POISON by Galt Niederhoffer

November 21, 2017

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Niederhoffer’s day job is being a very successful producer of award winning films. Her night job is just as successful: writing books and articles which are published. It is therefore no surprise that her latest novel, Poison, is mesmerizing, well written and capable of grabbing the reader and not letting go until the end.

The book is more than a good novel but also geared to deliver an important message. That has been done for centuries in which fiction is used to point out a fault or faults in society and bringing them home to the reader. Witness the impact that Gulliver’s Travels had in illustrating the problems inherent in England at the time of it’s writing.

Cassandra (Cass) and Ryan Connor were married several years before the book begins. Both are successful individuals; Cass a professor at the university level and Ryan a well established architect. Cass had been married previously and had two children when her husband suddenly passed away. Although she thought that she would never marry again, Ryan came into her life and a whirlwind courtship ensued. The couple moved from New York to Seattle in order to get a fresh start and with a baby arriving, cemented what looked like a fairy tale relationship.

Unfortunately small problems that became bigger began to erupt and the result was Cass actually began fearing for her life. Niederhoffer’s point became clear when Cass found no sympathy from friends, authorities and even her own mother. All had the chauvinistic point of view that more often than not women cause most of these problems and the man in the situation is blameless.

Without looking at the point of the novel it still is a fascinating, well written book that will entice the reader to stay with it until finished. It is an excellent crime story with a logical and satisfying ending. Understanding the point that Niederhoffer wants to bring out makes the book doubly interesting and cause for a good deal of reflection on the injustices women may go through in defending themselves legally against a man.

11/17 Paul Lane

POISON by Galt Niederhoffer. St. Martin’s Press (November 21, 2017).  ISBN 978-1250085290. 304p.

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ROGUE COMMANDER by Leo J. Maloney

November 16, 2017

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Dan Morgan Thriller

Dan Morgan, the principal protagonist in other Leo J. Maloney books, works for the Zeta Division; a top-secret action group dedicated to hunting down and eradicating America’s enemies. Like Maloney, Dan has worked in Black Ops with his described actions based on first hand knowledge of that world. Dan has witnessed his daughter, against his better judgement, taken into the Zeta Division finding himself with the dual worries of his own tasks and the safety of the girl.

In this novel, one of Dan’s friends, Four Star General James Collins, has been accused of stealing Tomahawk missiles to sell to a foreign power. Dan decides to try and prove the general innocent in spite of orders from the Zeta commander to stand down from that job. At the same time the Division is seeking to capture a Black-market middle man with a connection to a high level North Korean military officer.

As in previous Maloney books, the action is constant and fast and furious. The themes of his books are simplicity itself. The Zeta Division is chasing the enemy with total dedication to the task and with the most modern military weapons and techniques. Military precision is the keynote of operations with coordination in the hands of the commander of the division.

A short summary of Maloney’s next book is featured at the end of Rogue Commander. It will be dedicated to the same treatment of quick and violent action although it is likely that Dan’s daughter will have more of a role in the story.

11/17 Paul Lane

ROGUE COMMANDER by Leo J. Maloney. Lyrical Underground (October 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-1616509804. 254p.

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THE QUANTUM SPY by David Ignatius

November 11, 2017
QUANTUM SPY by David Ignatius

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A huge step up from the current capacities of our present day computers comprises the theme of David Ignatius’ book. The concept is a Quantum computer which is depicted as being so fast with the ability to decrypt any encryption in existence. The possession and use of such a device will easily make anyone having and using it masters of the digital world.

The novel depicts a conflict between the United States and China to get the where-with-all to develop the first working model of a Quantum computer. Harris Chang, a CIA agent, is assigned to investigate a possible breach of a Quantum research lab by a suspected Chinese informant. The hunt for the suspected mole leads Chang into a world of cutting-edge technology and into a situation where he is involved in a fine line between loyalty to his country and possibly treason.

The possibilities presented by this computing advance are described in easily understood language. The description of the stresses and strains placed on Harris Chang make for an excellent introduction and understanding of this man. Chang is, by his own definition, not a Chinese American, but an American by birth and inclination. His investigations are underscored by a possible mistrust by his boss and co-workers of his ethnicity. The novel itself is backed up by the description of what could be the results of possession of the first working models of this huge advance in computation.

Extremely well written and easily carrying the reader into a world of digital advance, and allowing the reader a rapt attention to the situations and characters involved.

11/17 Paul Lane

THE QUANTUM SPY by David Ignatius. Quercus (November 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1681440279. 288p.

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THE IRREGULAR by H.B. Lyle

November 9, 2017

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A Different Class of Spy

Set in England in the early 1900’s, the novel uses the founding of the British Secret Service to spin a very well done story about people involved in its inception.

Captain Vernon Kell is looking to set up such a service to serve England both at home and abroad but finds that upper-class individuals traditionally used in high-level government work are not suited for the dirty work needed to get things done in the world of spying. He is working under orders to find some evidence of German activity involved in obtaining secret information on British activities that are geared towards bettering British military capabilities. The use of upper-class gentlemen to do the field work in the spy game gets several killed with no useful information obtained.

