THE NUGGET by P.T. Deutermann

October 16, 2019

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World War II Navy Series, Book 6

is a retired Captain of the U.S. Navy who has found a brilliant second career as an accomplished author. Many of the books he has had published concern action by the Navy in different areas and also various periods. He also has a set of equally well written novels that do not concern the military, which are just as engrossing as the military novels. All in all, a man with a superb background and obviously a gift for telling a story, keeping his readers pinned to the book, and assuring his place as a writer in constant demand.

The Nugget is a story set during a period beginning with the outbreak of World War II for the United States. Bobby Steele is a graduate of Annapolis, the U.S. naval academy.  He has had a two-year assignment, after which he is sent to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii where he is assigned to an aircraft carrier. We meet him as he is awakened from a sleep aboard a ship by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and with this is run full tilt into high action.

Deutermann describes the first days of the war in the Pacific against the Japanese and the first victory against them at Midway. Bobby Steele plays his role in much of the action that actually took place during the first several years of the war. He is shot down twice, rescued each time, but eventually ends up in the Philippines. It is there that Bobby and the copilot that flew with him unable to return to U.S. forces work with the Philippine resistance forces against their Japanese invaders.

The Nugget is a book that successfully keeps the reader glued to a plot involving plenty of hair raising action with the incredible dangers of war, making sure that the reader must finish the book before attempting to go to sleep. A definite five star novel for an author who has plenty of them to his credit, with the certainty that more will follow.

 

10/19 Paul Lane

THE NUGGET by P.T. Deutermann. St. Martin’s Press (October 8, 2019). ISBN 978-1250205889. 320p.

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IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle

October 15, 2019

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Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters, Book 1

From the publisher:

Five bounty-hunting sisters
Deep in the heart of the Rockies
Fighting to save each other
…and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly’s horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family’s misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John’s the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly’s ever had the pleasure of defeating…and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.


Ruggle writes good romantic suspense, which I don’t always love because it often feels like the mystery was an afterthought. Not the case here, however. This introduction to a new series revolves around four sisters who all live together and run a bounty hunting business together. The romance in this story revolves around the eldest sister, Molly, and one of their competitors, John.

Molly’s sisters all realize that John has a major crush on Molly, but she is oblivious. Molly is working hard to keep the business going and their lives afloat, after their mother almost lost their house. That mother is quite an unusual character; I’ve seen cats that are better mothers. In fact, most cats are better mothers. She’s been in and out of jail and marriages, is completely self serving, and uninterested and uncaring about her daughters. It would be sad except the girls are doing fine despite their mother. Until she steals a very valuable necklace and puts them all in danger.

There were a few minor plot points that didn’t make sense to me but why quibble when a story is as fast moving and well written as this one. One of the mysteries is solved by the end, but the other is a cliff hanger, leaving me waiting impatiently for the next book in the series. Risk it All comes out 12/31/19. Guess what I’ll be doing this New Year’s Eve!

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle. Sourcebooks Casablanca (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1492662495. 384p.

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PURSUIT by Joyce Carol Oates

October 13, 2019

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The author, in many of her novels, has demonstrated a capacity to project the innermost feelings of the people she writes about. The Pursuit is definitely a study in one woman’s grasp of reality and how this affects her mother, and later her husband.

Abby is a reclusive young woman coming from the most traumatic of childhoods. She keeps to herself, afraid that contact with others will showcase her faults and drive them away. She dreams of coming upon a field with skeletons and a large skull, and a smaller one that she thinks of as the daddy and mommy skulls. Her mother and father disappeared one day leaving Abby to feel that they didn’t care for her and left to go live alone without her.

Not seeking companionship, Abby is surprised when a young man, Willem, seeks her out and eventually asks her to marry him.  She does so with a good deal of trepidation. The day after the wedding, as Abby is on her way to the University she is attending, she gets off the bus she is riding on and into traffic. She is hit by the same bus she was on and sent to the hospital. Willem, in love with Abby, begins investigating whether the incident was an accident or done on purpose by his wife.

