a terrorist believed to be dead. Griffiths was instrumental in the trial and jailing of the leader of this group.

After a Rambo type display, Hunter rescues Griffiths' family.  Afterwards, a new saga begins where Hunter must help stop a plot by the survivors of the Neo-Nazi group. They plan an action against Manhattan.

We learn little of the background of Hunter. He had been a member of a clandestine group and now, the groups part in the plot begins to come clear.

I would have liked the story to end sooner than it did. Also, instead of giving background of Hunter in the story, the author provides a description of him in a postscript to the novel.

I enjoyed the story but expected more.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The History of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

In a recent visit to New York, I had the pleasure to join the multitude of people who were strolling back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge. I wanted to learn more about the bridge and what it meant to New York.

David McCullough's richly detailed account of the inception and  building of the bridge is an expertly compiled history.

Not only does the reader learn what the Bridge meant to New York but also, we experienced the history and the politics around it.

McCullough takes his readers through the difficulty in engineering the project. John Roebling and his Brooklyn Bridge team had to get Albany's blessing and then Congress had to approve the project since they were concerned that it might affect the navigation of the East River and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

As the building went along, McCullough also takes his readers through newspaper accounts praising the project and we see Mark Twain in the group expressing his support.

Before the Bridge, New York City was landlocked. The only way to reach Brooklyn was the ferries which could be dangerous in rough weather and with navigating the busy East River.

We see a man with a vision in John Roebling. When age and ill health prevented his seeing his dream to conclusion, his son, Washington Roebling took over as the Chief Engineer.

This history unfolds like a tv documentary and the author takes his readers through the corruption and patronage of Boss Tweed and his gang.

This is a sweeping saga that is among the wonders of the world and sharing it as I did recently, made me feel I was a small part of its ongoing legend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Silent night, Holy Night, all is not bright

"Silent Joe" tells the story of fatherly love and admiration mixed with a strong desire to be accepted and to succeed.

Joe's face was scarred as a baby when acid was thrown in his face. His birth mother deserted him and his father of record ended up in jail for this crime.

As we see Joe, he is the driver and bodyguard for his father, Will. He's also a sheriff at a local jail.

This is a psychological novel in which we see Joe as an extremely polite, mild mannered man. He states that the happiest day of his life was the day Will and Mary Ann Trona adopted him.

One night, while driving Will, tragedy occurs. In what was to be Will's rescue of an eleven-year-old kidnap victim, Will is shot down before Joe's eyes.  Joe kills two of the shooters but the leader escapes. Through the remainder of the story, Joe attempts to piece together the events leading up to the shooting and to bring to justice those involved.

There is a connection to gangs operating in Orange County, County politics and the details of the missing little girl.

The story is well told and entertaining. Joe is a well developed and unique character. There are a number of surprises along with well written dialogue."Save your friends, spend your enemies." was one of Joe's father's favorite sayings.

Through it all, Joe finds love and acceptance and a place in the reader's memory as an entertaining character with a story to tell.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A woman's experiences as a Civil War soldier

In Flat Creek, New York, feelings of patriotism filled the land in 1862.

Young Rosetta Edwards falls in love with Jeremy Wakefield. They discuss his enlisting in the army as a way to save for their own farm. Being a younger son, he knows that the family farm will go to the eldest son.

Once Jeremy enlists and leaves for military training, Rosetta feels alone. Her love for Jeremy is intense and after she learns that she has even been replaced in her own family, she makes a decision. She used to milk the cows and help at her parent's farm but her father hired someone to help with the farm after her marriage.

With this rejection, brave and impetuous Rosetta, cuts her hair, binds her chest and dresses as a man. Then she follows Jeremy to Utica, New York and enlists as Ross Stone. She claims to be Jeremy's cousin so they are placed in the same company.

Jeremy is torn in what to do and wants to keep his wife from danger but Rosetta shows her courage and disagrees with him. Then she travels to war with Jeremy and the other soldiers.

In a letter to her parents she uses a Bible verse to state that as they say in the Bible, a wife should cling to her husband.

It is heart wrenching to see the love between the two and what they must do to avoid detection. Of course, some of Jeremy's friends knew Rosetta at home but they form a protective band around her.