One of the men is a policeman named Bill who is killed by Russian anarchists. The killing is noted by Bill’s friend, a man named Wiggins. Kell approaches Wiggins to help find and arrest Bill’s killers and has hit on the best person possible for the job. Wiggins served in the British war against the Boers in South Africa, and as an urchin on London’s streets helped the great detective Sherlock Holmes form a group of children into “The Baker Street Irregulars.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, places this group into activity aiding Holmes in several novels.

The description of London at the point the novel is set in is extremely well researched by H.B. Lyle. We have the combination of horses and horse-drawn wagons, with early motor cars, buses, and trucks; slum areas and homes for the well-to-do, and the beginnings of opportunities for the poor class to climb the economic ladder thanks to the burgeoning industrial revolution.

This novel is obviously the first of what should be a series of books about the organization that later became both MI5 and MI6. The principal characters are in place and a period that has the problem of impending war looming over it. The book stands quite well on its own and the author’s styling is certainly an attraction for novels that will follow.

11/17 Paul Lane

THE IRREGULAR by H.B. Lyle. Quercus (November 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1681440279. 288p.

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THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child

November 7, 2017

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A Jack Reacher Novel, Book 22

Jack is back and all is right in my world. I just feel safe knowing he’s out there, fictional though he may be. I do find it necessary to block out the image of Tom Cruise as Reacher, it really doesn’t work in the books, not with descriptors like Bigfoot and the Incredible Hulk, with “fists like Thanksgiving turkeys.”

So a few books ago, I think in Make Me, Reacher had his usual brief affair with a woman, this time an Asian American named Chang, and this new book starts out with her leaving him because of his unusual, traveling man life choices. So he’s having a bad day when he gets on the first bus going anywhere, gets off and finds a pawn shop with a West Point class ring in the window. It’s a tiny ring, obviously from a tiny woman who must have gone through hell to get to graduation, so why would the ring be pawned? And that is the mystery at the heart of this latest story…that leads to the opioid crisis. Because that’s what’s happening in the world, and therefore in contemporary crime fiction. And Child does it very, very well.

Of course, that’s not all of it. Reacher decides to track down the owner and return the ring to her. The pawn shop owner is persuaded to let Reacher know that he bought the ring from Jimmy the Rat, and where to find him. Jimmy the Rat isn’t as forthcoming, seeing as he has seven of his motorcycle gang with him. But we all know that Jack can deal with seven on one fights, and he does. He keeps following the trail, which gets murkier but he gets a little help from a woman detective and a former FBI agent turned private investigator.

The writing is sparse as always, and there is enough action and suspense to keep the pages turning. Lee Child is probably the best thriller writer working today, and this book is an excellent example of his work. Don’t miss it.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child. Delacorte Press (November 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-0399593482. 384p.

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HEADHUNTER by Nick Oldham

November 4, 2017

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A Steve Flynn Thriller

Headhunter is Nick Oldham’s third book featuring Steve Flynn, an ex-cop and ex-Marine, and beginning at the precise moment that he is in the process of killing one of the men that decapitated his girlfriend. This time he finds himself up against a powerful international crime family that had his girlfriend killed in order to get at Steve. And that is just the beginning.

Steve surrenders to the police after the murder and one of the officers set to guard him until he can be brought to jail is the prettiest cop on the force. Needless to say, a mutual attraction between Steve and her develops and takes root.

Like Oldham’s previous novels, we get action after action while Steve goes after the Bashkims crime family. Taking place in England, the Canary Islands, and Malta, the scenes move rapidly through the locales of Steve’s hunt. A hunt which also includes cooperation with the American government, Steve’s ex-supervisor, and the pretty girl.

There are no hidden meanings, but for those that like plenty of action and the ultimate triumph of justice, this is your book. Will the pretty girl appear in the next novel featuring Steve? Hmm, tune in later to find out, but we know in advance that there will be enough action to keep readers happy and coming back for more.

11/17 Paul Lane

HEADHUNTER by Nick Oldham. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (November 1, 2017).  ISBN 978-0727887290. 224p.

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TWO KINDS OF TRUTH by Michael Connelly

October 31, 2017

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A Harry Bosch Novel, Book 20

Harry’s back and I couldn’t be happier! This is my favorite series, the one I haunt the publicist for, the one I put down anything else I’m reading to devour. And I am never disappointed!

Having been forced into retirement from the Los Angeles Police Department, Harry has landed in the San Fernando Police Department as a volunteer, working cold cases out of an old jail cell that is now his office, despite its creepy past. San Fernando is a tiny enclave within the sprawl of Los Angeles, so Harry feels at home.

When a father and son are killed in a local pharmacy robbery turned deadly, the chief asks Harry to help out – in fact, he takes lead on the case. This small department doesn’t deal with much in the way of homicides, and really appreciate his experience. His first thought is the son was mixed up in something, but soon realizes that he has rushed to judgment, and that never sits well with our hero. The opioid epidemic is front and center here, and couldn’t be more timely. I learned a lot, right along with Harry, which makes for fascinating albeit heartbreaking reading.

