A John Wells Novel, Book 12
In 2007, Alex Berenson published his first novel featuring John Wells. The concept behind this warrior was incredible. He was working for the CIA and somehow had infiltrated a field unit of the terror group Al Quada remaining with them for three years. He learned their language, learned their methods, and thought highly enough of their religion to become a convert. His return to the CIA was forced by having to openly turn on the group he was with in order to forestall an attack on the west.
In this book, Vinnie Duto, former head of the CIA, is now the president of the United States. He calls John into his office after an attack by terrorists occurs in Dallas, Texas. It is the most horrific attack ever and John is positive that he would be assigned to go after the perpetrators. Somewhat to his surprise the president does not want him to investigate Dallas but to travel to Columbia to pick up information from an old asset living there and deliver it to headquarters. However, the trip turns out to be one of the deadliest assignments John has been assigned to. It brings him into a world of sleeper cells, sniper teams and double agents high up in the United States government.
The information obtained also seems to point out a plot by the Russian government to initiate a coup to take over the American government. And the attack on Dallas is found to be related to the scheme.
Berenson’s John Wells novels are all punctuated by constant action and “The Deceivers” is no exception. A turn in the enemy Wells faces seems to be broadcast by the possibility of the Russian government being involved in planning a coup. The author slightly plays down the possibility of radical Islamists being the cause of world wide terrorism by introducing several Muslims who are against these actions. But whoever the real enemy is John Wells being a part of US anti-terrorism activities will remain in the fight supplying the reader with one engrossing book after another.
2/18 Paul Lane
THE DECEIVERS by Alex Berenson. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (February 6, 2018). ISBN 978-0399176166. 448p.
Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites
Deb Perelman has a wonderful food blog that has endured for many years, probably because her recipes are great and she is so personally involved. Her cookbook feels just like her blog, and every recipe has a story that goes with it – maybe where the recipe started from, or why her kids like it, or why her husband likes it, or how and why she tweaked it. In other words, her voice shines through and it is a voice worth listening to. She got me at the introduction –
The table of contents:
Introduction: Against Drudgery
Soups and Stews
Sandwiches, Tarts, and Flatbreads
Tarts and Pies
Puddings, Frozen Things, Etc.
Apps, Snacks and Party Foods
To be fair, a not so healthy chunk of this book is dessert based. Deb is a great baker, and her recipes are easy to follow if not always easy to make, if that makes sense.
Deb’s cookbook philosophy is that you shouldn’t have to turn a page to make something, and she fails at that spectacularly here, but I didn’t care.
I made her “Perfect Blueberry Muffins” and while they were good, I wouldn’t say perfect, though to be fair, I’m not sure what a perfect muffin is. I expected these to be larger than they were for some reason, probably because in the explanation of the recipe Deb says, “this makes 9 much prettier towering muffins.” Not so towering, they looked like regular muffins to me. And they stuck to the paper muffin liners. On the other hand, “Loaded Breakast Potato Skins” may be my daughter’s new favorite food. Think of a regular loaded potato skin, all cheesy, with bacon and scallions, and then bake an egg in it. Pure joy! Up next in my kitchen will be “Chicken and Rice, Street Cart Style.” I’m waiting for my husband’s next camping trip, he hates chicken so I’ll make it while he’s gone.
The thing that has been getting the most buzz is “The Party Cake Builder,” an easy solution to making birthday cakes (or any other occasion cakes.) This is well thought out, easy to follow and make your own. Worth the price of admission!
2/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
SMITTEN KITCHEN EVERY DAY by Deb Perelman. Knopf; First Edition edition (October 24, 2017). ISBN 978-1101874813. 352p.
A very tightly written and plotted novel about a young man working for the Israeli government. For personal reasons he makes the decision to approach the American government via their embassy and offer to provide them with information about secret Israeli activities. The offer is snapped up by the agent that he talked with and Alon the young man is interviewed and accepted as a contracted mole. In a completely unexpected turn of events the man accepting Alon is actually a mole in his own right working for the Soviet government.
Alon rises up in the ranks of the Israeli government and becomes a key adviser to the Prime Minister. All the while he has been feeding information to his handler thinking it is going to the Americans when it is actually being sent to Moscow. Suddenly a hint that a spy is entrenched within the high ranks of the Israeli government causes a team to be assembled to catch him and if possible his handler as well. The chase takes the team from Tel Aviv and Moscow into the United States.
The pursuit of the spy by the team’s members is extremely well depicted with reactions of all involved ringing true in the settings of the novel. De Shalit has another book coming out shortly and due to his previous real life position as a high ranking official in the Israeli intelligence community it is a safe bet that that novel will be equally as mesmerizing as “Traitor.”
