I am an unabashed fan of Alan Furst. That said, this was, IMHO, not up to his usual standards. Even then, I rated it four stars instead of my usual fiI am an unabashed fan of Alan Furst. That said, this was, IMHO, not up to his usual standards. Even then, I rated it four stars instead of my usual five.
It is 1938. This is the story of Cristian Ferrar, a Spanish lawyer and emigre living in Paris and working for an American law firm, Coudert Freres. Cristian seems to move easily through life without the self-doubt and angst that so many of Furst's protagonists suffer from.
He becomes involved in working to supply arms to the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War. His predecessor does not return from a rescue mission to Madrid and he is asked to fill in and help the primary arms procurer, Max Lyon, an arms dealer of unknown nationality. His boss goes along with it. He has some close calls but nothing like the suspenseful situations previous protagonists have survived.
There are two sub-plots, one involving Cristian's Spanish family ensconced in a Parisian suburb and the other his love life. Neither has any energy or ambiguity. He seems to effortlessly fall in and out of love without much emotional scarring.
The ending is almost too good to believe and the tragedy that was the Spanish Civil War is glossed over.
Somehow, I expected more. Not that I will hesitate to read his next offering "A French Hero" as soon as I can get my hands on it. One less than totally admirable effort will not deter me. ...more
I love alternative history. This book is a well done piece of work postulating the British signing an armistice with Germany after Dunkirk.
As you migI love alternative history. This book is a well done piece of work postulating the British signing an armistice with Germany after Dunkirk.
As you might expect a resistance to this arrangement is organized under the leadership of Winston Churchill. David Fitzgerald, a civil servant working in the Dominions office that oversees the affairs of the Empire, is recruited into the movement by his best friend, Geoff Drax, He begins passing information on to the resistance unbeknownst to his wife Sarah, a lifelong pacifist. In the process he also works with an experienced cell leader, Natalia from Slovakia, who never reveals her family name.
The basic story revolves around the cell members trying to get scientist Frank Muncaster to America because he possess information that would benefit Germany. The problem is that Frank's in a sanitarium because he went ballistic and attacked his U.S. based brother who had bragged about what he was working on in America. This is the information the Germans want.
There are a few sub-plots, the major one involving, Gunther Hoth, a Nazi SS member assigned to find out what Muncaster knows and get him to Germany.
While there are times the narrative drags a little, the characterizations and descriptions of an England under the thumb of Fascists and the German SS are very well done. There were times I had trouble putting the book down....more
Charles Todd is the pen name for Caroline and Charles Todd a mother and son writing team. They have written two series. This book is part of the firstCharles Todd is the pen name for Caroline and Charles Todd a mother and son writing team. They have written two series. This book is part of the first one dealing with the cases of Ian Rutherford, a Scotland Yard Inspector, who is recently returned from fighting in WW I. He is bedeviled by what was called shell shock then but is now known as PTSD. He also has the illusion that Hamish MacLeod, a Scottish Corporal he was forced to execute for refusing to follow orders,. is talking to him constantly and usually at most inappropriate times.
In this, the third book in the series, Rutherford is sent to Singleton Magna, Dorset where a woman has been murdered and her children and husband gone missing. A tormented veteran, Bert Mowbray, has been charged with the crime but Rutherford is not so sure. The closed minded local Inspector Hildebrand, is sure he has his man and is not easily dissuaded.
As the search for the missing children goes on, Rutherford begins to unravel the complicated relationships in the area, particularly Charlbury where the Wyatt family has been preeminent for many years. As Rutherford meets many of the residents of the village, he realizes that there could be many suspects in spite of Hildebrand's intransigence and belief that Mowbray is the killer.
When another body is discovered in a shallow grave, it becomes Rutherford's job to determine if there is a connection between the two murders. When two children are identified as being mistaken for Mowbray's offspring, the case is thrown wide-open and suspicion is directed in many different directions.
