LEGACY OF WAR by Wilbur Smith

May 18, 2021

Courtney Family Novels, Book 16

From the publisher:

A brand-new Courtney Series adventure.

The action-packed new book in the Courtney Series and the sequel to Courtney’s War.

The war is over, Hitler is dead – and yet his evil legacy lives on. Saffron Courtney and her beloved husband Gerhard only just survived the brutal conflict, but Gerhard’s Nazi-supporting brother, Konrad, is still free and determined to regain power. As a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse develops, a plot against the couple begins to stir. One that will have ramifications throughout Europe. . .

Further afield in Kenya, the last outcrop of the colonial empire is feeling the stirrings of rebellion. As the situation becomes violent, and the Courtney family home is under threat, Leon Courtney finds himself caught between two powerful sides – and a battle for the freedom of a country.

Legacy of War is a nail-biting story of courage, bravery, rebellion and war from the master of adventure fiction.


Wilbur Smith has long since established himself as one the foremost authors of our time. His huge legacy of novels has been built around excellent research as well as the gift of being a true wordsmith. Reading his books is always a fascinating adventure with journeys into history of his beloved Africa where he was born. He has used the device of featuring several families to populate his novels which move from ancient Egypt to modern times. His technique is to make all of his heroes and also his bad guys larger than life. The good guys usually experience all that befalls them with an attitude that prohibits doing the “wrong” thing regardless of what is done to do them harm. The bad guys are what you would expect – no principled scoundrels hell bent on doing evil to gain their own nefarious ends.      

Legacy of War utilizes Saffron Courtney and her husband Gerhard.  The two were featured in Courtney’s War, the book prior to this one set during the second World War. Saffron bravely traveled behind enemy lines for England to get information about enemy activity while Gerhard was a pilot in the German air force fighting in the invasion of Russia and the bloodbath that took place at Stalingrad. They are now married with two children and living in what is now Kenya working a huge farm area that is part of the Courtney holdings.     

Gerhard’s brother also lives in south Africa but has a background during the war which makes him a criminal and sought after by the Israeli Mossad to stand trial for his crimes. The first portion of the novel describes Gerhard participating in the chase after his brother with the need for justice outweighing family ties. There is another section devoted to descriptions of the Mau Mau, a native group that is looking, through violent rebellion, to correct their perceived inequities that allow whites to own land while native groups cannot. The violence of this group does take a strong stomach but the descriptions are taken from real life during the time they were active.     

Smith moves into a meeting by Saffron with Jomo Kenyatta a native who became the first black president of Kenya showcasing the entrance of equality between the two races living in the country with the Courtney’s accepting the situation as both a desired and natural occurrence in African history.

5/2021 Paul Lane

LEGACY OF WAR by Wilbur Smith. Zaffre (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1499862355. 480 pages.

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HER THREE LIVES by Cate Holahan

May 15, 2021

From the publisher:

Gaslight goes high-tech in USA Today bestselling author Cate Holahan’s new standalone thriller in which a family must determine who the real enemy is after a brutal home invasion breaks their trust in each other.

Her public life

Jade Thompson has it all. She’s an up-and-coming social media influencer, and she has a beautiful new home and a successful architect for a fiancé. But there’s trouble behind the scenes. To Greg’s children, his divorce from their mother and his new life can only mean a big mid-life crisis. To Jade, his suburban Connecticut upbringing isn’t an easy match with her Caribbean roots.

Her private life

A savage home invasion leaves Greg house-bound with a traumatic brain injury and glued to the live feeds from his ubiquitous security cameras. As the police investigate the crime and Greg’s frustration and rage grows, Jade begins to wonder what he may know about their attackers. And whether they are coming back.

Her secret life

As Greg watches Jade’s comings and goings, he becomes convinced that her behavior is suspicious and that she’s hiding a big secret.  The more he sees, the more he wonders whether the break-in was really a random burglary. And whether he’s worth more to Jade if he were dead than alive.

