PREDATOR by Wilbur Smith & Tom Cain

March 25, 2016
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Wilbur Smith is a well established author with actions generally  centered in Africa. His protagonists are always men and women of action involved in stories of events that are never sedate or ordinary. He has also penned a series of novels involving ancient Egypt and people living at that time. Predator, written in conjunction with Tom Cain, adds events set in Texas and the maximum security prison located at Huntsville into a scenario that also takes in a section of the African continent.

Former SAS major Hector Cross has been introduced in previous books. He had his own security company which he had sold to Bannock Oil after marrying Hazel Bannock the daughter of Bannock’s founder. In a previous novel Cross runs into the arch villain, Johnny Cane. Cross defeated Cane, but did not kill him as he wanted to due to Hazel’s request not to do so. In return Cane killed Hazel making Cross his enemy like never before. Cane is sent to Huntsville to await his execution that had been previously sentenced but on the day that he was to die escapes and manages to leave the US and set up in Africa.

Hector Cross has the contract for security for Bannock Oil, and after a costly mishap to that company in Alaska brings his company to Africa. Bannock is involved in opening a new oil field offshore of Cabinda, a small, but emerging prosperous African nation due to the oil found. CrossBow, Cross’ company, finds itself up to it’s eyeballs in alligators when terrorists organized and financed by Johnny Cane attack and destroy a Bannock oil rig. It is obvious that they intend to cause further harm and the reason why becomes apparent when a woman working for a law firm with Bannock as it’s client finds incriminating evidence involving the lawyer’s actions. She reports her suspicions to Cross, but is killed when the legal firm’s backers realize what she has done.

With Smith’s predilection for continued action the reader is caught up in Cross’ actions to get rid of Johnny Cane, protect Bannock and exact revenge for the killing of both his wife Hazel and the woman contacting him about her suspicions of her firm. Along the way, Hector finds new love with both a  lady, as well as the daughter he had with Hazel before she was killed. There will most assuredly be further adventures involving Hector Cross and his security firm CrossBow. With Wilbur Smith’s ability to mesmerize his readers these novels will certainly be sought after.

3/16 Paul Lane

PREDATOR by Wilbur Smith & Tom Cain. William Morrow (March 22, 2016).  ISBN 978-0062276476.  416p.


THE CAIRO CODE by Glenn Meade

March 6, 2016
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Novels about love existing during the course of war and the strains put upon the lovers by the conflict raging about them are plentiful. The Cairo Code is an excellent book revolving around a segment of World War II and the parts three people play in the drama.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in Cairo, Egypt during November 1943 in order to discuss plans going forward for operation Overlord, the invasion of Europe at a near future date. Hitler had the impression that if this invasion were allowed to take place, it would be the capstone on the defeat of Germany, which he felt was already started. He ordered the assassination of both Roosevelt and Churchill, with the emphasis on murdering the US president as primary.

Major Johann Halder, a brilliant agent of the Abwere, was assigned to head the attempt along with Rachael Stern, an Egyptologist, to accompany him to supply credibility that they were in Cairo to reexamine tombs. Their families had been excavating those tombs prior to the war. Stern, of Jewish descent, was being held at a concentration camp and released to Major Halder with the promise that she would be freed after the successful venture, as well as her parents, who were also being held prisoner by the Nazis.

The Americans, getting wind of the plot, assigned Lt. Colonel Harry Weaver to go after Halder and his party. Weaver was one the best officers the U.S. had and was thought to be the soldier that could foil the plot. The caveat in this was that Harry, Halder and Rachel had  been together at excavations in Egypt with their families prior to the war. They had been close friends but both Harry and Johann fell in love with Rachel, and never knew whether or not she was in love with either of them.

The story revolves around the chase between Harry and his two friends, and if any of them would be able to actually kill their former friends or object of love.  Meade handles the sequences of the chase and reactions of both sides with knowledge that they were facing former great friends and what they would do if they actually met. There was an attempt by the Nazis to kill Roosevelt at the Cairo conference in real life which obviously did not succeed. But the major thrust of Meade’s story involves love tested by being on opposite sides during a world war.

Extremely well done novel with the reader easily being caught up in the emotions and activities of both sides. The ending is not at all telegraphed but does leave the reader with the impression that he or she has just finished one of the most satisfying stories written in a long time.

3/16 Paul Lane

THE CAIRO CODE by Glenn Meade . Pinnacle (February 23, 2016).  ISBN 978-0786037308.  416p.


