"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Friday, September 12, 2014

TUNNEL VISIONS by Kurt Kamm

  Gritty Realism and Eco-Terrorists in This Firefighter Adventure

Published in August of 2014 by MCM Publishing

Over the years I have read a ton of books about police officers of all sorts: cops on the beat, homicide detectives, FBI agents, Secret Service and more. But, Kurt Kamm specializes in writing very detailed, authentic feeling books (as far as this high school teacher can tell, anyway) about an equally visible group of first responders that I have rarely read any books about: firefighters. 

In Tunnel Visions fire captain Nick Carter, an expert in underground search and rescue missions, is called in to a task force that is investigating a possible terror attack on a gigantic underground tunnel that helps supply the water for Los Angeles. His fiancee, an ATF Special Agent, is on the ground looking for the same eco-terrorists.

The book uses a series of flashbacks to go back and forth from the current day story of the terrorists to Nick's childhood and early career. He was inspired by the story of his father, a man who died in a horrible accidental explosion while digging the very same tunnel that the terrorists want to destroy. But, as the story progresses we learn that Nick has been hiding multiple secrets about his father and those secrets could destroy his career and even his relationship with his fiancee. The Sylmar Tunnel explosion was an actual event. It happened in 1971 and killed 17 miners. Click here for more information.

This is a very readable book with lots of danger and suspense (and really bad traffic). The flashbacks sometimes feel like they are getting in the way of the real story but, in the end, the flashbacks pull the whole thing together in an ending that may be a little too nice (but a happy ending is okay every now and then!)

 Note: I was sent a review copy of this book at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

I rate this novel 4 stars out of 5.
Reviewed on September 12, 2014.

LION of BABYLON (Marc Royce #1) (audiobook) by Davis Bunn

  

Published in August of 2011 by Christian Audio
Read by Paul Boehmer
Duration: 10 hours, 40 minutes
Unabridged

Veteran writer Davis Bunn (also known as T. Davis Bunn) is known for writing Christian historical fiction and Christian thrillers. Lion of Babylon is a Christian thriller centered on an intelligence operative named Marc Royce. 

Royce is one of the best of the best but he has recently been forced to retire due to the petty whims of his boss, a well-connected adviser to presidents of both parties. But, one Sunday after church Royce is picked up and offered the chance to return to his job in order to investigate the disappearance of one of his closest friends who was on assignment in Iraq. Even though Royce knows almost nothing about the Middle East he is sent to Iraq to solve this mystery.

Once there, Royce is immersed into a world of intrigue and double-dealing. Royce discovers that his friend is involved in a lot more than anyone ever suspected and all sorts of people do not want him to be found including staff members the American embassy and the ruling elite of Iraq. 

As Royce begins to investigate he quickly develops a reputation as a straight-talking man who tells the truth, has no hidden agendas and is simply too tough to be killed. Once he finds an Iraqi Christian man named Sameh el-Jacobi with a similar reputation for telling the truth and searching for truth and justice they begin to find out what was really going on and discover a religious and political movement that no one could have predicted...

I have to rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5. It takes far too long to get up and running, the "precocious" and perceptive niece of el-Jacobi was far more irritating that she was endearing. The religious movement that begins to make over Iraq in this novel sounded like an incredible fairy tale when contrasted with the real-life religious atrocities (beheadings, crucifixions, mass murders to name a few) that were occurring under the banner of ISIS as I was listening to this audiobook. While I would hope that this book could be a signpost to a possible future of Iraq, realistically,I have to doubt that any of it could ever happen. Sadly, I think the way of ISIS is a much more likely future.

Paul Boehmer's reading of the book, including a good grasp of accents and the ability to differentiate a great number of characters, was solid but did little to assuage the underlying weaknesses of the book.

I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5.
Reviewed on September 12, 2014


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MILDRED (short story) (kindle) by Sean Ryan O'Reilly

   

Creepy short story with a Stephen King vibe without all of the filler.

Published in 2014

The short story Mildred has a tone and plot that is reminiscent of a Stephen King story. Certainly, O'Reilly could have stretched this 42 page short story (novelette) out a bit more like Stephen King would have, adding much more detail but not have really adding much to the story itself. 

Instead, O'Reilly goes for a much quicker, more minimalist approach, letting the reader try to figure out what is going on while a creepy vibe and sense of dread build.




The story begins with a family fight between an aunt who is a realtor (Denise) and her niece (Josephine). It turns out that the aunt has convinced her niece to invest in a shady business deal and Josephine has decided to cash out by just taking one of her aunt's homes. This home is crammed full of consumer products. Josephine clears out a space and sets up housekeeping.

When she discovers the diary of the former owner of the house she learns that her aunt was much more depraved than she had ever suspected. Plus, there's the odd noises and other strange things that keep on happening...

I rate this short story 4 stars out of 5
Reviewed on September 3, 2014