THE PERSIAN GAMBLE by Joel C. Rosenberg

March 24, 2019

Click to purchase

Joel C. Rosenberg has published many fictional novels involved with international spy craft. In a great many of these books it would appear that the author has sources that seem to be providing him with information about what is really going on behind the scenes in countries that are enemies of the United States. His latest novel turns on actions involving three countries that would like to see the U.S. destroyed while they take center stage in the world. These are Russia, North Korea and Iran. Marcus Ryker a protagonist utilized prior to this book by Mr. Rosenberg and a former member of the Secret Service is utilized to tell the story.

Setting the stage for the events described in the book Iran approaches North Korea to sell them high power nuclear bombs which can be used attached to missiles made by the Persians to attack both the U.S. and their ally Israel. Both countries, controlled by Russia,get permission from them to consummate the sale.
Marcus has been persuaded to supervise a visit to Russia on another matter does so also taking the opportunity to visit with Oleg Kraskin a double agent he runs. Kraskin convinces Marcus to bring him into the U.S. with the caveat that he is bringing a great deal of confidential information obtained from the Russian president who is Kraskin’s father in law. Before traveling with Ryker to safe haven Kraskin finds that he must foil a plot by the Russian president to hit the U.S. by bombing them in a preemptive strike. Kraskin shoots and kills his father in law, and also his assistant and convinces Marcus to smuggle him out of Russia. The Moscow Chief of Station, Jenny Morris, helps the two by piloting a plane with them as passengers.

The plot takes shape when the plane is shot down by Russians over Russian territory. Events unfolding make the novel another good read by Rosenberg. There is the hiding from and eluding the Russian military, overcoming the negative attitude of the U.S. that feels Marcus has aided and abetted the murders without notifying and receiving permission from his own government. To also complicate this very complex matter Jenny Morris is wounded when the plane is attacked.
The interactions between Russia, Iran and North Korea could very well be a real scenario between nations whose goals include destruction of their perceived enemies: the U.S. and Israel. An excellent book by Joel C. Rosenberg and one that will definitely entice the reader into an all night read plus keeping eyes out for the author’s next novel.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE PERSIAN GAMBLE by Joel C. Rosenberg. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1496406187. 448p.

Kindle

Audible


THE CHAOS FUNCTION by Jack Skillingstead

March 23, 2019

Click to purchase

The author has combined a great deal of action with an interesting scenario right out of the world of Science Fiction giving his readers a very engrossing novel.

The story begins with Olivia Nikitas, a very successful war correspondent, in the midst of covering the civil war in Syria. She is accompanied by Brian, an AID worker and the man that she has found love with. While they are covering a battle in Aleppo Brian is killed with Olivia dragging him back into a chamber in a building adjacent to the area they had been covering. In a reverie experienced by Olivia traumatized by Brian’s death conditions change and it looks like her lover was only wounded.

The Science Fiction part comes across when returning to the United States Olivia is kidnapped by a group claiming to be guardians of a machine that allows conditions in the world to be changed. And that is why she experiences the shift from Brian dying and than still alive but wounded. Olivia has received the power to operate the machine from the individual that had it but was killed during the same time and place that Brian died in. She learns that she is the first woman to have this power during the many centuries that it has been utilized.

Escaping from the group with the help of two of their members Olivia uses the benefits of the machine tied to her mental ability to use it to change conditions in the world. Unfortunately, the new conditions created by her allow the spread of a man made epidemic of smallpox which kills off millions around the world. She realizes that her desire to keep Brian alive has forced the spread of the disease to take effect due to conditions created by Olivia’s machinations of world conditions.

The combination of circumstances involving a great deal of action with an interesting twist will provide a fascinating experience for the reader making the awaiting of future books by  Skillingstead a done deal.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE CHAOS FUNCTION by Jack Skillingstead.  John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1328526151. 304p.

Kindle

Audible


HOUSE ON FIRE by Bonnie Kistler

March 22, 2019

Click to purchase

Divorce lawyer Leigh Huyett and Pete Conley are in every sense a very happy married couple. Both have been married previously and divorced. Like many marriages that break up they have come to a settlement as to which of their children will live with them, and which will reside with the other couples formed by unions formed by their prior spouses. Leigh’s experiences handling divorces and witnessing remarriages has led her to the conclusion that a majority of these pairings also end in divorce. But somehow she and Pete are happy together.

Tragedy strikes without warning while Leigh and Pete are away on vacation. An auto accident occurs when Kip, left in charge, and who is Pete’s son and Chrissy, Leigh’s daughter were driving together to a party in celebration of Kip’s acceptance to Duke University. Their car runs off the road when swerving to avoid a collision. Kip escapes with minor injuries but Chrissy dies, due to a physical problem that is exacerbated by her hitting her head on the roof of the car due to the impact. Kip was driving, and accepts fault for the accident with everyone concerned being of the opinion that it was just that an accident.