Problems arise and some are handled with humor such as when the soldiers decide to go for an impromptu swim. They undress to their skivvies and jump in the water. Rosetta must think of a reason why she isn't joining the fun.

The story is told from Rosetta's point of view and becomes more intense when she visits a military hospital and sees what war can do to the severely wounded men. She also had to deal with men in battle when some of Jeremy's old friends thought she was a distraction.

This was a well told story, good characters and vivid descriptions of the scenes. It was still a bit hard to see Rosetta/Ross fooling so many people, many who were gruff and supporting beards.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

An Unwilling Accomplice in WWI

The novel opens with battlefield nurse Bess Crawford summoned to the war department in London. She is ordered to escort a wounded soldier to Buckingham Palace to be decorated by King George.

A day after the ceremony, the soldier, Sgt. Jason Wilkins disappears. Bess is questioned about his disappearance and accused of dereliction of duty in permitting him to go AWOL.

What follows is Bess's efforts along with her friend, Simon Brandon, to search the English countryside and locate the missing soldier and thus, to clear Bess's name.

Through the eyes of Bess, we view the English landscape and observe many of the victims of WWI, both military and civilian.

One of Bess's friends sums up the true cost of the war. "I think the greatest cost of the war is in lost friends...All the young men I've danced with...played tennis with and dallied with, are gone."

In the midst of the story Bess and Simon come upon a town where a wealthy woman is caring for a wounded officer. Thinking that it might turn out to be Sgt. Wilkins, they question the woman. In this case there is a head wound. It isn't Wilkins but we observe another casualty. The soldier has a head wound that causes moments of irrational behavior.

This was an easy read where I could imagine the countryside and what Bess and Simon were going through. I was a bit confused with the conclusion but overall enjoyed the story.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Beware of this serial killer

In this psychological thriller, the Rose Killer is imitating the murders that were committed by a prior killer 30 years ago. The killer not only murders their victims but slices parts of their skin to take as souvenirs.

Detective D.D. Warren is investigating along with her partner Phil and her husband, criminalist, Alex.

The killer who is being imitated is Shana Day who has been jailed in a Massachusetts Criminal facility for thirty years.

Dr. Adeline Glen is Shana's sister. Adeline has a rare genetic condition that makes her unable to feel pain.  She is a psychiatrist and becomes D.D.'s pain therapist after D.D. is pushed down a flight of stairs by a criminal she didn't see.

The story is told from the point of view of D.D. and that of Adeline. With every other chapter told by the other character.

The characters are intense and through a maze of twists and surprises Adeline, Shana and D.D. communicate. The reader is swept up with the suspense. Shana is the leading suspect but how could she commit crimes while locked up? Is there a copycat killer?

This edge of seat novel will have the reader gasping for breath as the suspense mounts in an explosive conclusion.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Texas in my rear view mirror

"To Hell and Gone in Texas" opens with a bang. Texas law officials are viewing the bodies of three men who were murdered and decapitated. They suspect drug gang activity.

Al Quinn has retired from his detective work in Travis County, near Austin. His philosophy changed after his partner was killed during a call where he and Al felt that a woman's life was in danger so they couldn't wait for the SWAT team and the deranged man killed Al's partner.

Al has a home by the water and enjoys fishing but gets a call from one of his friends on the job. Al's brother is in the hospital, someone tried to kill him.

Al and his brother haven't spoken in years but Al goes to the hospital and soon learns that his brother, Maury, could be the target of a drug gang seemingly at war to eliminate the competition.

ICE, Immigration Customs Enforcement, is pitted against a drug cartel and Maury is in the middle of the conflict.

Although there is a split between the brothers, Al continues to investigate.  There's lots of action but I would have preferred it if the story ended sooner than it did. Everything worked out too easily and there is one segment when multiple characters are thought to have been killed, only to come back into the story.

The author is a good story teller and the novel was a quick and easy read but I enjoy more depth in characters.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Take my hand, I'm a stranger in Paradise" Song lyrics

Bill Pronzini is an entertainer. Through the entire book, "A Wasteland of Strangers," I had a smile and warm feelings that I was experiencing the lives of a group of characters who had a tale to tell. The book made me think of a modern Peyton Place mixed with a TV soap opera.

