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!

Camino Island                                   

 Author:  John Grisham                 Fiction                     

An elaborate heist of priceless manuscripts from Princeton University’s library opens the story. While the manuscripts are insured for $25 million, the university really wants them back. The gang that pulls off the robbery has a decent plan, but as always, something goes amiss. Bruce Cable has established himself as a bookstore owner on Camino Island, but he makes most of his money collecting and selling rare books. Mercer Mann wrote a very successful first novel but now suffers writer’s block. She is trying to write that next novel while teaching at a North Carolina university when she is laid off. Already burdened with a large college loan debt and facing more financial trouble, she is approached by Elaine, an elegant woman who works for an unnamed company also interested in getting the manuscripts back. She goes to Camino Island, where she had spent many summers with her grandmother, and goes undercover to infiltrate Cable’s circle of friends. Told in typical Grisham style, the plot line is complex enough although I must confess, the ending was not his best.

Making the long drive north for the holidays, I chose this book to listen to. It turned out to be a good book for that format.

The Deceivers                                  

 Author:  Alex Berenson                          Fiction

This is the 12th book in Berenson’s John Wells series. Ahmed Shakir is a low-level drug dealer who is picked up by the FBI and told that the bust will disappear if he cooperates with them in infiltrating a jihadi cell in the Dallas area. He is told the guns will be disabled, but when they reach the American Airlines Center, something is terribly wrong. The guns are not disabled and when he goes to the trunk of his car, a terrible explosion ensures. Shakir knew something was amiss, but too late and several hundred individuals are killed. John Wells is summoned to Washington from his home in Maine (where he lives with his partner Annie and their daughter Emma) by former head of the CIA and now President Vinny Duto. Wells assumes he will be sent to Dallas, but instead he is sent to Columbia to meet with a man who says he has information about the attack. When he finally finds this source, he is too late, but all evidence points to a much larger plot involving the Kremlin. This is yet another heart-pounding addition to the series, fast-paced with plenty of subterfuge. There was a bit of over the top, jump to conclusion in this book, but nothing that should stop you from continuing on in this series.

Liars’ Paradox                                                       

 Author:  Taylor Stevens                                   Fiction

The classical definition of the Liars’ Paradox is the statement by a liar that he or she is lying. Thus, if the liar is indeed lying, he/she is telling the truth. While I definitely understand the paradox, I am not sure I understand the liars part of it. In this book, we have three main characters: Clare, the mother, and her twin children, known as Jack and Jill (all three of them have multiple names in the book, although you always know who is who). Clare has raised her twins to hide, hunt, kill, and survive from an early age (5 years old!) and now, at 26, they must use all of these skills to find their mother (who has lived off the grid for several years) when she is kidnapped and then deal with a network of global assassins bent on who knows exactly what. There is plenty of action and the book did keep me reading at a fast pace.

I have read the first two of Stevens’ Michael Monroe series and enjoyed both of them. This one is apparently the beginning a new series, and I am not sure I will continue on. While the story held my interest, the characters (all of them) were generally unlikeable, parts of the action seemed unbelievable (though that is why it is called fiction) and the ending left me knowing that another book is coming. Nonetheless, my thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the Advance Reader’s Copy and offer my opinion.


 Author:  Brad Thor                              Fiction

Scot Harvath, former SEAL and currently working for the Carlton Group (an NGO that does most of its work for the intelligence community), is in Norway to stop an operation whose main mission is to destabilize the NATO alliance so that Russia can return to its former glory. The mission goes sideways (as you might expect) and thus begins an operation that will take Harvath through the Baltic and surrounding states in an attempt to find who is behind this effort, and of course, to stop it. Harvath is also having second thoughts about his career choices, especially turning down Reed Carlton’ request to head up the group when a terminal illness forces the leader's retirement. He and his team must follow a trail from bottom to top in an effort to stop the threat. An undercurrent to the book is that Harvath's associates are becoming more and more of the continuing story. And the ending points directly to the next book in the series - Backlash - due out in mid-2019.

This is the 18th book in Thor’s Scot Harvath series. And he has not slowed down. While many other series that I have read have lost momentum, whether temporarily or permanently, Thor has not. He is clearly one of the top authors in this genre today. And if you like this genre, don’t miss this one.

The Book Artist                                      

 Author:  Mark Pryor                              Fiction             

Hugo Marston is the head of security at the US Embassy in Paris. He is a former FBI profiler who manages to get involved in some serious crimes in the City of Lights. In this one, he is directed by the Ambassador to meet an up and coming young artist who is staying on Montmarte and escort her to an embassy affair. Alia Alsaffar does not want to go the the embassy party so Hugo winds up taking her to dinner, where she invites him to the opening of her sculpture exhibition the next evening. But things go horribly astray and Alia is murdered during the event. Hugo of course offers his expertise and experience to the Paris detective assigned to the case, but the detective quickly draws his own conclusion including arresting Claudia, Marston’s more or less girlfriend. At the same time, his best friend Tom Green has disappeared in Amsterdam while he is chasing an enemy from his and Hugo’s past, an enemy who wants to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of the two friends. Marston must once again use all of his cerebral powers to sort out both the attack and the murder.

This is the 8th book in Pryor’s Hugo Marston series. It is a fun series to read, and Pryor has created a fun character to follow. Thanks to Seventh Street Books and Edelweiss for the ARC of this novel.


The Wanted                                                   

 Author:  Robert Crais                        Fiction

Devon Connor is a single mother who sees her son suddenly wearing clothes and having money. She suspects he is dealing drugs, and calls upon Elvis Cole to figure out what Tyson, the son, is up to. It doesn’t take long for Elvis to determine that Tyson is involved in a string of high end burglaries, and that something they stole is worth a lot to someone. Harvey and Stemms are two goons masquerading as detectives who have been tasked with finding the stolen item, and they are leaving a trail of bodies in their search for the burglars. Cole brings his good friend, Joe Pike, into the case as they search for the boy, and then must elude the bad guys who will stop at nothing to retrieve the item.

This is the 17th novel by Crais featuring Elvis Cole and/or Joe Pike, and the first I have read in some time. I forgot how much I enjoyed his writing and these characters. A thriller with lots of smiles - Crais’ delivers Cole with a great sense of humor.

An Anonymous Girl                                       

 Author: G. Hendricks and S. Pekkanen        Fiction             

Jessica Farris is getting by in New York City, an interesting young woman with few committed relationships. When a friend blows off an opportunity to participate in a psychological study on ethics and morality, she sneaks in and takes her place. Jessica thinks she can make some fast money and then move on. Dr. Lydia Shields is the psychologist running the study, and after two sessions, Jessica is invited to continue to another phase. But things get more and more intense, and the sessions which had been conducted at NYU move to Shields' office and other venues. She knows she is being manipulated, but as smart as she is, cannot change the narrative. An interesting premise and the writing is very good - once you get used to it. Each chapter is told from either Jessica’s or Dr. Shields’ viewpoint, but you are often unsure which for a couple of pages into the chapter. I struggled with my rating on this book as I didn’t necessarily like the format. But the story is compelling. So a strong 3 star rating. Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to review the ARC of this book.