This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
In the aftermath of Chernobyl, a patient escapes from a Soviet mental hospital. As he wanders through a blighted landscape struggling to recapture blocked memories, British Intelligence and the KGB hunt him for the secret he holds–a secret that threatens glasnost itself.
Zotov, with the help of a former lover and 2 English controlled spies, escapes and makes it to England. Where the doctors do the exact same thing to him that the Soviet doctors did. He goes completely crazy and kills himself.
Despite the ending, I enjoyed this book. I think part of it was that Royce was showing a literati’s disdain for The Government (whichever one you might choose to think about) and also a disillusionment about the Cold War. When Titans collide, the little man is the one getting squished, no matter which Titan is right or wrong.
The only other Spy novels of this era that I have read are the Jason Bourne books by Ludlum. In fact, as soon as it was revealed that Zotov, the main russian character, had amnesia, I immediately thought “Bourne Identity”. Thankfully, this was quite a different story, but the atmospheric tension of not knowing what was going on was exactly the same. Cold War Thrillers have the same flavor I think. Just like Cozy Mysteries I think.
The tension is always high. The action is very sparse and while not non-existent, isn’t the point of the book like a James Bond book. Political maneuverings are as important, externally and internally. In fact, Zotov wouldn’t have been able to escape if it weren’t for the political infighting going on in the Soviet Union during this book. As much time is given to this political side of things as to anything else. Probably more of interest to those interested in history at this point.
While I did enjoy this, I don’t know if I enjoyed it as much as Jenn did. Please check out her review for a slightly more enthusiastic take on this book.
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Cold Fire Series: ———- Author: Dean Koontz Rating: 1 of 5 Stars Genre: Thriller Pages: 495 Words: 134K
Recently retired teacher Jim Ironheart (aptly named) risks his life to save lives. In Portland he saves a young boy from an oblivious drunk driver in a van. In Boston he rescues a child from an underground explosion. In Houston he disarms a man who was trying to shoot his own wife – and he is not just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. He gets “inspirations” and knows he must hurry to wherever prompted. He rushes off to hail a cab or catch a plane, dropping whatever he’s doing at the moment, much to the surprise of those around him. He has no idea where these visions come from or why, but he believes that he must be some sort of God-sent guardian angel with a heavenly gift.
Reporter Holly Thorne was in Portland to write a less than exciting piece on a school teacher who has recently published a book of poetry full of poems which Holly finds are pure transcendental garbage – but such is Holly’s lot in life. She is a fine writer but is failing at her job because she is filled with too much integrity and compassion to be a good reporter. As she is leaving she witnesses Jim rescuing the child from the drunk driver and felt there was something fishy in Jim’s explanations of how he started running for the child before seeing or hearing the van coming. She discovers there have been 12 last-minute rescues reported over the last three months in other newspapers by a mysterious Good Samaritan named Jim with blue eyes.
Holly is intrigued by Jim and his intense but cold blue eyes – eyes which burn with a passionate, cold fire, hence the novel’s title.
Holly decides to follow this humble yet elusive savior on his next “mission.” Unbeknownst to Jim, she rapidly follows him to the airport and boards a United Airlines DC-10 plane bound for Chicago. She decides to confront him and learns about Jim’s strange but extraordinary powers. Jim tells her that he has been sent by God to save a mother and a child on the plane – he does not know why God has chosen these two in particular, but he does know that they must change seats or they will die in the horrific plane crash about which he has been sent a vision. Holly is struck by Jim’s belief that he has some magical power, sent by God no less.
Holly takes a more cynical view on things and decidedly argues how ridiculous such thoughts are. She questions why “God” would choose to let these two people live, and allow 151 other passengers to die, as Jim has foreseen. Surely there are much more worthy people aboard, and why would God even have the plane crash at all? Holly presses Jim to do much more than just tell the couple to move, but that he should warn the pilot and maybe save everyone aboard. Jim initially refuses, and decidedly refuses to question his visions. He tells Holly simply that God sends him, and he only follows the instructions – to do anything beyond that would be to somehow go outside God’s will. Who else, he asks, could be sending him visions to save lives precisely at the right time? Holly reasons with him, and convinces him that there is no good reason for Jim (or God) to let anyone die needlessly. The plane, however, is damaged beyond saving and still crashes, but the number of fatalities reduces from 151 to 47.
After the crash, Holly manages to gain Jim’s confidence. They are attracted to each other, but Holly cannot help but be curious about Jim’s mysterious visions. She decides to discover exactly how, why, and who, just as any reporter would naturally want to know. Yet the more she pries, the stranger things get. Nearly all Jim’s childhood memories are completely missing, except that he knows his parents died when he was 9 at his grandparents’ ranch. He only knows very vague details about everything from his childhood, and gets angry when Holly questions him. She begins to see that his strange abilities are linked to his childhood and lack of memories from then. She hears him whisper in his sleep continuously for several nights, “There is an Enemy. It is coming. It’ll kill us all. It is relentless.” She and Jim start to have identical terrifying nightmares surrounding the old mill from his grandparents’ ranch, and during one of these “nightmares” they are both completely conscious and experience violence while fighting some eerie force coming at them from the walls and ceiling – needless to say, they are convinced the force behind it all is definitely not God, nor is it benign.
