October 2005 Same Vein


Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky

Hodder Healine

The mystery novels of Sara Paretsky never fail to deal with contemporary issues. Paretsky is unafraid to wear her heart and her philosophy on her sleeve. This is the case once more with this novel.

V.I. Warshawski is called to coach a girl's basketball team in her old turf of South Chicago. The girls come from poor families and cope in various ways. The mother of one asks her to look at the possibility of sabotage in one particular flag making company and while watching it, the building and the owner are blown up.

The grandson of the conglomerate disappears with one of her girls and Warshawski spends the rest of the book looking for him and fending off the many unattractive members of his family, all the while looking to solve the murders that arise.

This is a tale that moves quickly, holds your interest and proves Paretsky is an intelligent author who sees clearly the inequities in an increasingly polarized society.

Troy by David Gemmell

Random House

Dardania Prince Helikaon sails the stormy Great Green Sea on a gigantic ship that most feel will quickly sink due to its massive size. He and companion Zidantas have angered King Agamemnon of Mykene when they killed the pirates terrorizing the Great Green Sea; as Agamemnon was stealthy abetting the pirates.

At the same time, Priam of Troy has killed his sons except for Hektor the warrior who allied with the Hittites against the Egyptians. Priam orders Priestess Andromache to wed Hektor. Instead she sails for Blue Owl Bay where she meets Helikaon. He falls in love with her while several people try to kill him; one enemy Kolanos tortures and murders Zidantas. Outraged and out of control, Helikaon begins destroying Mykene ships with the crew on board. As Kolanos flees, Helikaon follows, devastating anything in his path... with Troy the apparent destination of the blood feud that has boiled over.

TROY LORD OF THE SILVER BOW is a terrific historical fiction that brings alive the Trojan War era as few tales do. Make no mistake, while this is heavy going, the storyline is fast-paced and action-packed, and works because the key cast members seem genuine. Gemmell has set himself a massive task, writing this historical story, but he's got the skills to do it, making this exciting thriller seem like the real deal.

City of the Dead by Brian Keene

Leisure Books

At the end of the award winning THE RISING, our hero Jim had fought his way across several states through zombies and militia to try to reach his son. As the first novel ended, readers didn't know what Jim found at his son's house. But in the sequel, we finally do find out.

Right from the start Jim, Martin, Frankie and the rest of the party are on the run from organized zombies. We have zombies torching houses and mounting high-speed chases. This all gets Jim and company into a New York skyscraper reputed to be impenetrable. The party joins several hundred survivors in the building. Meanwhile Ob and the zombies are mobilizing on a grand scale. Their talk is to wipe out all humans so that the next wave (plants and insects) can begin.

Death and gore are major parts of this book (as in the first) and the reader learns more about the zombies and their purpose. The action builds towards a terrific climax that not only answers most of the unanswered questions from the first novel, but also satifyingly brings the saga to a close.

Keene is an author to watch. His novels are consistently ground-breaking and a hell of a read. This one is highly recommended.

Crisscross by F. Paul Wilson

Gauntlet Press

Few know that Repairman Jack exists except his pregnant girlfriend Gia, her daughter, and a few other souls that he trusts. People turn to Jack when they need problems solved without the police involved. Jack fixes things for cash so he has no money or paper trail to follow. In Crisscross, the latest Repairman Jack novel, Jack seeks a way out of the cold without attracting attention so that he can marry Gia.

While he ponders his problem, two cases come to him. Maggie, a nun, says that someone is blackmailing her with illicit pictures of her with her lover. She wants Jack to destroy the pictures before the Church finds out.

Maria, the second case, hires Jack to learn if her son is okay since she lost contact with him when he joined the Dormentalist Church whose founder, Luther Brady, believes that burying certain designated pillars in specific locations will fuse this world with its mirror realm leading to paradise regained.

Jack destroys the pictures with a little help from a hacker, but when Maggie informs her lover that they no longer have to pay the extortionist, tragedy occurs.

Jack learns about the pillars and what will happen once Brady finishes planting them; and quickly realises he must stop the false prophet at all costs to save the world as we know it.

