FINAL OPTION – Clive Cussler & Boyd Morrison

(Oregon Files #14)

BPM_0004When a powerful and vengeful man hellbent on destroying Juan Cabrillo, Chairman of the Corporation and Captain of the tramp steamer, the high-tech Oregon, builds a ship identical to the Oregon, and which is just as well armed, he has every chance of succeeding. Cabrillo is lured to the waters off the coast of Brazil when three undercover agents are exposed and he is the only resource in the area the CIA can call on to rescue them.

A heart-pounding read: From one narrow escape to the next, Cabrillo soon realises that he has never faced as ruthless an enemy. For every move he makes, his enemy counters the Oregon with ruthless destruction. The only difference between the combatants is Cabrillo’s tried and trusted crew, but even they may not be enough to prevent the final disaster.

clive-cussler

Clive Cussler

Boyd Morrison

Boyd Morrison – author

I’m not sure why I liked this one as well as, if not better than, any of its predecessors. But there was something tangibly less flippant about it that had me more involved. I was hooked right up to the unexpected finale.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House, SA for this ARC from Penguin/Michael Joseph.

ISBN 9780241386866.

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WHATEVER IT TAKES – Andy McNab

BPM_0007In some ways, this is a diversion from what I expect from Andy McNab in that the main character is less of a hardbitten hero than his usual characters. But that probably made him more human for me. I expect a lot of readers will empathise with James Mercer’s crusade vs. The One-percenters, those super-rich who stomp on the fingers of those below them on the ladder of success, and have the legal loophole experts that help them pay no taxes.

Mercer steals from these men in revenge for the financial ruin of his family to compensate for the wrongs they have caused.

Then he is caught by his current target and forced to plan and execute another theft ; a ledger from the premises of another super rich oligarch, one among the many who have erected elaborate hidey-holes in the relative geographical isolation of New Zealand. But nothing is what it seems. As Mercer puts together a team of experts and lies convincingly enough to lure them down under to attempt the theft, to his consternation, his beloved adopted-sister gets involved.

Andy MvNab

Andy McNab – author

The plot twists from one surprise to the next, involving benevolent crusaders and ruthless opponents. A worthwhile read, as good as any of McNab’s previous thrillers. Thank you to Penguin Random House, SA, for this ARC by Bantam Press.

ISBN 9781787630260

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THE GRID – Nick Cook

BPM_0006Harness psychokinetic power and turn it into a weapon. Far fetched Sci-fi nonsense, of course. The stuff of thriller novels…

Or is it nonsense? The personal physician to the US President, a military psychologist, Josh Cain, is called to the scene of a potential suicide as the man asks for him by name. Moments before a sniper’s bullet silences the man, Dr Cain is told of a plot against the President.

POTUS is having nightmares, dreaming of his own death. Cain must find out what is going on before the dreams come true.

Nick Cook

Nick Cook – author

I enjoyed this far out unputdownable thriller. Five-star stuff of great originality, exploring the abilities and possibilities of the psychic mind as a weapon of war.

Highly recommended.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House SA for this ARC from Bantam Press.

ISBN 9781787630383.

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IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH – Bianca Marais

BPM_0002The well-told story concerns how two sisters in early old-age finally manage to understand each other, to forgive, and to love.

South Africa on the cusp of a new beginning as Nelson Mandela moves from prison to President. Brilliant. Poignant. Full of human emotion and, sometimes, huge compassion.

Rape, and all its ramifications for the rest of the women’s lives, is a central theme, complete with HIV and AIDS, superstition, and the damage of ignorance.

A Zulu girl living with her ill mother in a squatter camp near the farm belonging to the two sisters gives birth to her rape induced baby boy. She awakens to find the child gone. Dead, her mother tells her, but it has been left on the doorstep at the farmhouse where one of the sisters wants to keep it to fulfil her yearning for a child of her own after a lifetime of miscarriages.

But the farm is under threat, too. A neighbouring game farm business wants to buy it because it sits between two of their existing farms. When their offer is refused, the white racists try terror tactics, and the sisters harbouring a black baby is enough to whip up the community anger.

It is the story of three women of courage against the backdrop of the birthing pains of a new South Africa. A story of fighting back against prejudice, racialism and ignorance.

