Try to imagine an H.P. Lovecraft story written by a classical liberal gun nut, and you've got the gist of it. Plus, thEnormously fun, gleefully pulpy.
Try to imagine an H.P. Lovecraft story written by a classical liberal gun nut, and you've got the gist of it. Plus, the author has a bit of fun tweaking your expectations. The scene with the elves is just about worth the price of admission on its own....more
A fascinating read and treasure trove of research info of the period for writers.
Jack Webb (not a ghost writer) takes you into the Los Angeles PoliceA fascinating read and treasure trove of research info of the period for writers.
Jack Webb (not a ghost writer) takes you into the Los Angeles Police Department of the 1950s, from bottom to top. His style is sharp and easy to read, if occasionally irritating (Specifics.), and if you can get past some of his presumptions (though his implicit views of race relations are remarkably enlightened for the time) it's not only informative but pretty dang entertaining.
Topics covered include incidents familiar to readers of James Ellroy, including the Black Dahlia murder and the Bloody Christmas incident.
This book did not have its copyright renewed, and is available for download from Munseys....more
**spoiler alert** Decent entry in Flynn's series of espionage thrillers featuring Mitch Rapp. Flynn's strengths are orchestrating complex action seque**spoiler alert** Decent entry in Flynn's series of espionage thrillers featuring Mitch Rapp. Flynn's strengths are orchestrating complex action sequences and showing the reader the minutia of covert operations, from tedious surveillance to tactical awareness in combat.
Characterization of anyone who is not of a military mindset is generally one of his weak points, which he attempts to make an asset in this particular story. In other words, say goodbye to one of the series's least-convincing, most annoying characters. This is meant to provide motivation for the latter part of the plot, but since the groundwork laid out in the previous books and here is so unconvincing, the motivation is more of a floating abstraction than visceral to the reader.
The plot is pretty simple. The relative of one of Rapp's victims in the previous book puts a bounty on his head, an assassination team is hired to take him out, and they make the attempt. Obviously, they don't quite succeed, and the rest of the book is Rapp hunting down everyone involved and getting retribution.
The simplicity is one of the things I've always enjoyed about the Mitch Rapp series. The plotting is not baroque, and therefore is generally believable. It struck me as a bit less so here than in, say, The Third Option, but the tale as a whole was engaging enough, and I finished it in three or four days (I'm usually a very slow reader).
(On my personal rating scale, three stars is "very good". Four is excellent, and five is World Classic.)...more
It starts with the Author's Forward, then commences with Chapter Two. Then you get Chapter Six. Along the way, you are treated to Chapter No!, ChapterIt starts with the Author's Forward, then commences with Chapter Two. Then you get Chapter Six. Along the way, you are treated to Chapter No!, Chapter A+, and Chapter NCC-1701. Knowing that, you either want to read this book right away (but read the first three in the series before you do); or else you are an Evil Librarian.
One of the strongest books in the series, and a nice lead-in to the climactic (but as-yet unwritten, damn it) fifth book....more
As I was reading it, my thought was that this was one of the best of the Mitch Rapp series. The pacing, action, and plot mechanics are among Flynn's bAs I was reading it, my thought was that this was one of the best of the Mitch Rapp series. The pacing, action, and plot mechanics are among Flynn's best. Unfortunately, the climax was a bit abbreviated and not really up to what went before. All in all a good read, and not unsatisfying, but not quite up to the high-water marks of The Third Option and Memorial Day....more
Iran's nuclear weapons program comes crashing down, quite literally, and the country's peacock of a president sees the very public destruction as an oIran's nuclear weapons program comes crashing down, quite literally, and the country's peacock of a president sees the very public destruction as an opportunity to turn world opinion against the USA and Israel. While the president is escalating international tensions, the head of Iran's intelligence services quietly meets with the director of the CIA in an attempt to defuse the situation.
And then things go pear-shaped to such a degree that only Mitch Rapp can put them right.
This is one of Vince Flynn's best books, showcasing his strengths as a writer, and downplaying his weaknesses. His prose remains clear and unartificed, keeping out of the way of the story most of the time. His plotting continues to be unburdened by unnecessary over-intricacy, and is mostly believable -- most of the the biggest stretches are more than covered by the time-pressure within the story itself. But there's no triple-false climax with the main bad guy dying and getting resurrected endlessly just for the sake of jump scares, or anything like that. His research, as always, is solid and grounded. And his understanding of Middle East culture, specifically Iranian culture, is markedly more accurate than any number of mainstream media talking heads's.
His characters are as simple and direct as usual. Which, in the case of Special Forces veterans, is an accurate depiction. Other characters suffer a bit from this lack of complexity, but Flynn at least attempts to portray them fairly. One might complain that his villains are cartoonish and over the top, but in doing so one would be confessing one's ignorance of world events over the past decade or more.
The weaknesses I found myself regretting the most -- and this is purest nitpicking for a thriller of this sort -- are that his portrayal of Iranian/Persian culture could have been much deeper and more analytical, and that Mitch Rapp continues to be incapable of being wrong in any significant or philosophical way.
Rapp is a killer, and an unapologetic one. Such men are necessary in the defense of a nation, and I think it's great that Flynn makes a point of explaining why Rapp has no qualms, what his code is, and his standards. But it's getting to the point where his unerring judgment is getting a bit silly. He has never Gone Too Far, the reader is always meant to be on his side even when he does brutal, horrific things. I'm starting to want to see him in a position where he isn't right, where doing things his way is not only wrong, but makes things much worse than they were. It would add a lot to the character, and be a significant challenge to Flynn as a writer.
