Monday, August 18, 2014

Islands Of Rage And Hope-John Ringo

Islands Of Rage And Hope
John Ringo
Baen, Aug 12 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9781476736624

US Navy Atlantic Commander Steven John Smith leads his Wolf Squadron fleet to Guantanamo where the mission is to clean the area of the infected so that a safe lab can begin vaccine production with a long term vision of taking back North America from the insane diseased.  The squadron mounts a successful beach deployment that includes rescuing civilian survivors.

Commander Smith’s teenage commissioned officer daughters (Sophia Lynn and Faith Marie) lead a rescue mission of others trapped on Caribbean islands especially seeking research scientists and medical practitioners, but with the Marine mantra of no one left behind.  The Squadron also sends a team to free royal Harry from the Tower of London.

The third Black Tide Rising apocalypse thriller (see Under a Graveyard Sky) is filled with plenty of island hopping action; engaging and at times satirical survivor rescues; profound mental health issues as the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders seems obsolete; and an overabundance of strategic planning.  Although there is a déjà vu similarity with book two (see To Sail A Darkling Sea), this is an entertaining zombie war entry.

Harriet Klausner

Clam Wake: A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery-Mary Daheim

Clam Wake: A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery
Mary Daheim
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062317728

Hillside Manor B&B owner Judith McMonigle Flynn takes a break with the inn almost empty.  Accompanied by her cousin Renie Jones, Judith travels from Seattle to Whoopee Island where the pair will watch the home of Auntie Vance and Uncle Vince while the older couple is away.

While housesitting, the cousins find the small retiree community angrily divided over the Obsession Shores development referendum with a vote on sewerage soon to occur.  Judith and Renie walk the beach during a rain only to find the corpse of Obsession Shores’ resident Ernie Glover; someone stabbed to death the senior citizen.  When suspicion points towards the two outsiders, the amateur sleuthing partners reluctantly investigate; while the unknown adversary warns them to back off or die.

The 29th Bed-and-Breakfast Mysteries (see Gone with the Win, The Wurst Is Yet to Come and All The Pretty Hearses) is a pleasant whodunit due to the zany antics of the cousins and the eccentricities of the seniors.  The murder investigation takes a back seat to the geriatrics “Makin Whoopee” (composed by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson).

Harriet Klausner

Fatal Conceit-Robert K. Tanenbaum

Fatal Conceit
Robert K. Tanenbaum
Gallery, Aug 12 2014, $26.00
ISBN 9781451635577

In Chechnya terrorists assault a U.S. trade mission; several people die and others abducted including the daughter of New York District Attorney Butch Karp.  Eight days later in a Times Square hotel, someone murders acting CIA Director Lieutenant General Sam Allen just before he is allegedly to testify before a Congressional Committee about an Administration cover-up of the Chechnya incident.

Using the Manhattan homicide as his springboard, Karp leads a unit looking into whether the White House and/or his Reelection Committee led by Rod Fauhomme silenced Allen from exposing the Administration’s propaganda on defeating terrorists around the world.  When more homicides occur that imply concealment of the truth, Karp brings those who evidence points as conspirators into the courtroom.

The latest Karp and Ciampi thriller is an enjoyable fast-paced tale that uses the government handling of Benghazi and an alleged cover-up as the basis of an exciting storyline.  There is too much in your face pontification in which K, C and their conservative sunshine band of allies are morally superior to the killing liberal corrupt axis of evil Administration (mindful of the accusations of President and First Lady Clinton arranged the death of Vernon Jordan).  Still fans who believe in the Benghazi cover-up or can ignore the ethics overkill will relish this taut drama especially the incredible second half when Karp at his best kicks political butt in the courtroom.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The 6th Extinction-James Rollins

The 6th Extinction
James Rollins
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $27.00
ISBN: 9780061784811

Inside of the U.S. Developmental Test Command station deep within the Sierra Nevada Mountains, people scream in anguish as Dr. Kendall Hess and Irene McIntyre know someone sabotaged Project NeoGenesis.  They send out a warning message to TECCOM to insure all inside are dead before they release the fail-safe destruction of the army lab.  For fifty square miles surrounding the doomed installation and widening nothing organic survived.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency assigns Sigma Force led by Commander Gray Pierce to stop the spread of this potential extinction event.  The unit finds an ancient map that Charles Darwin studied with hints that in a far distant past when Antarctica was warm and green death reined on the unsuspecting ancient world.  In the icy present someone targets Dr. Alex Harrington’s cavern lab.  Further answers can be found at Elwes Cutter’s lab deep inside the Brazil rainforest as this terrorist-scientist works to trigger the sixth mass species extinction.

