NOTTINGHAM by Nathan Makaryk

August 19, 2019

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Not surprisingly, Nottingham is a novel about Robin Hood and his merry men. But not your ordinary tale of Robin, Little John,Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck and the chaste and beautiful Maid Marion and their struggle against the evil that permeated the county they live in. The author has written quite an interesting version of the legend of Robin.

Instead of complete evil being faced by overwhelming good, Makaryk postulates a story involving people with real motives and why their actions could have led to the tale of Robin being what it is.

In the first place, there is no evidence that Robin Hood and his band ever really existed although the author has done research into the mid 1100’s in England, the period ascribed to Robin Hood and used some of the facts he unearthed in the story.

The story begins at a point where Robin of Locksley and his friend William are serving in the army of king Richard during his crusade in the holy land. They are taking part at the siege of the city of Acre, and planning a near future attack on Jerusalem against the forces of Saladin. During the fight at Acre, it is discovered that a shipment of new weapons needed by Richard if he is to continue to fight has been lost in transit. Robin and William are sent back by Richard to find these weapons and deliver them to the army.

The men detached, on the temporary assignment, find themselves in the midst of problems in and around Nottingham with the current Sheriff unwilling to do anything about it. He is too nice and does not want to offend anyone. Robin and William decide that they have to take care of the problem and dive right in. Robin meets up with his long time lady love Marion and as before they talk about marriage when there is time. William also meets a young lady whose family has become destitute and she must take a servant’s position at Locksley castle. Robin attracts a group of citizens that want to help solving the problems facing Nottingham and follow him into Sherwood forest where they begin robbing rich people riding through. Since Marion is there the author comes up with the basis for the term merry men in relation to Robin’s band. Since Marion had a hand in organizing them they became known as Marion’s men. This is one of the examples of possible fact turning into the source of glorified fiction and creating the legend. There are many other instances where what did happen turns into what is thought to have happened.

Nottingham is a novel that will keep the reader interested and is appropriate for anyone that has read the books and seen the movies dealing with the Robin Hood legend. The length of the book keeps it from being an all nighter and there is a bit too much description of the events that could have turned real life into legend.

Recommendation – read the book, it is different enough in its presentation to the legend making it an interesting read.

8/19 Paul Lane

NOTTINGHAM by Nathan Makaryk. Forge Books (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1250195609. 496p.

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THE WHITE FEATHER KILLER by R. N. Morris

August 2, 2019

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A Silas Quinn Mystery, Book 5

This is the fifth Silas Quinn novel written by the author. While much of the fleshing out of Detective Quinn was done in the previous books it will not deter the reader to come across the character as he appears here. Quinn is picked up just after his previous assignment in which he was required to go under cover in a lunatic asylum in order to solve a case. He arrives back at his headquarters just at the time that England has entered the first World War. The country was in turmoil gearing up for the war with thousands of men volunteering for the army. Quinn’s previous assignment has been changed and he is put under the supervision of another detective who is depicted as incompetent for the job.

Making use of the plot of the book “The Four Feathers” by A.E.W. Mason, Morris sets up the handing out of white feathers to men not in the uniform of their country and deemed cowards during the opening period of WWI. A young girl is found murdered and a white feather is found set into her mouth. Quinn’s new supervisor is shown to be incompetent when he arrests a butcher, innocent of the crime but having a German parent. The man is placed in prison and subject to extremely harsh conditions until Quinn manages to get himself involved as supervisor to the case.

The novel becomes involved with the solving of the crime working within the turmoil of the first two months of WWI. The description of the period shows a great deal of research with several factors built into the novel. There is first, the use of taking fingerprints, a science only a few years old. There is also the introduction of Vernon Kell who is credited with the founding of MI6. Kell notes the fine detective work by Silas Quinn and will probably take a more active role in future novels featuring him.

The writing style does not lend itself to grabbing on and finishing it in one read, but is sufficiently interesting to make it an attractive draw and a well done portrait of detective work in a setting 100 years before our time.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE WHITE FEATHER KILLER by R. N. Morris. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (August 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0727888853. 288p.

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RED METAL by Mark Greaney & H. Ripley Rawlings IV

July 22, 2019

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The authors, one whom is an experienced combat officer, have combined to present a picture of what real war is like. There are no descriptions of computers fighting one another, but of real men and women doing battle with modern weapons with many casualties as a consequence.

