Category Archives: thriller

Preston & Child — Beyond the Ice Limit

This novel is a science fiction thriller by two authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Gideon Crew has been asked to help destroy an alien who arrived on Earth as an asteroid. The asteroid turned out to be a seed, which has planted itself in the waters off the Antarctic two miles down. If allowed to grow and reproduce it will destroy the planet in order to send more seeds into space.

The plot is good; it keeps you reading. There is a varied cast of characters, but I found them a little flat. I wanted more from them, wanted to get into their heads. Gideon is apparently a returning character from previous books. Maybe we are supposed to know him already and that’s the reason I’m not feeling particularly attached to him.

Still, the story is good and I enjoyed the adventure.

Michael Connelly — The Crossing

One thing about crime novels that bugs me is that you know who the bad guys are from the beginning. But of course, the protagonist doesn’t know. Even though this tale begins with a scene involving the villains, we don’t know how or why they committed the crime. In this case, the crime in the first chapter is not the one that the story is about. As with most police procedurals (although the main character is no longer a cop), the details of how the detective unravels the plot and figures out “who done it” is what keeps you reading. Connelly is a master of the twists and turns.

This novel centers on Harry Bosch, a newly retired police detective. He is talked into investigating a murder for his brother, Mickey Haller, a defense attorney. Haller believes his client, who has been arrested for the crime, is innocent. But Bosch thinks all defense lawyers believe their clients didn’t commit the crimes. Bosch has a problem with working for the defense. His whole life has been about catching the criminals. Working to help the accused get off goes against his deepest instincts. He goes about the investigation as if he were still a policeman—trying to not cross the line where he would be working against law enforcement. He believes if he can catch the real perpetrator(s), he can keep his principals in tact.

It was slow getting started for me. Probably because the book starts with the antagonists’ point of view. But I quickly got into the story and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Curtis C. Chen — Waypoint Kangaroo

Waypoint Kangaroo is a delightful, high-tech, SF thriller with lots of humor thrown in. Kangaroo is the code name for a spy who has the unique ability to open a “pocket” into an alternate universe where he can store all sorts of tools and toys and retrieve them later. Since he’s somewhat of a loose cannon, he has been ordered to go on vacation on a tourist ship to Mars so that he’ll be out of the way while the home office is audited.

Of course, he runs into trouble on his vacation.

The characters are fun and the plot is fast-paced and full of twists and turns. The author has a vivid imagination when it comes to the space ship, the techy stuff, and the weird “pocket.”

Chen wrote a captivating first novel. Try it. You might like it.

John Sandford — Extreme Prey

This novel is the latest in the “Prey” series with Lucas Davenport as protagonist. It takes place in Iowa during a presidential campaign. Lucas is investigating a threat to one of the candidates (Bowden) for the Minnesota governor (Henderson) who is also a candidate, but not the one being threatened. Bowden is not concerned, thinking the governor may be using the threat to get her to leave the campaign trail in Iowa.

The book is listed as a mystery and thriller. Thriller fits, but there isn’t a lot of mystery. We know the bad guys—political extremists—from the beginning and that they are planning to eliminate Bowden, whom they believe is bad for the country. It feels more like police procedural than mystery to me, even though Davenport is no longer a cop and is working as a consultant. But there are plenty of twists and turns as Lucas and Iowa law enforcement try to figure out what we already know and as other connected characters move in and out of the story.

My other complaint (sort of) is that Lucas Davenport’s personality seems a bit flat. Maybe the author has worked with Lucas too long and expects the reader to know all about him.

All of that said, I did enjoy the book.

David Baldacci — The Last Mile

Baldacci is one of my favorite authors and this is my favorite of his novels other than his first—Absolute Power.  In my opinion the two best strengths of Baldacci’s writing are his unusual characters and his intricate plots.

The Last Mile is an Amos Decker novel. I haven’t read the author’s first Amos Decker novel, but intend to read it now. Decker is a very unusual character. He has a condition called Hyperthymesia, caused by an old football injury, which causes him to remember everything. Along with his perfect memory, he has almost autistic social skills. The perfect memory is not always a blessing. He remembers in detail the death of his family.

Amos is working as a contractor for the FBI on unsolved cases. In this case, convicted murderer Melvin Mars is granted his release from death row when another man confesses to the crime. But Decker and his team prove that it was a false confession, even though they believe Mars is innocent. There are many twists and turns in the plot that keep you guessing throughout the novel.

The book is a page turner.

Walter Mosley — Inside a Silver Box

I’ve read Walter Mosley novels before, usually mysteries. Knowing he writes science fiction too, I thought Inside a Silver Box was one of his SF works. But it is much, much more. I’ve posted about mixed genres; this is the ultimate mix. It probably can’t be classified. Try fantasy, SF, mystery, thriller, quest, literary, psychological, philosophical…. It also fits all of my three H’s—Head, Heart, and Humor.

Two people, black thug and rich white girl, are perpetrator and victim brought together when he saves her life. They become friends and together they set out to save the world from the Silver Box and its evil alter ego. If it sounds like a wild tale, it is. But Mosley is an excellent writer who makes you think.

The book is unique, strange, and for me captivating.