HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Posts Tagged ‘book’

Book Review: Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos – Serpent

Posted by HelenEdith on March 22, 2008

I hadn’t come across this collaboration before. This novel is set against the background of NUMA operations, as are Clive Cusslers solo novels featuring Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. Characters such as Admiral Sandecker and the computer expert Hiram Yaeger pop up, but the main characters are Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala. They’re a little different from Dirk and Al, but come out of much the same mould.

The book starts with the sinking of the Andrea Doria off the coast of Nantucket in 1956.

It then fast-forwards to the year 2000, when Nina Kirov, a marine archaeologist, narrowly escapes being murdered when the rest of her expedition is killed in the middle of the night. She manages to escape by jumping in the sea and swimming through the underwater ruins she has been working on. The bad guys follow in a hovercraft and she’s just about to tire and get caught when she gets pulled down to safety by a diver who just happens to show up at the right moment. It’s Kurt Austin, and he shares his air with her and takes her underwater to his NUMA ship, which is nearby.

That’s only the start of the killings, as the bad guys board the NUMA ship to try and take out Nina. Kurt and Joe just happen to hear the first of the grappling hooks when the boarding party arrive, and they improvise and manage to repel them.

However, everyone then starts taking an interest in why Nina’s expedition was wiped out, and discover a number of other expeditions which have also been wiped out. All share one thing in common: they include people who have paid to join the dig as a holiday activity, and those people all came via the same charitable organisation. One starts to suspect that it isn’t quite as charitable as it seems!

We do eventually get back to the Andrea Doria, which turns out to contain a vital artefact. The bad guys want it, too, and they pop up where Kurt and Joe are several times.

All comes to a fitting conclusion at the end of the book, with Kurt and Joe saving the day and the bad guys getting their come-uppance.

I don’t think I “know” Kurt and Joe as well as Dirk and Al, but maybe if I read another book or two from the Cussler/Kemprecos collaboration, I will do so. To date, there are already seven, so there’s plenty of scope!

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Book Review: Clive Cussler – Dragon

Posted by HelenEdith on March 22, 2008

Stephen brought home a whole pile of Clive Cussler’s books from the charity shop, and I’ve been working my way through them.

Dragon starts off with a B-29 bomber taking off for Japan with a nuclear bomb as its payload. It never makes it, but is shot down by the Japanese, who have no idea what they’ve shot down, so the B-29 sinks into the Pacific off the coast of Japan and lies forgotten.

Then the story proper starts, and the reader is left wondering where on earth the missing B-29 is going to feature, as we start out with a deserted Japanese car-carrier bound for the US being boarded by a Norwegian crew who hope to salvage her. Unfortunately, it turns out that she has a nuclear bomb on board and it is causing radiation sickness, which accounts for the disappearance of her original crew. The radiation sickness drives one of the boarding party mad and he shoots a car in the hold, setting off the nuclear bomb it contains. The car carrier is instantly vaporised, and the other two boats in the vicintiy, the Norwegian boat that supplied the boarding party, and a British oceanographic vessel, are also sunk, although they go down intact.

It turns out that there’s more going on under the sea that you would think: a submersible launched from the British vessel was underwater at the time of the explosion, and with the destruction of their support ship, the personnel in the submersible are in dire danger. Who should pop up at this point but Dirk Pitt, who just happens to be on-site carrying out an undersea mining trial which nobody knows about! He rescues the crew of the submersible in the nick of time and takes them back to his hush-hush underwater habitat, but the nuclear explosion has set off an undersea earthquake which is likely to wreck their habitat, so they have to evacuate in rather a hurry. The additional personnel mean that there aren’t enough places for everybody in the evacuation, so Dirk volunteers to stay down and wait for someone to come back for him. By this time, people from NUMA have arrived at surface level, and those escaping from the undersea habitat go on board a Chinese sailing ship which just happens to have friends of Admiral Sandecker on-board. Their submersibles can’t go down and rescue Pitt, who has to formulate his own escape plan. He’s an ingenious man, and his plan works and Pitt is eventually recovered from under the sea.

Then people turn their attention to the nuclear explosion and figure out that there are nuclear bombs hidden in cars being exported all over the World from Japan. Naturally, Dirk Pitt and his friend and colleague Al Giordino get involved in figuring out where the cars are and how they are going to be used.

