Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Reviews of My Stand-By Authors

bAs you all know, I very much enjoy reading new authors - whether I run across them at Barnes & Noble in The Pruneyard or a publisher's rep sends me an ARC.  I have to tell you, though, that it is always fun to read "my authors."  These are the ones that I read whenever they come out with a new book.  I admit that it's not much of a risk to read these old stand-bys, but it's way entertaining. I have 3 that I've recently read.  Let me give you a very brief synopsis and report on them.

First, I read book 2 in the Clifton Chronicles (never mind that the only other Clifton I know is Clifton Clowers of Wolverton Mountain - if you were born after 1960, look it up) by Jeffrey Archer.  Of course, he may be most well-known for Kane and Abel.  But The Sins of the Father is his 17th novel (along with 7 books of short stories, 3 plays, 2 screenplays, and 3 prison diaries).  I have to admit that I haven't read all of Archer's books.  I read a few in the early years and then, for some reason, stopped reading him altogether for quite some time.  Recently, in the last 5 years, I have started up again.  I'm not sure why I stopped.  He's really a good writer.  His Prisoner of Birth was excellent and could possibly make the cut for Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader (FFTNFR), Volume IV (or maybe V or VI).

The Sins of the Father picks up right where book 1, Only Time Will Tell, left off.  If truth be told, I was disappointed when I first picked up the book because it is only 339 pages.  I thought:  "How much of the story can he tell in so few pages?" (did I really need to put that thought in quotes?).  But here's the thing.  He basically recaps book 1 in the first 2 pages.  So it's actually 337 pages of new material.  That's not bad.  The read itself is very fast.  I got it done in 4 days which is quick for me.  And, not surprisingly, since it is a trilogy, book 2 ends with a cliffhanger.  I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't read book 1.  Suffice it to say that book 2 spans WWII.  One of the most interesting elements of the book is how it explores the whole issue of succession to title, including explaining the English laws on the subject.  Grab book 1.  I think you'll be hooked.

Second, the latest by Richard North Patterson (I'm not even going to make my usual crass comment about the other Patterson - you can thank me later) is called Fall from Grace.  As I have mentioned before, every one of his books is good - especially Protect and Defend and Exile (FFTNFR list-sitters).  This one takes place in Martha's Vineyard.  The protagonist, Adam Blaine, is a mid-30's man who is estranged from his father for 10 years.  When his father dies unexpectedly and under mysterious circumstances, Adam comes home as the executor of his father's will.  He, of course, tries to get to the bottom of his father's death.  There's a lot of intrigue and interesting relationships.  This is another one I got through in 4 days.  Go figure.

I have the same pattern reading Patterson as I do for Archer.  I read a bunch of early Pattersons and then stopped for a few years.  And, like Archer, I picked Patterson back up about 5 years ago.  I am enjoying his stuff immensely.  Even when they're not A List material, they're certainly solid B List, like this one.  And I will never forget seeing him in person when he was promoting Eclipse (solid, not spectacular).  He told the story about traveling to the Middle East when he was doing research for his prior book, Exile.  He and his wife actually had an audience with a rebel leader, who was being sought by the Israelis.  This was someone who moved every 24 hours to avoid assassination.  Patterson said he thought, at the time, that if the Israelis found this guy while he and his wife were in the tent, they would be collateral damage.  How cool is that?  It was definitely one of the highlights from all of the author events I've attended.

Third, and finally (let the applause begin), but certainly not least, is Alex Berenson's latest John Wells adventure, The Shadow Patrol.  This is his 6th book in the series.  The first one, The Unlikely Spy, is in Volume I of FFTNFR. I thought books 2-5 were not of the same caliber as book 1 even though I enjoyed them.  This one actually hearkens (did I really just use "hearkens?") back to the first one.  I thought it was his best since #1.  Once again, John Wells goes undercover in The Middle East.  Remember that he is Muslim so being in the center of Islam is very spiritual for him - even as he is killing lots of Muslims (terrorists, of course)!  The plot centers around the murder of several highly placed CIA muckety mucks by a suicide bomber.  This was someone who acted as a CIA agent, but, in fact, was working for the bad guys.  Wells is sent to find a mole in the CIA office and to also uncover a drug ring.  The plot is strong, and it's always fun to see how Wells blends in with the Arab population.  If you haven't read any of Berenson's books, then start with The Faithful Spy.  If you want to start with this one, you'll still be able to follow the story.

There you have it.  It's a little long-winded, but so what else is new?  I do recommend all 3.

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