Repairman Jack novels are always excellent tales, but long-time readers may find this one much darker than usual. Here Jack's actions may not necessarily provide the results he seeks, and a world threatening religious nut is something out of the ordinary for Jack. Even so, F. Paul Wilson provides another fantastic reading experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Looking forward to the next one.



R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton

Pan Macmillan

R IS FOR RICOCHET, number eighteen in the Kinsey Milhone series, proves that author Sue Grafton hasn't lost her edge.

In this installment, Kinsey is hired by ailing Nord Lafferty to pick up his daughter, Reba, from the California Institute for Women and return her home. Reba has served 22 months of a four-year sentence for embezzling funds from her former employer, Alan Beckwith. Kinsey helps Reba settle in and tries to make sure she stays within the rules of her probation, but Reba has a gambling problem and it doesn't take her long to stray.

Kinsey gets pulled into the action when approached by the FBI, soliciting her help in convincing Reba to turn on Alan Beckwith, who has been illegally laundering money for a known criminal. When Reba steals money from Beckwith and takes off, Kinsey's not far behind.

Grafton delivers a fine romp with this one, with some really likable characters, Reba in the forefront. All fans of Grafton and anyone who likes a good mystery will enjoy this book. As always, Grafton delivers an entertaining, fun read.

Master of Knots by Massimo Carlotto

Allen & Unwin

Set in Italy, Master of Knots has as its main character, Marco, aka Alligator, a private investigator and bar owner. Working with him are two close friends: Beniamino Rossini, a past gangster, and Max the Memory. All three men have spent time in prison, Marco for something he didn't do, and a fair amount of the book describes the horrors of life in an Italian prison in detail.

A friend has sent a client, Mariano Giraldi, to Marco for help. Giraldi's wife, Helena, has been kidnapped, and in the room from which she was abducted, a rose, made from intricate knots in a silken rope, has been left. Further investigation uncovers the fact that the Giraldis were into sadomasochism, and soon other women, also involved in S&M, begin to disappear. A sadistic psychopath nicknamed Master of Knots is at work, and Marco and friends must try to discover his identity and stop him before he can kidnap again.

The Master of Knots is a very dark thriller, that is well worth the read. The graphic scenes of violence are some of the strongest you will read for some time, and the ending may surprise you.


Be an FBI Agent by Henry Holden

Capricorn Link

FBI Special Agents are a rare and special breed. From a large pool of applicants, the FBI determines the best candidates and puts them through intensive training in numerous disciplines and fields of study. Their training makes them specialists in areas such as counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cybercrime.

To Be An FBI Special Agent provides thorough coverage of the agent training process and shows what it takes to become an agent. Candid photos of the FBI's training center in Quantico, Virginia, give the reader an unprecedented look behind the scenes.

While this isn't so much a How-To guide, Be an FBI Agent provides an interesting glimpse inside the FBI, and shows exactly what goes on when training new recruits. This book will be of interest for those who enjoy non-fiction crime, and for writers who wish to provide their "new recruit" character with just a little more reality.

Highly recommended.

Night Fall by Nelson DeMille

Penguin Books

John Corey, former NYPD homicide detective, assigned to the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force in the pre-millennium 90's, makes a return appearance in a thoughtful novel offering an alternative to the government's "official" position on what really happened to TWA Flight 800, which crashed off the Long Island coast in the summer of 1996.

Accompanying his wife Kate to a memorial marking the five-year anniversary of the crash, Corey's curiosity is aroused by what appears to be a concerted effort by Kate's fellow federal agents to keep him--and her--from investigating a case that appears to be closed.

Corey's detecting skills lead him to two witnesses to the crash, who were enjoying an adulterous interlude on the beach at the time the plane went down--and videotaping their sexual escapades while what appears to be a terrorist missile attack takes place in the background. What ratchets up the tension in this capably written thriller is what the reader knows but Corey doesn't as he heads for a showdown with those responsible for the official cover-up, as the clock ticks down to the morning of September 11, 2001.

DeMille's deft touch with a riddle wrapped in an enigma--what really happened to Flight 800--makes his "what if" scenario a more than plausible theory; you don't have to believe in conspiracies or government cover-ups to find his latest engrossing, entertaining, and enlightening.

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