Several years prior to the opening of the book Russia was driven from possession of three Rare Earth Mineral mines located in Africa in the country of Kenya. The Russian prime minister now feels that it is time to retake those mines and orders two troop movements. The first is an attack across Poland and into Germany drawing the United States and NATO allies into defending those countries. Using this assault as a means of taking attention away from her real target the Russian military will than utilize a second assault into Kenya in order to capture the mines.

The authors utilize back and forth reactions by both sides on the two fronts to tell a masterful story of war. First, the Russian attack driving through Poland brings reactions from a poorly outfitted Polish army, but than occasions the decision by armed citizenry to fight the invaders. A young Polish girl whose normal occupation is as a barista in a coffee shop becomes a hero as she begins to lead other citizens into the defense of their country. The Russian side is depicted by military officers who are in tune with the war and want to make sure that they stand out for recognition for their efforts.

The second phase is a defense by American forces of the mines in Kenya. At the point of undertaking this defense the U.S. navy is engaged in a “show the flag” contest with the Chinese and are forced to sail across the world to take part in the defense of the mines in Africa. Individual, and realistically described moments of courage are described on the part of both sides during the battles. A U.S.submarine commander manages to destroy a crucial part of the Russian fuel supply by brave movements against the Russian invasion fleet. An American aviator manages to do a good deal of damage to Russian air support, while brave men and women move into precarious positions in order to maximize their efforts against Russia’s tanks.

The book is an all nighter due mainly to it’s use of personal experiences encountered by characters that are fleshed out sufficiently enough to be believed as active participants in the horrors of a shooting war. Very well done indeed.

7/19 Paul Lane

RED METAL by Mark Greaney & H. Ripley Rawlings IV. Berkley (July 16, 2019). ISBN 978-0451490414. 656p.

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THE COMMODORE by P.T. Deutermann

August 7, 2016
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Ex-Naval Captain Peter Deutermann spent his career as an officer with the United States Navy. Upon retirement he commenced an equally successful career as an author of adventure novels, including several based on events during wartime.

The Commodore is his latest book and is based upon the sea battles surrounding the invasion of Guadalcanal by the Marines. Harmon Wolf is a naval officer born on a Minnesota Indian reservation. He has never been thought of as an acceptable career officer since he does not fit into the traditional image of a by the book sailor.

The navy has been taking a pounding by the Japanese fleet and admiral “Bull” Halsey, a maverick in his own right, is looking for non-traditional answers to that problem.

Wolf is appointed commander of a destroyer and immediately demonstrates an ability to bring aggressive solutions to problems. He quickly earns promotion by Halsey as Commodore of an entire destroyer squadron. Applying original answers to questions about naval tactics gains a much sought after victory over a Japanese fleet bringing reinforcements to Guadalcanal.

As always, Deutermann’s descriptions of naval engagements, military tactics, weapons and armament are couched in easy to understand language for the reader. His gift for language keeps his audience glued to the book, and easily picturing the situations populating the novel. When Wolf is injured during the battles and cannot be safely sent to sea, a unique solution to continuing making use of him is set up.

Very well done indeed.

8/16 Paul Lane

THE COMMODORE by P.T. Deutermann. St. Martin’s Press (August 2, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250078070.  304p.

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WARNING ORDER by Joshua Hood

June 28, 2016
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Search and Destroy Thriller

Second in what should become a popular and successful set of novels about the US army in battle with elements of radical Islam, Hood’s book is nothing short of an adrenaline rush. Combat is present from start to finish keeping the reader glued to the pages and mesmerized by the action.

Mason Cane, on the US government’s Black List, strikes a deal with the CIA to clear his name and throws himself back into action. He finds that he is up against a radical cell of terrorists with possible roots within the US president’s inner circle.

Moving against the cell, Cane is joined by a group including Renee Hart, a DOD operative, and Special Forces soldiers. Action is constant with no let up. Renee was apparently set to become a love interest for Mason Cane in the first book by Hood, Clear by Fire, but there is no time in this novel for any private contact for the two.

The ending finds Cane wounded in action and taking a leave in order to recuperate from his wounds.  He is contacted by the individual that guides his actions, and the book ends as Mason is ordered into his next action.

The book is for any reader that appreciates combat action written by a veteran of war who has the knack to describe military action and the weapons used in the fighting. This is a well done novel of war.

6/16 Paul Lane

WARNING ORDER by Joshua Hood. Touchstone (June 28, 2016).  ISBN 978-1501108280.  352p.