Fallout: A V.I. Warshawski Novel
In Fallout, V.I. Warshawski sets out to do a favor for the godchild of her cousin and ends up in Lawrence, Kansas uncovering covert operations from earlier decades. The story is fictional, but its author, Sara Paretsky, discloses that it is loosely based on a factual event. She hastens to admit that she made changes to the geography of Lawrence to better suit the story.
Warshawski is tasked with locating a Chicago videographer who disappeared with his client, retired actress Emerald Ferring. Ferring has hired him to create a documentary film of her life. The two have left Chicago, headed for Ferring’s birthplace in Kansas, unaware that the videographer is being sought by law enforcement for a crime committed at his place of employment in Chicago.
Paretsky has presented a richly detailed story in which fiction and history intersect. Among the factual issues (though not specific to the town of Lawrence) are family dysfunction, bigotry, and suspicion of outsiders in a small town. These elements are masterfully blended into a riveting story that moves quickly and demands the reader’s attention.
A Patchwork of Old Spies
A drug trade operation appears to go awry and two undercover agents, Gunther and Heidi, head to Chipley Island. Zach and Jodie Warren, two of the fourteen retired espionage experts who call the island their home, are not too thrilled that the agents have chosen their haven for protection. Yet they, along with the remaining retired spies, get involved to piece together the truth behind Operation Seagull. There are way too many unrelated clues and a slew of red herrings, however, which call for intense problem solvinga time for Jodie to resurrect the program from her old Patches mission. But trying to figure out “how a South American drug business, a Far Eastern gang, and…a Russian op named Polaris,” fit together, for example, is far more complicated and extremely riskier than the retirees thinkespecially when they’re invaded.
With a slew of published works under her belt, Gini Andings latest espionage novel takes readers into the strange and mysterious world of retired spiesat least the ones on Chipley Island. Once again featuring husband and wife agents, Zach and Jodie, as principal characters (from A Case for Old Spies), Anding includes a large, but intricately designed, cast of retired spies and other colorful protagonists and antagonists set within the confines of a tight community. Of particular interest is the way Anding punctuates each character (spy or otherwise) with his/her detailed credentials in bold lettering throughout her third-person narrative. That writing style not only helps readers wrap their heads around Anding’s hefty cast, but also identifies how each character is related to the other in some fashion.
As Anding continues to introduce each cast member, she slowly, but deftly, unfolds her storyline. Key to plot building, Anding creates the most interesting character conversations. Intertwined with geopolitics and its behind-the-scene connections with intelligent activity, dialogues are filled with a combination of reality, bumbling lame comments, and ad nauseam yet hilarious statementsall compactly laced within black comedy and action-packed who’s-done-it, game-of-Clue-like adventure. In addition, Anding also keeps her narrative flowing by including cliffhangers at the close of chapters and a whole stream of unexpected scene changes.
There is no doubt in this reviewer’s mind that A Patchwork of Old Spies is one read that is truly an unforgettable one of its kind.
The Paris Protection
The Secret Service is in some ways like the NSA, CIA or some other government lesser known acronym group: just about everyone knows who they are, but they dont really know exactly how they operate or what they do. The Secret Services job is to protect the President of the United States 24/7, no matter what it takes. Their lives are always on the line for this one person. But what does this truly unique job entail?
The premise for The Paris Protection seems somewhat mundane and ordinary: a terrorist group has infiltrated the hotel where the United States President is staying and plans to assassinate her. They are fully confident in their success, while the Secret Service knows the job they have to do.
Abigail Clarke has done a lot of work – as a state prosecutor, US Senator, and governor of Virginia – and sacrificed much to become one of the most powerful and important people on the planet; many say THE most important. President Clarke does not take her job lightly and has very little free time. She is now in Paris for a summit meeting as she hopes to bring the prickly subject of organized crime to the international stage and address it as a terrorist attack. For now, the days work is done and she is at her hotel carrying out various conference calls with important people back on US soil and around the world.
Maximillian Wolff, who once served on the Israeli Security Protection team when Yitzak Rabin was assassinated, has suffered much during his life and holds the United States accountable for its world domination, and with a huge and highly trained team of mercenaries, his plan is to remove the head of power and bring the US to its knees. His right hand man, Kazim Aslan, has spent his time as an insurgent soldier in Iraq who has lost loved ones because of the United States policies and wants their assassination plan to be just as successful. Maximillian also has a hero: Hannibal Barca who once brought Rome to its knees.
The Paris Protection is three-hundred-and-fifty-odd pages that is anything but ordinary and mundane. Devore skillfully takes the reader step by step through the attack, giving POVs from both sides and plenty of detail of tactics, weaponry, and skill. It is a gripping thriller at its best. Here and there, he provides some back story to his characters–again on both sides–that help the reader understand what is fueling their desire and drive. Maximillian goes into numerous contemplations of how Hannibal handled certain situations to help them in their current one, which is juxtaposed with Secret Service Agents contemplating their skill and training and what past agents have done in similar situations.
It is the ideal blend of action and story with plenty of well-researched details that keep the reader glued to the page. The story passes throughout the hotel with some impressive battles, eventually leading down deep into the haunting Paris catacombs that serves as a terrifying arena for a chase scene. The Paris Protection is one of those books where you dont know who will make it out alive and how its really going to end; a perfect example of the thriller genre.
