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Book: ‘Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen’ by Vicki Delany – December 27th, 2016

by on Dec.27, 2016, under Books

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery #1)Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very well written book that is full of Christmas everything. Even a character is dressed as Santa through most of the book. though the character is a father of the main character and not Santa. There’s a flimsy mystery involved, but this is a book to read at Christmastime, not in July.

The title is a wee deceiving and i find it interesting that ‘God’ is not part of the title, but not surprising these days. The mayhem is small stuff and threatens the a small town in New York. The hows and why fores of the actions are a bit much and toned down by more Christmas this and that. The conclusion is unsatisfying considering all of the ruminating who did it.

However, the characters are very engaging and the Christmas theme is done far better than other authors, such as Debbie Macomber. The settings are also very well down.

A technicality i have to call involving Delany’s knowledge of government jurisdictional lines. Early on a detective appears, though what jurisdictional office this character works for is never defined. There’s also writing of some kind of transfer done by the detective. Delany writes as not knowing transfers are more complicated and very specific. A city is prominent in the book, but little is referred to involving the county authorities as jurisdictional lines are crossed involving another city and the conclusion of the book. For some reason “State” police are called when the jurisdiction should have been city or county authorities. Technical stuff that is much more involved and something I’ve hardly found in any other book i’ve read.

Bottom line: I recommend the book. 6 of 10 points.

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Book: ‘The Spy Who Came for Christmas’ by David Morrell – December 26th, 2016

by on Dec.26, 2016, under Books

The Spy Who Came for ChristmasThe Spy Who Came for Christmas by David Morrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a pretty simple spy story with a faswcinating trelling of the story of Jesus as a spy story included. The book is worth reading just for this great effort by author Morrell.

This book would be too simple if not for the flashback story of how all got to be where they are. Those dimensions make the book further worthwhile. Seems to me Morrell works a bit too hard to bridge his spy story with the story of Jesus, but that isn’t enough to pan the book.

The characters are well written, especially the family involved. I was a bit confused with the setting, what little is involved in the book, and believe a knowledge of Santa Fe, New Mexico, would help better imagining the story.

Bottom line: I recommend the book. 7 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Have Gat – Will Travel’ by Richard S. Prather – December 17th, 2016

by on Dec.17, 2016, under Books

Have Gat - Will TravelHave Gat – Will Travel by Richard S. Prather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great collection of six short stories featuring Shell Scott. A few of the stories are weaker than the rest but all worthwhile.

Clearly a few of these were written previous to the standard setup of Scott and his cadillac, his pall in Homicide, etc. I guess these were set for other detectives Prather rewrote with Scott in place.

Something I liked about these stories is setting the sexual stuff aside. Some is written in, but with such short stories there is little room for what is typically in a longer Scott story.

Characters are well written and typical of a Scott story. The settings are more sparsely written i guess due to the shorter format.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Poor Butterfly’ by Stuart M. Kaminsky – December

by on Dec.13, 2016, under Books

Poor Butterfly (Toby Peters, #15)Poor Butterfly by Stuart M. Kaminsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so tickled to find another Toby Peters novel that I started reading it in the check out lane. I became even more tickled that someone I’d read alot about this past year was a star in the book – Leopold Stokowski.

As Kaminsky’s Toby Peters fans know, the best part of his series is the inclusion of celebrities mixed into the stories. Sometimes the fit is rough. This time it’s just right. Kaminsky knows Stokowski very well and he makes use of his many quirks and eccentricities well throughout the story.

The plot is pretty typical for a mystery. Kaminsky dresses it up as best as possible, but it’s still standard. He piles on a bunch about a religious cult that is interesting. The characters are very good, especially Peters and Stokowski. Kaminsky cleverly added details of Stokowski that many would find hard to believe, but are true.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 6 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Tanner’s Tiger’ by Lawrence Block – December 9th, 2016

by on Dec.09, 2016, under Books

Tanner's Tiger (Evan Tanner, #5)Tanner’s Tiger by Lawrence Block
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a very well written book and very interesting, too. Mostly due to the narrative around the story. The story itself doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The believably factor that a “spy” takes a phone call and dashes off with no indication of support financially or otherwise into what could be a dangerous situation makes this book hard to accept. Block does little to support the notion that Tanner is a spy to begin with. Even throughout the book there is little that gives background as to the spy premise. There’s also the whole issue of Tanner having a little girl who he’s torn about keeping. How’d he get her without some formal process? There’s a weird angle of Tanner supposedly on a mission to fight people that he consistently claims support for. I never got the feeling the bad guys were as bad as the one Tanner sympathies with.

Clearly Block has socialist to communist viewpoints toward government, which might explain why the story is so flimsy as to just what on earth Tanner is working toward or for.

