IN PRIOR’S WOOD by G. M. Malliet

April 21, 2018

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A Max Tudor Mystery, Book 7 

Malliet presents the 7th book written featuring Max Tudor, the Vicar of his church in the village of Nether Monkslip, situated in a charming rural section of England. Max is quite happy in his chosen role after a career with British Intelligence as an agent for MI5. He is married to a lovely lady, has a young son and is very content with his role in life.

Unfortunately, Max seems to attract murder like a fly to honey and has proven quite a help to DCI Cotton of the local police in solving these cases.

Just returning from a trip with Cotton to help with a case in another town, Max wants nothing more than to relax and concentrate on a sermon he plans to give about the ancient Israeli King David and his lust for Bathsheba. David had committed the sin of sending Bathsheba’s husband to die during a war so that she could be his wife.

Just getting involved in the sermon, the town is confronted with the apparent murder and attempted suicide pact of the wife of the local manor lord. Max is plunged into helping to solve the crime and away we go. It is probably not appropriate to use the term “charming” about a case of murder, but Malliet’s prose brings this adjective to mind. There are no grisly murder scenes depicted, merely statements that these occurred. Life in Nether Monkslip is modern; computers are used, e-books are read and the people are affected when bad things happen.

The novel is a fun read, certainly not deep nor devious, quite satisfying and certainly sure to whet the reader’s appetite for more of these books.

4/18 Paul Lane

IN PRIOR’S WOOD by G. M. Malliet. Minotaur Books (April 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250092809. 304p.

WARNING LIGHT by David Ricciardi

April 19, 2018

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Zac Miller is a long term employee of the CIA who is currently based in London. He is not a field operative, has never “run” someone that is bringing in important intelligence work for the US. His work is devoted to the necessary administrative tasks that are indispensable for the agency to function but never bring in the glory attached to spy work.

The novel opens with Zac on a trip to Paris to meet with a young lady that he already has met and would like to get to know better. Nothing is further from his thoughts than possibly taking on a secret mission and acting as a spy. Suddenly his world changes; a phone call from his boss advises that a man destined for a mission to Iran has taken ill and cannot go. Reluctantly Zac is assigned to go in the other agent’s place, in spite of the trepidation felt by his supervisor.

The plane he boards, destined for the far east, experiences engine trouble, cannot continue on its planned flight, and is forced to land at an airport in Iran. That is where Zac’s troubles start. He takes pictures of the area on his phone’s camera acting as a normal tourist would and is arrested and detained by the Iranian secret police. The why of this is part of the tale spun here.

Where Zac goes, how he does it, are fascinating views of a world in conflict in the Middle East. The research done in describing the action Zac becomes involved in is painstaking and succeeds in delivering a view of a zone that has been in conflict for many years. The statement “an all nighter” is apt but really doesn’t describe what a reader will find happening to him or her once the book is opened. I felt quite satisfied in arriving at an ending logical for this novel, but allowing enough questions to remain to logically expect another novel to follow this one shortly – can’t wait!

4/18 Paul Lane

WARNING LIGHT by David Ricciardi. Berkley (April 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399585739. 336p.

BIG GUNS by Steve Israel

April 17, 2018

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A completely unabashed tongue-in-cheek look at American big business, big businessmen, Congress, the Senate and of course our president. I knew that this book was a comedy when I started it, but the remarks, the actions described and the characters are truly larger and a lot funnier than I expected.

The story opens with the mayor of Chicago desperate to somehow stop the myriad number of shootings and murders going on in his city. He therefore decides to push the Federal government into passing a law making firearms illegal. We know that this would infringe on our second amendment rights to carry and bare arms and commit mayhem to our hearts content so the blow back begins.

Otis Cogsworth, the wealthy owner and CEO of Cogsworth Arms company who we find enjoying a well deserved time out in the Long Island town of Asabogue, feels that such a law would interrupt his continued surge forward to becoming a multi-billionaire. He therefore directs his lobbyist Sunny McCarthy to get a Congressman to present a bill to force everyone to carry a gun. Complicating the matter, Lois Leibowitz, the mayor of Asabogue, and incidentally Sunny McCarthy’s mother, gets a law passed banning guns in her town. Cogsworth retaliates against Lois by financing an election between Jack Steele, a wealthy resident and former movie star, and her.

