Book 4 of the “Patriots” series by Adam Rutledge (pseudonym for James Reasoner) takes place during autumn of 1775, continuing the various plot lines fBook 4 of the “Patriots” series by Adam Rutledge (pseudonym for James Reasoner) takes place during autumn of 1775, continuing the various plot lines from the previous books. This time, the larger events of the Revolutionary War take a back seat to the action of the individual characters with only a few mentions of the burgeoning American spy ring and the fact that the British are nearing a decision to withdraw from Boston and allow the Patriots to re-claim it entirely.
Indeed the action gets started immediately with Daniel Reed being attacked and left for dead while his girlfriend and fellow spy Roxanne is captured and taken into Boston. Meanwhile Daniel’s brother Quincy continues his westward trek with frontiersman Murdoch into Pennsylvania, facing the perilous threats of Indian attacks, a wayward and violent preacher, and the all-to-real threat of young romance. The biggest plot line though deals with the rising criminal element that always surrounds wartime activities, this time taking the form of the “Liberty Legion”, a group of false patriots who are actively exhorting the prominent Tories of Boston. I was glad to see the character of Elliot Markham finally get his day in the sun and take the fight to this new enemy. Heretofore he has been sort of stuck in the role of strong British supporter rather than the rebel patriot he truly is.
Two more books to go in this series and I look forward to getting to them. No doubt historical events will once again come to the forefront as the end of this novel sees Daniel finally get his orders related to Washington’s spy ring. ...more
Jerri is a young and dutiful wife to Greg Hollister but is more or less sleep walking through life as arm candy to her Country Club husband and also sJerri is a young and dutiful wife to Greg Hollister but is more or less sleep walking through life as arm candy to her Country Club husband and also strives to be the ideal friend, companion, and hostess to the various women at the club. But at home, their marriage isn’t so perfect and when Greg takes a business trip to Chicago, Jerri is left to her own devices. With the subtle urging of a college psychology study, she determines the need to become more independent and assertive in her life choices, especially when it comes to a physical relationship.
Jerri, for lack of a better term swiftly turns into a sort of femme fatale and even briefly gets involved in a crime. But ultimately this is a romance plot with both Jerri and Greg learning some important life lessons about what is truly important in a relationship. The question is whether or not they will learn these lessons in time.
This novel was first published back in 1954 and was fairly typical of this genre for that era. This was the very end of the pulp era which really started its decline during the WW2 years but by this time, the paperbacks were really taking over. Avon was one of the big publishers to recognize this change and often marketed their paperbacks using provocative cover art and teasers. I could not dig up any information on the author Bart Frame, even after checking Hawk's Authors' Pseudonyms II and the internet in general but I do see a couple of other books by him listed on Goodreads....more
It was with great reverence and a bit of trepidation that I returned to my reading of the Camulod Chronicles. The first 6 novels of this amazing serieIt was with great reverence and a bit of trepidation that I returned to my reading of the Camulod Chronicles. The first 6 novels of this amazing series form a complete series by themselves and I was a little worried that even though I had greatly enjoyed those novels, this next one might be more of a “filler” novel. After all, it tells the story of Uther Pendragon, a life that was already mostly covered during the events of book 3, The Eagles' Brood, where he is shown growing up with his cousin Merlyn. The shear length of the book also added to my concern, weighing in at over 900 paperback pages. So…at the risk of suffering through a lengthy filler novel, I plunged in anyway, tossing my fears aside for the simple reason that I trust this author, Jack Whyte, to provide me with yet another amazing novel, much as he had with the first 6 books.
And he did just that. Most of the first half of the book was, indeed, a repeat of the events of The Eagles' Brood but while that book was told from the first person perspective of Merlyn Britannicus as he looked back on long-ago events, this book was from Uther’s third person perspective as those events unfolded. It’s quite a different viewpoint because the two characters are so different from another.
The second half of the book covered Uther’s life after leaving Camulod (Camelot) as he becomes King of Cambria and leads his alliance in an aggressive defense against Lot of Cornwall. These events were not covered in previous books in the series other than a passive mention of Uther being off doing his thing in the West. So I was happy to fill in these holes. We do know the end result of Uther’s campaigns, of course, and so the second half of the book does read a little like a tragedy. But to read of Uther’s actions, his thoughts and growth as a character, his relationship with Ygraine, their child Arthur, the difficulty with dealing with various allies as Uther tries to counter the devious Lot…all of that was truly awesome.
