Monday, November 30, 2015

“The Guilty” by David Baldacci – Old Choices; New Consequences

The Guilty by David Baldacci - front cover
In his many past outings David Baldacci's Will Robie has proven himself to be a one-of-a-kind assassin, ruthless, effective and infallible. One after the other his targets were biting the dust, and he made short work of all his foes even when things were at their most complicated. However, in The Guilty Baldacci reminds us of how human he is, as Robie does the unthinkable: he fails a critical assignment, finding himself simply unable to pull the trigger. With his incompetence overshadowing the grandiose reputation he has built for himself, Robie is sent down on a path into his own past.

After finishing high school, Will Robie left his hometown and severed all ties with his family and anyone he ever knew. Now disgraced, he comes back to his roots as a heinous and unthinkable event transpired: his father, Dan Robie, stands accused of murder. What's more, the venerable attorney and locally-elected town judge isn't trying to defend himself at all, replying to his son's attempts to help him with nothing but anger and disdain. Still, Will feels something is amiss in the big picture and with Jessica Reel at his side he begins an investigation into the whole affair, as well as the past haunting his family, his father, and perhaps even the town itself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

“Even Dogs in the Wild” by Ian Rankin – Scottish Standoff

Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin - book cover
The face of organized crime has changed rather drastically in Scotland since the old days. Whereas gangsters used to be universally feared and even revered by many, today the old sharks see many of their revenue streams either legalized or made non-viable through other social developments. Nevertheless, they still very much exist and are dangerous in their domains of operation, still playing parts that make the news and attract the public's eye, or at least it is the case in Ian Rankin's latest detective Rebus novel, Even Dogs in the Wild.

As has become somewhat customary with Rankin, there are multiple plot strands that are carefully weaved at the same time, eventually coming together in a moment where it all makes sense. To begin with, a former Lord Advocate by the name of David Minton is found murdered with a note promising revenge found on his body. In the city, a shooting took place with the target being the legendary gangster Big Ger Cafferty, and though he escaped he refuses to cooperate with the police, at which point detective Siobhan decide the only way to do so is bring Rebus back into the fold. While that's taking place, Malcolm Fox, another investigator, has been sent to Edinburgh in order to conduct surveillance on a Glasgow gangster and his son who are looking for a traitor in their ranks who made off with a ton of drugs.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

“The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom - Traversing the Landscape of Sound

Up until the 20th century it can be said that the evolution of music was relatively slow, with certain genres and composition styles staying popular for decades upon decades, if not centuries. For instance, classical music has been evolving for hundreds of years while countless folk songs have gone unchanged since the dawn of time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

“Children of Monsters” by Jay Nordlinger – Successors of Evil

Children of Monsters by Jay Nordlinger - book cover
Dictators inhabit the pages of our history books quite comfortably and have done so for quite some time. Tyrannies are nothing new, and they have existed for so long that many have developed a certain fascination with them, seeking to understand their mechanics to the very core. Perhaps because of sheer bad luck (or the Illuminati) the 21st century gave rise to a fair number of dictators who left their bloody marks on the world. But more than that, they also left their children, turning them into a chosen few who have been dealt a rather strange hand by life.

In his book Children of Monsters, Jay Nordlinger takes it upon himself to trace the lives lead by the would-be or eventual successors of the 21st century's most infamous dictators. Those include Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Amin, Hussein, Pol Pot, and a others, totaling twenty. Needless to say, even though the book is focused on the children themselves the grand villains make their presence known on a few occasions. The book is rather neatly divided as Nordlinger devotes a chapter to each dictator's offspring, narrating the kind of lives they lead and what they had to contend with from a very early age.

Friday, November 13, 2015

“The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly – Beverly Hills Rot

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
A lawyer's approach to justice dictates not only their level of success, but also the kinds of clients they will end up taking on. There are some who see it as their sacred duty to ensure a fair trial is given to all and that rules are followed to the letter so that the law may be applied to all equally and without discrimination. However, there is also the other side of the spectrum... those who see justice as being something malleable that changes shape depending on perspective. Mickey Haller is one such defense attorney, and in The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly he ends up taking a path most interesting.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

"Nemesis” by Catherine Coulter – No Rest for the Righteous

Nemesis by Catherine Coulter - book cover
These days new thrillers hit the shelves every day by the dozens, and while some of them are certainly great, it saturates the genre with re-hashed plots and devices. There always comes a point where a genre needs some creativity, some new life to shake things up... and that's precisely what Catherine Coulter does in one of her latest novels, Nemesis, a thriller featuring both Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich, FBI agents.

In this one, the plot is a rather intricate and complicated one. Lacey Sherlock, while waiting in line at the JFK airport, discovers that FBI agents never rest as a seemingly deranged lunatic threatens to throw a grenade into the crowd. As she defuses that situation, a bomb goes off in St. Patrick's Cathedral. With her life having taken a sudden and new direction, Sherlock follows suit and from that moment on is dragged into a terrorism investigation, one that starts small and yet spans the entire globe. She quickly becomes an important target for the terrorists and finds herself assailed by assassins as she tries to put an end to the conspiracy.

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Jacob Whaler Interview – The “Stones” Series and Literature

Jacob Whaler

Jacob Whaler

Personal site

Jacob Whaler is the author of the science-fiction series Stones and has taken to writing after spending much of his life gazing down financial documents.

A writer at heart, he moved away from the megalopolises he lived in for something quieter, living the author's dream.
Greetings to everyone, today we are taking a little detour from book reviews in favour of hearing the opinions straight out of an author: Jacob Whaler. In our email interview we asked him a few questions about his book series, Stones, as well as a few additional enquires as to his relation to literature in general. Without further ado, the interview:

Do you favor any one of the books over the others?
J.W. - I have to say that I love all of them. I spent the most time working on Stones #1, since it was my first novel ever to be published. All four of them just sort of poured out of me over a two year period.

How did you initially come up with the principal idea that gave birth to the series?
J.W. - The long answer to this is on my website and in my bio posted on Amazon. The short answer is that I found a piece of obsidian rock when I was 6 years old, and it became the idea for the books. I always felt something powerful when I held that rock in my hand, and I finally decided to write a story about it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

“Goebbels: A Biography” by Peter Longerich – The Face of a Monster

Though the Third Reich may have only lasted a dozen years it remains to this day one of the most scrupulously studied regimes and time periods. The National Socialist movement paved the way for a tyranny the likes of which we seldom see, of unrivalled cruelty, discrimination, brainwashing and organization... a tyranny that set an ethnic cleansing into motion. Though Adolf Hitler was certainly at the forefront of the Third Reich, there was another man whose role in the whole thing tends to be overshadowed: Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's most trusted ally and the minister of public enlightenment and propaganda. One of Germany's most highly-respected Holocaust historians, Peter Longerich, has taken it upon himself to examine the man's life in as great a depth as possible, and his efforts gave way to Goebbels: A Biography.