In the Shadow of Lies
Oliver Wright a homicide detective returns home to Richmond, California, upon his fathers insistence to try and keep his brother Peter out of trouble. Peter Wright is an Assistant District Attorney and insists on investigating the case of two children whom have died in a fire in the woods near their home, sparked by the burning of a cross, most likely the work of the Ku Klux Klan though hard to prove, because no one is willing to speak up, and anyone who tries doesnt seem to live long enough to actually do so.
Life in Richmond during the 1940s is difficult for just about everyone. There isnt a soul in town who isnt experiencing loss, fear, or heartache of some kind. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, anyone of Japanese descent is labeled an enemy of the state, rounded up, and sent to internment camps. The Italians are still on the wrong side of the war, and, thus, they are deemed suspicious and deprived of their fishing boats, homes, and livelihoods. Although African-American men are allowed to enlist in the army, they are treated as second-class citizens, forced to cook and clean after the white recruits, even when they are willing to fight and die for their country. To make matters worse, a serial rapist is on the loose, striking fear among the colored women of Richmond, while shipyard workers are also being beaten to death, with little more than relative apathy as a response from the police force.
Oliver is caught in the midst of all this chaos trying to appease his father, attempting to keep his brother safe, and searching for the truth in a town overcome with fear, yet he is unable to put his mind at ease until he can solve these seemingly unrelated cases plaguing his hometown even after he reenlists in the Army and returns to solve a new crime.
M.A. Adler weaves this taunting mystery through a series of intriguing clues, tragic deaths, awful crimes, and troubled characters. And, although these unusual crimes draw the reader in, begging for a connection and resolution against a backdrop of darkness, hatred, and bigotry, there is a lightness and all-encompassing feeling of hopefulness and camaraderie among the downtrodden folks of Richmond. Whether it is Olivers determination to find the truth, Mrs. Forgiones welcoming nature at Café Avellino, or Roans love for his dog Emma and Peters children, every character is forged out of difficult experiences, unfathomable loss, intricate family relationships, and an ardent desire for a better future and the end of the war. In the Shadow of Lies proves to be a skillfully written mystery taking place during a very distressing period in American history, yet confirms that hope and kindness can triumph over intolerance in the darkest of times.
In a small Iowa town of Junction, Joey Sheeks, the town’s biggest drug dealer, is found naked and dead in the snow. Junction focuses largely on Zack Harmen as the beneficiary of Joey’s business, we learn about Zack’s life and those around him including his cousins. Another main focus in the book is newcomer Eric Marquez whom seems one step ahead of the law but no one seems to know who he is or where to find him, which is a huge annoyance for the local sheriff. As for the law makes in Junction, are they really as squeaky clean and law abiding as one would expect? Will this book series be another predictable bad cop versus drug ring set up? I guess you will just have to read it to find out!
In some areas, this book is quite predictable, however, this character driven thriller does give a stomach churning read. The author does well to take the reader through different timelines in different locations whilst keeping readers engaged with exciting and descriptive images. Some descriptions are a little too much for ones stomach to handle so be warned.
Like all great multi part stories Junction leaves the reader with questions unanswered and a few cliff hangers to contemplate. I personally found this book a little difficult to get into at first, the timelines felt a bit hodgepodge, as you started to immerse yourself in a character, you were sent whirling into another character, it made them difficult to understand. Once you get past that, readers will find the book very likeable and will understand where each person is coming from and how Joey’s death affects them in a deeper sense than originally realized.
The most off putting part of this book is the blacked out words throughout the whole book, it seems unnecessary to censor this book in such a way.
A family is murdered in a dilapidated Minneapolis housing area, and Milo Krantzthe unpopular rental agent of the unitis pegged as the culprit. Fifty-two-year-old Detective Gunther Mulvaney senses that Milo is telling the truth when he initially pleads not guilty. Yet overnight, Milo’s court proceedings become a main public attraction, and it’s only at the sentencing stage! In addition, Milo not only suddenly changes his plea, but also refuses to say anything in his own defense. Gunther, wondering if Milo’s drastic indifference has something to do with the judge handling his trial, does his own sleuthing. It is a matter of time whether or not Gunther can collect enough evidence to prove Milo’s innocence before he is sent to prison.
Award-winning author, Patrick Garry, spins a mystery within a mystery in his recent novel. Key to Garry’s third person narrative is a complex cast. Garry features a handful of tainted charactersnamely Gunther Mulvaney, Milo Krantz, Judge Donna Davis, and her husband, Steven Davishiding behind facades . Surrounded by a supplemental yet foiled cast, each principal character (whether a professional or supposed lowlife like Milo) is a mixed bag of personalities laced with problems and/or deception. That said, Garry keeps readers scratching their heads and wishing that the real culprit would rise to the surface. Adding to the confusion, Garry’s characters also have their own set of convoluted circumstances that slowly intertwine in the body of plot.
Garry keeps his story moving by incorporating the aforementioned literary tools within chapters that alternate between character scenes as well as backstories. Amid a flurry of activity and red herrings, Garry also includes cliffhanging chapter endings that eventually (for the most part) get resolved in subsequent chapters. Replete with plenty of twists and turns and closing on an eerily open-ended note, Blind Spots is not only a top-of-the-line read for mystery aficionados and beyond, but also earmarked to be another award-winning book.