Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review -- The War Planners by Andrew Watts

The War PlannersThe War Planners by Andrew  Watts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!!! Andrew Watts's  The War Planners  is an amazing novella. It has suspense, it has mystery and most importantly it ends with a cliff hanger. A short read around 86 pages, but it is nonetheless packed with twists and turns.

David Manning is a retired Navy soldier working for In-Q-Tel a CIA  backed venture fund which spotted potential technology which will allow US to maintain its technological advantage over its contemporaries. He is abducted on his way back home and flow to a remote island in the middle of nowhere where he meets other people with experience and expertise in technology, military, intelligence, strategy and what not... They are called The Red Cell and they have 3 weeks to put together the most devastating plan where they will forecast the worst possible attack scenarios that China can come up with if it wants to overcome the United States in an unconventional warfare.

Asymmetric warfare at its deadliest. Everything looks legit... but David's instincts are off, and he is worried that things are not as they seem...

The novella sets the right tone, the dialogue is crisp without going too much into the technical details which may divert the readers attention.

My only peeve with this is that it left me hanging at the end... I want to read through to the end and know what happens and I want to know it now....

Andrew are you listening... Andrew....

Book Review -- Eye for an Eye by Ben Coes

Eye for an Eye (Dewey Andreas, #4)Eye for an Eye by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fates hate Dewey Andreas. Whenever Andreas has something good going on in his life, Fate seems ready to rain on his parade. One Tough Man showed the world, what one-pissed off Delta out for revenge is capable of. Coup D'Etat was more of the same.

In these two books, while Andreas was always a mean son of a bitch he was also slowly mellowing down from his always angry, always drunk redneck attitude. The reason for that mellowing was Jessica Tanzer. Parallely introduced along with Andrews in Book#1 she has been a bigger part of the reason why Andreas was returning slowing to the civilization after spending a decade as a loner out in the woods after the death of his son and the suicide of his wife.

Andreas’s life changed with his increasing interactions with Tanzer, while he will always be the rough, kick ass Delta; the self-destructive and suicidal behavior was a thing of the past. With life looking up for him in the form of Tanzer, Andreas slowed a bit, he got more used to planning things, asking for help from others and slowly being ready to work as a part of the team as we saw in Book#3 which enabled the rescue of Kohl Meir and the recovery of Iranian nuke.

Andreas also exposed the mole within Mossad who is then killed brutally by Meir as Book#3 ended. Retaliation was always expected, when it did I was expecting it to come from the Iranians. Coes outdid himself when he introduced a new albeit the most ruthless and malevolent villains in the form of Fao Bhang.

Operating with impunity from the shadowy corridors of power within Beijing, Bhang has a personal vendetta against Andreas. The Mossad mole was somebody who Bhang owed his position and power to and his death was a direct insult to the powerful chief of the Ministry of Secret Service (MSS). Bhang wanted Andreas dead at any cost. A kill team is readied to take him out and Tanzer gets caught in the crossfire.

Andreas loses somebody important from his life again. This time right in his arms and he his pissed. He is beyond pissed. Learning of the role played by Calibrisi and his co-horts in drawing out Bhang, Andreas loses his composure and breaks off from them.

Never piss a Delta to the point where he doesn’t care what happens to him, coz you can never plan for what he will do, Andreas in a daring and unimagined move, kills Bhangs half-brother inside China. While CIA and MI6 tries to catch up to Andreas and protect him, Bhangs blood is up at the death of his brother. A TEP order for Andreas is issued internationally by the MSS and it is open season on Andreas. With personal recognition and the highest possible service award at stake, the Chinese operatives are ready to take unparallel risk to eliminate Andreas.

What follows is a no hold barred, only one will survive fight between Andreas and the entire might commanded by the MSS. With even his family is targeted for extermination, only the quick thinking actions of his 13-year old nephew who fortunately was in the right place, at the right time with the right weapon to save the Andreas family from being killed outright. [Spoiler Alert!!] Plots and counter plots within Chinese politburo played by Bhang against the Chinese Premier Li and Li’s counter strategy gains Andreas an unlikely ally when he targets Bhang inside China and exterminates him with extreme prejudice. [End Alert!!]

