What I've Been Reading
1. The Night Ranger by Alex Berenson
Berenson's spy, John Wells, is rattling around without much to do, more or less cut off from the CIA. A group of college kids working for a charitable aid organization in Africa are kidnapped and Wells is asked to go and see what he can do. Once it gets going, it's pretty much nonstop action. Very enjoyable.
2. Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi
Nonfiction. Bugliosi basically takes all the rational records and interviews, etc., and recreates a four-day timeline of events starting the day of the assassination and running to about when Jack Ruby kills Oswald.
3. Silken Prey by John Sandford
I still feel Sandford is our most reliable thriller writer. This one is very political, involving a murdered political consultant, the Minnesota senatorial race, and political smears. It also involves a fairly extended bit featuring Sandford's other character, Kidd and his wife. I really enjoyed this.
4. Robert B. Parker's Wonderland by Ace Atkins
A lot of people have been talking about how great this book is and how he's really nailed Spenser. Well. Let's put it this way, from my perspective. It's a very good book, although I'm not sure all the dots were connected in the plot. It's far more plotted than many of Parker's books were. It's quite faithful, for the most part, with the personality and persona of Spenser. There's no Hawk, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, and far less Susan, which is probably a good thing. Atkins, who is a fine writer, is working to keep Spenser the same, but put his own imprint on the character and the books, and if you're going to do this kind of thing, I think that's probably the way to do it. But for me, the voice is still distinctly different and although I enjoyed the book quite a bit on its own merit, it just didn't feel like a Spenser novel.
5. The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva
Another Gabriel Allon novel - he's a spy for Israeli intelligence, and he's also a world-renowned art restorer. This book's structure is wonky, to say the least, and seems to climax in about 5 different places and have about 4 different storylines. They all get tied together in the end, but there were several points during reading it where I had WTF moments, with a kind of, Does this have ANYTHING to do with the original storyline? I thought the basic premise was interesting, though, once you actually got to it - that the archaeological digs beneath the Temple Mount are controlled by the Palestinian Authority, who is doing pretty anything it can to prevent any evidence of early Jewish existence from being made public.
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling.
I heard she's writing crime novels under a pseudonym? Have you heard that, too?
7. Khmer Kill by Barry Eisler
This is a longish short story featuring Dox, an ex-Marine sniper turned assassin. It's quite good and, like the best of Barry's books, fairly disturbing. He's basically hired to assassinate someone in Cambodia, but it starts to get confusing as to who the target really is and why he's being targeted.
8. Abaddon's Gate by James SA Corey
This may or may not end a trilogy of SF novels starting with Leviathan Wakes. It's a couple hundred years in the future, mankind has moved out into the solar system, although not onto the stars. In the previous books a protomolecule is discovered and exploited by a big company, and it runs amuck, taking over the DNA of its victims and turning them into something weird. Eventually the protomolecule invasion is crashed into Venus, where it seems to create some weird and complex form of life, which it now has shot into the distant parts of the solar system, growing into a giant ring in space that appears to be some sort of gateway to, well???? These guys never quite do what you expect them to do, and I enjoyed this book a lot. In theory it ended the trilogy, but it opens up plenty of room for further books featuring the crew of the Dulcinea.
9. The Eye of God by James Rollins
His latest Sigma Force novel. In this one we get a big comet coming close to earth, and when some JPL researchers send a satellite through its tail hoping to investigate Dark Matter, they get a brief flicker of recordings of Earth showing major cities devastated. The satellite crashes in Mongolia somewhere, so members of the Sigma team head there to find it. The concern is that the Dark Matter in the comet has shown signs of "quantum entanglement" which shows a possible future 4 days away. Meanwhile, another Sigma team is running around trying to rescue Seichan from Korean crazies. And there's a treasure hunt of sorts through Asia looking for Genghis Khan's grave. This is one of Rollins's best Sigma novels. Great fun.
10. House Odds by Mike Lawson
Joe DeMarco, fixer and bagman for the House minority leader, is at it again. This time, his boss's middle daughter Molly is being accused by the SEC of insider trading. Joe's job? Find out what's really going on and fix it. But what if Molly really is guilty of insider trading? And if she also owes an Atlantic City mobster half a million bucks in the process? Much political chicanery and humor. Really enjoyable, although I find it interesting that Lawson seems even more cynical about politicians than I am.