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Tag: William w. Johnstone

Book:’Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man: Massacre at Powder ‘by William W. Johnstone – June 24th, 2016

by on Jun.24, 2016, under Books

Massacre at Powder River (Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man, #7)Massacre at Powder River by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now than I’m well into multi-dozens of Johnstone Clan read, i again come across the British ex-pat wanting to make it big in US story. This one, though, is a switch in which there are 2! A variation of other Johnstone Clan books. This book is very similar with very similar encounters, characters and outcome. A bit of a disappointment to feel like I’m re-reading a Johnstone Clan book.

The characters, as always are interesting, if not too similar to others in Johnstone Clan books. The inclusion of a historic figure is interesting but more as a plot device than to tell a story. This is basically an older Johnstone Clan book that includes Winston Churchill.

The setting is not as well told as in other books.

Still, this is a well written book and fun to read…and if you aren’t scarfing up all of the Johnstone books like me… so…

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

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Book: ‘Flintlock: Kill or Die’ by William W. Johnstone – April 29th, 2016

by on Apr.29, 2016, under Books

Kill or Die (Flintlock, #3)Kill or Die by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Number 3 in the series of ‘Flintlock’ and either the writer changed or somebody got in a big hurry to hit a deadline. One things for sure – The writer does not know swamps!

The over all story is good, but far simpler in telling than the previous two. Not helping is my reading great authors since reading the two. Folks like Walter Lippmann, Mark Greaney and John D. MacDonald.

I am so glad I read John D.’s ‘Condominium’ before reading this book. Odds of someone doing that is extremely low. The odd thing is that ‘Kill or Die’ is basically ‘Condominium’. Just that all of the characters have guns. There is the community living in the swamp, a ruthless developer out to wipe out the cypress swamp and the oncoming hurricane. The story was eerily similar.

The writing of the cypress swamp really bugged me. Obviously the writer has never stepped foot in one. I don’t know much about west of the Mississippi and all of the rocks and dirt in the west. Not my thing. But, here in Florida, I know swamps and like them a lot.

It’s supposedly late Summer in a Southern swamp. All of the characters acted comfortable. Even the most die hard Southerner sweats like crazy in late August. But most especially someone like Flintlock, used to the dry western air, would be having a hell of a time adjusting to the thick humidity.

Also, where are the bugs??? Now, most healthy swamps actually have few bugs. But this is described as home to many people. Thus, the swamp should be filled with all kinds of bugs. Few appear throughout the swamp scenes.

The BIGGEST omission, and a huge strike in my book, are the cypress knees. No one is just going to go trotting out into a swamp they don’t know and not, either, navigate around the knees or trip over them. NOT ONCE are knees mentioned. That’s impossible, for a cypress can not survive without the attached knees jutting out for air.

This is the least clever of the three Flintlocks. Rather a standard story with some excellent enhancing elements like the balloon, the odd mid-eastern valet and the description of Evangeline. The odd mysticism continues in this book, but not with the magical flair of the first two. The characters are very well done and typical of a Johnstone Clan book. The settings are lacking this time around, especially with the noted above. The ending appears to be multiple chapters tacked on, I guess, to increase page count. This is the shortest of the Flintlock series by 100 pages.

Proof to me that this is surely a different writer is that Flintlock is not described as in the other two books. The tattoo is only described on his neck and not running from the side of his face to his chest. Also, Flintlock is not described by his shorter stature or mustache. Also, O’Hara’s character has greatly altered to being more of a side kick than the drifter described in the first two.

This third book continues the trend of having a horrible cover. Still not Flintlock on the cover. Also, the background in know way looks like a Louisiana swamp.

Can’t believe I’ve caught up with a Johnstone Clan title! First series I’ve read all that are available.

Bottom l;ine: i recommend this book. 6 out of ten points.

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October 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘Eyes of Eagles’ by William Johnstone.

by on Oct.29, 2015, under Books

Eyes of Eagles (Eagles, #1)Eyes of Eagles by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Eagles series of books is one, soon to be of the few, series that started while William Johnstone was alive. Would like to hope this has more of Johnstone in it than ghost writers, but we all may never know.

This is a sprawling book that could have been three or more books. An enormous amount is covered here. Yes, unlike so much written today, this is a cohesive story that is pretty tight. One of the reasons i like the Johnstone Clan herd of books is the editing process works where it seems to be practically missing in the bulk of books written today.

The writing is not as good as in other books written during Johnstone’s lifetime, but still much better than so many contemporary novels I’ve read. Considering how many characters, fiction & non-fiction, are presented throughout the novel, the definition is very impressive. Characters are the greatest strength of the Johnstone Clan books.

The last third of the book covers the Alamo story that is extremely well done. If that were set as a book of it’s own, I would give this five stars.

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

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August 4th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Big Gundown’ by J.A. Johnstone

by on Aug.04, 2015, under Books

The Big Gundown (The Loner, #4)The Big Gundown by J.A. Johnstone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first three in the series of ‘The Loner’ does a great job with having some of the most complex plots of any of the Johnstone Clan books. This one leans in that direction and then comes apart midway through as the book settles with multiple bad guys and the good guy. I expected far more as the book developed, as in the previous books. Instead, the hero continues with an odd masquerade. The disguise is unneeded at a point and he could have accomplished his goal. Instead, the there are explosions and shootouts. One “instead” can be OK. Two are too many.

The characters are too much like others earlier in the series. Unfortunately notches below the earlier ones. The hero playing his own spy, slides away from the build up in the previous three books and acts more a specter of portrayals of Smoke Jensen.