Holly unquestionably decides they must go back to the ranch to find the source of everything, though she is fearful of what they will find. Jim is at first reluctant, but as they near the ranch, he becomes more and more convinced that the being is something wholly great and powerful – something not of this world.
Once inside the windmill’s creepy tower room, the alien reveals itself from the adjacent pond, at first through sounds analogous to church bells and then an entrancing display of dancing colors and exploding lights. The being then starts to magically use a pen and paper to make words appear, and later manifests as a voice. It calls itself THE FRIEND who has come to them from ANOTHER WORLD. When asked why, it says, “TO OBSERVE, TO STUDY, TO HELP MANKIND.” Holly asks why, then, it attacked them the previous night, to which THE FRIEND replies that that was the work of its other half: THE ENEMY. When asked about the bells and lights, it says that it does that “FOR DRAMA?” Holly asks why the certain individuals are chosen over others, and THE FRIEND gives replies that one will cure all cancers, one will become a great president, one will become a great spiritual leader, et cetera. While Jim is wholly enthusiastic and pleased, Holly cannot believe the answers, for it does not make any logical sense and the answers seem trite, fantastical and childish to her.
Holly questions THE FRIEND far and deep about Jim while he is out of the room. All the answers continue to be too predictable to believe, and it finally answers her nagging with threats and then, most shockingly, with the words “I,” “MY,” and, “ME.” At that moment, it is discovered that Jim is actually himself the source of both THE FRIEND and THE ENEMY, that it is he who is causing the nightmares and not God or some alien force. After Jim’s parents died, the 9 year old became obsessed with a book about an alien in a pond next to a windmill – he became so obsessed that the child never grew up until one day an adult-in-body Jim ran away and started a presumably normal life. Holly helps Jim deal with his past and the two begin a new life together.
If Koontz had stuck to this being his typical thriller, I’d probably have given it 3.5 stars and seriously thought about upping it to 4.
However. There was this quote and several in the same vein:
“If there’s a God, why does He allow suffering?”
Alarmed, Father Geary said, “Are you feeling worse?”
“No, no. Better. I don’t mean my suffering. Just… why does He allow suffering in general?”
“To test us,” the priest said.
“Why do we have to be tested?”
“To determine if we’re worthy.”
“Worthy of what?”
“Worthy of heaven, of course. Salvation. Eternal life.”
“Why didn’t God make us worthy?”
“Yes, he made us perfect, without sin. But then we sinned, and fell from grace.”
“How could we sin if we were perfect?”
“Because we have free will.”
“I don’t understand.”
Father Geary frowned. “I’m not a nimble theologian. Just an ordinary priest. All I can tell you is that it’s part of the divine mystery. We fell from grace, and now heaven must be earned.”
The bolding is mine. Besides this blatant heresy, Koontz makes sure that his readers know that the main character not only studied a variety of religions, but WAS an “X” and believed in them all. A Super Ecumenist as it were.
It has never been clearer that Koontz is not a Christian even while using Christian terminology when it suits him. You don’t get to try to take the benefits of using Christian terminology while denying the strictures. You do not play games with Christ. As such, I’m done with Koontz now.
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission Title: Mr Murder Series: ———- Author: Dean Koontz Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: Thriller Pages: 500 Words: 141K
Bestselling mystery writer Marty Stillwater was recording himself one day when he realized that he was saying “I need…” repeatedly. When he rewound the recording he found that he had been unconsciously repeating “I need” for over 7 minutes. Marty was tense that whole day, when he put the kids to bed though he calmed down considerably and was finally consoled.
Meanwhile, the Killer is roaming the streets before his job. He goes into a bar and leaves with a prostitute to go to a motel. He has sex with her and then murders her because she cannot assuage his frustration. He proceeds to kill his targets and returns to his hotel. That night, still restless, he is drawn for some reason towardsTopeka. Suddenly, he starts saying:
“I need… to be… I need to be… I need to be…” As the suburbs and finally the dark prairie flash past on both sides, excitement builds steadily in him. He trembles on the brink of an insight that, he senses, will change his life. “I need to be… to be… I need to be someone.” At once he understands the meaning of what he has said. By “to be someone,” he does not mean what another man might intend to say with those same three words; he does not mean that he needs to be someone famous or rich or important. Just someone. Someone with a real name. Just an ordinary Joe, as they used to say in the movies of the forties.
— Mr. Murder page 48-49
The Killer is attracted like a magnet by some force he doesn’t understand to the Stillwater residence. On his way he kills several people; an old couple for a set of clothes and a gas station clerk to steal food and money. When he breaks into the Stillwater house he sees a picture of Marty and believes it to be himself. He observes books authored by Marty and decides they are his. He sees the pictures of the daughters Emily and Charlotte and Marty’s wife Paige, he then decides he wants to be the father and husband. He attempts to write a book but cannot and in his frustration he destroys the computer.
Marty was quite upset about his fugues (a break in one’s memory) and so went to see a doctor. The doctor attributed it to stress.