Oates sets up the rest of her novel as a completely mesmerizing look into what is the deep-seated trauma that engulfs Abby, how was it initiated, what caused it, and how to bring it to rest. The workings of her mind become bared for the reader, and it becomes impossible to set the book down before solutions are arrived at, or not arrived at. And, of course where her trauma began.

 

10/19 Paul Lane

PURSUIT by Joyce Carol Oates. Mysterious Press (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0802147912. 144p.

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TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE by Susan Isaacs

October 12, 2019

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Isaacs presents her latest published novel, and it is certainly one that continues her practice of giving her readers an engrossing book, which instantly draws them into the action.

A native New Yorker, the author does center the action in that area of the U.S. Corie Geler is a woman who, at the beginning of her working life, became a member of the FBI. She had studied the Arabic language while in college, and became a very valuable agent due to that expertise.

Corie retired shortly before the novel begins, with the aim of having a personal life. She did meet a man that had lost his wife due to illness, fell in love, and the pair married. She adopted Josh Geller’s 14-year-old daughter a year after they married, and her current life is supervising the girl and tending to running her house. She also does an occasional job as a contractor for the FBI using her Arabic skills. And at the same time, she acts as an agent for several publishers of Arabic literature looking to have their books translated and sold in English into the English speaking world.

Corie has gotten into the custom of going for lunch with a group of people living in her hometown of Shorehaven, on Long Island, and who also have the advantage of being able to work a business from home. They meet, exchange ideas making the shared luncheons a social event. But Corie’s FBI instincts kick in when she begins to feel that one of the group is more than a little strange, and begins to examine him.

Pete Delaney indicates that he is a package designer doing a bit of traveling to customers in order to present his products to them. But his habits do cause alarm in Corie’s FBI trained mind, and this is reinforced by what she does uncover.

Isaac’s style is somewhat tongue in cheek and quite engaging to the reader. The book becomes one that cannot be put down, and when finished, makes her readers quite ready for her next novel. Well done and a good read.

10/19 Paul Lane

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE by Susan Isaacs. Atlantic Monthly Press (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0802147554. 288p.

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DACHSHUND THROUGH THE SNOW by David Rosenfelt

October 10, 2019

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An Andy Carpenter Mystery, Book 20

In my recollection, there has never been a bad book featuring Andy Carpenter and his assorted team of assistants. This novel is certainly not an exception to the rule. It does, however, go a step further and delivers a story that connects in every which way, and if not his best, is certainly among David Rosenfelt’s top novels.

The basic idea is the same; Andy has inherited a large sum of money and really does not want to work. He is married to Laurie, his true love, they have a son, and of course two dogs that he walks while he thinks. He then is faced with a case to prove someone is not guilty of the murder of which they have been accused.

The present volume is released in time for Christmas, and the holiday spirit permeates the book. Laurie has developed the custom of filling the wishes of children that are undoubtedly poor. A pet store near the Carpenter’s home normally puts up a Christmas tree and allows children to place their wishes on it, instead of having ornaments. Laurie takes the wishes and gets the children what they wished for, delivering it confidentially.

One of the lists is from a boy named Danny, who would like a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, and to bring home his father, who has suddenly disappeared. The first two wishes are easy to fulfill when the answer to the third one becomes suddenly apparent. Danny’s father is arrested for murder.

The crime is 14 years old and never solved, but the DNA of the possible killer was located on the dead girl’s body and around the scene.  Noah, Danny’s father, has no criminal record so that his DNA, which was that found, has never been identified. Unfortunately, Noah’s brother sends a sample of his DNA to a website that matches DNA with possible groups, and of course, Noah is identified and arrested.

Andy has to take the case because it was part of Danny’s wishes. While the normal banter between Andy and others takes place, the handling of the case in court is a lesson in the scientific handling of DNA as evidence in police work. This sequence does take the novel to an area that is beyond the norm in Rosenfelt’s work. A very well done novel.

10/19 Paul Lane

DACHSHUND THROUGH THE SNOW by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur Books (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1250237682. 352p.

