East of Desolation
by Jack Higgins
This book is a re-write of the original 1968 novel, which the author and publisher decided to bring back to life. I think it was a good decision. The story-line could easily fit into any 19th or 20th century decade. It’s got drama, suspense, intrigue, action, a bit of romance, and even a couple twists to keep you thinking.
I found the setting interesting, the far north, beyond what most of us call the civilized world. The characters are strong, some likable and some not. The plot involves a bit of a treasure hunt with the usual alliances and double-crosses to see who will end up with the booty.
The author, Jack Higgins, gained notoriety with his war/spy thriller ‘The Eagle has Landed.” East of Desolation is just as well-written and I have no problem recommending the read to anyone who enjoys those types of novels.
Rage (Alex Delaware, #19)
by Jonathan Kellerman
I like Johnathan Kellerman’s voice and main characters in the Alex Delaware series. Being a former Police Detective I find the Milo Sturgis character spot on for my kind of sleuth. I’m a bit skeptical about the amount of involvement with Dr. Delaware but the work is fiction.
I’ve enjoyed a couple other novels in this series, but in my opinion this one fell flat about half way through. The back and forth interaction between the protagonists was loaded with a lot of opinions and guesswork and conjecture that seems to go in circles, slowing the pace and confusing the plot.
The story was descent but I found the ending anti-climatic.
Hide and Seek
by James Patterson (Goodreads Author)
It was nice to read a novel that was actually written by Patterson himself, before he started publishing underlings with cookie-cutter stories. I’d forgotten that the man can weave a good tale.
Hide and Seek is a murder/mystery story that moves along at a good pace with plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested.
The different points of view bring you closer to the characters and let you inside ‘their’ story.
I liked the main character and it was easy to root for her throughout the book, whether she was guilty or not.
Hide and Seek is a good book and easy read.
by John Grisham (Goodreads Author)
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.
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
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.
The Secret Servant (Gabriel Allon, #7)
I’ve read a few of Daniel Silva’s novels now, and I’ve become a fan of his spy thrillers and Israeli Intelligence character Gabriel Allon. The stories are action-packed, and take us to different countries around the world. Most plots revolve around terrorism.
The Secret Servant has the Mossad and the CIA working together to hunt down bad guys and kidnappers in Amsterdam and London, England. I like how Silva’s main character relies on his support team to get things done, unlike the superhero characters of some novels.
The stories in this series are fictitious, but right on the mark with it’s tales of terror before and after 911. Allon is infamous hunting down and executing the Islamic terrorists who were responsible for Black September, the massacre at the Munich Olympics.
The story’s pace is quick and it keeps the reader flipping to the next page.