Outside of the core story are wonderfully written asides and other pieces that I found only made the book worthwhile.

Characters are standard to weak. Settings, important throughout the story are also weakly written.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 4 out of 10 points.

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Book:’Angels at the Table’ by Debbie Macomber – December 7th, 2016

by on Dec.07, 2016, under Books

Angels at the Table (Angels Everywhere, #7)Angels at the Table by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One thing that I find with the Macomber books are pretty flimsy characters. This one is no different. The shallow characters make the story harder to grasp and care about the characters. I realize Macomber deals in love stories and there is an intent to simplicity. It would be nice to fluff out the characters a bit more to help better engage the reader.

The story is pretty typical for a love story with pretty typical troubles to draw out the tale and couch the whole thing as a year long Christmas story. The writing is on the poor side with plotting being far better.

The angel gimmick is fun with all sorts of science fiction magic. But the angel games are with the threats of not altering lives, which is impossible in any way it’s looked at. Logic plays little part in the story. Considering there are no extra costs for special effects and the angels are breaking the deal anyway, why not present more angelic magic that could also spark an otherwise dull story?

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 4 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Colombia Crackdown’ (The Avenger #3) by Chet Cunningham – December 5th, 2016

by on Dec.05, 2016, under Books

Colombia Crackdown (The Avenger #3)Colombia Crackdown by Chet Cunningham
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The beginning of this book is pretty clunky. After the location shifts from Miami to South America, the story is more coherent and pretty good.

This book is part of my Florida fiction collection and i only have and have read #3 in the series. Coming into #3 did feel like I was missing a lot that had happened before. Much is explained except for the actual motivation The Avenger has. The character is written to proclaim his reason to avenge, but not his actual reasoning. I know it sounds a bit nit picky. But when so much else is described, why not explain why the main character is doing what he is doing?

The first half of the book is clunky in much that is written. There’s a whole matter involving boats that is contrived and has a resolution that doesn’t add up when other law enforcement would be responding. That is a main problem with the Miami part – the police seem to either be missing or very delayed in response.

When the book heads to South America, the writing is far more crisp. The very detailed description of processing cocaine is very well done. The lady character in Miami that is mishandled in writing, is suddenly well crafted into the story, though it is a bit obvious what is going on. The action is all too pat, but resolves itself nicely to an ending and a clue to #4 in the series.

I should note: This book was not in the Goodreads date base. Neither are any others in the series. Plenty of “Cunningham”‘s books are in this system. Did these sell so poorly and so few circulated to not be here?

The Florida part: Miami is merely a back drop. The author seems not to know Biscayne Bay very well. Funny how there is writing of a Polish deli in Downtown Miami. in the nearly 30 years since this book Downtown Miami at that time is pretty much entirely gone.

To sum up: the book is over all poorly written. The characters are mildly well handled. The setting is poorly described. The first half of the plot is poor, while the second half is far better. So….

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 4 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘The Last of the Dog Team’ by William W. Johnstone – December 3rd, 2016

by on Dec.03, 2016, under Books

The Last of the Dog Team (Dog Team, #1)The Last of the Dog Team by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Of the few dozen Johnstone Clan books I’ve read, this is the oddest and entirely different from any of the other books. This is Johnstone’s version of Steinbeck. Not written as well as Steinbeck and with far too many crass parts, but the same feeling.

Before I tear this book apart, i want to note that the writing is very good, in the sense of writing characters ans settings. It’s the construction of and the elements of the plot that is the disaster.

This is a life story. Following a character from his teen years to death. The author has made every effort to make the story full of pathos and emotion, but to little avail. Mostly due to how the main character is developed. It’s an extremely clunky setup, mostly involving a teenager’s sexual adventures with a whole series of women. The sex, in a weird view of the human animal, is somehow to convince the reader that the main character is mature enough to become a killing machine. Besides hunting rabbits, there is no other sign the teen is anything more than a normal kid.

The other inane way the author tries to convince the reader that the main character is ready to be of an elite squad of military killers, is having all of the characters SAY he is unusual. No real basis for this claim. Except for seeing coldness in his eyes. Yet, the kid is never written to exhibit such cold behavior in the beginning. I could go on, but there’s more silliness to cover.

Extremely off putting about the story is that the title and gearing of the story would have a reader believe there would be all sorts of massive killing and battles and the like. Far from it. The main character’s sexual escapades fill the bulk of the action.

The way the sexual interactions are written are also off putting. All of the women in the book are to be fresh meat for the main character. They all fall for him and sex soon follows. Not a couple lines of sexual intercourse. Pages of details better suited for a pornographic magazine. There must be a good ten pages of sex just withing the first 35 pages of the book.

