Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Dark of Day: a novel by Barbara Parker

First Rate Suspense **** September 28, 2008

It's been a long time since I read a Barbara Parker novel. This one is a startling improvement over her earlier work.

Mystery Fan sums it up thus (

"I won't repeat the basic storyline. Instead, I'll just say that the book is a great read and hard to put down. It has a complex protagonist--a very successful defense lawyer, a recovering alcoholic with a secret past. It it set in Miami, and delves into the sordid side of the lives of that city's "beautiful people." It has a compromised politician, society high-rollers, an unscrupulous journalist, vulnerable young women seeking a piece of the action, and a shadowy client, who may or may not be guilty of murder. The author takes her protagonist on a suspenseful, roller-coaster ride, as C. J. Dunn tries to find the truth before she loses her reputation or even her life. Highly recommended, as are Parker's early books, also set in Miami, which featured attorneys Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana."

Where I diagree is the favourable comparison with Parker's ealier Miami novels. They were OK but not on a par with this one. Extremely well plotted.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dark of the Moon: a novel by John Sandford

Lucas Davenport missing **** January 30, 2007

After many Prey novels featuring Lucas Davenport, Sandford this time features a character introduced in the previous Prey novel, Virgil Flowers. Lucas makes only an occasional appearance via phone conversations with Flowers but Sandford has spun another intriguing tale.

From Booklist, "Headed to rural Bluestem to assist local law enforcement with the seemingly motiveless murder of an elderly couple, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers happens upon a raging house fire on the edge of town. The house's owner, Bill Judd, killed in the blaze, was an elderly recluse who, back in the day, ran an elaborate pyramid scheme and simultaneously bedded half the women in town. He escaped conviction on the fraud charge, and the money was never recovered. There have been no murders in Bluestem for a half-century, and now there are three in a couple weeks. Virgil is not an advocate of coincidence and so begins digging for a connection between the victims. Complicating matters is his affair with the sister of the local police chief. Sandford's plotting and dialogue are as crisp as ever, and the emergence of Virgil Flowers gives the author another idiosyncratic, thoroughly ingratiating hero to alternate with the ever-popular Lucas Davenport. Flowers, who made his debut as a secondary character in the Davenport thriller Invisible Prey (2007), is a low-key loose cannon whose wardrobe consists of alternative-rock t-shirts carefully chosen to match his agenda of the day. The appeal of the Davenport series is mainly tied to the hero's wit and self-deprecating humor, but this first Flowers entry is more about action: an adrenaline rush peppered with laugh-out-loud moments. Lukowsky, Wes"

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Protect and Defend by Vince Flynn

Entertaining anti-terrorist thriller**** January 30, 2007

Another Mitch Rapp post- 9/11 thriller. No doubt loved by Bush/Cheney zealots, a bit harder to swallow for more rational types. Nonetheless a fast-paced riveting read for thriller lovers.

Plot Summary:

From Publishers Weekly, "After taking care of a loose end from Act of Treason (2006), Mitch Rapp looks into the destruction of Iran's secret nuclear weapons facility in bestseller's Flynn's predictable eighth thriller to feature the counterterrorism agent. Given the absence of any indication of either a U.S. or an Israeli air strike, Rapp takes the opportunity to persuade the U.S. administration to plot an operation to destabilize the fanatical Iranian regime by having an Iranian dissident group claim responsibility for what he suspects was an inside job by an Israeli spy. When the Iranian government sinks one of its own ships and blames the U.S., Rapp and CIA chief Irene Kennedy travel to Iraq to try to defuse the crisis, only to fall victim to an ambush (reminiscent of one in Tom Clancy's A Clear and Present Danger) that results in Kennedy's abduction. Rapp races the clock to rescue his boss before she's tortured into revealing what she knows. Despite a backstory replete with personal loss, Rapp comes across as a one-dimensional killing machine, willing to do whatever needs doing to complete the mission."

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Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

Another first-rate novel by Robinson ***** January 30, 2007

Peter Robinson continues to turn out first-rate British detective novels although he has been residing in Canada for many years. In this one he takes takes two seemingly disparate murders and weaves them together in a seamless plot. Very enjoyable!

