Books Read 2015 and 2016

2016 Books
December 2016

The Jungle by Clive Cussler
  I liked this book.  It was one I got at the Hammond library book sales they have had, where I could fill up a grocery bag of books for $5.  I'd not read any books by Cussler before, but when I told my friend I'd just finished it she laughed.  She has read a lot of his, and said she and a friend used to joke about how soon one of his characters, a man slut, in an older series would be in bed with any woman he encountered.   
  The novel's appeal increased for me because the private security company's ship is named "The Oregon".  The ship they work from, taking lucrative cases from private people, on the outside looks derelict, but hidden, in its lower decks, are spacious luxurious suites for employees and a five star kitchen!  Also the ship is decked out like a James Bond ship might be, with many spy tech gadgets and protections.   In this book, the group is hired to find the missing daughter of a wealthy man.  She has gone adventuring, or so he says, in the jungles of Myanmar.   But is that what is really going on?  And is the entire world at risk really?  Well, you'd have to read it to find out.

Four Stars.
Ballistic by Mark Greaney

As unrealistic as Mark Greaney's Gray Man character Court Gentry may be, in his capabilities, I just don't care much, when engrossed in a story like Ballistic, that you may read in one sitting.   In Ballistic, The Gray Man, or, Court Gentry, is a lone figure battling two big Mexican drug cartels as he tries to save the life of one young woman and her family.  How did he get himself mixed up in such a conflict?   He is in Mexico, on the run from manhunters with the CIA, his former employer, when he hears about a death.  The dead man's name is very familiar to court.  The man saved his life years before.   When visiting Eddie's grave, he encounters Eddie's pregnant wife, and soon realizes how deep in he is.  The Black Suits want Eddie's family, in particular his unborn child, dead.  Their leader is crazy.  Court takes on an impossible task--protecting them.   Who will survive?  Will the Gray Man find love at last and safety?
Four Stars for a nonstop action plot (thin on depth)

Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman
  Another Alex Delaware detective mystery.  Alex is not the detective involved.  He's a criminal psychologist and best friends with real detective Milo Sturgis.  Sturgis is gay and colorful, very human.  Both are.  The detail provided in the book, as the pair attempt to solve the crime, makes Kellerman's stories more enjoyable and textured.
  This particular drama begins with a double murder.   A couple of young people are found murdered in a fancy car at a vacant property on Mulholland Drive in Beverly Hills.  The young male is quickly identified as Gavin Quick.   Gavin has been under the care of a popular psychologist who is often on talk radio to discuss all kinds of psychological issues that she really knows nothing about.    So who was the target of the murder?  Gavin, or the young stripper he was with?   Does her history with a violent ex con have anything to do with her murder?   What about the ex-con's ex mistress, who also was murdered?  Is Gavin's father who he says he is?  And who's next on the kill list and will this all circle back to the opinionated very public radio psychologist and her practice?  

Not a bad read.   Not action oriented.  This is footwork and interviews and bad food and late nights.   I liked it!

Four Stars
November 2016
Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon
  This book grew on me.  At first I just wanted to not read at night when I started it.  But that quickly changed.   Susan Selky is a professor and lives a comfortable life with colorful upscale friends.  She's separated from Graham, her husband, who really can't keep his pants zipped and currently is living with a woman half his age, but sleeping around on her, too.  
  Susan and Graham have a six year old boy, Alex, bright and happy, and a dog, Taxi.  Until, one day, when Susan waves at Alex as he walks around the corner, on his way to school, two blocks away, and vanishes into thin air.
  Susan's ordered life is thrown into chaos.  Police descend on her home and neighborhood, and remain for weeks, with phone banks set up in case of ransom, and constant activity.  Susan can barely sleep, eat or breath.  She knows Alex must be alive out there somewhere, but memories of him begin to fade over time.  After three weeks, with no leads, the police leave, although the lead detective, Al Menetti, stays on it and visits almost daily, then weekly, and as the case grows older and colder, rarely.  Her friends become possible suspects and undergo lie detector tests, which alienates some, and thrills those who love the drama.   Finally, after months, a break in the case leads to the arrest of her house keeper, a gay man with an arrest in his past.  But is he guilty and will Alex be found alive in the end?  The ending is worth the entire book!    Good book, couldn't put it down in the end.

Four Stars
Hidden Order by Brad Thor

  This book follows two sets of characters unknowingly attempting to solve the same conspiracy.   Five candidates for director of the Federal Reserve have been kidnapped.  One by one they are found murdered in symbolic and gruesome fashion.  Even the murder locations have significance and are cryptically signed SOL (Sons of Liberty).  While a private security firm specializing in kidnap recovery is hired by the Fed to investigate, a former CIA black ops agent is finding herself suspicious of her boss and suddenly, a target for assassination when she digs too deep.  The writing is not great, but the read is as good as any crime drama you might watch on TV.

