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.
Virgil Flowers takes down three different sets of criminals in the entertaining Deadline, the eighth book in John Sandford's cops and detective seriesVirgil Flowers takes down three different sets of criminals in the entertaining Deadline, the eighth book in John Sandford's cops and detective series. There is a dognapping ring, a meth lab and a criminal school board. Although this series can be found in the mystery section of any library, there is very little mystery as Sandford reveals the identity of most of the criminals in the first few pages. The pleasure in this series is watching Virgil operate and his investigative techniques to uncover who are the criminals.
The dog napping criminals have totally riled up the town and they want to find the dogs and kill the criminals. A young boy in the hills with an unlikely moniker and Johnson Johnson, team up with Flowers to crack open the hidden dog hideout. While one feels for the victims and their love of their dogs, the whole episode is a big hoot especially the whole capture of the dog nappers in a wild scene near the end.
In the other major plot, a seemingly dissolute reporter is found shot to death and Flowers must discover the why as well as the who. As mentioned above, there is little suspense because Sandford reveals to the reader, the conspirators, but there is some mystery as to the motivations of the conspirators and the killer. But Flowers does not know anything so we get to see him work the case. Its an interesting case because the reporter seems to have a lead on a story, but Flowers must figure it all out, where is the evidence and how to get the conspirators. I thought this angle worked well, but that Sandford had to many scenes of trying to lure the conspirators out.
But this is a good addition to Sandford's series....more
The cover art and blurbs, and the humorous first few pages of this book beguiled. So much so that on a recent book store visit, armed with a gift cardThe cover art and blurbs, and the humorous first few pages of this book beguiled. So much so that on a recent book store visit, armed with a gift card, I succumbed to the allure of the cover and my past experience with other Wen Spencer novels.
This seemed to be shaping up as an the action adventure urban fantasy set in Japan facing demons in a Japanese mythological battle, with samurai swords and monsters, and maybe that was where this story was going, but after 40% read, it was bogged down in a completely different scenario. The main character seemed to be able to create characters by writing them, there was a murder, mysterious characters appeared and the humor was not there at all.
This Patrick Rothfuss novella is a week in the life of Auri, a character from his Kingkiller story. While the story is lyrically written and illustratThis Patrick Rothfuss novella is a week in the life of Auri, a character from his Kingkiller story. While the story is lyrically written and illustrated, it will probably appeal more to those readers, who have recently read one or both of Rothfuss's other books because the character will be fresh in their minds and this will seem like an intimate portrait of the character, filling in the gaps in our knowledge.
Ancillary Justice is an innovative sf masterwork from Ann Leckie about the nature of artificial intelligence and human emotion set in a nasty scienceAncillary Justice is an innovative sf masterwork from Ann Leckie about the nature of artificial intelligence and human emotion set in a nasty science fiction empire run by the Radch. In Breq, the main character of this quest for revenge story, Leckie touches on how an artificial intelligence controlling multiple independent people can still have feelings for other independent people. Its an "I, Robot" moment for a more weathered science fiction universe.
The Imperial Radch is not a nice place. Expanding outward into space and conquering worlds in their wake, the Radch conquer planets and forcibly join their people (called an annexation) into their sphere of influence. Think of the recent taking of Crimea by Russia. During an annexation, the Radch use huge conquering ships to control the population. The ships, who travel long distances, are controlled by an artificial intelligence. The Radch have human soldiers but they do not want to waste their soldiers on controlling a planet. So they scoop up people and forcibly freeze the bodies and then inject the artificial intelligence into the prisoners brains. Its an operation in which the mind of the person is destroyed and the body is then inhabited by the ship brain. Typically during this annexation, the Radch force is led by officers who are served by Ancillary soldiers controlled by the ship brain. Most such officers are merely interested in loot and taking power. In worlds where there are haves and have nots, the Radch typically favor the haves and use the populous of the have nots for the Ancillary forces that subjugate the population. The upper tier of a world then is more interested in joining.