A large, brutal looking man arrives at a lakeside village in Northern California. His arrival unleashes the prejudices and sexual fantasies of many of the locals.

John Faith is a quiet man, just looking for a place to be accepted and that he can call home.

Women solicit him,  some men challenge him in order to prove their manhood and a slim few-accept him for what he is.

He's accused of murder, almost accused of being a pedophile and is actually a kind hearted, lonesome man.

I found the story unique and totally engrossing. It is cleverly plotted and each character is well described.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Lavender blue, dilly dilly" Song lyrics

Get out your shillelagh, sprinkle four leaf clovers around your easy chair and get ready for a dramatic ride to Belfast in the 1980s.

Sean Duffy is a Catholic in the Protestant RCY (Royal Ulster Constabulary). After being forced out of his job because he crossed the wrong people, he's visited by the M 15.

Dermot McCann is an IRZ master bomber and has just escaped from Maze Prison. M 15 believe that since Duffy knew McCann from their school days, he's the best chance they have of catching McCann before he begins his bombing attacks.

As a police officer, Duffy isn't welcome in Belfast but then meets a woman who strikes a deal. She'll give up McCann in return for Duffy's reopening the case to find the killer of the woman's daughter. The daughter died in a questionable manner inside a locked put. Police claim an accident but the woman knows it was murder.

Duffy investigates and we witness poverty stricken Belfast and and police anxiety at what McCann is up to. Time is running short and a major event is approaching. There is to be a Conservative Party Conference in Brighton and Mrs. Thatcher is scheduled to be a speaker. This would be an ideal target for McCann.

The descriptions of life in Northern Ireland is a treat. A locked room mystery and a clock running down as suspense builds is just what the doctor ordered for mystery fans.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Be careful, images can change in the night

Blake Sanders is still recovering from the suicide of his son, Cole, and Blake is working as a volunteer in a suicide prevention center.

After work, he receives a call from his ex-wife, Molly, about remembering to water her plants while she's away. Then she stops the conversation to answer the door. Blake listens as her voice grew to a scream and the call suddenly ended.

He goes to Molly's law firm and learns that they are putting a crisis team together to handle Molly's kidnapping. Blake wonders why she would be the one abducted since she's only a junior partner in a high level firm.

In a side story, former Navy SEAL, Trip Macready is forced to work with a group of terrorists who have kidnapped Molly and are using her to persuade Trip's assistance. He has trained a number of dolphins and the terrorists want Trip to get them to retrieve some cannisters from the sea.

At Molly's firm, the kidnappers call and want Blake to be the person to handle the money drop and he begins to feel that the kidnapping is something personal but he can't think of a reason why.

The author creates a puzzle that has various pieces, we have Blake's involvement with his former wife, Macready's actions with his dolphins, the terrorists and a young soccer player who Blake represented. The young man went overseas and was killed.

The action moves swiftly bouncing from the terrorists to Blake to Macready. Unfortunately we never get to hear what Molly is going through so it is difficult to see Blake's reaction to the kidnappers. He also has a new woman in his life, a Naval intelligence officer.

I enjoyed the book but never developed an emotional connection to the characters. The sympathy a reader should have just wasn't there for me. I haven't read the author's two prior adventures with Blake Sanders and feel that there was probably more of a connection there. In starting with the third book in the Blake Sanders' series, I must have missed some of the connections.

Friday, October 10, 2014

"I am a poor, wayfaring stranger,traveling through this life of woe" lyrics

In a departure from his Dave Robicheau detective series, James Lee Burke brings his readers a riveting historical novel. Weldon Holland's life is described in a manner that parallels many important events of the last century.

As a teenager during the depression, Weldon lived at his grandfather's ranch.  There, he encountered Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow who felt the backroad of the ranch would be a good place to lie low. Although they were ordered off the ranch, Weldon developed a lifelong fantasy about Bonnie and her radiant red hair.

WWII found Weldon as a college graduate and new second lieutenant in action in front of the U.S. lines. His unit comes into attack from German tanks with heavy casualties. Weldon is able to rescue his sergeant, Hershel Pine who was buried under by a passing tank. As Weldon is digging Hershel out, the reader feels the drama of the unexpected enemy tanks on raw recruits.