The emotions experienced by Leigh and Pete are handled magnificently by Kistler. Both children are technically in the same family, but Chrissy was Leigh’s daughter with Kip Pete’s son. The anguish experienced by all is naturally more so towards their natural children. Suddenly a complication occurs when the state decides to bring Kip to justice trying him in court on a second degree manslaughter charge. The circumstances include Kip just turning 18; an adult in the eyes of the law which allows him to to be prosecuted in adult court. If found guilty he could be faced with up to 10 years of imprisonment in an adult prison.

The interplay of the extended family’s emotions becomes the driving force behind the action taking place. To indicate that it becomes impossible to put the book down does not do justice to the force of the writing. A very well done novel describing a terribly wrenching experience and obviously one that causes rifts and breakups between the characters does cause the reader to await Kistler’s next novel with a great deal of expectation.

3/19 Paul Lane

HOUSE ON FIRE by Bonnie Kistler. Atria Books (March 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1501198687. 416p.

Kindle

Audible


FINDING KATARINA M. by Elisabeth Elo

March 21, 2019

Click to purchase

Elo has written a riveting and complex novel about a young doctor living and working in Washington D.C. traveling to Russia and encountering the very worse of conditions that country throws at it’s citizens.

Natalie March is a successful surgeon practicing in the United States. She enjoys the benefits of her work including a better than average life style. the reputation that her skill brings and a social life that is good, although can be better. Natalie is the daughter of Vera March, a woman that has emigrated from Russia but leaving with the guilt that she left her family on the way to the Gulag for crimes unmentioned.

Vera is in the throes of illness that Natalie cannot cure and she would do anything to help her mother survive her sickness. Natalie is suddenly visited by a young dancer working with a Russian Ballet company and performing in New York. The girl provides Natalie with details of the family still in Russia that only someone knowing them would be aware of. This includes Vera’s mother and her sister still living in a section of Siberia. The girl’s motives for visiting Natalie soon become clear. The family need help in defecting from Russia since they are in grave danger from the Putin regime. Natalie speaks to her mother and agrees to travel to New York where Saldana, who is the girl that is her cousin is performing.

Going to New York Natalie finds that Saldana has been murdered in what looks like a bad breaking and entering crime. Galvanized into action Natalie decides to travel to Russia and break the news to her family. Her findings and the events surrounding the meetings form a major part of the novel. Elo doing a major job of researching and investigating, paints a picture of a vast land, basically undeveloped and living under the totalitarian hand of absolute dictatorship. The weather in the areas visited is horrendous with normal almost year round temperatures below zero Fahrenheit.

In almost understated tones, Elo brings to life Natalie’s adventures in an alien land while looking for her grandmother and other relatives. A fascinating novel and one which cannot be picked up to read without finishing it.

3/19 Paul Lane

FINDING KATARINA M. by Elisabeth Elo. Polis Books (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1947993433. 352p.

Kindle

Audiobook


THE MALTA EXCHANGE by Steve Berry

March 20, 2019

Click to purchase

 Cotton Malone, Book 14

The nicest touch about many of Berry’s novels is the close attention paid to the historical setting of the book. He and his wife founded the group “History Matters” and are very involved in bringing to light the actual events occurring in world history.

“The Malta Exchange” features Cotton Malone and what is looking more and more like his protege, Luke Daniels, working on an assignment for the Magellan Billet a secret U.S. government organization. Luke is a new employee with the Billet while Cotton is retired after years of service with them. Cotton is on paid temporary assignment with them in the book The two are sent to Italy to search for papers missing since World War II which delineate an attempt by Winston Churchill to arrange a peace with Mussolini, the than Italian dictator, and which could very well rewrite history if brought to light,

The action in this story takes place during a time when the current Pope has died and a conclave of Cardinals of the Catholic Church has been called to the Vatican to decide upon a new Pope. Mr Berry includes a history of both the Church as well as the island of Malta as background to his novel. These sidebars have been setup as part and parcel of the search for the Churchill papers and, I believe, that they make a good story even better. The Church’s history as depicted, goes back to it’s beginnings and includes events during the reign of Constantine during the fourth century A.D. in which that king became instrumental in making the Church the world wide organization that it currently is. Malta’s history includes centuries of being the territory of one nation after another and beginning at least 5000 years ago as cave drawings show humans living there at that point in the past.

Two brothers have been plotting for years to elevate one of them to the Papacy at the appropriate time. Their scheming and the actual attempt at getting elected to the position via clandestine activities comprise much of the investigative activity of Malone and Daniels. By itself this attempt will draw in readers and with the addition of the well documented historical background make for a great novel.

I reiterate that I find the historical facts brought into Berry’s novels fascinating and bring out the the truism that the events of the past are not cut and dried. They are open to analysis and can be shown to influence events much more than normally thought. Readers can interpret these background explanations as helping to solve a mystery even if they do not enjoy the interjection of new facts in history as part of the book. I, personally, always await the next Steve Berry novel with a great deal of anticipation.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE MALTA EXCHANGE by Steve Berry. Minotaur Books (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1250140265. 416p.