Eye for an Eye is an entertainer. It is rare among the thriller books that character development takes place for any character other than the lead character. But Coes manages to develop important characters like Hector Calibrisi, Rob Tacoma, President Denenbach amongst other. Interspersed with action are real nuggets of spying and sleuthing when the team formed to find Andreas turns over the smallest rock to get a clue.

In conclusion, Eye of an Eye is an emotional journey for Andreas. Book#3 saw him take on unparallel odds in debt of a friend, this one sees him take on the might of any entire country to avenge his love. At the end of the book Andreas is at a crossroads, he straining under emotional loads with nobody to talk to, Tanzer was his safety valve, his release outlet, now she’s gone he has to start all over again and his enemies are still around. Let’s not forget Abu Paria or even Mahmoud Nava from Book#3. It is clear that they will not forget Andreas saving Meir and taking their nuke from them so easily.

Book#5 will be a cracker IMO as it will have Andreas emotionally unstable and the world which needs saving.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review -- A Spy Came Home by H.N.Wake

A Spy Came HomeA Spy Came Home by H.N. Wake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in return for an unbiased review. I can attest that the review below is unbiased and entirely my own thoughts.

The premise of the book was interesting. It deals with a topic on which America is completely, utterly and absolutely divided. Gun-Control. The books mirrors the current situation in America so in addition to a thriller it is a political plot as well. Hmm.. that's enough to garner my interest on any day.

Cal Bertrand - a 15 year ATF veteran is in the doghouse. Given a punishment posting pushing paperwork, Cal is waiting for his time out when he gets a confidential State Department cable from an anonymous email account.

Gun Control Legislation is about to come up for vote in the Senate. The pro-Gun lobby SFG is going all out to ensure that it is defeated. Two friends - mothers themselves and having lost people to the violence of guns; recruit Mac Ambrose their childhood friend and a CIA officer - who has spent 20 years of her life working for Langley - to make sure that the Gun Control bill goes through the Senate. They want a free, fair and non-lobbied voting where the Senators will listen to their constituents and not the lobbyists.

The story follows Mac as she goes about sabotaging the SFG to ensure that the Senate Legislation on banning the semi-automatic weapons goes through. The storyline moves along Mac's past and the present where a lot of things that make Mac are revealed. The pace of the book is steady which holds a readers interest and the plot is tight.While there are many exploratory detours made, none which take the spotlight away from the story (always a plus IMO) the focus is on the mission to stop SFG. Wake perseveres in keeping the story on throughout the novel.

The readers get insights on Mac Ambrose and what makes her tick through the snippets of her life as the book moves into flashback and how that situation ties into the current scene. Her personality and her reasons for doing things the way she does are explored thoroughly. [Spoiler] We find out that Mac was compromised in China, she underwent torture and even rape.  [Spoiler end] While Mac is on the mission to ensure that the gun-control legislation goes through, Cal Bertrand is hot on her heels trying to find out who is responsible for sabotaging SFG so close to the legislation. As Cal chases Mac, she always ensures that she is one step ahead.

A Spy Came Home deals with an very interesting subject often ignore, the CIA Officers who spend their lifetimes abroad collecting information, turning and running agents for their country. It is not a glamorous or a thrill seeking or a James Bond-esque life as mentioned by Mac to her lady friends who equate her life to a Hollywood action story.

The question to ponder is what happens to these officers when they come home. Do they fit in or is life a daily struggle as Mac finds out while she tries to reconcile with her old life, pick the pieces and then move ahead.

A solid start a good female lead character in the form of Mac Ambrose whose strong suit is subtlety. Something which her adrenaline fueled male counterparts don’t understand much. I for one would like to read more of Mac Ambrose.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Review: The Last Refuge by Ben Coes

The Last Refuge (Dewey Andreas, #3)The Last Refuge by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben Coes shifts focus from the Indian subcontinent to the war torn, intrigue prone Middle East in his latest explosive Dewey Andreas#3 - The Last Refuge.

The premise is extraordinary. Israel has traditionally been a tipping point, a rallying cry amongst the nations of the Middle East. Coes throws all that pent up hatred and warring into the limelight with the ultimate what if scenario? What if any nation in the Middle East would become nuclear armed? What if they were to bomb Israel? What will Israel do?