2/18 Paul Lane
TRAITOR by Jonathan de Shalit. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (January 30, 2018). ISBN 978-1501170485. 320p.
I’m always happy when Lisa has a new book out and she wants to pay a visit here. This one is especially timely. I always learn something fascinating and hope you do, too!
WHAT IS QUALITATIVE EASING AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
If you are like or have a spouse like mine, addicted to the 24-hour news channels, you may have heard more than you cared to about ‘qualitative easing’ as a response to the past decade’s financial crisis. The plan of the Federal Reserve was to first, buy ‘troubled assets’ from banks and financial firms. This took these bad investments off their books and raised their credit scores, as it were, so that they were more able to buy and sell as normal and get the economy moving again. If the economy is an engine, credit is the gas. Second, the Fed bought Treasury securities with the same goal.
Critics read this as the Fed printing money, wagonloads of it, and as we all know from countless Batman and WWII thriller plots, that would cause runaway inflation and plummet the value of a dollar. This is something like what Japan did after their 1991 crisis, and it didn’t work out so well for them.
But the Fed made these purchases by creating reserves, not by printing more cash. This is a very difficult concept to grasp and I can’t quite get it myself, but it means they create an account in the name of the bank for the purchased items. Therefore the securities go from being a liability of the bank’s to an asset held in reserve. These are eventually resold (at a profit, don’t ask me how—this profit goes to the Fed and, as all their profit is, turned over to the Treasury to reduce the national deficit). These events are more like loans than purchases, and they do not affect the amount of cash in circulation at any point in the process, and therefore cannot affect inflation or deflation. (The surest proof that the Fed was not ‘just printing money’ is that the inflation rate stayed at 1.4%. Which is actually not good—zero inflation is not the goal as that means that the economy has stagnated. An inflation rate of between two and four percent is considered ideal.)
Did this ‘fix’ the problem? Partially. The economy started growing again in 2009, only a year and a half after the crash, but the job market did not. Unemployment stayed high, and then the European market crashed. So QE#1 ended in March 2010, but QE#2 began. (Which does not, to my eternal disappointment, refer to a cruise ship.) In the #2 round the Fed decided not to replace the Fannie and Freddie Mac mortgage backed securities, which was a good way to passively tighten up money over time, but kept purchasing the Treasury securities. Again, this avoided messing with the money supply and the inflation or deflation that might result, but gas and food were still high, credit was tight, and unemployment off the charts.
For QE#3, September 2013 to October 2014, the Fed returned to buying Fannie and Freddie securities as well as Treasury ones. Many of these policies were open-ended so some activities continued until QE4 began in June 2017. QE#4 was meant to be the most passive approach to date, simply letting the securities mature instead of replacing them, eventually condensing the national balance sheet. The unemployment rate is well below 5%, inflation hovering around 2%.
Okay, so, why do you care? First of all, inflation and unemployment rates affect everyone. Second, it’s important to see that how the 24-hour news channels characterize events is dependent on what agenda they’re pushing, and a little information can help us take that agenda with a much-needed grain of salt.
But were these QEs and securities and reserve-creating the best thing to do? Who knows? Econ students will be debating these strategies and responses for decades to come. Some might try to make the argument that these responses aggravated an already bad situation. Most will argue that, as bad as things got, they would have been much worse if the government had simply gone the austerity route (like Europe) or done nothing at all. The 2008 crisis created uncharted territory, so there will never be a way to know for sure.
A Gardiner and Renner Novel (Book 3)
Bestselling author Lisa Black takes readers on a nailbiting journey to the dark side of justice as forensic expert Maggie Gardiner discovers troubling new details about her colleague Jack Renner, a homicide detective with a brutal approach to law and order . . .
The scene of the crime is lavish but gruesome. In a luxurious mansion on the outskirts of Cleveland, a woman’s body lies gutted in a pool of blood on the marble floor. The victim is Joanna Moorehouse, founder of Sterling Financial. The killer could be any one of her associates.
Maggie knows that to crack the case, she and Jack will have to infiltrate the cutthroat world of high-stakes finance. But the offices of Sterling Financial seethe with potential suspects, every employee hellbent on making a killing. When another officer uncovers disturbing evidence in a series of unrelated murders, the investigation takes a surprising detour.
Only Maggie recognizes the blood-soaked handiwork of a killer who has committed the most heinous of crimes—and will continue killing until he is stopped. Burdened with unbearable secrets, Maggie must make an agonizing choice, while her conscience keeps telling her: she’s next.
