March 9, 2020


A Matt Drake Thriller, Book 1

From the publisher:

After surviving a clandestine operation that went tragically wrong, Matt Drake escaped Syria with his life, but little else. Now, to save the life of another, he must return to Syria and confront his biggest failure in a debut thriller Lee Child calls “sensationally good.”

Defense Intelligence Agency operative Matt Drake broke a promise. A promise that cost three people their lives and crippled his best friend. Three months later, he’s paralyzed by survivor’s guilt and haunted by the memories of the fallen. Matt may have left Syria, but Syria hasn’t left him.

In the midst of his self-imposed exile, Matt is dragged back into the world of espionage and assets that he tried to forget. A Pakistani scientist working for an ISIS splinter cell has created a terrifying weapon of mass destruction. The scientist offers to defect with the weapon, but he trusts just one man to bring him out of Syria alive—Matt Drake.

This is the first book in a new series featuring Matt Drake, a flawed hero, but one with the brains, patriotism and the will to get things resolved. In a mission taking place before the beginning of this novel, three men were killed and his best friend, also with them, was permanently crippled. Matt blames himself for the failure of the botched action.

After three months of feeling sorry for himself and drowning his sorrows, he is unexpectedly called back by his supervisor to undertake a mission into Syria. The task will be to extract a Pakistani scientist working for ISIS who has perfected a new and terrible chemical aimed at killing Americans. He has offered to bring the formula to the United States in payment of being taken out and granted asylum there. The condition put is that he wants Matt to handle the operation.

Matt undertakes the job after learning that an American agent, the only survivor of a raid into the area has been captured and will be beheaded by his captors with the execution filmed to be used as propaganda. There is also a background scenario that takes place in the White House. The president is facing reelection for a second term and there are two high-level officers of the government that are looking to control his actions to control events for their own benefit. The background action is a great piece of writing to underline the actual scheming, plotting and double-dealing that occurs in government circles. And of course, plans are laid, discarded and done again by the people working behind the scenes.

Unfortunately for Matt, the president and those on his high-level staff are playing off the rescue of the captured American in different ways in order to seek their own gain. Bentley does indeed have a low opinion of politicians and their maneuvering to bring themselves the greater good by just discarding the needs of those caught in their schemes.

Don Bentley has done a great job in building Matt’s character. He has his faults, his missteps, but in the final analysis, will do the right thing to protect lives and punish his enemies. An excellent beginning to what I trust will be an anticipated series based on well-described counter-terrorism operations.

3/2020 Paul Lane

WITHOUT SANCTION by Don Bentley. Berkley (March 3, 2020). ISBN: 978-1984805119. 384p.



THE LAST DAY by Andrew Hunter Murray

February 29, 2020


From the publisher:


A high-concept, utterly original debut thriller which envisages a world on the edge of catastrophe, perfect for readers who loved Robert Harris’ Fatherland, Station 11, and The Wall by John Lanchester.

It is 2059: forty years previously a solar catastrophe began to slow our planet’s rotation. Now it has stopped so that one side of the world permanently faces the sun while the other is stuck in an eternal frozen night.

Britain is one of the few fortunate countries. Located in one of the few remaining temperate zones, it should have the means to support itself. In reality though it is struggling, and today it is a land stalked by hunger and violence.

It is also home to the American Zone, the last surviving enclave of the United States.

Ellen Hopper is a British scientist living on a frostbitten rig in the cold Atlantic. She wants nothing more to do with her country after its slide into authoritarianism and decay.

Yet when two government officials arrive demanding she return to London to see her dying tutor, she accepts – and begins to unravel a secret that threatens not only the nation’s fragile balance, but the future of the whole human race.

The absolutely impossible happens. The earth stops rotating and causes day and night to be the same day in and day out all over the world. The cold spots are eternally cold and the warm spots always warm, possibly too warm as they face the sun in the same position without change. The cause of this calamity is a huge celestial body crossing space relatively near to our solar system. As a consequence of this event, the earth begins a period of slowing down in its ever-changing position of moving around the sun. Differences in day and night and seasonal change begin to slow down, and eventually cease when our planet finally finishes slowing down and eventually stops.

