“The Alchemists of the Loom”, by Elise Kova, which is about to be published in early January, 2017 should be on every fantasy reader’s list of books t“The Alchemists of the Loom”, by Elise Kova, which is about to be published in early January, 2017 should be on every fantasy reader’s list of books to purchase in 2017. I scored a copy from net galley, and read, actually devoured this book, in two days . The world building in this steampunk fantasy is impressive as are the characters, but the plot zipped, zipped along propelling this reader on a fun, fun read. Combining magic and engineering, fantastical creatures, artificial beings and nasty human dragons, the story has enough elements to entrance any reader.
Loom is populated by the human Fenthri, who used to belong to five guilds, the Rivets –mechanical engineers, the Revolvers, inventors of guns and developers of magical weapons, the Alchemists, transformers of people are the three are especially prominent in this story. But Loom has been subjugated by the warlike Dragons of Nova, a land above Loom, which has been led for hundreds of years by the Dragon King. The Dragons, magical creatures who look human but have golden blood, claws, and are impervious to most magic and heal themselves of most wounds, unless their heart is ripped from their body or their head is cut off. Plus the Dragons have magic. The Dragon King enforces his will on Loom with his Riders, Dragons who can fly down to Loom on gliders. Chimera, Fenthri who have been transfused with Dragon blood can also do magic.
As we enter the story, Ari, who goes by the nom de guerre, the White Wraith is busy robbing a refinery to obtain reagents, magical chemicals that have a high street value. While escaping she runs into Cvareh, a Dragon, who promises her a boon for her aid in taking him to the Alchemist’s Guild. Cvareh has stolen plans from the Dragon King, which he and his sister, a contender for the Dragon throne, think will be enough to usurp the King. But only the Alchemists' Guild can use the plans and they are all the way on the other side of Loom.
Enlisting the aid of her apprentice Florence, who started life as a Rivet, but is now a Revolver, Ari, Florence and Cvareh must travel across the world, while the Dragon Kin's Riders - three trained Dragons, led by the ruthless Leona, who killed her own sister for an earlier failure to stop Cvareh, will try to stop the quest. Ari is legendary, a famous thief, who uses her magic winch box and skills with blades on her jobs, but she has a backstory, hinted at in the novel, about a time before the Dragons subjugated Loom. Maybe a prior rebellion. Kova only drops a few hints here and there to whet the appetite.
There will be an insane jailbreak of a super secret island prison, a battle on an airship, underground travel on a fast moving Rivet train, and an epic fight between Ari and Leona. Some of Ari's secrets will be revealed early on. In the engine room of a sailship, she will re-engineer the boat's engine, only something a master Rivet could succeed at, but others you will have to learn on your own. Part adventure, part romance, part quest and all a success.
Will they survive to get to the Alchemists' Guild, and if so, will Cvareh be successful. Are the plans enough. Secrets will be spilled. All will be hurt, some killed, others transformed.
Kova's world is real, her characters interesting. The magic, machinery and world meshed together very well.
At the forefront of "The Drifter", the superb thriller debut from Nicholas Petrie, is Peter Ash, a veteran, who came back from war in the Middle EastAt the forefront of "The Drifter", the superb thriller debut from Nicholas Petrie, is Peter Ash, a veteran, who came back from war in the Middle East with a buzzing static noise in his head whenever he goes inside and a debt that he feels to help the family of Jimmy Johnson, a soldier under Peter' command. Jimmy also came home damaged and is now dead, an apparent suicide. Peter's urge to help the family will lead him on a collision course with a mysterious stranger illegally buying fertilizer and leaving a line of corpses on back roads and truck stops.
A tautly written thriller, lacking spies and anti terrorist troops, but with a convincing plot and real character. Edgy and slowly boiling to a thrilling climax, this book will hold your interest.
A man of war, Peter Ash is doing day labor for Dinah, Jimmy's widow, fixing a porch on the house that is near collapse. Before he can fix the porch, Peter is asked to get a mean dog hiding in the crawl space under the house. His encounter in the dark narrow space armed only with a small stick, his wits and a couple of pieces of rope is a brilliant start - a look into the heart of a warrior, who crawls head first into danger tackling the angry dog and a dangerous suitcase filled with 400K in cash and 4 bricks of C-4. But we immediately see another side of Peter as he works to tame the dog.
But that is not the only revelation about Peter or the money. Dinah's house is being watched by a man with a gun. And a confrontation with Dinah's old flame, a serious crime boss reveals no knowledge of the money or explosives.
