Monday, August 31, 2015

#36: The Hades Factor by Gayle Lynds and Robert Ludlum

Current scientist and former badass John Smith grows suspicious when his girlfriend dies suddenly of a mysterious ailment; and when he looks into it more closely, he (naturally) unearths a global conspiracy in The Hades Factor, the first in the Covert One series.

Robert Ludlum apparently sketched in this series of novels before his death, and the details were handed over to a handful of writers; this first one fell to Gayle Lynds, who has been a pretty solid thriller writer in her own right.

This is a fun but entirely undemanding read, one of those novels where the characters never stop at a Taco Bell to eat but have time to train a mountain lion as a pet.  Interestingly, it was written just before 9/11, in what seems to be a rosier time when a diabolical corporate businessman could be the villain in an international thriller.

The Covert One series has numbered quite a few adventures to date and has its appeal to the technothriller/medical thriller crowd, and would be recommended to those readers.

I listened to a solid audiobook version on loan from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#35: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

A private eye reluctantly goes looking for a missing pair of teenage pop stars in an alternate-future Johannesburg in Lauren Beukes' Zoo City.

Beukes' genre-bender is sort of a whacked-out Chinatown, with telepathy and arcane magic, what might happen if William Gibson wrote The Little Sister.  But it has a very hip, contemporary vibe (as I saw in Beukes' Broken Monsters, the first novel I read from her) and an admirable, believable bit of world-building.

I will be grateful that I spent a year reading only women authors if for no other reason than I discovered South African author Lauren Beukes.  I will continue to look for her work.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.  Recommended for fans of hard-boiled noir, near-future sci-fi, or some combination of both.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#34: Code 1013: Assassin by Leslie Trevor

A rising political star is assassinated at an airport, and then those around her begin dying one by one; thus it's up to policewoman Pepper Anderson to get to the bottom of it in Leslie Trevor's Code 1013: Assassin, a novel based on the Police Woman television show from the 1970s.

I saw this paperback for a shiny quarter at a flea market and was compelled to pick it up.  I spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out if gender neutral-sounding Leslie Trevor was a man or a woman, as I am only reading women authors this year, and was happy to learn Trevor is actually a pseudonym for a female author.  It turned out to be a rare find as only three of these were written.

No matter what the author's gender this book is still a product of a less politically correct time, where a "feminist" politician is made note of, as well as some other broadly portrayed characters.  Plenty of ironic nostalgia as well, depicting an era when a TV reporter could actually be politically powerful and cops didn't have to worry about pesky Miranda Rights.

Any reader who picks this up more or less knows what they are getting; definitely for fans.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#33: Girl at War by Sara Novic

A college student in New York begins to come to grips with her childhood in Croatia, eventually returning to confront a tragic moment in her past in Girl at War by Sara Novic.

The story runs in parallel lines; in the past, the young woman tries to understand the growing conflict in the context of her families' problems; and in the present, her older self finds she is struggling more and more to hide aspects of her childhood from her boyfriend and adopted family.

Novic grew up in Croatia during wartime and now lives in the United States, so I am sure she drew a lot on her own history for this striking, sometimes harrowing, debut novel.  It is an important story in that it reveals sides to this conflict that hasn't always been portrayed in American storytelling.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond Indiana and read it quickly.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#32: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

A British woman is shocked to find that a new novel, inexplicably, reveals what she thought was a deeply-held secret from her past in Renee Knight’s Disclaimer.

Despite what I think is a poor title, Knight’s novel is a pretty solid thriller (with dashes of domestic drama) that follows two protagonists; one, the woman whose personal life has been made fictional, and is being read by family and friends; and the second a troubled elderly man whose son died saving a child’s life.  How their lives intersect in the past and present, as they tell conflicting stories about the same events, creates interest.

Knight is deft at peeling back the onion to a rather shocking event that even an experienced thriller reader like myself did not see coming.  Nicely done overall.
I borrowed this from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond Indiana.