It is this fear of Israel’s retaliation that has keep the Middle East in check. The unilateral actions taken by Israel in protecting its sovereign and in pursuing all those who have harmed Israel to their graves is legendary; from Nazi torturers to Palestinian terrorists - Israel has extracted its pound of flesh every time it has been provoked.

Kohl Meir  - Dewey Andreas’s rescuer from Book#2 is kidnapped by VEVAK the Iranian secret service. As the great-grandson of Golda Meir Kohl is a high value target. He is being held at Evin prison, the most secure and frightening prison in all of Iran. Dewey Andreas is not somebody who will let this go, especially as it was Kohl and his Shayetet Thirteen which had saved his life at the cost of sacrificing 7 Israeli soldiers. Andreas makes it his mission to get Kohl Meir out of Iran alive. A tough ask by any sense.

Soon this mission spirals into an impossible one with the news leaking that Iran have successfully created an nuke and is getting it ready to target Tel Aviv. Rescuing Meir and saving Tel Aviv becomes important and an unattainable priority by the looks of it; with leaks in Mossad, CIA and a new President at helm of US ready to extend the hand of friendship towards Iran, Andreas does not have many options and he has to improvise on the fly.

With Israel targeting high profile Iranians worldwide in retaliation for the kidnapping and imprisonment of Meir; the mullahs of the Supreme Council blinded by their hatred of Israel decide to unleash their weapon. Time is running out for Andreas and with no logistical, operational and tactical support from the US government or the CIA this may prove to be an impossible mission for him…

But Andreas has allies,  Iranian information minister Lon Qassom and Taris Darwil a journalist for Al Jazeera are working overtime to find out where the nuke is located, so that Andreas can be informed and Tel Aviv saved. Sacrificing their lives in getting the word out to Andreas, they strive to show that there are some good Iranians still left.

Going up against an fanatical Mahmoud Nava - hell bent on nuking Tel Aviv and the sadistic Abu Paria the chief of VEVAK - a ruthless, intelligent man who will let nothing come in his way of maintaining the status quo in Iran, Andreas has his work cut out for him. Throw in a double dealing Mossad agent, a China working off its own plans - Andreas is facing insurmountable odds.

Reading through the book, the reader understands Andreas’s rationale and his utmost determination to save Kohl Meir. Afterall it is a favor owed to a man who saved his life against improbable odds. You can almost sympathize with Andreas’s feeling of being at cross roads with himself. He wants to live a life of his own but at the same time he can’t let go of his duties to his country when it needs him the most.

Andreas is a flawed hero, he drinks almost excessively, is prone to depression, does not value his life, undertakes almost suicidal missions to make peace with what he feels is his fault for the death of his wife and child. He can also kill in cold blood in pursuit of his aims. Andreas can be any soldier or operative who has survived the forge of war and come back home only to find that while he was busy surviving the world has moved forward without him.

A 3.5 stars rounded off to 4. Ben Coes continues to tell a good story using Dewey Andreas.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tom Wood - The Anti-Hero Writer

Tom Wood is newest, hottest and the most exciting name in Thriller genre today. He exploded on the scene with The Hunter.Victor (no last name known) is an assassin. In face we are not even sure if Victor is his original name. A man who is at the top of his game.  A nameless, faceless assassin. Tom Woods chose to write the story of an anti-hero, a man who stays in shadows. A man who does every movement with economy so that none is wasted. A man who performs to the peak of his ability because he has conditioned his body to do so and above all a man who is supremely and extremely disconnected with the world. Victor is the perfect killer.

The Hunter introduced Victor, Bad Luck in Berlin showed a side of him that was human. The Enemy saw Victor moving from freelance assignments to working as a off books contractor exclusively for CIA under duress due to the events in The Hunter. The Game saw Victor come up against an fellow assassin as ruthless and as deadly as him, but even more cold blooded. Following the events of The Game Victor turned protector as a favor to an old acquaintance instead of being on the other side of the barrel in No Hold Barred. Victor came up against his toughest opponents in the form of Nieve Anderson and Sinclair.