PPlot summary:

"Chief Inspector Alan Banks and Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot must work together to solve two chilling crimes in a stunning new novel by New York Times bestselling author Peter Robinson
One morning in March, on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, a woman named Karen Drew is found in her wheelchair with her throat slit. Back in Eastvale on that same morning, in a tangle of narrow alleys behind a market square, the body of Hayley Daniels is found raped and strangled.
Two murders . . . two towns . . .
On loan to a sister precinct, Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot draws the first case. Karen Drew seems to have lived a quiet and nearly invisible life for the past seven years. Try as she might, Annie turns up nothing in the woman's past that might have prompted someone to wheel her out to the sea and to her death.
Meanwhile, in the Hayley Daniels murder, Chief Inspector Alan Banks has suspects galore. Everywhere she went, the nineteen-year-old student attracted attention. Anyone could have followed her on the night she was out drinking with friends, making sure she never made it back home.
Then a breakthrough spins Annie's case in a shocking and surprising new direction, straight toward Banks. Coincidence? Not in Eastvale. Banks and Annie are searching for two killers who might strike again at any moment and with bloody fury. "

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Pandora's Daughter by Iris Johansen

Johansen is faltering*** January 30, 2007

Johansen's books are becoming more of a blur and a bore.

From Booklist, "Dr. Megan Blair has been living a lie. She heard voices up until her mother died in an accident. Raised by her mother's half-brother, Megan managed to live a normal life, became a doctor, and now works in an Atlanta hospital. But once her car is run off the road and Neal Grady enters the picture, nothing is the same. Neal helps her realize that her mother's death was no accident. In fact, she was murdered because of her psychic ability, the very talent Megan inherited. Molino, an underworld kingpin, wants to see Megan, and everyone else he calls "freaks," dead because he blames her mother for his son's death. Supposedly Megan's mother's mere touch caused Molino's son to kill himself. She may have possessed the rare gift, just like the mythological Pandora, that magnifies a person's psychic ability, power that can either open someone's mind or cause madness. The hunt for Molino takes Megan and Neal through Europe in search of a ledger that traces a family of powerful psychics from the time of the inquisition to the present, keeping one step ahead of their enemy while trying to destroy him...... Engelmann, Patty

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Books recently read November 27,2007

I read a bunch of books over the past two months that I did not review at the time. Here they are with a brief comment each. For more details, go to

The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer****

"The theme revolves around a cabal of elite medical practitioners who deal in the illegal trafficking and dispersement of organs for transplantation. This group known as the "Guardians" are also conveniently the principals for the one of largest medical labs in the world, Whitestone Labs. This gives them unfettered access to countless blood and tissue samples which they can use to select and kidnap unwitting organ donors for transplantation to wealthy recipients." A first-rate read.

Critical by Robin Cook ***

From Publishers Weekly "Last seen in 2006's Crisis, New York City medical examiner Laurie Montgomery diligently investigates an abrupt rise in infection deaths at the start of bestseller Cook's lively new thriller. All the deaths can be traced to three Manhattan hospitals owned by Angels Healthcare. Unbeknownst to Montgomery, Angels, which specializes in high-profit surgeries of amply insured patients, is on the verge of going public and can't risk any bad publicity. She's also unaware that Angels' main financial backer is a local Mafia don, who's prepared to kill anyone standing in the way of his investment. Cook smoothly juggles several subplots—one involving Montgomery's husband and fellow coroner, Jack Stapleton, who's suffered a serious knee injury playing basketball—and ekes out maximum value from one of his regular standbys, bumbling hoods. It all adds up to an entertaining mix of suspense, action and education about medical issues. (Aug.) " Raises significant concerns about medical hospitals owned by MDs.

Killer Weekend by Ridley Pearson ***

From Publishers Weekly "Bestseller Pearson's workmanlike thriller, the first in a new series, has all the right ingredients: a down-to-earth hero, sheriff Walt Fleming; a neatly focused venue in the form of a weekend business conference at an Idaho resort; and a sense of impending danger in the form of a threat on the life of Elizabeth Shaler, the New York State attorney general, who's about to announce her candidacy for U.S. president. Shaler knows what it's like to be a victim. Eight years before the killer weekend of the title, she was attacked in her Sun Valley, Idaho, vacation home and saved by Fleming, then a patrolman. Fleming takes the present threat very seriously, but Shaler's handlers and the event's organizer, billionaire Patrick Cutter, won't cancel her speech. Fleming doggedly struggles to identify the assassin, who cleverly (if incredibly) overcomes massive security to infiltrate the event, but the motive for the threat is never satisfactorily explained. Pearson (Parallel Lies) tries hard to give his characters depth using an inventive array of backstories, but only the capable Fleming really comes across." Not nearly as good as Pearson's earlier thrillers.