The setting is sparse as a chunk of the book takes place in a loosely written hideout that is described at being complex, but not well explained. One part very clunky throughout the book involves a tank. The part hard to understand is the ease with which this tank is moved through the story. The tank is described as massive, but the movement seems more of a feather.

Disappointing entry in the series. Worse of the four books.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 of 10 points.

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June 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘Blood land’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Jun.29, 2015, under Books

BloodlandBloodland by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Of the few dozen Johnstone Clan novels I’ve read, few were published during William Johnstone’s lifetime. This one was. Considering the few books written at the time by him, I figure this one may have been written by Johnstone himself and not one of the herd of ghost writers to come.

Unfortunately, this is the worst of the books I’ve read possibly actually written by Johnstone. I can read a formula cast in the structure of the book. At the time he was also producing the Smoke Jensen series and this book too much reflects those. You could swap out the hero for Jensen. Not that it ruins the novel, just that it indicates Johnstone’s later actions of employing ghost writers considering how much he was able to produce, apparently, plot-wise.

The entire premise is hard to believe, which means the writer failed to connect his plot with the reader. Basically involves bad guys taking over a town with a vision of taking over the world in their way. The idea of the seduction of the townspeople seems more real today than possible in 1985. Still more than far fetched.

One of the most important things to take from this book is Johnstone’s writing of the farming industry and what was and would be happening. Younger people will have a great deal of trouble understanding what he is writing in that what he wrote has not only happened but is so buried in the commercial maelstrom, that the idea of the independent family farms that produce for the U.S. to such a high level will be hard to perceive.

The writing in the book is less than standard. The setting is described at points, but I never got the feel of the place as I have in so many other Johnstone Clan novels. That character construction is also far less than the usual stellar efforts of a Johnstone novel. The most interesting characters, to me, is the father and one named ‘Lila’, but little is done with them.

I figure this book is a sign of the stress of producing too many books at the same time by Johnstone.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 6 out of 10 points.

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May 31st, 2015 – Book: ‘Remember the Alamo’ by William Johnstone

by on May.31, 2015, under Books

Remember the AlamoRemember the Alamo by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘Remember the Alamo’ is a fun book by the Johnstone Clan. Albeit beyond preposterous. The writing is looser than other Johnstone books. The characters are pretty good, though not as sharp as in other books.

The plotting is sloppiest involving the Hillary Clinton-type president that is demo-goding a situation involving the Alamo. It’s written that Congress is behind her, but little more is mentioned about the Congress, the Cabinet or much of anyone else in charge. Some unbelievable situations occur and the Clinton-type is riding herd to her goal. That’s an interesting stance to take if she had first released Congress from it’s handle of guiding the nation. Otherwise, Congress would’ve stepped in to any number of degrees to intercept even to support her.

None of that happens. The book is written as Alamo vs. Washington. There are some real bad guys who started all this, but they start to slide in importance as the book runs along.

Unfortunately, the characters seem to run together, especially involving the good guys. In other Johnstone books, the characters and their story help enormously involving rocky stories. The Dave and Caroline Rodriguez characters are the mostly compelling to me and it would be nice to see the Johnstone Clan explore those two further in another book.

The book is still fun to read. The characterization of those in the White House are sometimes as much fun as they are shocking. This Johnstone Clan book takes the ultra-liberal president character to heights hard to imagine.

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

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May 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘Jacknife’ by William Johnstone and the gang

by on May.29, 2015, under Books

JackknifeJackknife by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Jacknife’ is just plain fun! A well written battle through nutty folks who think they will take over the world one large over-sized department store at a time.

The Johnstone Clan seems to have connected a ghostwriter of earlier thrillers to this book as it reads much like a few others with similar characters. Can’t recall if I’ve written this before, but there is a strong flavor of Vince Flynn to the point that I wonder if he was involved with this book. One way to tell is if the sound of these thrillers slips from this level, with Flynn now gone.

The writing is strong. Nowhere near the writing of other recent books I’ve read, such as Colin Dexter, Marjorie Rawlings or Edmund Crispin. But the engagement is concrete and the need to propell forward to find out what happens next and the want to read more like it, transcends the better writing. This is great storytelling.

Troubles with the book: Plenty seems unbelievable. There is a definite political slant (That is fine with me). Still, if a reader can enjoy reading this much, then the weakness is not that, but part of the whole that is the entertainment of great storytelling, if I may repeat myself and underscore what the Johnstone Clan excels at.

As is true in the Clan set, the characters are outstanding in their written definitions. The writer(s) and editor(s) involved deserve continued applause. The Hiram Stackhouse character is a hoot.

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

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May 24th, 2015 – Book: ‘Stand Your Ground’ by the William Johnstone Clan

by on May.24, 2015, under Books

Stand Your GroundStand Your Ground by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Stand your Ground’ is a speeding train of a book full of well fleshed out characters and bad guys that you have to hate. Well written with the Johnstone Clan touch of not knowing what happens next or who lives or dies makes this a crackerjack true thriller.

I’ve been having a clunky time with good and bad Johnstone Clan books and this volume harkens back to the first of the Last Mountain Man series that started my reading so many of the Johnstone books over two years ago. This one is well plotted, written and with intriguing characters. A few characters have appeared in other Johnstone Clan thrillers and converge here per chance.

Though i share the political views represented in the book, the politics run too thick throughout this book. The political asides slow down the narrative and become irritating as the asides become repetitive. Of course, I have to read through plenty of the opposite side in the bulk of contemporary novels today that is more than heavy handed, irrational and repetitive. I’m opened minded and don’t mind reading both sides. I well know the bulk of those who hold the opposite political view of me would have a great deal of trouble getting through the first chapter of this book. That shouldn’t be the case.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 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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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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