Monthly Archives: September 2012
By James Patterson and Marshall Karp
Matthew Bannon, an art student with a secret (don’t worry, you find out later) takes a bag full of diamonds from a Russian dealer who was assassinated in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. All he wants to do is settle down to enjoy a comfortable life with his girlfriend, Katherine Sandborne. However, after taking her to Paris, then Venice, Bannon runs afoul of an assassin working for the Russians who want their diamonds back. Bannon must use his Marine skills, as well as a few others picked up through the years, to elude and outwit his opponents: the Russians, the assassin, and dirty cops. However, when Sandborne is kidnapped, Bannon will stop at nothing for the one he loves.
I know, I know, you’ve seen this before. Yes, there’s a twist as there usually is with Patterson. Still, it’s an interesting plot and worth another version.
The Ghost: Assassin, has a three word mantra said before each kill, father was an assassin.
Matthew Bannon: 30, art student, wants to be a successful painter, former Marine, comes from a family of Marines.
Katherine Sandborne: Professor of Fine Arts at Parsons, Bannon’s girlfriend.
Marta Krall: German assassin, six foot tall, short cut blonde hair, former fashion model, attractive, hates The Ghost. Likes to torture before she kills.
Patterson’s characters are always interesting even if he doesn’t dig too deep under the surface. You have what turns out to be the anti-hero in Bannon. The supporting characters such as the Russian mobsters and the racist and dirty cops add extra spice.
To the point. Standard bad guy threats and rants. Typical reactions from the innocents.
Since it’s Patterson, you know pretty much what to expect. Short chapters, quick scenes. Fast action. Emotionless sex scenes.First person narrative from Bannon’s point of view, third person narrative for everyone else. Some interesting humor. It’s a thriller, but halfway lighthearted. An interesting twist in the middle and an equally interesting character demise shortly thereafter. There is profanity, but only because the characters would naturally use it, not because it’s absolutely necessary. As with most Patterson thrillers, this one keeps moving and the ebbing of the story only serves to lead to the next anticipated high point. It’s one of those novels where if you like the author’s previous books, you’ll enjoy this one. If you don’t, then you probably won’t pick up this book in the first place. If you’re new to this author, Kill Me If You Can does a fine job of giving you the Patterson flavor.
By James W. Hall
The Hammond family has owned the Coquina ranch, located about an hour north of Miami, for generations. The aging Earl Hammond has made a deal to preserved the land. The arrangement is made through a company owned by a billionaire named Thorn, who spends most of his time selling fishing lures to tourists. Soon after, Earl is murdered, and Thorn is kidnapped. In steps an estranged member of the family, Frisco Hammond, who, with his sister in-law, becomes involved in the investigation. Thorn’s associates also are looking into the matter of their missing boss. Meanwhile, Thorn fights for his life against two deranged assassins. Everybody slowly stumbles toward the truth and a conspiracy that stretches back to the beginning of the Great Depression.
It’s a complex plot with a lot going on throughout. The story is divided into several angles and it takes awhile to realize each angle possesses a snippet of the big picture. At times, it’s difficult to understand where Hall is going with it because he delves heavily into-
Browning Hammond – Six-seven, played college football. He runs the Coquina Ranch and has turned part of it into a private hunting preserve with imported exotic animals.
Frisco Hammond – Browning’s brother. Estranged from the family. He is a Sergeant who takes care of the horses for Miami’s mounted unit.
Claire Hammond – 27, Browning’s wife. General caretaker of the ranch. Getting tired of the type of people who come to hunt.
Thorn – Billionaire. Laid back. His inherited company works to preserve parcels of Florida land from development.
Rusty Stabler – 45, Thorn’s second in command. Takes care of negotiations.
Sugarman – Laid back associate of Thorn’s
Jonah Faust – 26. Works on the ranch, skinny. With his brother he auctions memorabilia from famous murderers while hiring out for contract killings.
Moses Faust – Jonahs older brother. Where Jonah is thin, Moses is physically fit.
Each character is very unique with his or own defined personalities and quirks. Hall gives the reader a lot of background for each character even if they don’t stick around too long in the story. The characters themselves partially drive the story rather than the plot and it’s an interesting mixture if a little confusing.
Pretty defined for each character. The conversations tend to come in batches, quickly started and finished.
Long sentences. (I’m sorry, I know Hall has several other books, but my editor would never let me ramble on with these types of sentences.) As I mentioned, the mixture of character and plot battling for a fair share of the story is distracting. There’s a secret hinted at early on and explained near the end, but it barely meshes with rest of the story. It almost seems forced as if Hall threw it in there as just another piece of the puzzle. I’m not sure what to make of this book. It’s complex, jumps around to the different characters, and jigsaws its way to a quick if unexciting conclusion.
By Dean Crawford
His fiancé abducted three years ago, Ethan Warner, former soldier and war correspondent, has been living a rough life. Then, he is recruited by a military buddy to find the man’s granddaughter, Lucy Morgan. An archaeologist working in the Negev Desert, Lucy has been abducted by an unknown party shortly after discovering remains of a humanoid some are suggesting is alien in origin. Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., two homicide investigators stumble onto what, at first, looks like a simple case of three overdose victims. However, after the post mortem, one of the victims is rife with anomalies. Evading a ruthless civilian security force, Warner and Lucy’s mother seek answers not only to Lucy’s whereabouts, but to life itself, while the investigators piece together clues that implicate a powerful and controversial pastor.
This is not a new and unique plot, but I thoroughly enjoy stuff like this. The research into the mysteries of the ages must be extensive. Anytime an author can present history’s mysteries, especially when they relate to cultures and people of a hundred, a thousand or millennia ago, and the origin of life, the book deserves a look.
Lucy Morgan: Archaeologist, father dead
Ethan Warner – Former Second Lieutenant in the Marines, former war correspondent, fiancé disappeared in Gaza three years previously. He is good at finding missing people.
Doug Jarvis: Lucy’s grandfather, works for the Defense Intelligence Agency, known Warner for twenty years.
Lucas Tyrell: D.C. homicide investigator, 280 pounds, black, family died in 9/11, in trouble a lot for espousing conspiracy theories
Isaiah Black: Liberal senator running for the U.S. presidency
Kevin Patterson: Pastor of the American Evangelical Association’s New Covenant Church in D.C. with a weekly television show to thirty million followers. Also involved in secret medical experiments to communicate with God.
Rachel Morgan: Lucy’s mother who tags along with Warner.
There are some other worthy characters. They’re all a pretty standard fare for a book or this type and they’re all shown to be exactly what they are, either good or bad. I found Patterson quite interesting and, just for personal interest, I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more about his beliefs and justifications for his actions. The others are well presented.
In stories of this nature, those spouting scientific jargon and lectures tend to sound similar, as do the military types, the medical, and the police. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, because it does help to separate the characters. The lectures are not too lengthy and the science and medical technology is, for the most part, properly explained.
Short chapters. Quick actions scenes interspersed with lectures about history and science. Not too many secrets kept as the bad guys and their intentions are pretty much spelled out from the get-go. I think Crawford provided adequate detail on foreign and domestic locales. He keeps the story moving and deals well with time and circumstances in two parts of the world. There is a lot going on in this story, but it is not so complex you won’t be able to follow it.