Shattered by Dick Francis ****

It's been years since I read a Dick Francis novel. This one was satisfying.
From Publishers Weekly "Francis's latest may be one of his less memorable rides, but even at 80, the old master proves he can still go all out in the final stretch. The hero here is Gerard Logan, a dashing English bachelor who owns and operates his own glassblowing shop in a charming village in the Cotswolds, popular with other artisans and tourists. Logan's problem is that his good friend, jockey Martin Stukely, gave him a videotape shortly before dying in a fall during a steeplechase at Cheltenham racetrack. That videotape is now missing, stolen by a tall, bearded gent who made off with it while Logan's back was turned. Now, a crew of thugs wants the tape. They are led by the cruel, aptly named Rose Payne, a ruthless bookmaker who knows what's on the tapeAmedical breakthrough secrets worth millionsAand will do anything to get it. Logan tries to reason with Payne, saying he no longer has the video, and besides, he doesn't even know what it contains. But Rose won't give up. She and her crew beat up Logan on several occasions, viciously trying to break his wrists so he can no longer practice his craft. Logan, no slouch when it comes to payback, finally mounts an all-out defense that includes not only physical reprisals, but also a crafty recovery of the missing object. Francis's 41st novel (To the Hilt; 10 Lb Penalty; etc.) lacks the pounding drive of his best efforts, and several elements of the plot are hard to swallow without cutting the author a lot of slack. Yet the spirited repartee, cleverly laid cues, infectiously likable characters and bang-up finale are all vintage Francis, and the fascinating glimpses the novel furnishes into the glassblowing trade are a bonus."

Bad Luck and Trouble (a Jack Reacher novel) by Lee Child ****

This was my first Lee Child novel. Since this is the 11th in a series, I have some good reading ahead. Jack Reacher is a strange bad-ass ex-military type but fascinating. review "Ex-military cop Jack Reacher is the perfect antihero--tough as nails, but with a brain and a conscience to match. He's able to see what most miss and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Each book in Lee Child's smart, addictive series (The New York Times has referred to it as "pure escapist gold") follows the wandering warrior on a new adventure, making it easy to start with any book, including his latest gem, Bad Luck and Trouble. However, be forewarned...once you meet Jack Reacher, you'll be hooked, so be prepared to stock up on the series. --Daphne Durham"

The Naming of the Dead ****

Ian Rankin and his cop John Rebus are favourites of mine. This one was good but not among Rankin's best. Rebus is on his way out as Rankin decided years ago that rebus would age in real time so he's up for retirement in the next novel.

From Booklist "Rankin's U.S. publishers have been cashing in on the author's celebrity lately by reissuing his early work, originally published in the UK under a pseudonym, but now Rankin fans can get back to the really good stuff: a new John Rebus novel. Coming off what is arguably the best Rebus of all, Fleshmarket Alley (2005), Rankin faces a stern challenge, and while the new offering isn't quite among the series' elite, it's still a damn good book. It's July 2005, and Bush, Blair, and other international leaders are coming to Scotland for the G8 conference to be held outside Edinburgh. Anything but a company man, Detective Inspector Rebus finds himself relegated to the sidelines until he takes a call that lands him smack where he's not supposed to be: butting heads with conference organizers in an attempt to make sense of the apparent suicide of an attendee at a preconference dinner. The plot mushrooms out from there, of course, encompassing an ongoing serial-killer investigation and personal crises in the lives of both Rebus and his partner and protege, Siobhan Clarke. The focus on international events (including the London subway bombing) adds thematic heft to the novel but takes away a bit from the always-fascinating exploration of Rebus' melancholic heart of darkness. Still, Rankin continues to juggle his plot strains superbly and to add depth to the characterization of Clarke, whose multidimensionality nearly equals that of Rebus himself. Required reading for crime-fiction followers. Bill Ott"

The Judas Strain by James Rollins ***

Entertaining but doesn't rank with the greats in this field.