The author does an excellent job of portraying the effect cessation of motion of the earth has on our planet. How many lose their lives with the ability to survive lost. And how people begin to adjust to a life that is totally different than the one they were used to. England and a portion of the United States emerged as the more powerful countries on the planet. In addition, one man begins taking charge of adaptation in Great Britain and not surprisingly becomes a dictator with plans to take over the United States and expand his hold on England

Ellen Hopper is a woman that has found a life living on an ocean rig with no thought of changing until one day two officials from the British government visit her demanding that she visit her mentor from her days at university. When she does so she is thrown into the middle of a scheme that bids fair to throw the country off from its fragile balance and possibly even negatively affect the remainder of the planet’s population.

Murray has taken on the challenge of developing a novel with a huge amount of interwoven factors and does a very creditable job of tying everything together in a logical way. The novel is certainly one that cannot be put down until finished with every section bringing in different factors to be faced by the characters. The book is indicated as the author’s first and is no doubt a great start for an up and coming writer.

2/2020 Paul Lane

THE LAST DAY by Andrew Hunter Murray. Hutchinson (February 6, 2020). ISBN: 978-1786331915. 384p.




February 23, 2020


From the publisher:

Award-winning author Val Collins returns with a suspenseful, twisty thriller

Everyone thought Danny Walsh deserted his family when his sons were young. But when Danny’s body turns up fifteen years later and his wife, Maura, is implicated in his murder, accusations and old rumours surface.

Aoife rushes in to clear her mother-in-law’s name. But why is it that Maura’s story concerning Danny’s disappearance doesn’t quite add up?

Aoife’s investigation uncovers old secrets, long-held jealousies, and lies upon lies. With every new revelation, Aoife realises she doesn’t know her family at all. Now her new boss is acting strangely, her best friend is more and more distant, and her husband is no help at all.

With her support network crumbling and her family threatened, Aoife must race to keep one step ahead of danger before more innocent lives are lost. But how will she uncover the truth when only lies remain?

Set in present-day Ireland, Collins presents a second novel featuring Aoife as a protagonist. She is on the descending side of a failed marriage, is the sole support of her only child, and in the process of trying to get rid of her ex-husband. He, on the other hand has found a sinecure In Aoife, moving in with her indicating that he will help care for their little girl and also allow time to try and work out their problems in an attempt to make the marriage work. In reality, he continues with the conduct that caused the marriage to break up as he just lays around and gives orders to serve him.

Suddenly the dead body of her father-in-law appears, dispelling the idea that he had deserted his family fifteen years ago. On top of her own problems with an ex-husband camping in her house and no means of support available, Aoife now has to attempt to comfort Maura, her mother-in-law who is plagued again with guilt over her own possible culpability or innocence in driving her husband away.

Val Collins takes Aoife through various crises in her life. She gets a part-time job and has a friend of hers developing a romance with her new boss. A handsome police detective calls on her, charged with investigating the death of her father-in-law and continues to call on her, obviously looking for romance. Her daughter becomes more and more precocious and at one point is seemingly kidnapped. She is returned but carries a note warning Aoife to stop meddling in affairs that don’t concern her or her daughter will be captured again.

The novel is entertaining and a good read but not an all-engrossing novel. Sufficient to say that the book is worthwhile reading and enjoying with the idea of getting Val Collins’ next book.

2/2020 Paul Lane

ONLY LIES REMAIN by Val Collins. VCB Publishing (December 9, 2019). ISBN: 978-1916298941. 316p.


THE OTHER MRS. by Mary Kubica

February 21, 2020


From the publisher:

“Altogether unpredictable.” —Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author

Coming to Netflix!

Propulsive and addictive, and perfect for fans of “You,” The Other Mrs. is the twisty new psychological thriller from Mary Kubica, the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.er investigation weaves together with the story of what really happened during their deliberation, told by each of the jurors in turn, the secrets they have all been keeping threaten to come out—with drastic consequences for all involved.

