CENTRALIA by Mike Dellosso

June 14, 2015
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Centralia is an adventure into the surreal with questions and puzzles from beginning to end. The reader is led into a fascinating adventure in which many clues to what is going on are recorded but final answers only at the end.

Peter Ryan awakens one morning with a big question in his mind. He has been told that his wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident, but suddenly he knows that they are alive. His phone call to a neighbor gives him the information that indeed his wife and daughter are dead, and both Peter and they attended the funeral several months ago. But Peter is now becoming more and more sure that both are alive, and that fact is supported by the discovery of a note from his daughter in her handwriting.

At the same time, his home is broken into by armed men who attempt to kill him. Skills that Peter did not remember having return and he takes out the killers like a professional without knowing where he learned them.

Ryan leaves his home and begins a search for his missing family believing only that they went to Centralia due to information on his daughter’s note. In searching for them he unearths information that leads further into the investigation. There are many twists and turns making the plot one of working within the surreal in order to find answers. The novel is a fast read, keeping the reader locked into it and wondering what is the truth in all of these findings, including who is Peter Ryan and what was his background.

6/14 Paul Lane

CENTRALIA by Mike Dellosso. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (May 21, 2015). ISBN: 978-1414390413. 400p.

CONSTANT FEAR by Daniel Palmer

June 12, 2015

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Jake Dent was a hot prospect for major league baseball when his dream fell apart due to a drunken driving accident. His baseball days were over, and to top off the matter his wife left him and his son Andy to go and find herself. Jake finds some relief in the annals of a popular survival blog and raises Andy also to prepare for the doomsday he foresees is coming. He also obtains employment as a custodian in the prestige private school “Pepperell Academy and manages to enroll Andy in that school and maintain him there due to the employment he has with them.

Andy becomes friendly with a group of four other students that have picked up the practice of pirating small sums of money from very rich people via computer hacking. They then disburse the funds taken to people they deem needy of such charity. Generally the money taken is not missed by the wealthy people they take from, but one such robbery results in getting the huge amount of several hundred million dollars held in the form of bit coins. Unfortunately the amount belongs to a Mexican drug cartel that sends a hit squad to get their money back. These people trace the theft to students at Pepperell and stage a chemical truck spill as a ruse to get to the students that stole the money – the group of five that Andy belongs to.

Jake’s survival training and the cache of weapons and equipment he has stored in tunnels under the school are brought to bear when Andy’s group are taken hostage by the cartel soldiers. It appears likely that the computer group will be killed if they either do or don’t give up the bit coins which are held solely as online deposits.

The novel is fast, engrossing and keeps the reader glued to the book. Palmer presents various twists and turns to arrive at a logical conclusion. A good read and one guaranteed to bring the reader back again and again for books by Daniel Palmer.

6/14 Paul Lane

CONSTANT FEAR by Daniel Palmer. Kensington (May 26, 2015). ISBN: 978-0758293459. 416p.

MEMORY MAN by David Baldacci

June 9, 2015

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Amos Decker series
David Baldacci introduces another protagonist into his very wide field of principal characters. Meet Amos Decker, a man who has had his taste of personal glory and lost it.

He began as an athlete with a promising career in football. Unfortunately, on the very first play in the first pro game he played he was knocked out by a vicious block from a member of the opposing team. As a result, he was no longer physically able to continue in pro football, but as recompense he found that he strangely remembers everything that happens to him; what is termed an eidetic or photographic memory.

Amos becomes a police officer and then a detective, using his talent as a means of solving cases. Unfortunately, a second incident occurs about two decades after his football injury, which changes his life forever.

Returning home one evening, he comes upon the horror of finding his wife, daughter and brother-in-law brutally murdered. Decker’s world collapses; he leaves the police force, loses his house and ends up living on the street, taking private detective jobs when he can to keep his head above water. His eidetic memory continues to keep the discovery of his slaughtered family fresh on his mind, living with the knowledge that after a year no clues have been found.

A year after the killing, a man comes into the police station and confesses to the crime. At the same time the city where he lives experiences a horrific crime. Amos is called in to help with both incidents by the police department he had worked for.

At this point, the reader will be treated to an Arthur Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes type scenario where Amos builds up to solving the cases by logic. One bit of accrued knowledge after another builds towards the solutions and allows Amos to work out the details which will solve the mysteries.

Baldacci has created another interesting protagonist to utilize to full effect in his books.

6/14 Paul Lane

MEMORY MAN by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing; First Edition / First Printing edition (April 21, 2015). ISBN: 978-1455559824. 416p.


June 6, 2015
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A Novel of the Civil War

With the writing of The Fateful Lightning, Jeff Shaara brings to a conclusion his monumental work about the Civil War in the West.

The book follows the style of the preceding presentations in the series. It is painstakingly researched and documented. Studied examinations via writings, written accounts and third person descriptions of a select group of participants bring them to life for the reader. Using literary license based on careful study, thoughts, conversations and opinions read, conversations and remarks of the characters involved allow supposed dialogs to be attributed to the leading protagonists  presented as pivotal to the story told.

The book opens as the city of Atlanta is captured by union forces, burned and creates a departure point for General William T. Sherman’s famous march to the sea. In the eight months covered by the book there are no major battles fought, but a long series of skirmishes between the opposing forces that push the Confederacy back and lead to their ultimate surrender.

Leading characters involved and followed in the narrative go from General Sherman, who was second to Ulysses S. Grant commanding the Union armies, to General Joseph Johnston, Confederate general who agonized over the need to surrender to Sherman in order to avoid further unnecessary bloodshed. The adventures of a slave freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, named only Franklin, are included, indicating his need to follow Sherman’s army in order to eat and find protection.

Franklin’s adventures are chronicled in later reports about him, indicating that this man actually lived and experienced the trauma of becoming a free man and finding a place in society for himself and his wife.

Shaara’s disdain for the Southern president Jefferson Davis and his inability to recognize talent is evident in the blame placed on him for his major contribution to the defeat of the Confederacy. The normally accepted surrender by Robert E. Lee to Ulysses Grant is shown to be just the first surrender of a southern army. Sherman and Johnston’s later dialogs and decisions regarding surrender are considered by Shaara to be of greater import than the short meeting between Grant and Lee.

The attempt by the Union’s Secretary of War to impose harsher sanctions on the south and Sherman’s fight to retain the original conditions met in the surrender at Appomattox courthouse are an obstacle not covered by most historians.

A brilliantly conceived and written series of historical works delineating the agonizing conflict of Americans against Americans is brought to a satisfying conclusion by The Fateful Lightning.  One wonders if Shaara can find the proper field to bring forth his next book. I hope that his energy level will permit this to be done in the near future.

6/14 Paul Lane

THE FATEFUL LIGHTNING by Jeff Shaara. Ballantine Books (June 2, 2015). ISBN: 978-0345549198. 640p.