From Publishers Weekly "The special-ops trained scientists of Sigma Force battle the criminals of the shadowy Guild in bestseller Rollins's lively third Sigma Force thriller (after Black Order). An ancient and deadly plague, the Judas Strain (which afflicted Marco Polo), has suddenly re-emerged. Gray Pierce, a Sigma operative, and Seichan, a Guild defector, pursue clues to the nature of the plague to the Vatican, Istanbul (with a fine shootout in the Hagia Sophia mosque), Marco Polo's tomb and, finally, Cambodia's Angkor Wat. Meanwhile, Guild members hijack a cruise ship full of plague victims (to provide experimental subjects for the weaponizing of the plague), and Gray's parents are taken hostage (though the senior Grays prove feistier than their kidnappers reckon). Sophisticated the plot isn't, but Rollins includes more than enough action and suspense to keep readers turning pages"

The Secret Agent (A Gabriel Allon novel) by Daniel Silva ****

Another very satisying international thriller by Silva. Crisp and intriguing.

From Publishers Weekly "Starred Review. Bestseller Silva's superlative seventh novel to feature Gabriel Allon, the legendary but wayward son of Israeli Intelligence, puts Silva squarely atop the spy thriller heap. When Solomon Rosner, a professor in Amsterdam who's also a secret Israeli asset, is assassinated for his strident reports and articles detailing the dangers of militant Islam within the Netherlands, Gabriel gets the job to clean out the professor's files. In Amsterdam, the Israeli agent and his old partner, Eli Lavon, unearth a plot that leads to the kidnapping by Islamic extremists of the daughter of the U.S. ambassador in London. While most intelligence agencies consider Gabriel persona non grata because of his unorthodox methods and the trail of bodies he leaves in his wake, he once again proves invaluable as he and his stalwart team hunt down some of Israel's—and the world's—most violent enemies. While you don't have to have read the earlier books in the series (The Messenger, etc.), knowing the history of the returning characters adds depth and color to the overall adds depth and color to the overall story."

Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson ***

Disappointing. Not my cup of tea.

From Publishers Weekly "In bestseller Jackson's spine-tingling romantic thriller, the turbo-charged follow-up to Shiver (2006), photographer Abby Chastain, who played a major role in Shiver, finds she may have a half-sister in Eve Renner, the adopted daughter of Dr. Terrence Renner, former head psychiatrist at Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, a shuttered asylum near (pre-Katrina) New Orleans. When "the Reviver," a tattoo-loving psychopath intent on revenge, almost kills Eve, the amnesia-plagued Eve fears Cole Dennis, her lawyer boyfriend, might be the monster, since she saw him at the scene of her assault (and a friend's murder), though Cole is released for lack of evidence. The body count mounts through many unexpected twists and turns as a grim Det. Reuben Montoya, Abby's fiancé, and his partner, Rick Bentz, try to puzzle out the killer's cryptic clues before he strikes again. A heart-stopping resolution suggests another heavy-breathing update might be in the works."

Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard***

Not as good as some of Linda Howard's other novels. More like a Harlequin romance. review "I agree with another reviewer that this book is not worth the price. It is not a bad book but it is not a good book either. It reads like a how to book if you crash in the mountains in an airplane and survive. The attention to detail overshadows the short story. Bailey Wingate was a trophy wife, now a widow. At least that is how it looks to others. The truth is a well kept secret. Her step-children who are older than her actually hate her guts. She enjoys the conveniences that are available to her and not the least is a flying limo service. Cameron Justice is half owner of the limo-plane service. He doesn't usually fly Bailey anywhere, his partner does. Cam considers her exactly what she seems to be, a gold digger. When she wants to fly off on vacation, Cam must step in because Bret, his partner, has an allergic reaction and becomes ill. Half way to their destination the plane goes down, and only Cam's ability as a pilot saves their lives. I was disappointed in the romance and how hurt and cold people manage to have mediocre intimacy is beyond me. If you find yourself in this position hope you have this book with you. It is very detailed on how to survive. But as a romance, suspense thriller, or whatever it is far below my standards and the abilities of Linda Howard. Wait for the paperback if you must read it. Elaine C McTyer"

Bloodletting & miraculous cures by Vincent Lam****

This book is a collection of interlinked short stories which came out to great critical acclaim in Canada. I found it interesting but the characters were somewhat sterile and not fully-fleshed-out humans. Here's an extract from a review by EVAN HUGHES:

"Lam’s work fits better among that of nonfiction writers like Jerome Groopman, Sherwin Nuland and Atul Gawande. He writes what is sometimes called “documentary fiction,” providing an insider’s view of his field, replete with the stark juxtapositions — notably the privilege of the treater with the powerlessness of the treated — and the moral hazards that characterize the profession. Some of the best stories in “Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures” read like journalistic dispatches from the medical front lines, with careful psychological characterization added. As such, Lam’s book represents a promising demonstration of fiction’s unique power: to bring the news that stays news, in Ezra Pound’s formulation, and to allow the reader to see through the eyes of those who experience events firsthand."

