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 nine 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!

House of Spies                           

 Author:  Daniel Silva                Fiction                     

This is the 17th book in Silva’s Gabriel Allon series, and Silva has hit another home run. Allon is now the chief of the Office, Israel’s secret intelligence service. The world is still reeling from the deadliest attack on America’s homeland since 9/11 when another attack on the free world occurs in London’s West End. A well-coordinated attack on theaters and restaurants leaves scores dead, but a loose thread brings together the intelligence services of the Israelis, Americans, French and English. The weapons used in the West End attack point to an ISIS leader - the infamous Saladin (who first appeared in the previous book, The Black Widow). This thread leads Allon to France and Jean-Luc Martel, an enormously rich person whose true source of wealth is not his businesses but drugs, and his partner, Olivia Watson, art gallery and high-end clothing store owner. He and his allies must convince Martel to help them find and eliminate Saladin, who only goal is to reign terror on the West and to further the goals of ISIS. The adventure moves from Allon’s home to America to southern France to Casablanca and the remote regions of Morocco, with Allon directing the show. This is a story that could be ripped from the headlines in today’s chaotic world, and its pace, at first somewhat slow, reaches the point where you won’t be able to put the book down. In his “author’s notes” at the end of this novel, Silva says that the book is nothing more than a work of his imagination, but it is so much more given the geopolitical situation that confronts us all.

The Saboteur                                           

 Author:  Andrew Gross                                    Fiction

This novel is based on true events. In 1942, both Germany and the United States are waging a scientific battle to create the atomic bomb. Crucial to this effort is the creation of enriched heavy water, and the Germans have commandeered a hydro electric plant in a remote part of Norway and are producing it. The plant is protected by the fjords as well as the weather. The British create an elite team to attack and destroy the plant, but the plan goes terribly wrong and all of the specialists for this mission are killed. The Allied leaders are almost fanatical in their desire to shut down the operation and finally agree to a small team of native Norwegians to execute a daring mission to blow up the facility. Led by Kurt Nordstrum (whose character is drawn from the real life figure of Kurt Haukelid, the real person who helped pull over the real mission), the team manages to penetrate the defenses of the plant and plant explosives that destroy the inventory of heavy water as well as the production facilities. As the team disperses after the raid, Nordstrum announces that he is staying behind to create a network of agents and communications to aid in the war effort in this remote region. The Germans are able to resume production of heavy water in just a few months, and once again, a small team of natives, are called upon to “save the day.” A daring mission to destroy the water as it is moved to Germany is planned and executed. This book had my pulse racing from the beginning. It is based on events that I was unaware of which made it even better. The hero, really heroes, are men of courage, perseverance, and dedication. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy this book. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing a preproduction copy for my review.

The Brass Verdict                                  

 Author:  Michael Connelly                          Mystery             

The author of the Mickey Haller (Lincoln Lawyer) and Harry Bosch series bring the two characters together in this novel. A lawyer, Jerry Vincent, about to handle the biggest case of his career is found shot to death in the parking garage adjacent to his office. Mickey Haller is informed by the Chief Judge that he was named by the deceased as co-counsel and thus all of Vincent’s cases are now his. Haller has not practiced for over a year as he overcomes a painkiller addiction, but he is ready to return to the law, especially with the huge fees associated with the murder trial of the head of one of Hollywood’s large studios. Assisted by his ex-wife, Lorna Taylor, and private investigator, Cisco, Haller tries to recreate Vincent’s caseload as his computer and calendar were taken during the crime. And the producer does not want to delay the start of his trial, scheduled just 9 days after the murder, making Haller’s job even more difficult. Harry Bosch is the lead detective on the murder case which causes him to cross paths with Haller - two interesting, unique characters facing off, or as the danger to Haller increases by defending the producer, by teaming up. I had not ready a Michael Connelly book in several years (despite owning several in my library), and I wonder why - I certainly enjoyed this book as I have the others I have read by him.