Historical novels that center on warfare can often get bogged down in endless battles but the battles that take place in the final 200 pages of this book were absolutely intriguing. To watch Uther’s brilliance at overcoming difficult odds, designing a new brand of warfare when desperately needed, and demonstrate ideal leadership qualities was extremely fulfilling. The battles themselves are like a combination of a strategic chess match and well-choreographed action sequences filled with all the bloody horror one would expect from up close and personal sword play, flails impacting helmets, pounding horse hooves, etc. I never once felt bogged down or wished for the plot to speed up even though this is a very long novel. But don’t get the impression this is strictly a war novel. That’s really only a small part of Uther’s life and of this novel.
Once again, a Jack Whyte novel gets my highest recommendation. But definitely start at the beginning of the series (The Skystone) in order to be privy to the numerous interactions and history leading up to the rise of Arthur himself. Only two more books to go in the larger series and I am already dreading the moment when I will have turned the last page. ...more
Polly Newton has a straightforward personal career goal: become a starship pilot, preferably as an intergalactic pilot and take advantage of the new MPolly Newton has a straightforward personal career goal: become a starship pilot, preferably as an intergalactic pilot and take advantage of the new M Class drives being developed. However, her immediate plans are interrupted when her mother, the Mars Colony One director, announces that Polly and her twin brother Charles have been enrolled at the prestigious Earth-based Galileo Academy. Polly, having been born and raised on Mars as the third generation, post-colonization, has never stepped foot off-planet so moving to Earth for three years is a dreadful prospect, even if it might help her chances of getting into a pilot training program.
This stand-alone novel reminds me a lot of the Robert Heinlein juveniles. That’s a good thing because I really enjoyed reading those books. It’s told from Polly’s first person POV as she struggles to adapt to her new environment on Earth. I’ve read a lot of science fiction about people living on Earth who have to adjust to life in space, other planets, asteroid mining colonies, etc. but this is the first time I’ve seen that concept spun on its head. (With the exception, I suppose, of Heinlein's own Stranger in a Strange Land). Not only must Polly struggle with things we take for granted, such as the relatively high gravity of Earth, the concept of “outdoors”, the vastness of the oceans, etc. but she must also cope with the prejudices of fellow students and teachers who regard Polly and Charles as outsiders and lesser people.
Polly herself is an interesting character. As a typical older teen, she has the usual sarcastic observations, a bit whiny, self-esteem challenges and so forth but she is also courageous, smart, funny, and it’s a joy to watch her learn how to adapt. Much of the novel is about how she makes this adjustment and builds a coterie of friends but there is also a mystery here… something is going at Galileo Academy, something that seems to be moving beyond the expected rigorous academic training and testing and seems to be getting more and more dangerous.
Billed as a stand-alone novel, the story is complete in this one volume but it practically screams for a sequel or three. I am hopeful Ms. Vaughn will consider writing more of Polly’s and Charles’ adventures....more
The novel opens in the year 1756 with the heroine of the story, Tully Truegood, locked up in Newgate prison, awaiting trial for murder. I don’t use thThe novel opens in the year 1756 with the heroine of the story, Tully Truegood, locked up in Newgate prison, awaiting trial for murder. I don’t use that word “heroine” lightly but even though Tully herself denies it, I disagree and think the term is appropriate. The story is told in the form of a first person written account of what led her to be incarcerated at Newgate, but just whose murder she is accused of remains a mystery for most of the novel.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to like this novel as much as I did. Published by Mira, a division of Harlequin, I suspect I am not exactly the targeted market for such a novel. However, Tully herself is such an engaging character that I could not help but to root for her to overcome all that life has thrown at her: a mother who died in childbirth, a father who was a drunken fool and who treated her as a servant and used her to erase his gambling debts, a bizarre marriage at the age of 12…the list goes on. Much of the book deals with Tully’s education as a courtesan in her step-mother’s Fairy House, and as such details her own sexual awakening. Falling in love is not the goal of a courtesan but when it happens to Tully, life changes forever after.
