Sunday, May 27, 2012

Deadly Straits by R.E. McDermott

McDermott states that his book is for Tom Calncy and W.E.B. Griffin fans. I would have to agree with him partially. I think that like WEB Griffin he has a very sweeping book that takes in large number of characters and multiple story lines running at once. I don't believe he is like Tom Clancy though. His book does have one main "hero' figure, but that person is not the sole focus of the book. There are so many other characters as to detract from the one main character.

The plot of the book is that Venezuela and Iran have come together to hire a former German Secret Police character to help them bring to bear multiple terrorist attacks on the shipping industry, specifically the super tanker industry. Their goal is to have several terrorist attacks in different shipping lanes so as to cripple the SuperTanker Oil delivery system. The bottom line they want the world to become more dependent on their oil and also help them to build a new Panama Canal through Nicaragua.

They want multiple attacks so that it will be more difficult to determine the real motives and to also mask who is the mastermind of the situation.

Our hero, Tom Dugan, is a boat inspector / evaluator who is an independent contractor, although the majority of his work is for Phoenix Shipping, a company run by his friend Alex Kiraoux. Alex though is presently being controlled by the German, Braun, who is manipulating the shipping company to bring about the terrorist activity.

Dugan has been offered employment by Alex on many occassions but has turned him down. Now the CIA and MI5 come to Dugan and ask him to take the job with Alex so that he can keep an eye on the shipping company and help uncover the terrorist plots that the Intelligence community belives Alex is involved with.

Dugan reluctantly takes the job. Alex reluctantly hires Dugan, why reluctantly? Because he is being blackmailed by the terrorist and he doesn't want his friend Dugan to get involved.

The story unwinds through many avenues. It involves many characters. Frankly I had to keep a two page cheat sheet to keep up with everyone.

The story lines develop well. The characters are developed fine, but not all of them to the depth I would like. Some characters who play fairly important roles have little development because there just isn't any time left in the book to do it.

This is a good first start. I wasn't completely overjoyed with the effort, but it was good enough to keep me interested and also good enough that I look forward to the next book by McDermott.

If you like W.E.B. Griffin novels you will like this work.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Methuselah Man, by Will Dresser

Will Dresser is a new author that I have just read for the first time. His book The Methuselah Man is amazing. I will disclaim that Mr. Dresser sent me a copy of the book in exchange for a review. Boy am I glad that I accepted his offer. This book is fascinating.

 The story starts out with Joe Rosenfeld and Liz Charles present at the burial of an extraordinary man. He has lead an amazing life that has brought him in contact with countless numbers of people, both simple and complex, poor and rich, weak and powerful. Yet Joe and Liz are the only two people to attend the burial, except for the grave digger. Why is that? Why does no one else come to this funeral? If this man was so amazing and so important why are there not others there?

Well, that's the point of the story. From the opening scene we are transported back in time to a couple of weeks before when Jared Kennan Cain, the Methuselah Man, shows up at the psychiatric office of Joe Rosenfeld to seek counsel and to `tell' his story. Liz Charles is Joe's secretary and confidant, so she gets to meet Cain, but not sit in on the sessions.

 On the other side of the country our hero, Wes Franklin, is having a friendly get together with an old friend, who just happens to be the Secretary of State, Crandall Forsyth. Crandall is asking Wes to help him discover some information regarding the Vice-President of the United States, George S. Austin.

It seems as though Austin and President Treem don't see eye to eye on Nuclear disarmament. There is a summit coming up and the Vice-President is put in charge of security and Forysth wants Wes to have a hand in that. Then there is another sub-plot, some Russian mobsters are trying to sell weapons grade Plutonium to some Arab businessmen. The CIA and others are trying to stop that and dismantle the threat of nuclear material getting into the hands of terrorist.

 So, how do all these stories come together? Oh, and did I forget to tell you about the Genetic Discovery Corp, and Dr. Bridger who are a CIA front for developing chemical and biological weapons? Yeah, they are going to play a big part in this story.

But the main plot of the story is The Methuselah Man. Cain has come to Rosenfeld because he is dying of cancer of wants to talk about the afterlife. The problem is this, Rosenfeld feels his client is in denial and doesn't want to come to terms with dying. But Cain wants to talk with Rosenfeld about his book on near death experiences. Why? Because Cain can't die! That's the bottom line. He can't die. He is living forever. He gets sick, but then he gets better. His body has a genetic make-up that is "the fountain of youth." He wants help from Rosenfeld to come to terms with God, heaven, the afterlife, and why he can't die, etc.