THE ANTHRAX PROTOCOL by James Thompson

February 21, 2016
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The Black Death occurring in Europe around the years 1346-1356 is undoubtedly the worst pandemic recorded. It is estimated that moving from China through Europe it was the cause of about 75-200 million people being killed before it faded. Theories of what caused it tend towards rats carrying it from ships and to land as well as filthy conditions prevalent in a world without the knowledge of sanitation present today. Due to advances in medicine and preventive methods fears of a plague such as the Black Death have diminished. The conditions causing it have come under control.

The Anthrax Protocol is a very well constructed novel outlining the possibility of a cause not currently investigated that could release another pandemic on mankind. An archaeological dig in Mexico comes upon the discovery of the tomb of Montezuma, ancient emperor of the Aztecs. The tomb has been sealed during the centuries since it became the burial site for Montezuma. Once opened, an ancient strain of Anthrax kills most of the members of the archaeological team before they understand what has happened.

One by one the team suffers from bleeding from the eyes and ears before falling to a painful death. They advise their home office in Austin Texas as well as the CDC in Atlanta of what has happened. A young archaeologist is sent from Austin, meeting with a team from Atlanta, led by Dr. Mason Williams, to close up the tomb and limit the spread of the disease before it becomes widespread.

At the same time, an army officer from Fort Detrick sends a team to secure samples of the anthrax for use as a biological military weapon. The three teams converge, with Williams and the archaeologist attempting to bottle up the plague and the military team ordered to exert every effort to get hold of the Anthrax. With them is a Mayan boy who seemingly is immune to the disease and comes from a village which includes others with demonstrated immunity.

Thompson, in a very ordered manner, quite logically describes how the disease escapes from the site in spite of extreme precautions, moves into Mexico City, than to the U.S. and other cities in the world. The methods utilized in developing a cure and a vaccine to prevent it are described, allowing the reader to follow what, if actually happening, would be a major medical accomplishment.

Thompson’s style is to keep the reader completely involved with the introduction and spread of the disease, showing the possibility of a later day black plague overwhelming mankind. And to set the stage for a possible sequel, there is a love affair developing between Williams and the archaeologist who just happens to be quite attractive. Very well done.

2/16 Paul Lane

THE ANTHRAX PROTOCOL by James Thompson. Pinnacle (February 23, 2016).  ISBN 978-0786037308.  4169p.


SHARK FIN SOUP by Susan Klaus

August 19, 2014

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The young, rich, and good-looking Christian Roberts sails off aboard his luxury yacht on an idyllic Bahamian vacation with his beloved wife, Allie. When they stumble upon long line fishermen illegally killing sharks to harvest their fins, Christian goes after them, freeing the sharks from their lines.

But the anglers respond by killing Allie, and with her last breath, she asks Christian to “save the sharks.” The fins are being harvested for export to China, where shark fin soup is in great demand.

The husband is always the first suspect, and F.B.I. agent Dave Wheeler is called in to help the limited Bahamian police department. Christian takes a polygraph, which is inconclusive, and Wheeler decides to keep a close eye on him.

Christian is heartbroken and depressed about his wife, but determined to save the sharks for her, turning into eco-terrorist “Captain Nemo.” He is helped by retired mob boss Vince Florio, who has no problem with mass murder and arson for a good cause.

Klaus is obviously passionate about her subject, but unfortunately, pedestrian writing and a vigilante hero are unlikely to gain her any support.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SHARK FIN SOUP by Susan Klaus. Oceanview Publishing (August 19, 2014). ISBN 978-1608091232. 340p.


DEADOUT by Jon McGoran

August 5, 2014

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Detective Doyle Carrick and Nola Watkins (Book 2)

McGoran brings back Philadelphia detective Doyle Carrick and his girlfriend Nola in another intriguing eco-thriller that takes the GMO food angle first explored in Drift to a whole new level.

The bees on Martha’s Vineyard appear to be dying off at an accelerated rate, leaving the farmers to hand pollinate their crops or use GMO bees. A large agribusiness has offered to test out their lab created bees on the island, but not everyone wants them there.

A weekend trip to the Vineyard lands Nola a job on an organic farm and her new boss, Teddy Renfrew, is especially vociferous about keeping the GMO bees off the island, to the point where he may be endangering a deal his father has cooked up. The senior Renfrew hires Carrick to keep an eye on Teddy, who definitely doesn’t want the interference. But when someone takes pot shots at Carrick, he realizes there is something deadly going on.

The characters are never fully realized here, and the story gets bogged down with the technicalities of the dwindling bee problem, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Fans of Drift and other eco-thrillers will want to read this.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DEADOUT by Jon McGoran. Forge Books; First Edition edition (August 5, 2014). ISBN 978-0765334718. 400p.