The Broker – John Grisham

1110The Broker 
by John Grisham (Goodreads Author)

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Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Feb 02, 2019  


I’ve read four other Grisham novels, with mixed reviews. I’ve also seen many of the movies made from his books and perhaps The Broker needs a few Hollywood twists to liven it up.
The story is about a Washington lawyer/power broker who’s greed lands him in jail. A presidential pardon gives his a second chance at life, but the CIA must hide him so other governments don’t kill him.
Without giving away all the backstory I thought this would be an action-packed spy thriller full of drama or intrigue. I was wrong. The author wasted about one hundred pages describing the Italian lessons the main character had to take while in hiding. Grisham said in his author’s notes that he was enthralled with Italy. I wished he would have spent half those pages describing food instead of Italian verbs.
The story dragged on and became predictable in the end. In thinking about the book and this review I was generous in giving it three starts. I’ve read much better from Grisham.

Jack Reacher – Night School

28077464Night School (Jack Reacher #21) 
Lee Child (Goodreads Author),

Dick Hill (Narrator)

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Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jan 30, 2019


I zipped through this one in four sittings, I think. It’s the first Reacher novel I’ve read where the story takes place while he’s still in the army. In this one he’s on a mission to save the world, instead of some anonymous person along the back roads of America.
There’s the usual action and fight scenes and even a couple sex scenes. I like the way Lee Child describes the smutty stuff, almost with military precision, and not like fifty shades of pornography.
The book is well-paced and it steadily picks up speed as the action and story unfold. One of my editors explained a writing trick in which the author uses short or brief sentences to speed things along. I completely understand it, having been caught up to the point where I didn’t want to put the book down. It works.

Bill Bryson – Neither Here Nor There

27Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

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Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jan 28, 2019  


I’ve known about Bill Bryson for some time and saw a movie about his last travel adventure, but had never got around to reading any of his material. I had ‘Neither Here Nor There’ collecting dust at home with my two shelves of other books to read, and since I was about to leave on a travel adventure myself, I took Bill’s book along to pass the down time when not engaged in sightseeing, eating or drinking.
Having traveled solo like Bryson did in this book, I can truly appreciate his adventures and misadventures in an era before the internet, cell phones, and GPS. Like him, I still love unfolding a map to plan the next day’s route. Bryson is the type of person who is comfortable in his own skin and has no qualms about travelling alone.
He is a good writer, with a sarcastic sense of humor, and an unquenchable thirst for metaphors. The book is more of a collection of snippets from the various cities and towns along his route. He likes to pound the pavement and sit in local watering holes or cafes to get a good feel of each and every place his visits.
Being the author of my own travel book, with some similarities, I generally liked the read, but found it a bit awkward at times – especially when the author went off on one of his rants. His American arrogance toward the rest of the world showed through on more than one occasion. I’m not saying that Mr. Bryson is predjudice against all foreigners, from what I’ve experienced in my travels it’s just the way some Americans are. They love to travel, but expect everything, like food, to be the same as home.

Mary Queen of Scots

mary_queen_of_scots_ver3Here’s a movie for all you Outlander fans. It’s about two different Queens from two different countries trying to control their own kingdoms, while maneuvering to combine the two and decide who will rule the British Empire.

It’s a true story that takes you behind the scenes of Scottish and English royalty, revealing their personalities, quirks, ambitions and idiosyncrasies. There is plotting and deceit and treachery that offer twists and turns throughout the story.

There are only a few recognizable faces in the cast, but the acting was superb. Outlander fans might also recognize some of the scenery and at least one castle in particular. Although the flick wasn’t one we were dying to see, Cathryn and I enjoyed it, both giving it a 7 out of 10.

The Mule

imagesClint Eastwood says The Mule is the last movie he’ll act in, but oddly enough, he fit the main character’s roll perfectly. The story is about 90 year old horticulturist Earl Stone who takes on a job transporting dope for a Mexican cartel after his plant business goes belly up.

Earl was only going to make one trip, but upon seeing how easy he could make a pile of cash, he takes on bigger and bigger shipments. He uses the money to try and buy his way back into his family’s good graces.

Eastwood brings back Bradley Cooper for the role of a DEA Agent who is trying to make a name for himself, and to make his boss look good, by making a large cartel bust.

The movie is descent, perhaps a bit less intense than most of Clint’s work, but with a few life lessons about family and money. Cathryn and I both give it a 7 out of 10.

Stocking Stuffers for Readers

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It’s coming. Christmas will be here before you know it. If you’re wondering what to get that person who’s hard to buy for, and they like to read, then consider getting them an autographed copy of one of my books, or a complete gift set of my Norm Strom Crime Fiction Series.

Any of my books are online through sellers like Amazon, or available at PB Books or Juniper Books, in Windsor. I will be selling and signing books at several functions and craft shows from now until Christmas. Click HERE for a complete list of the events.

If you want to see my individual books and read their intros please click HERE.