Dr. Bridger and the Genetic Discovery Corp want Cain back because they are studying him to see why he can't die. The Vice-President wants Cain back because he has a special project for him to do for him. 

Wes Franklin comes in to play because well, just because, you will have to read the book to find out. Wes, Joe, Liz and Wes's friends, Aryana and AJ all come together to try and save Cain from the clutches of Dr. Bridger and the Genetic Discovery Corp.

But Cain has some other ideas as well as to what he needs to do. All along Rosenfeld and Franklin discover the truth of the Methuselah Man, he has extraordinary powers of healing. He doesn't seem able to die, even when he is shot he heals. Oh, and how long has he been alive anyway. For Cain, all he wants is to die. He wants to be freed from immortality and to be brought back into the good graces of God. He is tired of being `punished by God' for a sin that he committed 1,000's of years before. But does God really punish people? Not according to my Theology.

But Cain thinks so and makes a very good argument for his belief. This book has more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco. You will be kept on the edge of your seat while reading. You won't want to stop. I lost sleep because of this book.

Will Dresser does a wonderful job of developing his main plot, weaving in his sub-plots and bringing them all together in a fast paced thrill ride ending that will leave you wanting more. Then he will take a couple of more chapters to tie it all up nice and pretty and deliver to you the ultimate reality of how power and greed, but mostly power will corrupt even the best of men.

The character development is wonderful. I thought that each person who was important to the story was well developed and you received all the information you needed to know them well. If you kept track of the players and the plots you could come up with the solution to the story, or could you? Towards the end of the story there is one more surprise that Dresser gives you regarding President Treem. I won't tell you what it is, you will just have to read the story to find out.

After you finish the book go back and re-read the opening chapter and you will be left smiling at the way this story all came together. If you love political spy thrillers you will love this novel. If you love Romance novels you will even find that in here. If you love Military hero's there is a great sub-plot for that with real life Medal of Honor winners who are good men, brave men, dedicated men, and men who realize they were just skillful and lucky.

 If you can't tell, I loved this book. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Last Justice, by Anthony Franze

I received an E-mail from Anthony Franze asking me if as an Amazon Top Reviewer I might take a look at his new book, The Last Justice.  Well, I went out an read the short blurb bio of the book and was hooked.  So, I told him yes, I would love to read the book.

I got a copy and put it in my stack of "to be read" fiction books.  I must admit I kicked it closer to the top of the list because I was intrigued by the premise, "Six Supreme Court Justices gunned down in the courtroom."  I mean, come on really, how could that happen.

Anthony's book was fast paced, interesting, true to human "sinful nature" and thus a bit frightening that something like this could really happen.  The book is fairly short, only 240 pages.  But it is packed with lots of plots and sub-plots.  I hope that Anthony keeps writing because I enjoyed his style.  I would kick him up my list of good writers.  I have loved John Grisham books, but his legal thrillers have gotten kind of dull.  Franze, well, dull is the last thing I would call his book.  I would say that for the first time in a long time I have found a lawyer whose books I will want to read and will look forward to reading.

Thanks Anthony for giving me the opportunity to read your book.  I hope you will write another one very soon.

Starting with the opening gunshots in the prologue until the final hectic conclusion you will find yourself drawn into a detective / lawyer / political thriller that will keep you turning the pages until you know how it ends. Anthony Franze gives us what appears to be a short book (only 238 pages) but a multi faceted look at how a crime evolves and is solved. The pace seems hectic, but that's because Franze is giving us a series of crimes that might not be connected but then again just might be connected. The thrill of the book is following several investigations in several crimes and seeing how they eventually all come together and all the investigators all come to the same conclusion (i.e. solve the crime) but from different angles, from different leads and with different analysis , but the end is the same.

Solicitor General McKenna is shot during an attack on the Supreme Court that leaves six justices dead. He seems to be a victim of the crime, but then six months later, even though he is on the commission looking into the crime and trying to solve it, he becomes a key suspect in the crime. Or is he just the key suspect in the brutal murder of a former law clerk that worked for him? Or is he the suspect in the murder of a former law clerk, a former white house Chief of Staff and maybe now the justices of the Supreme Court as well.