It’s a good thing that Mary Kubica can’t write a book every week because if that were the case I wouldn’t get any sleep. This novel, if not her best, is certainly near the top. Her styling grabs the reader from the start pulling him or her right into a great story and not letting up until the ending is reached. The ending is the epitome of a surprise and not what is thought of during most of the book. But, and definitely, a strong point after reading the novel a short reflection by the reader will provide the information that it is realistic, not one that is just juxtaposed in order to end the book.

Sadie and Will Foust have just moved away from their home in Chicago to a small island in the state of Maine. They inherited a house there from Will’s sister who has committed suicide after suffering from a long bout with Fibromyalgia and the unbearable pain that stems from the disease. Sadie is an MD and secures a position with the only medical office on the island while Will gets a teaching position in a city on the shore of Maine. All seems well with an idyllic existence laid out for them and their two children. The couple also adopts Will’s sister’s daughter who is devastated by her mother’s suicide and resents Sadie’s presence and having to live with her obeying her rules. But the couple understands the girl’s anguish and try to help her as much as possible.

Shortly after the family moves in a next-door neighbor is murdered; something the local police indicate is an almost nonexistent problem. Sadie is very affected and frightened by the event. She begins wondering if the murderer is hiding in one of the homes on the island that is temporarily uninhabited while their owners are away during the off season. Sadie is also seeing a psychiatrist due to having had issues with lapses of memory and disassociation. It is felt that the condition is treatable and Will is very supportive of his wife. He helps Sadie in many ways including cooking and cleaning the house as well as making sure the children leave for school and are picked up afterward.

The novel is, of course, a five-star book, and my advice is to keep on the lookout for Kubica’s next book in order to get it hot off the press.

2/2020 Paul Lane

THE OTHER MRS. by Mary Kubica. Random House (February 18, 2020). ISBN: 978-0399591778. 336p.



ONE MINUTE OUT by Mark Greaney

February 18, 2020


The Gray Man, Book 9

From the publisher:

From Mark Greaney, the New York Times bestselling author of Mission Critical and a coauthor of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, comes another high-stakes thriller featuring the world’s most dangerous assassin: the Gray Man.

While on a mission to Croatia, Court Gentry uncovers a human trafficking operation. The trail leads from the Balkans all the way back to Hollywood.

Court is determined to shut it down, but his CIA handlers have other plans. The criminal ringleader has actionable intelligence about a potentially devastating terrorist attack on the US. The CIA won’t move until they have that intel. It’s a moral balancing act with Court at the pivot point.

The only book more exciting and filled with action involving Court Gentry, “The Gray Man,” is another book about his exploits. And “One Minute Out” certainly fits the bill.

Gentry is an assassin. He works for the CIA but also does paid work for others and has made himself very wealthy doing so. The story opens as The Gray Man is in Croatia fulfilling a private contract. While in the process, he stumbles upon a worldwide human trafficking network and is forced by circumstances to go after it. It is a huge operation netting billions of dollars to its leaders, but in the process making slaves and ruining the lives of countless women and girls forced into sexual slavery.

While handling the Croatian contract, Court meets a young woman whose sister is among the many girls captured by the Consortium (the name of the network). For many reasons he indicates that he will help her rescue her sister and the action begins. Following the route of the kidnapped girls takes Court from the Balkans to Hollywood in the United States. The entire journey is filled with action, with Court and the young girl he is now loosely aligned with following the trail of the ring transporting the women to their ultimate destination where they are to be sold off as sex slaves.

An unforeseen obstacle presents itself when the CIA intervenes, prohibiting Court from killing the head of the kidnapping group as the individual is supplying information to the agency about various criminal activities. Greaney does not hide his feelings about any government agency condoning turning people into slaves under any circumstances. The horrors these women meet when captured is described in graphic detail including their murder when their useful life is overdue to physical impairments.

The author is a master at grabbing his readers, getting them drawn into the action and keeping them glued to the book until finished. This novel is the ninth involving the Gray Man and is another five star read with the reader anxiously awaiting the next one.

2/2020 Paul Lane

ONE MINUTE OUT by Mark Greaney. Berkley (February 18, 2020). ISBN 978-0593098912. 512p.



THE GOOD KILLER by Harry Dolan

February 17, 2020


From the publisher:

In the newest thriller from best-selling author Harry Dolan, Sean Tennant stops a deadly mass shooter. And that act of courage may get him killed.

