Nothing like being late to the reading party, but so many books and so little time.
Bombshell by NYTimes Bestselling Author Catherine Coulter, published by Penguin in 2013, is my first experience with Catherine's novels. Her prolific 70+ novels began with historical romances but she expanded her repertoire to suspense. Her latest is Nemesis.
FBI Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith of the San Francisco Field Office is on his way across the country to begin his new job with the CAU (Communications Analysis Unit) in Washington DC recruited by Agents Dillon Savich and his wife Lacy Sherlock. Stopping to visit friends and relatives along the way, his last stop is Maestro, Virginia, to see his younger sister Delsey nicknamed the Trouble Magnet since her youth. Sure enough, when he's an hour and a half out, he receives a call from Agent Ruth Noble, married to "Dix", the Sheriff of Maestro, revealing his sister has been clubbed in the head in her own bathroom and there's substantial blood all over the floor and bathtub.
Turns out she'd been hit on the back of the head, but the blood wasn't hers. Someone was murdered in her bathroom and somehow hauled away through the winter snow. This begins a search for a victim which involves an investigation into a guest professor at the elite music school Delsey attends.
Griffin calls Savich to tell him he's detained to help figure out what's going on in Maestro while in DC Savich and Sherlock discover the gruesome death of a teen by the Lincoln Memorial. The plots grow more complex in each investigation presenting unique circumstances and characters, some of whom transmit suspicion even in their grief.
The twists work well, the transitions in each situation go smoothly, and the parallel stories remain effectively separated even when the parties involved merge.
Catherine Coulter knows how to do mystery and suspense. In a way she reminds me of Brandilyn Collins- certainly not in writing style but rather in the sense of a true professional storyteller covering all the important elements of her genre.
I will be reading more of Catherine Coulter if for no other reason than she knows how to write a good story. Bombshell was a worthy introduction to her style.
Light romantic thread, no profanity.
Father, please continue to fill the imagination of Catherine with stories you have for her to tell. Bless her life and writing, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Detective Kristen Conner is a piece of work. In progress. Oldest daughter of three, she's the successor to her cop father who was killed on the job. It hasn't been that long since he's been gone, but her work as a homicide detective in the Chicago PD keeps her willingly immersed in murder and mayhem and in a place where relationships play a distant second to ferreting out killers. Plucky, smart, vulnerable but tough, she's Jane Rizzoli of Rizzoli and Isles, Kate Beckett of Castle.
Kristen is visiting her sister Klarissa in New York, and it's her final day of vacation. Against her sister's better judgment, Kristen heads out for a final run in Central Park in sub-zero weather at 4 AM. Realizing she's made a considerable mistake since her extremities are freezing in spite of her winter gear, she comes upon the attempted murder of a man bleeding out in the snow. Doing all she can to save him while waiting for the ambulance she called, she realizes his life is probably over. All she is able to see as she discovers his body is a hulk of a figure running away.
She is detained while local law enforcement sorts out her story but finally returns to CPD only to learn that she must see the police "shrink" because of the events in a previous case. She's supposed to stay in her sister's condo after her return to Chicago, but Kristen has misconstrued her sister's actions and elects to stay with her mom instead. Then there's a murder. Then there's a killer after Kristen because of what happened in Central Park. And then the Russian "Red Mafyia" goes crazy back in New York which is related to the murder in Central Park and the killer who's after Kristen.
Cold As Ice is a busy novel with unrelated killings and investigations mixing CPD with the FBI to get a handle on the Russian mob uprisings and the dangers Kristen faces. Add the imprisoned serial killer Kristen put behind bars rising up in her life again, her partner thinking of quitting to pursue being an attorney because of family issues, her confusion about her relationships, and her visits to the therapist, and she's surrounded by trouble and personal chaos on all sides.
Gilroy uses internal dialogue for multiple characters besides telling most of the story from Kristen's point of view. Kristen is an interesting character who trains hard physically, has trouble accurately shooting her weapon, is insightful, does her best to follow her Christian faith and attributes the unusual "feelings" she gets interpreting crime scenes to the Lord. The faith factor works organically in the story residing in the background but surfacing in prominent moments naturally and believably.