3 Stars
October 2016
Reversal by Michael Connelly
  Reversal features several familiar characters in Connelly crime drama books, including lawyer Mickey Haller and his half brother, my favorite Connelly character, Detective Harry Bosch. Making appearances also, FBI profiler, and frequent character, Rachal Walling.   In Reversal, Haller, a defense attorney, is called upon, by the prosecutor's office, to retry the case of a convicted child killer, whom profiler Rachal Walling believes has killed before.  Jason Jessup, imprisoned for 24 years already, for killing a young girl, has won a retrial.  Haller's 2nd chair, in prosecution, is none other than his ex wife, a seasoned prosecutor.  Bosch begins the leg work of dissecting the decades old case and even following the now free Jessup who is up to no good from the moment of his release.  Haller and his team skillfully tear about the defense.  Throw in a media happy defense attorney and this is a great read beginning to end.

Four Stars
Blood Work by Michael Connelly
  This crime drama series features former FBI profiler Terry McCaleb.  McCaleb is a civilian now, retired, for medical reasons and recuperating from a heart transplant.  He's living on his father's old boat, The Following Sea, trying to restore it to working order, when he gets a visitor.  He's had many since a story ran about him in a local paper.  People want help solving their loved ones' violent death or finding them.  He says "no" to everyone.  But Graciella's Rivers plea just may have him hooked from the start.  Her murdered sisters' heart now beats inside Terry McCaleb's chest.  Where will this investigation take him?  Will it link to his past and a killer he never caught?   As is always on display, in Connelly crime books, the testosterone play between departments and law enforcement individuals leads invariably to mistakes and ineptitude.

3 Stars
                  September 2016
The Poet by Michael Connelly
  Michael Connelly has several characters he features in his crime drama books.  Detective Harry Bosch is my favorite.  This is the second I've read with Jack McEvoy as a character.  The first was A Darkness More than Night and McEvoy was barely mentioned, but this book features McEvoy as the protagonist.  His twin brother has died, apparently of suicide.   Jack is grief stricken but also filled with guilt.  After all, his twin shared the blame when their sister fell through the ice and drowned at a remote lake one winter when they were kids. Now his brother has killed himself in the parking lot of the same lake.  Or has he?  Was he really murdered?   As Jack begins an investigation into his brothers' death as part of a news story to help him lay his demons to rest, he learns many police officers kill themselves, but a few of the homicide detective suicides are eerily similar in nature to his brother's death.  The similarities include strange last words written in notes by the detectives.  Jack finds out these are not their words, but those of poet Edgar Allen Poe.  Once the connections are made, Jack becomes involved in the investigation itself, with the FBI and local police departments.  The clues however are vastly misleading......

Who really is the poet?  The twist at the very end you won't see coming.

Three Stars  
August 2016
A Darkness More Than Night
by Michale Connelly
  Another detective book with the main focus on criminal profiler Terry McCaleb.  This also features Detective Harry Bosch who is in the midst of testimony for the trial of a movie producer who likely killed two women.  The trial hinges on Bosches testimony.  Could the gruesome murder of a man who got away with killing a prostitute be connected?   McCaleb, who is retired, thinks it is.  McCaleb is married with children and continuing his recovery from a heart transplant.  But an FBI agent he used to work with asks him to take a look.
  I didn't care for this book.  The flimsy evidence the FBI agent and McCaleb come up with to target Bosch is ridiculously shallow.  Bosch must then  enlist McCaleb's help to clear him, before a reporter's story, who was informed that Bosch is a suspect in another murder, hits the paper and blows the chance to put away a monster for good.

Two Stars
The Black Box by Michael Connelly
 Detective Harry Bosch is on a mission, to solve a 20 year old murder.  Seems like everybody else would like to shelve it.  The murder was one of many that happened during the rates following the Rodney King beating case that rocked L.A.   Anneke Jesperson is found murdered in an alley in east L.A.  She has journalist credentials and is from Denmark.  What was she doing in that alley during such a dangerous time.  Who killed her?  Blacks who were on the rampage at the time?   She has been subsequently referred to as Snow White and solving a white girls murder in East L.A. while other murders go unsolved might not be politically correct.  But Harry Bosch never forgets a victim, or their families and no matter where his investigation takes him, he will go after those who killed her.  And this investigation will lead him farther than he could know, into her past, when she visited troops on a party ship stationed in the Gulf.  What happened there would ultimately cost her life.  Now Harry is on the case and those responsible will be held accountable.