There are lots of other silly bits, too. But let me wrap this by writing how ridiculous the last few pages are involving the appearance of a hand full of the woman who fell under the main character’s sexual spell at a memorial service. It points out how excessive the use of women and sex are portrayed. To the point that I realized there were so many women, I didn’t remember all of the names.

This is a solid departure for a Johnstone book. The amount of curse words and explicit sex scenes are nothing I’ve encountered with Johnstone and wonder was he already employing ghost writers at the very early time of this book?

There is so much else to cover that is wrong with this book from loose ends to poor storytelling. But I think I’ve covered enough here.

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 3 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Miami Crush’ by Chuck Rogers – December 2nd, 2016

by on Dec.02, 2016, under Books

Miami Crush (Able Team, #28)Miami Crush by Chuck Rogers
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The title refers to less than the last 50 pages and the cover has to do with the last two pages. The rest of the book is a very over written set up for the last two pages.

The writing is otherwise very good with very well written exposition of almost every step of the book. Pages are devoted to the development of the scaffolding and some sort of wench and vise devise. Later pages devoted to explain each character. More pages explaining the love life of a character. This goes on and on and on.

This is the first of this series I’ve read and only second of the entire Pendleton menagerie. It’s part of my Florida book collection.

About Florida: As I mentioned, the writing is very good. Involving Florida this book has a very bright spot. I love the author’s description of Miami and Miami Beach. The various communities described and placed in relation to Downtown along with the bridges. Part of the description is something I’ve never heard before: Describing Dade County with your hand. Very clever bit i’ll pass along and properly credit.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 3 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Switch’ by Mike Jahn – December 2nd, 2016

by on Dec.02, 2016, under Books

SwitchSwitch by Mike Jahn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is an adaption of the Glen Larson story for the pilot of the television series, ‘Switch’. Author Jahn is extremely faithfully to the pilot script to the point that I would guess that was part of the contract.

Jahn additions of narrative are excellent in establishing settings and characters. There is a feeling that Jahn took the script and then plugged in the narrative parts as needed. I’d have liked to have read Jahn’s version of the this story. His writing in book format is better than the Larsen work set in from the script.

This also lends itself to another problem, which is the dialogue of the characters, though nearly exactly the same as in the televised version, here in written form makes them all seem the same. Another reason why Jahn’s rich narrative is at odds with more hollow dialogue.

Still this is a good story and it’s easy to hear Eddie Albert, Robert Wagner, Durning, Gless and Callas all speak the parts.

Bottom line: i recommend this book: 9 out of 10 for Jahn’s narrative. Collectively 6 out of ten.

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Book: ‘High Treason’ by John Gilstrap – December 1st, 2016

by on Dec.01, 2016, under Books

High Treason (Johnathan Grave, #5)High Treason by John Gilstrap
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Number 5 in the series supports my view that the Jonathan Grave series is like a literary comic book. The plots are far fetched, especially this one.

First to first note: I read this in 2016 a month after the 2016 presidential election. An angle in this story is as if Gilstrap could see the future. It’s hard not to read this and imagine certain people involved.

Even though the story is wild, it is a fun one. This is hard not to read fast as I was trying to figure out if the story was as outrageous as it seemed and if the resolution fit the story or cheated the reader. It fit the story.

Characters are all very well written, with the exception of the hero. More below. As usual, though there is plenty of description, the settings are still hard to grasp at times. This entry in the series could have used a bunch of editing as some things are learned that don’t really matter and the settings are lacking. This is especially true at the end where the setting is critical to the story.

The ending is fun, but just ridiculous. This resolution stretches all points of credulity and I didn’t buy any of it. Especially that no character died in all that happened or even got seriously injured.

There are many drawbacks in consistency in #5. First: A certain character that had been part of the last few books has entirely vanished with no mention at all. That wouldn’t bother me but there is the re-re-retelling of who the main character is, his pals, the HQ, etc. If all of that is to be rehashed each time, finishing a plot line from the last book should have been done.

A serious drawback: This is really one of the worst cases of Gilstrap stumbling in his writing. I guess to make the book work and to fill the lost of a member of the team, he tossed in a few other characters as helpers. However, earlier versions of the Jonathan Graves would never had done that, nor should the character have done it here, either. This really caved the book for me. If all sorts of strategy is being explained throughout, Gilstrap should have tried to explain the decision to include the helpers in the resolution. Sappy dialogue doesn’t cut it. My further concern is that Gilstrap mentions at the end that two of the helpers are based on two real people. I’d like to hope Gilstrap didn’t sacrifice the story for little rewards. Because the inclusion did sacrifice the story.

As much fun as this one is, it is a loss for me, so….

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 4 out of ten points.

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