During this segment of the story, Weldon gets his first taste of anti semitism. We see what one man can achieve by taking a stance against this view and his manner in attempting to change another person's narrow view.

Later, Weldon and Hershel rescue Rosita Lowenstein from underneath a number of dead bodies, killed by Germans who abandoned a concentration camp as the allied soldiers approached. Rosita and Weldon form a love that carries them for the remainder of the story.

Back home, Weldon and Hershel go into business and feel the disappointment of dry oil wells and then the ecstasy when their wells begin to deliver oil. Wealth accumulates but Rosita is the daughter of a well known Communist woman in Spain and we see the manner in which communism was treated at the end of WWII.

The story continues with Hershel and his wife dealing with new wealth and with his wife, Linda Gail following her dream of becoming a Hollywood actress.

Burke has many themes in the story, from prejudice, to bravery and friendship. Weldon and Rosita are memorable characters, vividly portrayed and very sympathetic. Weldon is heroic in his approach as he stands alone for the things he believes and his love for Rosita.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Over and over and over again, this dance is gonna be a ride" song lyrics

Child psychologist, Dr. Alex Delaware gets a call in the middle of the night from a patient he has seen in the past but feels that he let the boy down. Now, Jamey Cadmus is in a psychological hospital and begs for help.

When Delaware arrives at the hospital, he finds that Jamey has escaped. When he tries to look into the treatment Jamey was receiving, he's stalled. The following day, Jamey is accused of being the lavender slasher killer. He's said to have murdered a number of homosexual young men in grisly fashion.

Jamey is the heir of the family estate and stands to inherit a substantial amount when he comes of age. He's being cared for by his uncle and guardian, Dwight Cadmus.

The evidence against Jamey looks strong and Delaware is hired by the attorney defending Jamey in hope that Jamey could be found guilty by diminished capacity and sent to a treatment center for the criminally insane.

Digging deeper, everything seems a little too convenient and it makes Delaware want to know more. He's warned off the case and eventually fired but continues to dig. He's aided by his friend, homicide detective Milo Sturgis. They look into Jamey's past and the drug scene in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the Height Ashbury section. Evidence shows possible use of hallucinogens and mind altering drugs. There are a number of interesting twists and surprises.

This is a well done, psychological novel with many secrets hidden by Jamey's family and uncovered by Delaware. Everything isn't as it appears and watching Delaware uncover the truth is an entertaining ride.

There is good background information but maybe a bit too much but I enjoyed the novel and in finding what was transpiring.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Do not forsake me oh my darling

For fans of the novels about the Old West, "The Untarnished Badge," provides a quick and easy read.

The plot seems like old stuff; there is a crooked council running the town and an honest rancher asks for help from the U.S. Marshal's office.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Luke Cochran is sent to help. He finds that the entire town council is crooked and of the two honest members of the group, one is dead and the other missing. He does meet a woman who is the daughter of the missing councilman. She runs a cafe and tells Luke about the despair of honest folk in the town.

The town sheriff is a crook and his deputy is a bully. They are corrupt and when the young woman whose father is missing asks for their help in locating their father, they brush her off.

The man who runs the stable gives Luke the lowdown and Luke makes quick work of the deputy, showing him up as a coward besides being a bully.

After Luke sends and receives a telegram from his boss in Denver, Luke understands what has to be done and when he tells the few honest men in the town, he gets the back-up he needs.

Not a great bit of suspense and little character development but for a quick trip back to the Old West, this provides an interesting escape.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

There's a light in the window

This well written novel tells the parallel story of two young people at the start of WWII.

Marie-Laure LeBlanc is age six when she goes blind. She lives with her father, David, who is the principal locksmith at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. David adores Marie-Laure and builds her a miniature city so she can follow the miniatures and learn her way about.

When the Germans invade France, Marie-Laure and David travel to her great uncle Etienne's home in the walled city of Saint-Malo. David builds a miniature of this city also for the same purpose and it has a secret compartment where something can be hidden. He also obtains a copy of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath the Sea" in braille that Marie-Laure comes to treasure.