Four Stars
  Lost Light by Michael Connelly
  I enjoy the Harry Bosch detective stories Connelly writes.  I love Harry Bosch's character.  He is a detective who never deters from relentless pursuit of justice for forgotten victims.   Although he is continually hounded by weaker individuals in all agencies of law enforcement who impede his dogged efforts, he doesn't waver.  He knows what is right and what needs done.  I love the character.  In this book, Lost Light, Bosch is retired, but he can't forget unsolved cases, like that of a woman found murdered, her hands out, as if praying or pleading, shirt pulled up to feign the attack was that of a pervert.  But it wasn't.  And it was very connected to a movie set robbery.  The director had ordered a million in real cash from a bank, for use in his movie on the set for one day.   There was extra security there, along with bank employees overseeing the cash.   Harry Bosch was there, too, to interview employees who had known his murder victim.  She worked for the studio.  When the armored car carrying the cash opened up, a van appeared and four gunmen attacked and took the money.  They began firing, for no apparent reason, and Harry Bosch was one who returned fire and was sure he hit one of the four men.  The case was ripped from his hands, however, and was lost.  Neither the robbery, in which a bank employee was killed, nor the murder were ever solved.  Now Harry is going to solve it and it will take him down roads he couldn't imagine, including into the murder of and severe wounding of two detectives who handled the murder case after it was taken from him.

Four Stars
July 2016
The 6th Extinction by James Rollins
  Jenna Beck is a ranger.  As the story begins, she is explaining extremophiles and how they survive in Mono Lake, near Yosemite, to a group of tourists.  She wants to go home for the night, with Nikko, her beloved rescue trained husky but instead she's asked to check out a remote secretive research station.  A 911 call has just come in from the station and no deputies are on duty anywhere near.  So off she goes.  And thus begins an amazing saga that blends mad scientists intent on reinventing the world, via genetic engineering, with a long lost world, first found by Charles Darwin, then the Germans during world war two, that is both bizarre and incredibly deadly, in its creatures, but also dangerous, if unloosed on the earth's ecosystems.  Delta Force team members are activated to contain the threat loosed on California when the research station is compromised.  Their search for answers leads them not only to Antarctica, but also to the rain forests of Brazil, where a scientist, thought long dead, lives, among a native tribe and ecosystems he has created through genetic engineering.   Jenna the unassuming but terribly brave ranger and her dog Nikko soon become key players in saving the world.  Ha!

Great tale, I thought.
Four Stars

Pop Goes the Weasel by James Patterson
  While reading this book, I decided James Patterson books are not on my reading list any longer.  I've read a few and I don't like them.  There is no detail.  They are written badly, simplistically.   Not even going to bother with describing the plot, just going to drop this book in the recycle bin and avoid this author.

1 Star
June 2016
Survival of the Fittest by Jonathan Kellerman
   This Kellerman series features a pair of friends, who work together, to solve crimes.   Milo Sturgis is a gay homicide detective, the best of the best, but not a departmental favorite, because he's gay and because he's good and sometimes doesn't play by the rules.  Alex Delaware is a psychologist who has a private practice, but he also helps out his buddy Milo, in solving crimes, using his knowledge of human behavior and acute attention to detail.
  The daughter of an Israeli diplomat has been found "gently strangled" in the woods, carefully posed.  Irit, the girl, was disabled.  Is that why she was killed, or is there a connection to her father's job?  Meanwhile, a very bright young police officer, walks into a seedy restaurant, orders pie, then pulls his service revolver, puts it in his mouth, and blows his brains out.   While Alex attempts to unravel Nolan's suicide, for a distraught sister, Milo is soon seeing more disabled people killed.  Same killer?  Are they connected to Nolan's suicide and does a snobby group of brainiacs have something to do with all this?

Pretty darn decent tale, I'd say, a little slow at times, but I liked it.

Three Stars.

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
  I read this book over about ten days.  Wasn't a face paced book, but methodical, like Connelly's Detective Bosch series, but this is an attorney and methodical attorney business is not as entertaining.  Mickey Haller is the Lincoln Lawyer.  His office is his Lincoln.  He hires a driver and works from the back of the Lincoln.  He has a fleet of three Lincolns.  He's back at work, after a year off.  He was shot, then got addicted to pain meds and now he's back.   A lawyer friend was murdered, leaving his practice and lots of clients, including a very famous wealthy movie studio owner, charged with a double murder, to Haller.  But who is the gray haired pain in the butt detective working the murder case and now wanting his murdered friends' files?  None other than Detective Bosch, although Bosch plays a minor role in the tale.  In the end, they discover why the lawyer and the detective are drawn to one another.  Are they really related?

Two Stars out of Five

Deliver us From Evil by David Baldacci
 Deliver Us from Evil features his "Shaw" character and the mysterious secret organization that sends him on assignments, often to snatch bad people who need to meet justice one way or another.  But another vigilante group has beat them to the draw this time around, in their plot to deliver justice to a butcher (of humans), from the old Russian regime.   The two secret groups collide, then collaborate as their plot turns on them and they find themselves in grave danger from the butcher himself.  

