Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“House of Spies” by Daniel Silva – Destroyer of the West

House of Spies by Daniel Silva (Book cover)

Daniel Silva's Legendary Spy Returns


A great deal of authors have made a name for themselves writing thriller series centred on one character, taking them from one worldly location to the next as the books expand further and further. Unfortunately, for many of these writers the quality of the series begins to dip exponentially once they get far enough to run out of ideas, and ultimately fans consider only the first few books worthy of attention. It's a fate that befell far too many people, but Daniel Silva has managed to avoid it with grace and dignity as he published the seventeenth book in the Gabriel Allon series titled House of Spies, without losing a single step from his earlier days. For those unfamiliar with him, Gabriel Allon is an Israeli master spy as well as an art restorer (even heroes need hobbies) whose life essentially consists of stopping an endless stream of terrorists from destroying the world.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Mississippi Blood" by Greg Iles – Beneath the Veil of the Deep South

Into Cruel Territory with Greg Iles


The United States might officially be a single entity, but one could make the argument the divisions between its various subcultures are so pronounced the country is in fact composed from a few smaller countries roughly-slapped together. The difference in the people's mentalities and customs are quite noticeable from coast to coast and border to border, and I believe it's fair to say the Deep South is certainly one of more interesting microcosms on this continent. Seeped in cruel and violent history, it's a place where traditions of old mix with progressive ideas, one where glamour and blood appeared in equal measure. In the final chapter of his Natchez Burning trilogy titled Mississippi Blood, Greg Iles takes us back there once again as we follow Penn Cage on what will perhaps be the most trying and critical time of his life.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

“The Gift” by Louise Jensen – The Balance of Life and Death

Exploring a Cycle of Mysteries with Louise Jensen


Organ donation is the kind of topic most of us are going to ignore until either something very interesting happens in that world, or it begins to concern us directly. However, if we stop to think about it just for a little bit, it must be an incredibly bizarre experience to be living with someone else's organ beating inside of you, especially if the donor in question had to be dead to make that happen. The cycle of life and death is a curious one, and organ donation (or recycling, if you will) only adds to the strangeness of the whole affair. For authors such as Louise Jensen, it can set the perfect stage for a gripping and unsettling thriller mystery, as it did for her novel The Gift.

“Points of Impact” by Marko Kloos – The Critical Turning Point

Marko Kloos Turns the Tables


In the previous books of the Frontlines series by Marko Kloos we were presented with a vast and long-standing conflict between Earth and a race of alien invaders known as the Lankies. Despite the enemy's technological superiority, earthlings managed to hold on by a thread and have slowed the invasion to a screeching halt. However, they aren't exactly out of the woods yet as the great conquerors are looming above them and have still a considerable amount of fight left in them. The struggle between humans and warring aliens is one that has come back time and time again throughout science-fiction literature, and there are seemingly a million different outcomes to this sort of scenario. In some of them mankind prevails, but in many others it gets obliterated, assimilated or enslaved... in the sixth novel of the series, titled Points of Impact , we get to witness the turning point of a critical stalemate.

"Two Nights" by Kathy Reichs – A Life Buried Deep

Kathy Reichs' Ode to the Lonely


The scars we bear, both physical and psychological, ultimately shape us more than we would ever like or care to admit. We live our lives in accordance with the things we want to avoid, with the knowledge that tremendous pain and suffering not only exist, but can only be staved off rather than circumvented. Many people who end up living lonely lives have been hurt and scarred in some ways, enough to make them lose faith in the world around them. In Kathy Reich's Two Nights we are presented with just such a heroine, named Sunday Night.

“Dark Network” by James McCrone – An Election of Spies and Traitors

James McCrone and the Sanctity of Balloting


While countless critics of the United States election system will always be present, and generally not without reason, there are few out there who would deny the sanctity of the voting process itself, the tremendous importance it has in determining a country's future. It shouldn't come as a surprise that some people have been found guilty of voter fraud, risking their life in freedom to give their favourite candidate an ever-slighter chance of winning the election. The extremes people can go to in order to decide on the future of an entire nation have no limits, and as we see it in Dark Network by James McCrone, the second book in the Imogen Trager trilogy, the line separating friend from enemy is razor-thin in that atmosphere.

“Awakening Macbeth” by Carmen Amato – Staking a Soul

Awakening Macbeth by Carmen Amato (Book cover)

Carmen Amato's Historical Nightmare


Books can contain within them anything ranging from the tamest and most hopeful words to the darkest and vilest accounts of human behaviour imaginable. When we open the pages of a book and begin to invest ourselves in it, we are invariably affected by what we read, and each bit of information we absorb will influence is in one way or another. At the end of the day though, we have the power of closing the book and moving on to something else, dissociating ourselves from whatever disconcerting information we may have acquired. Unfortunately, in Carmen Amato's Awakening Macbeth, that is not an option for University of Virginia professor Brodie Macbeth.

“Phenomena” by Annie Jacobsen – The Top Secret U.S. Telepathy Program

Into the Extra-Sensory Perception Tunnel with Annie Jacobsen


Coined by Frederic W. H. Myers all the way back in 1882, telepathy is a concept which involves the transference of ideas from one person to another without using any sort of physical interaction... in other words, mind-reading. Many experiments were conducted since then in an attempt to prove the concept truthful, but ultimately none of the ones yielding positive results were remotely in line with standards by which reputable scientific trials abide by; they lacked proper control and weren't repeatable. Long story short, no real evidence exists to suggest telepathy to be anything more than fantasy, but that of course hasn't stopped us from believing in it... or more precisely, it hasn't prevented the U.S. government from pouring innumerable funds to research it across multiple decades. In her book titled Phenomena, Annie Jacobsen chronicles the government's research program into what is essentially the paranormal.