While mostly a romantic/erotic suspense novel, there are also elements of fantasy sprinkled throughout. Tully has “powers” such as the ability to see ghosts occasionally and allow others to see and hear them as well. A few other abilities manifest themselves from time to time but there is never an explanation of where such magic comes from or of any consequences from using it. As a fantasy aficionado, this sort of magic is not at all what I seek out in a fantasy novel but here it seems just fine. The powers do play an important role in the final part of the plot but for the most part, seemed somewhat unimportant to the story.
Overall, this was quite an enjoyable novel to read. Those who avoid “spicy” novels will likely want to steer clear of this one as well due to the large number of sex scenes although I will say they are handled with finesse and flowery/Victorian language. It’s certainly not porn. In the end it is a sweet romance story with a hugely satisfying ending. I just wish the magic system was more completely developed and Tully’s use of it more fully explored. The ending doesn’t seem to suggest a sequel but perhaps more books in this “universe” could explore that aspect to a greater degree....more
Ahhh…it’s a wonderful feeling to get back to Repairman Jack, one of my all-time favorite series, and one of my favorite characters. I’d finished the oAhhh…it’s a wonderful feeling to get back to Repairman Jack, one of my all-time favorite series, and one of my favorite characters. I’d finished the original RJ series over a year ago as well as the related series, “The Adversary Cycle” (some 20 books in all) and have been looking forward to diving into this prequel trilogy ever since then.
This first book of the trilogy is really a fairly straight-forward thriller novel, albeit with quite a complex array of sub-plots. It basically serves as a sort of origin story for Jack. We get to see how he gets his start as a fixer, how he learns to live off the grid, the budding relationship with friend and mentor Abe, as well as quite a few opportunities to see how he acquires his various skills (hand-to-hand fighting, lock picking, pick pocketing, shooting, etc.) that will come in so handy in the later series. This novel does set up the second and third books and while a variety of antagonists are introduced, their plot lines are not all concluded in this first book.
While some readers may want to start here so as to read the entire RJ series in chronological order (not counting the “Secret Histories” YA trilogy that takes place even earlier), I am happy to be coming to it at the end. Knowing Jack’s future and having a good handle on the entire “Secret History of the World” makes it fun when Easter Eggs happen in this prequel trilogy. There’s just something about elderly women and dogs that tends to affect Jack’s life so when I see that here, I understand the nature of destiny and what is waiting in Jack’s future. ...more
The third book in the “Patriots” series by James Reasoner, writing under the name Adam Rutledge, picks up immediately after the events of book 2, RebeThe third book in the “Patriots” series by James Reasoner, writing under the name Adam Rutledge, picks up immediately after the events of book 2, Rebel Guns. Brothers Daniel and Quincy Reed split up in order to carry out separate missions. Quincy and frontiersman Murdoch Buchanan escort a group of refugees towards the Ohio River Valley and find themselves caught up in the efforts of the British to recruit the Mohawk Indian tribe to their cause. Meanwhile, Daniel makes his way to the Charleston area and participates in the battle of Breeds Hill and Bunker Hill. And finally, we get to see the beginnings of George Washington’s spy network as the turncoat within the Committee of Safety is uncovered.
These books continue to provide an adventurous take on the American Revolutionary War by treating us to engaging characters caught up in the struggle. At times they are a bit prescriptive but that’s OK because I’m not always looking for a deeply gritty realistic portrayal of warfare. I do appreciate that they get the history correct. As an example, the action and importance of the battle at Breed’s Hill is fully described vs. the common misperception of the importance of the Bunker Hill battle. I also like how the war isn’t reduced to the “good” guys vs the “bad” guys but instead notes the plight of the typical British soldier who was often simply plucked from duty in England to fight against a rebellion for which they had no opinion or even understanding.