I enjoyed Gilroy's voice and several of his characters plus, although the story was what I call "busy", it was interesting. The only thing I didn't like was the use of the names Barry Soto and Tony Scalia for two peripheral characters that showed up in different roles in Kristen's life. I can't determine the purpose of using those names. If designed to add a bit of humor, it had the opposite effect on this reader. In fact, my immediate reaction was annoyance. For me, it took the "reality" out of the story and indirectly proclaimed the entire manuscript as "tongue-in-cheek". I disengaged to figure out why the author would choose to use those particularly politically charged (and one not positively) names for useful, though minor characters. His prerogative of course but I found it to be a negative in the storytelling.
Cold As Ice brought both a positive and a threatening ending to a complex story, setting up the next in line in this series but putting a wrap on most of the complicated events in this particular book.
Father, please continue to supply the stories you have for Mark to tell. Bless him as he honors you with his writing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
There are those moments or pieces or concepts or characters that just don't work in a story. Generally speaking, those things we identify as a problem for us might not even cause a brief ripple in another's reading time.
How many times have you loved a novel and would've given it 4 or 5 stars on an Amazon review and are shocked to read the comments given in a couple of 1 or 2 star venomous reviews? I'm not talking about those 1 or 2 star assessments that are written by readers who will actually admit it's not their favorite genre and manage to make a couple of thoughtful points instead of just ripping the author and story to shreds. It's surprising to see the exact opposite opinions of our own on a book we loved.
However, every so often, an author will include something, a device, a character who turns unexpectedly, something that doesn't work. A mistake. If the publisher let it go or the independent editor overlooked it or maybe the author argued to leave it in the story and won - whatever the reason to have it in the book, many readers agree it doesn't work.
Can you think of something you've read in a story that didn't work for you?
Father, help us to always write our best to honor you. It won't be perfect, but please help us avoid obvious errors. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Major fires rage across eastern Washington and Idaho and into western Montana. The weather is hot and there are winds. The fires have jumped rivers. Homes, ranches, businesses have been consumed. Firefighters have died. People have lost everything. Animals have died. In excess of 400,000 acres have burned. Other countries have been summoned for help as far away as Australia and New Zealand. The Canadians have come to assist. Resources for fighting the fires are strained.
God, oh God, these places need to see your mercy and goodness in the land of the living. Lord, we can only count on you for these desperate situations. Please, Lord, have mercy on your creation. Please. We ask it all in the Name, Authority, and Blood of Jesus. Amen.
If you loved Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) and still love Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) of NCIS fame, this is a collage of the best of those times between them. The series hasn't successfully replaced Ziva. The chemistry was just as it should have been and so well done by both actors.
Father, thank you for what you do in people. May they realize it's you who is responsible for every good and perfect gift. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Okay. I've got an assignment for you. Tell me something meaningful about what you're currently reading. Don't tell me the title. Don't tell me the plot or the author's name. Tell me something about how you feel about the book. No details about the story - just how it's affecting you. Good, bad, or indifferently. Ready? Go!
Lord, you know what we need, what blesses us as individuals, how to lead us if only we'll pay attention, and how you will work everything together for good for those of us who love you and serve you. Again: apart from you, we can do nothing, and thank you is never enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Brad Thoris very much like the late Vince Flynn- except he's different. But he writes true thrillers in the same vein as Vince did and he created a hero similar to the amazing Mitch Rapp by the name of Scot ("with one t") Harvath. Code of Conduct is Brad's latest release, and the concept fits right in with today's believable conspiracies and potential horrors created by those utopian-minded elitists who think they're the best humanity has to offer.
The prologue sets the stage for the intense danger to follow. Something horrible has happened at a medical mission's headquarters in the Congo which in and of itself isn't necessarily unusual considering the unrest and military uprisings in country. However, the USA needs to find out exactly what and why this particular place and its people seem to have been targeted for what happened to them. Scot Harvath is dispensed to get information and through trusted channels meets a British team of former Special Ops (SAS) men and a female doctor, once a wartime journalist, to assist him. The British team knows very little about his mission, and the doctor only wants to find out what happened to the men and women she'd worked with at the mission. She becomes a problem almost immediately.
