Edward Logan is a stuffy, predictable, highly respectable businessman. His manservant says you can set your watch by him and he always knows what to eEdward Logan is a stuffy, predictable, highly respectable businessman. His manservant says you can set your watch by him and he always knows what to expect from Mr. Logan. But then, on the day Edward decides he's been a fool over a young woman and, on the advice of his lawyer, goes to ask for his letters back and to tell her good-bye, he becomes impulsive.
EL: I've been a fool...what are you laughing at? F: I thought you were going to say that. There is a faintly sheepish aspect about you this afternoon which is immediately recognizable to any experienced solicitor. It is almost invariable accompanied by the form of words you have just uttered. Or some equivalent synonym. (Edward Logan, Fenchurch; p. 12)
She is not at home when he arrives at her apartment, but her door is unlocked so he walks on in. He finds a note which asks someone (quite probably the suspected other man in the case) to wait as she'll be right back. As he stands looking out the window and tries to decide what to do, he sees a man walking purposefully towards the apartment. When the man comes into the building and his footsteps can be heard on the stairway, Logan is again impulsive and dashes into a closet.
His suspicions about Betty Alton's relationship to the man are put to rest when she arrives home to find her brother (!) in her apartment. But Logan has barely breathed a sigh of relief before Stephen Alton reveals that he's managed to get his hands on some top secret plans, is attempting to avoid the authorities, and wants to sell the plans back to the Russians. And then the Russians show up--demanding the plans and searching the apartment and the occupants for their precious secrets with no success. The Russian spies are quite amused to find a secret lover hidden in the closet and they appear to discard Logan as a prime player in their particular drama. They exit with Alton and Logan runs away from the scene.
He becomes convinced that it might be a practical idea to leave London for a bit...just in case the Russians don't find what they're looking for and decide that he might have it. So he arranges with Greene, his manservant, for his bags to be packed and tickets to be bought for an unexpected trip to France. He then calls his twin brother Laurence, who lives in Paris, and asks him to meet him at the Gare du Nord and put him up in a hotel for a bit.
Laurence is baffled by the odd request. Every time his brother has visited, it has been arranged long in advance, down to the last detail. His brother never does anything on the spur of the moment. Edward is very mysterious and will only tell him that it's a matter of life and death and that all will be explained when he sees Laurence. Laurence's bewilderment increases when he arrives at the station late to find an almost empty train and no sign of his brother. He heads to Edward's compartment and finds his luggage, passport, tickets, and hotel reservations laid out for custom inspection but Edward has vanished without a trace! Before he can decide what to do, the conductor comes and addresses him as Mr. Edward Logan.
Certain signs among his brother's things (items out of place, slits in the lining of the suitcases) and his brother's ominous statement cause Laurence to be a little impulsive himself. He assumes his brother's identity, determined to discover what happened to the normally unadventurous Edward...and avenge him if necessary. Laurence was a member of the French Foreign Legion and the French Resistance during the war so he has no problem with a little adventure. He just wishes he knew what it was all about.
Enter Tommy Hambleton and Inspector Bagshott. Hambleton is attached to the Foreign Office and interested in the fate of a certain German doctor, known to have been carrying secret plans for a device that could play havoc with enemy troops. Bagshott is with Scotland Yard and wants to know who had it in for Stephen Alton. He also knows that Herr Muntz disappeared overboard while on a Mr. Stephen Alton's ship and the papers may or may not have gone over the side as well.
Muntz--let's call him that--was carrying a briefcase containing papers which he said were worth vast sums to the Russians and when the British Government saw them they would dance ring-o'-roses round Nelson's Column. So said the second engineer. (Bagshott; p. 55)
Hambleton gets on the track of a trio of Russians and follows the trail to France while Bagshott investigates in England. Things really get interesting as Laurence, the Russians, and Hambleton all race to find each other and the missing plans.
This is another fun outing by Manning Coles, the neighborly writing duo of Adelaide Frances Oke Manning and Cyril Henry Coles. Spy thrillers aren't my usual fare, but this particular series is breezy, witty, and humorous. There are more coincidences and unlikely events than you can shake a stick at--but you don't care, dead bodies accumulate at an alarming rate, and there is, of course, no real mystery about who did what to whom, but it's a rollicking good yarn. The only real mystery is what did Alton do with those darn plans?