At the half-way point in the series now and a couple of newly introduced dastardly characters in this volume will no doubt provide for more daring adventure in the next. Looking forward to seeing what happens next....more
London, 1727…on the eve of the coronation of George II. Young Tom Hawkins, refusing to follow in his father’s footsteps as a clergyman, has instead beLondon, 1727…on the eve of the coronation of George II. Young Tom Hawkins, refusing to follow in his father’s footsteps as a clergyman, has instead been eeking out a life as a gambler, a rake, and a chaser of women. But when he finds himself in debt he must wager big in order to keep himself outside of debtor’s prison. Surprisingly, he wins that big gamble but on the way back to his rooms, he is mugged and is thusly tossed into the “Marshalsea”.
Life in debtor’s prison is just as harsh and cruel as what Dickens describes. The gaol is divided into two sections. For those with enough influence with family and friends on the outside to provide enough money to keep them afloat, they can stay on the “Master’s” side and provide a cut to the overseers. For those less lucky, there is the “Commons” side where life is short and about as miserable as can be imagined. “Process must be followed Mr. Hawkins. You can’t just throw men into prison and let them rot. That would be cruel. They must have their time in court. Their case must be heard, their creditors must be called to account…Then they can rot.” Running the whole thing is a governor of sorts, and along with a myriad of innkeepers, barkeeps, brothel owners, etc. their only real interest is how much profit they can make off the misfortune of the inmates.
And like in almost any prison in the world, even today, “If you wish to survive in this gaol…in this world then you must make people believe you are the most ruthless, calculating, treacherous man they know. They must believe you are capable of anything—the worst imaginable outrages. If your enemies learn that you are weak, they will destroy you. That is the way of the world.” Men die every day in the Marshalsea but when our young gambler’s roommate is murdered in the middle of the night in their locked room, all signs point to Hawkins himself as the killer. He must solve the mystery of the real killer before time runs out or he will be executed.
I really enjoy these sorts of historical mystery novels. In addition to a nice murder mystery element, adventure, intrigue, and betrayal, there is a lot of good history here as well, not the least of which is how debtor’s prisons worked in the 1720s. It’s always been a strange concept for me to wrap my brain around anyway…how can you expect somebody who is in debt to be able to work themselves out of debt and gain their freedom when they are locked up? Thanks to the excellent research by the author, this novel was an eye opener for me in that regard, especially the free enterprise system that thrived within the prison walls. So much so that many of the prisoners stayed on voluntarily after they had found a way to pay off their debts, just to keep on raking in the profits.
This is the first book in a series. I had already read and enjoyed the second book, The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins so I wanted to go back and get this first one under my belt as well. While I still recommend they be read in order, either of the first two can be read as a stand-alone novel and I have heard the same of the third, which I will, in due course, pursue as well. ...more
The 19th novel in the lengthy “Assignment” series featuring intrepid counter-espionage expert, Sam Durell finds him deep in a Cold War plot involvingThe 19th novel in the lengthy “Assignment” series featuring intrepid counter-espionage expert, Sam Durell finds him deep in a Cold War plot involving an Albanian defector who makes some dangerous claims of missing nuclear missiles and plots by Russia and China to use them against one another. Sam’s efforts to thwart this nuclear threat take him to Venice as well as Athens and the Greek countryside. Along the way he must deal with a host of characters who may or may not be who they purport to be, including a couple of attractive young ladies. Alas the counter-espionage business can be rough.
This book has a twist I haven’t seen in any prior Assignment books. Durell actually disobeys orders and refuses to work with somebody, even though his bosses believe it is necessary in order to prevent nuclear holocaust. It’s a clear case of the age-old dilemma of whether or not to let those in the field exercise their own expertise on matters instead of relying on the bureaucrats in Washington to dictate the action.
I continue to enjoy these novels and still feel they are as good as most of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels and a bit more realistic. They are fairly quick reads and can be enjoyed in any order for there is very little continuity between books. ...more
Brilliant, heartbreaking, and a story that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I need to absorb this before attempting a proper review...andBrilliant, heartbreaking, and a story that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I need to absorb this before attempting a proper review...and that may never happen....more
Alissa, a young (20ish) woman has set out on a journey to a mythical “Hold” where she is to hone her magical abilities much like her father had done bAlissa, a young (20ish) woman has set out on a journey to a mythical “Hold” where she is to hone her magical abilities much like her father had done before her. The problem is that she thinks it a fool’s errand due to the ludicrous idea of magic existing at all, much less a mystical "Hold" where prior magicians had learned their skills. Strell, a wandering musician/storyteller from the plains meets her on the journey and together they make their way to where they believe the hold may be. Their journey is fought with danger and their own prejudices against each other.