When Marty comes home he finds things misplaced and his computer smashed. The Other then enters and accuses him of being an impostor. He menaces Marty who shoots him twice in the chest, but the Other is unfazed. The fight catapults them over the banisters leaving the Other seriously injured but he gets away. Marty’s family returns home, and Marty sends them to their neighbour’s house. Soon after, the police arrive. Cyrus Lowbock, the detective, interrogates Marty and doesn’t believe his story, insinuating it is a publicity stunt. Marty and his wife refuse to cooperate and the police leave.
The Other’s body has rapidly recovered from his injuries but the effort leaves him ravenous. After consuming massive amounts of food he returns to get Paige and the girls back from Marty who he believes has stolen them. He manages to get the daughters from the neighbour’s house, but Marty sees him and gives chase. The car crashes and the girls escape but the Killer flees again.
Drew Oslett and Karl Clocker, two operatives of a clandestine government agency are sent to retrieve the Killer (referred to as “Alfie”) They discover the bodies of the two seniors and Alfie’s tracking device. A message from their agency leads them toward the People magazine article on Marty Stillwater and they discover his connection with the Killer. They meet a contact who might help them find Alfie. To maintain their cover they decide the Stillwaters have to be terminated to look like a murder/suicide and Alfie has to be brought in.
Meanwhile, the Stillwaters flee to a cabin in Mammoth Lakes and prepare to defend themselves against attack by The Other. Paige hides under a rock to ambush The Other, but unpredictably he rams his car through the cabin. The Stillwaters then flee to an abandoned church. Here Marty is shot and Paige and the girls are trapped. As The Other prepares to kill them, Drew and Karl track him down. Drew kills The Other and is then killed by Karl who has turned against the agency. He rescues the Stillwaters, provides them with new identities, a new home and evidence to bring the agency down. He explains that cloning and genetic engineering were used to create a breed of elite assassins, with Marty’s tissue samples accidentally becoming involved in creating Alfie. After a few months Marty mails the evidence to the authorities from an anonymous name and the Stillwaters begin their new lives.
This is what I was hoping for from Koontz. Pure thriller through and through. I was thinking, when I reached the end, if I enjoyed this or Lightningmore. It’s a real tossup and I would recommend either one if you wanted to dip your toes into the Koontz ocean (seriously, this guy has written a bajillion books).
In terms of tension, Koontz did an admirable job of keeping me in suspense even while staying true to his trademark “The Hero Doesn’t Die” platform. I figured the wife and kids were safe as well, but when the girls are kidnapped, I wondered if all bets were off. Thankfully, they were ok. Marty’s parents (Marty being the main character) however, were pure cannon fodder and I almost wished they’d been off’ed nearer the beginning rather in the last 10% so as to provide even more tension about the wife and kids.
I’ve got a quote or two I’m including in this review instead of doing them as separate posts (Gulag is taking up the Quote posts for the whole month, the greedy hog!)
“Standing in his kitchen, holding the loaded Beretta, Marty knew that he and Paige now constituted their own last line of defense.
No one else. No greater authority. No guardian of the public welfare.”
~ Page 248
“She wondered what it was about storytelling that made people want it almost as much as food and water, even more so in bad times than in good.”
~ Page 320
The first quote made me think about the Law and the police, as the embodiment of the Law. The Law does not PREVENT crime from happening. Nor should it. The Law states “X is the Law and if you break the Law you will be punished”. Cops are meant to be an “after the fact” part of the Law. They find and arrest the perpetrators. They don’t sit outside a private citizens house and prevent it from being burgled, that is the responsibility of the home owner. However, that is not the reality of life today. The majority of my fellow countrymen have given up their responsibility to take care of themselves and handed that off to the government. The inevitable outcome of THAT is always tyranny. Just look at how the Governor of the State of New York has acted during this covid19 outbreak to see tyranny in action.
The second quote, and its attendant idea, was much more pleasant to contemplate, thankfully. Koontz, being a writer, talks up storytelling as much as he can. He touches on the idea of stories being an escape but also states he thinks it goes deeper than that; that the need for a story is built into us, like God put it in from the beginning.
So to end this, I thoroughly enjoyed this tense thriller even while knowing the protagonist was going to be ok. That is the kind of story Koontz tells and it is the kind of story I like to read. The Good Guys Win, the Bad Guys Defeated, Evil Vanquished.
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission Title: Zero Sum Game Series: Cas Russell #1 Author: Lisa Huang Rating: 3 of 5 Stars Genre: Thriller Pages: 397 Words: 108K
From SLHuang.com & Me
Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.
As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.
Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.
Cas is hired to rescue a drug mule by her older sister Dawna. Once she rescues Jill, she realizes she’s been conned but can’t figure out why or even how. Her friend Rio, a sociopath who has turned his violent tendencies against sinners, tells her to not get involved. So of course Cas goes digging and finds the name Pithica. This gets her Information Broker and his 8 year old daughter killed and brings Cas into conflict with a Private Investigator who is tracking Jill down for murdering his clients husband.