What happens and who does what to whom becomes the funniest set of circumstances possible. All I can say is that the reader’s stomach will be tender from laughing so much. In the midst of all the serious happenings in the world today, Big Guns should be made required reading as a necessary time out.

4/18 Paul Lane

BIG GUNS by Steve Israel. Simon & Schuster (April 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501118029. 320p.


April 14, 2018

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Lelic presents us with a novel that looks at the question of how our childhood and family background affect our adult life.

Jack and Syd, boyfriend and girlfriend, find a house they like in London. It is large enough to satisfy their needs, although cluttered with the items belonging to the previous owner. The former owner had suddenly decided to move to Australia in order to be with a woman he met on line. His house then enters the market in a London suffering from a shortage of homes for sale. Jack and Syd submit an application, which much to their surprise, is accepted by the owner in spite of the couple bidding below the asking price.

The format used in telling the story is alternating sections narrated by one of the two. It is in this way that we find out that Jack is a product of a well-to-do family that is not accepting Syd.  On the other hand, Syd grew up in a home in which her father was a pathological bully, browbeating and stifling her until she moved away. Syd’s younger sister dies of a disease after Syd leaves home.

The initial set of incidents presented in the novel include mysterious footsteps and noises throughout the house leading to the possible existence of ghosts. In addition, Syd meets a young girl from the area who is suffering from an abusive father in a manner that reminds her of her own horrible childhood. Both circumstances contribute to the effectiveness of the book’s plot.

During their individual narratives, Lelic shows how both Syd and Jack react to events occurring when in the house. The move forward for both of them is very well handled and the changes in attitude of both of them are tied to their past. The novel is a fascinating study of past being prologue and character shaped during a period of great stress. The book is very well done and invites a good deal of thought about the meaning of the narrative. An engrossing novel not easily forgotten by the reader.

4/18 Paul Lane

THE NEW NEIGHBORS by Simon Lelic. Berkley (April 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-0451490452. 352p.


March 24, 2018

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The phrase,”revenge is a dish best served cold,” is a piece of advice with roots in literature possibly stemming from the time of William Shakespeare. Carr’s powerful novel resoundingly takes a different track.

Lt. Commander James Reece is in charge of a group of Navy Seals and certainly a warrior’s warrior. He is sent on a mission to Afghanistan and his entire team is killed and then the group of rangers sent to extract his squad also lose their lives in the attempt.

Sent back to the states, Reece is astonished to learn that another member of the team has committed suicide. With these deaths weighing heavily, a medical exam ordered for him due to unexplained headaches finds that there is a tumor on his brain. The only thing now buoying him up is the expectation that he is going home to his wife and daughter. The final horror hitting him is the discovery that both his wife and daughter were killed in an attack on his house.

Reece must hold himself together in order to avenge the deaths of his men and wife and daughter which he soon finds are related. The action to find and kill those that were responsible comprises most of the novel. He is livid and not knowing if the brain tumor that he has will kill him shortly, moves as quickly as possible with the help of a few friends. One is a young reporter who is aware that there is definitely malfeasance involved in the actions of the upper level military command, a pilot whose life he once saved, and the boss of a Mexican Mafia group.

There is nothing cold involved in Commander Reece’s actions. He is livid, he just wants revenge and expects to die when it is exacted in order to join his wife and family. The descriptions of the manner Reece handles the actions against those on his list of persons to be punished is, to say the least, gruesome and certainly done in hot blood.

One of the obvious opinions Carr brought out in the book is the low opinion he has of the juggernaut of our Federal government. He obviously feels that it has grown too large and become too cumbersome to properly provide good government, and the system of rules and regulations obstruct rather than help the growth of the economy. People are hindered by regulations which serve to basically interfere with their every day lives. Whether or not the novel was written to postulate Carr’s opinions or not it still is an extremely well written and captivating book about the professional military. It is one that the reader will not be able to easily put down until finished.

3/18 Paul Lane

THE TERMINAL LIST by Jack Carr. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (March 6, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501180811. 416p.


