Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Brainrush, by Richard Bard

This novel snuck in to my reading list when I saw it listed in an Amazon Kindle ad email and realized I could borrow it (thanks to Amazon Prime).   A mishap occurs during the hero's MRI.  (His name is Jake Bronson -- and that's a nice hero name; you seldom see heroes named Seymour Birnbaum.  But I digress.)

Prior to the MRI, Jake was dying of a brain tumor.  Post MRI, he has acquired extraordinary powers, as his mind's inherent capabilities have been awakened.   He then does extraordinary things.

The book thus far is fun.   It isn't very deep, but the plot is interesting enough, the character seems decent, and all is well.   Sure, things stretch credibility a bit during a fund raising scheme at a Monaco casino, and with the ability of the hero's buddy to acquire a full team of highly trained and well equipped mercenaries essentially overnight.  But in this kind of fiction, the need to suspend disbelief for plot advancement is practically de rigueur.

Things get a bit dicier when aliens enter the picture.

In spite of that, I do plan to read the next volume in the series.   Maybe through Amazon's Lending Library but not via purchase.


Monday, July 15, 2013

The Graphic Canon, by Russ Kick

This first of a three volume set is an anthology of graphic artists' interpretations of literary classics.   It is really wonderful, for multiple reasons.

First, if like me you are not completely at ease with graphic novels, this will serve as a fabulous introduction to the value that integrated graphics can lend to the written word.   When I was a kid we read comic books.  Today's graphic novels are similar, but typically with very high end artistic quality.

Second, it is fun to look at an excerpt of a classic you may have previously read or heard of and see it in the unique light of the graphic artist.  It might remind you to re-read a favorite or to try out something new.

This collection starts with "The Epic of Gilgamesh," said to have been written around 1000 BCE, and ends with "Dangerous Liaisons," written by de Laclos in 1782 and probably better known to Americans for the movie of that title.

I'm eager to read the next volumes.

The Graphic Canon, Vol. 1: From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Six Years, by Harlan Coben

The good news about this novel is that Mr. Coben keeps the plot running well enough to engage you in it and keep reading.  The bad news is that in spite of that, it is difficult to bother to keep going.  It is just not very interesting.  The hero is annoying.   The plot is not strong (even though you might keep hoping it will get better).   So no, I do not recommend the book.

Six Years

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Criminal Enterprise, by Owen Laukkanen

This is the second novel by Mr. Laukkanen, and it is as good as his first.   He stuck with the same main characters, FBI Agent Carla Windermere, who doesn't work well with others and is a bit of a hot shot, and Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens, who wants to treat his job as just a job so that he can be a reliable family man - but who gets sucked into dangerous situations with Agent Windermere nonetheless.

This is a wonderful novel, although the body count did get a bit high for my taste.

Criminal Enterprise (A Stevens and Windermere Novel)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman

Imagine a Harry Potter novel written with a Brooklyn, New York point of view, and you have some of this novel.  The characters are flawed in a deeper way than the superficial good or bad guys of a children's book.  And there are no happy endings here.   But it is a very interesting read with great characters, great plot, and a grittiness that I find appealing.

But if you're looking for a Narnia adventure, then put this novel down right now.

The Hit, by David Baldacci

This is a very entertaining novel.  The hero is Will Robie, who has appeared in Mr. Baldacci's work previously.  He is a US government paid assassin.   As you might expect -- because it is almost always the case in this genre -- the plot requires you to suspend critical thinking to avoid disbelief.   Because the character development is good and the plot advances well, this is not difficult to do.

The Hit

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cold Blooded, by Bernard DeLeo

Imagine a television show about an assassin employed by a quasi government agency, whose cover is being the author of a best selling series of novels about an assassin.   As a TV show, it kind of works.  You suspend disbelief because of the entertainment.

Well, that's how to think of this novel.   The hero is Nick McCarty.   The story revolves around his relationship with Rachel Hunter, who sees him in passing in a restaurant and decides to connect with him.  This is so unbelievable as to stand out in a sequence of unbelievable scenes.  But wait, there's more.

Rachel has an (almost) eight year old daughter who speaks like a teenager and posseses sangfroid that most adults lack.  And she has a dog who instantly follows Nick's spoken and unspoken command.

Oh my.

Now in spite of all this, I enjoyed the novel.   But you have to be stuck in a waiting room somewhere with time to kill in order for this one to work.

Cold Blooded

The Diabolist, by Layton Green

I accidentally entered Mr. Green's series late in the game: this is the third novel featuring the main characters. They are Viktor Radek, a professor of occult who also investigates odd, para-normal situations, and his partner Dominic Grey, who is mostly the muscle and on the ground investigator. The book is good although the action gets periodically interrupted for detailed information about organized religion, satanists and the occult.

The Diabolist (The Dominic Grey Series)

The Assassin The Grey Man And The Surgeon, by D. C. Stansfield

In this gritty novel, a retired assassin suffers a personal loss which triggers his desire for extreme retribution. He calls upon two former colleagues, the Grey Man, who is adept at surveillance, and Surge, who is violent muscle.

This isn't great literature, but for a fast action read it is absolutely worth the price.

The Assassin The Grey Man And The Surgeon

The Doll, by Taylor Stevens

This action / suspense novel features Ms. Steven's absurdly gifted assassin, Michael Munroe (a female, lest the name confuse things), who was introduced in "The Informationist."   She shares screen time, as it were, with her colleague and lover, Bradford.

The plot moves so quickly that it is easy to ignore any gaps.  In this regard, it is just like any of the other books in the genre of super star hero, whether it be Reacher or Robie, or any of that ilk.

The Doll: A Novel (Vanessa Michael Munroe)