Eventually Cas hooks up with the cop, Arthur, and they begin to realize there is an actual worldwide conspiracy headed by a group of people who can effectively read minds and brainwash anyone they want. Their goal is to reduce the overall misery in the world even if they have to take away peoples’ free will.
Cas, Arthur, and a reluctant Rio, team up and plot and scheme and eventually cut off the financial steams feeding Pithica. They attempt to trap and kill Dawna, as she is one of the Elite mind changers but it is only with Rio’s help that they make it out alive. But not unscathed. Dawna has brainwashed them into never going after Pithica again.
Cas realizes her own powers might have sprung from the same pit as Dawna’s (gene therapy, secret labs, all the usual schlock like that) but gets it all erased at the end. She hooks up with Arthur to help with his PI business.
I enjoyed the story line for the most part. However, Cass is a filthy mouth jackass and her potty mouth near the beginning of the book almost had me put it down. Also Rio and his “I’m a sociopathic killer with no emotions but I’m going to use the Bible as my moral compass but I’m damned anyway but I’m going to kill badguys anyway for God” schtick was beyond messed up. It made zero sense to me. No, I take that back. It made perfect sense if you don’t believe in an actual God but believe the Bible is a set of rules and nothing more.
The action was pretty good. Lots of fighting, gun battles, grenades, etc. Cas and her mathamagic made for some great scenes and in some ways reminded me of the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr, where he posits what is going to happen in the near future based on Action X that he takes now. No complaints whatsoever in that department.
The thriller aspect was just as well done. I didn’t even try to figure anything out (I almost never do anyway in these types of books, I’m just not wired that way) but sat back and let Huang tell her story at her own pace. It kept my attention the whole time, the tension factor was just right and I never wished the story “was over already”.
That being said, I don’t plan on reading any more in this series. Cas’s profanity and Rio (who is supposed to be a paragon of reasoning power) and his ethos, are not things I want to subject myself to any further.
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission Title: Lightning Series: ———- Author: Dean Koontz Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 533 Words: 145K
Wikipedia and Me
As Laura Shane is born in January 1955, during a freak lightning storm, a mysterious blond stranger (Stefan) prevents a drunken Dr. Paul Markwell from attending to the difficult and complicated delivery. Her mother dies in childbirth, though Laura is a perfectly healthy, exceptionally beautiful baby, and she is left to be raised by her father Bob Shane. When Laura is eight years old, a junkie attempts to rob her father’s convenience store; however the blond stranger reappears, saving them both and instructing them on what to tell the police. In 1967, Bob Shane dies of a heart attack. At her father’s funeral Laura sees the stranger watching over her yet again and begins to think he is her guardian angel, along with an unnamed man calling for her when she tries to follow him.
Laura is sent to live in the McIlroy orphanage, where she is housed with a set of twins, Thelma and Ruth, who later become her best friends. She also meets Willy Sheener, a frightening child molester who is also the maintenance man and custodian. Willy becomes infatuated with Laura due to her uncommonly good looks, haunting her wherever she goes in the orphanage. However, due to past experience the twins warn Laura that reporting Sheener, also known as “The White Eel” or “Eel” for short, will do more harm than good. Laura is eventually sent to live with a foster family that exploits her, so she purposely behaves badly and they send her back to the orphanage. After several disturbing incidents, her mysterious angel visits Sheener and brutally beats him. This scares him off for some time, until Laura is sent to live with the Dockwielers, with whom she quickly forms a bond. Sheener comes to their home one afternoon; Laura is able to fend him off and eventually kill him, but the shock of discovering the scene causes her new foster mother to suffer a fatal heart attack, sending Laura back to the orphanage. Shortly thereafter, Laura turns 13 and is moved to another orphanage for older children, and receives the devastating news that Ruth was caught in a fire in McIlroy and died.
At college, Laura’s creative writing brings her to the attention of Danny, a naive man who has fallen in love with her from afar. After a botched attempt at being her secret admirer they agree to date and over time, fall in love. After their marriage Laura becomes a celebrated author of several books and gives birth to a boy, Christopher Robert. The birth was difficult, making it so she will not be able to have any children in the future.
Years later, Danny, Laura and Chris are saved from a horrific accident by the blond man’s (revealed to be named Stefan) intervention. The unnamed man shows up moments later. Both Danny and the blond man attack but Danny dies of several gunshot wounds, before Stefan kills the man and tells Laura what to say, like years ago at the grocery store. He promises to return soon and tell more, but due to mistakes, he doesn’t return until a year later, wounded, in an isolated stretch of winter woods. Laura and Chris are able to treat him at a doctor they locate in the phone book, but must battle unknown assassins shortly thereafter.
The group hides out in a small motel. Stefan recovers and finally tells his story. He was born in 1909, making him 35 years old. He is from Nazi Germany in the year 1944, and is part of secret time traveling experiments, sending agents to the future to uncover ways to change the outcome of World War II. Stefan had previously arrived in an alternate version of 1984 and had seen Laura, who was a quadriplegic because of Dr. Markwell’s drunken errors during her delivery. However, despite her disability, she wrote beautiful books of poetry which inspired Stefan to renounce his mission, and travel to difficult parts of her life to change them. However, his superior Kokoschka became suspicious of him and followed him, sending the assassins into the future to learn of their path.