New Orleans Requiem is one of several re-releases of Donaldson's books by Astor + Blue Editions. Originally published in the late 80s and early 90s, tNew Orleans Requiem is one of several re-releases of Donaldson's books by Astor + Blue Editions. Originally published in the late 80s and early 90s, the heroes of Donaldson's stories have no cell phones, only beepers, and the presenters at the forensics meeting use actual slide shows instead of Power Point presentations. So, we all get to go for a short time travel trip to a time when one cut phone line can mean life or death for one of the characters. The story itself, however, doesn't feel dated at all.
Serial killers and high-suspense thrillers are, generally speaking, not my cup of tea. But the description of Broussard and Kit put me in mind of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin and the scrabble tile clues made for a nice hook to draw me in. It also helps that this is more a blend of police procedural/forensic investigation than a straight-up serial killer fest. I thoroughly enjoyed Broussard and Kit and the way their skills complement each other. Kit regards Broussard as a mentor as well as a colleague and so often feels like she isn't quite measuring up, but without her skills and input there is little chance that he would arrive at the correct solution.
A fast-paced thriller with much of the classic whodunnit. There is a really nice twist at the end and the final reveal came as a big surprise. Enjoyable read for thriller, police procedural, and whodunnit fans alike. [First posted at My Reader's Block.]
[Disclaimer: My review policy is posted on my blog My Reader's Block, but just to reiterate....The book was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.] ...more
For years leading up to December 21, 2012, people were getting their end-of-the-world mojo on. It seemed like everywhere you looked someone was puttinFor years leading up to December 21, 2012, people were getting their end-of-the-world mojo on. It seemed like everywhere you looked someone was putting out a book taking advantage of the reading public's interest in the supposed doomsday predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar. I read a few myself just to see what was up. I missed 12.21 by Dustin Thomason (Aug. 2012). That's not too shocking given the fact that I'm not, generally speaking, all that into thrillers--particularly medical thrillers. In fact--without scanning through my books read list--I believe the last medical thriller I read was Coma by Robin Cook....in the 80s. But you know how I am with challenges...I can't resist them. So, when Shellyrae at Book'ed Out called for a medical thriller in her Eclectic Reader Challenge and the Goodreads Literary Exploration Challenge also called for a thriller, I couldn't say no.
And the premise for 12.21 grabbed me when I went hunting in the library website for a medical thriller that I thought might do ('cause I just don't have those hanging about the house...).
Lots of interesting historical tie-ins which Thomason uses to put a twist on the usual Mayan end-of-the-world thing (shifting of the poles, great earthquakes, and all those other climatic earth-related disasters). I really enjoyed learning about the Mayans through the ancient codes. The plot line itself is good--believable and a bit scary if prions really could turn that dangerous. It is a fast-moving, quick read that I enjoyed on a a lot of levels. However, like several others on Goodreads, I did find it a bit difficult to connect with the characters. I just never got invested in most of them as people and the one character that I found the most intriguing (and I can't tell you why without a spoiler) winds up dying. Ain't that always the way? Overall--a darn good read for something so far out of my comfort zone. (Three & 1/2 stars, actually)
In Murder in the Wind (aka Hurricane) by John D. MacDonald (1956) we have a suspenseful tale of natural disaster and man-made murder. Hurricane Hilda,In Murder in the Wind (aka Hurricane) by John D. MacDonald (1956) we have a suspenseful tale of natural disaster and man-made murder. Hurricane Hilda, a storm of terrifying intensity is headed straight for Highway 19 in Florida. In its path, a half dozen cars carrying a disparate group of people--headed out of Florida on business of their own and trying to outrun the storm. When they are forced to detour off the main road and the storm blocks their path, they must seek shelter in a rickety, abandoned house. The ragtag bunch includes an undercover agent who has just taken revenge for a personal tragedy, a small-time criminal in over his head with sidekick and girlfriend in tow, a beautiful young widow trying to start over, a young family returning north after a failed attempt to make a living in Florida, a gold-digging ex-tennis player and his wealthy young wife, and a businessman whose life's work is crumbling before his eyes because of the inadequacy of his subordinate (also along for the ride). Their refuge from the awesome power of nature becomes a sort of grand and grisly hotel - especially once the invisible hand of flying death descends.
