Monday, April 26, 2010

The Information Officer by Mark Mills

Most people don't know what occurred in Malta in 1942 during World War II. We hear of the bombing of Dresden or the London siege, but Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean was the most bombed country in the war. A strategic shipping and military supply port, it was critical to the Germans as they planned Rommel's advance, and critical to the Allies to stop the ability of the Axis powers to bring their armies together rather than fighting on different fronts. The people of Malta endured months of daily bombings, waves upon waves of bombs raining down and killing civilians as well as military forces.

Max Chadwick has been posted to Malta. He is the British Information Officer and his job is to report the news in such a way that the troops and the native people of Malta are encouraged rather than desolate. In his position, he gets the inside scoop long before anyone else. Or at least that is what he has always thought. Now there seem to be currents and counter-currents of information swirling around, plots and counterplots, until Max realizes that he has been naive and used as one more tool in the government's manipulation of reality.

Other factors complicate life for Max. He has been carrying on an adulterous affair with the wife of one of the submarine commanders. But, he has also met a Maltan woman, a newspaper editor, who he is rapidly coming to realize that he loves. Then he becomes aware of the murders. Five women, most bar hostesses, have been killed recently. Who is this serial killer who uses the war to mask his crimes? There are indications that he might be a military man. The military authorities want this information squelched, and Max is in their sights as he tries to discover what is going on.

This is easily the best book I've read this year. The writing is lush and starts slow and languorous. As the military action heats up, so does the pace of the book, and it becomes a page-turner that leaves the reader breathless. The romance is underplayed and never takes over the story. The plot is intricate and skillfully revealed. This book is highly recommended for all readers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The River King's Road by Liane Merciel

The River King's Road is Liane Merciel's debut novel, and it is a welcome addition to the fantasy world.  He has created a world that quickly draws the reader in and takes over their life. 

For generations, two lands, separated by a river, have been at war.  The soldiers of Oakharn and Langmyr periodically have crossed the river and performed atrocities, the hate between the countries their only fuel.  Now the stakes have been raised.  The heir of Oakharn and his entire family and the entire village where he was staying have been destroyed.  Bloodmist has been used to decimate the entire village, and that means a Thorn and her magic are involved.

One soldier and one village woman escape.  The knight, Brys Tarnell, had declined to go to the chapel with the rest.  The girl, Odosse, was in the forest with her toddler.  Brys and Odosse discover the king's son with his nursemaid, who dies while they watch.  They are left to try to save the heir's life and to get him back to his land.

Along the way they encounter more of the evil of the Thorn and her traveling companions.  She has the ability to reanimate men and animals to serve her pleasure, and few can survive an encounter with her.  Two that attempt to put an end to her are wandering SunBlessed knights.  Kelland is a Blessed, and can cure those who need it, but is also a warrior.  His companion is Bitharn, a female archer.  They prepare for battle against the Thorn and her magic that can doom an entire land.

This is a fascinating start to a new epic fantasy.  The characters are well fleshed out, and each is an intriguing mixture of good and evil, not cardboard figures with only one trait.  Readers who close the book will be filled with anticipation for the next volume in the story.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers and will not disappoint.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


In a heavily guarded mansion in a posh Virginia suburb, a man and a woman start to make love, trapping Luther Whitney, a career break-in artist, behind a secret wall. Then the passion turns deadly, and Luther is running into the night. Because what he has just seen is a brutal murder involving Alan Richmond, the president of the United States, the man with...Absolute Power.

Thanks fo Hachette, I have 3 audio copies of Absolute Power to give away.  This was David Baldacci's breakout book; if you haven't yet read this one, don't miss it.  Baldacci is a master at suspense, and you'll find yourself sitting in the driveway, refusing to go inside until you listen to just five minutes more!



1. The giveaway starts Saturday, April 17th and ends on Wednesday, April 28th at midnight.

2. There will be three winners, chosen by random number generation.

3. Winners must have street addresses (no P.O. Boxes) in either the United States or Canada.

4. For one entry, leave a comment (with your email!). You will get an extra entry for any/all of the following; being or becoming a follower, blogging to this giveaway or tweeting about it. If you blog or tweet, please include the link.

5. Winners will be emailed and must respond within three days in order to claim their prize. After three days, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser

Mark and Pam Walker are at a crisis in their marriage.  They've let their careers take over their lives, and don't have time for each other.  Realising this, they resolve to change their lives.  While vacationing, they discover the burnt-out framework of an old monastery and hatch the plan of restoring it and opening a bed and breakfast inn. 

Their new venture is located in a quaint, charming village in the Northwest.  Surrounded by orchards, Lumby boasts a small, vibrant town with residents who have known each other for years.  Most of the residents are not sure about the Walkers, and what their restoration project will mean to the town and its people.

As Mark and Pam work, they start to develop relationships.  They meet several of the former monks who lived in their new residence, and learn about orchard management, beekeeping and the history of the abbey from them.  Several contractors and craftsmen become friends as they are employed by the couple.  There are also other couples their age in town who have common interests.  But they are not welcomed by all.  Some residents refuse to talk with them and give them the cold shoulder. 