PopSugar’s Best Mysteries and Thrillers Books of April 2021


Cate Holahan has a tremendous gift for bringing characters she utilizes in her novels to vivid life for her readers. In her current novel, she places her characters into a plot that is as twisty and turny as any I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, making this book into a grab hold adventure into sleepless nights. 

Jade Thompson is a woman that has made a success of herself via the creation and building up an interesting blog involved in design details and sales of products in that area to an increasing number of interested readers. She has also just become engaged to Greg who is an extremely successful architect who has made himself wealthy via becoming involved with the design of big buildings. Greg is in the process of divorcing this wife of many years and has met and fallen in love with Jade. He has asked Jade to marry him with her accepting.     

Greg has two adult children who are not too thrilled with their father becoming engaged to a woman that is very close in age to his daughter and seemingly leaving their mother. The plot thickens when one night Jade and Greg are subjected to a home invasion. Greg suffers a hit to his head by one of the two robbers using a blunt instrument while Jade is hit in the stomach.  She has become pregnant and loses the baby as a result of the blow. She also is robbed of a very valuable ring she received as an engagement present.    

Holahan takes her readers on a rollercoaster ride as besides Jade and Greg, Jade’s mother and Greg’s adult children get involved in throwing around the whys and wherefores of what was the cause of the home invasion if it had anything to do with an engagement that apparently all felt was too soon and ill advised. Believe me when I state that readers will become dizzy from the myriad of  permutations and combinations involved. It will be an experience that will add to the enjoyment of the book and the expectation of reading future books by the author.

5/2021 Paul Lane

HER THREE LIVES by Cate Holahan. Grand Central Publishing (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538736340. 352 pages.

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THE PERFECT DAUGHTER by D.J. Palmer

May 13, 2021

From the publisher:

A thriller that explores the truth or lies behind a teenage girl’s multiple personality disorder, from D.J. Palmer, the author of The New Husband.

Meet Ruby, who speaks with a British accent.

Then there’s Chloe, a perfectionist who strives for straight A’s in school.
And along comes Eve, who is spiteful and vicious.
All of them live inside Penny…
Or do they?

Penny Francone, age sixteen, is a murderer. Her guilt is beyond doubt: she was found alone in the victim’s apartment, covered in blood, holding the murder weapon. The victim’s identity and her secret relationship to Penny give Penny the perfect motive, sealing the deal. All the jury needs to decide now is where Penny will serve out her sentence. Will she be found not guilty by reason of insanity, as her lawyer intends to argue? Or will she get a life sentence in a maximum-security prison?
Already reeling from tragedy after the sudden passing of her beloved husband a few years before, now Grace is on her knees, grateful that Massachusetts doesn’t allow the death penalty.

As Penny awaits trial in a state mental hospital, she is treated by Dr. Mitchell McHugh, a psychiatrist battling demons of his own. Grace’s determination to understand the why behind her daughter’s terrible crime fuels Mitch’s resolve to help the Francone family. Together, they set out in search of the truth about Penny, but discover instead a shocking hidden history of secrets, lies, and betrayals that threatens to consume them all.

The perfect daughter. Is she fooling them all?


D.J. Palmer brings an extremely well researched novel on a theme rarely touched upon to his readers. The story concerns a young girl with multiple personalities that take turns dominating their host. 

Grace and her husband Arthur have two sons who have melded with their parents into a good family. As fate would have it, Grace, while walking in the park, comes upon a young girl that turns out to have been abandoned. The girl, Penny, has little memory of her past but seems to Grace to be a miracle and when the opportunity arises, she and her husband decide to adopt her. To help her regain her memory Penny is sent to various psychiatrists all of whom fail to recognize her symptoms.      

One day Penny learns that her birth mother has moved back near her and decides to visit her.  While there tragedy strikes and the police come finding Penny covered in blood, her birth mother dead as a result of multiple stab wounds and her fingerprints all over the knife found at the scene of the crime. The authorities decide to send Penny to a psychiatric state hospital rather than to prison for evaluation and there await trial for murder.   