Three Stars for mildly entertaining
May 2016
Alert by James Patterson
  Alert is a Patterson crime drama featuring the bizarre character of Mike Bennett.  Why do I find the Mike Bennett character so darn annoying?   Mike Bennett lives with his nanny and he's in love with her, his father Seamus, an Irish priest, and about ten kids.  In utopian "soma" bliss.  Like that exists.  Like he could afford all those kids and a nanny on a detective wage.  Patterson's plots are often way out there and his characters just as fictional.  I won't mention the plots which seem to be turned out while sitting on the can perhaps.  You have to lay a lot aside to get any enjoyment from these books, in my opinion.  Like your brain, lol.  Not a Patterson fan, but someone I know reads them and passes them on to me and I dutifully read them.   The plot of this one has Mike Bennett returning from Ireland (again, on a detective's salary?), just as a series of dreadfall attacks hit New York.  He must help work out who in the world is executing these strange massive attacks and why before New York is destroyed.  He even consults the unibomber in this one, adding to the "ick" factor of the book.

Two Stars (for me because I finished it without puking)

Black Echo by Michael Connelly
  Black Echo is a crime drama featuring the Harry Bosch detective character.  I like these books for the explicit detail, the complicated plots, and the gritty language full of old style street and detective slang.  
  Harry Bosch certainly is an old style detective and a hard working one at that.  He gets in hot water all the time for standing up in colorful fashion to departmental assholes who are lazy or overly political or focused on their own promotions rather than on solving crimes.
  This story begins with a dead body, what else.  And everyone is anxious to write it off as a "hype" (drug overdose).  But not Harry.  He picks up on details no one else sees, and gets a rushed autopsy, much to the chagrin of those who just want to write the victim off and call it a day.  But not only that, Harry ID's the stiff, knew him way back in Nam where both he and the victim were tunnel rats. Bosch does not believe in coincidence.
  "Out of the blue, into the black" Meadows, now dead, used to say, before he popped into a jungle tunnel.  They called it the Black Echo, how they felt down in the tunnels in Nam, in the complete dark, scared and hunting Viet Cong.  Hence the book title.  
  The plot twists and turns, Harry is in and out of trouble, not sure who is after is badge or his life at any point.  But he sticks with it, along with a female FBI agent whose brother died in Viet Nam.  Or did he?  And did a visit to the Viet Nam memorial wall change everything for this FBI agent and lead her down a different path?  Well, read the book to find out.  

Four Stars
April 2016
Hours Game by David Baldacci
  This book was a little slow for me.  Another King/Maxwell character crime drama, that involves a serial killer and a very wealthy dysfunctional family.  But who is the killer and how do they stop this string of horrid killings?  Many of the victims are left with watches on their raised wrists.  Each killing seems to mimic the technique of other famous killers.  But why and are the victims connected?  Meanwhile Michelle Maxwell begins to enjoy the company of one Eddie Battle, who is married, and part of the wealthy family the duo are investigating.  While Sean King, her partner, has hooked up again with a former flame, now the ME for the county where the killings are happening.  Will either of their new interests become suspects?  You'll have to read the book to find out.   Good book, but slower than many of Baldacci's fast reads.  Quite entertaining, however.  Better than a TV crime show, which is good, because these days I rarely have any channels come in on my TV.

Three Stars
King and Maxwell, by David Baldacci
  Another mile a minute King/Maxwell crime drama, in grand scale, as usual for these two characters.  Baldacci has several series, each book a complete plot, but each series features different characters.  I have enjoyed the King/Maxwell characters.   Both are flawed and both ex Secret Service, drummed out after perceived failures to protect their respective charges.  All Baldacci's books include lots of drama between law enforcement agencies.  This book begins with a bang, as King and Maxwell drive and contemplate a relaxing vacation.  Until that is, they spot a kid, running, in the pouring rain, with what looks like a gun.  They chase him down, and over time, become involved in his predicament.  His father is in the service and was allegedly killed in action.  But the boy doesn't believe what he's told, primarily because he receives a text from his allegedly dead father after he's supposed to have been killed.   The extended investigation that follows becomes quite intense, as is always the case in Baldacci books, and rises to the top levels of government.  But justice prevails in the end.  Quite entertaining and a fast read.