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EMPIRE OF LIES by Raymond Khoury

October 2, 2019

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Khoury has built his reputation as a top author on novels with a fantasy spin.  Not dragons, Greek gods, nor any of the many situations built on an unworldly story. All are well done, well written and based on a certain change to the real world.

“Empire of Lies” is no exception. The plot revolves around an alternative to our present world with changes to current reality that could be true if one subscribes to the difference between our world and what is presented. The novel opens in the alternative world postulated by the author.

This is a situation in which Polish King John Sobieski at the head of a combined European army defeated and stopped an invasion of Europe by Ottoman Turks in 1683. The Ottoman army had reached Vienna, were surrounding the city and were about to conquer it and then move further into Europe.  The situation at the beginning of this novel is that something happened to Sobieski and his staff killing them, and the Ottoman invasion succeeded setting up an alternative world stemming from the defeat of the west in 1683.

Kamal Arslan Agha, an officer in the Sultan’s secret police and, based in Paris has begun questioning the situation around him which is becoming more and more autocratic.  He feels that the freedoms guaranteed to the people are becoming eroded with the government becoming a dictatorship.

When he is called on to investigate a stranger appearing naked on the banks of the Seine and brought to a hospital, Kamal learns a strange secret which the Sultan wants to keep secret. He begins an investigation of this secret aided by his sister-in-law Nisreen, who is an outspoken civil rights lawyer. The two are caught up in the secrets of the enlarged Ottoman Empire and find themselves learning about the real circumstances of the battle of 1683, traveling through the empire and learning about a concept of time that is unknown to most of the world.

Very well written, ensuring that the reader will finish the book in one sitting this novel is Raymond Khoury at his best.

10/19 Paul Lane

EMPIRE OF LIES by Raymond Khoury. Forge Books (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1250210968. 448p.

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THE NOBODY PEOPLE by Bob Proehl

September 29, 2019

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Bob Proehl’s interesting story revolves around the possible next step in human evolution. People are being born with certain abilities beyond those of so called normal people. Levitation, turning invisible, mind control, ability to shape a room beyond the capacity of normal people to see and enter it. Suddenly people with these extraordinary characteristics are being born and growing to adulthood.

Avi Hirsch has noted that his daughter Emmeline is different, but can’t put his finger on how and why until more and more people are found that have an ability beyond the normal. And, as they are identified, the general population begins acting as if they are dangerous. Certainly a feeling held by most segments of the population towards a minority group in their midst. Over the centuries this has included race, religion, color of skin and other factors contributing to a marked difference between this minority and the larger, so called normal, segment of the population.

Avi is a journalist and begins investigating these “others” with the hope that his findings can help prevent harm to Emmeline. It is through him that knowledge of the “different” segment of humans emerges, and as has been done throughout human history suspicion emerges about the new para normals. The novel tracks events from the founding of secret schools to educate the new group to a war developing between them and normals. It certainly doesn’t help when one of the new group turns rogue and is involved with murder of the normals.

An interesting novel somewhat marred by a long mid book section that spends a good deal of time in redundant descriptions of the powers held, and the personal conflicts between the others. This section could force an interested reader to lose interest and elect not to complete the book. If one makes it through this part, the ending is well done and completes the novel.

9/19 Paul Lane

THE NOBODY PEOPLE by Bob Proehl. Del Rey (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1524798956. 496p.

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COLD STORAGE by David Koepp

September 23, 2019

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The novel opens as U.S. government bio terror operative, Roberto Diaz, and his partner, travel to a remote area in Australia. They are there to investigate the possible presence of a bio terror attack.