Peter wants to protect Dinah, and he goes on the hunt - tracking Jimmy's last moments, and uncovers evidence that Jimmy's death was no accident. It seems that Jimmy was also trying to find a missing Marine. But he soon runs afoul of a killer armed with an AK-47 lying in ambush, who not only shoots at Peter but his truck, an insult that ends with a dead killer.
The killer and his friends have picked on the wrong man to start a fight. Peter is a war veteran with real war skills, good with guns, and in a tough fight, a killer trained by war and the Marines, who has stepped out of the action, but returns to it like an old glove. Having him in your rear sights is not good for the bad guys.
His search will lead him to a vet rehab center, a dead heiress, a murderous investment banker and important revelations about the death of Jimmy, and all the while a growing awareness of a conspiracy. An unexpected enemy, a nasty confrontation. Who is really pulling the strings and why.
Until the chips will fall and Peter will have to stop it all.
The one issue with this novel is that a chief character, a killer involved in the evil conspiracy will unconvincingly change his spots, and it is a significant development just at the key moment. There are reasons for it, emotional, or maybe the idea that even a hardened soul has some limits, but it seemed to this reader to be a little hard to believe.
Excepting this one flaw, this thriller has it all. Great action, believable characters and a great story. ...more
**spoiler alert** "Radiant Angel", the seventh book in the John Corey series is a lean and mean thriller from the pen of Nelson DeMille. Unlike the bl**spoiler alert** "Radiant Angel", the seventh book in the John Corey series is a lean and mean thriller from the pen of Nelson DeMille. Unlike the bloated "Panther", the 629 page prior Corey novel, this book is more straight forward and less involved. The villains are identified early to the reader and the hunt to stop them is on. Corey, an egotistical wise cracking ex-cop, who somehow always ends up with a beautiful female partner, is back in all of his glory. So if you did not like him in the "Panther", or the far better "Lion's Game" or "Plum Island", you should just stop reading this review and not buy the book. If you still like DeMille and by extension Corey, then this quick read is a perfect beach read.
Corey has been involved in various anti-terrorist actions in the DeMille centric universe. Now, his wife Kate Mayfield is in Washington, and Corey, has accepted a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group, which keeps tabs on members of the United Nations, who the US feels may be in country in non-diplomatic roles. Corey, his trainee partner Tess Faraday and other agents are waiting at the UN for Vasily Petrov, a Russian colonel. We soon know that Petrov is up to something because he has received top secret orders from Russia and a bag with several automatic weapons.
When Petrov leaves New York with two other men, one of whom is another military officer and drives to a party on Long Island at the home of a Russian oligarth, outside the approved perimeter for diplomats, Corey and his team follows. Soon he is suspicious of both Petrov and Faraday, the former for the trip, and the latter for her knowledge and mysteriously long bathroom breaks. Corey suspicions soon prove true. Petrov is up to no good, and Faraday is no trainee.
Corey and Faraday break into the party posing as fake caterers and watch as Petrov and his colleagues, who are not enjoying the party, the booze or the girls, leave the party in a suspicious water craft, with 12 of the prostitutes and head out to sea.
Faraday then shows her true spots and leads Corey to his CIA non-friend Buck, a double-crossing CIA agent in the "Panther", that Petrov's companion is a Soviet designer of pocket nukes and Petrov may be trying to use a nuclear devise against the USA.
The action then switches entirely to Petrov's party on board the ship, which meets up with a Saudi prince's yacht, where Petrov and his assassin counterpart soon dispatch the crew, the prince and the girls in a bloody takeover of the yacht. They soon rendezvous with a Russian trawler, which has a pilot for their yacht and a pocket nuke. Now that we know where and what the Russians plan, DeMille switches back to Corey and Faraday.
Corey uses his contacts with local cops to try to trackdown Petrov but its like trying to find a needle on the high seas. But using his investigative know how and questioning the Russians at the party will have to figure out where Petrov is and get to him before he can detonate the nuke. The ultimate confrontation is all one can want in a thriller.
There is a lot of Corey wise cracking in this volume, and not a lot of delving into the back stories of the characters or their lives, but if you like a lean read with plenty of action, this will keep you engrossed. ...more
While other countries and terrorists have become the focal point of thriller novels in the last few years, Russia, the Cold War and the fear of nucleaWhile other countries and terrorists have become the focal point of thriller novels in the last few years, Russia, the Cold War and the fear of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands will never go out of favor as a focal point for the powerful impact. Pocket nukes, small highly transportable bombs with a huge kill zone are especially worrisome and scary. Throw in the recent rise of Putin Russia and the signs all point to a revival of the US - Russia conflict in books. But terrorism, with its usual loss of life and diabolical villains is still going to be a good source of plots for decades to come.