Gail Fraser has written a charming story that draws the reader in and leaves them dreaming about their own dream plans for a new life.  The characters are believable and the reader closes the back cover glad to have spent time in this town.  The Lumby Lines, named after the town newspaper, is the first in an anticipated series.  It is recommended for readers looking for a cosy read that leaves them feeling content.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sounds Of Murder by Patricia Rockwell

After teaching a graduate seminar, Professor Pamela Barnes is shocked when her graduate assistant Kent comes to her and announces that he's found a dead body in their computer lab.  She is even more shocked when she goes with Kent and discovers that it is one of her peers, Dr. Charlotte Clark.  Charlotte has been strangled with the cord of headset at one of the computers.

Charlotte is the star of the Psychology Department at Grace University.  A renowned scholar and fund-raiser, she published more research and won more grants than anyone else in the department.  Who could have killed her?  It seems that the suspects are legion.  There is Mitchell Marks, head of the department, who was overheard in a shouting match with Charlotte the evening of the murder.  There are departmental rivalries with some professors resenting Charlotte's popularity with the students and others resenting the money she brought in as they felt their areas were slighted financially compared to her budget.  There are three professors fighting for tenure and only two spots.  Since Charlotte was head of the tenure committee, it provides another source of suspects since tenure is a professional make or break situation.

Pamela is questioned closely by the police.  She later visits the lab where Charlotte was murdered, and realises that there is a recording of the murder that was inadvertedly left behind by the murderer.  Since Pamela's speciality is the psychology of speech and the study of different noises, she can't resist making a copy of the recording when she gives one to the police.  Her actions do nothing more than make her a target for the killer.  Will the murderer be discovered before Pamela is killed herself?

This is Patricia Rockwell's first mystery, and could easily be the start of a series.  The reader will enjoy the characters, and those in academia will recognize them immediately as Rockwell has captured the rhythms and conflicts of a university quite well.  The mystery is satisfactorily solved, with a murderer who will come as a surprise.    This book is recommended for mystery lovers. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

The FBI are tracking a new serial killer known as the Bride Collector.  FBI Special Agent Brad Raines is partnered with Nikki Holden, a forensic psychologist.  The Collector has killed five women.  He glues the bodies to the wall, then drills into the heel and drains the blood from their body.

The killer has started leaving messages with the fifth victim.  Two things become clear to the investigators.  The first is that more victims are planned by the killer, who believes he is collecting perfect brides for God.  The other is that the killer has a connection to a local mental hospital.  He is highly intelligent but had probably undergone a psychotic break some time in the past.

Brad goes to the Center for Well-Being and Intelligence.  This hospital specializes in those patients who are highly intelligent and works with them for months and sometimes years to help them use that intelligence to cure their mental issues.  After meeting some of the inmates, Raines decides to use the special insights of several.  One is a patient nicknamed Sherlock, whose attention to detail helps him notice items most people overlook.  Andrea is a beautiful woman who also happens to be a savant, and can discern hidden patterns.

Then there is Paradise.  The victim of a horrific family background, she has been a patient for seven years.  She is a sensitive and her lack of emotional filters help her see truths that are hidden from those who block out most stimuli.  It also makes her easy to crush, as she lets in all stimuli and has no protection from brutal images and actions.

With this unusual group of helpers, Brad and Nikki start to track down The Collector.  Time is running short as he collects more victims and shifts his focus to Brad as his main adversary.  This focus means that he wants to hurt Brad by choosing the women closest to Brad as his victims.  Can the killer be brought to justice before more women are sacrificed?

Ted Dekker has created memorable characters and heart-stopping action in this book.  The reader will not soon forget The Bride Collector, or the unusual team that unites to stop him.  This book is recommended for mystery lovers.   A solid hit for Dekker, this book is another suspense masterpiece.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Losing Mum And Pup by Christopher Buckley

Losing Mum And Pup is Christopher Buckley's memoir about growing up as the son of William F. Buckley and Pat Buckley, and then losing them both within a year.  It starts with the death of Pat Buckley in the hospital, and then almost a year later, ends with the death of William F. Buckley of a heart attack in his office.  Both led long, successful lives, and Christopher was in his mid-fifties when he lost them.

Many people are familiar with William F. Buckley, his years of editing the conservative magazine, National Review, and of hosting the TV show Firing Line.  Buckley is known as the lion of the modern conservative movement, and is revered by those who believe as he did.  But the book does more than rehash talk about Buckley's politics.

Christopher is successful in making his parents interesting to the reader.  Pat Buckley was known as one of the premier hostesses of New York City, a fashion plate and arbitrator of taste.  The reader also sees a side of William that might be surprising.  He was a risk-taker, both in his work life and in his personal life.  An example of this would be the time he flew to Boston in a small plane after having only an hour and a half of lessons.  He loved to sail, and some of the best family times were those spent on various boats.  He was an intensely religious man, and his religion focused his actions in every venue.  Renowned for his kindness, he befriended those of every political stripe and people in every walk of life.