Instead, they find a highly contagious viral entity that, if allowed to spread, could very well wipe out the entire population of Earth. The two find the town that has been attacked filled with dead bodies of people killed by the virus. The virus is contained by the simple expedient of aerial bombing the town and area around it destroying everything. A small portion that survives the destruction is placed in a sealed container, taken back to the U.S. by Roberto and placed in an area that is underground and heavily fortified

Years later, we get to the “exciting” part of the book. The virus has leaked and is attacking the storage area it is contained in. Two security guards have detected it, and called the government agency indicated on an instruction sheet they are told to use if a leak has been detected by an internal guidance system. Roberto Diaz, now retired, is called upon to travel to the site and take any measures necessary to contain it. He does so and in an informal team up with the two security guards, takes those measures deemed necessary to destroy the virus. And WOW.

“Cold Storage” is the first book published by David Koepp, although his background certainly points to his ability to capture and keep his readers. As indicated in a resume of his credentials, we learn that he was the screenwriter for “Jurassic Park.”

That the novel is one that keeps the readers unable to put it down is a fact. I am anxiously awaiting his next book with an eye to being first on line to get it. And also wondering if the novel will be made into a movie; if so, it would be one exciting video experience.

9/19 Paul Lane

COLD STORAGE by David Koepp. Ecco (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-0062916433. 320p.

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THE FIFTH COLUMN by Andrew Gross

September 21, 2019

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Andrew Gross’s latest novel is a well-done story dealing with falling and subsequent redemption. The book takes place in New York City during a period just prior to the U.S  entering World War II. Europe is ablaze with war with Great Britain, and France was confronting a German military machine set to overrun them. Feelings are running high in the U.S. with than president Franklin Roosevelt trying to keep the country out of the war.  There are groups of pro-Nazi sympathizers pushing an agenda for America to enter the war on the German side and others favoring the Allies.

Charles Mossman is a young man with little or no political agenda who is in the position of just losing his job teaching at the university level and also facing the end of his marriage.  He is in a bar getting drunk, across the street from a pro-Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden in Manhattan when several pro-Hitler men draped in Swastika flags and drunk enter the bar.  Charles gets into a fight with them and in a drunken wild swing accidentally kills a young man standing close to the melee.

Sentenced to prison for one count of accidental homicide, he serves two years and is released into a situation with no prospects for a job due to his prison record and his wife not wanting him around. The only bright spot is that his wife does allow him visits to Emma, his daughter twice a week. They live in a section of New York City with many people showing support for Hitler. In the course of his visits Charles meets neighbors Trudi and Willi Bauer living across the hall from his family and develops a feeling in his gut that these people are not the Swiss they claim they are but secret Nazi sympathizers.

Gross, in a mesmerizing chain of events, tells the story of Charles’ actions and results with what he knows and what he finds out. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entrance on the side of the allies in the war is a well-described background to the story. Certainly a compelling all night read, “The Fifth Column” continues the author’s sequence of excellent books.

9/19 Paul Lane

THE FIFTH COLUMN by Andrew Gross. Minotaur Books (September 10, 2019). ISBN 978-1250180001. 336p.

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ELEVATOR PITCH by Linwood Barclay

September 18, 2019

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Events in this novel begin on a Monday when an elevator in a high rise office building breaks through its safety features and plunges down, killing all four passengers riding in it. Popular conjecture is that it is a fluke in as much as elevator accidents are fortunately very few and far between. But another accident occurs in a different building on Tuesday indicating quite clearly that these are not accidents. Then again a third accident takes place on Wednesday.

The public in New York City, the scene of the accidents panics and the city is thrown into chaos with doubt in everyone’s mind about the safety of riding elevators up and down going and coming from work.  A body is then discovered that has had its fingers cut off, and is tied to the elevator tragedy.

The novel then follows the work of two New York City detectives and an active journalist in looking at the facts discovered, the possibilities that exist, and key persons to solve the mystery.

Barclay, as is his custom and his talent, grabs hold of his readers and holds them until the very logical ending. Personal facts brought out about each of the individuals working the case make for a better read in the sense that each becomes more of a real person. The use of elevators as murder weapons and the reasons for doing so are clearly explained and help the novel become another typical interesting Linwood Barclay read.

9/19 Paul Lane

ELEVATOR PITCH by Linwood Barclay. William Morrow (September 17, 2019). ISBN 978-1250182296. 464p.