The Quickie by James Patterson and Michael Ledwedge***

Better than some of Patterson' really bad recent novels but not up to the standard of the early Cross novels. Interesting plot. Here's another perspective from an review:

"Every James Patterson fan has a right to be skeptical when he releases a new book. Will it be any good or will it be too similar to many of the recent books he's released. I became hooked on Kiss the Girls and devoured every Patterson book I could find. Now, Patterson churns out 4-5 books a year. I keep reading because most are pretty good, only a few are horrible, and every once in awhile, Patterson captures some of the old magic. As for his most recent books, Cross was really good, Step on a Crack was horrendous, and the 6th Target could have been much better if it had told one big story instead of 3 small ones. I had no expectations when I picked up and begin reading "The Quickie." This book with the strange title had me hooked from the beginning and trying to make time to read this book as fast as I could. Lauren is married to Paul. One day, she drives downtown hoping to surprise him at lunch. She spots him going into a hotel with a georgeous young blonde. This betrayal tears her apart and of course allows her to justify having her own fling with a coworker. That's as much of the plot as I'll give away. Let's just say that once Lauren has the quickie, an amazing amount of things go wrong. Lauren is faced with many decisions and dilemmas that force her to decide what really matters in her life. The plot hooked me from the beginning and carried me through the novel. Still, as I read I kept hoping the characters would be worth caring for. For awhile, none of the characters are sympathetic. Is Lauren good or bad? What about her husband Paul? What about Scott Thayer, the man Lauren has the affair with? But don't worry, Patterson (and random co-author) know what they are doing. The book hurls twists and turns at you to where you are never sure about Lauren's plans to survive the disaster she created by having that one "quickie." There aren't any cheap plot gimmicks used either. This is a straight up thriller. This is the best stand-alone Patterson book I've read in a long time. Honeymoon and Beach Road were bad, while Lifeguard was pretty good. I recommend this book to all Patterson fans who may have given up on the author. If you are considering reading Patterson for the first time, I recommend starting at the beginning of the Cross books or read this one. You won't be disappointed."
Bill Garrison (Oklahoma City, OK USA)

Silence by Thomas Perry ****

An excellent psychological thriller. One of the most intriguing and well-written suspense novels I have read in recent months.

From Publishers Weekly "Edgar-winner Perry (Pursuit) delivers another intelligent, literate thriller. Jack Till, a retired LAPD detective turned PI, has settled into a somewhat monastic existence, at the center of which is his 21-year-old daughter, Holly, who has Down syndrome. Six years earlier, Till helped restaurateur Wendy Harper escape from would-be assailants. Showing her the techniques the police use to track down fugitives, Till taught the woman to assume a new identity and begin a new life. When Harper disappeared, many assumed she was murdered. Now, years later, someone is trying to frame Eric Fuller, Harper's business partner and sometime boyfriend, for her murder. The only way for Till to prove Fuller's innocence is to produce Harper in the flesh, but first he has to find her and persuade her to come back while evading assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner, who have been hired to kill Harper when she resurfaces. As always, Perry excels at the procedural details, keeps up the pace throughout and will have readers guessing until the end."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stone Cold: a Camel Club novel by David Baldacchi

Riveting! First-rate!***** November 25, 2007

David Baldacci has forged a first-rate page-turner with his novel Stone Cold. This is the third in the series featuring Oliver Stone and the Camel Club. The plotting is intricate, the characters well-developed and the intrigue byzantine. Ex-CIA agents keep cropping up at every juncture. Con artist Anabelle Conroy is back. All in all this is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. I can hardly wait for the next.

Highly recommended.