Sean Tennant and Molly Winter are living quietly and cautiously in Houston when a troubled, obsessive stranger shatters the safety they have carefully constructed for themselves. Sean is at a shopping mall when Henry Alan Keen, scorned by a woman he’s been dating, pulls out a gun at the store where she works and begins shooting everyone in sight. A former soldier, Sean rushes toward Keen and ends the slaughter with two well-placed shots―becoming a hero with his face plastered across the news.

But Sean’s newfound notoriety exposes him to the wrath of two men he thought he had left safely in his past. One of them blames Sean for his brother’s death. The other wants to recover a treasure that Sean and Molly stole from him. Both men are deadly and relentless enemies, and Sean and Molly will need to draw on all their strength and devotion to each other if they hope to elude them. Thus begins a cross-country chase that leads from Texas to Montana, from Tennessee to New York to Michigan, as the hunters and their prey grow ever closer and, in a heart-stopping moment, converge.
A wickedly clever and exhilarating thriller, The Good Killer offers a sophisticated, breathtaking look at the extremes people will reach for love, greed, and survival.

Sean Tennant and Molly Winter are a young couple that are currently living in Houston, Texas. We know that they have come there after fleeing from something in their past. They live quietly and don’t mingle with others very well. Suddenly fate takes a hand in their lives. Sean is walking through a mall when shots ring out around the area. A man named Henry Alan Keen who has just been dumped by his girlfriend and has been looking for her has spotted her in the mall. He pulls out a gun and shoots a man standing near her killing him. Keen than grabs his ex-girlfriend’s arm and begins dragging her around while shooting at people.

Sean is an ex-soldier and carries a concealed weapon. He runs towards Keen, calmly pulls out his gun and shoots the killer dead. Anyone witnessing this scene immediately thinks of Sean as a hero for his actions but does not understand his quickly getting out of the area. He also does not stop for any photos of him. The mystery about Sean and Molly deepens as instead of waiting for the police and the praise they would certainly have made plans to immediately leave Houston.

The novel turns to two different men that have been searching for the couple for several years. One blames his brother’s death on Sean and the other is looking for both in order to get back a fortune in rare antiquities they have stolen from him. The story follows the chase after the couple once the two men recognize them from TV. Action and plenty of it runs from Houston to Montana from Tennessee to New York with an aside at a rundown settlement deep in the woods. The pace of the novel keeps the reader glued to the book with every incentive to finish it in one splendid read. And a very good read it is supplying every reason to pick up Harry Dolan’s future books.

2/2020 Paul Lane

THE GOOD KILLER by Harry Dolan. Mysterious Press (February 4, 2020). ISBN: 978-0802148414. 304p.



WET WORK by Mark A. Hewitt

February 16, 2020


Duncan Hunter Thriller, Book 5

From the publisher:

Law enforcement agencies have chosen to ignore rather than investigate dozens of political figures and defectors who have died under mysterious circumstances. When a Democratic National Committee staff member is murdered before the presidential election, Washington, D.C. police is also uninterested in investigating the crime.

The President is well behind in the polls. Some powerful people want assurances that the President will never take the oath of office if he unexpectedly wins.

On Election Day, the Central Intelligence Agency Director uncovers treachery at the highest levels of his organization. A rogue group of senior intelligence officers may have exposed themselves for who they really are before disappearing with a secret experimental weapon. Mounting evidence suggests the President may be in peril but the Secret Service isn’t interested in conspiracy theories or implausible weapons with impossible capabilities.

Will CIA pilot Duncan Hunter save the President from a group of assassins?

Mark Hewitt presents the 5th book in his series headlining Duncan Hunter, a pilot for the CIA. The book opens at a point where Hunter destroys a field of marijuana via the use of computer-aided weapons. And as in previous books, he jumps right into more action.

A plot is discovered by the CIA director in which it appears likely that a rogue group of high-level government officials have stolen and fled with a secret weapon. The weapon is unknown to most people and involves a gun that can be aimed, fired, and effective up to 10 miles from the target. The fleeing rogue officials are feared to want to assassinate the new, recently elected president of the United States and claim a reward for doing so from the Soviet Union.

