THE HOLLOW MEN by Rob McCarthy

December 20, 2016
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Dr. Harry Kent is a London doctor who moonlights as a police surgeon. After a long night at the hospital, he is called into a hostage situation at a fast food restaurant in south London.

The hostage taker is ill, and Kent gets him into the hospital which turns out to be a major problem – there are people who want him dead, and some of those people could possibly be some of Kent’s colleagues.

D.I. Frankie Noble is on the case, and she is a cop who doesn’t mind breaking a few rules when she needs to. Frankie and Harry become an item, but that just adds to the fun of this lightning fast British medical thriller that also feels like a police procedural at times.

There is a bit of medical jargon sprinkled throughout the book, but fans of ER, Chicago Med or Grey’s Anatomy will feel right at home here, and readers who enjoy fast paced thrillers like those from Val McDermid and Mark Billingham should enjoy this as well.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

12/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE HOLLOW MEN by Rob McCarthy. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (August 9, 2016).  ISBN 978-1101982358. 320p.

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THE HATCHING by Ezekiel Boone

July 9, 2016
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The Hatching Series, Book 1

Boone proves himself a master craftsman in the first book in a series about a hatching and emergence of a species that has lain dormant for hundreds of thousands of years.

Descriptions are posted about the sudden appearance in different areas of the world of a black slithering mass that attacks every living thing it encounters. A tourist in the interior part of Peru is actually eaten by the mass. The Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in a section of their country. Strange seismic activity registers in India.

While the world is shaken by these events, a package is delivered to a laboratory in Washington, D.C with something contained that is definitely trying to get out. The developing of the narrative offers a crescendo of horror that will shake the reader.

Emanating in all probability from a millennium old hibernation period starting in prehistoric times what it is becomes a logical event when the life forms of that period are considered. It is huge, predatory and determined to resurrect its place in nature’s scheme of things.

A brilliantly conceived and developing scenario what it is will just straight out keep the reader up and looking behind him or her while engrossed in the book. This, the first book of the series, sets the stage for what is obviously to develop into a fight for survival by the human race with the cards stacked against it.

7/16 Paul Lane

THE HATCHING by Ezekiel Boone. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (July 5, 2016).  ISBN 978-1501125041. 352p.


FIRST STRIKE by Ben Coes

July 2, 2016
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A Dewey Andreas Novel, Book 6

Since Dewey Andreas’ first appearance in Power Down, Coes has brought him a long way. From a job on an off-shore oil rig in which his long dormant fighting skills acquired as a special forces operator reappeared when the rig was attacked by terrorists, to First Strike, where he has become a highly skilled counter terrorist agent, Dewey has come a long way. What hasn’t changed is the author’s talent for writing a novel in which the action is nonstop. And that is certainly the case here.

The Pentagon has created a scenario in which one handpicked man would emerge as the most powerful leader in the troubled middle east. But the individual selected turns the tables on the U.S.

Tristan Nazir twists the program to create the elite terrorist army of ISIS. When the U.S. is ready to send a final shipment of munitions to Nazir, it becomes suspect that ISIS is receiving the funding to pay for that delivery in order to use the material for their own ends.

Dewey Andreas is sent into Syria to find out what is going on and where the arms are actually being sent. Arriving in Damascus, Dewey is caught and held prisoner, but with the ingenuity he has always exhibited, escapes and returns to the U.S.

The second half of the novel is centered on an ISIS attack on America, which is geared to blackmail the U.S. into releasing the last shipment of weapons to them by a threat almost beyond belief. The action is rapid during the entire novel, but in this lengthy segment is staggering and does not let up. Dewey becomes involved with thwarting the terrorists, and his actions, as well as those of a force aiding him, will keep the reader breathless.

Coes has evolved during his five books involving Dewey Andreas into a master of writing the all nighter. Extremely well formulated and guaranteed to keep his readers awaiting the next book with bated breath.

7/16 Paul Lane

FIRST STRIKE by Ben Coes. St. Martin’s Press (June 28, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250043177.  480p.


TRACER by Rob Boffard

June 27, 2016
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Outer Earth, Book 1

Tracer is the first of a projected science fiction trilogy. It is set in a future where the Earth has been made uninhabitable due to the mishandling by the people living there. The survivors are living in a crowded space station orbiting above the former home to our species. It is at once dirty as well as overcrowded and with hardly any room for people to live.

Riley Hale is a tracer trying to survive by delivering material sent by individuals and receiving payment in food, water or other tradeable items in conjunction with the group known as the Devil Dancers, with whom she lives. Her group has built a reputation of reliable deliveries and no meddling with the products they carry for their customers. She is secretly loved by Parkesh, a laboratory worker. It would appear that Riley is unaware of Parkesh’s adulation.

Rob Boffard’s strong suit is his ability to bring to life the station in which the action takes place. In too many science fiction stories there are situations and products that are described as being present and not really traceable to anything known today. The space station contains people and materials that are believably products of a forced exodus from a dying earth. The conditions described are certainly attributable to an overcrowded situation that is due to huge masses of people forced to flee to an area many times smaller than they are used to.