During an annexation on a distance world, Lieutenant Awn has upset the apple cart a little by favoring a group of what would pass for the middle class, as opposed to those of more wealth. Lieutenant Awn is cared for by Justice of Toren, the huge warship and her twenty Ancillary. One of the specific Ancillary's is specifically tasked with guarding and being the personal attendant to Awn, and sees that Awn is a more noble Radch, who is interested in the well being of the conquered planet. As a result, the leader of the Empire, the Emperor herself, a muliple clone entity, comes to visit the planet and questions Lieutenant Awn and precipitates a showdown, in which something happens.
All of this is revealed piecemeal through flashbacks. All we know is that Breq, who used to be an Ancillary of Toren is hunting for someone who has an alien designed weapon capable of going through Radch armor.
Between the flashbacks and the present, Leckie gradually reveals her story and the story of Breq, who she is and who she is hunting.
Its powerful science fiction. Very similar in characterization to Cherryh, this is the best science fiction book of the year....more
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.
"A Life Intercepted" by Charles Martin is a good sports story about a former star quarterback who trains a high school player, while facing a brutal p"A Life Intercepted" by Charles Martin is a good sports story about a former star quarterback who trains a high school player, while facing a brutal press and an unforgiving public.
Matthew Rising was an up and coming quarterback superstar poised to have an incredible football career. His impending superstardom, however, is derailed when he is accused and ultimately found guilty of sexual assault. Rising denies the accusation and has never given up proclaiming his innocence.
When the story opens, Rising is about to be let out of prison and returns to his old hometown to look for his wife, who he has not seen since he was sentenced. He is forsaken by many of his old friends, forced to wear an ankle monitor, and had to register as a sex offender. Rising is also battling an old high school student, who has never forgiven him for rejecting her. Now a media personality, she has it in for Rising.
Meanwhile, in town, Dalton Rodgers, a 17 year old football player is watching film of Rising's best games with Sister Lynn, who has raised him. Rodgers was an up and coming high school star until a new coach changed his throwing motion and he lost his starting position.
These three people will meet soon enough and Rising will take on the job of helping Rodgers to regain his throwing motion.
Rising will face many challenges in his old town, not the least of which is winning back his wife and life. But there is little doubt how the story will turn out.
While the story, message and the villain in this inspirational tale are as obvious as the nose on your face, there is plenty of football action for any sports fan.
Its a very decent sports story. While there is a inspirational message, it does not interfere with one's enjoyment of this football story....more
Carla Neggers latest Emma Sharpe / Colin Donovan romantic suspense novel "Harbor Island" is typical of her work. There is a fair bit romantic interludCarla Neggers latest Emma Sharpe / Colin Donovan romantic suspense novel "Harbor Island" is typical of her work. There is a fair bit romantic interludes between couples, a tale of unrequited love, a murder, a bare ounce of investigation and then two pages before the end, a big reveal as to who the murderer is.
In other words, these are not books for you if you are a mystery fan. While there are two mysteries in the novel - who killed Rachel Bristol, a movie producer, who was investigating the Sharpe thief and the identity of the fabled Sharpe thief, who has stolen various art from Ireland and other international locations, the main action is instead centered on the relationships between the various couples in the novels. Neggers is adept at creating a suspenseful setting in which her various couples can deal with their relationships, in a romantic but shallow manner.
One couple is the Irish artist Aoife O'Byrne, who had a weekend fling with the Catholic priest Father Bracken, before he became a priest and has been pining for the priest for years now. They are thrown together during the investigation because the Sharpe thief stole art from O'Byrne's father, and there is some thought that O'Byrne might be in danger. This gives Neggers a chance to explore their relationship.
In addition, Neggers also focuses on Yank's relationship with his wife Lucy, and Colin's relationship with Emma, all while they sift the clues as to who murdered Rachel Bristol, and who could be the Sharpe thief.
Fans of Neggers will not be disappointed, but if you are looking for a mystery where there are actual clues instead of a big reveal at the end, this is not the book for you.
