Steve's Reviews

I first met Nancy when she was the manager of the highest grossing (per square foot) B. Dalton store in the country and I was still in the midst of a 40+ year banking and investments career. She introduced me to many authors that rekindled my love of reading. Spending a lot of time on airplanes (or waiting for them) was made a lot easier with my new "friends." I am now retired and split time between Florida and Indiana with reading and golf competing for my time. I have eleven grandchildren and most of them are readers as well - one of my favorite things to do is take them to our local bookstore and turn them loose!

Miracle at St. Andrews                                           

Author:  James Patterson and Peter deJonge           Fiction

Travis McKinley is a 54 year old golfer who loses his tour privileges by not ranking high enough at the end of the Senior Tour season. He decides to try Q-school again (he had earned his senior tour card 4 years earlier there), but fails due to an unusual decision regarding the rules. After a short stint as an announcer on TV, he and his family head to England for a vacation, where an unusual set of circumstances lead him to play at St. Andrews in the Open Championship (not a spoiler given the title of the book). Being an avid golfer, a friend asked if I had read the Patterson/deJonge books about golf. Anyone who follows/reads my reviews knows how I feel about the sheer numbers of James Patterson books, and this one just reinforces my opinion. While I recognize many of the golf personalities and golf courses in the book, it almost seemed like a commercial for them. I know it’s fiction, but a little too far-fetched for me - I finished because I am a golfer. If you aren’t, it probably won’t make much sense.


 Author:  Stuart Woods                          Fiction

Stone Barrington is enjoying some R&R on his yacht off the coast of Florida when a small plane is forced to ditch just a short distance away. He jumps into the water and helps rescue the pilot, but notices some cargo while doing so. One of those called to help is a sharp and very attractive detective from the Key West PD, Max (short for Maxine). When Max and Stone return to dive for the cargo, it is gone. Returning to New York as well as visiting his California residence, he must sort out the coincidences and then the evidence to get answers to what is really going on. A fun read (listen) with plenty of humor, but I suspect that Stone’s sexcapades might not agree with all readers. This is the 50th (that’s right - fiftieth) books in the Stone Barrington series by Stuart Woods. I was in need of a book to listen to on our semi-annual drive to Florida and having listened to another book in the series on the way north, looked at available audio books from our library and thought I was choosing the first and not the last! All that being said, these are great books to listen to while traveling. And it is not necessary to read them in order to enjoy them although clearly the chronology would not hurt - like Stone’s friend Dino now being the NYC Chief of Police.

The Nowhere Man                                    

 Author:  Gregg Hurwitz                                   Fiction

Evan Smoak was taken from his home at age 12 and trained to be an elite operative and assassin in what was known as the Orphan Program, an off-the-books government operation. He was known as Orphan X, with others in the group only identified by a single letter. After leaving the program, he became the Nowhere Man, a man only reachable by a secret phone number that is passed from one in need to another in need. He is one of the most skilled secret operator in the world, having been trained for several years in all undercover skills - both offensive and defensive. And he will need all of these skills and training when he himself is captured by an unknown but totally ruthless individual, Rene Cassaroy, and is also pursued by Charles Van Sciver, who has been tasked with eliminating the remaining orphans and Orphans M and Y, still employed and used by the program. Cassaroy is not only vicious, but unscrupulous. Evan has no idea of who this Cassaroy is or where he is being held, but he knows he must escape so he can return to helping those who needs his help. This is a fast-paced thriller - the action is non-stop from the get-go - and one that I could not put down.

The Deserter                                             

 Author:  Nelson and Alex DeMille                       Fiction

Captain Kyle Mercer was a member of the army’s Delta Force when he disappeared from his post in Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, a video is posted by the Taliban showing an obviously tortured Mercer. And then, 2 years later, a gruesome video shows Mercer committing brutalities upon his captors. Why did Mercer leave his post in the first place, and, another year later, why is he in Caracas, Venezuela? Senior military officers task Scott Brodie and Maggie Taylor of the Criminal Investigation Division with finding Mercer and bringing him back to the United States. But the search proves to be much more complicated than just finding and apprehending the “deserter.” The locale for this story is unique (how many thrillers are set in Venezuela?) and timely (given the political and economic disaster in Venezuela), and the DeMille’s added plenty of humor to this fast moving story. This is in all likelihood the start of a series featured Brodie and Taylor, whose chemistry is evident. I haven't read a Nelson DeMille book in some time, but I am certainly happy to have had the opportunity to read this. My thanks to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for the ARC of this novel.

A Cruel Deception                                

 Author:  Charles Todd                     Mystery             

This is the eleventh book in the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd the mother-son writing team. The book is set in the months following the end of WWI as the terms of peace are being negotiated in Paris. Bess, otherwise known as Sister Crawford, is an English nurse who is asked by the Chief of Nursing, known as Matron, to go Paris to check on the well-being of Matron’s son, Lawrence Minton. He is part of the peace negotiating entourage, having decided to stay in the army despite having been injured during the war, and appears to be struggling in his return to society. First, Bess must find Minton, and when she does she finds a very disturbed officer who has abandoned his duties in the peace process. She must first win his confidence, and then figure out what has gone wrong to have caused the issues he is facing. The book is very well written but a little slow moving for my tastes. As I often have said in my reviews, reading a series from the beginning is generally better as you can identify the recurring characters and understand their relationship (like who is Simon?). My thanks to HarperCollins Publishers and Edelweiss for the ARC of this novel.



Lethal Agent                                                

 Author:  Vince Flynn (Kyle Mills)                       Fiction

This is the 19th book in the Mitch Rapp series, and the 5th by Kyle Mills since he took over following the untimely death of Vince Flynn. Set in contemporary America where political and cultural discord abound, Mitch Rapp and CIA director Irene Kennedy are under attack from presidential candidate, Senator Christine Barnett, who would like nothing better than to see both of them prosecuted for what she perceives are crimes and not acting in the best interests of the company. In a recent operation, Rapp was thought to have killed Mullah Sayid Halabi, but somehow the latter had survived and escaped and now is plotting to get revenge, both agains the West and against Rapp. And Barnett is fixed on using that to impugn Rapp, Kennedy and the entire national security apparatus. Meanwhile, in a remote Yemeni village, an incurable virus is killing most who contact it, and Halabi makes plans to use it to attack the West as well as to bring Rapp out into the open where he can deal with him. Rapp must use all of his skills, but also operate out of his comfort zone, to find out what Halabi has planned as well as to track him down one final time. Filled with what we have become accustomed to with the 24 hour news cycle and politicians intent on election and reelection and not on security, the action begins on page 1 and pretty much continues throughout. Mills continues to do a good job in continuing the series, and Rapp has become one of the better protagonists in this genre.