With a similarity to other dystopian novels, the space station is ruled by a hierarchy of persons whose sole interest is in retaining power and adding to that by their actions. There is also a villain that has the idea that conditions can be made right if the humans on New Earth are eliminated and a new group allowed to evolve.

Boffard’s ending this first part of his trilogy is neatly done and presents the most likely problems to be taken up in book two, Zero G.

6/16 Paul Lane

TRACER by Rob Boffard. Redhook (June 28, 2016).  ISBN 978-0316265270.  448p.

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HELL’S GATE by Bill Schutt & J.R. Finch

June 9, 2016
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This is an extraordinary adventure taking place in the Brazilian jungle during the Second World War. The almost improbable discovery of a Japanese submarine marooned and abandoned is discovered in the jungle. A team of U.S. Army Rangers are sent to investigate and goes missing.

The military then sends a scientist, R.J. MacReady, a wise-cracking, quick thinking and brilliant individual, to follow up on the situation. MacReady parachutes into the jungle of central Brazil and quite by chance meets up with an old colleague of his, who was thought to be dead years earlier. Bob Thorne lives peacefully in this remote area with his indigenous wife, Yanni, who possesses strange and mysterious powers. The duo prove invaluable to Mac during his mission.

MacReady makes the arduous trip to a fog shrouded valley, where he learns of an Axis plot to develop a system to destroy the United States and its allies. The weapon seems like nothing short of science fiction until an afterward by the authors describe it as within the realm of possibility. There is a subplot involving  a dark force attacking both men and beasts at night.

A story of deadly forces played out against the improbable background of impenetrable jungle is guaranteed to keep the reader glued to the book.  With the authors’ afterward, the book becomes a well executed novel about a possible departure from reality, and is a mesmerizing story.

6/16 Paul Lane

HELL’S GATE by Bill Schutt & J.R. Finch. William Morrow (June 7, 2016).  ISBN 978-0062412522.  384p.


THE CORNERS OF THE GLOBE by Robert Goddard

June 6, 2016
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James Maxted Thriller

Robert Goddard is certainly no novice to the literary world. His style, as evidenced in the many books that he has written, is more formal and detailed than most other authors. He can introduce a multitude of details and then tie them neatly together at the end of the book. The Corners of the Globe is no exception.

The principal character is James Maxted, known popularly as Max, who was introduced by The Ways of the World, the first book of the trilogy. Max saw plenty of action as an aviator during World War I and is now in Paris during the peace conference in 1919. The allies, as victors in the Great War, are attempting to come up with peace conditions for Germany and a division of the lands that were conquered.

Max has succeeded in avenging the death of his father, Sir Henry Maxted, who was in Paris as a diplomat. Max feels that there were more factors involved in his father’s death than came out, and returns to Paris to investigate German spymaster, Fritz Lemmer.  Maxted feels that Lemmer is the key to finding out the details of what Sir Henry was investigating, and enlists with Fritz under the false pretensions of working for him. Max’s loyalty is actually to Britain, as he is a member of their Secret Service.

Lemmer sends Max to the Orkney Islands to find and bring back a document that is on one of the German battleships. It is impounded at Scapa Flow awaiting the Paris peace conference’s decision about disposition of the fleet.  Max obtains the document but what it contains causes him to break his cover and rush back to London. Information shown indicates a plot centered upon Japan and the need to recover someone being held there as prisoner.

The need to travel to Japan and events that will probably transpire there are left for the next book of the trilogy. Goddard keeps the reader involved in the details of this book and anxiously awaiting the conclusion in the  third and final book. The only drawback to this is Goddard’s style of presenting a great many details which must await book three for resolution. But it should keep the reader interested and ready for the conclusion.

6/16 Paul Lane

THE CORNERS OF THE GLOBE by Robert Goddard. Mysterious Press (June 7, 2016).  ISBN 978-0802125224.  400p.


FORGIVE ME by Daniel Palmer

June 3, 2016
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There are approximately 21 million children missing in the United States, according to Daniel Palmer. In a heartrending novel, he brings together two scenarios involving children separated from their parents by either family members or strangers.

Angie DeRose has an investigative practice involved with attempting to find lost children and uniting them with their families. She has developed a reputation for expending the energy and time in logical hunts for the missing.

The first scenario Palmer introduces is Carolyn Jessup, a distraught mother coming to Angie’s office in order for her to find her missing daughter, Nadine. Nadine, in the process of running away from home, has been caught up by a group that uses her as a sex slave. Her degradation and the horror of living this life are brought out via the use of a secret diary kept by her and hidden from those that are holding her.

At the same time, Angie’s search for the girl is outlined, showing the slow, torturous path towards a solution and not the fictional treatment of the quick and superhuman actions of a private detective in a novel.  Along the way, Bryce Taggert, a U.S. Marshal helping out with the search for Nadine, is introduced and becomes a love interest for Angie.

