Co-authors Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson's Tier One (Thomas & Mercer 2016) is a heart-stopping, action-packed military thriller told through thCo-authors Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson's Tier One (Thomas & Mercer 2016) is a heart-stopping, action-packed military thriller told through the eyes of an American Special Forces operator, an Iranian Muslim jihadist, and the man responsible for pitting the two against each other to see who wins.
Dempsey is a top-level SEAL, so seriously injured in a mission-gone-bad that he must leave his SEAL Team and join a covert group of hand-picked operators who use HUMINT, SIGINT, and other intel-type of resources to wage their battles. Their first task: Find out who sabotaged the last mission that destroyed Dempsey's team. As the story progresses, we root for Dempsey to make the transition from warrior SEAL to intel-based operator as he struggles to come to terms with the changes required to fight enemies with this new approach. Sometimes we think he won't make it, despite his unusual traits (like a knack for remembering inconsequential trivia), maybe because of the demons that drive his behavior. We aren't privy to these in this book, but they leave lots to be unfolded in future books.
"Some people call it instinct. Others call it a sixth sense. I call it situational awareness."
The antagonist is an Iranian jihadist intent on paying back America for killing his son by doing his part to destroy it. Unlike some faceless terrorists, in this story, we get to know Mamoud, understand his motivations, meet his family, and see that in a different culture, with a different upbringing, this man would be considered a friend.
"Martyrdom is essential to jihad, he told himself. The plan cannot succeed without sacrifice."
One more fascinating character is the boss of the team--Jarvis. He's a synesthete, almost sociopathic in his lack of emotion for events and his practiced approach to dealing with people.
"The chemical formula of polystyrene (C8H8)n, popped into Jarvis’s head, accompanied by a mental image of an expanded hydrocarbon chain of hexagonal phenyl groups."
"Everything in life was an equation, and unbalanced equations set off chain reactions and became chaos."
Jarvis reminded me of L.J. Sellers' sociopathic FBI agent in Point of Control (see my review).
Overall, the authors have a wonderful way of presenting the story pieces and evidence in a way that brings readers along. The only problem I had with the book: The lead up to the climax I found somewhat annoying. I can't tell you why without spoiling the story. If you read it, what to you think? By the ending--all was forgiven; it was satisfying, well-done, and set up these characters for an ongoing series. Which I will be reading.
I've read one other book by these authors--Beijing Red (see my review) so expected a tight story with lots of twists and turns--and that's exactly what I got. This author is highly recommended, as is this series.
--This was received free of charge from NetGalley in return for an honest review....more
This is the story of Rufus, a clever, independent, and fascinating dog anyone would love to call friend. He takes care of his mistress when she's notThis is the story of Rufus, a clever, independent, and fascinating dog anyone would love to call friend. He takes care of his mistress when she's not writing, but in between, when she's lost in her words or traveling, he takes care of the dog community in his neighborhood. And shares the stories of his canine friends with us.
I keep this book at the ready on my Kindle for those times when I end up with 5-10 minutes to spare between appointments, waiting on a doctor, or need a mental break. The book is written like vignettes, organized around the central theme of Friends of Rufus, each story just a few pages (with the rare and pleasurable exception of longer stories). When I finish Rufus, I'll be getting the next in the series. I love having Rufus and his canine logic and wisdom in my life....more
The Bone Wall follows the story of two twins, entwined in a failing world that neither is prepared for. When the world almost destroyed itself over 30The Bone Wall follows the story of two twins, entwined in a failing world that neither is prepared for. When the world almost destroyed itself over 300 years ago, it managed to seal in some of the planet's inhabitants while condemning the rest to live outside the protective shell, in a world that was barely life at all. Now that shell is failing and the inhabitants within must figure out what that means to them. What follows is a savage fight to save a dystopian world that will never be the same.
This is D. Wallace Peach's fourth novel. Not only is it a page-turner, but it challenges our notions of humanity, fairness, and equity in a world where none of those can truly exist....more
Frank Rozzani, detective-turned PI, is hired to help desperate parents find their missing daughter. Florida police declare her a runaway, but a littleFrank Rozzani, detective-turned PI, is hired to help desperate parents find their missing daughter. Florida police declare her a runaway, but a little bit of digging tells Rozzani there's more to her disappearance than an angry girl escaping. He and his cybersleuth-gifted partner set out to find her before it's too late.
I enjoyed this detective mystery so much I will be reading the entire series. The story is fast-moving with all the twists and turns I like in detective mysteries. The two main characters are likable and well-developed with plenty of mystery to move them into a sequel. The story is positive and upbeat with a constant baseline of jazz music to underscore the plot....more
AV is one of my favorite bloggers because of her down-to-earth approach to life. Whether she's building her house from scratch or raising bees, she'sAV is one of my favorite bloggers because of her down-to-earth approach to life. Whether she's building her house from scratch or raising bees, she's always doing what I'd love to do if I had the courage. Her book is no different. In this story, set in a traditional French Canadian farming community, family of the slain Guylaine Claire gather together to mourn her death as they try to move on. Surprisingly (or not), they all come away with a better understanding and acceptance of themselves.