With the help of Thelma, who has become rich as a comedienne and actress since her sister’s death, they gain many supplies they need. Fat Jack, an arms dealer, supplies them with guns and Vexxon nerve gas. With the aid of modern computational technology, Stefan is prepared to go back to his time. He uses the nerve gas to kill the five men on duty at the time and disposes their bodies six billion years in the future. He makes a jump to see Winston Churchill and convinces him that the institute containing the time machine must be bombed; Churchill agrees. Stefan also makes a trip to Adolf Hitler, to convince the dictator of various threads that must be cleared up, in reality sabotaging the German war effort.
While he is gone, Laura and Chris, in an empty patch of rain washed desert, are attacked by more Nazis, as records of a police stop have been discovered. Stefan returns to find Laura and Chris dead. He works around the time limit of the machine by sending Laura a message to save them. Despite this, Chris and Laura still have to battle all four men themselves. The second cylinder of nerve gas proves invaluable. It is Laura who eventually kills all four men pursuing them, as she protects Chris as best she can. In the long months that follow, Laura and Chris are questioned by the police. They soon believe a story of ‘drug dealers’ who wanted revenge. Laura backs up her story by turning over Fat Jack, something she was going to do anyway (he does not blame her, due to his personal beliefs). Stefan, who had been hiding with Thelma, comes to live with the two again. After even more time, Laura finds herself falling in love with him.
The book ends with Stefan realizing that a throw-away comment he made to Winston Churchill had lead to the downfall of the Soviet Union in this world and that this is now the “real world”, the World That Was Meant To Be.
This book was published in 1988 and the Terminator movie was released in 1984. Considering my thoughts about Koontz and the Terminator franchise in my Hell’s Gate Review I’ve realized that the idea comes from Koontz first, and it is also something he simply cannot “not” write about. Every story he writes usually has some sort of either time traveling or alternate reality traveling.
I think this was my most enjoyable Koontz so far, beyond Odd Thomas of course. This was also one of his longest books yet. Like I said in my Quote post, this felt like Koontz was at the top of his game when he was writing this. With this being slightly longer than his normal book, Koontz doesn’t have to rush the ending, which is one flaw of his that he doesn’t seem to see as a flaw in most of his books. I was thankful for that, as it made finishing the book more enjoyable.
Now, while I enjoyed this a lot, there was some subject matter that needs to be talked about, as it could be a real problem for people. Laura was “fated” to either be crippled or raped as a child. There are two times where she is almost child raped but her protector Stefan steps in and keeps it from happening and while nothing happens, the very idea that it “could” happen was just very disturbing. It definitely was NOT a Lolita style of story plot, but the simple inclusion of it really disturbed me. Thankfully Koontz never gets graphic, but he also doesn’t shy away from his characters stating what they plan to do to Laura. So just be aware of that particular subject matter.
I mentioned the non-rush ending, which is not typical of Koontz and how much I liked that. What I REALLY liked however was how Koontz slips in a “better” future that was “meant to be”, one without a Soviet Union. I never saw that outcome coming and seeing how he wrote it into the storyline was cool. I just smiled at how he uses time travel and the rules he sets up.
I’d recommend this book as long as you handle the tension of child Laura being in real danger.
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission Title: Flight of the Fox Series: ———- Author: Gray Basnight Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars Genre: Thriller Pages: 406 Words: 108K
Sam Teagarden, former math professor and recent widower (his wife died in a car accident that also broke both of Sam’s legs), is attacked by drones and only saved by the heroic sacrifice of his dog. This leads into Sam going on the run and his young neighbor being killed by the assassins after Sam. Said assassins then make it look like Sam did the dirty deed. All the while Sam has no idea why anyone would be doing this, he’s just a math professor.
Turns out Sam was mailed an encrypted document that once he decodes it while on the run, details the love life between J. Edgar Hoover (head of the FBI back in the day) and his second in command. It also details how Hoover uses his position to hire other sexual deviants ostensibly for the FBI but in reality for his own pleasure. There are also references to Operation Over Easy, which is revealed as a secret hit team to take out any internal threat that Hoover considers a danger to the nation. Dangers like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Hemmingway, etc.
The modern day successors to Operation Over Easy, the DFC, are the ones gunning for Sam. With no oversight, they can’t allow the public to find out what their government has been doing for the past 90 years.
Sam outwits them all and releases the information to Congress, after many thrilling adventures and near-death experiences, all the while ostentatiously NOT naming the current President of the United States.
I enjoyed the story part of this ultra-paranoid thriller. It was fun to read about Sam as he dodges, ducks and weaves his way around, between and through some top notch assassins.
The author is from New York and sadly, his politics get in the way. The one republican shown is a caricature of a conservative christian who ends up practically insane after claiming that keeping the files secret is God’s will. Then you have the democrat who is open, honest and only wants the truth to be told to the American public. What a crock of poo. The author’s hatred of guns comes through loud and clear as well. Only the bad, evil, insane people in the story CHOOSE to use guns. Sam of course, being a paragon of virtue and goodness is FORCED to use guns by the bad, evil, insane people. But he really doesn’t want to, honest. And of course, the tearing down of any authority because they’re secretly corrupt and despotic is pretty standard for a liberal from New York. But the solution? Well, the author’s brand of government of course!