While a tad long compared to "Radiant Angel" by Nelson DeMille, reviewed here, another book that just came out which covers a similar situation, Ben Coes "Independence Day" is a terrific read that I barreled through like a dragster at Raceway Park. This book has it all: terrific action, gun fights, car chases, motorcycles, helipcopters, bad guys with guns, nukes, hackers, terrorists, Chechens, the CIA, Delta, murder and destruction. A brilliant Russian hacker, who saw his scientist father murdered in front of his eyes by agents of the US, has contacted a plot to kill millions of Americans with a stolen Russian pocket nuke. Can Amercia stop him in time? It will be touch and go, as Coes throws out all the usual action thriller tropes, but in a highly enjoyable fashion, that keeps the reader locked in.
Anchoring the story is Dewey Andreas, a man coping with the death of another loved one (yes another standard plot point in thriller fiction) who is trying to deal with his grief by saving the USA yet again. Put out to pasture by psychological tests and some kind of dirty plot (that is never really explained or finished), Andreas goes lone wolf to try to stop an anticipated attack on the USA. He will travel to Russia on his own and off the sanctioned radar and soon enough he will be the only one who can capture a person who can help the US stop the plan. Wounded, he will leave a trail of dead agents in his wake as he strives to get to the mastermind in time.
But he will not be the only one working to stop the terrorists. The US will get a white hat hacker to thwart the black hat hacker at home and Andreas will join up with a Russian mobster in the penultimate action sequence in the novel. Other smart agents will step in as well. It will not be only Andreas doing it all on his own. US intelligence will make serious inroads in trying to stop the terrorists. The final scene will not even involve Andreas.
Coming in at a little over 500 pages, the book reads very fast. Its the kind of book that you read until you have eye strain, go to sleep and read until your done kind of book that fans of Ben Coes have come to expect.
Thief is Mark Sullivan's crackling action packed third book in his Robin Monarch series. Thriller fans rejoice. Stay up to dawn and sate yourself on aThief is Mark Sullivan's crackling action packed third book in his Robin Monarch series. Thriller fans rejoice. Stay up to dawn and sate yourself on armed combat, ambushes ( in the air, on land, and on the ice) safe cracking, high technology, low morals, rich tycoons with bad manners, monstrous criminals and a cool modern setting. Monarch, an ex special forces and CIA agent, is a modern day robin hood who steals to support the good work of Sister Rachel, a nun who runs an orphanage and medical clinic for the poor in South America.
This time Monarch is going after a big score, stealing from tycoon Beau Arsenault, a wealthy industrialist who is not afraid to bend a rule or two to make millions or to use his great wealth to crush people. But Monarch's plans go awry and he is wounded. Unaccustomed to anyone brazen enough to steal from him, Arsenault vows revenge and soon finds out Monarch's identity and orchestrates the kidnapping of Sister Rachel, to get at Monarch.
But then Arsenault also finds out about a potential medical miracle and uses Sister Rachel to blackmail Monarch into stealing a secret so powerful it can change the world. Santos, a scientist, has found the secret location of her grandmother's Indian forbears. Now the race is on as Monarch finances and accompanies the beautiful scientist Santos' expedition into the Amazon basin to a hidden valley where Indian natives have a secret Ponce De Leon would envy. But two teams of armed men are also following. The valley has other wealth.
Meanwhile, Monarch's team (Chavez, Claudio and Barnett) is in Europe tracking down the people who helped Arsenault kidnap Sister Rachel, who they hope can reveal where she is being held. A daring raid on an ice lake will lead to a possible clue. And somewhere in South America, Hector Vargas, a ruthless member of the Monarch's former thieves guild is holding Sister Rachel and subjecting her to torture.
Will Monarch steal Santos secret or protect her from the armed men? Will his team find where Sister Rachel is being held before she is harmed any worse? Will Monarch exact revenge on Vargas, Arsenault and the others that stand in his way? ...more
Alex Berenson's latest John Wells espionage / thriller novel "Twelve Days" the sequel to "The Counterfeit Agent" continues to entertain in ways that pAlex Berenson's latest John Wells espionage / thriller novel "Twelve Days" the sequel to "The Counterfeit Agent" continues to entertain in ways that put him a notch above the typical thriller writer, but there is a real inevitability to this story that somewhat soured my appreciation for Mr. Berenson's otherwise well written prose and thrills. The ultimate outcome is never in doubt. While that may be true in most thrillers, Berenson has carved out a niche with unpredictable endings and more realistic stories. This novel hewed more toward the predictable result that other better plotted or written Wells novels eschewed. It also seemed a little paint by numberesque. Lets put in a scene with Wells children to show that he is not a robot, but has feelings.