Karen Walker's debut cozy mystery, Murder in White Lace, is about homicide in a bridal salon. Max Walters is working as a bridal consultant while tryiKaren Walker's debut cozy mystery, Murder in White Lace, is about homicide in a bridal salon. Max Walters is working as a bridal consultant while trying to decide what direction her life should go when a client passes out and dies while trying on her bridal gown. Quickly, her death becomes murder and Walters finds herself embroiled in trying to solve it. Though she's never been even an amateur sleuth, with the help of delightful co-worker Keiko and handsome Detective Cruz, she finds she has a talent for unraveling the clues.
This is a delightful story--the start of a series, I'm told--and a must-read for aficionados of Murder She Wrote and the Heather Wells series. ...more
Despite the book's eclectic name, Bill Rogers' 'The Pick, the Spade and the Crow' is a traditional detective story--and I mean that as a compliment. SDespite the book's eclectic name, Bill Rogers' 'The Pick, the Spade and the Crow' is a traditional detective story--and I mean that as a compliment. Senior Investigating Officer Josephine "Jo" Stuart begins a new job with Britain's National Crime Agency. She is a devoted agent, hard-working, and obsessed with the cases she's assigned. Readers quickly see that those traits are a problem in her personal life where Abbie--her live-in girlfriend--wants the commitment of a child and Jo doesn't feel like she's ready. When a ten-year old murder surfaces, many of her colleagues declare it impossible to solve, but Jo can't stop herself from pulling the threads that eventually lead her to a string of murders with a central theme.
Rogers does an excellent job of developing the characters and the critical relationships that make this team of crime solvers believable and interesting. I liked that Jo paid attention not only to the dialogue amongst them, but their body language that spoke as loudly as people's words:
"Caton leaning back with his hands behind his head, or Gordon Holmes rubbing his chin..."
"...folded his arms. It was not a defensive gesture she realized..."
I enjoyed listening to how Jo and her team's minds worked and following along as they untangled the puzzle that would eventually lead to the killer. It wasn't until the end of the novel that I worked out the meaning of the title--very clever. Overall, this is a good read and I hope the start of a series....more
The Bug Boys follows two entirely normal South Yorkshire lads who eat the wrong food at the wrong time and end up absorbing super powers that make theThe Bug Boys follows two entirely normal South Yorkshire lads who eat the wrong food at the wrong time and end up absorbing super powers that make them anything but normal. While predictably, they first use these amazing powers to fight the school bullies, they quickly realize there must be bigger and better goals that will energize what had been fairly ordinary lives.
Hoffman's The Bug Boys is nothing like the iconic Franz Kafka Metamorphosis about a man who turns into an ant. In fact, Stewart tells this science fiction tale with what I know to be his trademark dry British humor and a clever approach to these oddest of all events. A fun read....more
Micki Browning's Adrift (Random House 2016) is excellent. While marine biologist Meredith Cavallo is between research jobs (her last was working withMicki Browning's Adrift (Random House 2016) is excellent. While marine biologist Meredith Cavallo is between research jobs (her last was working with octopuses in Alaska--yeah, I'd always thought the plural was 'octopi', but Mer swears it isn't so I'll bow to her superior experience), she works as a dive master at a Florida Keys dive shop. She loves the work, showing people a world they have little exposure to, until unexpectedly she loses a client in a seemingly haunted shipwreck. Though most involved parties believe the missing man drowned, Mer doesn't, and her sense of justice demands she keep digging until she can unravel the mystery. Along the way, she rekindles an affair with an old boyfriend, makes unlikely friends, and almost gets killed--several times. Still, she can't stop and that's at the heart of this amateur sleuth's story.
Mer is an interesting character. She lacks many of the social skills we take for granted and is entertained by what most of us would call 'studious':
"Few things in life curled Mer’s toes: a masterly non sequitur, a well-written research paper, and a California tri-tip. Medium rare."
Although she's not a detective, she's curious and tenacious, and in this case, that's enough.
At the root of the story is the struggle over whether ghosts exist or not. Mer is a scientist all the way, but ends up rethinking her decisions when she comes across several items she simply cannot explain with facts and logic.
Overall, as the first in the Mer Cavallo series, this was a fun read that kept me flipping pages until I'd finished. I look forward to the next in the series.
--I received this from NetGalley in return for my honest review....more
Nikki Owen's Subject 375 (Blackstone Publishing) is fascinating. We meet Dr. Maria Martinez, a brilliant doctor with a 181 IQ, the ability to retain aNikki Owen's Subject 375 (Blackstone Publishing) is fascinating. We meet Dr. Maria Martinez, a brilliant doctor with a 181 IQ, the ability to retain and repeat information second to none, and Aspergers, as she is being inducted into prison after being tried and convicted of murdering a priest. We suffer through the indignities of shedding her clothes, cavity searches, and being thrown into a cell with no thought for how someone of her mental state would react to the strangeness of these circumstances. Maria remembers little of the trial, nothing of the supposed murder, and spends all of her time trying to figure out how she ended up here. Since Maria usually remembers everything--every event, word, and circumstance--this strikes her as quite odd:
It’s a forty-page booklet outlining the rules of Goldmouth Prison. It takes me less than a minute to read the whole thing
...remember every word, every comma, every picture on the page.