At the Museum of Natural History  there is a rare gem that the museum is attempting to hide from the Germans. This precious gem is said to have the power to make the owner have a long life but cause misfortune to those around the owner.

Werner Pfennig is a twelve year old living in an orphanage in a small German town. He has a rare ability with radios and electrical items. As the war goes on, the older boys at the orphanage join the Hitler youth and seem to become hardened.

Werner is recommended to attend the National Political Institute and excels. Through the story we witness the events in France and Germany and the oppression of the Jewish people. We also follow the story of Marie-Louise and Werner throughout the war.

They are described in a literate, sympathetic manner where the reader becomes attached to them and wishes them happiness in a world of sadness.

This is a heart touching story that will linger in the memories of those who read it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Things are amiss in the Army department in France in the 1890s

This is an excellent retelling of the Alfred Dreyfus affair that was the subject on most Frenchman's minds in the mid 1890s.

As tensions worsen between France and Germany, a source reveals that there is a French spy in the Army providing military information to Germany. The French spy is said to be a high ranking officer.

Maj. Alfred Dreyfus is accused and found guilty based on falsified evidence. One highly ranked officer was prominent in convincing others that Dreyfus was the guilty officer. The fact that Dreyfus was Jewish made it easier for the other officers to believe since anti-semitic feelings were strongly felt at the time.

Col. George Picquart tells the story from his point of view. He begins to doubt that evidence and when he learns the ID of the true spy, the Army Department would rather keep an innocent man in jail than admit that it made a mistake in the trial of Dreyfus.

The suspense is strongly felt as Picquart puts his own career on the line to convince others of Dreyfus's innocence and who the guilty officer really is. Picquart is sent to Tunis on a mission where his murder is planned.

The story continues and Dreyfus's many supporters rise to his defense led by Emile Zola who published an article J'Accuse where he points the finger at the real criminals in the matter.

Well done with characters out of history that tell their story with realism and literary precision.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The house of the rising ghosts

Hannah Smith is a fishing guide and part time investigator in the Sanibel Island area of Florida. She's invited to her friend, Birdy's wealthy aunt's home.

When Hannah meets Aunt Bunny, Hannah is asked to check out a home called the Cadence House, named for the first owner of the home who died there.

Aunt Bunny is locked into a real estate investment that includes this home. Due to the owner's death in the house and other mysterious happenings, the home is said to be haunted. Thus, the home and property it's on, are difficult for Bunny to sell.

Hannah and Birdy arrive at the house and soon a nest of spiders fall on Birdy and one of them stings her. Thereafter, a string of unexplainable events occur.

There is also interest in a Civil War battle that was fought in the area. Heather finds her uncle's diary. He had been active in the area of the Cadence House during the Civil War. Hannah reads from her uncle's diary and it's as if events of the Civil War that took place in Florida are being described again.

A colorful cast of characters are introduced, from an eighty-year-old archaeologist looking for his son and civil war relics, to a number of women who claim to be witches and to a con-man who has trained two large chimpanzees to do as he commands.

The story displays Hannah's fear after dealing with one of the chimpanzees named Oliver.

There are good descriptions of the Florida swamps, lots of action and good characters.
However, the story was longer than it needed to be and there were times that the suspense lagged.
I enjoy Randy Wayne White and await his next Florida adventure story.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A mother's love

In the prosperous oil fields of Lawton, North Dakota, rapid expansion of the business had resulted in short cuts from the companies doing the oil drilling and from providing housing for the many men who arrive in Lawton looking for work.

One company in particular has been overlooking safety in the workplace and has a number of serious injuries. If an employee becomes injured, the lawyers from the company attempt to buy the person off and have them sign a letter that they won't sue. The company is afraid of bad publicity and an investigation by OSHA.

In this atmosphere, two young men disappear. Their mothers come to Lawton separately to find their sons and get answers of what caused their disappearance. The mother's meet up when the second mother arrives and with the housing shortage, she is introduced to the first mother and they share accommodations

With the company who was their son's employer stalling the women, the look elsewhere but other employees fear for their jobs and are afraid to talk. Townsfolk are happy with the employment and scoff at the mother's inquiries. They feel that they young men are probably having a good time somewhere and don't want their mother's to know.