Three Stars

March 2016

Saving Faith by David Baldacci

  Saving Faith is an action packed thriller start to finish.  With a love story sideline. The book starts out with a secret meeting held in an underground chamber.  I realized this was going to be a book about rogue CIA agents, power plays between law enforcement groups with some everyday citizens thrown into danger.  Power plays and dysfunctional jealousy between law enforcement agencies and even military branches is a common Baldacci theme.  This time, it's a CIA director aching for the days when the CIA could do anything it wanted to do, without disclosure.  Faith has information about some dirty politicians.  She should know, she helped her boss, Danny Buchanan, bribe them.  Now, both the FBI and CIA are wanting to find out where Faith is hiding out, but for very different reasons.  And where is Faith?   With the book's hero, that's where, who just happened to stumble into Faith and her FBI handler at a remote cabin, as an assasin took aim from the forest.  Faith survived and so did Lee, in the cabin for different reasons, and off they go on the run, trying to stay alive and to find out who is trying to kill them and why.  

Four Stars
Finished March 2016
A Painted House by John Grisham
   This was a book I thought would get better, if I kept reading it, but it never did.  It slogged and dragged and I couldn't wait to get done and be done with it.  Maybe if I had some connection to the south or baseball or was a male I would have been able to like it better.   It's about a family in the south that owns a cotton farm, and is set during the cotton picking season when the main character, Luke, is seven years old.  Its told first person by Luke.   It bored me to tears.  I skimmed the last chapters so I could knock it off as read.  

One Star

Finished March 2016

February 2016

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly
  Another detective novel featuring seasoned detective Harry Bosch, who this times finds himself investigating the murder of a Chinese shop keeper.  The investigation suggests a Chinese triad (gang) is involved.  They were exacting protection payments from the shop keeper.   And in the midst of the investigation, Harry gets a disturbing video from his daughter who lives in Hong Kong, with an ex.  She has been kidnapped there.  Harry thinks his investigation into the shopkeepers' murder is the cause and now his work has drug his family into danger.  Harry hops a 13 hour flight to Hong Kong, determined to find his daughter, with the aid of his ex and her new boyfriend.  Will he find her in time?  Will he solve the shop keepers' murder?   Ha.  Read and find out.  I like the Bosch character.

Four Stars
Finished Feb. 2016

First Family by David Baldacci
  I read what a friend gives me, so what she likes, that's what I end up with.  Books are not cheap.   This is another Sean King/Michelle Maxwell character book.  Both are ex Secret Service agents and this time they've been hired by the First Lady, to find her niece.  12 yr old Willa has been abducted.  But why?   The investigation twists and turns back to the President himself.  Talk about a twisted man.  And plot.

Four Stars
Finished Feb. 2016
January 2016 

Hope to Die by James Patterson
  This series features detective Alex Cross, and in the opening, he is in shock over a photo he received, of his family members, killed in dramatic fashion.  And then comes a call, about a body found, and it seems it is the badly tortured body of his beloved wife.  But is it?   Despite his grief, Dr. Cross pursues lead after lead into who might have done this and why.  As he does so, he enlists the help of a former street girl, who is computer savvy, an aging detective, now dying in a nursing home, a blind psychic with her eternally irritated son, and college friends of his own son, who has also vanished.  All is solved in the end.  Unlikely plot makes this one a little harder to swallow without some dead braining it.  Book was fast to read and likable, like the characters, at least.

Two Stars
Finished January 2016

Burn by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

  This detective drama follows Mike Bennett and his extremely large family (10 adopted kids), as they return to New York.  They've all been holed up in L.A. under protection while Bennett testifies against a cartel boss.  Back in L.A., Bennett is underfire from an old nemesis in the department who would love to see him fail and transferred to head an Outreach Squad in Harlem.  Multiple crimes he tries to solve while dealing with family issues, eventually converge into one and justice of course prevails.  Fast paced, like a good TV show, fast read too.

Three Stars
Finished January 2016

Simple Genius by David Baldacci
 This book again features the pairing of ex Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell.  This time Michelle is battling demons from her past while Sean, to pay the bills, takes on a case from an old lover who would like to be a current lover. She's now employed by a high rolling detective agency with deep pockets and reluctantly, broke Sean King must ask her for work.  He's sent to solve a murder or was it suicide at a private town composed of geniuses working on all sorts of odd and secretive projects right across the York River from Camp Peary, where the CIA trains and somethings going on there that's not quite right.  This plot is quite difficult to believe or even follow.  Many twists.  Not well written and a bit much.

Two Stars
Finished January 2016  

Split Second by David Baldacci
  This crime drama series features two more characters that pair together to solve outrageous crimes in other books in the series.  Sean King is an ex Secret Service officer who lost his job when the candidate he guarded was shot and killed.  Now Michelle Maxwell, another agent, who was guarding a Presidential candidate, has suffered a similar fate, only her candidate was kidnapped on her watch.  She is sidelined from the official investigation while Sean King, now a lawyer, faces new difficulties, when his new hire, under Witness Protection, is killed.   The two drift together.  Sean's house is blown up.  Improbable plot twists and character abound.  Entertaining but not that well written.