While I enjoyed the story, I won’t be reading any more by Basnight. He is everything that McCarthy was trying to fight against and lost.
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission Title: Time Thieves Series: ———- Author: Dean Koontz Rating: 3 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 146 Format: Digital Scan
Peter Mullion wakes up sitting in his car in his garage and can’t remember a thing about how he got there. He knows he went to his cabin to work on it, but that is it. When his wife comes home and sees him, she tells him he’s been missing for 3 weeks! Peter sets out to investigate just what happened to him.
Unfortunately, he’s having trouble counting or keeping track of time or even where he is. He loses his way one day in his office building and when he comes to his wife tells him he’s been missing again, for several days. Peter sees the same man watching him, at a restaurant, at home, wherever he turns, there he is. Peter and his wife Delia head up to the mountain cabin to see if that holds any clues. They find the cabin painted, which means Peter was there. However, upon further examination, it appears that the painting was done less than a day ago, not weeks ago like it should have. Peter’s paranoia isn’t so misplaced after all.
One night Peter begins hearing voices and he realizes he can hear other people’s thoughts. Peter ends up in communication with an alien being, who has been spying on him using its robot servants. Peter flees, honing his mental skills. During a cat and mouse game, he destroys the minds of the robots. Now he just has to deal with the aliens.
The aliens mentally kidnap his wife and tell Peter that they accidentally killed him 3 weeks ago. They rebuilt him but due to them not being familiar with human biology, accidentally gave him telepathy. They say Humanity isn’t ready for that and they just want to take that ability away from Peter. No harm, no violence, just remove a mistake that they made. Peter refuses and tells them every single human is alone and that they shouldn’t be. Peter kills the aliens, who are pacifists at heart and he and Delia go off to live a happy life, spreading telepathy to all and sundry like corn kernels to chickens.
First, that cover has ZERO to do with this story. There is no sexy woman with a ray gun, Peter doesn’t dress up like a ninja and crouch on a mountain and the UFO is only talked about. It’s actually parked inside a mountain for the whole book.
The title only makes sense if you consider the aliens to have stolen time from Peter when he went missing those several times. They can’t actually manipulate time. I kept waiting for that right up until almost the end of the book.
The tension was pretty high for most of the book and I liked that. Koontz kept me edgy and wondering just what was going to happen.
My issues came down to the fact that Peter killed the aliens because they were going to take something back that had been given by mistake. His life was not in danger, his wife’s life was not in danger but Peter had something and he wasn’t going to give it up. The justification given is because of how much Peter loves Delia, but that just rang false. He was an adult who knew enough about how Humanity would use such a gift and he was even told that it would spread but he chose to keep it anyway. It almost felt like Koontz was writing about a modern Adam and Eve, but ones that weren’t deceived into eating the forbidden fruit but ones who willfully chose to take and eat such a fruit. Even “love” can be corrupted and that is really applicable in this day and age with every idiot bleating about “love” all the time but having no concrete concept of what Love actually is.
My kindle had this at about 140 pages. I think the paperback runs around 100, so either way, it was a short little novel bordering on the novella. I wasn’t expecting a mind blowing experience and I wasn’t disappointed. On the other hand, I wasn’t disappointed. Glad I read this but don’t plan on ever reading it again.
I am thinking of adding an author’s name as a tag to any series of books that don’t have a series associating them together. I’ve been doing that with Dickens and I’m going to start now with Koontz. I will have to decide if I want to start that with every book or not. The problem with NOT doing it for every author is then remembering which authors I AM doing it for. But if I do it for every author then my tag cloud is going to grow humongously, even more ridiculous than it already is. Do any of you have any thoughts or opinions or anecdotes or experience to shed some light on this issue?
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission Title: Anti-Man Series: ———- Author: Dean Koontz Rating: 3 of 5 Stars Genre: Horror – Thriller Pages: 142 Format: Digital Edition
Scientists have created Sam, an android made up of unique flesh and capable of great feats. The problem is, Sam saves lives and the Earth is over populated with 9billion people. Not only can Sam save lives, he reveals that he is virtually immortal and can give immortality to humanity. This puts him up for first place in the “quick, let’s destroy this monstrous creation” contest. A scientist takes pity on Sam and runs off with him. They evade the authorities and Sam reveals that he is evolving and needs a place to hide.
They hide at some rich man’s vacation home and the scientist leads the authorities away to give Sam the time needed to evolve. The scientist is caught and when released, something that looks exactly like Sam tries to kill him. Sam claims to be god in the “new” flesh and that the Sam that tried to kill the scientist is a rogue part of him. Together, they kill the bad Sam and the scientist is converted to the “new” flesh and begins going around converting everyone he meets to allow mankind to fulfill their destiny.
This is going to get a bit theological, as Koontz unabashedly goes down that path and I have to take some serious exception to what is written.