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William Bernhardt: Strip Search

Dark and deadly*** November 25, 2007

This latest novel by William Bernhardt is a welcome diversion from his limping Ben Kincaid series. This features psychologist Susan Pulaski who is badly in need of psychological assistance herself. Formerly employed by the Las Vegas police dept she is now serving as a consultant but her status is tenuous at best. The novel is littered with corpses who are being methodically slaughtered by a serial killer. At first there are no obvious similarities among the victims but as the plot unfolds it becomes apparent that they have a common thread: they have abandoned children earlier in their careers. While the murders are carried out by a thug, only in the last stages does Susan realize that his strings are being pulled by a master puppeteer whose identity is quite surprising.

A fast read.

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Jean Chretien: My Years as Prime Minister

Chretien sparkles**** November 25, 2007

After all the controversy surrounding Adscam and the Gomery Inquiry, many of us have forgotten the accomplishments of Jean Chretien's years as Prime Minister. In the memoir Chretien reminds us of a long string of things accomplished under his leadership. This book is written in a lively style that reminds us of Chretien's folksy public persona while in office. It reads as if he is talking to the reader , recounting tales of his years as PM. He does not get bogged down in detail but keeps to the highlights. This is a delightful account, filled with insight, wit and, surprisingly, very little bitterness exhibited towards the man who worked to undermine him in his quest for the throne.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Double Take: a novel by Catherine Coulter

Entertaining*** August 22, 2007

Another in the Catherine Coulter FBI series. This is a direct follow-up to her previous novel in this series, Point Blank, with many of the same characters and a direct plot linkage. Agent Cheney Stone rescues Julia Ransom who is thrown off Fishermen's Pier in San Francisco by an assassin. Julia's psychic husband, August Ransom, had been murdered six months earlier and for a while Julia had been the prime suspect. A big part of the novel concerns August's murder and who might have done it, including other psychics jealous of him. Meanwhile riding into town comes Sheriff "Dix" Noble from Virginia whose wife Christie had disappeared three years earlier. He is brought to town by the supposed sighting of Christie by her godfather. The woman sighted is Charlotte Pallack who bears a striking resemblance to the missing Christie. Charlotte is married to a much older man, "moneybags" Thomas Pallack. Pallack was a client of August Ransom's before his demise. Thence the plots become intertwined until the Gordian knot is cut and the villain revealed.

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The Unquiet: a novel by John Connolly

Not your ordinary thriller**** August 22, 2007

This is the first John Connolly novel I have read. I found it stangely dark and filled with foreboding. It's part murder mystery, horror story, with a strong tinge of the supernatural. PI Charlie Parker is haunted by memories of his dead wife and daughter and his separation from his current love and daughter. He is hired by Rebecca Clay to scare off a stalker. The stalker, Frank Merrick, is himself a haunted individual. He is a killer by profession who was recently released from prison and sets out to track down his missing daughter and those who may have abused and killed her. Parker's investigation mushrooms as he begins to trace the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Rebecca's father, psychiatrist Daniel Clay, the allegations of child abuse surrounding him, and his strange circle of associates. Hovering on the fringes is a cigerette-puffing man known as the Collector. Associated with the Collector are a mysterious group known as the Hollow Men who seem to be doing penance caught halfway between this world and the next. This novel is not my usual cup of tea but nonetheless I found it intriguing.

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New England White: a novel by Stephen Carter

Extremely literate writer**** August 22, 2007

I was about 100 pages into this 500+page book when I finally bcame hooked by the story and the characters. This is a whodunit woven into a complex drama about life at a New England university and what it is like to be rich highly-educated African -Americans. Stephen Carter shows promise of becoming one of the best writers of his generation. I'll say no more about the plot for fear of spoiling it. But Lemaster and Julia Carlyle are fascinating characters. Read this book. You won't be disappointed.

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The Bourne Betrayal: a Jason Bourne novel by Eric Van Lustbader

The Bourne story has run its course*** August 22, 2007

I started this novel the day after viewing the latest Bourne movie, The Bourne Ultimatum. The movie was a fast-paced riveting action thriller. I cannot say the same for this latest novel starring Jason Bourne. The right elements are present: intrigue, Bourne's memory flashbacks, terrorists etc. But there is a world of difference between The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Betrayal. Jason's friend,deputy CIA director Martin Lindros, is missing in the mountains of Ethiopia. He was there investigating the possibility that terrorists had acquired a nuclear bomb. But it was a set-up anmd he is abducted. Terroist leader Karim has facial reconstruction surgery and with one of Lindros' eyes implanted comes back to CIA HQ masquerading as the real Lindros. Meanwhile Jason is tracking the real Lindros. In the end the trrorists have virtually taken over the CIA and are poised to detonate their nuclear weapon. But Jason Bourne, with the help of some Saudi Special Forces, locates the missing real Lindros and the bomb. The plot is thwarted.