The terrific 10th Sigma Force drama (see The Doomsday Key, The Eye of God and Bloodline) is an adrenaline-pumping save the world thriller as once again James Rollins combines action and history with scientific theories (focusing this time on evolution especially species extinction).  Series fans will relish the frantic pace as mankind’s relatively small reign at the top of the food chain seems at a suicidal end.

Harriet Klausner

An Unwilling Accomplice-Charles Todd

An Unwilling Accomplice
Charles Todd
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $25.99
ISBN 9780062237194

In 1918, home from the front lines, Nurse Bess Crawford escorts wheelchair bound Sergeant Jason Wilkins to Buckingham Palace where King George V awards the wounded warrior with a medal.  Afterward, Jason asks Bess to give him some alone time with his friends.  However, when Jason fails to return to the London hotel, Bess informs her superiors; who admonish her for negligence and place her on two weeks leave.

Though surprised when Jason asked her to push his wheelchair at his ceremony, Bess now realizes why he selected a female instead of a male orderly.  Determined to find the missing veteran, Bess learns the police seek Jason as their prime suspect in a homicide.  As a former family servant Sergeant Major Simon Brandon accompanies Bess, she wonders whether Jason is really Wilkins and whether he is physically injured or psychologically damaged shooting at soldiers as if he is still at the front.

Team Todd’s timely sixth Bess Crawford WWI mystery (see An Unmarked Grave and A Question of Honor) is an exhilarating investigation that looks deeply into the emotional state of combat soldiers suffering from PTSD.  Although there is too much coincidence, readers will appreciate this powerfully poignant psychological historical.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Splintered Kingdom-James Aitcheson

The Splintered Kingdom
James Aitcheson
Sourcebooks Landmark, Aug 5 2014, $24.99
ISBN: 9781402286193

Tancred the Dinan Breton knight loyally fought for William of Normandy when he defeated Harold Godwineson at Hastings.  In spite of the victory, rebellion continued and in 1069 Tancred barely survived an ambush that left his Lord Robert de Commines dead.  Not long afterward his heroics earned him a title and land on the tumultuous Welsh border, and knights reporting to him (see Sworn Sword).

One year later, the land remains dangerous as English, Welsh and Viking foes of William forge an uneasy alliance to rid the land of the Normans.  Like his monarch, Tancred faces problems defending his recent gains especially from the marauding border Welsh.  Unlike the Conqueror, Tancred also has Norman “allies” who consider him an ambitious upstart needing to be destroyed before they fear he amasses more power including usurping theirs.  Thus he is sent to lead a suicide mission across the in Wales ostensive to put down Welsh raids and Saxon rebellion while conflicts explode in other parts of the kingdom.

The second terrific Tancred Conqueror era historical is a great thriller that brings to life the eleventh century bitter hostilities that remain heated several years after Hastings; war continues seemingly everywhere and the Normans were not undefeated in these battles.  Unlike most portrayals of the Conqueror’s knights being chivalrous and caring, the protagonist and his equally ambitious competitor for the same promotions Berengar seem genuine as their respective BHAGs realistically lead them to disregard second order effects especially innocent collateral damage. 

Harriet Klausner

The Secrets of the Greaser Hotel-J. Scott Fuqua

The Secrets of the Greaser Hotel
J. Scott Fuqua
Bancroft Press, Aug 15 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9781610881302

At one time Baltimore’s Greaser Hotel was considered one of the most luxurious places for a city visitor to stay.  Now surrounded by downtown urban blight, the Greaser Hotel is a rundown dump with few occupants; though those residing there recognize this is a special place where magic thrives and the secrets kept sacred.

When Allie “the Rat” Argos was six, her parents went to prison for twenty years after a failed kidnapping of a Gristle.  Greaser Hotel caretaker Mrs. Friendly became her foster parent bringing the child to the Greasy Blight where for the next nine years she slaved alongside other inmates (former homemaking diva Midge Darlington, elderly ex billionaire Arnold Armstrong, and tweener Rena Duchamp).  Jerome the cat worries about naive Allie after she suffers an apparent concussion, and no supper.   Marvin Greaser III and Herman Gristle come to stay at the hotel.  Gristle inspects the teenage Rat to insure she poses no threat to him in the near future; but his arrival opens up the past to her.

The Secrets of the Greaser Hotel is a gripping modern day gothic fantasy enhanced by powerful B&W illustrations.  The good vs. bad contemporary Dickensian satirical storyline looks deeply at the negative impact of the under-regulated free market on the exploited with no protection; as young adult readers (and us seniors) want the heroine and her friends to kick the ugly butts of the mean crew.  No one sees Baltimore quite the same way as J. Scott Fuqua does (see Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore).

Harriet Klausner