The short version, I enjoyed this even though it has all “10” plot points in every other Koontz book. Considering this was written in 1970, and you can see the exact same things in the Odd Thomas books from the 2000’s, Koontz seems to have hit upon a fanbase that doesn’t mind complete recycling of ideas. Maybe he’s writing for those once a year readers? There are psychological aspects of doubt and horror that I found extremely well done and I wish Koontz had stuck to those.
Now we get into the longer version.
I’ve known that Koontz styles himself a Christian and writes at least semi-Christian ideas directly into his books. As a lure, a talking point, a place to begin conversations with others, I don’t mind when I disagree with what he’s writing. However, in this book he crosses some lines (which I suspect he backed away from so as not to be controversial in later years, hence the more veiled way of writing about it) when he has his character talk about God. Sam claims he is god but just a higher order being that could only come into our world because of the new flesh the scientists discovered and clothed the android in. The scientist claims to be “some kind of christian” but categorically denies that any religion is actually correct because God is “too big” to be contained by just one belief. This bothered me so much because it means that God is not actually God, that Jesus is not God and that the Bible is not the Word of God. Those 3 things are foundational to Christianity and to deny any of them places one in grave danger of heresy and unbelief.
God is not a created or evolved Being. He has always been and He always will be. One of the ways He describes Himself to us is “I AM” connoting that He is the End All and Be All of Everything. It might sound nice to describe a god as a higher order being, but it mis-represents who God says He actually is. It undercuts the truth of what God has spoken about Himself.
Jesus was fully man and fully God. That means that while on earth He ate food, his flesh was like ours and he pooped, peed and farted just like me (and I’m guessing you 😉 ). He also claimed from the beginning of His ministry that He was God. What Koontz writes would deny that Jesus could EVEN BE God as His flesh couldn’t take it. While what Koontz writes might be metaphor, it came across much more as deistic evolution amped up.
Finally, the idea of God being “too big” for one religion directly contradicts what the Bible itself says. The Bible states it is the Word of God, a revealing of Himself to us. While the idea of All Religions Lead To god sounds very kumbai ya, that is fuzzy feeling, new age thinking and isn’t what the Bible states. Once again, it undercuts the very underpinnings of Christianity.
With things like this, I can see why my parents never let me read Koontz as a teen. As a mature man who believes in Christ and knows WHY, this doesn’t cause me any doubt. I just find it troubling, as anyone finding a dead ant baked into their birthday cake would find that troubling. This book won’t cause me to stop reading Koontz but it has really put a damper on my enthusiasm for his veiled references to Christian ideas.
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission Title: Seize the Night Series: Moonlight Bay #2 Author: Dean Koontz Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars Genre: Paranormal/Thriller Pages: 482 Format: Digital Edition
It has been a month since the events in Fear Nothing. Chris Snow is just chilling in Moonlight Bay, waiting to see if the end of the world will come quickly or slowly. He’s out bicycling one night when he meets an old flame. She lost her husband 2 years ago and that very night her 6 year old boy has gone missing. Chris begins to track down the kidnapper and ends up at the Wyvern Base. He has a run in a psycho who tries to kill him and then in the process of leaving, has another encounter with the Troop. Also, Orson the dog has gone missing during the initial attack on Chris. While hiding from the Troop, he’s rescued by his surfer friend and they continue the hunt for Jimmy. They find a room that appears to take them somewhere else and they appear to see things that have happened in the past. They barely escape with their lives when some kind of monster infects a past researcher and they’re stuck with him. Thankfully, the “time machine” brings them back before they get axed.
Once home, before daybreak, Chris and Bobbie are confronted by the police and told to ignore everything, as “Higher Ups” are taking care of it. Considering the past track record of these “Higher Ups”, Chris and Bobby decide to ignore the cops and keep on looking for little Jimmy once night falls. They are told that the retrovirus burns itself out as the victims implode psychologically (ie, suicide) and that there are humans with natural immunity. Humanity is saved from the devastation Chris’s mom let loose. Hurray. They still have to find Jimmy and some other children who have gone missing.
Chris, Bobby, Sasha (Chris’s girlfriend), Mungojerrie (an intelligence enhanced cat) and some others all had to Wyvern to rescue Jimmy and the other missing children. Mungojerrie detects that the kids are beneath the time machine room and the machine is running while they make their rescue. Bobby is killed by security from the past and everyone sees into another dimension and a being comes through. It turns out that a murderous psycho who has been groups of children over the last 2 years is the head of the Mystery Train project and he wants to go to the other world so he can kill to his hearts content. It would appear though that he has tried to open a door to hell and something gets through. The group meets themselves on the elevator and Chris grabs Bobby and takes him with them. They escape and the time machine goes nuts. They watch it un-make itself, thus undoing the whole project but they still remember it.
Turns out the murderous psycho is still alive but now working on another project. Chris vows to stop him again and they all live happily ever after.
This was much more paranormal than the previous book. That just had a retrovirus turning everyone into bestial creatures who were just slathering to kill, pillage and rape. Here, the Mystery Train is a time machine only it turns out to “sidewise” in time and bad things have happened, hence why the project was shut down.