Lustbader is a good writer in his own right, having authored several good thrillers of his own about 20 years ago. This novel is not up to the quality of his own stand-alone novels. It appears that the Jason Bourne story has run its course.

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The First Commandment: a thriller by Brad Thor

Entertaining Thriller*** August 21, 2007

This novel begins with Scot Harvath, former navy SEAL, now Homeland Security superagent, s at the bedside of girlfriend Tracy Hastings, who's in a deep coma after being gravely wounded at the end of Thor's previous novel. Unbeknownst to him, five terrorists have been released from Guantánamo Bay as part of a secret hostage deal forced upon U.S. president Jack Rutledge. When one of the terrorists starts targeting Scot's friends and family, Scot discovers that the president won't allow the assassin to be hunted down. Soon enough, Scot is on the run from his own government and in pursuit of the killer. Alone, cut off by the President for unfathomable reasons, Horvath enlists the help of some close friends to follow the killer of his closest associates but always a step behind until the rip-roaring conclusion when he guns down the master terrorist.

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The Navigator: a NUMA series novel by Clive Cussler and Paul Kamprecos

Good Read**** August 21, 2007

This is the thirty-fourth book under the Clive Cussler brand. I enjoyed his early Dirk Pitt novels but felt he had lost his touch with the first two Oregon Files novels although the later ones in that series have improved. The Navigator is the seventh in the NUMA series starring undersea adventurer Kurt Austin and his sidekicks. Kurt Austin is an updated version of Dirk Pitt. Paul Kamprecos who has written most of the NUMA series has found his stride and the rhythmn of the Dirk Pitt series. In fact, for the first time in a while I felt like I was reading a Cussler novel when he was writing at his peak. The Navigator is a first-rate adventure yarn mixing history with modern villains. Recommended

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Stalin's Ghost: An Arkady Renko novel by Martin Cruz Smith

A grim picture*** August 21, 2007

Martin Cruz Smith has penned another brooding Arkady Renko novel. Renko has survived the Communist era of the Soviet Union and the oligarchy of the "new" Russia to lanquish in a backwater job. Renko's latest investigation involves the alleged appearance of the ghost of Stalin at a Moscow underground (subway) station. These incidents seem connected to the Senate campaign of Nikolai Isakov, a former member of the Russian army's elite "Black Berets" and a `hero' of the last Russian campaign against Chechnya.Isakov is also a police investigator who has stolen Renko's girlfriend, Eva. Something stinks about Isakov's supposedly heroic exploits in Chechnya and Renko sets out to unravel the truth.

Renko's Russia is a grim and foreboding place.

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Monday, August 06, 2007 - News - Solidarity in cyberspace? Bloggers eye labour union - News - Solidarity in cyberspace? Bloggers eye labour union

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cat O'Nine Tales: short stories by Jeffrey Archer

Quick but Satisfying*** July 21, 2007

This collection of short stories by Jeffrey Archer provided a good read to clean the mental palate after bogging down in The Lost Constitution. Most of the stories are anecdotes from Archer's time in Her Majestity's prisons, supposedly based on true tales told him by various convicts. True or not, they are for the most part amusing. Recommended for a quick summer read.

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The Lost Constitution: a novel by William Martin

Long and Rambling** July 21,2007

This is the second Martin novel I have read. The other was Back Bay, a long time ago, of which I have no recollection.

This novel meanders through time and place, jumping back and forth from one century to another, sometimes for no apparent reason.The focus is on the hunt for a lost annotated draft of the US Constitution from the time when the Constitutional Convention was at the drafting stage. The missing draft is marked with the comments of various New England delegates. The modern search is carried out by historian Peter Fallon who is pursued by others in search of the document. Martin is a very long-winded writer who includes tons of unnecessary detail and his jumping back and forth in time and place is hard to follow. I made it to the end of this novel but barely. In the hands of a more skilled writer this could have been an intriguing read.

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