The Fifth Floor                              

 Author:  Michael Harvey                   Fiction                     

This is the second in Harvey’s Michael Kelly series. The series is set in Chicago where I grew up so it is fun to read about places and locations that I remember. Kelly is a private investigator having been dismissed from the Chicago Police Department several years earlier. He is a smart-mouthed guy who defies authority wherever he turns. The 5th floor is where the mayor of Chicago’s office is in City Hall. Kelly is hired by the wife of one of the mayor’s fixers. The husband is abusive - so Kelly expects to be working on a domestic case. But it turns into one of history - dating all the way back to the Chicago Fire of 1871. While following the husband, Kelly discovers a body in an old home. The dead guy has apparently discovered new facts about who set the fire - the great-great-grandfather of the current mayor. As he continues to poke his nose where many believe it does not belong, the truth about history is revealed, and the truth about the abusive husband and his family is found. Harvey has a unique writing style - and has woven another suspenseful novel about his home town.


Heat Lightning                              

 Author:  John Sandford                   Fiction                     

The is the second book in the Virgil Flowers series by Sandford, a spin-off from his amazingly successful Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport. Flowers is an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, reporting to Davenport (who does make an appearance in this book). Flowers is quite the character - not what you would expect a member of this elite police organization to be - but he has a high closure rate on his cases and has been quite valuable to Davenport. Who calls him in the middle of the night because a body has been found at the base of a veteran’s memorial statue with a lemon in his mouth - exactly like a body found a week earlier. Flowers is convinced that there are more murders to come - someone has a list - but who is on the list - and why is there a list? Sandford keeps you on the edge as Flowers forges ahead with the investigation, trying to catch up with the killer (or killers) before the next murder occurs. Many of the characters we are familiar with, and have grown to like, from the Prey books are featured in the book. A fun, quick read.


Dead Man’s Footsteps                    

 Author:  Peter James                   Fiction                     

This is the 4th book in James’ Detective Roy Grace series. Ronnie Wilson is a businessman with lots of great ideas, not of which ever pan out. He is making a last-ditch pitch in New York City on September 11, 2001, a date that we all know what happened. But Ronnie sees a way out of his massive debt by recreating himself in the midst of disaster. Six years later, skeletal remains of a woman are discovered in a storm drain in Brighton and Roy Grace gets the call to investigate. And also in 2007, a lady is frantically trying to escape a deranged man. Are these events connected? And how? The mystery spans the globe - from England to the US to Australia, with some familiar characters from earlier books in the series playing major roles in the investigation. James does a spectacular job of weaving many plot lines into one. He is clearly at the top of the game in the murder mystery genre.

The Cuban Affair                    

 Author:  Nelson DeMille                   Fiction                     

I hadn’t read a DeMille book in a while so when I had a chance to review the prepublication copy of The Cuban Affair, I jumped at the chance. And am I glad I did. DeMille combines the thriller with a humorous tilt in this book which introduces a new character, Daniel Graham “Mac” MacCormack, a mid-thirties owner of a deep-sea fishing charter boat living in Key West, Florida. Mac, a Purple Heart veteran of the Afghanistan war, is teetering financially - deeply in debt on his boat, The Maine (named after his home state), and just living day to day when he is approached by Carlos, a Cuban American attorney from Miami with a proposition that will change his life. Accompanied by two other Cuban Americans, Sara and Eduardo, Carlos asks Mac to take on a trip to Cuba that is rife with unknowns - the mission is to recover hidden treasure belonging to Cuban expats, but the total mission will remain a mystery until they get to Havana. But the payoff is huge so it must be dangerous. This is a book that races along, and although the conclusion seemed a little drawn out, it is a great read. I am going back into my library to find more DeMille books!

In an author’s note, DeMille notes that he went to Cuba in 2015 and this visit served as research for this book, which references the current events between Cuba and the US. He does not take a stand one way or the other, but it is clear that things in Cuba are not at all rosy despite the change in political winds.