Category Archives: action/adventure

James Rollins — Crucible

I enjoyed the read, but there was far too much action and technology packed into two or three days in the story. I found myself speed reading through or even skipping sections of the book describing weapons, battles, and physics lessons, also some of the repetitive descriptions.

I like the concept of a super-intelligent AI trained in two different ways—one to be helpful and the other to be destructive. The science behind bringing Kat back from a coma was interesting. Rollins notes on the read history and technology at the beginning and end of the book were thought-provoking.

Some of the characters seemed thin to me, probably because I haven’t read any previous books in the series. But the story works as a stand-alone.

Nick Petrie — Tear it Down

Peter Ash goes to Memphis to help Wanda Wyatt, who has been receiving strange threats since purchasing an old house and moving in. When he arrives, he finds someone has driven a dump truck into the front of Wanda’s house. While trying to track down who might have done it, A young thief, a homeless street musician, steals Peter’s pickup truck. Peter decides to help the young musician, too.

I like Peter, even though he often makes stupid and risky decisions. (He always gets out of the dangerous situations where these decisions lead him.) All of the characters in the story are interesting, even the bad guys. Plenty of bad guys populate the book—the young boys, who rob a jewelry store; a farmer and his psycho brother, who are trying to drive Wanda out of her house; the gang boss of the Memphis drug world and his close associates, who are chasing the boy that stole Peter’s truck; and more. Even Peter and his friend Lewis are not always on the right side of the law.

Suspend your disbelief, and you will enjoy the story.

Brad Taylor — Daughter of War

The Taskforce characters don’t jell for me. Their dialog is scattered and often makes no sense. You need to know their relationships with each other and outsiders to follow the conversation. For a supposedly highly-skilled group, they make a lot of mistakes and appear lucky to accomplish their tasks.

The best part of this thriller and the best character is a thirteen-year-old girl, Amena—a Syrian refugee and pickpocket in Monaco. She lifts an iPhone, which turns out to hold instructions for obtaining a deadly weapon. Her adventures make the book readable.

Preston & Child — Verses for the Dead

The duo of authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is fascinating to me. They write seamlessly together. As an author, I am curious about how the collaboration works. I’ve tried writing with others, and it worked only one time. When it gelled, it was fruitful and fun, but you could tell we were two authors. With Preston and Child, it feels like one.

Also intriguing—Agent Pendergast is still an interesting protagonist after eighteen books. I find it difficult to continue with the same characters into a second novel. I prefer starting with a new story and new characters.

Needless to say, excellent read.

Gregg Hurwitz — Out of the Dark: (Orphan X #4)

This novel would rate five stars except there’s far too much violence.

Evan Smoak is Orphan X. The Orphan program was a deep, dark, black-ops program where children were recruited and trained as assassins. Evan was taken from a group home at age twelve and lived with his trainer/mentor until he was nineteen and went out into the field on his first assignment. The Orphans were never told why their targets were chosen, only that they were enemies of the United States. Later Even left the program and became “The Nowhere Man” who worked for people in desperate need of help.

The U.S. president, who used to run the Orphan program, is now eliminating all the Orphans. When Evan’s mentor is murdered, he decides to go after President Bennett. But Evan is also Bennett’s number one target. Evan’s first assignment as an Orphan is one the president particularly wants to hide.

At the same time, Evan is working a case as The Nowhere Man, helping a young man with autism whose family has been wiped out by a drug cartel.

Evan is violent and indestructible. He has access to all the right people to get the job done. If you can get beyond the unbelievable traits, he’s interesting and likable.

Kim Stanley Robinson — Red Moon

Excellent book!
Red Moon is combination of speculative fiction, near-future, environmental, political, hard and soft science fiction, moon colonization, and a little space opera thrown in. Even though it’s called Red Moon, much of the story takes place in China. All the main characters but one are Chinese.

The amount of knowledge and research required for this book is mind-boggling—China’s history, geography, present day culture, technology, and politics; moon geology; quantum mechanics; artificial intelligence; space travel; cryptocurrency; global economics; moon exploration; and more.

