Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A map of Betrayal, by Ha Jin

When Gary Shang's daughter, Lillian, started going through her parents belongings after their deaths she was surprised to find a diary of her father and to learn that he had secrets that she never knew about.

The discovery lead to learning that Gary Shang was the highest ranking Chinese Spy to ever infiltrate the American Government, specifically the CIA. When he was discovered it created a massive problem for the American Government and the Chinese Government had to distance itself from Gary.

Born in China, Gary was recruited by the Communist Chinese to go to work for an American Agency in China at the time and provide them translation services. As his position grew with the American's and they grew to trust him the Chinese asked Gary to leave China, abandon his family and live an American life and never return to China. But they still wanted him to provide secrets to them that he uncovered through his work.

According to the Chinese handler's that Lillian could contact after her fathers death she determined that they saw her father as a hero of the homeland and that they held him in highest esteem.

But what about his Chinese family? Lillian learned that her father had a wife and family in China that he had not seen in years. She learned that her mother and her life in America as Gary's family was just a cover for him in regards to his work of spying.

Lillian goes to great lengths to try and find Gary's first family. She does her best to uncover the true story of Gary's life and what all transpired.

Her work brings about this book and she documents not only her search for her Chinese half-siblings but her research gives us a very detailed account of Gary's life from 1949 in China to his death in America decades later.

The story is riveting and fascinating. You will feel her anguish and pain as well as her triumph in finding family in China that she has never met or known about prior to her digging into the life of her father.

This story is one that will bring you to understand just how spies find their ways into other governments and the lengths they will go to for getting the information that their handlers desire.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Game, by Barry Lyga

What would it be like to live as the son of one of the Nation's most feared Serial Killer? Jasper Dent has had to learn what this was like. His father Billy Dent was captured and put in jail for the multiple murders that he committed. Jasper was left to live with his grandmother, who happens to be a bit crazy.

In this sequel to "I Hunt Killers," Jasper is trying to move on after having helped capture the Impressionist, who was mimicking his father. Along with Sheriff G. William and his friends Howie and Conscience, they have locked up the Impressionist and Lob's Nod can go back to a normal peaceful small town existance.

But then two things happen, one a Detective from New York comes to see Jasper and asks him to help them with solving a rash of murders that are happening in New York. Then on top of that Billy Dent escapes prison.

The "Game" is on, or has it been on for quite some time? Is Billy Dent training others on how to be Serial Killers? Or is Billy the one doing the killing? Or is it someone even closer to Billy and Jasper than Jasper has ever thought?

The writing is excellent. The plot draws you in and holds your attention throughout the book. The danger is at level 10 for most of the book, although at times it doesn't seem that way.

The new cast of characters are well developed. There is Hughes, the New York Detective, Captain Montgomery his superior, and then FBI agent Morales. Each of these characters will bring their own take to the plot and add to the thrill of the chase.

But Jasper is the key. He will be the one to figure things out, along with Conscience his girlfriend.

You won't want to put down the book until you get to the end. It is draining to say the least of your emotions.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Eye of Heaven, by Clive Cussler

Most people would find that Archeology is a boring subject. Most people would find that adventurer's are more interesting. Well, if you combine the two you get Sam and Remi Fargo who love Archeology, but they also venture into hunts for treasure and lost historical sites like no one else.

Unfortunately this book was a bit on the more "boring" side of the scale. It seems as though a Cussler novel has finally lost some of it's high action excitement. I found that the situations were not as soul pounding excitement as what we have come to expect. The sense of urgent situations that might end in death and disaster just aren't as heart stopping as previously written works.

With that said we still have a classic Cussler novel where the good guys need to struggle to triumph over the bad guys. Janus Benedict is a thug who wants only to steal ancient artifacts for the sole purpose of selling them on the black market to make money. To add to his evil side he is also an arms dealer on a world class level who is helping tyrants arm their forces (although we don't ever see the culmination of any of those sales).

Benedict seems to want to follow the Fargo's and thwart every effort they have of bringing ancient artifacts back to the surface of the earth and returning them to the cultural departments of their respectful countries.

The Fargo's will be taken from the Ice and Glaciers of the North to the jungles of Mexico to track down the "Eye of Heaven." This is a gemstone that is reported by myth/history to be the size of a small car. It was buried with a "God" whom the ancient tribal people of Mexico revered and buried with a cache of loot that would make any treasure hunter wealthy.