With the discovery at the mission, Harvath is forced to give the British team more information. With the stubborn doctor refusing to leave, arrangements between the Brits and Harvath are made, and he returns to the US. What he and "The Old Man", former CIA operative and founder and leader of the Carlton Group who employs Harvath, learn about the Congo incident is amplified by a Mossad agent's and an asset's trip to the US to track a dual-citizenship holder (Canada and USA) who holds a position at the United Nations. From there it only gets worse as individuals begin to drop dead across the nation.
Thor gives us a wealth of characters in Code of Conduct. One of my favorite repeat characters is ace-hacker Nicholas along with his huge dogs. Although a typical despicable antagonist, Damien fills the bill as the powerful elitist. The reluctant Mossad asset with the sorrow-filled past resents her job and plans her departure. Her handler with his crippled hands is the classic Israeli agent. Nothing and no one comes before love of country.
There are similarities between Harvath and Rapp. Their reactions to loss and the devastation of the soul, their ability to define evil and eliminate it (much like American Sniper Chris Kyle), these are the markers of specific kinds of operatives and those in Special Forces. You might even call it a code of conduct. If you're a Vince Flynn fan, you'll notice particular events and reactions which will remind you of Vince's work. And that fact is the highest recommendation I can give to Brad Thor's books.
You want a political thriller? Brad Thor begins his series of 15 novels with The Lions of Lucerne. Code of Conduct is his latest. Poignant, powerful, and pervasive.
Father, thank you for your people and their commitments. Please continue to bless and direct Brad's life as he does his best to serve you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
You've heard the expression "the devil's in the details", and it's up to you which translation of that little phrase you care to use or understand. When I'm reading a novel, I love details, but even I will admit there can be too many or too much.
If you've ever read any of Tom Morrisey'snovels, you know that Tom employs many details. In my favorite book of his, In High Places, Tom uses his rock climbing knowledge with all the proper terms and descriptions of the equipment and experience. He never talks down to the reader. I guess he figures if the reader doesn't know or can't grasp the term(s) he uses, he/she will look it up - which I had to do a couple of times. In my opinion Tom Morrisey uses just the right amount of focused detail to convey authenticity in his stories.
Some authors interrupt their stories to explain detailed information, making what has been narrative morphing to conversational. When the writing changes from the organic deliverance of information (i.e. via dialogue) to the recitation of definitions, the details become a hindrance to the story. If the detailed description goes on too long, the continuity of the story succumbs to potentially losing or boring the reader.
Some readers don't want to read about characters' appearances. I do, providing the description of those details isn't cliché. It takes some finesse to do this because, after all, there are only so many shades of blue, so many colors of hair, so many types of builds, and you get my drift. To set individual characters apart, an author has to make those details unique as the character who "wears" them. Sometimes it's another character's point of view making the observation of those details and it's reasonable to assume some of those observations might be typical and clichéd.
What kind of details do you enjoy reading, and can you think of an author who does "details" well?
Father, you gift us all differently according to your design and pleasure. Thank you for it all and for viewing each of us equally. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
You know I loathe promoting myself. That's not to say I don't believe in my work because I do know that some people have enjoyed my stories and found something meaningful in them.
But it's Friday, and I've got little to say other than these are my two novels formatted for e-readers,The Famous One only for Kindle and Destination for all versions. They're priced inexpensively ($1.99 and $2.99 respectively) and do contain the gospel message to be upfront about their spiritual content.
The Famous One reads like a fictional biography and Destination is a small town love story. Here are the blurbs:
The Famous One takes an introverted yet passionate character of few words and deep running emotion and puts him into the spotlight of fame where he is hungry for value, substance, and real love but struggles to find them.
Life leads us to and from many places, but when it comes to eternity there are only two choices for our destinations . . .
An unlikely felon returns to his roots and the friendship of a fiery old widow. The last things he expects to find are true love, a ministry to youth, and the unusual burden for his new love’s ex-fiancé. Destination
Father, thank you for the privilege and pleasure of writing my novels. You provide the inspiration. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.