That said, at least Flynn hasn't done something completely idiotic, like making Rapp the POTUS....more
I first began this one in the mistaken belief that it preceded "Extreme Measures", and I was rather impresThis would be one of Flynn's best, except...
I first began this one in the mistaken belief that it preceded "Extreme Measures", and I was rather impressed at the leap in Flynn's jump in narrative maturity. Coming to it cold, you feel like you dropped right in the middle of a complicated story, and have to piece some things together as you go along, which was fun.
Then I looked again at the copyright date, set this one aside, and read the preceding book first before continuing.
Still, while this book follows on about a week after the climax of "Extreme Measures", and continues the story threads that remained open, it DOES add some new elements that you have to work a little to figure out how they affected the previous book. (And it's not ret-conning, it was clearly intended in both books.) So while it's not so much of a "here you are in the middle of events, work it out for yourself" scenario as I first thought, it remained satisfying.
Flynn makes use of one scene to make an anti-abortion statement. To be fair, he clearly does not think that is what he is doing. Flynn's hero, Mitch Rapp, is confronted by a California senator over the morality of torture, and calls her out for hypocrisy since she supports late-term abortion. Since Rapp is (obviously) pro-torture, and since he explicitly has no opinion on abortion, he is "just pointing out the hypocrisy" of the senator. And, for Rapp the character, I can accept that.
But author Flynn clearly has an agenda. He sets up the confrontation to ensure that the reader is in great anticipation. He fails to treat the pro-choice side with any seriousness at all. The senator makes no attempt to explain that her position proceeds from the right of a woman to her own body (or if she does, it's so weak as to come off as forgettable sophistry). As far as Flynn is concerned, she is for killing innocent babies, and there can be no other way of looking at it.
I have no problem reading books from authors who hold opinions contrary to my own (as this opinion clearly is), but it leaves a bad taste when said author justifies his side with the thinnest of straw men.
It's only one scene (and a very brief moment earlier in the story). It doesn't ruin the book. But it does bring it down a notch, because it's such a false note. And an unnecessary one. If he had just dealt with the conflict of different ideas (and the premises from which they proceed) honestly, it might have even elevated the book quite a bit.
On the positive side, Flynn's portrayal of the destructiveness of narcissism is excellent. There are (at least) two full-blown narcissists in the story, and their characterizations are almost completely different. The effects of their psychology, and the actions they take, are widely divergent, but completely believable and, in one case, terrifying.
Overall, a pretty good entry in the Mitch Rapp series, which would have been one of the best if not for the author cheating in advocating one of his political opinions....more
Steven Brust's very professional piece of Firefly fanfiction (not actually, he began it as a tie-in novel; when that deal fell through, he released itSteven Brust's very professional piece of Firefly fanfiction (not actually, he began it as a tie-in novel; when that deal fell through, he released it as fan fic under a Creative Commons license) is a welcome chance to spend a little more time with Mal, Zoe, Wash, Simon, River, Kaylee and Jayne, and fills in the time between the TV series and the film rather nicely.
Brust gets each character's voice perfectly -- and you know it, because each scene is narrated from a different character's point of view, you aren't told up front who it is, but you never wonder for more than a few sentences.
I was happy to spend more time with everyone (especially Wash), but the story felt a bit thin, rather like an over-long episode of the show than a full novel. (And, at 55,000 words, it's a bit short for a novel, even by old SF paperback standards, where 75-80k would have been on the shorter end.) Still, I was thankful to have even this much more time with Serenity's crew.
A previously unexplored island in the far southern Pacific is visited by the crew of a reality TV show about oceanic scientists sailing the world. WhaA previously unexplored island in the far southern Pacific is visited by the crew of a reality TV show about oceanic scientists sailing the world. What they find is an island where evolution branched off from life as we know it at about the time of the Cambrian explosion, hundreds of millions of years. And everything, but EVERYTHING, is lightning fast and aggressively carnivorous.
Good at visceral, we're-getting-eaten-by-monsters thrills, with the requisite pacing. The plot is nothing terribly original, but it works.
But the characters. Oy. The main players are okay. The bad guy is well-defined and memorable (if a bit of a mustache-twirler in his own mind -- not in his actions, but in his thoughts as narrated). The heroine is actually kind of awesome, in that there is at least one point where, based on previous stories of this sort, you expect her to do one thing, but she does the opposite. And the opposite is what any actual human being would do, by the by. The hero is less vivid, but serviceable.
Everyone else, alas, is either a grotesque charicature, or else simply a placeholder with narrated attributes that do little or nothing to keep them stuck in the reader's memory. To the point where one character is grievously and spectacularly wounded early on, and I have no idea whether he miraculously is okay a few weeks later, or he just disappeared from the narrative to be replaced by another placeholder.
It's very definitely Crighton-esque, but without Michael's appalling anti-science (and anti-capitalist) prejudices. The monsters, and the evolution behind them, are pretty danged fun (and, from my limited knowledge, not at all impossible given the premises from which they proceed). The action is well-executed. If it weren't for the paltry characters (and a remarkably silly deus ex machina toward the end), this would rank as highly as Crighton's best.
I look forward to Fahy's next, despite being somewhat underwhelmed by this effort....more
Completely enjoyable first installment in Drake's space-opera take on Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series.
The combination of jaunty high adventurCompletely enjoyable first installment in Drake's space-opera take on Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series.
The combination of jaunty high adventure with Drake's usual unblinking presentation of brutality works much better for me than his usual straight military SF. The moments of amusement and fun are a good respite from the bleak results of violence.
Drake also makes the very interesting decision to make one of the viewpoint characters a sociopath who knows, more or less, what she is, and tries very hard not to be. I look forward to what he does with the character in the later installments of the series....more