Less a mystery than a survival story, most of the suspense comes from the looming storm rather than from any doubt about who was murdered and why or by whom. When it happens, we know the full story. The only question in regards to the killer is whether s/he will make it out of the storm alive and escape justice. More than half the story is focused on each of the six cars headed towards zero hour in the abandoned house. Told from various points of view, we get to know who each of the characters is, their back story, and what events have set them on Highway 19 headed north out of Florida and into one of the most violent hurricanes to hit Florida (at least until the 1950s). There are tensions of all sorts--from the normal tensions of people facing a natural disaster to tensions between the couples to the tensions between small-time crooks and the law (the federal agent). The storm will prove who are heroes and heroines and who are cowards and who will take advantage of the storm to do a little murder.
Overall, a well-told tale by a master stylist with well-rounded characters. My only disappointment was going in expecting a mystery and not finding much mystification. ★★★ and a half
I would have finished Donna Tartt's near-600 pager, The Secret History, much sooner if my dad's medical emergency hadn't eaten up most of my reading tI would have finished Donna Tartt's near-600 pager, The Secret History, much sooner if my dad's medical emergency hadn't eaten up most of my reading time last week. That's a round-about way of telling you that this is a pretty impressive page-turner for a book about a bunch of (mostly) upper-class privileged college kids who know Greek like the back of their hands and use their studies and knowledge to reenact an ancient Greek Bacchanalia. It's quite interesting to see scholarship-dependent Richard with all the insecurities of a West Coast middle to lower-middle class student try to fit in with the "cool kids."
The Bacchanalia is what leads to all their troubles....the "secret" of the Secret History--they push beyond the limits of morality in a way that most college students would never dream. And I find this story to be more of an intricate examination of how various personalities handle the pressures brought on by what the group has done than a regular whodunnit kind of mystery. Tartt handles the psychological reactions very well and it is very interesting to see who falls apart, who remains stoic, and what Richard makes of it all. The reader also has to wonder at the motivations behind the apparent easy acceptance of Richard into the highly secretive, exclusive Greek studies group.
Kudos to Tartt for making such an appalling story--I mean, really...what these college kids get up to and how they treat those who are their friends--into such an appealing and absorbing read. Four stars.
This was first posted on my blog My Reader's Blog. Please request permission before reposting any portion. Thanks!...more
Abraham Grace Merritt wrote under the name of A. Merritt. He was extraordinarily popular during the 20s and the 30s--especially for fantasy and horrorAbraham Grace Merritt wrote under the name of A. Merritt. He was extraordinarily popular during the 20s and the 30s--especially for fantasy and horror. His novel Seven Footprints to Satan was first published as a five-installment serial in the 1927 Argosy-All-Story Weekly and then published in book form in 1928. It has been billed as mystery, horror and thriller--and I'd say it's quite a mix of all three, leaning more towards the thriller with a bit of mystery and horror thrown in for flavor. The super-villain reminds me of Fu Manchu mixed with Moriarty. For the period, the racial stereotypes are not nearly as prominent as the Fu Manchu books, although they are still there.
But down to cases...James Kirkham, world traveler and adventurer who seems to be a precursor to Indiana Jones, has returned to New York City after his latest exploit. One in which he relieved a rather nasty fellow of some priceless jade tablets. During his short time back in the City, he has felt as though he has been under constant surveillance. All of his adventurer's senses are on the alert, but he can never see anyone suspicious about. When he begins to feel the unseen eyes upon him in even the secluded confines of his club, he decides to draw his pursuers into the open by deliberately walking through the most deserted parts of the city.
Just when he thinks his plan has failed, he finds himself neatly abducted--without violence and right under the nose of a friendly (but totally unhelpful) policeman as well as a member of the marines. He finds himself conducted by subway and then by car (with curtained windows so he can't see where he's taken) to the sprawling estate and fortress-like home of a man who goes by the name of Satan. Satan claims to be the most powerful man in the world--with hundreds of willing servants at his beck and call, ready to kill when asked and to steal the treasures of the world at a moment's notice.
