Friday, November 27, 2015

Independence Day, by Ben Coes

In sharp contrast to the brilliantly written "Palace of Treason," this spy novel suffers the typical trite memes of the "special forces operator acts as spy to save the world" genre. The stoic hero dresses and stitches his painful knife wound while driving through the Russian countryside. The evil, politically corrupt CIA leader is revealed, and then dismissed as though edited out of the story line. Even worse, this "NY Times best selling author" can't find an editor to save him from errors like, "Another gunmen stood..." [p313]. Sigh.

I'm no fan.

Independence Day: A Dewey Andreas Novel

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Mask, by Taylor Stevens

This is another in Ms. Stevens' series featuring hero Vanessa Michael Munroe. Monroe is a murderer and investigator. She passes easily as a man and uses her middle name, Michael, in both her personas.

In this episode, Michael seeks romantic stability, joining her boyfriend Miles where he's working as a security consultant in Japan. She is bored because she's not working, but makes the sacrifice in her attempt to develop a normal relationship. Then Miles is arrested. Michael goes to work to clear him, a non trivial task in the arcane Japanese legal system.

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the others because I was confused by the way Miles treated his relationship with Michael. And at the end, confused by Michael's implied interests going forward.
But the action was good and the plot interestingly complex. 

The Mask

The Annihilation Score, by Charles Stross

The first obstacle of this novel is the first chapter: so poorly written, so not edited, so puerile and confusing that anyone who progresses through the second chapter deserves a reward. It is as though there were two authors, and thankfully the first one quit early on.

The story got interesting as it progressed in spite of itself. Here's what I mean: the hero is Mo (Dominique), a PhD, a musician, and an agent with a secret security service of the British government called the Laundry. Their mission is to deal with occult threats.  Mo's weapon is a violin made of bone and infused with some sort of creature who works symbiotically with Mo to kill demons.

Okay, let's skip past all that for a moment. Mo's husband is also in the secret service, also deals with supernatural threats, and their combined workload and other aspects of their jobs has put their relationship at a crossroads. Mo is in her 40s and often time feels invisible, especially in the male dominated bureaucracies of British rule.

If we take the supernatural topic out of the mix, this is still an interesting novel. With it, it is interesting primarily to folks who enjoy (or can tolerate) stories in this genre. The book is told by Mo and I'm surprised the author is male.

I'd give this book three stars (out of five) if it weren't for the terrible opening chapter and the continued annoyance of THE USE OF ALL CAPS throughout the text. So net my review down to two stars. Still, I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it.

The Annihilation Score: A Laundry Files Novel


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Young Elites, by Marie Lu

This is an intriguing novel; imagine X-Men set in the 14th century.  Our hero is a young women who ended up with the physical indications of supernatural abilities, even though she can't exhibit them. Until she does, at which time things get exciting.

What I liked about this book: Ms. Lu doesn't waste time building a mythical location in which to set events, she instead focuses on the people and their experiences. Also, the hero is - well, let's just say a dark hero.  I enjoy that there's no predictability and that things are allowed to go horribly wrong.

I'm eager to read the next in Ms. Lu's series, The Rose Society.

This novel made this year's top ten candidates list. So I'm probably not gushing about it as much as I should. It is a really fast fun read.

The Young Elites

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lethal Misconduct, by CG Cooper

Mr. Cooper's series features Cal, a former Maine who runs a private security firm that behaves as an unsanctioned police force killing presumed enemies of the state.

I don't so much enjoy the premise of ignoring the constitution in the name of heroics. The book is typically unbelievable with plenty of jumping the shark moments.

Lethal Misconduct (Corps Justice Book 6)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Under Fire, by Grant Blackwood

Mr. Blackwood, it seems, has licensed the Tom Clancy character Jack Ryan Jr. in order to continue writing Clancy-esque suspense novels.  Ryan is son of the President and is a spy for a private organization with the cover story of being an international investment banker.

I don't want to bother saying more about this novel because a simple "meh" will suffice.

Under Fire (Jack Ryan Jr. Novel)