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Tag: book

April 14th, 2015 – Book: ‘Cast, in Order of Disappearance’ by Simon Brett.

by on Apr.14, 2015, under Books

Cast, in Order of Disappearance (Charles Paris, #1)Cast, in Order of Disappearance by Simon Brett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was surprised to learn that this was the first in the Charles Paris series. Reading the book, the narrative seemed to need early knowledge of the character which didn’t exist. There are also many very British notations throughout. For the casual reader, this book is likely to be very confusing. Not helping is that the book is very firmly set in 1975.

The story is very good with a great mystery involved. Pay attention and the answer to the riddle is there. The characters are very well written, which helps carry a more shaky narrative.

Overall, it’s a rather light book. A perfect book for a weekend outing…with a very British setting.

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

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April 12th, 2015 – Book: ‘Flamingo Road’ by Robert Wilder

by on Apr.12, 2015, under Books

Flamingo RoadFlamingo Road by Robert Wilder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robert Wilder’s ‘Flamingo Road’ is fictitious tale of a fictional town, Truro, with fictional characters. However, the political activity that is the foundation of this story was and is very real and happens all the time. The wondrous job Wilder does is plot the political actions taken throughout the book. As someone involved with politics, I can write Wilder does an excellent job.

Where I feel Wilder slips is over writing his narrative. It’s a problem that exists more today. There were many places where an editor should have pulled back Wilder’s reigns.

The characters are very well done. The sadistic depiction of each character is a highlight of Wilder’s work. The setting of Florida is well written. I wish he’d selected an actual location. Even an actual County. I understand the corruption that is involved, but he could have been a bit more specific. The town name of Truro is puzzling, too. The explanation is likely to be found in a Wilder interview of some such.

A bit about the film version. Too bad Shirley MacLaine wasn’t available yet for such a role. She would have been perfect as Lane Ballou. Wilder’s writing fits MacLaine so well, it’s surprising it’s impossinle for him to have known of MacLaine when he wrote the book around 1940, nearly 15 years before MacLaine started film work.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 out of 10 points.



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April 5th, 2015 – Book: ‘Coup D’Etat’ by Ben Coes

by on Apr.05, 2015, under Books

Coup d'Etat (Dewey Andreas, #2)Coup d’Etat by Ben Coes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second in the Dewey Andreas series is more the standard of the Super Soldier genre. A big difference is the immense amount of detail covered throughout the book. Obviously Coes or others are checking everything from the outback of Australia to the out back of India. Don’t know about the accuracy, but it sounds good.

The story is vast and covers a lot of territory. As with so many contemporary over sized novels I’ve read, this book could have been three…or even four books.

Though the book is long and could use some editing, the writing is far tighter in Coes book, as I recall it to be in the first in series, ‘Power Down’.

The characters are extremely well developed. Good guys, bad guys and others.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 out of 10 points.

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April 1st, 2014 – Book: ‘American Jihad’ by William Johnstone

by on Apr.01, 2015, under Books

Black Ops: American JihadBlack Ops: American Jihad by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I hate most about this book: There has only been one made! Apparently whatever fall out occurred between the mysterious “Fred Austin” mentioned on the cover killed off this series.

First great element of this novel is the continuation of the “Smoke” Jensen legacy to today with “smoke”‘s great grandson. It’s just not a mention of the relation but the weaving of the family connection into the story. It is a bit pretentious, but adds much to the story.

Another great element of the book is the handling of the story in a far more realistic light than the various super soldier novels want to reveal. The conflict of the media and layers are generally entirely absent from the typical espionage story. This book takes it all head-on and lays the ground work for a series that never happened.

The writing is typical of a Johnstone Clan book with great characters and a fun, fast moving story.

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

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March 26th, 2015 – ‘Eight Hours to Die’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Mar.26, 2015, under Books

Eight Hours to Die (Sixkiller: U.S. Marshal, #3)Eight Hours to Die by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is amazing how the Johnstone Clan of writers can draw a reader into a tale. They did it again here with this offering from the Johnstone Herd of books.

The tale is a fun ride of a town in trouble and Sixkiller rides in to try and save the day. After reading so many Johnstone books in the past two years, the tales do start to sound familiar when a weaker writer gets hold of it. That is the case here. As much fun as the story is and the pages turn faster and faster as excitement builds, this Johnstone tale is lacking.

As the book proceeds the story resolves itself a bit too easily. There’s little in the way of twists and turns to help the story have more meat to it’s bone. There is a significant twist in the story that comes at a very odd part of the book.

The characters make it all worthwhile. Most are well done. Though, many are given little background and some are never given names.

The two biggest clunkers of the product is a goofy cover and an unrelated book title.

Still the book is worth reading for the fun of it all.

Bottom line: i recommend the book. 5 of 10 points.

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March 12th, 2015 – Book: ‘On Target’ by Mark Greaney

by on Mar.12, 2015, under Books

On Target (Court Gentry, #2)On Target by Mark Greaney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘On Target’ is a terrific adventure. So many books have a formalized plot. I charged into this book thinking I would travel a somewhat similar trail. Author Greaney takes his hero and hurls him into one mess after the other. Soon the original mission of the hero transforms into various levels of excitement and viewpoints and the ending becomes mysterious at each page turn.

The writing is very good. The characters are very well described and explained.