The solution is somewhat surprising but not totally unexpected. In true British who-dunnit fashion the reader is kept guessing right up to the last few pages. At that point all the loose ends are tied up and the story reaches a satisfying but poignant conclusion - a very good story with a very good plot....more
In an introduction to this printing of one of his early books, Coben suggested that if you haven't read his later stuff that you read a few before staIn an introduction to this printing of one of his early books, Coben suggested that if you haven't read his later stuff that you read a few before starting this book. I've read almost all his books so perhaps I'm not a good example but I thought, with some exceptions, that "Miracle Cure" was a very good thriller.
The book opens with a Dr. Bruce Grey, being killed and the murder made to look like a suicide. It turns out that Grey along with his partner Dr, Harvey Riker are on the cusp of finding a cure for Aids. Unfortunately, the successfully cured patients are being murdered by a serial killer, nicknamed The Gay Slasher.
At this point we are introduced to a NY power couple Sara Lowell, a network reporter and dynamite interviewer and her husband Michael Silverman, a star basketball player with the Knicks. Michael has known Riker for years and years and is very supportive of his efforts, Sara's father Dr. John Lowell, former Surgeon General, is dedicated to pushing cancer research. The competition for funds has made Riker and Lowell adversaries. Complicating the mix is the Reverend Sanders, a conman, who is using the Aids epidemic as proof that God has sent a plague to punish the immoral homosexual community.
Sara manages to get an old friend Police Lt. Max Bernstein or "Twitch. as he is known to his fellow detectives to pursue the case. The plot takes off from there and provides more than a few surprises for the reader.
The story moves quite quickly and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. Unfortunately to end the story, Coben loses his way and provides the reader with some very suspicious coincidences. I was totally surprised, though, to find out who was the mastermind behind all the murders.
The characters in this story are not as believable nor as interesting as those in the Myron Bolitar series or the later stand-alone thrillers. Nevertheless, I finished the book in a short time and enjoyed reading it. I was only disappointed in the ending.
I remember the political volatility of the Aids epidemic and how long it took for both political and religious leaders to recognize its dangers, not only to the gay community and drug abusers but to society as a whole. Coben does a good job of describing the situation as it existed in the 1980s and early 1990s. I would recommend this book not only on its own merits but also as a reminder of the struggle of those who tried to move society to take Aids seriously. ...more
Poul Anderson does as good a job with so-called "Space Operas" as anyone. With an inventive plot and memorable characters, this storyWhat a fun story!
Poul Anderson does as good a job with so-called "Space Operas" as anyone. With an inventive plot and memorable characters, this story was a joy to read.
A group of medieval Englishman are preparing to leave on a crusade when a spaceship lands with the intent of conquering Earth as a colony of the Wersgor people. The Wersgor had conquered a number of planets and were continually on the lookout for suitable new ones to invade. Out of ignorance and fear, more than anything, the Englishmen attack the spaceship and manage to slay almost everyone on board, the Wersgor having no experience with hand to hand combat.
The entire group boards the ship thinking it would save them lots of time getting to the Holy Land. The sole surviving Wersgor, though, sets the autopilot for the planet he came from. The story unfolds from there as the English work to survive on an alien planet.
I have no idea if this book is even still in print but if you find one in a used book store or at Goodwill, buy it and read it. It's worth your time....more
I believe this was the last individual effort by Ludlum. This book fits the following description from Wikipedia, Ludlum's novels typically feature onI believe this was the last individual effort by Ludlum. This book fits the following description from Wikipedia, Ludlum's novels typically feature one heroic man, or a small group of crusading individuals, in a struggle against powerful adversaries whose intentions and motivations are evil and who are capable of using political and economic mechanisms in frightening ways. The world in his writings is one where global corporations, shadowy military forces and government organizations all conspire to preserve (if it is good) or undermine (if it is evil) the status quo.
I am conflicted about the book, even though I finished it - full of the dozens of twists and turns that Ludlum is well-known for. Akin to being on a textual roller coaster. I had to suspend my disbelief a lot especially toward the end of the book. I was also put off by the descriptions of all the high tech stuff the hero, Nick Bryson, used to bring down the Prometheus group. Put me in mind of the later Tom Clancy novels which are so full of technical descriptions that they become boring.