Hunter goes right into the pursuit of the officials aided by his wife, and also his daughter from a previous marriage who is coincidentally working for the CIA. Their hunt for the rogue group is hampered by the inability of the CIA to understand that a weapon unknown to them would have a feasible killing range of up to 10 miles and not be more than a weapon carried by one person.
The action takes place over a complicated mix of politics, tradecraft, political realities and normal government functions giving the reader a very solid conspiracy theory novel and a couple of all-night reads. The ending finds Hunter and his family on vacation but called upon by his supervisor to drop everything and get back to headquarters to move into another sequence of battle against America’s enemies. No rest for the weary, but good reading material.

2/2020 Paul Lane

WET WORK by Mark A. Hewitt. Black Rose Writing (January 2, 2020). ASIN: B07YR2GLVT. 669p.



February 9, 2020


From the publisher:

Gary Stephens is brought into a government-sanctioned cover-up when he discovers that his father helped fake the Apollo 11 moon landing in the 1960s.

After China announce a space mission to place their own flag next to the one US astronauts planted during the Apollo 11 mission, few people bat an eyelid. Shortly after this statement Charlie Stephens, a 81-year-old former filmmaker, is murdered. The incident is made to look like an accident, but why?

Going through his father’s effects, Gary Stephens – a director of beer and yogurt ads – discovers seven cans of old 35mm film. Dated before the landing, they’re identical to the footage NASA claims was shot by the Apollo 11 crew. The US flag is not and has never been in the Sea of Tranquillity, and only Tricky Dick and a handful of others knew it.

Why was the real nature of the Apollo 11 mission kept hidden? And what measures will be taken to keep the secret buried?

The United States, according to the history books, successfully landed men on the moon in the 1960s. They left many items and successfully set up an American flag in the general area of their arrival. They then left and were retrieved in the capsule designed for the reentry in the midst of the ocean. Going on to the eternal glory attached to their mission the astronauts making the trip left future moon shots to others. And there, of course, were other trips into space, including unmanned voyages around Mars, and others through our solar system and beyond.

For some reason, not readily apparent, a small group of people have always thought that the first Moon landing was staged, done for the publicity involved and perhaps to bring apparent obedience to the promise of John F. Kennedy, who resolved that the U.S. would land men on the moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s.

Mitch Silver, in an afterward of the novel, indicates that he is not one of the doubters involved with debunking the landing, but brings his readers a seat-of-the-pants novel outlining the possible consequences of a faked trip.

Gary Stephens, a filmmaker, is the son of one man that worked on the Moon Landing team. His father is killed in a boating accident and Gary begins to go through his Dad’s things. He discovers several tapes showing that the landing was staged. At the same time, China announces that they are ready to launch an expedition to the moon and plan to land in the same area as the U.S. did and plant their flag with the American banner showing solidarity, at least in the world of space travel.

Gary decides to take the tapes made by his father to the government and expose the farce. The novel does a very creditable job of describing the reactions of the U.S. to the news and their plans to launch another trip as quickly as possible to rectify the non-existence of material where it should be.

Research is evident in Silver’s descriptions of the process and events, and the creation of a definite all-nighter for his readers.

2/2020 Paul Lane

THE APOLLO DECEPTION by Mitch Silver. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (February 4, 2020). ISBN 978-0727889751. 224p.



HOUSE ON FIRE by Joseph Finder

February 5, 2020


A Nick Heller Novel, Book 4

From the publisher:

In New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder’s electrifying new thriller, private investigator Nick Heller infiltrates a powerful wealthy family hiding something sinister.

Nick Heller is at the top of his game when he receives some devastating news: his old army buddy Sean has died of an overdose. Sean, who once saved Nick’s life, got addicted to opioids after returning home wounded from war.

Then at Sean’s funeral, a stranger approaches Nick with a job, and maybe also a way for Nick to hold someone accountable.

The woman is the daughter of a pharmaceutical kingpin worth billions. Now she wants to become a whistleblower, exposing her father and his company for burying evidence that its biggest money-maker was dangerously addictive. It was a lie that killed hundreds of thousands of people, including Sean.

