Saturday, May 28, 2011

THE BLUE ZONE by Andrew Gross

Finished Sa 5/28/11

THE BLUE ZONE is a rather pedestrian thriller, but if you like the work of James Patterson or Harlen Coben you won't be too disappointed, yet you most likely will not be thrilled.

The title refers to a classification within the Witness Protection Program (WITSEC). "Blue Zone" means that a subject's new identity has been blown, and is no longer under the protection of the program. THE BLUE ZONE relates the tale of a happy American family that is essentially destroyed because of the father's dark and dangerous past. Ben Raab is a very successful businessman, but decades earlier he had a strong and compelling connection to an evil South American drug cartel. Presently, he is under indictment by US authorities for his involvement, and violent elements within the cartel force Mr. Raab and his family to enter a government protection program. His eldest daughter, Kate, becomes the heroine of the novel and must uncover her father's real motivations, and seeks to determine his true identity.

This is an ideal novel if you just want to pass the time, and is about on the level of a better-than-average Made for TV Movie.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BLOOD HUNT by Ian Rankin

Finished Th 5/26/11

Not part of the John Rebus series.

Gordon Reeve Ex-SAS (Special Air Service- The world's first counter-terrorism unit) Runs school for security forces and body guards Rural Scotland

Jim Reeve Alcoholic brother Free Lance Journalist Killed on a story about the poisoning of the world's food resources by the use of pesticides.

Fake suicide in San Diego, CA

Jay Ex-comrade of Gordon when he was in Falkland War. Is an insane killer who is working for the cover-up

A great story about people who have been trained in special forces techniques. These are truly formidable enemies. I would read almost anything by Ian Rankin. Usually when an author strays from his known works, the results are not as good, however with Rankin, this is definitely NOT the case.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

DON'T LOOK TWICE by Andrew Gross

Finished Su 5/22/11

This is the second in a series involving Ty Hauck by the author Andrew Gross. At the end of DARK TIDE, Ty had become involved romantically with one of the key players in his investigation. In the new novel, he ends that relationship, and hooks up with another woman who is a witness to a crime which is fundamental to his inquiry. The new novel begins with Ty and his daughter at a convenience store one morning, and while standing in line to pay for their purchases, the store is sprayed with automatic fire, and the man behind them is brutally killed. At first, it was thought to be a random 'drive-by', but after much sleuthing, it is determined that this was an attempt to cover up a huge corruption scandal during the Iraq war. Millions and millions of American dollars were diverted in a public works project, in this case, generators, to aid the Iraqi people. A very interesting angle, and I am sure that this is grounded in truth. Another interesting read, but not great, however I would certainly be more than willing to try another by Andrew Gross.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

THE DARK TIDE by Andrew Gross

Finished Su 5/15/11

Charlie Friedman is a wealthy, suburban hedge fund manager who gets in over his head. One morning while taking a commuter train into the city, terrorists attack Grand Central Station, and he is able to make it appear that he was killed in the blast, and he creates a brand-new identity for himself in the Caribbean. However, a year later, Karen, his wife, sees him fleeing the carnage on a news video taken on the morning of the attack, and she teams up with police lieutenant, Ty 'The Leg' Hauck, and together they wade through deception, murder, and financial manipulation to figure out just exactly what Charlie was up to. I suppose one of the messages of the book is that some kingpins within the international financial industry feel that a few fortunes are so large and influential that their growth and management transcend any moral imperatives. "Money is the best revenge". The novel is a real 'page turner', and I will certainly try more of this Ty Hauck Series by Andrew Gross.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

THE QUANTITY THEORY OF INSANITY : together with five supporting propositions by Will Self

Finished We 5/11/11

This is a collection of short stories which won many English awards in 1991. I only read three, but the first one concerned a clever view of the Afterlife. When you die in contemporary London, you just are reassigned a new place to live in a different area of the city. "The North London Book of the Dead". I'd like to try a novel by this author.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

THE LAST VICTIM by Jason Moss with Jeffrey Kottler, PH.D.

Finished We 5/17/11 Review
Jason Moss was a very strange boy: an overachiever, always looking for some challenge, some new way to excel. In his studies, in sports, and, for some reason that he can never explain comprehensibly, seducing serial killers into telling him their secrets. His first "project" was John Wayne Gacy. Moss sent carefully crafted letters to Gacy in which he portrayed himself as a young, naive, insecure gay man who could be easily manipulated. Gacy was suspicious and put Moss through harrowing emotional tests before surrendering his trust, but Moss came out ahead. Gacy fell head over heels for Moss, replying with graphic and disturbing letters instructing him to commit depraved acts for Gacy's vicarious thrills. Moss led him on, convincing Gacy that he was doing these things, but somehow this victory wasn't sufficient. So he extended his efforts to include other jailed killers. Although he experienced some success, amassing a disturbing collection of documents--including detailed sexual prose from Jeffrey Dahmer, disjointed ramblings from Charles Manson, and awkward, violent illustrations from "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez--his closest relationship was always with Gacy, whom he eventually visited in prison, where even the unflappable Moss learned fear.

After finishing the book I am surprised that the authorities would allow these types of killers to have any contact with the outside world. Moss's contacts with Gacy were entirely out-of-bounds, and any sane prison official should never have allowed them to happen. I was shocked had how much influence and power that Gacy exerted over his environment. I was also unaware at what a wealthy individual he was, and he obviously still had some control over his finances even while on Death Row for fifteen years.

This is one of the most disturbing books that I have read in a long time.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Finished Mo 5/9/11

"Nothing Lasts Forever" is the basis for the film, DIE HARD. Roderick Thorp's novel is very 'readable', but sometimes, 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. So much of the novel concerns descriptions of action sequences which were a bit hard to follow, whereas, when seen, they are immediately obvious, and much more powerful than on the printed page. Usually, I prefer a book over a film, but in this case, the movie worked better.

It is nice to remember that International Terrorism was a very big deal decades before 9/11.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

JUDAS KISS by JT Ellison

Finished Th 5/5/11

This was another novel which I began on my trip to Surprise, Arizona in late April 2011.

Nashville homicide investigator Jackson Taylor is called to the scene of a disturbing murder: beautiful, pregnant Corrine Wolff, brutally beaten in front of her young daughter. Signs point to Corinne's husband, Todd, but Taylor has her doubts. When she learns that the Wolffs were making and distributing amateur pornography, other investigators in her office turn up old X-rated footage of Taylor that could destroy her career. This is part of a series on this character, and these books should be read in order. Taylor's husband is a profiler with the FBI, and one of his serial killers makes an appearance. A nice vacation/airport read.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY by Patricia Highsmith

This is one of the novels that I took with me on my trip to Surprise, Arizona in late April, 2001. I had seen the film several years ago, and I enjoyed the novel more. Patricia Highsmith offers a unique view inside the mind of a very disturbing narrator. Tom Ripley comes across as an ironic figure, yet unquestionably psychopathic. The plotting is fast paced, and can get convoluted as Tom switches identities to avoid capture for his murders. The book has an almost wry ending, and seems to be a hallmark of Highsmith's work. Not only does it appear that his murders will not be detected, but Tom also stands to receive an inheritance from one of his victims. However, paranoia of his actions just may punish him for the rest of his life. Patricia Highsmith has created a quality piece of psychological fiction, and Tom Ripley is a 'one of a kind' character.