The Fargo's will even have to break into a fortified facility in Cuba to research their task. Then they will have to travel to Laos to find a colleague who might be the only person alive who can translate the pictographs that they have uncovered.

So, there is adventure. There is the threat of danger and death. There is the fun that the Fargo's have together, and there is a nemesis that is trying to bring death and destruction. So, all in all a typical Cussler novel.

My only problem and why I gave only four stars is that it just doesn't have the pop and sizzle of the typical Cussler novel of the past.

But, if you are a Cussler fan as I am you will love the book.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Night Blindness, by Susan Strecker

Childhood Romance often turns into marriage and a happily ever after.  But for Jensen and Ryder this was not the case. A trauma in their life drives them apart just at the time when they should be celebrating and telling the world of their love for each other. Jensen's brother Will is playing high school football and is hit hard, hard enough that he is sent to the hospital to have an evaluation.

The hospital releases him and he goes home, but a tragic event at home has Jensen pushing him and he strikes his head a second time in a few short hours. He dies right on the spot, changing Jensen's life forever.

The trauma drives Jensen and Ryder apart. They go their separate ways and basically run away from the trauma and the grief. Jensen leaves home because of the pain and for 13 years she lives with guilt and agony. During that time she marries her Art Professor and starts a new life, but one that is not fulfilling.

Then the call comes, Jensen's father, Sterling, is dying, he has a tumor in his brain and it's not looking good. Jensen heads home to find that not only is Ryder back in their home town, but he is now a brain surgeon and he is Sterling's doctor.

The story weaves on from there about the summer that Jensen's spends at home with her father and mother and all her old friends. She comes to deal with her grief and her pain. She comes to understand her marriage to Nic, her art professor. She comes to understand her pain of having walked away from Ryder.

Is this a Romance novel or a novel about how to deal with the pain of loosing someone? Well, both!

I love the writing. I love the story line of a summer spent at home, Jensen and her father learning to love each other again and re-live the old times. That part of the story is the best part and the longest part.

The fact that Jensen has to figure out her life and her love for Nic and Ryder is the secondary part, but it is probably the part that makes this a Romance novel.

You will be drawn in and won't be able to stop until you get the conclusion of the story.

I know you will love this book. Enjoy!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Global Predator by Jack Maclean

Global Predator has a double meaning in this novel.  First there are the American's and their Predator air force that is bringing lots of hurt on the Taliban and other terrorist around the world. A Predator can fly anywhere for long periods of time without having a pilot on board. It can take images, live video feeds and linger for hours / days on end to allow the intelligence community to make decisions about what they want to target or whom they want to target.

Now let's talk about another Predator, a Financial Genius Predator.  Grosvenor Bank has hired a man named Wilkens who is a Physics major and mathematical whiz.  He develops an algorithm that allows the bank to manipulate the marketplace and produce profits far outweighing anything they have ever done.  But he is a Predator in that he also has used the banks money to do trades for his own profit that have generated millions of profit that is going into his private account while using the Bank's money as the capital.  They don't even know it.

Now for other types of Predator's, there are the Taliban leaders in Pakistan that are terrorizing local villages and preying on the people for food, shelter, weapons and power.  They are attacking and closing or burning schools that have been set up to teach girls how to read and write.  These schools are being built, funded, and run by a British woman, Sally, who is dedicated to seeing the girls get educated.

All forces come together in Pakistan to bring about an interesting set of circumstances that draw all the predators into the Swat Valley where the U.S. Military is trying to kill two terrorist, Maulana Fazlullah and Ayman al-Zawahiri.  These two men are top leaders in the terrorist movement.  But they are also in the Swat Valley and Sally and Wilkens will come across them in their pursuit of educating young girls.

As the tension grows who will be the one to bring death and destruction upon Sally, Wilkens and the schools for girls?  Will it be the U.S. Military and their drone program, or will it be Maulana Fazlullah and the local Taliban or Ayman al-Zawahiri and the global Taliban group?

Maclean has a good writing style and provides a good interesting story and plot line. He is British and that causes a bit of a problem.  His English is not the same as American English.  So, some terms are a bit different and cause you to have to read more carefully.

The reason for only 4 stars and not 5 is the difference in English and also the lack of a good editor to catch the typo's and double word use and the repeated words in a sentence.  It seems to me that the publisher needs to get a better proofreader.

While distracting those things do not take away from the good story line.