The story is complicated when Bryson, who was at one time an operative for the Directorate and is now a professor at a sleepy Pennsylvania College under an assumed identity, is dragged back into his previous life by an Assistant Director of the CIA, Harry Dunne, who convinces him that his previous employer was a front for a ingenious ploy by Russian spy masters.
Further complicating things is that Bryson's wife, Elena, disappeared 6 years ago under circumstances Bryson is still trying to understand. Bryson reluctantly begins the process of trying to figure out what The Directorate is up to. The roller coaster starts its trip there.
If you are a fan of Ludlum's stories, this book will not disappoint. In some ways it's a Jason Bourne type plot with a new character. Maybe Ludlum was running out of steam. The biggest negative in my opinion is that Bryson is able to access all kinds of high tech toys and weapons, has apparently unlimited amounts of personal funds to spend, and somehow survives attempts on his life that would be fatal to almost everyone. He's at times incredibly naive and at other times incredibly knowledgeable. The juxtaposition doesn't always ring true.
Not a good place to start if you've never read any of Ludlum's previous books....more
Bernard Cornwell is up there with Colleen McCollough, Alan Furst and Patrick O'Brian at the top of any list of Historical Fiction authors. "Warriors oBernard Cornwell is up there with Colleen McCollough, Alan Furst and Patrick O'Brian at the top of any list of Historical Fiction authors. "Warriors of the Storm", the ninth volume in the "Saxon Tales Series", is one of the best. I rarely say this but, "I just couldn't put it down" and finished it in 3 days.
In this entry, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, is commanding the garrison at Ceaster (Chester, today) in Mercia when Ragnall Ivarson, a Danish warlord shows up with a huge army after being forced out of Ireland. Ragnall appears to be threatening Mercia so Uhtred is reinforced by Aethelflaed, Queen of Mercia, and former lover. So as to not reveal spoilers, I will just say that the plot has a number of twists and turns, more than usual for a book in this series. It all leads, of course, to a final showdown between Uhtred's and Ragnall's armies.
Uhtred, is as incorrigible as ever and ignores orders he doesn't agree with which often puts him in extreme danger but he always scrapes through. He's getting older but he is still a fierce fighter. He also refuses to give up his Viking Gods for the Christian God but continues to fight for the Saxons, most of whom are Christians. This loyalty goes back to his oath to King Alfred of Wessex and creates all kinds of problems with the ideologically pure Christians and his Viking enemies, neither of whom understand his choices. He has had one overriding goal his whole life and that is to reclaim his ancestral lands of Bebbanburg in Northumbria. Many if not most of his actions are taken in consideration of this goal.
Cornwell, admits in the historical notes in the back of the book, that this story is more fictional than any of the others but points out that the plot is woven into a deep background of truth. No one, who has followed Uhtred's story, can argue that Cornwell makes things up out of thin air. His research is impeccable and he's picked a particularly foggy period of England's history to chronicle.
I've read all eight of the previous books in the series, so it's hard for me to know if this book would be understandable as a stand alone read. If you can, get your hands on "The Last Kingdom", the first book in the series, and work your way through the other seven to this one, the rewards are great especially if you enjoy historical fiction.
I enjoyed this story as much as any of the previous eight. ...more
The bottom line on this book is basically if you are a fan of Martin, you'll like it. If you are picky and try to compare this collection of three novThe bottom line on this book is basically if you are a fan of Martin, you'll like it. If you are picky and try to compare this collection of three novellas with the "Fire and Ice" series, you will be disappointed. I obviously liked it. It would be suitable for a YA reader but if you suspend your judgment for a while, I think you can enjoy these simple stories.
These stories were written years ago and even though they take place in Westeros, do so 100 years before the Targaryens were thrown out. Hedge knight, "Dunc" or Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire "Egg" or Aegon of the Targaryen family wander through the lands of Southern Westeros stumbling into situations they would be better off avoiding. They get themselves into these pickles because Dunc refuses to be unchivalrous or violate the principles he learned from his mentor who rescued him from the slums of King's Landing. Both Dunc and Egg always end up surviving these dangers but it's often a close thing.
The book is lushly illustrated which adds to its YA look. Martin promises more stories but given his slowness in completing the Fire and Ice series, I don't intend to hold my breath while waiting. Have fun with this one....more