Two Stars
Finished January 2016

Mortal Prey by John Sandford
  A fast paced crime drama, this is one of the Prey series by Sandford.  Mortal Prey features about to be married detective Lucas Davenport, who once nearly died at the hands of a natural born killer--Clara Rinker.  Clara is back and being her lethal self, after she is targeted in Mexico by an unknown assailant.   Her fiancee is killed in the attack, and so is Clara's not yet born baby.  Clara is not happy and heads back to America to seek out some revenge.  Lucas must stop her.  I liked the gritty detail of the book, makes it real and the reader gets to know the characters, how they talk, how they joke, even what they eat.   

Four Stars
Finished January 2016

2015 Books Read

Stone Cold by David Baldacci
   You might wonder why I read Baldacci books.  Well, the books I get are often given to me by another local reader, after she gets them at thrift stores and finishes.  Stone Cold features another series of Baldacci characters called the Camel Club, a group of older men who help each other out and solve "situations" together.  They are good at what they do.  Most of them were in the military earlier in their lives.  Such is the case with Oliver Stone, the central character in Stone Cold, who, like John Puller in Baldacci's other series, is a one man army with wide ranging skills.  

This book follows two plot lines.  Someone is killing off Triple Sixes, highly skilled men who work as strike teams within the CIA.  Before the men die, they are given a photo, so they know why they are being killed.  Oliver Stone is on the hit list, as is a man he loathes, who once was in line to head up National Security.  But is he or any of the triple sixes killed an innocent victim?  Oliver Stone knows the answer and in a twist of plot teams up with the man trying to kill him, in an act of long awaited justice.  

In the second plot, a woman con artist is in trouble after conning a violent and powerful casino operator out of millions.  She too did so to get back at him for killing her mother.  But now he's after her and she's with Oliver Stone's Camel Club, whom she helped, for protection.  How will it all play out?  Read the book if you want to know.  I had trouble with the plots in this book.  At one point, near the end, there is a jump of plot where I was left wondering if I missed a chapter.  Maybe I did, but if I didn't, this book is seriously flawed towards the end.

Two Stars
Finished December 2015

Zero Day by David Baldacci
  I'm now adding books as I read them, although I have been failing again to add them here, at the top, so most recently read will be at the top.  Zero Day is the first in a 3 book series that chronicles the exploits of military investigator John Puller.  The action is nonstop and as is the usual in the John Puller series, Puller teams up with a woman, this one a local cop, to solve a series of murders, one involving a military man and his entire family.  Set in a poverty stricken coal county in West Virginia, the bodies begin to pile up and soon the investigation turns to Washington and Puller's superiors, the very ones who have put him on the job.   Fast moving plot, typical of Baldacci, improbable scenarios, and Puller portrayed as a one man machine, capable of anything.  Better than TV drama at least.

Three Stars (out of five)
Finished November 2015

Divine Justice by David Baldacci
  This is a Camel Club character book.  I don't remember a lot of the details but had found another copy and thought I had not read it, until the first pages when I realized I had read it.  So I figured I should list it, in case I make the mistake again.  I do recall it was fast paced, like most Baldacci books, and satisfying, as entertainment.

3 Stars

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  Narrative by main character of how he, a low caste Indian servant driver, rose to riches, through hard work, diligence, deception and murder.  Paints a vivid unforgettable picture of India's two sides.  He comes from the Darkness, India's rural class run poverty stricken filthy villages, but gets a job as a driver for a rich landlords' son who lives in The Light (riches, food and everything one needs) and eventually moves with him to Delhi where he plots his path to success, which includes murdering his boss and stealing a bag full of cash meant to be a bribe for newly elected socialists.

Four Stars (out of Five)
Finished 11.15.14

Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline
  A young widowed lawyer and her friend delve into researching a fellow Italian, last name Brandolini, interned during WWII, in Montana as an enemy of the state, as some Italians were, along with Germans and Japanese.  He had died while interned and the case was about what had happened to his assets after he died.  Well the investigation begets break ins and murders, and the leads take Mare, the lawyer hero, far, where she discovers a tougher side to herself which she needs as she confronts the heirs of Brandolini's friend, whom, she discovers, murdered him in the camp.  But why?  This is the question.  The plot is fast and furious once you yawn through the first chapters.  The dialogue is a crack up, especially when between Mare and her aging pushy Italian parents.  The ending is very very satisfactory.  Loved it.