Robinson paints images of the moon and China in such detail that you feel you are there, from earthrise on the moon to crowds of millions of protestors in Beijing. He also depicts various contrasting possibilities for communities on the moon.

He extends the unrest in today’s world into a political and economic crisis in China and the United States (and the world) of the near future, with a hopeful outcome.

The characters are varied, interesting, and believable. Fred Frederickson, an American delivering a quantum phone to the moon, is accused of murdering his client. Chan Qi, the daughter of China’s Minister of Finance and a leader in the opposition to the current government, is hiding on the moon and is pregnant. Poet and celebrity travel reporter Ta Shu helps Fred and Qi evade their pursuers. There is even an AI who matures throughout the book. Even the less major characters are interesting.

The story kept me involved from beginning to end.

Sara Paretsky — Shell Game

I enjoyed this book, but I’m not quite sure why.

The characters were not very likeable, even the protagonist, V.I. (Vic) Warshawski, PI and lawyer. If I had read the numerous previous novels about her, maybe I would have connected more with her. She grew on me as the story progressed, but she was scattered, running around acting without thinking, almost always angry at the world and at most people. Many of her questions could have been answered by her “friends” in law enforcement instead of illegally breaking into homes or business offices.

The plot was helter-skelter. Vic had two clients—a friend’s nephew who was a person of interest in a murder because his name and phone number were found on the victim and Vic’s ex-husband’s niece who was looking for her missing sister. Even though the cases appeared to have nothing to do with each other, they became offshoots of the same crime.

Spoiler alert. I’m disappointedwith the ending. Vic’s ex, whom she despised, was one of the bad guys, but she didn’t turn him in.

Preston & Child — The Pharaoh Key

Gideon Crew and Manuel Garza have been dumped by their boss as he shuts down his company without notice. On their way out the door, they discover a computer has solved the translation to an ancient disk. But the translation is in code. When they finally break the code, it turns out to be a map to a remote corner of the Egyptian desert. With only a few months to live, Gideon has nothing to lose, and Garza is hoping to find lost treasure as payment for the years he has given his employer. A lack of guides who are willing to travel to the prohibited region forces them to join a camel caravan with archeologist/geologist/Egyptologist Imogen Blackburn.

Their journey is full of pitfalls and perils, from escaping a sinking ferry in the Red Sea, to being abandoned in the desert without supplies or camels, to the threat of beheading by a tribe of natives…

Reading this made me feel like I was living through an Indiana Jones movie. A true action/adventure book.

Dean Koontz — The Crooked Staircase

Even though her cause is just and those she hunts are not, Jane Hawk is becoming as vicious and brutal as the enemy. Koontz keeps the tension and suspense high, with Jane, her son, and her friends in more and more danger. But…

This third book in the series doesn’t really advance the plot, and we need to plow through at least two more very long books to get the climax. Also, Koontz spends a lot of chapters in this one on twins who are victims of the evil, elitist cabal out to control the masses. But there is no connection to Jane and her quest to stop the cabal. I may skip the fourth book and wait for the fifth, which I hope is the last.

David Baldacci — The Fallen

I like Amos Decker, the protagonist. He’s the Memory Man, afflicted or blessed with a photographic memory. It started when he suffered an extreme injury playing pro football. He has synesthesia, sees colors for numbers and sometimes events. The injury also changed his personality and he has problems with social interactions. But he tries hard to overcome his social awkwardness. Most of all, I like his big heart.

Decker and his FBI partner Alex Jamison are supposed to be on vacation, visiting her sister’s family. But from the backyard Decker spots a flickering light in the neighbor’s house on the next street and goes to investigate. He finds two dead bodies and a fire about to start from an exposed wire. So much for vacation.

The plot is complex. The characters are interesting. The setting makes you feel like you know this failing town. Fast-paced, filled with drugs, murder, insurance scams, family feuds, and more, this book is hard to put down.

Baldacci at his best.