Bianca Marais

Bianca Marais – author

 

If you want to make God laugh, then tell him your plans…

I swallowed big lumps, and cried not a little. A beautifully written tale that will surely be a classic one day soon.

Thanks to Penguin Random House SA for this ARC.

ISBN 9780735219311

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The 19th CHRISTMAS – James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

BPM_0001.jpgLike a lot of Mr Patterson’s thriller factory product, there are ups and downs. The ups are some of the most exciting crime thrillers on the planet. The downs probably more disappointing due to the comparison. Especially with the long-running series like Alex Cross, Michael Bennett and The Women’s Murder Club.

Let me say right away that I enjoyed this one as it kicks off, The 19th Christmas, in the last mentioned series. Sergeant Lindsay Boxer and her partner, Rich Conklin features mostly, going from what appears to be a relatively quiet Christmas to a full-throttle search for a killer going by the name of Loman.

Reporter, Cindy Thomas and DA Yuki Castellano are involved in trying to free an incarcerated man from prison, convinced that he is innocent. The fourth member of the Club is on holiday, so does not feature.

Maxine Paetro

Maxine Paetro – author

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James Patterson – author

Loman is the master of the Red Herring. He causes so much mayhem that the San Francisco PD go from relaxed to cancelled-leave in a heartbeat; incidents all over the city and dead bodies everywhere. 90% of this thriller is well knit and unputdownable.

In the final furlong, the winner goes lame and eventually stumbles along to finish.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House SA for an ARC. A Century Imprint – ISBN 978178089435.

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CRISS CROSS – James Patterson

Criss-crossOne red herring after another has Alex Cross darting from one copy-cat murder and kidnapping scene to the next, all different except for one detail: an added taunt from an enigmatic psychopath calling himself M. Even the witnessed electrocution of a killer Cross put behind bars is followed by, “You messed up big time, Dr. Cross.” Can it be the man’s family out for revenge?

Slowly  a noose of threat closes in on his family. Yes, that family beloved of all Alex Cross/Patterson followers; wife Bree, grandma Nana Mama, sixteen year old track star daughter, precocious ten year old son, Ali. That family.  Then a kidnapping of a member of that family finally drives our detective/therapist to despair and drink, satisfactorily filmed by M to feed his desire for revenge…

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James Patterson – author

I enjoyed this Cross rendition more than some of the previous in the series, and less than others, but never knowing what M’s motives were was a disappointment. Perhaps the only clue I can find is a reference to a fantastically good plastic surgeon, so, perhaps in the next adventure we’ll find out who crawls out of the woodwork. But the lead in to the follow up novel slightly weakened the finale, and, for me, made it uncomfortable.

Many thanks to Random House SA for an ARC. A Century Imprint.

ISBN 9781780899459.

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BLUE MOON – Lee Child

(Jack Reacher #24)

Blue MoonAs usual, wanderer Jack Reacher can’t help standing up for the downtrodden and the underdogs. Approaching an unnamed medium sized American city, Reacher notices an enticing envelope protruding from a dozing old man’s pocket and the interest taken by a fellow passenger on the Greyhound bus on which they are all travelling.

Thanks to his intervention, a mugger fails to mug, but Reacher can’t help but observe the old man’s troubles are much worse that he tries to let on. Reacher gets involved in the warfare of rival gangs; the Albanians and the Ukrainians have the city evenly shared, east or west of the main street.

So far, so good, as a setting for a Reacher backdrop. For the undiscerning reader, no doubt an easy no-quit thriller, and with a few sighs of disappointment, I enjoyed it in a three-star kind of way.

Lee Child 1Earlier Reachers, even as recent as THE MIDNIGHT LINE, were undoubtedly five start stuff  which, along with millions of other crime fiction/thriller readers, I loved. However, never were there so many accurately gunned-down bodies of inaccurate gunmen, ever. Half pile up in the west, and fifty percent trickle their blood into the sewers of the east. They’ve been Reached. Oh, sorry, is that a spoiler? Abby, the waitress, his by-the-way gun-toting side-kick and lover, is less than believable.

Admittedly, Reacher is aging just a little and the persona compensates satisfactorily.  But the characterization of the cast of other folks is rather lacking and shallower than earlier offerings in this thus far highly successful series.