We are introduced to a young Native American with ties to a local reservation. Eventually the mother's search and the young man make a connection.

The mother's are opposite personalities and from different segments of society but manage to work together. They are easy to sympathise with. As they search, the possibility of what happened to their boys becomes clearer but then the author provides a surprise.

I enjoyed the writing but wish the story ended sooner. The last segment of the book was drawn out and lacked suspense and wasn't compelling.

As the father of a son with a learning disorder, I felt the treatment of one of the young men who had ADD, attention deficit disorder was well brought out. The author displayed the difficulty with this condition and the results that can effect the person effected and their family.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Agents and intelligence officers at odds with each other

Matthew Dunn provides his readers with the events of an M16/CIA operative, Will Cochrane. Will goes against his orders. He shoots a number of Russian killers and saves a fellow CIA agent's life.

He endangers an important mission and the directors of the CIA and FBI want him dead.

Will shows his integrity and desire to do the right thing in saving his fellow agent's life. The agent reveals to Will that she just learned from her source that there is a Russian mole who is a high ranking person inside the CIA.

Who can Will trust?

He had to get from his current assignment in Oslo back to Washington, D.C. to get the answers. In the meanwhile, intelligence officials tell a different story. They depict him as a rogue agent who is a killer.

Will has to rely on his instincts and attempt to get the answers about a project that his superiors want kept secret. He is a well developed character. We see his bravery, resourcefulness and determination to save his life and his career and uncover the mole.

The author, Matthew Dunn, was an M16 field officer and knows his stuff. He writes a believable, engrossing story that is impossible to put down.  Well done!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Passion Power and Sin

Mike Wells has created a clever, interesting financial drama where one victim decides not to take her misfortune lying down.

Heather Bankfort is a young woman trying to find success in the public relations business in New York. Her mother's home in North Carolina is behind in mortgage payments and about to be foreclosed.

One day she receives an email from an anonymous person with a tip on a sport's event. She considers it a scam but when the prediction comes true, she acts on the next tip from the source.

In between these emails, she begins dating a handsome man from a wealthy family and considers her dreams are coming true.

Moving forward, everything turns upside down and she realises she has invested everything in a pump and dump scheme. In addition, she finds something about the man she was dating and takes appropriate steps.

What Heather goes through in the obstacles she faces is exciting and suspenseful.

The story was narrated by Karin Allers and I listened to the audio as I exercised. It made my time fly by and in an enjoyable manner.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Murder and Kidnapping in South Africa


Deon Meyer provides the reader with his ninth police procedural in "Cobra."

A famous English mathematician is kidnapped and his body guards killed in the picturesque Franschhoek wine valley of South Africa. The man was traveling under an alias and tried to keep his identity unknown. He has developed a formula that will make it more difficult for terrorists and secret agencies to hide their financial transactions.

When police arrive, the only apparent clue is the shell casings from the bullets. They are engraved in such a way that the police refer to the kidnapper/killer as the Cobra, a known assassin.

Through Meyer's writing we see the rivalry between the Hawks, members of SAPS (South African Police Service" and the SIS, the government security service. It is akin to the territorial rivalry between local municipalities and our government agencies of CIA and FBI.

Detective Benny Griessel leads the investigators with his colleagues. Benny is the central character along with Tyrone Kleinbooi, a 'coloured' pickpocket who is trying to pay for his sister's tuition at the university through his thievery. He's an interesting character as we see him plan for his needs and then steal what is necessary.

Meyer tells us about Benny's past fall into alcoholism but he has been sober for over 400 days and even helped his girlfriend overcome her difficulty with the same ailment.

We also see the tensions between white and black and the attitude many have where in the University they are teaching more English than Africanis.

The action is well done and when Tyrone picks the wrong person to rob and the Cobra wants it back, it gets personal and suspense mounts. Tyrone tells the Cobra off and tells him not to mess with his sister.

This is a very visual story with good action and good descriptions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dt. Tempe Brennan at work

I was excited when I received this book from LibraryThing early reviewers. Once I began reading the story my excitement continued to grow.