What makes the story of an assassin so enthralling? Authors have always written about assassins, cloaked in mystique and suspense they have always been around serving as a plot device, brought in and out of the storyline as and when desired but never in spotlight. Never the lead. That changed when Tom Wood wrote about Victor.

Victor is a man with no past, no future but only present. Victor is us. There is a Victor in everyone of us. What makes Victor so intriguing or even exciting to read about is we want to live vicariously through him, live a life outside the long reach of the law, always in the moment, always in the tenterhooks and always waiting - ready to strike at a moments notice. It is this darkness that draws us to Victor and Wood does an amazingly good job of writing Victor in such a way that every book reveals one facet of Victors character and leaves you on the tenterhooks wanting for more.

Never has any author dare to glorify the villain, the person who does the dirty deed. Tom Wood has done that with Victor and thus break free of the shackles of right and wrong, the moral compass of the story shifts dramatically with Victor in the spotlight as the rights become wrong and the wrongs become right. This is essence is the true genius of Tom Wood.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review - The Masada Complex by Avraham Azriel

The Masada ComplexThe Masada Complex by Avraham Azrieli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard good things about this author in the reviews left by my fellow GoodReaders. It was the reviews that inspired me to pick up this book. This is the first book that I have read of Avraham Azrieli. I must admit I am confused after reading this book. It propagates the idea that Palestinians are all terrorists and Israels excesses are justified due to them fighting for their promised land.

I disagree, the plot was good enough, but it also rode high on showing that there is nothing that Israel does not know or it does not manipulate to suit its purposes.

Masada El-Tal the titular heroine is a disillusioned sabra who left Israel in disgust after the death of her brother due to bureaucratic rigmarole. She has made a new home in America where her investigative skills have earned her a Pulitzer and brought down two Senators with her exposes. Her expose of a corrupt Senator helping Israel push through laws in its favor starts a dramatic political shift away from the Israel in America. Just when we are dealing with this, Azrieli deals an ace by showing that all these events are being manipulated by Levy Silver who is a Palestinian in the garb of a Jew out to destroy Israel by any means and planning this plot for around 20 years now.

In a twist of fate the paths of Levy Silver and Masada are crossed by personal tragedy that occurred at the start of the book where they both lost their loved ones and their paths crossed each other.

The scene is set for a intriguing finale where the reader is holding their breath to find out if the America-Israel relation will be lost and new Palestine will rise in its place or if Masada will be able to expose the conspiracy for what it is - a plot to disgrace Israel.

However Azrieli complicates things by indulging in religious dogma by both Rabbi Josh and Prof. Silver. Also what got my goat was that Masada was literally showcased as a superwomen who survived a car crash, arson, and numerous other assassination attempts.

The ultimate cliche of the entire thing being a plot instigated by Israel just to paint the Palestinians in a bad light was a bit too much. The other stereotypical typecasting of Palestinians and a bit of Islamophobhia came up in the end. The Palestinians merciless disregard for a pregnant woman and turning her into a suicide bomber just to serve their purpose was too much to digest and lead to the loss of couple of stars. Rabbi Josh also came across as a fanatic caught between the scriptures, his love for Masada and struggling to cope with the loss of his wife and son. His character did not serve any purpose other than that of a smokescreen to send Masada on a wild goose chase.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review -- The Warrior by Ty Patterson

The Warrior (Warriors, #1)The Warrior by Ty Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second Indie author venture. For those of you who don't know Indie = independently published author. An author whose books are published directly on Amazon. No publisher involved or rather self publishing. I came to know about Ty Patterson's books through the group A Good Thriller which we are both members of. Ty commented on one of my posts within the group with a comment that was in no way a self promoting comment. It made me look him up on GoodReads and from there to his books. While I must say I did not pay $0.99 for his book, having gotten this one for free by signing up for his website. I am curious about the series. It deals with the murky and shadowy world of private contracting. This is what I have gotten from reading the blurb on the book jacket so far. It is an intriguing world to say the least, most of the off books and black ops these days are done using the private contractors - they have no oversight, no rules of engagement binding them and they don't answer to the Geneva Convention. For the right price the private contractors can deliver you what you want - no questions asked. They will even gift wrap it up for you if necessary. Such is this world of secretive deals and even secretive operatives. They are for the lack of a better word modern day mercenaries available for sale to the highest bidder.

