Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Wanted Man by Lee Child


Jack Reacher #17

            Yet another Jack Reacher novel. The whole military thriller/spy story genre is not really my cup of tea. So why am I so seriously delighted by Jack Reacher? I like the way he thinks. It is very linear and precise, mathematical if you will. He is perfectly predictable, especially after seventeen books, but he's not boring. He is quite unconventional, but I can totally relate to the decisions he chooses to make. He is incredibly laid back, almost lazy, but he is capable of bursts of incredible speed and violence. And, of course, he is very lucky. He must be since he is not dead despite repeatedly being caught in perilous situations.

            In this installment, Jack finds himself in the midst of a nest of terrorists in the middle of America's heartland. In the middle of nowhere Missouri, to be more precise. And how did he get there? By hitching a ride on an Oklahoma highway. As each of the pieces to this puzzle snap into place, the plots twists a bit further. Some of the twists are a bit far-fetched, but they all slide into place seamlessly.

            I liked this one. It is probably not the best Jack Reacher story out there, but I happily went along for the ride on this one. And, I can't wait to find out if Jack ever makes it back to Virginia.

Read my reviews of other Jack Reacher stories: The Affair, Second Son, Deep Down.

            Just a side note about the recent Jack Reacher move: Seriously, Tom Cruise? Really? I'm having trouble suspending disbelief to that point.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Frozen Heat by Richard Castle


Nikki Heat #4
 I think this was my first Nikki Heat novel. It was pretty good. Not good enough to make me want to backtrack and read the previous novels, but good enough that I'll be very happy to see the next one come out.

          Nikki is a homicide detective. Her mother was murdered ten years earlier which may have something to do with Nikki's career choices. In the course of a normal day at the office, Nikki and the ME are examining the body of a woman who has been stabbed, stuffed into a suitcase and stashed on a refrigerated delivery truck. While examining the exterior of the suitcase, Nikki finds her own initials carved into it. This is the same suitcase that was stolen during her mother's murder a decade ago. Nikki carved those initials into it herself.

          What does the murder of the unidentified frozen woman have to do with the murder of her mother? That's what Nikki is bound and determined to find out. It has been years since there was a new lead in her mother’s case, but this may be the one she's been waiting for.

          Nikki works the two murders simultaneously, discovering the dead women had been friends with Mom when they were young. That friendship leads Nikki to Paris where she finds evidence that the young women worked for the CIA during the Cold War. Is that what got them killed years later?

          Nikki runs every lead down until she finds herself facing the killer, unarmed and far from help. Does she get her man? It's worth reading the book to find out

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unnatural Acts by Stuart Woods


Stone Barrington #23

            I've read a few of the Stone Barrington novels. Some are better than others. This one was pretty good. I always get a kick out of how money is no object to these people. For instance, in one scene Stone and another lawyer, Herbie, meet a client, an investment banker, for lunch. They are virtual strangers, but before lunch is over, the banker has agreed to invest five million dollars for the young lawyer and twenty five million for Stone. They'll just have the funds transferred over in the morning. And that was just a bit of side conversation, not the purpose of the meeting. I wonder if that sort of thing happens in real life. I'd love to find out for myself!

            The main part of the story follows Herb, a young associate at the law firm where Stone works. The aforementioned investment banker has a son who has developed some bad habits and is into a loan shark for nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Herb has been selected to extricate this trust fund baby from his delicate situation since he has some personal experience in sowing dangerously wild oats himself.

            Herb starts with a visit to the loan shark, bearing a briefcase full of cash. He squares Dink's account, and then heads off to confront Dink in his dorm at Yale. Once bearding the Dink in his den, Herb gets the young man to sign a power of attorney form and a voluntary commitment form. Dink is then piled into a van headed toward an inpatient rehab center. En route, Dink manages to escape the van and disappear. Now Herb must track down this wayward son again.

            With advice from Stone, Herb finds Dink and gets him safely deposited into rehab. Once there Dink, begins systematically attempting to snow the staff in an effort to get release ASAP. He also enlists his friend's aid in attempting to ruin Herb's career and life in retaliation for being trapped in the rehab center.

            Eventually, Dink finds a way to escape the rehab center. He has just turned twenty one and now has access to his trust fund. Herb and Dink's father are forced to deal with the reality that Dink is a bad seed, and is not going to become a productive adult despite their best efforts. Dink's father chooses to deal with the situation by committing an "unnatural act".