Palmer describes conditions prevalent in the hospital where everyone is overworked and it is difficult to provide adequate help for the sick. Based on his research, Penny’s shifts into her other personalities and how they emerge with their own characteristics taking control. It is a fascinating study of conditions that have rarely been described, and when done so are not well illustrated. This is not the author’s first published book and it’s theme and depth certainly add to his reputation as a top tier writer.

NOTE: D.J. Palmer also writes as Daniel Palmer.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE PERFECT DAUGHTER by D.J. Palmer. St. Martin’s Press (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250267924. 384 pages.

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LEVI’S WAR by Julie Thomas

May 11, 2021

From the publisher:

A story of courage and bravery from a Jew behind enemy lines during the Second World War.

How many secrets can one family hold?

Levi Horowitz isn’t a natural-born soldier. But in November 1938, Berlin is a volatile place for a Jew, and the talented young musician secures passage to Switzerland. Instead, Levi is taken to a Danish border checkpoint and from then on his war becomes secret, even from those he loves best.

In 2017, a recording emerges, showing Levi in 1945 and revealing a story in equal parts shocking and heroic. It is a journey that leads him face-to-face with Hitler, and into a position to change the final outcome of the war.

Levi’s War follows on from the enthralling historical novels The Keeper of Secrets and Rachel’s Legacy, this time tracing the story of the eldest Horowitz son. Whether you’re discovering Julie Thomas’s books for the first time, or making a return visit to the saga of the Horowitz family, Levi’s War will leave you utterly breathless.


This is the third and final novel in the author’s planned trilogy about the Horowitz family and events they took part in during World War II.  I have not read the first two books so that certain described situations mentioned in this book are not familiar to me. While it would have helped overall understanding I did not lose complete track of events and could keep up with the flow of this book. 

Levi is a Jewish boy born into a well to do banking family living in Berlin, Germany enjoying life until the horror of Adolf Hitler and his cronies seized power and turned the country into a police state looking to conquer the world. Levi’s father saw what was probably going to happen and sent Levi to live and work in England. He was supposed to establish a base in order to bring over all his family but fate threw him a curve and he began life as a spy thanks to the British government interceding with him, training him as a soldier, and sending him back into Germany to spy on Nazi activities for the allies. 

Levi returns and gets a position with a Nazi unit to both support himself and have access to information needed by his sponsors.  As a young man Levi had developed a love for and a talent for music playing at a concert hall level. This skill helps him in working at his spy craft gaining entrance to homes of the very well connected including the very top: – Hitler himself. Themes running through the novel are Levi’s having to apologize for his Jewishness and also to have to hide the fact that he is gay in a country which makes homosexuality a crime even to killing the person for showing a same sex love for another human being.     

While Thomas shows the amount of research she undertook to tell this story I fault her on jumping helter-skelter from topic and circumstance to something else. There were a few situations where the reader could very easily have lost continuity and interest making it very far from an all nighter. Levi’s constant fixing on his homosexuality is overdone and doesn’t at all help maintain the reader’s interest.

5/2021 Paul Lane

LEVI’S WAR by Julie Thomas. HarperCollins (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1460759622. 320 pages.

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THE GARDEN OF ANGELS by David Hewson

May 8, 2021

From the publisher:

At his beloved Nonno Paolo’s deathbed, fifteen-year-old Nico receives a gift that will change his life forever: a yellowing manuscript which tells the haunting, twisty tale of what really happened to his grandfather in Nazi-occupied Venice in 1943.

The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Awkward fifteen-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he passes, he has secrets he’s waited his whole life to share.

When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness . . .

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.


Italy entered World War II on the side of Germany, no doubt convinced by Mussolini, the Italian dictator that it would be best to ally themselves with Hitler. The love affair between the two did not last through the entire war and while remnants of the Italian army still served with German troops, Hitler sent an army of occupation to Italy to ensure that the country stayed loyal. 