McKenna through a bizarre twist of fate is on the run from the authorities who believe he may have murdered at least one if not two former colleagues. They also wonder how he may be tied in to the murders that happened in the Supreme Court. The Commission he was helping lead is now looking for him and wanting to question him as a suspect.

But what he part of the crime or is he still a victim who is being set up to take the fall for more crimes that he had nothing to do with? Maybe the biggest question is this, "if he is innocent then why did he run?"

FBI deputy director Pacini is now on the hunt, but strangely he is saddled (or does he actually like having them with him) with two NYPD detectives who are looking into one of the crimes. He drags them along to all kinds of meetings, but then also allows them to run with their investigations. Then there are the other members of the commission, representing different agencies, such as the White House, The Justice Department, The Police Force of the Supreme Court, The FBI, Homeland Security, etc. etc. etc.

But the fun part of the story is this, will it be the two NYPD detectives who solve the crime, or will it be FBI Deputy Director Pacini or will it the lawyer, The Solicitor General himself, McKenna, who solves the crime? Who will solve it? How will they solve it? Is there a conspiracy a foot to change the face of the Supreme Court by eliminating six justices, or was it really just a crime to kill one Justice but the others were included to deflect from the real purpose for the shooting.

How in the world can an author bring all this to bear in just 240 short pages of a novel? Well, Anthony Franze does it and it is brilliant. His writing is crisp, short, to the point and yet it has detail and depth for being so short.

I found myself writing my own "Crime Board" while reading. I put the names on the white board, the motives, the connections, etc. etc. etc. and found that it was fun to try and be a detective as well as those I was reading about. One reviewing says it was "obvious" who the mastermind was, well maybe, but then again maybe not. I think there is enough deflection going on in the writing to help keep you intrigued and keep you guessing. If you do your own crime board you will be asking yourself a lot of questions and wondering why the investigators don't follow certain leads or certain paths and why they do follow others.

This was a great read. It was fun, it was interesting, it was engaging and it was something I couldn't put down once I started. Oh, and I totally have ignored that it shows a depth of the Political Issues surrounding the Supreme Court, the White House and the Senate and Congress. The three branches of government are suppose to provide a "Check and Balance" of each other, but Franze points out how it's possible that they pollute each other and instead of being a check and balance they become a political game for people to manipulate to see if they can change the course of our country and our legal system.

Don't just read this book for fun, but stop and ask yourself questions about how our three branches of government have drifted from "serving the people" to "serving themselves."

Thanks Anthony for a great read. Thanks for contacting me and asking if I might read your book. I was not disappointed. Please keep writing. Keep putting together good works for us the reader to not only enjoy, but also be able to stop and think through how our culture now operates.

Everyone, ENJOY!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rogue Crusader, by John Monteith

This is the third installment in "The Rogue" series by John Monteith.  John is a new writer, to me, and I didn't discover him as much as they discovered me.  His publisher sent me a notice of the book and asked if I would consider giving it a review.

I read the book this week and loved it.  I think that John does a masterful job in giving us a very plausible scenario that will make you shutter.

His writing is on par with Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn and W.E.B. Griffin.  I believe that you enjoy military adventure novels you will enjoy this one.  I was so captivated by the story that I now want to go back and read the first two in the series.

John does a good job of developing the characters, developing the plot line, putting in enough technical material so that you know you are reading something done by someone who knows his subject (he is a former naval man himself).  He has good use of the English language, good skill in writing suspense and doesn't appear 'jerky' in going from one sub-plot to the next and then back again.  They all tie together well.

I want to thank Christina Salem for bringing John's writing to my attention.

For a limited time if you are an Amazon Prime Member you can download a "Kindle" version of the book for free.  But frankly, if you have to pay for it, it is well worth the price, and why not pay for it and at least give the author the royalties that he deserves.  Just a side not, I paid for my copy because I believe a writer deserves his pay :)


John Monteith does a great job of settling up the plot of the story and the characters. His writing is crisp, clean and to the point. My only desire that was not fulfilled was for the story to not end, but the action to keep going. But I believe that is one of the signs of a good author, keep the reader wanting more.

The scenario, one of Israel's new and highly weaponized submarines is boarded by Muslim fanatics who are able to kill the crew and take control of the submarine. All of this is done at sea and while the sub is moving at 10 to 14 knots. Not an easy trick to do with a submarine. Putting a boarding party on a surface vessel is one thing, but getting a boarding party on a submarine is a whole different game. It was not something that I could imagine happening, but Monteith brings it to life, shows it is possible and also shows to what lengths an enemy will go to hijack an enemy vessel.