This book was only 48hrs and my goodness did Koontz pack in the thrills and chills. He’s very descriptive and I have to admit I wanted to skip it all but his descriptions really set the mood. Very atmospheric writing and downright creepy in place. I really liked it.
I also liked how Koontz unabashedly talks about the spiritual and how it is just as real as anything “scyenze” today can try to explain. In one paragraph Chris the main character is talking to his friend Bobby and Bobby says:
“That doesn’t bother you like it does me, ’cause you’ve got God
and an afterlife and choirs of angels and palaces of gold
in the sky but all I’ve got is broccoli.”
It is kind of silly but it really got across the hope I have as a Christian. It’s refreshing and encouraging.
I think the only thing I didn’t really care for was how open ended the book was. Yes, the Mystery Train project is revealed, the retrovirus appears to be either burning itself out or a cure quickly on the way but with the whole Tornado Alley project throwaway line and the revelation that the murderous child burning psycho is still alive and working, well, it came across as Koontz leaving the door open for more books if he needed it. He didn’t have a definite “This Is the End” like he did for Odd Thomas.
And that reminds me of the only other nitpicky thing I can blab about. The recycling of ideas. Depending on how things continue in this vein, I might end up having to read these books a bit further apart than I have been. Time machines, evil materialized, calm and rational head character, creepy and spooky looks into a horrible dimension or the future, it all is extremely familiar. Now, Koontz does a fantastic job of not making the stories (so far) clones of each other but I’m leery of the same ideas being used in different ways. We’ll see what the future holds.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased and the taut thrill of reading this was just what my brain needed.
Basic synopsis is that Frank Moses is a Retired, Extremely Dangerous, blackops operative. The highlight of his life is tearing up his social security check each month so he can call and talk to Sarah, the bored, attractive woman who wants more than her cubicle job. Moses is attacked one night by a whole team of commandos and goes on the run. He ends up kidnapping Sara to keep her safe, as he knows his calls have been monitored and whoever his enemy is will come after her to get to him. Obviously, Sarah isn’t very happy about this, nor does she believe that Moses is anything more than a delusional nutjob stalker, until he rescues her from a fake police officer who tries to drug and kidnap her. Moses hooks up with various other RED operatives to figure out what is going on. It all comes down to the Vice President of the United States and a village being massacred many years ago. Sarah gets captured and during the exchange, the real villain is revealed and the CIA agent who has been legally tracking Moses down realizes what is going on, switches sides and the good guys win (well, except for the VP. That bugger still dies).
I have been a Bruce Willis fan ever since I first saw Diehard on tv many years ago so any movie that stars him at least gets a “hmmm, maybe I’ll watch that someday” instead of outright dismissal like most of the movies today. The rest of the cast is pretty great too. Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren all fit their roles and one never overshadowed the other. Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah the young woman (well, I say “young” but she’s gotta be in her early 30’s in the movie) seemed to be there to propel Moses onward and to show off her cleavage. Thankfully, after she gets onboard and realizes that Frank Moses is serious she becomes a good lense of “ordinary” while the others are all trained assassins.
I also really enjoyed Karl Urban as the up and coming Specialist who is tracking down Moses without knowing the full story. He is ruthless and completely competent but right from the get go we know he’s not a villain, as he’s talking to his wife on the phone about their son being bullied at school WHILE hanging a guy and making it look like a suicide. That was just awesome! Also, he was a bit more chiseled in his face than when I saw him in Thor: Ragnarok, where he looked like a fat little dumpling. Once he knows the full story at the end he does the right thing. He and Willis do a brutal fight scene inside the CIA and it captures the essence of this movie. Hard, brutal, awesome and totally unrealistic.
Make no mistake, if things being “real” is something you need in a movie, don’t bother with this. In the first scene where Urban and Willis meet each other, Willis steps out of a moving at 30mph, spinning car and times things so he can step out of the car, miss the backend hitting him and starts walking towards Urban and shooting at him. It is physically impossible to go from a moving car to a walk, as your body is moving 30mph as well. But my goodness, it looked so cool!
At the same time, this was not a grim movie, not by any means. John Malkovich provides enough lunacy as a lsd experiment by the CIA to make anyone laugh and the little subplot with Helen Mirren and her old flame, a Russian operative, is gold. Freeman, as an operative with cancer, brings some poignancy to the movie and Brian Cox, as Mirren’s old flame, almost makes me not want to kill communists (but only “almost”).
I immediately went on and watched RED 2 and enjoyed it too. Not quite so cool, but still fun. However, a 3rd movie was never made and I don’t know why. I suspect that the 25% drop in revenue between the two movies might have had something to do with it however. This was actually based on a series of comics published by DC but while I enjoyed the movies tremendously, I doubt I’ll ever check them out.
Overall, this was a fantastic movie that scratched that over the top action machoman guy itch I occasionally get.
Next month I’m letting Mrs B pick the movie and I think she’s already settled on one called Penelope. I guess I’ll find out what it is about when I watch it with her 🙂 I just LOVE surprises!