Hewson’s book is set in the city of Venice during the Nazi occupation and does an exemplary job of depicting the horrors inflicted by the Germans on the civilian population. 

Nonno Paolo is a man that lived through the occupation and has kept his ordeals to himself for many years. The novel opens when Nonno is on his deathbed some fifty plus years after the end of the occupation. He calls his grandson to his side and indicates that he wants to communicate something that must remain between the two and not told to the boy’s father.   

Nicco, the grandson, is asked to read a series of manuscripts prepared by his grandfather. What is contained in these writings will be left to Nicco to interpret for himself although his grandfather would like to discuss them with him and get his ideas.     

The family was engaged in building a business involving the highly skilled weaving of fabrics centered in Venice when the Nazis began their occupation. Hitler’s policies of anti Jewish, Gypsy and Homo sexual groups is adopted by Mussolini and incorporated into a code similar to the Nurenberg laws existing in Germany. A conundrum is placed upon the family when they are asked to shelter a Jewish brother and sister that had been in the Italian resistance and ambushed a group of Germany troops. Sheltering such fugitives could mean death to the family caught sheltering them. When it was explained that the sheltering would be only a little while it was decided to go ahead and offer a short term haven for the two.     

In order to help out while there the brother decides to learn how to weave and aid on a project that would bring in some much needed revenue. Nonno and the brother become friends and close during the activity while the sister thinks only of action against the Nazis. Events taking place and the frights endured by all involved are carefully delineated and make for a uniquely rewarding story of another time and the circumstances peculiar to the period. The reader will find him or herself unable to put the book down and commiserating with the participants in the novel.  A very rewarding read culminating in an unexpected but logical ending.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE GARDEN OF ANGELS by David Hewson. Severn House Publishers (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250257208. 304 pages.

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FIND YOU FIRST by Linwood Barclay

May 6, 2021

From the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of Elevator Pitch and master of psychological suspense returns with a riveting thriller in which the possible heirs of a dying tech millionaire are mysteriously being eliminated, one by one.

Find You First starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger one. . . . It’s the best book of his career.”  — Stephen King

Tech millionaire Miles Cookson has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of—except time. He has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and there is a fifty percent chance that it can be passed on to the next generation. For Miles, this means taking a long hard look at his past . . .

Two decades ago, a young, struggling Miles was a sperm donor. Somewhere out there, he has kids—nine of them. And they might be about to inherit both the good and the bad from him—maybe his fortune, or maybe something much worse.

As Miles begins to search for the children he’s never known, aspiring film documentarian Chloe Swanson embarks on a quest to find her biological father, armed with the knowledge that twenty-two years ago, her mother used a New York sperm bank to become pregnant.

When Miles and Chloe eventually connect, their excitement at finding each other is overshadowed by a series of mysterious and terrifying events. One by one, Miles’s other potential heirs are vanishing—every trace of them wiped, like they never existed at all.

Who is the vicious killer—another heir methodically erasing rivals? Or is something even more sinister going on?

It’s a deadly race against time . . .


Miles Cookson has made himself a fortune via founding a highly successful tech company. He can afford anything and everything that he might want. Unfortunately, an exception has made its way into his life. He has been advised that he has a terminal illness that will take his life in a relatively short period of time. 

Faced with this devastating news Miles brings to mind that two decades ago and before the burgeoning of his successful career he went to a sperm bank and was paid to make a donation in order to help his financial status. Now with death facing him Miles realizes that he may have children fathered by his sperm. The horror of this is that there is a good chance that his DNA passed down to those offspring fathered by him, will cause his offspring to have a good chance of developing the disease that is going to kill him.     

Linwood Barclay develops a mesmerizing plot and a good book to dive into based on Miles finding out who the children born with him as the father and where they currently are residing. His searches for them are not as straight forward as they should be when it develops that someone is trying to kill off his children. The why behind the murders involves a carefully constructed plot and the warm emotions stemming from a recognition that the members of the group he fathered are actually his children.

