DUTY and HONOUR – Grant Blackwood

TOM CLANCY’S DUTY and HONOUR, actually, rightfully keeping the Clancy flag flying.

Grant Blackwood turns out to be an acceptable successor to TOM CLANCY with his Jack Ryan Series.

Duty&Honour.jpg

He would have to be as accomplished a dealer in modern warfare, as well travelled and colloquial, and as exciting a writer. I think he manages pretty well and doubtless will slide slowly into his own groove in time.

The story features Jack Ryan Jr., son of Jack Ryan, now President of the USA, Tom Clancy’s protagonist for so many thrilling novels to date. Jack Junior is a Special Forces trained agent currently suspended from active service, who finds himself the target of assassins where the story kicks immediately into high gear and nail biting suspense.

 

Refusing to invoke his father’s power of protection and the forces at the President’s disposal, Jack sets out to find out who wants him dead and why. On the trail of clues left by a thwarted assassin, he saves the life of a journalist who has been following a trail of his own, putting himself in danger. With resources from both sides, the two men invoke the wrath of powerful men who need to bury them both.

Grant Blackwood.jpg

Grant Blackwood

A great read, worthy of the Tom Clancy name.

Keep ‘em coming, Mr Blackwood!

A Penguin-Michael Joseph imprint, Duty and Honour was sent to BOOK POSTMORTEM by Penguin Random House, South Africa.

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15TH AFFAIR – James Patterson & Maxine Paetro.

15th AffairAnother Women’s Murder Club thriller. This one is taught, and the grip tightens steadily. I found it to be more gripping and unputdownable than some others in this series and I enjoyed it. Lindsay Boxer, of the four friends who are members of the club, as usual is the main protagonist.

We feel for her as her normal heavy workload is especially backbreaking with the added concern about her missing husband, Joe Molinari. A fact that shakes her faith in her marriage is his history with a woman, Alison Muller, who just might be a ruthless killer.

Not only is Muller’s image there in the hotel security camera footage where four bodies are found executed, but a figure that just might be Joe is, as well. And nobody can find her either. It seems, too, that the CIA knows something about it about which they are not entirely forthcoming.

Maxine Paetro

Maxine Paetro

james-patterson-author-1

James Patterson

Fortunately for Lindsay, she has a willing babysitter in the shape of her friend and neighbour to look after their baby daughter as she sallies forth to joust with these mysteries and figure out just what Joe is up to. These domestic concerns give a more realistic feel to the tenacious detective sergeant.

This copy sent to the crime scene investigators of the BOOK POSTMORTEM by Penguin Random House, South Africa.

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The GAMES – James Patterson & Mark Sullivan

The Games.jpgThe timelines in this enormously exciting thriller are NOW! Right now, as we approach the start of the Rio Olympic Games. It was odd to live through the story, but not seeing it happen on the daily news.

What I would like to know is what part Patterson’s co-authors play in the development to his dual authored books, how to share out one’s praise, or criticism? In the case of The Games, whoever the driving force was behind it, he did an excellent job.

james-patterson-author-1

James Patterson

It is a PRIVATE thriller, this one featuring the head of this security consultancy, Jack Morgan himself. The threat is a two-pronged but mutually unaware, attack on the city of Rio and the millions of visitors, athletes and dignitaries thronging to the 2016 Games. Madmen and women protesting, each in their own murderous way, at the contrast between the uber-rich, and the poorest of the poor that inhabit Brazil’s favelas, living within a stone’s throw of each other. The billions that went into entertainment when they might have been better spent in uplifting the lot of the destitute. This may be the motive, but some have nothing but their pockets in mind. And a grief stricken bacteriologist out for revenge doesn’t care if the poor die as well…

Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan

As the worst atrocity the world has ever seen is about to be unleashed on the partying crowds, only a handful of men and woman stand between the lives and the annihilation of millions. The countdown is in seconds.

I found this story more plausibly human that some from the Patterson factory. A good read, indeed.

