Mark Terry

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What I've Been Reading

May 30, 2012
So, here are the last 10 books I read.

1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
Finally. Another terrific book by King. I haven't read much of his stuff lately, but I'd been hearing such great reviews about this book that I tried it and loved it. It's "alternate history," I suppose, with a touch of SF, rather than horror. A high school English teacher discovers a wormhole that takes him back in time to 1955. The guy who shows it to him wants him to go back and try to prevent Kennedy from getting assassinated. I like King's writing, but I've typically found him to be a lazy researcher. Not here. This book must have meant a lot to him, because I think he worked his ass off on it. Damn thing almost made me cry at the end. Highly recommended.

2. Peter Namaka and the Battle for Atlantis by Mark Terry
Yeah, I re-read one of my own books. I was considering writing a sequel (several, actually, which was the original intent), so I re-read it. Then I decided that I probably won't. I think it holds up, and it definitely was set up to be the first in a series, but I suspect that for me as a writer its time has come and gone.

3. The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
An espionage novel. A Tourist is a CIA agent with no particular cover who goes undercover and does whatever needs to be done. In this book the main character is one of the great tourists and on 9/11 things go to hell completely unrelated to events in the U.S., and he quits to work in the office running agents. But things have gone to hell again and he's forced into the field once more. Reportedly been optioned by George Clooney, which in many ways doesn't surprise me. It would be the quintessential Clooney thriller - not very thrilling, lots of character development, and a little bit of action. It's a good book, but it's a little slow.

4. Ghosts by Ed McBain
Another 87th Precinct novel. A failed novelist who became a bestselling author of a so-called true story about a haunted house is murdered. Moody, funny, and fairly difficult to solve, actually. Very enjoyable.

5. Boneyards by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Another of her "Boss" series in the "Diving" universe, i.e., SF. In this continuation of the series Boss and her team are trying to track down so-called "stealth technology" even though they now know it's not stealth tech, it's an anacapa drive which allows FTL travel by folding space, except when it goes wrong, which it did at least once, which is how she teams up with a whole crew of people who because of an anacapa malfunction appeared from 5000 years ago. That crew is desperate to find out what happened to their fleet, but they're left hunting down rumors of weird activity in space, myths, legends, etc. And one of those legends is of a boneyard, a place where thousands of derelict ships are, but is protected by some sort of force field no one can penetrate. More action-y than some of her books, it's still slow, Boss is still a fairly unpleasant and annoying character, and Rusch teases the reader with fascinating clues about the universe without really satisfying you. Which is probably why you keep coming back.

6. The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan
The final book in his Kane Chronicles series, in which Sadie & Carter Kane must defeat the Egyptian God Apophis before he can destroy the universe. Lot of fun.

7. The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva
Yet another espionage novel featuring Israeli assassin/art restorer Gabriel Allon. It starts without espionage, actually, with a stolen newly discovered Rembrandt, and Gabriel is asked to try and recover it since he's retired from the spy biz. Except, of course, it gets much deeper than that, dealing with Nazi secrets and an international billionaire who is selling nuclear technology to Iran. Terrific novel, although quite slow as all these books are.

8. Star Wars Legacy: Volume One: Broken by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema
This is a graphic novel my son has been pushing me to read. It takes place something like 150 years after the fall of Emperor Palpatine and deals primarily with, I think, Luke Skywalker's grandson, Cade Skywalker, who was training to be a Jedi when his father is killed. He hides out and becomes a smuggler, addicted to death sticks, until - echoes of echoes! - a princess being hunted by a Sith Lord needs his help. It's the beginning of a very complicated series (I'm reading the second volume, Shards, which is a complicated mess, imho) and I like it okay. The art is pretty cool and all the males are ripped and all the women wear revealing clothing, so what's not to like? Sort of like Star Wars soft porn.

9. Stolen Prey by John Sandford
Pretty much keeps his reputation as the most consistent writer of police procedurals out there. An excellent, entertaining novel. It starts with Lucas Davenport getting mugged while out jogging, then turns to a massacre of a family by an apparent team of Mexican killers who think they had clues to about $20 million in missing drug money. As usual, a very engaging, entertaining novel.

10. Lullaby by Ace Atkins
Robert B. Parker may be dead, but Spenser lives on. I almost didn't get this. I'm very ambivalent about new people carrying on series after the death of the author, and in the case of Parker, his voice was so distinctive that I didn't think anybody could pull it off without drifting into parody. (And to be fair, Parker is really EASY to parody). I didn't like the last one much at all, PAINTED LADIES, but I'd been hearing positive things about LULLABY so I bought it. It's terrific. I think Atkins, who in many ways is probably a better writer than Parker was, is about 99% on Spenser's voice, especially toward the end of the novel where he really nails it. He's pretty much got the structure down without Parker's quirks, like way TOO much Susan and fairly repetitive and hackneyed conversations between Spenser and Hawk. In this case, a 14-year-old girl hires Spenser to find out who murdered her mother four years earlier. Spenser soon gets involved in a mob war in Boston and on the bad side of an FBI agent who would like him to stop getting in the middle of a federal investigation. As usual, this Spenser novel takes place in an alternate reality called SpenserWorld where PIs can kill people and not lose their license or get locked up, caught in civil litigation, and can immediately re-arm themselves for the next go-round. On the other hand, there's more internal conflict, which was quite rare in Spenser novels, and a lot less belly-button-contemplation. Overall, one of the better Spenser novels to come along in a very long time, and if it was a complete standalone, it would be a terrific novel. I don't know if I'll continue to buy the Spenser novels by Ace because I'm funny that way, but if this kind of literary regurgitation doesn't bother you, then you'll probably really enjoy this book.

Mark Terry


Blogger Becky said...

I definitely want to check your book out, along with "The Tourist." Thanks for the suggestion. If you are ever looking for another good book to read, you should check out "The Rx Factor" by J. Thomas Shaw. It is a fast paced with non-stop action medical thriller based on fact.

10:16 PM  

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