Mark Terry

Monday, May 09, 2011

What I've Been Reading

May 9, 2011
I've read an interesting batch of books this time. Here they are:

Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap
The second in his new series featuring Jonathan "Digger" Grave, an expert on hostage rescue and retrieval. John Gilstrap and I have almost exactly the same storytelling sensibilities, so if you like my Derek Stillwater books, I'm sure you'll like his Jonathan Grave books. (And since his readership is approximately ten thousand times larger than mine, at least, vice versa, folks).

Fighting For Life: American Military Medicine in World War II by Albert E. Cowdrey
A nonfiction book about, shocking I know, medicine in World War II. Fascinating, if you're into this kind of stuff.

Night Vision by Randy Wayne White
A Doc Ford novel. I think Randy's a terrific writer, but sometimes his novels are uneven (in my opinion). For instance, I absolutely loved his last novel, Deep Shadow. Night Vision, unfortunately, I didn't care for much, although it has some wonderful action set pieces. My problem with this novel was it could have been written without Doc Ford being in it, and practically is, focusing almost all his narrative on a Guatemalan girl. Strange book, but as usual, White has something to say and says it well.

Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
A new series character by Preston and Child, and although I found the narrative structure of the book more than a little odd - it's basically two stories in one, which makes it seem a bit episodic - it was a real page-turner and I found the main character to be quite engaging. So I'm looking forward to whatever adventures they might have him involved with in the next book.

The Messenger by Daniel Silva
Another espionage novel featuring Israeli spy/assassin, Gabriel Allon. I would describe it as typical, which is to say, although his pace is generally very slow, the book is nicely layered and complicated.

Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman
Another outing with Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis and I liked this one quite a bit.

Freelancer's Survival Guide by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Highly recommended for anyone who's self-employed, whether as a writer or anything else. Lots of useful and thought-provoking stuff here.

Goodbye Byline: Hello Big Bucks by Kelly James-Enger
This is a book about ghostwriting. It's interesting, although anyone who's done any ghostwriting at all - I have - this probably isn't as useful as you'll hope it will be. It's a good book, though, for anyone who's interested in the basics of ghostwriting.

Once A Spy by Keith Thomsen
I was wandering through the Meijer's book section (that's a Michigan chain store, like Kmart) and saw the title and picked it up and was intrigued. Basically a guy finds out that his boring old father who's getting Alzheimer's isn't the appliance salesman he always thought he was, but a top op for the CIA and some people are trying to kill him. Great concept, but instead of buying it in paper I bought it for my Kindle and read it. The execution isn't quite as great as I hoped it would be, but the idea is great and the writing is good and the characters are terrific. I imagine I'll eventually read the second book, Twice A Spy. This book is almost a satire - or perhaps it IS a satire - so there's a weird tone to it, but it's a very enjoyable read.

The Midnight House by Alex Berenson
Ah. Well. Nothing like reading a masterpiece of espionage. That might be overstating this book, but it made me feel totally inadequate as a writer. I've enjoyed Berenson's espionage novels in the past, but they've always been a bit grim and introspective. Well, this one is grim and introspective, but Berenson seems to also have developed a sense of humor which makes the book manageable, given its topic. And the topic is: Someone is murdering all the members of an interrogation/rendition team that was operating out of a military base in Poland. CIA op John Wells and his boss Shafer, are tweaked into investigating it, although it's clear they're being used as some sort of pawns by the DCI in a battle between the CIA and the Office of the National Intelligence Director. So the story involves a murder mystery, espionage, torture, rendition, Al-Qaeda, the US Intelligence community, politics... and it's all very, very realistic and grapples with some very, very unpleasant realities of the morality of interrogations, renditions, torture, espionage... pretty astonishing, serious read, that also has some seriously great action sequences.


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