Kirkham has drawn Satan's attention with his daring exploits around the world and the evil mastermind is determined to make Kirkham one of his minions. But he claims to be a fair evil genius--he will gamble with Kirkham for his life, his freedom, or eternal servitude. In his throne room there are two thrones--one in which Satan sits and one which holds a jeweled crown and scepter. On the steps leading to the crown are seven footprints. Four are "good" prints and three are "evil"--the positions of good and evil are not static. There is a mechanical device that is spun and randomly assigns the footsteps their good or evil status. Anyone gambling with Satan must trod on four of the prints. If he steps on one "evil" print, then he must perform one service of Satan's choosing. If he steps on two "evil" prints, then he will owe Satan a year of service. If he steps on all three "evil" prints, then he is Satan's to do with as he pleases--lifelong service, to kill in what ever horrible way he chooses, anything. On the other hand, if he manages to step only on the "good" prints, then Satan and all his minions and all his wealth (and he's got a TON of that) is the victor's to command.
Kirkham is always ready for a gamble--but his task is made more difficult by the presence of the lovely Eve, a woman for whom he will do anything to save her from Satan's clutches, and Harry, a cockney mechanic whose life Kirkham once saved and who is looking to return the favor. The story revolves around Kirkham's gamble and seeing how our hero will manage to escape from Satan and all his devoted servants.
This was a fast-paced thriller that was easily read in single evening. I was surprised at how much fun and how engaging this little trip into a fantastic pseudo-cult could be. Satan really is quite nasty and the delight he takes in destroying those who fail him is really diabolical--and all with without the blood and gore that is prevalent in more recent thrillers. There are also interesting questions to consider--is Satan as supernatural as he claims or is he just an incredibly intelligent and persuasive human master criminal. Merritt doesn't necessarily answer that question--and if Satan is really "the devil" as Harry puts it, then the story itself makes you willing to believe it. Three and a half star for a very entertaining read.
Whatever I might have been, whatever I might become, here, today, I am a man who keeps his promises. ~Michael Suslov (p.435)
Michael Suslov is a CIA agWhatever I might have been, whatever I might become, here, today, I am a man who keeps his promises. ~Michael Suslov (p.435)
Michael Suslov is a CIA agent in Argentina. A man with slim ties to the former First Lady of Argentina, Eva Peron; he nonetheless has promises to keep and, as the saying goes, miles to go before he sleeps. And before this story is over he will be called upon to keep those promises--even at the risk of his life.
When Eva Peron dies, her body is preserved and held in trust for the Argentine people--but her body vanishes from the vault where it was kept and moved from place to place. Each time Evita's body is moved, devoted followers manage to find her and flowers are sent. After sixteen years, the Argentine people want Evita back and Suslov is called upon to transport the body safely. But there are more groups than one who want Evita's body...and moreover, they want to find the key to a Swiss bank box rumored to hold the millions that Evita reportedly stole. Some of the people on Suslov's trail are rogue CIA agents, some are former colleagues, and some are former friends--but they all want Evita and most want the money. It becomes more and more difficult for Suslov to determine who is on what side and it will be a long dangerous journey before Evita can be brought home and Michael can keep his promises.
After a somewhat slow beginning, this turns into a fast-paced thriller that keeps the reader on her toes. Lots of action and the chase in the final chapters is well worth the ride. The best of the book is in the denouement and I enjoyed Michael's interactions with Gina and Hector. And I have to chuckle when I think of the wool they pull over General Peron's eyes in those last moments. I agreed to read this as a review request because of the story of Evita--I knew very little before and was intrigued by the historical context and mysterious circumstances. It was very interesting to find out how many of the extraordinary events were factual. Overall, a very solid and interesting read. I give it three and a half stars, but if you are a thriller or espionage fan I can easily imagine it earning a higher rating.
This was first posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting Thanks!
[Disclaimer: This book was made available to me as an advanced reader copy--there may be differences between this copy and the final published version. My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate...This review copy was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.] ...more