Sunday, March 28, 2021

#18: The Vultures of Sierra Madre by Louis Masterson

U.S. Marshall Morgan Kane reluctantly teams up with a formerly imprisoned Apache scout to hunt a bloodthirsty band of white and Mexican scalphunters in The Vultures of Sierra Madre, part of the long-running western series by Louis Masterson.

Masterson was actually Norwegian Kjell Hallbing, who wrote close to 100 books featuring Kane over an extended period of time, with a number translated into English.  I find them difficult to come across in the wild, and if I see one online for less than ten dollars I will grab it up.

This was a sturdy western and seems to offer more continuity between novels than what is the norm in the usual action-driven western series.  Kane talks about the death of a former love, and we see the return of an old enemy and an old friend from previous installments.

I think Masterson's westerns are a cut above and are recommended for genre fans.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

#17: The Historians by Cecilia Ekbäck

In World War II-era Sweden, a young woman finds her old college friend's death is tied to an ugly national conspiracy in Cecilia Ekback's The Historians.

Ekback's historical thriller explores Sweden's status in the war, trying to balance the steadily encroaching Nazis with the needs of the Allies as well as the shifting politics of their own country.  It's a different perspective than I often see in war stories.

But it's also a crackling good thriller with a steady body count, as our protagonist teams up with a government official in hot water, and ends up at a mysterious mountaintop mining operation before finding out how deep the conspiracy runs.  

Spying, treachery, and murder are all in play, and even if the reader sees the denouement coming quicker than the characters it is still fun.

Satisfactory on all counts, with some unsettling true-life elements.  A worthwhile read I checked out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

#16: Assignment Star Stealers by Edward S. Aarons

Agent Sam Durell, called The Cajun, hunts a rogue group stealing satellite secrets in Edward S. Aarons' Assignment Star Stealers.

Durell ends up having to (sort of) team up with his Russian and Chinese counterparts as well as team up (so to speak) with a childhood friend and sudden widow/heiress.  As these things often do, it all ends up in a hidden base in the desert, with not too many left standing.

Aarons wrote a durable, I think underrated, spy series for several decades.  I read these as a teen and then revisited a big batch a few years ago.  This one came in a mixed box from a friend, and since I had not read one in a long while picked it up.  

This is probably the latest in the series I have read, from 1970, but still as sober and fast-moving as ever.  Features a pretty downbeat ending.

A great 50s-70s spy series, with elements from all those eras, and worth a look for espionage fans.

Friday, March 5, 2021

#15: The Trap by Melanie Raabe

A bestselling author arrives at the scene of her sister's murder, in time to catch a glimpse of the killer escaping; years later, after being homebound by trauma, she gets a glimpse of the person again on television and plots her revenge in Melanie Raabe's The Trap.

Raabe's debut novel, translated from German, has a classic unreliable narrator whose motivations and memories will leave a reader guessing throughout.

Raabe's damaged protagonist writes a thriller novel with intimate details of the crime, designed to draw the killer to her; when the suspect arrives, a cat and mouse game ensues.

I felt the book was a little overlong at 300 pages, based on a plot largely consisting of two characters circling each other in a house over a single long night.  I would have trimmed out the "novel within the novel" chapters, which were just okay. to keep it speeding along.

The Trap is a solidly-plotted thriller and of interest to genre fans.

I checked this out from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.