Monthly Archives: May 2017

Eye For An Eye

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by Ben Coes

Coes

http://www.bencoes.com/

Plot

Covert operative Dewy Andreas helps discover a Chinese mole in Mossad, and thus begins a chess match of deadly proportions. When the Chinese Minister for State Security, Fao Bhang, discovers the identity of Andreas, he sends assassins to Argentina where Andreas is with his fiance, America’s National Security Adviser. When the kill mission goes wrong, Andreas reverts back to his military training in order to seek revenge. It’s a game of one-upmanship between Dewey and Bhang. But there are other players in the game, both American and British who also would like to see Bhang eliminated. And unbeknownst to Andreas, he is included in their schemes.

An oft seen plot with your typical explosions and gunfire. Nothing too new here.

Characters

Dewey Andreas: 39, covert operative, usually on assassination missions handsome, unruly brown hair, bright, cold, blue eyes, large aquiline nose, grew up in Maine, played football for Boston College. Went to Ranger school. Was in Delta Force. Had a son who died at age six from leukemia. Drives a Ford F-150, played hockey in high school, has a scar on his left shoulder to his bicep, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fao Bhang: minister of China’s state security, has a half brother, was an assassin, smokes

Jessica Tanzer: 37, National Security Advisor, Andreas’ fiancee, auburn hair

Raul: 31, assassin, has a penthouse in Peru, drives a red Kawasaki Ninja 10r, long hair, muscular

Adrian King: 35, the President’s Chief of Staff, 5’8”, thick brown hair, bushy eyebrows

Lots of characters who come and go, play minor but important roles. Thrillers like this are noted for lots of politicos and agents and contacts. It’s pointless to list a lot of the characters, since most of them end up dead after a few chapters. Coes includes the standard array of good guys, bad buys, and those behind the scenes.

Dialogue

Not too bad for capturing the voices of the characters. As I mentioned, there are a lot of characters, but each seem to have a good distinctive voice. For me, I have to assign a voice (deep, calm, cynical, etc.) for each character, even if a few sound similar. Especially with a book such as this one with a plethora of voices. Conversations don’t wander too much from the point of the scene which is good because the book is long enough without extraneous material.

Writing

Lots of relatively short chapters. Chapters headed by location. Profanity, but that’s expected in a thriller such as this one. Lots of build up chapters, drawn out details. Short scenes here and there to link to other scenes later. There is a ‘busy’ feel to it. The actions scenes move but there are many instances of repeated words within a paragraph which tends to give the action a stilted feeling. I felt the story could have been written a little tighter without a lot of the extra stuff. Still, a decent thriller.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

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Slayground

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By Richard Stark

richard_stark

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/s/richard-stark/

Plot

Parker, professional thief has just ripped off an armored car. During the getaway, his vehicle crashes. With the cops bearing down, he flees into an amusement park, closed during the winter, where he finds there is only one exit. Said escape route is now guarded by members of the local mob and their paid off cops who all witnessed Parker’s actions and soon learn about the robbery. It’s thief versus the mob in funland.

A different Parker novel. Usually, Stark writes about a different job for Parker to accomplish, lays out the details, the problems and the relationships with other team members. Then you see the operation play out. In Slayground, the job is complete and in its aftermath Parker has to fend for himself. This time, it’s how Parker can effect his escape and still keep the money.

Characters

Parker: professional thief, has a girlfriend, wife dead

Caliato: 38, member of the local mob, patient nature, smokes cigars

Donald Snyder:64, watchmen for Fun Island amusement park, drives a Volkswagon, stocky, owns a Colt .44 revolver

Parker is intelligent and tries to anticipate difficulties. I really get into his head, start empathizing with the character. If the reader can get drawn in, then the character is well written. Normally, the other characters are other members of Parker’s latest team.

Dialogue

Basic. No fluff. Parker doesn’t waste words. In fact, Parker does very little talking. Most of the conversations are by the mobsters and bad cops. And they’re pretty distinctive voices.

Writing

Book separated into Parts. The writing is basic. No nonsense. No details sensationalized. It’s business through the eyes of Parker. Action is laid out step by step. Some profanity. This was written in the era of pulp fiction popularity but doesn’t use that type of language. Of course this is the serious side of Richard Stark, aka Donald Westlake. Parker is the serious professional thief whereas John Dortmunder is the humorous. I’ve read other Parker novels and what fascinates me is the amount of research Stark had to have done. If you’ve read any of his books, think about first, the job, then the preparations for the job, then the possible problems (which always happen). The devil-and the delight-is in the details and they’re laid out one by one. Of course, you’re rooting for a bad guy, but that’s okay, because it’s the anti-hero type of story. Parker is a thief and for him, it’s like anybody else doing CPA work, or construction, or waiting tables. In all of Parker’s stories, you’re reading to see how he defeats not only the cops (which are almost nuisances) but other obstacles (usually other bad guys). Very little, if any humor, very dry at best. Smart writing. On the cover I’ve shown, is a quote by Elmore Leonard. “Whatever Stark writes, I read.” I think that says it all. He tends to show some action then go back and explain how characters came to be doing that action.

Westlake died a couple of years ago and the world will miss him. I’m trying to collect and read all of his books. I haven’t once been disappointed.

My ranking:

Brown Belt

Brown

Quick Kick – The Rules

Every now and then I will present, mixed in with the regular reviews, a series of shorter reviews, usually audio books that I’ve collected, listened to, but didn’t have the opportunity to write down the usual elements for a more detailed review. Unless none is available, the plot summary will be from the Amazon listing. These are Quick Kicks. Any assigned or accepted reviews from author requests will be the normal four point analysis.