Four Stars
Finished 1.10.2015

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

  This book is quite popular and was given to me by a friend, who loved it.  I was skeptical but finally picked it up and read it in one day.  It's easy reading but have your kleenex nearby as the author pushes every button you can imagine to force tears out of a reader.  Also, you need to buy into reincarnation early on, so that you can be happy with the happy ending death of the dog.  There you go.   I felt dirty after reading it, because the book required so much of me, and gave me only a good cry and few tidbits of catchy wisdom.   The plot is simple.   A man's life story is told by his dog.  The man loves to race cars, especially in the rain.  Every now and then a short chapter of the book, maybe two pages, is dedicated to some axiom of car racing.   The dog also loves to race cars and plans to enjoy it once he is reincarnated as a man after he dies.  Ok.    It's well written, and evokes emotion. Man gets married.  They have a kid.  Wife gets cancer.  Her parents are evil (so are his but they repent just in time and bring him lawyer money--more kleenex needed).  Wife dies.  Wife's parents make up child molestation charges against him, take his kid. He fights them, for two years.  Dog gets hit by car.  Expensive vet bill (more kleenex needed).  And so on.  

I'm glad it's over.   Nice read for an otherwise boring day, however.   If you need to cry for hours, or want to, read it.  If you'd rather not, don't.

Two Stars
Finished 1.10.2015

The Innocent by David Baldacci

  The story starts out at 100 mph and never slows down.  Will Robie is a a government assassin.  He kills people and he's very good at what he does.  At 40, he's getting up in years for his job and wonders about the future.  Between jobs he goes to one of his several residences.  He falls for an attractive White House worker who lives in his apartment building and keeps tabs on her from another place he keeps right across from that apartment that includes a scope.  But kill job, right in D.C., does not seem right.  It's a woman and she has kids with her.  Robie hesitates and doesn't kill her.  She's taken out anyway, with a shot through the window that also kills her young son.  Robie is now on the run.  But first her drops off the second child at another apartment in the building.  Always the good guy.  He teams up with a foster care kid who's booked it from her slouchy icky drug addicted foster parents.  She goes to see her parents, but her father is killed while she is upstairs and her mother screams at her to run, turning to her killer to say "She doesn't know anything."   

The rest of the book involves how this unlikely pair, the experienced hardened loner assassin, and the street savvy smart foster girl, solve the puzzle of who is after them and why people all around them are getting killed.  The body count is high.   The characters predictable.  This is an easy read book.  You get everything you want from it. It's like eating ice cream while waving flags and petting a puppy.

Three Stars
Finished 1.24.15

The Client by John Grisham

I keep forgetting to list books I've read here.  The Client is the story of two boys, one 11, one 8, poor, live with their hard working smoking divorced mother in a trailer park in Memphis, alcoholic super abusive father absent.  Mark, the older boy, convinces his younger brother, to follow him into the woods to try smoking.  Mark slips cigarettes out of his mom's purse routinely.  While they sit on a log, and Ricky takes his first drags, a car pulls up.  As they watch, a drunken slob of a man, gets out and places a hose over the tailpipe and runs it back inside the running car.  Ricky is scared, but Mark takes action, and sneaks up and pulls the hose off the pipe.  The second time he does this, the guy catches him and shoves him inside the car, where a gun goes off and the guy confesses to Mark where a very important mans' body is buried.  The body was buried in the lawyers garage by his own murderous mob client, whom is now defending for the murder of a US Senator.  The FBI has indicted his client for murder but the case, without a body found, is shaky.  The lawyer is pure sleaze and running scared of his own client and has decided to end it all. 

Mark escapes the car.  But he and Ricky watch as Romey, the mob lawyer, blows his brains out.  They run. Ricky goes into shock the moment they get home, curled into a ball, moaning, and sucking his thumb.  Mark makes an anonymous call to the cops regarding the dead lawyer.   However, he is caught when he sneaks up to watch the cops around the lawyers body and car.  Ricky is rushed to the hospital, in a psychiatric shock induced coma.  The mob burns their trailer to the ground.  And Mark is questioned by the FBI and the police and gets himself a lawyer of his own, for all of $1, a lawyer with a past and issues of her own who fiercely defends children.

The cat and mouse game begins, with the FBI trying various ways to make Mark talk, since they figure Romey told him where the body of the murdered Senator is buried.  Mark is too scared of the mob to talk.  Reggie defends him.  They try to figure out what to do and in the end, Reggie, the lawyer, and Mark, go on a little body search of their own.   All works out in the end of the book as usually happens.  The egotistical narcissistic FBI agent gets what he deserves too, much to the delight of his underlings.

Although the plot is somewhat interesting and different, the story plods and bored me to death most of the time.  Substance is lacking and the child's abilities and emotional fortitude are not believable.

Two Stars
Finished 2.24.2015

The Last Patriot by Brad Thor

  Fast paced interesting plot lines.  Tons of violence.  Macho man stuff, but the intricate intrigue surrounding a possible last enlightenment Muhammad meant for the Koran, talking of peace, instead of a call to violence against non Muslims, gives the book excitement and interest beyond the usual murder mayhem ultra  man kill kill kill plots of these types of thrillers.  It's a good mindless escapist book, like most TV!

Two Stars
Finished 6.10.15

I keep forgetting to add books I've read.  But I'll add the last two, at least.