I won't give away how the Muslim terrorist hijack the submarine, but it is classic and one that you will find almost unbelieveable.

Now enters our hero, Jake Slate. He is a disgraced former American Military man who in previous books disgraced his uniform by stealing an American sub and going rogue. But because his efforts proved to be detrimental to America's enemies and a positive win for America he has found himself in the good graces of the CIA and clandestinely the United States Government. They have given him a pass on his indescrection and allowed him to enter the U.S. under what we might term a probationary lifestyle.

But when Israel looses a sub and America finds itself in a position of not being able to "directly" intervene Jake is asked to round up his friends, use a "French" submarine and go and stop the rogue Sub from Israel. The French sub is going to be on it's supposed shake down cruise before being turned over to the French government. But really they are on a mission to stop the terrorist.

Monteith does a great job of building the tension, writing about naval warfare, throwing a spy or two into the mix and then even getting a bit of Romance into his novel. There are at least three different story lines that will all come together to form one intricate story that has such plausable merit that the government would do well to read, analyse and ask some questions about whether this scenario could actually happen.

I think that Monteith hits a home run the same way that Tom Clancy hit a home run with his military novels and ended up having to defend his writing to the government and prove that he hadn't stole 'classified' documents to make his stories real.

Monteith shows a good understanding of naval life. A good understanding of how submarines work. A good understanding of how dangerous it is to assume that you are safe. And finally how dangerous it is that we as American's have become relaxed in our security measures surrounding our military bases and ships. Really, how can a civilian woman dating a Captain of an American Destroyer be granted access to the ship while it is docked at port, especially if she is not an American citizen?

Well, it happens. I personally was able to approach a Los Angeles Class Submarine on the naval base at Norfolk while on vacation one year. I remember wondering how I, a civilian, with no military background, could be granted the priviliege of being on base and allowed so close to modern warships.

Monteith gives us a great read while also pointing out to us that we, "American", ought to wake up before this scenario becomes reality.

If you love Military / Spy / Adventure novels you will love this novel. Thank you John Monteith for an excellent thrilling read.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eyes of Justice by Liz Wiehl

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from Lis Wiehl. This was my first exposure to her writing and I fell in love with her style. Although this was not the first in the series I didn't have any trouble picking up the story line nor did it feel as though I was lost because I hadn't read the previous works. Each of the characters is well developed. The newest character to be added, Ophelia, is defined well, accommodates the story well and I am sure will be a welcome addition to future works.

If you enjoy crime novels you will enjoy this wonderful book. Lis does a good job and delivers a knock out book.

The story revolves around the Triple Threat Team, a prosecutor, an FBI agent and a television crime reporter. The three women have known each other since high school (although they weren't friends back then) and have teamed up to solve many a crime and bring 'justice' to bear for all involved.

But this time there is a problem. Someone is stalking the team members. At first they don't realize that and it is deadly. But as the story evolves it becomes evident that someone wants to eliminate the entire Triple Threat Team. Why? Who? Those are the two questions that must be answered before everyone is dead.

The team deals with one tragedy and thinks that it has been put to rest when the next tragedy strikes and upsets the apple cart. Then as they are investigating whether they were wrong about the first crime another tragedy strikes. People are being hurt. People are dying. Why? Can whoever is behind all this be caught.

Enter Ophelia, a new character (I understand) to the series. She is brought in to try and help solve some issues and provide insights that the others can not bring to the table at this time. But will she solve the mystery in time to save everyone? Will she prove to be as intelligent and capable as Leif thinks she is? Oh and did I mention that she is odd? Yeah, she is a bit socially awkward. But that's OK because she is stinking rich! Or is it?

When a killer moves in to take down the team how will Ophelia respond? How will Nic and Allison respond? Will the outcome be what you expect? Maybe, maybe not.

That's what makes this writing so good. No one is safe. Wiehl is not afraid to eliminate a character if need be to make the story more riveting. But the question is, will she?

What a great read. Buy the book, get a cup of coffee and settle in for a fun read. Oh, and don't plan on doing anything else until you finish the book because you will be riveted to your seat until you finish.