Chloe Swanson, a member of those purported to be Miles’ children, is at first interested in how much she might collect from the very wealthy Miles. Her opinion changes as she gets to know him and she begins helping him with his search while developing a strong feeling towards him as a father figure that she did not have growing up.     

The novel is one that keeps the reader glued to the pages as most of Barclay’s books are. A good addition to the author’s well received works and one that will cause the reader to keep on the lookout for his next novel.

5/2021 Paul Lane

FIND YOU FIRST by Linwood Barclay. William Morrow (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062678317. 448 pages.

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NORTHERN SPY by Flynn Berry

May 3, 2021

From the publisher:

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK
 
“If you love a mystery, then you’ll devour [Northern Spy] . . . I loved this thrill ride of a book.”—Reese Witherspoon

“A chilling, gorgeously written tale…Berry keeps the tension almost unbearably high.” –The New York Times Book Review

The acclaimed author of Under the Harrow and A Double Life returns with her most riveting novel to date: the story of two sisters who become entangled with the IRA

A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the news reporter requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa’s sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face.

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced; the sisters have always opposed the violence enacted in the name of uniting Ireland. And besides, Marian is vacationing on the north coast. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.

When the truth about Marian comes to light, Tessa is faced with impossible choices that will test the limits of her ideals, the bonds of her family, her notions of right and wrong, and her identity as a sister and a mother. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she wants nothing more than to protect the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son, Finn.

Riveting, atmospheric, and exquisitely written, Northern Spy is at once a heart-pounding story of the contemporary IRA and a moving portrait of sister- and motherhood, and of life in a deeply divided society.


A novel set in Northern Ireland during a period of violent action by the IRA in their attempts to force England out of their country and allow for home rule. Tessa and her sister Marian are women experiencing the constant danger of literally living in a war zone. Tessa is a producer for the BBC: Belfast branch, a single mother while her sister works as a paramedic.   

Action begins when Tessa sees a picture of her sister apparently taking part in a robbery of a gas station. Her first reaction is that it is not real – Marian was away on a diving holiday not mixed up in a crime. But sadly it is the truth when her sister contacts her and confesses that she has joined the IRA and has been active in it for several years.     

In a very well set up plot, Berry brings to life the lives of two independent women living in an area subject to the constant threat of war. Tessa is raising a son on the heels of a breakup from the boy’s father. She also holds a responsible job that must be worked at while her sister’s job forces her to attend horrific situations caring for grievously wounded people. The author’s handling of the events of the novel builds up in a crescendo taking the reader along on an ever accelerating pace towards the end of the book. 

I found myself wondering how can a normal life be possible for people involved in the background of an active revolution. The real answer is it can’t, but circumstances, as outlined in Berry’s novel can and certainly do force the two sisters to adapt to what they are caught up in. Their mother also lives in the area and while independent is a source of worry for Tessa and Marian.       

Flynn Berry’s first novel won the Edgar award for best first novel propelling her into the top tier of her profession.  “Northern Spy” does continue evidencing her keen sense of how to set up a mesmerizing plot using a gift for language that is the hallmark of good writers. Join me in awaiting her forthcoming books and spending some very pleasant sleepless nights wrapped up in her novels.

5/2021 Paul Lane

NORTHERN SPY by Flynn Berry. Viking (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-0735224995. 288 pages.

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ANIMAL INSTINCT by David Rosenfelt

April 29, 2021

K Team Novels, Book 2

From the publisher:

The K Team is back in the second installment in this spinoff series from bestselling author David Rosenfelt’s beloved Andy Carpenter mysteries.

Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner, a German shepherd named Simon Garfunkel, are recently retired police officers turned private investigators. Along with fellow former cop Laurie Collins and her investigating partner, Marcus, they call themselves the K Team, in honor of Simon.