If you can keep an open mind, however, Berenson does come up with an interesting plot and the book is self assured, smart and engaging. As we know from the Counterfeit Agent, a billionaire industrialist Duberman has conspired with his nervy female Mata Hari like Salome to sucker the United States onto the road to going to war with Iran. Duberman's money and Salome's agents used blackmarket nuclear material in The Countefeit Agent to make the United States think that Iran had blown up a nuclear bomb. Salome's plan is to save Israel and destroy Iran's nuclear capability by having the United States destroy Iran. Now America has given Iran just twelve short days to prove its innocence.
Wells, Duto and Ellis Shafer know that America has been tricked, but they need to find where the Uranium came from to prove it. Duto, a former leader of the CIA,and now rising star of the Senate cannot convince the White House of the plot. It leave it up to Wells to track down every lead and try to find some evidence of Duberman and Salome's machinations. But its not easy. Crisscrossing the globe and just escaping Salome's killers, who seek to block him at every opportunity, a dead end in Switzerland, escaping a plot to kill Wells in Saudi Arabia, where he uses his unique skills to survive an ambush, to escaping a torturous stint in the notorious Lubyanka Prison in Russia by again out-thinking and outsmarting his captors, to a gun battle where Wells is both outgunned and injured, Wells will have to use all of his smarts and skills, to try to stay alive and unravel the odious plan. Every day will bring new tension. Every contact will either be a clue or a killer. Shafer will be threatened. Wells will be captured.
There are plenty of twists and turns to this engaging story to keep most thriller fans happy, but I lost some of the edge and found myself drifting along and not compelled to read every single page in one session.
David Baldacci's latest novel, "The Escape", is a return to his John Puller series about the criminal investigative officer in the military charged wiDavid Baldacci's latest novel, "The Escape", is a return to his John Puller series about the criminal investigative officer in the military charged with hunting down fugitives and military criminals. Puller's brother Robert, an officer in cyber command, was convicted of espionage and is a prisoner at one of America's most secure military prisons. In the two prior books in this series, Robert aided Puller's investigations, so it always seemed like Baldacci had a plan to use him in a bigger way.
This is that book, and it starts off with a bang as Robert escapes from the prison and Puller is sent to investigate. Paired up with a hot (is there any other kind) intelligence agent Veronica Knox . Puller is immediately suspicious about the break out, which involves multiple breaches of the super high security prison, and an unknown dead body in Robert's cell. In the beginning the action is fast and furious, dead bodies pile up and the action propels forward. Baldacci switching from Puller's investigation of his brother's escape to Robert's actions. Knox suggests they investigate why Robert ended up in prison, and there does seem to be some issue with the evidence -- but why would anyone care now. Robert was in a secure facility. Puller suspected nothing. Why make a move against Robert? These questions will have to be answered.
And will Puller ultimately help his brother or turn him in? That is the biggest question of all, but we know immediately what that will mean.
And that is part of the problem with this book. Its obviousness.
Plus the middle of the book is a bit of a churn. Puller suspects, then doesn't suspect , then suspects again that Knox is involved in some way with his brother's disappearance. Too many potential conspirators end up dead for no reason. The conspiracy itself, once uncovered, seems so idiotic. Maybe after reading so many thrillers, one should not expect to find a really murderous crew of monsters, ala the ex Nazi's in the "Boys from Brazil", as its too many years later to use that evilness, so Baldacci is stuck making up his villains book after book. But these conspirators - really couldn't Baldacci do a little better.
So we have an increasingly obvious book, with an obviously possible turncoat agent and once uncovered some clear villains. There are some double switches, some unexpected twists and turns, the end has a good bit of quick moves, and it wraps up very fast, but, I was left feeling robbed of my time because of the overly long middle of the book.
Will thriller fans like this book. Indubitably, but it felt too long to me, too obvious, too by the numbers.