When the girl character appeared, I figured she was dropped in as love interest. She’s more than that. Though, she could have just as well be a boy. In that sense the woman character felt forced.

The other issue is my typical cry of a contemporary novel that could have had 50 less pages or so. It helps that Greaney has a compelling story to better carry the reader through extraneous text.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 of 10 points.

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March 10th, 2015 – Book: ‘Heywood Broun’ by Dale Kramer

by on Mar.10, 2015, under Books

Heywood Broun - a biographical portraitHeywood Broun – a biographical portrait by Dale Kramer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heywood Broun has become a long forgotten whipsaw sharp humorist. Even the more notable Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, of the same Smart Set, are getting long lost nearly 100 years after blazing literary trails of wit.

I can’t even remember where I picked up this copy of Dale Kramer’s ‘Heywood Broun’, but I have never seen it again. I had to enter the book, here, into the Goodread’s shelves. That’s a true pity, for this book of Broun’s life is very well written and researched. The writing is better than most biographies. There’s a closeness felt in the writing to Broun that seems to be closer than Broun, himself, would have allowed.

There are the troubles: Lack of years noted, which, as usual, gets confusing while reading. There are asides of supposed dialogue at different points, that are very good, but for someone as guarded as Broun, have to wonder about the accuracy. The dialogue does fit well and well illustrates the narrative.

There seems to also be the noticeable edits throughout the book as names come out of no where with no explanation. The names are not recognizable, even with my knowledge of the circle Broun ran around with.

Bottom line: I recommend this book….IF you can find it.

An aside: The book is inscribed Christmastime 1949 by Maggie Bartel, long time reporter for the New York Daily News. She retired to Key West and became, and apparently is still, instrumental in recording Key West history. Something dear to my heart.

Bartel had inscribed the book to, what appears to be, “Bob Ring”, who I could find nothing about. Was hoping this might help me figure out where I had picked up the book. Possibly Bartel never gave the book to Ring and I found it during one of my trips to the Keys. The book does appear otherwise not to have been read, though the dust jacket is in terrible shape.



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February 25th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Broken Gun’by Louis L’Amour

by on Feb.25, 2015, under Books

The Broken GunThe Broken Gun by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I see a well illustrated old west themed cover to a Louis L’Amour book, the title ‘The Broken Gun’ and I plunge into a novel that instantly confuses me. It takes a few pages to realize when in time this novel falls. There is no mention of it. There is a mention of 90 years before…but, before what?

By the third page the Korean War is mentioned.

Involving stroytelling, time should be established in some way off the top if a story about different time periods is being unraveled. Instead L’Amour leaves the reader at drift trying to figure out what’s going on.

Making the early part of the book worse is L’Amour’s poor approach to literally illustrating an urban setting.

Once the novel goes out to ranch lands of sand and rock, L’Amour hits his stride in describing the setting. But, time gets away from him again. L’Amour clearly had trouble with writing about his present.

A number of things bother me about the writing of this book. One involved an over long chase near the end. Another was one sentence involving a character that vanishes. Though clearly not the intent, the line is more surreal than consistent with the rhythm of the story.

The story is shakey, at best, and the conclusion over obvious.

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

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February 23rd, 2015 – Book: ‘The Family Jensen’ by William Johnstone.

by on Feb.23, 2015, under Books

The Family Jensen (The Family Jensen, #1)The Family Jensen by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first book of a series by the Johnstone Clan, that I’ve read, are usually excellent. This one missed that mark. There certainly are some great stories inside and even a good overall story. It’s just that in an effort to weave four stories together as a whole doesn’t work. The three individual stories of the three main characters read as stories meant for another purpose. So that the main underlining story also seems like a separate novel. Seems to me the Johnstone Clan could’ve just fleshed out all four stories into separate books that might not run the typical 300 pages. Maybe that was the initial idea.

The writing is OK. Though it does seem as if, at least, one of the three separate stories was written be an also separate author.

The characters are as good as always. Especially good work done for the indian characters. The bad guys were lacking in this case.

I’m going to recommend the book due almost entirely with the last fourth of the book. I do recommend reading the book as separate novels. Might be best to skip the prologue, I think it makes more sense that way.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 5 out of 10 points.

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February 20th, 2015 – Book: ‘Poirot Loses a Client’ by Agatha Christie

by on Feb.19, 2015, under Books

Poirot Loses a ClientPoirot Loses a Client by Agatha Christie

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘Poirot Loses a Client’ lost me a bit in viewing Christie as a great author. The formula is mostly the same. Someone is dead. Group of people are suspects. Everyone is overly talkative about what they think is going on. Suspects gathered. Resolution. After reading Edmund Crispin, I wish Christie thought of fleshing out a plot, characters, setting and writing.

This story has Poirot, and pal, enter the story with little explanation as to who they are and why they would be involved in the plot. For those of us that know the characters, we could say we don’t need the background. I feel a book needs to anticipate new readers and not make assumptions.

Moreover, the story feels like it has been pushed through a template, as referred to above.

Getting to the conclusion is a plodding roaming of Poirot finding one talkative character after another. Not all suspects would spill so much. One way Christie could have made the story more interesting story would be having the characters stonewalling Poirot.

The resolution was a bit frustrating after getting through the rest of the book.

There is good character development, with the exception of proper introduction of the two main characters.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 of ten points.

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