This review copy sent to BOOK POSTMORTEM by  Penguin Random House South Africa.

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THE DEAD HOUSE – Harry Bingham

Excellent, as expected. No. 5 in the Fiona Griffiths series. The body of a beautiful young woman is found respectfully laid out in the bier house of a small Welsh country churchyard, in a white dress surrounded by candles. As the local constabulary is overstretched dealing with a toxic tanker accident, newly promoted Sergeant Griffiths is sent to take a look.

The Dead HouseOperation April, a task force involved in pinning down a conspiracy of mega criminals, has ground to a halt with no new leads, despite a conviction that there are still some very evil men out there. Fiona is temporarily seconded from the Cardiff force to aid DI Burnett to get to the bottom of this mystery. Although it turns out that the girl died of natural causes, who laid her out, why, and who is she?

 

Fiona’s stubborn refusal to let sleeping corpses lie, and her affinity with the dead, begins to shine a light on the matter. A quiet beginning gains momentum to screw-turning tension, as DI Burnett gets to trust and respect the weird, edgy detective.

Harry-bingham

Harry Bingham

There is another ongoing mystery woven into the series – how and why, as a baby, did she wind up on the seat of the car owned by the man who adopted her, and is this connected to that man’s shady past? For this reason, I recommend that the series is read in their order to pick up on these threads, but, in any order, I am an out and out fan of Fiona’s. She will go down in literary crime history as a strong contender for the most memorable character ever.

Bravo, Harry! Keep going.

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FIFTH COLUMN – Mike Hollow

Based in war torn London during the WWII blitz. The anxiety, the fear, the sirens, the discomfort of the Anderson shelters, the crump of incoming bombs and shaking earth are realistically portrayed.

Fifth ColumnThe body of a young woman lies among the bomb rubble, but that was not what killed her. She is found by a squad of men tasked to search the fallen masonry for the dead and injured and to account for the residents who used to live there.

When a local engineering factory reports a staff member missing, she is identified as Mary Watkins. Detective Inspector Jago is tasked with piecing together the scant clues to why she died.

No spoilers; blitzed London is well portrayed and the interwoven torn loyalties, old Fascist sympathies, blackmarket sidelines, and sabotage all play their part…

Jago is a very likeable character, although a little fragile and tentative in his personal relationships, as personified by his interest in the company of a beautiful American journalist. Perhaps it is this empathy that makes one warm to him?

Mike Hollow

Mike Hollow

Despite the fact that the pace is gentle and rarely tense enough to raise a heartbeat, the tale is warmly readable, the characters real and grounded. A comfortable read, I certainly found no reason to put it down, and if offered another Jago novel – this is the second in the series – I would welcome it.

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ALFREDO’S LUCK – Michael Ludden

luddencoverTHIS CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATED by JIM NESBITT.

It’s a fine but rare thing to find a writer who’s capable of spinning out a winning, fast-paced thriller with an intricate plot and a baker’s dozen of well-defined characters without leaving the reader in the dust, dazed and confused. Rarer still to find an author who also tells his tale with a well-tuned sense of place, deftly delivered like just the right amount of spice, adding a dash of taste and texture to the story without overpowering it.

Michael Ludden’s ALFREDO’S LUCK is one helluva read that delivers the goods described above with skillful panache. And the place we’re talking about is Florida – Miami, to be precise — with a short jaunt to Cuba and the Keys thrown in. Hunter S. Thompson once called Miami “the Hong Kong of the Western Hemisphere” and it is an exotic, seedy, luxurious and often violent place that inspires hyperbole and over-the-top caricature.

Michael Ludden

Michael Ludden

However, Ludden avoids the trap other Florida writers can’t seem to resist. He writes knowingly about the state where he long worked as a roving correspondent and editor without making Florida’s rococo wackiness the centerpiece. His story never jumps the shark and never gets bogged down in details about subjects such as the politics of Miami’s Cuban-American community. Instead, he shows discipline and restraint to keep this rollicking novel in high gear. To be sure, there are a lot of colorful characters and enough authentically painted local color to satisfy even that rarest of birds, a native Floridian. But they’re there in service of Ludden’s story.