The K Team’s latest case – a recent unsolved murder – gives Corey a chance to solve “the one that got away”. Corey knew the murder victim from his time on the force, when he was unable to protect her in a domestic dispute. Now, he is convinced the same abusive boyfriend is responsible for her murder. With some help from Laurie’s lawyer husband, Andy Carpenter, the K Team is determined to prove what the police could not, no matter the cost. What they uncover is much more sinister than they could have imagined.

Known for his dog-loving stories and addictive characters, bestselling mystery author David Rosenfelt presents Animal Instinct, the second installment in this engrossing new series about a dynamite investigative team and their canine partner.


David Rosenfelt has earned a place at the apex of the literary world through his delightfully tongue in cheek novels about the lawyer that does not want to practice law, Andy Carpenter.  Andy has developed a crew that aid him in seeking justice (albeit reluctantly) in providing defense council for a wide variety of worthy clients. His crew also includes dogs which play their part in the goings on. 

Rosenfelt began work on an offshoot group of books featuring the “K” team which included Andy’s wife Laurie, an ex police officer; Marcus, the very strong very silent investigator and all around dispenser of protection when needed; and Corey Douglas, a retired police detective that worked with a German Shepherd named Simon Garfunkel. Andy helped Corey take the dog into retirement with him. This book is the second novel featuring the “K” team although Andy does take a leading role in the proceedings.     

Prior to his retirement, Corey interceded in a situation with a man beating up his girlfriend.  Corey was not able to arrest the individual and continued to feel as if he failed the woman in that nothing would prevent her being the victim of violence in the future. The situation opens when Corey, now a civilian comes upon the woman again and finds her murdered.  Evidence is found implicating him and he is brought up on charges of murder. Andy takes his case and arranges for Corey to be out on bail awaiting trial. The situation than becomes Corey with the help of the other members of the “K” team working to prove his own innocence.    

Same approach as in the novels featuring Andy; lots of humor, wise remarks and the inclusion of Simon Garfunkel and Andy and Laurie’s dogs going against a prosecutor in court that pursues his own brand of justice throughout the trial that is the main part of the book. The novel assumes the same place as the stories featuring Andy – rewarding to read, fun and very light.

Note from the BookBitch: What is going on with this cover??? Worst cover since the original cover of his first book, First Degree.

4/2021 Paul Lane

ANIMAL INSTINCT by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur Books; 1st edition (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250257208. 304 pages.

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THE EAGLE AND THE VIPER by Loren D. Estleman

April 26, 2021

From the publisher:

Part high-octane suspense, part dire warning, The Eagle and the Viper frommultiple-winning novelist Loren D. Estleman reveals how close our world came―at the dawn of a promising new century―to total war.

It’s a time of improvised explosive devices, terrorist training camps, international assassins, and war on civilians. It’s Christmas Eve, 1800.

This much is history: On Christmas Eve, 1800, an “infernal machine” exploded in one of the busiest streets in Paris, France, destroying buildings and killing innocent civilians. It wasn’t the first attempt on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the newly minted Republic of France.

This much is exclusive to our story: Upon the failure of the Christmas Eve plot, the conspiracy takes a new and more diabolical turn.

Posterity knows what became of Napoleon: He led France into a series of military adventures that ended in his defeat, followed by decades of peace. But this future hung on a precarious thread. One man can make history; another can change it.


An extremely well researched book based on a little-known event in the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. The man had recently been elected as First Consul of France during the latter period of the revolution. The threat of the guillotine was still prevalent in a country that was engrossed in attempting to wipe out all traces of royalty without any clear idea of what form of government should eventually prevail. What was termed an “infernal machine,” a huge explosion, was set off on one of the busiest streets in Paris. It was exploded on Christmas Eve 1800 and construed to be an attempt to assassinate Napoleon.     