We do eventually get back to that missing B-29 bomber on the sea floor near Japan, and it does play a part near the end of the story.

Oh, and one other thing I enjoyed in this book: Dirk Pitt gets to meet Clive Cussler and they have a classic “Do we know each other?” moment at a classic car meet!

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Book Review: Jonathan Kellerman – Twisted

Posted by HelenEdith on March 22, 2008

I have apparently read this book out of order as it’s the second Petra Connor novel by Kellerman, but this book is complete in itself and I didn’t miss the earlier unread book – although it could be interesting to track it down and read it anyway.

In this book, Petra Connor, a Hollywood homicide cop, is baby-sitting an intern, Isaac Gomez, who is something of a prodigy. He’s doing a Ph.D. for fun before starting medical school! His Ph.D. studies have taken him into Petra’s orbit, and while studying a number of old cases, he comes up with a startling link between them, which is that all the crimes took place on June 28th.

Petra is initially sceptical, and only agrees to look into it because she doesn’t want to drop the whole thing and have it come back to bite her later. She works it in her spare time alongside the other case she is working on, and the deeper she gets into it, the more convinced she becomes that the June 28th murders are indeed linked.

Petra’s some-time partner Eric pops up from time to time and renders assistance, both with Petra’s official case and with her June 28th investigation, but in the end it’s Isaac who manages to be in the right place at the right time to crack the whole case.

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Book Review: Jayne Ann Krentz – All Night Long

Posted by HelenEdith on March 22, 2008

Although the library categorises this book under ‘Crime’ I would say that it’s part of the sub-genre of romantic thrillers.

Irene Stenson is revisiting the lakefront town of Dunsley, Oregon, which she left years ago after the sudden violent deaths of her parents. At the time, these deaths were described as murder-suicide, but Irene’s never been convinced of that, and when her one-time best friend from her mid-teens makes contact and says that she has information, Irene goes to Dunsley to see Pamela.

Unfortunately, Pamela turns up dead before Irene can meet up with her – a death described as a suicide, but once again Irene isn’t convinced.

Luke Danner is the proprietor of the motel where Irene is staying, and he makes a most unlikely landlord, as he seems more interested in driving guests away than accommodating them. Irene manages to hire a cabin from him anyway, and Luke, an ex-Marine, takes an interest in Irene’s comings and goings and is generally on-hand when Irene gets into hot water – which she does from time to time.

It turns out that there really are secrets to uncover about the death of Irene’s parents, and also about Pamela’s recent death. They turn out to be dangerous secrets, but Irene and Luke join forces and set about it.

There is also romantic interest between them, but it doesn’t get in the way of the grittier story of old crimes covered up by newer crimes.

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – Changelings

Posted by HelenEdith on March 22, 2008

(Book one of The Twins of Petaybee)

It is some time since I read the original three Petaybee novels, and I was pleased to see that McCaffrey and Scarborough have revisited Petaybee and produced a new series set there.

Petaybee is a planet which has been terraformed and settled, with the settlers mainly being Irish and Innuit. It’s a cold planet, and Sean Shongili, who appeared in the original series, is genetically modified and able to shape-shift between human and seal forms – which makes him a Selkie – a useful adaption in such a cold climate.

He is married to Yana Maddock, who also appeared in the original series, and this novel starts with the birth of their twins Ronan Born for Water Shongili and Murel Monster Slayer Shongili. The twins have inherited their father’s shape-shifting ability.

This novel follows the twins from babyhood to adolescence, and charts the mishaps and dangers encountered by a pair of Selkie children whose abilities need to be kept secret from off-worlders who would like to capture them and study them.

As always, McCaffrey and Scarborough manage to spin a good tale and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Book Review: Ben Bova – Titan

Posted by HelenEdith on February 16, 2008

It’s a while since I’ve picked up a Ben Bova book. The next one in his “Grand Tour of the Solar System” series which I wanted to read was “Return to Mars” but the library went and disposed of their only copy before I got to it! So I picked up “Titan”, which is about a habitat orbiting around Saturn. The Titan connection is that the scientists about habitat Goddard have sent a probe down to the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan, but the probe has gone silent on them.