PERISH by Lisa Black. Kensington (January 30, 2018). ISBN 978-1496713544. 320 p.
About the Author
Lisa Black has spent over twenty years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into six languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s list and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.
Welcome to the February bookshelf of signed thrillers! This month the International Thriller Writers have provided some excellent thrillers for you to win. To enter, go to the Win Books page. More books may be added throughout the month, so check back often.
Best of luck!
INTO THE BLACK NOWHERE by Meg Gardiner, An UNSUB Novel, Book 2: An FBI profiler is forced to navigate the twisted mind of a charismatic, ruthless serial killer responsible for the murders of a series of women in southern Texas, in a thriller inspired by the case of Ted Bundy. By the Edgar Award-winning author of China Lake.
LOOK FOR ME by Lisa Gardner, D. D. Warren, Book 9: Detective D. D. Warren teams up with Flora Dane from Find Her in an investigation involving the sinister disappearance of a 16-year-old girl whose family has been brutally murdered. By a #1 New York Times best-selling author.
A DEATH IN LIVE OAK by James Grippando, Jack Swyteck Novel, Book 15: When the president of a black fraternity is murdered, defense attorney Jack Swyteck navigates a maelstrom of racial uprisings as he investigates the chief suspect, an effort that is further challenged by the case’s eerie similarities to a Jim Crow-era lynching. By the New York Times best-selling author of The Pardon.
THE HUSH by John Hart: The only writer in history to win consecutive Edgar Awards for Best Novel, New York Times bestselling author John Hart returns to the world of his most beloved novel, The Last Child. Johnny Merrimon is struggling to avoid notoriety by moving into the wilderness 10 years after the events that transformed his life and hometown, a decision that his longtime friend, Jack, fears is subjecting Johnny to malevolent forces.
THE GATE KEEPER by Charles Todd: An encounter with a frightened woman standing over a body launches an inquiry that leads Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge into a dangerous confrontation with a stealthy killer and his own painful memories. By the New York Times best-selling author of the Bess Crawford mysteries.
PERISH by Lisa Black: Maggie and Jack investigate the brutal murder of the founder of a large financial company and enter the cutthroat world of big finance, but their investigation takes an unexpected turn when disturbing evidence emerges in an unrelated series of killings.
THE HONORABLE TRAITORS by John Lutz: A secret operative, Thomas Laker—when a Washington, D.C. insider is killed in a bomb explosion—must team up with cryptographer Ava North to stop another act of terrorism and as they search for clues, they discover one of history’s greatest—and deadliest—secrets.
HIGH TREASON by DiAnn Mills: When someone attempts to assassinate a Saudi Prince on U.S. soil, FBI Agent Kord Davidson and CIA Operative Monica Alden head up a task force to keep the Prince safe and find those responsible to avoid an international incident that could have devastating consequences.
What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors.
Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner
Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books page for more information on all these books and how to enter this month’s contest.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
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.
1/18 Paul Lane
KILLER CHOICE by Tom Hunt. Berkley (January 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0399586408. 352p.
Snow is a typical novel by the very prolific Mike Bond. It has bad guys and good guys set against each other in an environment, to say the least, hostile for all involved. And that environment is definitely snow and lots of it.
Zack, a former NFL star and currently renowned sportscaster and his friend Steve a successful wall street broker meet every year in Montana with their guide and friend Curt to have a boy’s time out and go hunting for elk. This year each has a money problem – that is a lack of it, and a need for it sooner than later.
Introduced is the discovery of a crashed private plane with a cargo of two coffins. The coffins filled with high grade cocaine multi millions of dollars worth even at low end street pricing.
The three individuals each have thoughts about what selling the drugs will do to get them out of their monetary problems. They find that someone survived the crash and walked out of the area certainly to get help in transporting the cocaine to a place where it could begin its normal journey into the hands of the people addicted to it and desperate to get it.
Diego is the name of the individual tasked with taking care of bringing the drug to Maria Christina the lady that is in charge of the cartel’s operations in the US. Diego has a crush on her and imagines that if he is successful in handling the tasks given to him by Maria she will someday decide that he is worth her devotion and marry him. These five people are the main players in the novel and Bond does a good job in fleshing them out a process also including those that love them.
The book is not overly complicated and the reactions of all those involved are easy to follow. The ending is a predictable one for those taking part in the story and provides a more than satisfactory ending. Well done and certainly continuing to enhance Bond’s reputation as an author of captivating novels making his next works eagerly waited for.
1/18 Paul Lane
SNOW by Mike Bond. Mandevilla Press; First Publication ed. edition (October 1, 2017). ISBN 978-1627040372. 268p.