Losing parents is a journey that most adults will inevitably face.  Losing Mum and Pup shows how one man went on this journey gracefully, glad that he was there for his parents in their last years.  One lesson that was evident was how little the typical family resentments between parent and child end up being, and how overpowering the influence and love between them is and how it endures.  This book is receommended for all readers.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Scott Turow burst onto the literary scene with this book.  His followup, Presumed, Innocent, Innocent will be released May 4, 2010.  Hachette is offering three lucky readers the chance to read the original.

Chicago defense attorney Turow, formerly a U.S. prosecutor, capitalizes on his intimate knowledge of the courtroom in an impressive first novel that matches Anatomy of a Murder in its intensity and verisimilitude. With the calculating genius of a good lawyer (and writer), Turow, author of the nonfiction One L, draws the reader into a grittily realistic portrait of big city political corruption that climaxes with a dramatic murder trial in which every dark twist of legal statute and human nature is convincingly revealed.

The novel's present tense puts the reader firmly in the mind of narrator Rusty Sabich, a married prosecuting attorney whose affair with a colleague comes back to haunt him after she is brutally raped and murdered. Sabich's professional and personal lives begin to mingle painfully when he becomes the accused. His is a gripping and provocative dilemma.   Turow's ability to forge the reader's identification with the protagonist, his insightful characterizations of Sabich's legal colleagues and the overwhelming sense he conveys of being present in the courtroom are his most brilliant and satisfying contributions to what may become a literary crime classic.



1. The giveaway starts Sunday, April 4th and ends on Wednesday, April 14th at midnight.

2. There will be three winners, chosen by random number generation.

3. Winners must have street addresses (no P.O. Boxes) in either the United States or Canada.

4. For one entry, leave a comment (with your email!). You will get an extra entry for any/all of the following; being or becoming a follower, blogging to this giveaway or tweeting about it. If you blog or tweet, please include the link.

5. Winners will be emailed and must respond within three days in order to claim their prize. After three days, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Able Danger by Kensington Roth

Mining the conspiracy theories of 9/11, Kensington Roth has created a rollercoaster of a thriller.  The same forces that the conpiracists believe really caused 9/11, the government, the military, the corporations that thrive on war, are now ready for the next roll of the dice.  9/12 will be blamed on the Chinese as well as the Middle Eastern terrorists, creating a furor and desire for an invasion of the Chinese mainland.

Standing between this plan and the American people is Agent 006--Harrison Court.  He has been given the authority to do anything it takes to make the United States safe, and that includes plots like this.  His adversary is Desage, an ex-CIA agent now working for the other side. 

The big twist is that unknown to those creating a false conspiracy, China really is an adversary.  They have created a new weapon that silently kills and maims anyone in its path.  Can Court and his Chinese lover thwart these plans and ward off deployment of this new weapon?

Roth has created a thriller that takes the reader on a breaktaking ride from Italy to China to the caves of Tora Bora.  This book is recommended for readers of spy novels who like non-stop action.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Bridge Back by Patrick Garry

Nate Morrissey's world fell apart nineteen years ago. In college and separated from his love, Laura, they are both miserable and tired of waiting for their families back in Mount Kelven to approve of their relationship. They decide to elope, a decision that leads to tragedy. Reading the letters they've left behind, both sets of parents rush to follow and try to stop the wedding. They drive wildly and a perfect storm of tragic coincidences occur. The bridge that spans the lake malfunctions. Both cars are going too rapidly to stop and plunge to the river, where they land on a passenger boat. Nineteen people die, including both of Nate's parents and Laura's father.

The entire town is crushed, and many blame Nate and Laura. They both leave town, but the tragedy forces them apart and their relationship is over after that night. Nate goes on to become a lawyer and works in a high-pressure law firm; one that demands so much that he has no time for relationships or a life outside of work. Laura marries someone else, but after a divorce returns to Mount Kelven to care for her mother, who was left an invalid by the accident.

The book picks up at the point where Nate is assigned a case in Mount Kelven. His law firm doesn't know his connection to the tragedy, and has a client who is facing issues arising from it. Nate argues unsuccessfully that someone else should be assigned, but his boss is adamant that Nate is the right person for the job. He reluctantly packs a bag and heads back.

In Mount Kelven, he renews old friendships and starts new ones. He is delighted to find Helen, his grandfather's true friend, still alive and living there. While visiting her, he runs into Laura and the attraction is still there. He also meets new friends. Carmen owns the motel where Nate is staying and takes an interest in him and his story. She has a dream of buying and restoring the old hotel his grandfather ran for so many years, and where Helen still lives. He also meets Abel, the bridge tender that fatal night. Like Nate, Abel has led a constricted life since the accident, feeling that everyone blames him for his part in the tragedy.

Nate and Laura work on their relationship, wondering if they can truly go back to what they felt so long ago. In the process of helping Carmen and Helen, secrets about the town and the accident start to emerge. Can Nate discover the truth so many years afterwards, and will doing so enable him and Laura to pick up their lives?

Patrick Garry has written an interesting book that delves into how the past affects our current decisions, and that probes the question of whether one can ever go back and reclaim past happiness. The characters are believable, as is the portrayal of small town life. Readers will want to discover the secrets that are carefully revealed, and to find out what happens to Nate and Laura. This book is recommended for current fiction readers.