The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly

  Hard core old style detective Harry Bosch is in it deep, with deep set anger issues stemming from a past he's never fully faced.  He's been suspended from the police force for punching his boss, and forced to seek therapy for anger management.  This he resents and at first he fights the therapist, as he sets about solving, on his own, slyly because he's got no current police creds, a very cold case.  The case is his own mother's murder.  As he skillfully delves into the past, bodies accrue and he finds scoundrels everywhere, some very powerful and some whom he first suspects, but finds they are not the monsters he first thought they were. In the end, he solves the murder and finds love with another tormented soul.  I liked the book because the main characters are flawed and unlike David Baldacci and Brad Thor novels, did not feature some superman as lead, who never misses, takes out 20 or 30 people in each book, is in perfect shape, and has no apparent human flaw.

Three Stars
Finished in August 2015

Nathan's Run by John Gilstrap

  A young boy escapes from Juvee, leaving behind a dead guard and questions about how a skinny kid could kill like that.   An anti crime conservative radio talk show host who has risen to high popularity, and has just gotten national syndication for her show, immediately takes up the topic of the murdered guard, with callers calling for the kids' swift execution, goaded on by a prosecutor with political ambitions.  But the local cop working the case, who lost his own son to an accident, isn't so sure the kid is guilty.   Then the kid, holed up in a vacant house, does something surprising. He calls the radio talk show host on air, to say he did kill the guard, but in self defense.  He gets to her.  She believes him.  Soon many people do, until two more cops turn up dead in another city, after Nathan is taken into custody.  He's running again.  But someone besides the police is chasing him, with intent to kill.

This is a poignant fast paced book that sometimes was so condescendingly sweet, made me want to vomit.  Overplayed, I thought. And as if the ending would not be dramatic or noticed or notable, like things aren't in our society, it had to play out on national TV, with the whole nation watching.   If a kid cries, but its not on national TV, does a kid really cry?  (in other words)  Nice quick read, however.

Three Stars
Finished in August 2015

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

  A young woman on the run from a violent and traumatic event in her past, that caused her a breakdown, lands in a small Wyoming resort town and quickly finds a job.  Although her mental issues, and impulsive desire to keep running, plague her, she soldiers through the ups and downs of life in a fishbowl, which is what life in a small town is like.  Her new job as a cook suits her.  In fact, she's overqualified.  However, a hike and what she witnesses from afar on that hike, changes everything.  Strange things begin to happen in her apartment, things the townspeople attribute to her being a "mental case" and even she begins to doubt her own sanity.  But her newly found love, with whom she shares an off and on again romance, believes she is completely sane and that someone is messing with her mind and that someone maybe a murderer.  
  Very slow read, more of a love story plus a story of healing, with a murder mystery on the side.

Two Stars
Finished August 2015

The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard

  This book seems never ending.   You just want it to end, after the first few chapters.   The content is gut wrenching, to be sure.  It's about a self centered woman and her husband, who has three kids and heads out to a high school Reunion, minus hubby but with her kids.  She becomes distracted, as is often the case with her, and her second child, Ben, just 3, vanishes into thin air.  Her oldest son, Vincent, then 7, was the last family member with him.  She is not one of those mothers who finds comfort in media exposure about her child or in searching.  She goes for the bottle almost immediately, while the search is just starting.  I wanted to slap her silly.  

  The book then drags on, about the search, about Beth's struggles to keep it together, which mostly she doesn't, as her husband bears on in his way and her other two kids must parent themselves.  She becomes friends over the years with the lead detective on the case, a gay woman, and finally gets back to work and a small degree of normal.  She is on and off again about leaving her husband.  

 Vincent grows up a delinquent and miracle of miracles, they find Ben, who has been living just a couple houses from them.  He was kidnapped by a mentally ill woman, who has since been committed, so he is in the care of his loving father, the husband of the mental case, who married her after she kidnapped the child.  Then there is more drama with him trying to assimilate with strangers who claim to be family when he has a father who loves him.  

  I was really happy when I finished the book.  Although the content is well written, for the most part, in some places, the reasons for Beth doing something are not there, although the reader is supposed to understand.  Seems the author may have lost track of plot lines too.

2 Stars
Finished September 2015

The Escape by David Baldacci

 Fast paced book, quick read.  Entertaining too.  This is the 3rd John Puller character book but I think I've just read two.  This one and The Forgotten.  I'd give both good creds for being fast paced and not wasting even a paragraph on anything but plot.   John Puller is again at his finest--as an investigator.  This time he is investigating his own brother's escape from an impossible to escape from military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.  John teams up with a woman from a spy agency he's not sure he can trust to untangle the webs of deceit surrounding both the escape and his brother's conviction.

Three Stars for both books
Finished in Oct. 2015

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