Kindle

Audible


INSPECTION by Josh Malerman

March 19, 2019

Click to purchase

Malerman has the wonderful ability to deliver exciting books with “different” plots for his readers. Inspection is no exception to this rule.

At the beginning the reader will fully be invested in the idea that it is a situation existing in a future when “Big Brother” is watching every move made by the residents of their country. This is not the case. It is set in a present time when a radical deviation from the norm has been set up by wealthy people interested in proving a point they are sure of.

Two separate schools have been built in a forest location very far from prying eyes. One is an institution populated only by boys with no females around, and the other by girls with no males around. Each has existed for years with no contact with the outside world. The children, as they are, have no nouns in their language that lead to the realization that there is an opposite sex. They have been given the names only of the letters of the alphabet and told that they developed on special trees and taken off when ready to survive on their own.

The head of the boys unit is known as D.A.D. with the girls’ supervisor M.O.M. The children are being trained with advanced courses in the arts and sciences with the thinking that left without the distraction of sex they will not be subjected to the strains that normally exist with the interaction between men and women. They will, therefore develop into geniuses and make contributions to mankind beyond the normality of other groups growing up in regular circumstances.

The story moves between the boy “J” and the girl “K” as they both independently begin questioning their supervision and the constraints of their sheltered existences. The ending is a completely logical one given the circumstances as developed and complete an extremely engrossing novel. Several sleepless, but rewarding, nights are in store for the reader as they are drawn into the world created by the author. Very well done.

3/19 Paul Lane

INSPECTION by Josh Malerman. Del Rey (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1524796990 400p.

Kindle

Audible


RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben

March 19, 2019

Click to purchase

There is a truism involved in reading any of Harlan Coben’s books. I have found it so over the years that I have had the pleasure of reading them. And that is one has to begin to read his latest novel early on an otherwise free day. And that is because the author captures you quickly and it is impossible to put it down before finishing it. “Run Away” is no exception although it does involve a stretch of the imagination to accept the plot closely adhering to what might be real life. But that is the author’s job: telling a good story in a way that captures his or her reader’s interest and attention. And that is what Coben does and does well with this novel being no exception.

Ingrid and Simon, husband and wife, live in Manhattan with their three children. They are both successful in their individual careers; Ingrid a pediatrician and Simon a partner in a lucrative counselling service advising others how to invest their money. Due to their professions an upscale life style is attained. It would be perfect except for a conflict with their eldest child: Paige. She has had many strong arguments with her parents and the opening of the book is at a point where Paige has run away from home. She has not returned nor even called during that period. Simon misses her very much and has taken to sitting in a section of the nearby Central Park at a spot that his daughter loved thinking of her.

About six months after Paige disappeared and while Simon is sitting in that spot he sees his daughter playing the violin for money from the onlookers there. He attempts to talk to her, but she runs from him. The remainder of the book sets up Simon and his wife’s search for Paige. They run into drug dealers, a cult, DNA testing and it’s consequences, two murderers and the killing done by these people. Yes. a search such as is being described would most likely not have all the depicted events occur in real life. But in the hands of Harlan Coben these become a necessary part of the plot and termed the author’s literary license to tell his story. Well done and engrossing novel.

3/19 Paul Lane

RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben. Grand Central Publishing (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748466. 384p.

Kindle

Audible


THE CHANCE by Robyn Carr

March 18, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CHANCE by Robyn Carr. MIRA; 1st edition (February 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0778315995. 360p.

Kindle

Audible


THE GARDENER OF EDEN by David Downie

March 17, 2019

Click to purchase

The novel opens with the sudden appearance in the Timber logging town of Carverville by a middle aged man calling himself JP. Carverville is an area of the U.S. that has seen better days and the consequent relocation of many of it’s young people looking for a better future.

JP is one of these and has returned after an absence of 40 years. He finds work at a run down motel basically trying to tidy the place in return for food and room to park the RV that he has arrived in.

Events involve in James, as his name is, discovering that shadows envelope the town and corruption runs rampant. As more and more facts emerge about what is going on in Carverville the author makes his personal position clear. He indicates through his characters that the downfall of many areas n the country are being adversely affected by the actions of the government. While this opinion may not be held by the reader the story is still an interesting one.

James finds old high school friends and what has happened to them over the years. The corruption is done by people that he knew in the past and gave indications even than of what they will become later. There is no surprise in reading Downie’s novel and the ending is one that is totally logical based on events as described.

The book is not an all night grabber but is a good story written by an author who has a good many credits to his name.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE GARDENER OF EDEN by David Downie. Pegasus Books; 1 edition (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1643130040. 272p.

Kindle


THE HERO by Robyn Carr

March 16, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HERO by Robyn Carr.  MIRA; 1st edition (August 27, 2013). ISBN 978-0778314592. 379p.

Kindle

Audible