In "Ice Cold Kill", Daria Gibron, who first surfaced in Dana Haynes NTSB thriller "Breaking Point" has a full length book of her own. Daria Gibron isIn "Ice Cold Kill", Daria Gibron, who first surfaced in Dana Haynes NTSB thriller "Breaking Point" has a full length book of her own. Daria Gibron is a one woman wrecking crew. A spitfire in a pretty dress. A group of terrorists, with the high goals of causing a bio weapon disaster in order to foster an environment beneficial to their cause, is in the process of stealing a deadly influenza virus, and delivers a tip to the CIA that Daria Gibron is meeting with a known Syrian terrorist in New York City to supply him with a gun to be used to kill the President of the United States. The terrorists then send Daria a message to meet a friend in New York City. Its a big trap. The CIA scrambles a hit squad to take out Daria and the Syrian in New York City, but both the CIA and the terrorists have made a big mistake. Daria is just too good an operative to fall for this trap and immediately throws a monkey wrench in the plan.
When the bodies stop hitting the floor, Daria and the Syrian are in Paris hunting down the terrorists, while John Broom, a retiring CIA agent, is in Washington D.C. figuring out the plot.
The action is nonstop. Daria and the Syrian soon discover the real villains and try to thwart their plans, while John Broom pieces together the real bio weapon plot.
This is a great introduction to Daria Gibron....more
In "Gun Metal Heart", the second Daria Gibron thriller, out in bookstores now, Daria, on the run from the United States and Europe for her role in "IcIn "Gun Metal Heart", the second Daria Gibron thriller, out in bookstores now, Daria, on the run from the United States and Europe for her role in "Ice Cold Kill" is again sucked into a whirlwind terrorist plot by her friend and fellow killer Diego. It seems that Serbian terrorists have stolen advanced minature drone technology, which advanced air planes are armed with missiles and plan to sell it to the highest bidder.
The main terrorist and thief, a woman, knows about Daria, but still underestimates her lethality. This is another bombs bursting, knife wielding, gun blazing hold on to your seats thrill ride. Daria is no apologetic killer. She is a one woman wrecking crew and is on a collision course to stop the terrorists in their tracks.
There is a semblance of a plot and a political mastermind at the center of it, but if you are looking for action, and no holds barred killing, this is the book for you....more
"Identity", the second Fina Ludlow novel is a very good example of the classic private investigation novel and Fina is a tough effective detective nov"Identity", the second Fina Ludlow novel is a very good example of the classic private investigation novel and Fina is a tough effective detective novel with a good central character, but the novel is somewhat weakened by Ingrid Thoft's uneven integration of the events of her first book in this series into this story. In addition, while the plot set up involving a fertility clinic was interesting. some elements seemed forced.
Fina Ludlow is an investigator at her father Carl Ludlow's law firm. Several years ago, Renata Sanchez, a potential client, became a mother via an anonymous sperm donor from the fertility clinic Heritage Cryobank. In a prelude to the main action, Sanchez wants to force Heritage to disclose the identity of the sperm donor and hires Carl Ludlow to bring an action. Before bringing the action, Carl sends Fina to find the identity of the sperm donor father, which Fina pulls off with a little ingenuity but in no time at all, which this reader found a touch unbelievable given the lengths that these clinics typically go to protect the identity of their donors. Sanchez confronts Hank Reardon, the father, who is, of course, very wealthy and seeks money for her daughter. The meeting does not go well.
It was not clear where Thoft was going here.
But soon enough, Reardon is found dead, and Fina is hired by his wealthy son to find out who killed his father.
There are a wide pool of potential suspects from the male chauvinistic Heritage Cryobank founder, who is clearly hiding something, Reardon's first wife, who needs money for her charity, his young second wife, who is also starting a charity and seems to be an indifferent mother, his business partner, who Reardon had blocked from a new lucrative deal, Sanchez, her daughter, and her daughter's boyfriend, who is another child of a sperm donor. Making matters worse for Fina is the appearance of a mysterious stalker who is following Fina and threatening her. The police are also an impediment to the investigation, as they do not want Fina hampering their own investigation.