As with the Tami Hoag book, the reader knows more than the scientists, as some parts of the book are written about the probe’s activities, although the reader doesn’t know what the primary restriction is which is causing Titan Alpha to abort the uplink of data.

We meet some familiar faces on Habitat Goddard: Kris Cardenas has a nanotechnology lab on board; and Pancho Lane, now retired (but still youthful) pops up as a visitor to the habitat. Her younger sister, brought back from cryogenic suspension and cured of the disease which was killing her, and now known as Holly, lives in the habitat, and is the reason for Pancho’s visit.

On board the habitat, we have politics, as the Chief Administrator must be elected each year. Holly throws her hat in the ring and opposes the current incumbent, who also happens to be her boss. We also have a second scientific thread, namely that one of the scientists believes that there are living creatures in Saturn’s rings. The current Chief Administrator wants to start mining the rings, something vehemently opposed by the scientists, but supported by many other habitat occupants.

There’s certainly a lot going on in this book, and Ben Bova pulls it all together with his usual flair.

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Book Review: Tami Hoag – Dead Sky

Posted by HelenEdith on February 16, 2008

This is a story about the trial of a man accused of the murder of a woman and her two foster children.

The guilt of the man being tried is assumed by everyone, including the detective who worked the case, and his other inmates in prison, and when the judge rules that evidence about the man’s past crimes is inadmissable, the reaction of the public is hostile.

Then someone attacks the judge and a prison fight leads to the suspect going on the run. A great many people had motives to attack the judge, including the detective who originally worked the case, who has also gone on the run.

In come detectives Kovac and Liska to try and sort out the mess!

The reader knows more than Kovac and Liska do, as the story is told from a number of viewpoints. However, all is revealed by the end of the book.

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Book Review: Margaret Murphy – Now You See Me

Posted by HelenEdith on November 24, 2007

The library has placed ‘Cri’ on the spine of this book, and it’s justified!

The story starts with Megan Ward going missing and being reported by her landlady as a missing person.

Then the landlady turns up dead.

This is an intriguing story about computer hacking and shady people who operate outside the law but manage to remain squeaky clean; and one hacker’s mission to bring them to justice.

I enjoyed it and will keep my eye out for more work by Margaret Murphy.

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Book Review: Nora Roberts writing as J.D.Robb – Seduction in Death

Posted by HelenEdith on November 24, 2007

I enjoy Nora Roberts’ romantic fiction, and decided to give her crime writing a try.

There are a whole series of these crime novels, which are set a little into the future in New York City, and this book is not the first in the series, so I may have missed out on some development of the character of Lieutenant Eve Dallas which occurred in previous books.

This story was about a series of killings of young women who had been drugged with powerful date-rape drugs, and it dipped into Eve’s background as an abused youngster.

One of the nice things about setting your stories in the future is that you can use things that don’t currently exist to help your plots along, including easy-to-apply disguises, medicines to cure 24-hour bugs, and cars which you can program with a destination and just switch to ‘auto’ so that they drive themselves.

I enjoyed the book and might dip into some more J.D.Robb later on.

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Book Review: Tamara McKinley – Dreamscapes

Posted by HelenEdith on November 24, 2007

I’m not having much luck with the way the library categorises books at present. This one has ‘Cri’ on its spine, and yes, a crime is committed in the book (several in fact) but I wouldn’t describe this as crime fiction.

The story follows the life of Catriona Summers, who is born to travelling music hall performers and from those humble beginnings, rises to be an opera star. The inside of the book jacket summarises the book as being about how scandalous secrets associated with her early years are threatening to come out in later life, which is probably where the library got the idea that this is a crime novel.

The book spends a lot of time on Catriona’s early years, right up to and past the time when the crimes were committed, following Catriona’s progress from living in a travelling wagon in Outback Australia through to her studying in Sydney, and her marriage to her agent. After that, the book rather glosses over her performing career and picks up again when Catriona is nearing the end of her career as a singer, by which time she is making her home in Outback Australia.

The crimes do come to light towards the end of the novel, which completes a parallel thread in the book following three generations of policemen, and how the revelations are handled occupies the end of the novel, which has a surprisingly happy ending, considering some of the events which took place earlier in the book.

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