            This is another book that causes me to wonder if I had brought a monster into the world, how I might have handled the situation. How do you cope with a sociopathic child? What steps would you take to protect the rest of society from such a person? Is it your responsibility as a parent remove such a child from society? I'm glad my child is a kind and responsible person, saving me from having to act unnaturally as a parent.
            Read my review of Stuart Woods' Son of Stone.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dark Gold by Christine Feehan

Dark #3

          This is the third book in Christine Feehan's Dark series. The main characters are Carpathians, a race with characteristics similar to classic vampires but without the evil intent and propensity for violence. In fact, one of their purposes in life is to destroy any vampires who may come to prey on helpless humans. The Dark series tells the tales of various Carpathians males as they find their life mates - their own true loves.

          This book tells the story of Aiden Savage, a centuries-old Carpathian who left his homeland to protect the population of the United States. He finds his life mate, Alexandria, and her little brother in the clutches of an evil vampire, one of a band that has come to prey in the San Francisco area. Aiden rescues them, but to the woman and her young brother vampires are the stuff of video games, and Aiden is no different from the vampire that kidnapped them.

          Aiden must get beyond Alexandria's fear of him and her need to protect her brother at all costs. He must earn her love and trust or die. And, he must do this while destroying the band of evil vampires that have moved into his area.

          This book was much like the previous two, light entertainment. I still want to read Gregory's story which should be coming up soon.

          Read my reviews of Dark Prince, Dark Desire and Dark Predator.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What Doesn't Kill You by Iris Johansen

            This novel is Catherine Ling's story. For those of you who are regular readers of Johansen, you'll know exactly what that means. If you know who Catherine Ling is, this is a great book. If you are unfamiliar with Catherine, I'd suggest you read Bonnie and/or Eve first.

            Catherine is working at creating a home for and building a relationship with her son, Luke. But, her CIA ties still bind, and her old friend Hu Chang is the one in trouble. Hu Chang is a master potion maker - his creations can cure and kill and more. The leader of a ruthless organization has learned that Hu Chang can create a poison that can kill and leave no trace - the perfect weapon for assassination. This evil man wants the potion and will use every twisted and violent means at his disposal to get it. He has shanghaied Hu Chang and the CIA wants him back. They rescue him, but he slips away from them. They call in Catherine to get him back again.

            As Catherine flies from Virginia to Hong Kong, she remembers her childhood and her first encounter with Hu Chang. This flashback gives us a good look at Catherine's formative years and her only relationship as a child.

            She tracks down Hu Chang, and they go after the bad guy. She hooks up with John Gallo again as he is the CIA's resident expert on the man they are chasing. The three of them clash, as all are accustomed to being in charge, but they eventually get their man. And, find out that what doesn't kill you really can make you stronger.

            See my reviews of Eve and Bonnie.

Friday, February 1, 2013

On the Beach by Tracey Garvis Graves

            This was a pretty good book. It was also self published. You have to have great confidence in yourself to do that. Ms. Graves' confidence is well placed.

            This story is about a teacher, Anna, who is hired to tutor a teenage boy, TJ. TJ is recovering from cancer and missed a lot of school the previous year. Anna's job is to accompany TJ and his family to their vacation home in The Maldives and tutor the boy over the summer so he can rejoin his class in school in the fall.

            Anna's school lets out a little later than TJ's, so she is planning to arrive separately. At the last minute, TJ's parents allow him to stay home an extra couple of days for a social function, so he and Anna will be heading to the Maldives together.

            It is a very long journey with multiple flights, layovers, delays and every other annoyance associated with modern air travel. Some thirty hours after leaving Chicago, Anna and TJ arrive for their final hop to the island where his family is staying only to find their plane has been overbooked and they are looking at spending the night at another airport. Anna appeals to the woman behind the counter who takes pity on them and finds a pilot that is prepared to take a couple of passengers to their final destination.

            While flying over the multitude of islands that make up the Maldives, the pilot has a heart attack. The plane crashes, and Anna and TJ wash up on a deserted island.

            The next three and a half years are spent alone on the island. Anna and TJ learn to survive and come to trust each other completely to do so. At some point, a tsunami occurs, washing them off their island, and they are plucked out of the ocean during the large scale rescue mission along the chain of islands.

            They return to the US amid swarms of reporters, and slowly rejoin their families and their lives. They start out sharing an apartment, but Anna believes TJ should experience some of the teenage/young adult things he missed while marooned. He does not want this. He wants to spend his life with Anna, thirteen years his senior. They argue and part ways.

            TJ does as Anna requests, gets hid GED, spends some time in college, lives with his best friend from "before". But he does not change his mind about Anna. Eventually, he returns to her. They apparently live happily after.

            I enjoyed this book. The action moves right along. I felt the fear and anger and despair and joy. I'm very glad Ms Garvis Graves believed in herself and her story enough to bring it to fruition.