At its core, this novel is equal parts prison break with killer convicts on the run and a murder mystery that appears to be a botched assassination attempt on a very wealthy and politically influential Cuban-American businessman, Alfredo Gonzales. Tate Drawdy, as loose a cannon as you’ll ever find in the long history of detective novels, is the Metro-Dade PD detective who catches the case. Drawdy is nobody’s fool – and nobody’s idea of a by-the-book, chain-of-command kind of cop.

 

He and his partner, the improbably-named Hugh Brice-Whittaker, piece together the clues that tell them why Gonzales is a target and eventually reveal his well-financed plan for payback – nothing less than an assassination plot against Fidel Castro by his own cadre of Cuban-American exiles and their descendants. Running headlong into this story line is a manhunt for four prison escapees, led by Grady Osmund, prison superintendent, and his brothers Buddy Lee and Fred. A murderous assassin-for-hire, Jacky Boy Barnett heads the cons. They leave a trail of bodies as they head for Miami’s seedier enclaves, including one of their own and more than a few of Metro-Dade’s finest.

James NESBITT

Jim Nesbitt – author & reviewer.

The stories merge as it slowly becomes clear that Barnett is the killer-on-deck for the next attempt on Gonzales life and Drawdy, hell bent on revenge, closes in. Will Alfredo’s luck hold? You’ll need to buy Ludden’s book to find out. Along the way, you’ll be surprised by the author’s well-disguised plot twist, saved for the finale.

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FLASH CRASH – Denison Hatch

ONE ALGORITHM: EXECUTED. FOUR TONS OF GOLD: GONE.

Flash CrashI was bracing myself for a techno-thriller, but nowhere was this racy narrative flooded with show-off techno detail that detracted from either the flow or tension.

It may be a bit misleading to call this a Jake Rivett Heist Series, although it is No. 1, as there is less of the New York Detective than there is of David Belov, a backroom programmer at an investment bank. But perhaps the glue will be the heist part of it.

However, there is enough of the tenacious, wiry motor-bike riding detective to get a good sense of what he is about, and I do look forward to the next of his exploits.

David Belov has fought his way out of the clutches of his Russian gang childhood to become a brilliant computer tech, cloistered in the depths of the banks innards. He is a timid quant, barely acknowledged by the Ivy-league floor-traders. Then his world falls apart when he is blackmailed into writing an algorithm that will intentionally crash the gold market. Shoring up their collateral involves the bank moving the bank’s physical gold reserves to the vaults of major investors.

The gold disappears en route.

And David is the fall-guy. Jake Rivett of the Major Crimes Unit is after him, convinced of his involvement.

On the run and in fear for the safety of his wife and young son, he is forced to turn to his childhood friend, gang leader, Vlad. Their uneasy history is deftly dealt with in a series of flash-backs which flesh out these two characters convincingly. Confronting his past may just allow him a future…

Denison Hatch

Denison Hatch

The tension mounts with ever increasing intensity. A highly recommended yarn; the launching of a promising writing career for Denison Hatch.

For more on the musings and news of this author, go to www.DenisonHatch.com

 

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OPEN SEASON -C. J. Box

When , as an author, you are sixteen volumes into a series, you certainly have a stamp of approval. This, the first in the series, was for me a great introduction. When I put it down, I was a C. J. Box fan.

Open Season - BoxHonest Joe Pickett, game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, is unpopular in a place where almost everybody hunts and a lot of them wish he would look the other way. One such, a hunt outfitter who constantly skates near the edge of legal hunting, is found dead in Joe’s back yard. The bodies of his usual companions are found strewn about their camp in the mountains.

InterWest is a company intent on pushing an oil pipeline through Joe’s territory. Nothing must be allowed to stand in their way, including the habitats of endangered species.