Dr. Tempe Brennan is called to a meeting of the Cold Case Unit. She's introduced to an investigator from Vermont who discovered a murder vic and found evidence that relates to two cases of Brennan's area in North Carolina.

As the story progresses, Brennan finds evidence linking the murders of young girls to a serial killer in Canada.

The premise of the story deals with the Canadian serial killer and Dr. Brennan identifying the skeletal remains of three young girls in the killer's basement. Brennan and the other investigators consider if that serial killer is at work again or if there could be a copycat killer.

"Bones Never Lie" is detailed like a police procedural in which the scientific evidence provided by Dr. Brennan adds to the investigation itself. She helps not only with her scientific examination of evidence but by her womanly instinct.

The author is a forensic anthropologist and creator of the TV show Bones.

We certainly empathise with Brennan and the crew of investigators. We also find sympathy for the victims and their parents who suffered the worst thing that could happen in the deaths of their daughters.

The people who populate the novel appear realistic and the action flows nicely. When the investigators link the deaths in Canada to the current victims in North Carolina, they surmise that the killer is about to strike again and the suspense mounts.

I appreciate the manner in which Kathy Reichs can combine forensic anthropology and story telling and do so in such a top notch fashion.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Beware if this wolf is watching you

The Wolf is a name that Mafia boss Vincent Morelli is known as. He oversees an enormous criminal world.

He's devastated when an attempted hijacking of an airline plane departing from LA ends in a gunfight. There are two air marshals and a bodyguard on the plane. Gunplay erupts and the terrorists are killed, their mission thwarted but there are civilian casualties, among them, Morelli's wife and two young daughters.

He's incensed at the activity of the terrorists and calls a conclave of the most powerful criminal leaders in the world. The International Crime Counsel includes leaders of the Neapolitan crime world, the Camorra Syndicate, the leader of the Japanese crime syndicate and others.

Terrorist activities are costing the Crime world millions of dollars and they declare war on the Russian Mob, the terrorist and the Mexican drug lords who have been working together.

The break neck speed of the action is sure to raise the blood pressure of most readers. Major characters are murdered and we learn that the Russian Mafia is paying a particular terrorist group to create chaos so the Russian Mob can take over most of the world's crime.

Even with the war, Vincent Morellis is easy to sympathise with. He's a loving father who is trying to protect his last living child, his son. He also works with a female leader of the Camorra throne and he and Angela renew a long lasting friendship.

I was thrilled with the excitement generated in this novel and found Vincent Morelli to be believable and likable. I couldn't help but root for his success.

The writing is also poetic "...I would rather people tremble in my presence than feel comfort in it."

There are surprises, traitors and romance with well developed characters. What more could the reader want?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"You're in on the inside" Song lyrics

Sam Capra runs a bar in the Coconut Grove section of Miami. One day, his good friend Steve, asks him questions that infer that Steve needs help. He's been providing security for Cori Varela who is afraid of something but won't say what it is.

Sam meets Cori and Steve and Cori talk for a while and leave the bar. Moments later, Steve is shot and killed and Cori runs away. Sam chases the shooters and the action mounts immediately.

Unable to get answers from the shooters but wanting to avenge his friend's murder, Sam goes to Cori. Reluctant to involve anyone else after Steve's murder, Sam persists. He learns that she is part of the Varela family which has criminal ties.Cori works with charities but the family has other interests.

Sam works for an organization referred to as the Round Table. This undercover group tries to correct wrongs and help people who have been victims. Sam is currently on leave from the group and they have given him a number of bars to run until his skills might be needed again.

The action moves to Puerto Rico and the Verela family compound. The head of the family, Rey Verela, is beginning to show early effects of dementia and wants to turn over the operation of his businesses to his family. His main business is a cargo company but he's been known as a weapons provider and has a secret part of the business which only a few people know about.

The story moves along nicely and Sam seems to be helping but something happens and this kicks up the suspense and tension by a couple of notches.

I enjoy the story which I found to be engrossing. Sam is a well described character who has an interesting group of friends from a hacker to his prior handler in the Round Table.

The author keeps the reader guessing and finally ties things together in a satisfactory conclusion.

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.

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