March 13, 2018

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A portrait of a woman at the very bottom of feeling self loathing about herself. Cassandra Bowden is a flight attendant with about 20 years working in the profession. She has reached the point that she can bid on and work flights to most exotic destinations in the world.
Unfortunately, she has found the life of always being in different cities completely unsatisfying and empty. She has become a binge drinker often arriving at her destination, getting drunk and picking up a strange man to have sex with little memory of what has happened.
The novel begins with Cassie awakening in Dubai in a hotel room that is not the room nor the hotel that the rest of her flight crew are staying at.  And as many times before, she gets up with a pounding headache and just attempts to find out if she can still make a shuttle at the crew’s hotel to take her to the airport for her assignment on the plane back to the states.
This time there is a vast difference from other times. The man laying next to her has a wide gash in his neck. His blood is all over the bed and he is quite dead, obviously a murder victim.  Cassie begins a series of lies to her fellow flight crew members, to her sister and her family back in the states, and to the FBI waiting for her at the gate in New York. Her thinking is that she will be accused of  murder and doesn’t know how to hide her being in the same room with a murdered man.
As with his other novels, Bohjalian has researched the variables of careers spent going from one exotic place to another at 35,000 feet and always being away from home. Cassie has visited most of the  world, has no family ties except for a younger sister, her husband and children who she rarely sees, and no friends outside of the acquaintances among her fellow crew members. Her life is spent drinking and moving from one one night stand to another with no permanent ties to speak of.
The book moves from the murder to one complication after another for Cassie. Her thoughts and feelings are well described as are those of other key individuals taking part in the story. It is a novel that brings the reader unerringly into its permutations and combinations. A fascinating adventure into what is an environment far beyond the normal one of people whose jobs are within commuting distances from their homes and families and spend evenings with their loved ones.

3/18 Paul Lane

THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT by Chris Bohjalian. Doubleday (March 13, 2018).  ISBN 978-0385542418. 368p.

THE ONE by John Marrs

February 22, 2018

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Our society is filled with formal and informal methods and systems set to introduce two people looking for someone to love and spend their lives with. These include special interest clubs, on line setups via filling out a background form, family groups and matchmakers.

John Marrs postulates a near term future when DNA testing will find one’s perfect mate including all permutations and combinations of individuals. One company, whose founder developed the system of a quick swab in the mouth, will become one of the largest businesses in the world when they corner the market on this method.

Five couples are followed when the swab indicates that they are destined for each other. In addition, Marrs points out the very probable human reactions to the testing when couples married or together for many years begin to doubt their union when each of the two involved take the test and find that they are compatible with someone else.

Presented are a couple who are thousands of miles apart, another where after the test one partner dies, still another where a female police officer is matched with a serial killer who continues his murders while professing love for the cop. In addition, the question of a couple taking the test and finding that the male member has another male as his perfect love, and finally when the founder of the company that perfected the test finds a match via the system.

The author uses a method of going from one set of partners to another throughout the book allowing the reader to relate to the situations faced in this new world. What type of world would such a system create? Can matches crossing international boundaries bring the earth to a point where intentional conflict is passe? Would there be mass divorces due to being found by the test for the couple to be incompatible?

My reaction to this novel was simply that I couldn’t put it down getting totally immersed from the git go. I do believe that most readers will have the same reaction and finish knowing that they have just read something completely different and completely well handled.

2/18 Paul Lane

THE ONE by John Marrs. Hanover Square Press (February 20, 2018).  ISBN 978-1335005106. 416p.


February 11, 2018

Cyber War, Book 1

Boush brings us the first book in what he indicates will be a series about a war between the US and it’s enemies North Korea, China, and Russia.  If volume I is at all indicative of what is to follow we are in for a treat.

The book opens with the sudden advent of the loss of the electrical grid throughout the U.S.  New cars stop suddenly, planes fall from the sky, all lights go out, traffic is a disaster and satellites begin falling down from their orbits above us. Boush indicates that in his personal opinion our electrical grid installations would be simplicity itself to hack into and control.  This is what happens with a technician working for North Korea  who the author utilizes to illustrate what is going  on with the forces allied against America and how this war is being fought.