The second scenario is Angie’s discovery that all is not as it seems to be with her parents and herself.  The question of whether or not they were involved in a witness protection program begins with the discovery of a photo of a young girl found among her mother’s possessions. On the back of the photo her mother had written the words, “may God forgive me”.

Daniel Palmer has obviously been very affected by the plight of children separated from their families and the fact that the sheer numbers have not elicited national campaigns to find them. The children, even when found, will surely suffer lifelong trauma. If not found, and their unknown fate does leave their family completely devastated. Closure is just a word used by professionals dealing with these cases to try and cause people to get beyond the incident. Palmer does not embellish their feelings, but does describe situations beyond most people’s experience and expectations.

A disturbing novel, but one that is necessary. Very well done.

6/16 Paul Lane

FORGIVE ME by Daniel Palmer. Kensington (May 31, 2016).  ISBN 978-0758293473.  416p.


MERCY by Daniel Palmer & Michael Palmer

May 24, 2016
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Michael Palmer, sadly deceased, is credited as the co-author of this novel. The reason is quite clear; Michael, a medical doctor, utilized the format of medical thrillers in his own novels. Whether the idea is from his father, or based on Daniel’s own extensive research, the novel is definitely an all-nighter for any reader. The plot features a little known medical condition in which a patient with that condition can have a fatal heart attack when frightened.

Dr. Julie Devereux is an outspoken advocate of a patient’s right to die until her fiancé, Sam Talbot, becomes a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident. Faced with many years of lying helpless Sam begs  Julie to help him end his life.

With the help of an organization that has the aim of convincing patients to hang on, with the hope that technology will someday be able to cure whatever the ailment, Julie is able to persuade him to change his mind.  But then Sam suffers a fatal heart attack.  Examination finds that Sam’s heart had the unusual defect that caused him to succumb to a fright.

When Julie begins to investigate other cases involving this little known defect, she finds that against long odds, there have been other cases at the hospital where she works. She also finds herself subject to threats telling her to forego her investigation. When she does not stop, she is accused of a mercy killing of her own. When even this does not get her to forget her investigation, an attempt on her own life ensues.

Events depicted in the book are rapid fire. Medical conditions are explained for the reader, enabling him or her to understand the consequences of each event. Characters are sufficiently developed for an understanding of their motivations. No problem for Daniel Palmer’s place as a major author to continue with constant demand for his books.

5/16 Paul Lane

MERCY by Daniel Palmer & Michael Palmer. St. Martin’s Press (May 17, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250030849.  384p.


FATAL COMPLICATIONS by John Benedict

December 2, 2015
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Doug Landry is an anesthesiologist just out of school and working his first job at a private hospital. His wife is pregnant with their first child and life is looking good until something goes wrong with his first case. Then another disaster happens when a mother-to-be in labor has a bad reaction to the anesthesia and the obstetrician panics.

Landry rushes to the operating room to help out and saves the mother’s life, but his boss, Dr. Katz, puts him on probation. Then another patient has an extremely rare anesthetic reaction and dies, but Landry is suspicious. Something isn’t right but he can’t quite put his finger on it.

When something goes wrong with his wife’s c-section, it is up to Luke to save her and their baby. There is a lot of subterfuge going on in this hospital along with an undercurrent of religious fanaticism, creating a tense page turner of a thriller.

This is a fast moving story but the characters too undeveloped to invoke much emotion or attachment. Fans of medical thrillers from Robin Cook or the late Michael Palmer will feel right at home here.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

12/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FATAL COMPLICATIONS by John Benedict. Oceanview Publishing (December 1, 2015).  ISBN 978-1608091560. 288p.

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HOST by Robin Cook

November 15, 2015
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Robin Cook has in most aspects, pioneered the intelligent medical thriller. He made his bones years ago with the novel Coma, and that novel has continued to be considered his high watermark, so much so that he has apparently utilized a good bit of the format in writing Host.  Not that it detracts from enjoying the present book, but if you haven’t read Coma, it makes it easier to become mesmerized by Host.

Lynn Pierce, a fourth year medical student at Mason-Dixon University, has an otherwise happy life with a very bright future. She’s thrown for a loop when her boyfriend Carl enters the hospital for what appears to be very routine surgery. Due to some unforeseen complication, Carl fails to return to consciousness after the procedure, and an MRI scan confirms brain death.

Lynn enlists the help of a friend of hers, Michael Pender, a fellow medical student, to try and find out the truth of what really happened to Carl. What they discover is apparently a far reaching conspiracy going very far beyond an isolated occurrence during Carl’s operation.

What is really behind Carl’s unfortunate result during a routine procedure and the reasons for it form the major part of the story. Along the path to the truth, Cook’s distrust of Big Pharma becomes part and parcel of the plot involved.

Medical procedures, cause and possible effect, are explained so that the reader who has no medical training can readily understand what has transpired.  An all nighter if there is ever one, which inspires a willingness to want to read future novels by this author.

11/15 Paul Lane

HOST by Robin Cook. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (October 20, 2015). ISBN: 978-0399172144. 416p.