Saturday, February 18, 2012


One year ago tomorrow, I wrote a list of 13 fiction books (not counting Larsson's trilogy) that I thought even the non-fiction reader would like.  A year later, it's time for volume II.  This list includes books that I've come across this year as well as books from 40 and 50 years ago - and everything in between.  Without further ado, here they are.  And as Brook Burke and Tom Bergeron say on Dancing with the Stars, these are in no particular order.

John Hart - The Last Child - a 13-year old boy tries to find out what happened to his twin sister, who was kidnapped a year earlier - amazing - a 4-star book (out of 4)

John Hart (yes, you read this right) - Iron House - a story about 2 brothers who are orphans and how they are separated and then come together - another 4 - I concede that I might be prejudiced when it comes to Hart (although I only gave 3 stars to his other 2 books, Down River and King of Lies)

Greg Iles - Black Cross - he mostly writes murder mysteries, many of them taking place in Natchez, Mississippi, where Iles is from - this is one of 2 books that he wrote about WWII (the other one is Spandau Phoenix), and they're both great - Black Cross is about an American doctor and a Jewish assassin who have to stop the Nazis from using poison gas

Joel Rosenberg - The Last Jihad - this is book 1 of a series about the Middle East, Israel and Palestine in particular - this guy actually writes a story about an attack on American soil and war in Iraq before either of those things happened - he wrote a total of 5 books in this series and 2 for a new series centered on Iran and nuclear weapons - he always writes about events in the Middle East before the events take place  - if you want to know more about the current state of affairs in the Middle East, check out his blog

David Baldacci - The Camel Club - this is also book 1 of a series - this is his best work (other than Wish You Well, which you either love - I did - or not) - the story begins with an old homeless guy who lives across the street from the White House in a tent - but there's much more to that than meets the eye - the protagonist comes with an eclectic mix of characters - very entertaining

Nelson de Mille - Word of Honor - this is his second best novel (The Charm School is in Volume I) - it's based on the My Lai massacre during the Viet Nam war (for you young people, look it up) - 13 years later, he is a very successful businessman who is brought up on charges relating to an incident when he was an officer during the Viet Nam War

Larry McMurtry - Lonesome Dove - this 1000-page book is one of the best books I've ever read - when it was done, I was disappointed - this, of course, is a western centered on two cowboys - caveat:  there is not a lot of action - it is extremely character-driven - for those who need non-stop action, this may not be the best choice

Richard North Patterson - of course Exile is in Volume I, but this is pretty darn close - it's all about abortion as it pertains to a teenager and a Supreme Court nominee - excellent in-depth look at the abortion issue

Dean Koontz - Lightning - although he's known for horror, this is one that deals in time travel - I have read all of his books, and this is my favorite - if you want more of a typical Koontz, then go for Strangers, my second favorite

Pat Conroy - Beach Music - this is my second favorite Conroy fiction (I'll address his non-fiction work, My Losing Season, at a later date), after South of Broad (in Volume I) -it goes back and forth between the present and the Holocaust, and it goes from various countries in Europe to the American South - never be afraid to try a Conroy (The Great Santini is a favorite for many)

J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone - okay, I know that this may be considered a strange selection, but hear me out - first of all, I have read all 7 books and have really enjoyed them - they are very well-written and quite exciting - second, and most important, this book has been responsible for probably millions of people either reading for the first time or, at least, reading more frequently - how can you not check out a book that has had this much international impact? - the answer:  you can't

Leon Uris - Exodus - this is the first of 3 straight selections that were written all the way back in the '50's and '60's - Uris has written many good books - I have enjoyed almost all of them immensely - this one is the best - it's about Israel and the fight for independence - it is way good

Irving Wallace - The Plot - this is another one of my all-time favorites - it is an intricately-woven story about a plot to assassinate a world leader and the measures that 5 people take to prevent it - even today, it's one of the best books I've ever read - and the way he blends 5 different stories is fantastic

Robert Ludlum of Bourne fame (yes, they were books before they were movies) - The Matarese Circle - this is a Cold War story about the top Russian and American assassins pitted against each other - historically, it's old news, so I can't swear it will hold up in light of today's world - but it's a great read

That's my second baker's dozen.  My next list will be popular (some wildly) books that started off small (not originally mass market) and got big.  After that, I will have a list entitled Non-Fiction for the Fiction Reader - pretty clever, eh (it was not my idea).

Editor's Note:  Some of you have said that you're having trouble accessing the website.  Let me give you a sure-fire way to get in -

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