As a person who relies on routine, she now has none that she's familiar with. And as a person who could count on one hand the people she trusted and turned to for assistance, now she has zero. Even her family thinks she murdered the priest, though she tells them she didn't. How awful it would be to have no one to trust, no one you could believe had your best interests at heart.
The reader quickly realizes that Maria is an unreliable narrator. She often can't tell reality from dreams. She is usually under the influence of drugs, given to her by the psychiatrists treating her in prison with or without her knowledge and permission, and she spends most of the book questioning her own decisions and actions, and seeking ways to verify that what she thinks she knows, she actually does. As a result, we as readers rarely have a good handle on what's going on as Maria struggles to unravel the mystery of her incarceration and what turns out to the powerful forces who have placed her in that prison for a purpose of their own. To make the confusion all the more complete, the storyline jumps around, sometimes following two discrete timelines simultaneously. It makes it challenging to tell what events precede or result from others.
When the book finally wraps up, we know more, but not enough, which makes sense: This is Part One of a Trilogy. Where Maria ends up (and of course I can't reveal that) means there is no way I won't read Part Two.
If you like clever mysteries that challenge you cerebrally, this is exactly the book for you....more
Jacob Ross' The Bone Readers (Inpress Books 2016) is the story of Michael (Digger) Digson, a down-on-his-luck Caribbean islander who can't find a jobJacob Ross' The Bone Readers (Inpress Books 2016) is the story of Michael (Digger) Digson, a down-on-his-luck Caribbean islander who can't find a job and barely survives in the home left to him by his grandmother. He has three things going for him: a moral compass, a smart mind, and a burning need to find out why his mother left him when he was eight. When he witnesses a murder, he is able to recall important details for the investigating offer that lead to the capture of the killers. As a result he is offered a job in a new plain clothes detective squad just being organized. He accepts as much because he needs money to fix his roof as because he hopes that being inside the law will allow him access to records of his mother's disappearance. He's not alone in his ulterior motives: Everyone in the department seems to have their own reasons for being on the badge side of the law. When another new hire joins the group with the express purpose of solving a twenty-year-old crime, Digger finds himself wrapped into the mystery along with her.
Ross does not disappoint as a storyteller. Through his verbal eyes, I experience the Caribbean island culture that is the setting to the story as though I am a native, including the distinctive patois of the inhabitants. In fact, both dialogue and narrative are in this dialectic style of speaking:
‘You mother is your jumbie. Nothing to do with San Andrews CID, y’unnerstand? I dunno nothing about what you looking for. You get that?"
"Malan shook his head. ‘Is procedure –you taking up the case, so you have to read the file.’ ‘It didn help y’all find de boy; not so?’ she said."
Digger himself is an unusual character, with strong native intelligence, an uncanny ability to pick out details, and an innate talent to read bones as though they were a replay of events. I expected this to be the underpinning of the plot, but it is sprinkled in sparingly, though Digger investigates a wide variety of crimes.
Overall, this is a unique read, paced to the islands where it takes place with a group of interesting characters I will enjoy following into future books....more
I enjoy geeky stories so when NetGalley offered Lynn Lipinski's "God of the Internet" (Majestic Content 2016), I requested and was granted early accesI enjoy geeky stories so when NetGalley offered Lynn Lipinski's "God of the Internet" (Majestic Content 2016), I requested and was granted early access. This story follows a black hat hacker (G0d_of_Internet) who releases a worm into the internet that attacks America's infrastructure--think water supplies and electricity--and will continue to do so unless America removes her military presence from all Muslim countries.
"This is how we will wage war on your land--not by sending 'boots on the ground' as you have done in our countries, but by turning your systems and your innovations and your openness into weapons against you."
A talented team is quickly assembled to fight back, but with each step forward, they lose ground. Woven in with this attack are two subplots--Juliana Al-Dossari's deteriorating marriage and the failing health of her child.
An attack on America's infrastructure is the nightmare of politicians and their proletariat, made all the more believable by the almost weekly hacks we see of national financial and security institutions. As a reader of God of the Internet, I become privy to insider knowledge that puts me right in the middle of the devious brain of the attacker and the frantic oft-failed efforts of the defenders to stop him. I kept reading, flipping pages, hoping for a solution before the country collapses in on itself.
The shortfall to the book was the frequent distraction of the voluminous subplots--Juliana's failing marriage and her son's sickness. These were covered in detail, almost repetitively. Yes, they provided depth of character, but they slowed the pace of the main story dramatically, enough that these subplots began to compete with the main plot for supremacy. And neither of them is strong enough to carry my interest as a reader.
Lipinski is a newish author. If she can solve her plotting issues, I'd be thrilled to read more of her stories. Why four stars? In between the hefty subplots is an amazing and frightening cybercrime story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Why four stars? That's simple: In between the hefty subplots is an amazing and frightening cybercrime story that I thoroughly enjoyed....more