I’ve had this 4-book series on my shelf for quite some time and they likely would have languished there for much longer had I not discovered that the author’s name, Dawn Cook, is actually a pen name for the well-regarded Kim Harrison, author of the best-selling “Hollows” series. I’m happy I took the plunge because this first book, while following a somewhat typical fantasy plot line, is still a worthy read and sets up the rest of the series in fine fashion. We know going in that these two main characters will grow past their differences and their bickering and a genuine friendship and probably a romance will blossom. But I thought all of that was handled very realistically, and wasn’t rushed along at all. My biggest negative is that while the ending provided a big reveal concerning the very nature of the world in which they live, I had seen it coming through most of the book…but even so, I didn’t feel any kind of major letdown. The world building is appropriately kept to a minimum but I would have preferred the magic system to be a little less nebulous. I’m still not sure how the various aspects of Alissa’s threads and tendrils and rivulets and globes of energy work but then again, at the end of book one, Alissa doesn’t either. Thus…three more books.
The cover of the paperback I read is from back in the early 2000's, when the book was first published. I see that today’s covers are definitely geared more toward the YA market. I suppose that is appropriate for the book I just read but it works as a traditional epic fantasy as well. ...more
The 4th novel in the 21-book Travis McGee series finds our self-professed lazy sleuth at the point of needing some dough once again so he welcomes a vThe 4th novel in the 21-book Travis McGee series finds our self-professed lazy sleuth at the point of needing some dough once again so he welcomes a visit to his houseboat, “The Busted Flush” by one Dana Holtzer who has been sent by a potential client to engage his services. The client, as it turns out is a sexy and famous movie star named Lysa Dean who has been paying blackmail to prevent the release of raunchy photographs taken at the scene of a multi-day orgy. While she thought she had completed the rounds of blackmail, the demands have now renewed and thus her decision to hire McGee to get to the bottom of it. Add on a murder or three and Trav has his work cut out for him, requiring him to traipse about the country including stops in Florida (of course), California, Arizona, and upstate New York.
By now, with several of these books under his belt, John D. MacDonald has really settled into his stride. I had expected the girl that would draw Travis’ interest this time around to be the movie star herself but I was wrong. I thought I knew where Travis’ relationship with Dana was headed…wrong. I was also wrong about who were the good guys and who were the bad. In short, Mr. MacDonald led me to surprise after surprise…and I haven’t even alluded to the big twist which would completely spoil everything for you. If this is a sign of future novels in the series, then I have quite a few treats in store.
I will add that while I really enjoyed the beginning and the end, I thought the middle part of the novel bogged down quite a bit. This was the workhorse part of the investigation itself, interviewing potential suspects and trying to piece together what had happened and develop an understanding of how all the moving parts fit together. A few too many moving parts for my poor old brain to handle perhaps, but I found myself looking forward to the Travis-Nora interaction more than the case itself. I understand that this is not the last we will see of the Lysa Dean character either, for which I am glad, based on how this book ends.
All in all, “The Quick Red Fox” was a nice read, fairly quick, and quite enjoyable as well as serving to further develop the overall character of Travis McGee himself.
Please note that no actual foxes were harmed in the writing of this review. ...more
I’ve tended to shy away from vampire fiction in recent years although I am a huge fan of the original Dracula by Bram Stoker and stories that take plaI’ve tended to shy away from vampire fiction in recent years although I am a huge fan of the original Dracula by Bram Stoker and stories that take place in a similar vein (no pun intended). In other words, I enjoy the historical fiction aspects of Dracula, vampire lore, etc. much more so than the blood/guts, sexual innuendo/love triangles etc. that seem so common today.