With Armageddon occurring, the author uses nine people from different areas experiencing the disaster and moving to Portland, Oregon as a possibility to regain some semblance of the now lost civilization.  Two of those nine are depicted taking off from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, losing control and ejecting from the plane before it crashes into the sea.

Another is  Brendan Chogan, an out of work Parking enforcement officer who is introduced as he takes a job interview and told that he has not been successful in getting hired. He is a huge man, formerly a heavy weight boxer whose only desire is providing for his wife and two daughters as best as he can.

The adventures of the nine strangers in safely moving through the disasters around them provide a well orchestrated read about ordinary people suddenly thrust into a situation in which every facet of the civilization they formerly counted on sustaining their lives is gone. Boush is successful in showing these people in moving towards a situation where they are forced to and do adapt to the circumstances they are surrounded with. The novel can easily be read on a stand alone basis, but we are shown enough background to understand that more will come shortly. These books will surely be well received and looked forward to.

2/18 Paul Lane

ALL SYSTEMS DOWN by Sam Boush. Lakewater Press (February 8, 2018).  ISBN 978-0994451279.


January 31, 2018

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One day everything is normal.  People go to work, take trips, go on outings with family. The next day – Armageddon. Iran and North Korea have a pact and attack the United States with nuclear weapons. The destruction is horrific. Millions are killed outright, other millions will die soon after the attack due to radiation poisoning. Not knowing who exactly initiated the attack US elements are ordered to follow prior plans to launch missiles against planned targets. Civilization has come to an end as we know it and survivors must make their way in a scenario not conceived before the attacks.

Tim Washburn presents a frightening, very realistic story about certain survivors that must contend with impossible conditions and somehow come to grips with the horror that exists for them. There are two programmers working for the US government and brought into a meeting initiated by the president. They flee the meeting and begin a journey across half a devastated country to the Texas home of one of them.

A father and his son launch their boat in order to escape the radiation from attacks all over the country, and the crew of an American nuclear submarine after launching their missiles as ordered find themselves at a lose to know what to do. Survivors find themselves contending with conditions never imagined. Money is no good nor are the normal endless supplies of food, medicine and other staples of life available. A barter system somehow arises. Among the items traded for are women and girls who will be used as sex slaves. Vandalism becomes the order of the day and guns and other weapons the norm for anyone that wants to continue surviving.

No punches are pulled by the author. The story describes a nightmare world suddenly placed before those that did not perish during the devastating attacks. The strength of  Washburn’s novel  is the depiction of real people in an unreal world and the lengths they go to simply survive in horror. The ending is just like the rest of the novel. What is there for the survivors and is there any hope for a return to a civilization as we know it. A very well done story describing an impossible scenario.

1/18 Paul Lane

THE DAY AFTER OBLIVION by Tim Washburn. Pinnacle (January 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0786042500. 560p.

SMOKE CITY by Keith Rosson

January 26, 2018

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A well done story of an individual living an extraordinary long life, but with a difference. In the majority of the novels dealing with a life span significantly longer than ordinary, it is the same individual moving through many lifespans having to hide periodically in order to not raise suspicions.

In this book, Marvin Deitz is the latest incarnation of Geoffrey Therage, a man who was the executioner of Joan of Arc in 1431.  Since that event, Geoffrey has lived, died, and been born again many times. In each instance he, or she, as the case may be, regains complete memory of past lives at about the age of one year. The guilt associated with the burning of Joan follows Geoffrey through all his births over the centuries.

The novel begins with Marvin Deitz viewing a TV show featuring a woman claiming to be the reincarnation of the fabled Joan of Arc. He immediately sets out to see the woman in Los Angeles. Along the way, he is picked up by Mike Vale, an alcoholic remnant of a once great painter who made and lost millions with his great talent.  Mike is traveling to attend his ex-wife’sthe funeral of his  who is the only woman he ever loved and who loved him.  She left Mike at a point where he was completely unable to experience a normal relationship due to his drinking.

Rosson’s novel is one that deals with guilt and redemption in a way that will haunt the reader and certainly makes a case for further reading books by him.  A very well done scenario by an up and coming author.

1/18 Paul Lane

SMOKE CITY by Keith Rosson. Meerkat Press, LLC (January 23, 2018).  ISBN 978-1946154163. 330p.