Estleman describes the France of the moment, a virtual police state with the head Policeman able to assume complete power over the nation indicating that he does so in his role dictated by The First Consul for the good of the country.  The author also postulates a professional assassin termed “The Viper” and hired by members of the government to kill Napoleon.  The Viper’s movements to infiltrate the country and complete his mission to kill The First Consul are outlined in the novel.  There was no indication of such an individual actually existing at that time, but the author presents a very readable novel detailing seizure of power and blame accruing to many places with blame on the assassination attempt.  A forward does indicate that Estleman might be using his book as a vehicle to alert people to the damage that could be done if the truth is hidden and falsehoods take its place.  The act is character assassination and certainly might be a weapon used in changing the image of person or persons that are deemed to be hindering the paths of others from their goals.

4/2021 Paul Lane

THE EAGLE AND THE VIPER by Loren D. Estleman. Thomas & Mercer (March 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1542023863. 336 pages.

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A GAMBLING MAN by David Baldacci

April 21, 2021

An Archer Novel, Book 2

From the publisher:

Aloysius Archer, the straight-talking World War II veteran fresh out of prison, returns in this riveting new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.

The 1950s are on the horizon, and Archer is in dire need of a fresh start after a nearly fatal detour in Poca City. So Archer hops on a bus and begins the long journey out west to California, where rumor has it there is money to be made if you’re hard-working, lucky, criminal—or all three.

Along the way, Archer stops in Reno, where a stroke of fortune delivers him a wad of cash and an eye-popping blood-red 1939 Delahaye convertible—plus a companion for the final leg of the journey, an aspiring actress named Liberty Callahan who is planning to try her luck in Hollywood. But when the two arrive in Bay Town, California, Archer quickly discovers that the hordes of people who flocked there seeking fame and fortune landed in a false paradise that instead caters to their worst addictions and fears.

Archer’s first stop is a P.I. office where he is hoping to apprentice with a legendary private eye and former FBI agent named Willie Dash. He lands the job, and immediately finds himself in the thick of a potential scandal: a blackmail case involving a wealthy well-connected politician running for mayor that soon spins into something even more sinister. As bodies begin falling, Archer and Dash must infiltrate the world of brothels, gambling dens, drug operations, and long-hidden secrets, descending into the rotten bones of a corrupt town that is selling itself as the promised land—but might actually be the road to perdition, and Archer’s final resting place.


David Baldacci is one of the top authors in today’s literary world. His writings encompass a myriad of plots and protagonists. The current novel has all the earmarks of the Dashiell Hammett days when his character Sam Spade born in the classic, “The Maltese Falcon,” became the model for the tough as nails private detective which became a norm for the genre. Looks like Baldacci is entering into this field with the second book featuring Aloysius Archer. 

This novel is apparently a means of setting Archer up a position as a private detective in a firm doing business in Bay Town California. Archer is a veteran of World War II, just four years in the past of the time of this book and having spent some time in prison along the way.     

Archer has corresponded with a private detective working in Bay Town who has indicated he would be willing to talk to him and see if something can be worked out in terms of a job.  Traveling west Archer makes a stop in Reno where he picks up some cash, an exclusive auto and a beautiful young lady who hitches a ride with him in order to try her luck in finding a job as an actress in Hollywood. Arriving in Bay Town, Archer meets the private eye he has set out to talk to: an ex FBI agent: Willie Dash. No surprise that Archer is started working a case as a trial and Liberty Callahan, the girl that hitched a ride with him, is found to be a very talented performer quickly getting a job in Bay Town as well.      

The case Archer is brought into proves to be one affecting the entire area with all sorts of chicanery going on. The ending is no surprise nor is the fact that future Archer novels are in the works. I freely admit that I look forward to anything that David Baldacci writes and will pick them up and devour them. If it is the next Archer book, I won’t quibble if another emanating from his mind comes in before Archer’s reappearance. I’ll read that first and recommend it to the large group that I know is with me in seeking out Baldacci’s works.

4/2021 Paul Lane

A GAMBLING MAN by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538719671. 448 pages.

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