It is a middle class thriller. Baldacci fans will buy it, but to those of us who like good new thrillers - spend your money elsewhere. ...more
Helen Giltrow's stylish action packed thriller "The Distance" is set in an imagined future combining an undercover criminal enterprise, espionage, anHelen Giltrow's stylish action packed thriller "The Distance" is set in an imagined future combining an undercover criminal enterprise, espionage, an assassin and a re-imagining of the classic John Carpenter movie "Escape from New York". Instead of converting Manhattan into a super max prison, in this novel there is an experimental penal colony "the Program", where criminals live policed by other criminals. For the characters in this fast paced thriller, its a time of upheaval, as many things are going on all at once.
Simon, a former hitter for the mob, wants to get into the Program to find Catherine, a mysterious prisoner.
He turns to "Karla", who used to run a secret criminal enterprise. If you wanted to disappear, Karla made it happen. Karla, however, has taken a step back from overall running of her company and is now active in regular society as Charlotte Alton, a well known socialite. But Simon knows Karla / Alton because she helped him escape the mob after a hit went wrong, and Karla, who cares for Simon, may be the only person who can get him in.
She sets it up. Simon, will have to assume the identity of an American killer, and the mobster who is after him - is in charge in the Program, a penal colony where killers make the rules. Its a tough balancing act, as Simon finds Catherine, a doctor, who is caring for the criminals and the thugs imprisoned in the Program. Why is anyone after her? What has she done? Catherine has her demons and so does Simon, who feels some kinship with the decent doctor.
But Karla does not only make people disappear. She has a conscience. When she finds out information an incipient terrorist plot or other threat to British life, she does not sit on the information. For the last few years, she has been secretly passing the information on to British intelligence through an old spy, Laidlaw, who she carefully chose because of his poor background. British intelligence only knows her by the code name The Knox. But Laidlaw kills himself, and British intelligence does not want to lose the Knox, so they bring in Powell, a professional spy, to hunt down Knox.
And Karla is not willing to be found by Powell, and while he sweats some of the people that she used to pass secrets to Laidlaw, Karla watches Powell. Karla, who might have been a spy in the past, is also hunting. She wants to know why Catherine is in the Program and how she got there. She enlists a cop to help and soon uncovers another plot because no one knows that Catherine is in the Program. Her family thinks she is dead.
The three hunts, Simon's hunt for his target with the help of Karla, Charlotte Alton's hunt for Simon's target with the help of her British cop and the British secret service hunt for Knox, while separate, will soon converge in a artfully written spy - crime - cop story.
Choosing to read the nineteenth book in a thriller series is a decision more about your reading expectations than about the quality of the book or theChoosing to read the nineteenth book in a thriller series is a decision more about your reading expectations than about the quality of the book or the writing. Lee Child's Reacher series has had so many good thrilling action books and mysteries that the expectation is every book will be just as good. But the last few books have been a mixed bag. Some better mysteries some worse. Its a given that in Child's Reacher centric universe, he will be the best fighter - best brawler, best boxer best executor of a strategy of general fisticuffs. No matter who he goes against in hand to hand combat, Reacher always come out on top. But what made the series great or better than other series of its ilk, was that Reacher was more than a 6 foot 6 inch fighter, he is a thinking man. Child meshed the bulk with the brain producing a memorable character, who could defeat myriad enemies and solve unclear mysteries with both his brawn and his brain. Moreover the series stays true to form. Nothing changes in the Reacher universe. There is no wife, there are few friends, there are just the ever changing landscape of the road.
But the same things that made the series good, Reacher's singular ability to defeat enemies has made it a little tired. The plots always require one on one action or a small group of bad guys in some desolate little corner of creation, who Reacher can vanquish without much effort.
So picking up a Reacher book is about a bargain that the reader has with the author. We expect a singularly good mystery, a lot of fisticuffs, that Reacher is challenged and that good will triumph in the end.
Yet how many times can Child go to the well.
Personal, Child's latest Reacher novel starts out good with the attempted assassination of a leader, and Reacher being partnered up with a young CIA operative to find the assassin, who seems to be someone that Reacher knows, but the plot is even more contrived than usual. There are a myriad of situations where Child forces the story to fit the Reacher one on one -- mano a mano action, where one would expect many more soldiers or characters to be involved. Yet, that cannot be the case in the Reacher centric universe. There is the usual double cross here, but one could see it coming 1000 miles away. Moreover the penultimate fight ends not with a good fight, but almost (in a Child universe) with Reacher cheating.
Will long term fans enjoy this book. Without a doubt. Its entertaining. But other thriller fans may want to move on and find a new hero to cheer.