One case is never enough for Connelly, so he saddles Harry with another, and this time it’s personal. A thirty-year-old rape and murder case of his has come under scrutiny. The killer is on death row, but the convict’s new lawyer claims DNA evidence proves his client’s innocence, and Harry’s old LAPD partner is pretty sure it’s a good claim. Luckily, Harry knows his case was solid and sets out to prove it. Plus he has a good lawyer in the family, his half-brother Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer himself, and they take it all the way to court.

Superbly written, well plotted with just enough suspense to keep the pages turning,  this was a one night read for me – admittedly a very late night – the book is over 400 terrific pages. Connelly doesn’t  waste a word, and I hang on every one. As an added bonus, I have Titus Welliver in my mind as Harry, which just adds to the pleasure (if you haven’t watched Bosch, please do!)

Another excellent read from the finest crime fiction writer out there. Don’t miss it!

 

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TWO KINDS OF TRUTH by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (October 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316225908. 416p.

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THE TEMPLAR BROTHERHOOD by James Becker

October 22, 2017

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Robin Jessop, a shop owner, has come across a possible clue to finding the lost treasure of the ancient order of Knights Templar. The Templars had been wiped out in a purge by another sect of the church centuries ago but probably hid away the amazing amount of wealth they had accumulated during their existence. Robin and her boyfriend David Mallory set out to find the treasure pursued by a sector of the church that wants the wealth for their order.

Robin and David find clues to where the treasure is located and move across Europe in search of it, pursued relentlessly by the sect that also wants it. The circumstances described in the book should really lead to continuous action but the main part of the novel is tedious solving of one clue after another. This causes the novel to be slowed down and forces the reader to become bogged down in detail after detail while sluggishly moving forward.

I found the ending to be just an apparent means of quickly terminating the novel with little or no satisfaction in following the book. I trust that this novel is not indicative of future books by this author who has taken a great idea and done little with it.

10/17 Paul Lane

THE TEMPLAR BROTHERHOOD by James Becker. Berkley (October 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-0451473974. 464p.

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VENGEANCE by Newt Gingrich & Pete Earley

October 18, 2017

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This latest novel features Major Brook Grant and her fiancée, the full blooded Indian “Walks Many Miles,” both of whom met while serving in the armed forces. The book opens at the pair’s wedding in Washington D.C. with a list of high level guests including the president of the United States in attendance. Suddenly there is a terrific explosion set by a terrorist with a truck bomb.

Brook escapes the carnage by a fluke along with her adopted daughter Jennifer. To state that she wants revenge is an understatement and she is helped with her quest by the incoming president forming a secret squad loosely tied to the CIA whose mission is to find and kill terrorists. No trial, no rights, no imprisonment, but as quickly as possible death by any means at hand.

The authors tie in other active agents selected by the president along with Brook. These include two others at the outset. One is a member of a Saudi Arabian secret group dedicated to the same ends and the other a female member of the Mossad. The three live up to their established creed of find the terrorists forget about trials and leave the bodies where they lay. In the midst of all the action in both the U.S. and overseas, this new group go on the attack, finding out which group planned the bombing and why, and who is allied with them and what are the future plans of these terrorists.

The authors obviously plan more novels with the group as the center. They have apparently changed the thrust of their books from descriptions of military operations to one of behind the scenes doing away with terrorist groups by fair means or foul. As in the previous novels, writing is fast, action swift, and a feeling of just desserts to terrorists definitely carried out.

10/17 Paul Lane

VENGEANCE by Newt Gingrich & Pete Earley. Center Street (October 10, 2017).  ISBN 978-1478923046. 432p.

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INFINITE GROUND by Martin Macinnes

October 16, 2017

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This is a story told via a series of surrealistic scenes. A man named Carlos disappears while eating dinner with a large group in a South American locale. He is not missed until an inspector begins to look for him over a period of time in a variety of locations.

Unfortunately, there are enough places and scenarios within surrealistic contexts to keep the reader thoroughly confused as to what is going on and what is the objective of the book. I noticed the plethora of positive comments and finished the book because I had started it and didn’t believe I would be unable to get the point of the exercise. I didn’t.

From the publisher:

On a sweltering summer night at a restaurant in an unnamed Latin American city, a man at a family dinner gets up from the table to go to the restroom . . . and never comes back. He was acting normal, say family members. None of the waiters or other customers saw him leave.

A semi-retired detective takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes something strange, intangible, even sinister. The corporation for which the missing man worked seems to be a front for something else; the staff describes their colleague as having suffered alarming, shifting physical symptoms; a forensic scientist examining his office uncovers evidence of curious microorganisms.

As the detective relives and retraces the man’s footsteps, the trail leads him away from the city sprawl and deep into the country’s rainforest interior . . . where, amidst the overwhelming horrors and wonders of the natural world, a chilling police procedural explodes into a dislocating investigation into the nature of reality.

10/17 Paul Lane

IINFINITE GROUND by Martin Macinnes. Melville House (October 17, 2017).  ISBN 978-1612196855. 272p.

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