All Nick has to do is find the document that proves the family knew the drug’s dangers. But Nick soon realizes that the sins of the patriarch are just the beginning.

Beneath the surface are barely concealed cabals and conspiracies: a twisting story of family intrigue and lethal corporate machinations. In a deadly game of chess that pits Nick against a family dynasty, against brothers and sisters with schemes of their own, Nick learns how far his enemy is willing to go to protect its name and its wealth.

There are commonalities about novels written by Joseph Finder that make him one of today’s top authors. These are excellent plots, well defined principal characters, a writing style that allows his readers to dive into the story, and reading it generally in one rewarding session. “House on Fire” is no exception and is easy to classify as a mesmerizing five star read.

Nick Heller, a private investigator used in previous novels by the author, is front and center in this book. Nick receives the unwelcome news that a good friend of his has died from an overdose of opioids and he is invited to the funeral. Once there he meets the daughter of the man in charge of the pharmaceutical company that manufactures and distributes the drug that his friend was hooked on and which killed him. The woman tells Nick that she has made it her life’s work to find evidence, indicated as suppressed, of the drug’s becoming addictive and harmful to the taker. She hires Nick to help her find the derogation study, known to exist, and help victims of the opioid go against her family’s company in order to collect funds that could help them financially in surviving their lives of drug dependency.

The story moves Nick through meeting the family at a dinner and then again while attending a corporate sales meeting as a guest of the lady that hired him. Finder takes the reader through the politics of the family owning the company and paints a realistic picture of what undoubtedly goes on in any situation where a great deal of money is involved. Who hates who, who loves who and what are the schemes to keep on the good side of the patriarch of the family who controls who gets what. Nick had lost his wife in a previous novel and while not actively searching for another has several instances of sexual activity in “House on Fire.” This, in no surprise, includes the woman that hired him to help find evidence against the company that she and her family have an interest in. The addition of a little spice serves to make Nick a human being with normal needs rather than a superman.

The ending is one with an interesting twist but becomes logical as the story unfolds. As stated it is a five-star novel, and the only thing that is negative is that Joseph Finder does not dash off novels one after the other but takes his time and it is usually at least a year between them. But certainly, it is well worth the wait.

2/2020 Paul Lane

HOUSE ON FIRE by Joseph Finder. Dutton (January 21, 2020). ISBN 978-1101985847. 384p.



EMPIRE OF LIES by Raymond Khoury

October 2, 2019

Click to purchase

Khoury has built his reputation as a top author on novels with a fantasy spin.  Not dragons, Greek gods, nor any of the many situations built on an unworldly story. All are well done, well written and based on a certain change to the real world.

“Empire of Lies” is no exception. The plot revolves around an alternative to our present world with changes to current reality that could be true if one subscribes to the difference between our world and what is presented. The novel opens in the alternative world postulated by the author.

This is a situation in which Polish King John Sobieski at the head of a combined European army defeated and stopped an invasion of Europe by Ottoman Turks in 1683. The Ottoman army had reached Vienna, were surrounding the city and were about to conquer it and then move further into Europe.  The situation at the beginning of this novel is that something happened to Sobieski and his staff killing them, and the Ottoman invasion succeeded setting up an alternative world stemming from the defeat of the west in 1683.

Kamal Arslan Agha, an officer in the Sultan’s secret police and, based in Paris has begun questioning the situation around him which is becoming more and more autocratic.  He feels that the freedoms guaranteed to the people are becoming eroded with the government becoming a dictatorship.

When he is called on to investigate a stranger appearing naked on the banks of the Seine and brought to a hospital, Kamal learns a strange secret which the Sultan wants to keep secret. He begins an investigation of this secret aided by his sister-in-law Nisreen, who is an outspoken civil rights lawyer. The two are caught up in the secrets of the enlarged Ottoman Empire and find themselves learning about the real circumstances of the battle of 1683, traveling through the empire and learning about a concept of time that is unknown to most of the world.

Very well written, ensuring that the reader will finish the book in one sitting this novel is Raymond Khoury at his best.

10/19 Paul Lane

EMPIRE OF LIES by Raymond Khoury. Forge Books (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1250210968. 448p.


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