Thank you, Penguin Random House South Africa for this ARC.

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THE GIVER OF STARS – Jojo Moyes

The Giver of StarsBrilliant. Sometimes I regret sticking to crime fiction, and this is one of those times. Well, someone dies and someone goes to prison, but that’s not really what this enchanting story is about.

Meeting handsome American, Bennett Van Cleve, touring with his father in England, Alice marries him and escapes to the wilds of Kentucky with them. Soon her world sours and she regrets her impulsive decision, until she meets the gutsy Margery O’Hare who bows to nobody.

Margery has started a horseback library and together with three other women deliver books and magazines to the far-flung cottages in the wild mountain country in all weathers to accomplish their goal: to spread literacy and the love of books. Against her father-in-laws wishes, Alice joins the team and gets to love the forests, hills and people.  Changing the lives of both children and adults is all the reward they need; but sometimes it is a battle against social prejudice.

And sometimes a vindictive few who find Margery and her team a threat whom they are determined to quash, will go to extreme lengths to eradicate their endevours.

I admit I would never have selected this book by choice, suspecting it to be less than exciting, but thanks to Penguin Random House – SA for sending this ARC. An un-putdownable delight.

A Michael Joseph Imprint, ISBN 9780718183233.

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KILLER INSTINCT – James Patterson & Howard Roughan

Killer InstinctA terror attack on New York’s Times Square interrupts Professor Reinhart’s lecture. Knowing his partner was taking their adopted daughter there as a treat has him headed that way at breakneck speed. C4 explosive packages rip the Square apart, followed by a second attack by a squadron of bomb-carrying drones when the cops and swat teams have moved in. Detective Elizabeth Needham, now in the Terrorism Task Force, narrowly escapes with her life, and saves that of her boss, Evan Pritchard at the same time. With further carnage planned, she needs Dr. Dylan Reinhart’s razor mind to connect some seemingly disparate dots. Thus she is reunited with her old partner from MURDER GAMES to which this is the sequel.

One of the dots is a mysterious killer, Sadira Yavari, who plays a major role in the story and is the twist in the tale. Another is the fanatic terror controller, known only as the Mudir, who finally zeros in on Reinhart himself. There are at least two occasions when Reinhart has the Mudir in his sights but doesn’t pull the trigger – most frustrating; I was yelling “Shoot the mother!” at the page – due to questions to which he needs the answers.

Then there is the whiskey-swilling computer hacker who always comes up trumps, and Reinhart’s ex-CIA father whose aim is still pretty good, as well as being in the right place at the right time.

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James Patterson – mega author

The back-story of Dylan Reinhart and his marriage partner, Tracy, with their adopted baby girl, is not totally convincing. Keeping the secret from Tracy that Reinhart was once in the CIA is supposed to be the big betrayal, when Reinhart finally admits this, which causes Tracy to leave him, taking the child. Again, not convincing, but these in-house gay lives apart, the action and ripping pace, in typical Patterson style, makes up for any flaws. The Roughan/Patterson partnership has proved to be a great one.

A Century Imprint ISBN 9781780899411from Penguin Random House; thank you PRH-SA, for the ARC.

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THE SECOND SLEEP – Robert Harris

An interesting concept; eight hundred years have passed since the scientific IT revolution collapsed in about 2025.

The Second SleepWith the world, then, so over-populated that when electricity and IT failed, thousands starved and millions from the cities overwhelmed the countryside in search of food, stealing it from the farms and each other, resulting in the decimation of civilization and the death of most of the world’s populace. Most of that is left to our imagination, and quite why the electrical power failed, is never clarified.

In rural England a young priest is sent by his bishop to bury the elderly priest there, only to discover the man was digging out ancient artifacts from the age of disaster, which is forbidden by the Church which is as all-powerful in these second Dark Ages as it was in the first. The priest’s discoveries and adventures rock his very foundations. Heresy rears up to challenge him and his vow of chastity is shattered.

Robert Harris 1

Robert Harris – author

 

However, while the writing is up to this brilliant author’s usually great standard, I found the story slow and tedious. The conclusion as well was, for me, unsatisfactory. The characters are interesting but somehow not entirely convincing.

Thank you to Penguin Random House – SA for this ARC. Herewith an honest review.

ISB 9781786331380.

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