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Cover

By Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie

https://www.amazon.com/Rules-Nancy-Holder/dp/0385741014/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469754288&sr=8-1&keywords=the+rules%2C+holder

Plot

Narrated by alternating members of an unreliable group of teens, this riveting thriller will have readers on the edge of their seats. No one is safe, and everyone is a suspect.

Callabrese High’s exclusive parties are famous for booze, sex, and most especially, their scavenger hunts. But when the latest invitees RSVP yes, they have no idea what they’re in for. Because this time the high school elite aren’t the ones doing the hunting. They’re the ones being hunted.

My Analysis

It’s a serial killer book with a bit of gore but not much. Sometimes I found it difficult to distinguish between the characters as the narrator didn’t use different voices for the characters. With a lot of characters to deal with, the authors don’t get into them too much, and the killing of them had to be done every so often.

I enjoyed the game and wished more of the game wold have been played. Some may argue that it did get played out, but it felt almost secondary. A vast array of characters who were typical high school snobbish elite.

My rank:

Green Belt

Green

 

Purgatory Key

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by Darrell James

James

http://darrelljames.com/

Plot

Investigator Del Shannon is assigned to find two kidnapped teenagers. In Tuscon, Shannon makes contact with one of the kidnappers and negotiates a money drop. However, the drop goes bad and Shannon has scant leads. ATF Agent Frank Falconet is assigned to trace a major league felon presumed to be dead. The man’s brother’s image was picked up on surveillance in Tuscon. When Shannon and Falconet meet up, they realize their two cases are connected and it’s off to the bayous of Louisiana. While they also try to sort out their previous romantic relationship, the teenagers must contend with killers and tiger…and the possibility of treasure nearby.

Oft-seen plot given a little sizzle with the wilds of the southern bayous. The addition of tigers provides a little more interest.

Characters

Del Shannon: 31, Investigator for Desert Sands Covert in Tuscon, carries a nine millimeter Baby Eagle, parents dead, short blonde hair, ice green eyes, drives a Jeep Wrangler, graduated Community College

Frank Falconet: 39, ATF agent, lives in New Jersey, Irish-Italian, grew up in Brooklyn, divorced, has a teenage daughter

Lissa Rogers: 18, teenager, long dark hair, slim, runner up in the Miss Teen America pageant, parents dead

Kendra Kozak: teenager, friend of Lissa, long red curly hair, average looks, curvy body, lives with Lissa as parents aren’t around

Payton Rickey: smokes, hairy body, has a leg injured from a plane crash, handsome

Teddy Rickey: Payton’s younger and taller brother, blonde hair buzzed on sides, spiked on top, pale skin, hooded almost colorless

Standard bad guys. The main two good guys have some depth and the interplay between them is good. There were two problem scenes I had with Lissa. I know the author had to include the first particular scene for the purpose of suspense. I also knew how the scene would end because if it ended the way it should have, the story would have been shorter. However, I didn’t believe how Lissa responded to the situation at hand, even with her adventurous spirit. The second scene also could have had a different choice made when she discovered the circumstance at hand. I don’t want to reveal too many details to spoil the story-basically each scene dealt with two possible chances at escape-but personally, I didn’t buy either decision or action. Maybe I could believe the first one, because, as I mentioned it had to happened the way it did to prolong the story. But, not the second instance, not with the surroundings and the issues involved. I also didn’t like the second teen, Kendra. She was irritating with no ounce of strength or common sense.

Dialogue

The Cajun character’s voice comes through best. Conversations were fine but I didn’t feel real energy in them.

Writing

Some profanity. Varying lengths of chapters. It’s written well and it’s a good thriller. There was nothing unexpected, no twists. Having read a previous book in this series, I wasn’t disappointed but at the same time wasn’t excited. I read the ARC but noticed a lot of errors to be fixed, in some instances incorrect words altogether. Because I knew it was an ARC, this didn’t affect my ranking, just noted that there were more errors than usually seen in ARCs. Anyway, it was a good book.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

Other People’s Mothers

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By J. L. Gregory

JanetAndBug

https://www.amazon.com/Other-Peoples-Mothers-Collection-Stories-ebook/dp/B06XZX1L7M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491768528&sr=1-1

Plot

This is a collection of stories about mothers. This is not a collection of stories that praise and show how wonderful mothers are. This anthology of anecdotes gives a peek behind the curtain of reality. Some are funny, some are amusing, some are sad. All are charming tales that show mothers who are quirky, loving, exasperating, frustrating, and how some cope with situations in unique ways…and the reactions and observations of those who grew up under those mothers.

Some of the stories include:

– A mother’s cooking in the 1950s

– A mother at church trying to make friends

– Why a woman won’t eat beets

– A woman’s words help a college student

– Two women’s thoughts on their mothers

– Mother’s change after retirement

– How one mother rid herself of baubles and collectibles

– How cooking kills skip a generation

Characters

Mothers, of course. Elderly, young, divorced, married, widowed.

Sons and daughters who are counselors, mothers and parents themselves, retired.

Though the stories show some interesting aspects of mothers, don’t forget that these stories come from the observations and experiences of those who had these people as mothers. How their lives were affected, and how those experiences were passed on to their children. Sometimes it feels as if the people telling the stories are in the background but they’re really not and when I kept that in mind, it made the stories that much more enjoyable.

Dialogue

The bits of conversation fit each character and without a lot of background information or description, I knew who and what kind of person spoke. From the shy student to the irascible, complaining mother, to the grieving widow

Writing

A few incorrect words but I skipped over those.

It’s a short book, quick read. A nice taste of life with mothers with some humor (I enjoyed the story of how one mother disposed of her collectibles), some sad moments. Most ended with some joy that the people would be okay after their experiences.

Well written slices of life from a lot of perspectives. This might make a good Mother’s Day present.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple