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!

Twisted Prey                                   

 Author:  John Sandford                 Fiction                     

Senators Porter Smalls and Taryn Grant return from Silken Prey (#23 in the series). An attempt is made on Smalls’ life as he drives home from a tryst with his chief of staff. He survives due to some extraordinary driving by his paramour, but she does not. Smalls insists that a truck pushed them off the road, but the evidence doesn’t seem to support his contention. Smalls is sure that Grant is once again behind the killing, but like the last time, proving it is next to impossible. He calls on his friend, Lucas Davenport, now a federal marshal, to help in finding out who killed his chief of staff, which leads to a complex network of ex-military and defense contractors. Teamed up with marshals Bob and Rae again, and complemented by a friendly FBI agent and a good boss, Lucas faces off against Grant and company in a fast-paced thriller with plenty of twists to keep you turning the pages. This is the 28th book in the Prey series, with the next due this year. A solid addition to the series, with the usual Sandford action and humor between the characters.


 Author:  Tom Abrahams                           Fiction

Making the return trip to Florida so time for another audio book. The definition of sedition is “conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of the state or a monarch.” The President of the United States is stricken by a brain aneurysm and dies in the Oval Office. But there is no Vice President, the elected one having died after a long illness and his replacement confirmed but not sworn in. So plot #1 is the constitutional crisis of selecting the new president between the appointee and the Speaker of the House (who just happens to be a woman). Plot #2 is the seditious one. A small group of men having been meeting for some time and see this as their opportunity to act. A young NSA agent, Matilda “Matti” Harrold, is the unlikely protagonist- an analyst thrust into a human intelligence situation but still fighting the “need to know” mentality of our various intelligence services. She is tasked with speaking with one of the cabal, but is unaware of the big picture. She must quickly put the facts together to try and avoid a major incident. An interesting basis for a book with some education included, but probably better read than listened to.

The Night Agent                                        

 Author:  Matthew Quirk                                   Fiction

Peter Sutherland works for the FBI, and for the past year, has been assigned to the White House where he works nights monitoring a specific phone, and reports any activity to just two people, Diane Farr, WH Chief of Staff and James Hawkins, a senior WH advisor. Sutherland is haunted by his past - his father was suspected of being a traitor, so the younger is strictly by the book as he wants to advance within the Bureau but has been thwarted by his family history. One night, he takes a call on the highly secret line (only the second time it had rung in nearly a year on the job), and the callers are under attack in their home. They give their niece, Rose Larkin, some information which she passes along to Peter on the secure line, and shortly thereafter, the house is under attack from Russian operatives. Rose manages to escape, and Peter quickly realizes that all is not as it should be - but how can he react when his bosses are telling him to forget all about the call. What ensues is a harrowing tale of treachery that reaches to the highest offices of our government. Who can Peter trust? Running from those who seek the information that Rose’s aunt and uncle discovered pits Peter and Rose against enemies - both within and without.

Apparently this is Quirk’s first foray into the thriller genre (based on the author’s note where he gives credit to several of today’s foremost authors in the genre) and he has really done well. The tension is maintained throughout with the ending in doubt until until the very end - just the way you want a thriller to be. My thanks to HarperCollins Publishers and Edelweiss for the ARC of this novel.

The Burglar                                         

 Author:  Thomas Perry                              Fiction

Elle Stowell is a burglar in the Los Angeles area. This is her occupation - she works when she needs money- and she is good at it - she know how to decide on which home to invade and to get away unseen and without any trace of her activity. But one night, she she picks the wrong house. Inside are three dead bodies - and a camera that has recorded the murders. She takes the camera for fear that she is on it, cleans her image from it, and puts it back. But she soon realizes that someone knows she was there and is looking for her. While she is a good burglar, she is not a good detective but must become one to stay alive. A fun read with a good ending. Thanks to NetGalley and The Mysterious Press for the ARC of this novel.

The Rooster Bar                                      

 Author:  : John Grisham                             Fiction             

Mark, Todd, Zola, and Gordy are best friends, having met at the Foggy Bottom Law School in Washington, DC. Foggy Bottom is a for-profit school with a less than stellar bar exam success rate. They are third-year students, just one semester away from graduating. Gordy has discovered that Foggy Bottom is owned by a New York hedge-fund manager, along with seven other similar schools. And the schools are also related through hidden ownership with a bank that specializes in student loans - and all of them have big balances that will be difficult to pay off given the job market and the school’s reputation. Mark and Todd decide to find a way out of their debt while exposing the scam that they have been caught up in. They draw Zola into their plans (spoiler alert: Gordy is no longer part of the group!). They live above The Rooster Bar, by the way, and is just a place where they work to pay the rent in rooms above the bar. Mark and Todd’s plan begins simply and gets more and more complex until they are fleeing from the law. I thought the book just rambled along with little tension and lots of less than intelligent action by the main characters. Not Grisham’s best - and I have said that about the last few books he has written. Time to move on?


Out of the Dark                                      

 Author:  Gregg Hurwitz                        Fiction

Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X, was 12 years old when he was taken from an orphanage and began his training as a covert operator in a program buried deep in government bureaucracy and 19 years old when he performed his first mission. Fast forward to the present - Smoak is no longer part of the covert program - he has become the Nowhere Man who helps individuals in dire need with his only payment being that they reveal his phone number to someone else in dire need. But now that first operation has come back to haunt him. None other than the President of the United States, who was the Secretary of Defense at the time of the creation of the Orphan program, feels the pressure of possible disclosure from that deep cover operation. As one after the other of the orphans are killed, Smoak must protect himself and his unknown fellow orphans, while still being the Nowhere Man. None stop, over-the-top action and an indestructible hero protagonist will keep you turning the pages as fast as you can.

This is the 4th book in Hurwitz’s Orphan X series featuring Evan Smoak. For those that read my reviews, you know that I usually read series in order, and I would recommend that for the Orphan X books. I did not follow my behavior for this book as it became available to me as an ARC (for which I thank Minotaur Books and NetGalley). All that being said, if you can only read them out of order, do it! Hurwitz is up at the top of this genre.



 Author: Joseph Finder                Fiction             

Juliana Brody is a judge in the Superior Court of Massachusetts. She is as strait-laced as they come until one fateful night a legal conference in Chicago. She meets a handsome man who seems quite vulnerable and they spend the night together. They part with the understanding that this must never happen again. But once back in Boston, Juliana learns that this was not a random meeting. Matias Sanchez, the man from Chicago, is clearly involved in a sex discrimination case which she is presiding over - someone wants the case to go away and will go to any length to see that it happens. Judge Brody must turn away from her past and make decisions to protect herself and her family. While it may be difficult to imagine a judge putting herself in this position, the tension that Finder injects into the story is non-stop. Some of the transitions from event to event are choppy and some of the actions the Judge takes are hardly what one would expect, but the whole package will keep your attention. My sincere thanks to Penguin Random House and Edelweiss for the ARC of this novel.