This novel is the first of a trilogy and fits my preferences very well. It takes place over the course of just a few weeks in 1845, which is actually about 50 years before the Dracula story occurs. It’s told from the first person POV of three separate individuals, Arkady Tsepesh, his young (and pregnant) bride Mary, and his sister, Zsuzsanna Tsepesh. It is through their detailed diary entries that the entire novel is presented and that method works very well for it allows the reader to access their innermost thoughts when they are confronted with evidence of the impossible. It also allows the characters to sneak in and read the others' diaries to gain a better foothold on what is happening (and convince themselves that they aren't going mad).
The story takes a deep dive into the history of Vlad Dracul and the family tree as Arkady returns from England to his Carpathian home to bury his deceased father. But it is his uncle Vlad that begins the real horror of the story as it becomes evident who he really is. The pact or covenant that the family Dracul has with the local village population to protect them from the strigoi also plays center stage. What follows is pure vampire horror in the traditional gothic horror style as Arkady and his loving wife struggle in a war for their very souls.
I liked the writing style of the novel as it is very similar to the original Stoker style, reading like Victorian age literature. It drips with authenticity and while I am certainly no expert on all things Transylvanian, the language, the visual tapestry that the words paint, the place names and family names…it all seems perfect. The ending, to me, seemed a little abrupt as a very long build-up nose-dived off the cliff to a very quick conclusion. I would have preferred a little more meat to this part but, perhaps that is just me wishing the book wasn’t over yet. Nevertheless, it does set up the second book and the very real possibility that the plot may move to England.
I will eagerly turn my attention to the next two books of the trilogy. ...more
Young Clint Connor has been serving time in the Wyoming Territorial Prison for the last three years for the unpardonable sin of stealing a horse. NowYoung Clint Connor has been serving time in the Wyoming Territorial Prison for the last three years for the unpardonable sin of stealing a horse. Now everybody knows that that such a crime committed in the American West during the latter half of the 19th century is second only to murder in seriousness (and maybe not even then) but in Clint’s case it’s an understandable offense since he was really just protecting the horse from the savage abuse being handed out by its owner. Unfortunately, the owner in question happened to be the judge so there just wasn’t going to be a good end to that story.
However, all of that is backstory to the beginning of this novel and the action commences almost immediately when Clint finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and is forced to escape along with a couple of other hardened criminals or face immediate execution. Clint has some savvy to go along with his courage and he is able to turn that situation to his advantage, even though he would have preferred to have served out his sentence and not be forever after running from the law. What follows is a nicely-plotted, unpredictable story filled with nicely drawn characters, several subplots (including a sweet romance), and a satisfying ending.
I’ve read a lot of Westerns over the years but they have almost always been those that were written decades ago, many of them in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. And I rarely grant them 5 stars. I appreciate this author’s attention to historical accuracy as well as the attention he pays to the horses of this novel. He realizes that horses aren’t just part of the scenery and understands that they can’t simply be ridden forever without tiring, needing horseshoe replacement, etc. Seems like a small detail but it just further cements my enjoyment.
I’ve been looking for a more modern writer who writes westerns in a similar style and I think I have found one in Mr. West. I’m happy to see he has quite a few under his belt for me to pursue. ...more
Four societal misfits and conspiracy theorists living in the Washington DC area have banded together to form what they refer to as the Camel Club. LedFour societal misfits and conspiracy theorists living in the Washington DC area have banded together to form what they refer to as the Camel Club. Led by Oliver Stone, a 60+ year old man with a mysterious past, they find themselves accidentally witnessing a murder. That launches them into an adventure beyond their wildest expectations involving a complex and bizarre terrorist plot.
I’ve been a David Baldacci fan since I read Absolute Power. His books don’t always quite live up to that one in my mind but I can pretty much guarantee a good read. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting as much from this one due to some less-than-positive- reviews from my Goodreads friends whose opinions I greatly respect. But I will say now that I enjoyed this one quite a lot. The characters were engaging, not only the four members of the Camel Club but the Secret Service, the terrorists, and even the politicians. The plot required some suspension of disbelief but was nevertheless interesting and moved along swiftly. Most of the novel ticked along fairly predictably but it was evident that something else was unfolding that I needed to be patient for. The payoff was worth it as the nature of the terrorist plot turned out to be anything but predictable and was one of the most unusual I have yet read.
Looking forward to reading the rest of this series. ...more