These facts make it all the more interesting that no big ticket author has take a crack at this angle for setting any of their series. The novel starts off in Congo where a mass butchering has just happened and a person who could help was asked to stay put and just recon. They say to catch a thief put a thief on his trail. Similarly there are some private contractors gone rogue in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zeb is called in to find and report on them. The narrative changes from first person to third person and back within the chapter and it is a bit jarring at first to go from first person to third person, but eventually the reader adapts to the back and forth. Thus begins The Warrior series. Patterson does a very good job of introducing the readers to a group of special ops veterans who are a tight knit group.

I liked Zeb. The character has a lot of layers built into him. Of course he is a kick-ass operative who is stern and stoic, but he also has a lot of tenderness in him which comes out when he plays ball with his sisters neighbors son Rory. He is determined and ruthless in his pursuit of the mass murderers but he is also careful in keeping the innocents out of the harms way. The Black Warriors introduced by Patterson are equally good and if The Warrior was Zeb's story then I would like to read about the rest of them one by one in the other books in the series while they are out dealing their brand of justice.

Sometimes vigilante style justice is what is needed. The Warrior is the story of powerful people twisting, breaking and manipulating law and getting away with it.. almost. It is about how the world does not care for the lesser countries in the world beyond paying lip service to the cause. It is about the system that manages the world is broken but there are still people who care enough to fight for it.

It is an interesting debut and a very fast read. So looking forward to the other books in the series. I promise you Ty they are on my shopping list at Amazon and very soon will be reviewed here as well.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review -- Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Mean StreakMean Streak by Sandra Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sandra Brown is a master of suspense and intrigue. Her books are always set out to bring the worst out of the readers deduction capabilities. After reading a Brown novel when you look back you say how was I so wrong about that? How could I have missed this? How the heck did that happen? The questions that you have once you read through to the end of the novel are along similar lines and none of them provide you any answer other than the obvious one - WE ARE TRAINED TO THINK THE WORST OF A PERSON.

Mean Streak is as the title says, its about the mean streak possessed by everyone the protagonist, the antagonist, the side kicks, the hero, the heroine.. I mean literally everybody. The book has so many twists and turns that it feels as if the reader is on a roller coaster ride, hurtling from one ride to another and thinking where the heck is my stomach? This is only the third novel that I have read from Brown following The Crush and The Alibi earlier. Both books were good solid suspense page turners and I must say Mean Streak does not disappoint either.

Mean Streak deals with the kidnapping/murder plot of Dr. Emory Charbonneau who is a regular do gooder. When she gets kidnapped while training for the upcoming marathon that she is organizing the needle of suspicion falls on her husband who's been having an affair with Emory's friend behind her back. While things seem relatively straight forward, nothing is as it seems including an enigmatic stranger who save Emory when she is concussed. It is only natural that our Dr. falls head over heels in love with the stranger who would not even give her his name. Thus begins a cat and mouse game where the reader is left wondering just who is the suspect there. Everybody seems to be the suspect except for our fair maiden. While the needle of suspicion points sorely at the enigmatic stranger the husbands hands are not so clean as well.

Brown takes the reader on a rollicking ride of suspense interspersed with her trademark steamy scenes. While they come across as a bit crude and written for the peanut gallery, I am docking a star for them being out of place in an otherwise crisp storyline.

Overall the plot is good and keeps the reader hooked up until the end to guess who the murderer/kidnapper is. I would rate this one a good 3.5 stars.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 - Mission 45

This year I have set myself a target of 45 books in GoodReads. While goodreads will help me keep track on my books, I also plan on writing 45 reviews; 1 for each of the book I read. Keeping that in mind at minimum 45 blog posts will be posted by me on the blog, more traction that the blog has seen in some time.

So the first review can be expected sometime in the next couple of weeks. Currently I am reading Mean Streak by Sandra Brown and that will have the honor or being the first book review post on the blog for 2015.

Keep the view and the comments coming, I know it is a tall ask for comments, but at the very least a line saying the review sucks should not take more than 60 secs of your time.

Cheers and here's to happy reading in 2015!!!!