Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Veteran with 17 and a Rookie with 1

I recently posted a blog that referred to the yin and the yang - one book so good (The Language of Flowers) and the other not so much (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close).  Once again, I'm working with the yin and the yang, this time due to the experience of the 2 authors:  One with 17 novels and the other with 1.  See how versatile yin and yang are?

Phillip Margolin's 17th novel, Sleight of Hand, will hit the stores (and ereaders) on April 9.  I have read all of Margolin's books and have enjoyed each and every one - to varying degrees.  Some I've liked a lot, and others I've simply liked.  This one is in the 2nd category.  As I've mentioned ad nauseum (I'm sure you've read some of my posts and come down with that particular condition!), there is a definite comfort knowing that when you pick up a Margolin (or a Michael Palmer or a James Grippando or...), that you will be entertained.  The writing is always good, and the story lines hold your attention.  If some are better than others, that's really okay.

Sleight of Hand centers around Dana Cutler (for the 4th time), who is a private investigator in D.C.  She gets involved in a very bizarre case involving a multi-millionaire businessman, his wife who is a federal prosecutor, and a well-known criminal defense attorney who dabbles in magic and illusions.  10 years earlier, Horace (the rich guy) actually confesses in court to a DUI so that he can get close to Carrie (the federal prosecutor).  They end up getting married, and Horace has Carrie sign a pre-nup that says she will get 20 million dollars if she stays faithful to him for 10 years.  The week before the 10-year anniversary, Carrie disappears.  Charles (the criminal defense attorney) becomes very involved in ALL aspects of this case.  Add in a royal scepter from the Ottoman Empire, and you've got a lot of story in a fairly short book (309 pages in the ARC - advanced reader's copy - with big print and only 30 lines per full page).  I thought some of his details were a little far-fetched.  But he took a complicated plot and held it together pretty well.

As I said, I liked this book.  It's not one of his better ones, but you won't be disappointed.  Not every book can make "the best of..." list.  In fact, I'm sure that Margolin will be plenty happy if it makes the New York Times Bestseller List.  That will, very likely, get him over the bitter disappointment of receiving just a 2.5 from The Book Sage.

The 2nd book, by Chris Pavone, the rookie, is The Expats.  This one came from our 4th Tuesday Book Club at Books, Inc., in Palo Alto.  I liked this one quite a bit and gave it a 3.0.  Kate's husband, Dexter, comes home one night and tells her that they're moving to Luxembourg (how many novels take place there!).  He is a computer security expert, and Luxembourg is the private banking capital of the world.  He is being paid a bunch of money to go over there and work on computer security for one of those private banks.  They have 2 children, and Dexter tells her that they will go to an English school with all of the other expats.  There's just one small thing about Kate that Dexter doesn't know - she's a CIA spy!  Her past will catch up to her in Luxembourg.  Throw in another expat couple with their own set of secrets, and it makes for quite an interesting set of plots and subplots (as opposed to "plotz" - look it up).  I would characterize this book as a well-written, almost literary, spy mystery.  It's a cool combo.  To paraphrase the old Alka Seltzer commercial:  "Read it, you'll like it."


  1. I haven't read either author but really want to read The Expats since I'm a former expat myself.

  2. I liked it and I have never lived outside of Northern California!