Joe is slow, often caught off guard by being too trusting. His pregnant wife and young daughters are his world, above his poorly paid job. He gets tempted by a supposed offer by his mentor and former colleague to join InterWest for three times his current salary. Feeling that the murders involve him personally, he ignores pressure by the sheriff and his superiors to leave the investigation to others, and begins to find a few clues. Behind the scenes the pressure mounts, his family is threatened and he is suspended from his job.

Unbeknownst to Joe, his seven year old daughter Sheridan has a secret that a sinister man finds out and threatened to kill her family if she tells anybody about it. Her fears and anxiety are well told and notch up the tension to breaking point.

C J Box

C. J. Box

From then on, Joe solidifies and the pace picks up to as racy a thriller as you could wish for. Some might find Joe to be less than a hero, but he is my sort of man – kind, slow to anger, but gutsy and stubborn when threatened. If you love and appreciate wild, wide-open spaces, and wildlife anywhere on the globe, beautifully described with spiritual feeling, you will also become a C.J.Box fan.
Our thanks to Carolyn Darr of PENGUIN RANDOMHOUSE for the invitation to attend this crime scene…

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SMOOTH OPERATOR – Stewart Woods & Parnell Hall

Smooth OperatorTeddy Fay, or whatever he is calling himself these days, has just been launched in his own new series. Teddy Fay, ex-CIA, officially long dead, scrubbed his own records clean and has never existed.

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Stuart Woods

Prolific thriller novelist Stuart Woods has been joined by equally successful mystery writer Parnell Hall to bring us a grittier tale. Grittier, as opposed to the Stone Barrington Series in which Teddy featured first as a villain then increasingly as the go-to man to whom Barrington turns for messier solutions.

Parnell-Hall

Parnell Hall.

The latter has friends in the highest of places, and when the very nation is threatened, he is one of the few in their confidence. There is the kidnapping of the Speaker’s daughter that must remain a secret, while at the same time the kidnapper must be found, and the puzzle of why the demand is, seemingly, only a change of legislation must be solved.

Who has even the slightest chance of pulling that off than the ruthless killer and elusive master of disguises, Teddy Fay? And time is running out.

An easy read, a speedy page-turner. The tension could be tighter if Teddy Fay was just a little less competent, less sure of himself. But no, he is just one hellova Smooth Operator.

 

SMOOTH OPERATOR (Putnam; On Sale:  August 2, 2016).

Katie Grinch, [kgrinch@penguinrandomhouse.com]

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BLIND SIGHT -Carol O’Connell

In an oddly stuttering narrative, but very realistic action and thoughts, Carol O’Connell has an original way of putting the picture together. This is Series No. 12, featuring her tough, scary, prickly, female detective, Kathleen Mallory.

Blind SightA blind child, feeling his white stick way down a busy sidewalk, and a Catholic nun, disappear abruptly. Without trace, except for the cane.

Four bodies, in various stages of decomposition are found on the lawn of the mayor’s mansion. The most fresh of which is that of the nun, Sister Michael.

Detective Kathy Mallory and the NYPD’s Special Crimes Unit tackle the mystery; the missing child, Jonah Quill, giving the case the required urgency. The clues are sparse and the liars plentiful.

We see a lot of the action from the captive Jonah’s point of view, and here the author shines with a vibrant insight into the world of the visually impaired, and the resources they, who have never seen, develop to compensate.

Carol O'Connell

Carol O’Connell.

It is Mallory’s stubborn refusal to accept that Jonah is also dead that keeps the matter on the front burner. She has an uncanny understanding of things not said, things out of place and the ability to weave the lies into a pattern that will begin to make a picture. Even if that is in Braille…

You might not believe everything that the Mayor tells you, but the priest? Mallory sets out to rattle some cages.

Brilliant writing, good plot. Thank you, Katie Grinch, [kgrinch@penguinrandomhouse.com] for asking BOOK POSTMORTEM to attend the crime scene.

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