Thoft's handling of the mystery and investigation are top notch.
While Fina does not seem to be accomplishing anything, Thoft shows that Fina's efforts and doggedness forces the potential suspects to take actions that discloses their activities. She also expertly plays off the various suspects against each other and reveals a lot of information about their motivations. These are not stick figures. There is depth of character here and, of course, plenty of red herrings.
Ultimately Fina will figure out the killer's identity and many of the other characters' secrets. She will also uncover a bit of fraud. While the killer's disclosure was not out of left field, it was a big surprise. A careful review of the novel will show a few potential clues about the killer's identity sprinkled in, but Thoft does most of the divulging of the killer's motivations in the last few pages, which is always a little annoying.
One of the problems in this novel, however. is the family dynamic left over from the first book. Apparently, as I did not read the first book in this series,Fina discovered that her brother was a pedofile, with designs on Fina's niece. Carl Ludlow has exiled him, but is interested in bringing his son back to the law firm and Fina is against it. Even if her family is forgiving and Carl Ludlow and Fina's mother are in denial, how could they allow someone like that back to the family. This part of the story was not that compelling even if Fina finds a way to get rid of her brother again.
But if you like a strong female detective not afraid to stick her nose and body in dangerous situations to find the killer, this book will definitely be a good read....more
**spoiler alert** S. Craig Zahler's "Mean Business on North Ganson Street" lives up to its title in spades. This is a bloody book, which is soon to be**spoiler alert** S. Craig Zahler's "Mean Business on North Ganson Street" lives up to its title in spades. This is a bloody book, which is soon to be a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Fox.
Zahler casts a wide net, showing a grim and disturbing portrait of an inner city gone terrible. The helpless are often victims, from the abused child beaten in the bathtub and forced to eat feces, to the murderous drug dealer who has hired a hit man to take out cops and anyone else. Faced with impossible odds of dealing with rampant crime, the cops had resorted to an unholy alliance with a local drug dealer, but that plan goes sideways, when the drug dealer stops cooperating. But in Zahler's attempt to show crime at its worst, the women victims of the depicted violence suffer particularly odious wounds or are tortured to reveal information. The ends seems to justify the means. It is a grim book, and the hero cop suffers greatly. While it starts out pretty good its goes south big time. It was hard to ride it to its violent conclusion.
Jules Bettinger is a no nonsense detective forced to relocate from Arizona to Victory, Missouri after an interrogation in Arizona goes bad. Victory is such a grim location that Bettinger and his family are forced to live miles away from his job. Bettinger immediately proves his skills as a detective by figuring out that someone is killing young women in particularly heinous ways and filming it. Bettinger's young partner seems to want to spend most of his time on the telephone texting his cold partner. In Zahler's capable hands, Bettinger is revealed as a caring family man, with a deep love for his wife and younger daughter and slightly estranged from his teenage son. But are these scenes of love and family in the novel to augment Zahler's portrait of his hero, or merely a way to make the last third of the book even more gruesome. The reader is definitely manipulated.
Two cops are killed their bodies dismembered gruesomely. Bettinger thinks his partner knows something about the murders, and learns about the drug dealer alliance that has gone sideways. It seems the drug dealer was beaten and withdrew his complaint against cops, but shortly thereafter the cops are being targeted and killed by hitmen. It does not take a genius to figure out the connection.
Bettinger has to figure out where the drug dealer is hiding out and stop the hitmen before the cop killers strike again, but the killers are going after cops in their homes and their loved ones are at risk. Bettinger will be forced to confront one killer in the worst possible place, and then team up with his partner as they go after the drug dealer in his lair.
This is a excessively violent story and some of the violence is particularly over the top.
The real world has its share of horrors, but Zahler's vision of Victory, Missouri is hard and mean....more