Yeah, I liked the book and think you will to. Oh, and for my Christian readers, you will enjoy the way the Lis Wiehl weaves her faith into the story and brings about a very realistic look at how many of us approach our relationship with God, it only gets intense as our problems get intense. But then Allison will discover that really God has been in control and He has worked things out in a way that brings Him honor and glory although it might not be how we would work things out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Simple Spring; by Rosalind Lauer

Where did I find this novel?

I was sent an Advance Reader Copy of this novel by the Amazon Vine Program (which means I didn't pay for the book as long as I review it).  I was intrigued because Rosalind Lauer is a new Christian Fiction writer and I am always looking for new author's who will speak with a good Christian voice in their works.

The book is an Amish genre book.  If you enjoy Beverly Lewis, you will enjoy this book.

So now for the review;

The Amish genre has pretty well exploded after the success of Beverly Lewis. Many Christian authors are now writing very similar stories. Most of the time the story revolves around the Rumpspringer time of a teenagers life when they struggle to decide whether to join the church or face being cast out of the community.

Sadie is no different. She is in her running around time and so she has been working outside the community (as well as doing chores at the farm). One difference for her is that her parents have died and her older brother is now in charge and he is not as tolerant as her father was, that's causing tension.

Sadie has a beautiful singing voice. But singing is not something the Amish push, except from their prayer book / hymnal. But Sadie believes God gave her a gift and wants to use it. She meets an English boy who gets her in a band.

Now she is living a dual life. Amish during the day and Englisher Band Singer at night. What would her brother or the Bishop think of this.

Then Sadie meets another English boy who is also thinking of walking away from his family business. They have much in common and start spending time together.

The story unfolds well and is well written, although I felt it started a bit slow.

Overall, if you like Amish / Christian fiction you will enjoy this book!

Arctic Wargame by Ethan Jones

This new author has written a good introductory war / spy novel that has some very good points to it but also has a few rough spots in the writing.  I personally don't let the rough spots bother me as I believe each writer gets better with each book.

Ethan did send me a copy of this book in advance of it being published, so if you go out to purchase the book it is not yet available.  It will become available at Amazon on May 22, 2012.  His blog is at

Now for a review of the book.

Justin Hall and Carrie O'Connor work for the Canadian Secret Service.  Their task, find threats and eliminate them before they can harm the country of Canada.

Their task in this book is to stop an invasion of Canada by the country of Denmark.  Now if that doesn't make you stop and ask the question, "Really?"  Why would Denmark want to invade Canada?  Well they have a very specific reason, they want to control the shipping routes through the North Arctic sea lanes.

What's interesting is that it really isn't Denmark that is trying to invade Canada.  The group is really from Russia, but they are using Denmark as the 'fall guy' for the invasion.

Justin and Carrie along with several co-workers must unearth the threat, find a way to resolve the threat and do all of this without bringing Canada into any real political, military or economic turmoil.  I mean, really, how would it look for Canada to attack Denmark to stop an invasion on their Arctic soil?  Who would believe it was necessary?  But that's just the point.  If they do nothing then Denmark (or is it Russia) will invade, take control of several towns and the shipping lanes and bring economic havoc upon the country of Canada.

So, with the help of villagers who live in the Arctic region (Eskimos) they must stop an invasion.  But they also must battle the hostile environment of the Arctic.  Could you effectively fight off an invading force when it's 20 degrees below zero?

Justin and Carrie fight off all odds, bring about a decisive victory and do it all while on shaky ground with their own country who doesn't believe that there is a threat.

But in doing all this several good people will give up their lives, even close associates will be harmed and even one associate will turn out to be a traitor.

Now back to a review of Ethan Jones writing style;

Ethan develops each of his characters well.  He develops the plot of the book well.  He has his technical material down pat.  There may be some scenario's that seem implausible, but he makes you believe that they can happen, do happen and that the human spirit can overcome all obstacles.

As I said earlier, Ethan hits a few rough patches in the writing.  Some times I felt that we were jerked from one scene to another and then back again.  But I believe that his writing style is good and should improve well with future writing.

At the end of this book he will give you a preview of his next book involving Justin and Carrie.  I found that for me it appeared the writing was improving, the story was interesting and I can't wait for it to get published as well.

I'm excited for Ethan and believe that he will become one of my author's to follow in the years to come.

If you like military / spy type novels you will enjoy Ethan's book.