Book Review: Marshall’s Law, by Ben Sanders

cv_marshalls_lawAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

This is Ben Sanders’ second book with Marshall Grade as its central character.

Marshall Grade is a former undercover NYPD officer hiding out in California, when he hears that federal agent Lucas Cohen has been kidnapped. Cohen’s abductors only want to know one thing – where is Marshall and how can they find him? Cohen manages to escape, outsmarting his captors and warning Marshall to lay low while they figure out why his captors are so interested in Marshall and his whereabouts.

Marshall can only think of one person who would want him dead – an old flame Chloe Asaro, whom he made the mistake of shooting. So is this revenge or something else? Marshall comes out of hiding to find out who wants him dead.

Dexter Vine a small time crim is leading the hunt for Marshall and is hoping to use the $5 million bounty to pay off Chinese mobsters. Who has put up the $5 million bounty?

This is a classical whodunit of the Jack Reacher era with lots of gun fights, the usual pile of dead cops, and criminals running and fighting it out for a piece of the action or a body – whatever comes first. I hung on every word, and it kept me wanting more.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Marshall’s Law
by Ben Sanders
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760294892

Book Review: Night School, by Lee Child

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_night_school“In the morning they gave him a medal, and in the afternoon they sent him back to school.”

Night School is Lee Child’s twenty-first novel in the Jack Reacher collection. (It’s debatable about referring to the Reacher books as a series, as they’re not serial in Jack’s timeline. On Mr Child’s website On Mr Child’s website you will find  Jack’s chronological order for reading the titles, below the list of the titles in order of publication.) It is set in 1999. If Mr Child’s wanted to keep Jack Reacher fans happy, then this – his twenty-first Reacher book in the growing collection – has certainly achieved its purpose.

In Night School, Jack is made invisible by sending him to training school – where he finds two other ‘students’. All are invisible to personnel in the Military Police, the FBI and the CIA. The three agents are to work a clandestine investigation into all possible threats, reporting only to the National Security Advisor to the President, through his senior deputy Dr. Marian Sinclair who briefs them: An Iranian (a double agent) living with three Saudis in a safe house in Hamburg, has reported a message carried by a courier “The American wants one hundred million dollars”. Their job: to learn what is being offered, worth that price. There are two rules: Rule number two: talk to no one – except Sinclair. Rule number one: do not burn the Iranian asset. Reacher brings in Sergeant Frances Neagley, and heads to Hamburg to find out what they can.

Soon after arriving, they are called back to McLean, where they are briefed on a possible product – a Trojan virus has just appeared on the black market: it can override the patch coding for ensuring computer systems correctly handle the millennium clock change – the Y2K threat – and stop computer clocks at any moment. The team’s focus now is to track down who could be arranging that Trojan’s sale. Who more likely than a geek? And a convention of coders was held in Hamburg at the time of the message being reported. The team sift through records of Americans attending the convention, turning up one ex-pat American living in Hamburg. News comes in of a Hamburg police report from a witness to an agitated meeting between an American and a “middle-eastern” man. Tracking movements of American military moves, Reacher & Neagley discover three serving in Germany have gone AWOL – one for four months. Reacher & Neagley are ordered back to Hamburg, with pics of all american geeks for that witness to id.

The investigation continues, with Child giving snippets of the actions of other parties in the plot, building up the complexity of the case, and allowing readers to visualise locations and character, and foresee possible events – yet there are still surprises. Action scenes are defined crisply, with realistically timed reading pace matched with movement. Threats on the side build tension, and the engrossed reader will surmise the worst scenario possible; resist the urge.

All in all, a satisfying read, from the opening to the resolution. Reacher fans and new readers alike will become engrossed in this book, being released globally on November 7.

Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street

Night School
by Lee Child
Published by Bantam Press
ISBN: 9780593073902

Book Review: The Black Widow, by Daniel Silva

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_black_widowHaving never read a Daniel Silva novel before, let alone one from the Gabriel Allon series, I was deeply impressed with The Black Widow. It was a great representation of what seems to be Daniel Silva’s incredible skill in crafting a bestselling thriller. The Black Widow contains an intricate plot about a legendary spy, a terrorist organisation, and a young woman who has the right skills at the right time.

The novel starts off appearing to be completely unrelated to the intriguing blurb covering the back of the book, but then it gathers momentum and mystery, becoming clearer where a character such as described in the blurb fits in. An attack from ISIS initiates an introduction to a secret Parisian counter-terrorism group, and from there the story works it’s way towards Gabriel Allon. Wanting the best to be involved in finding the perpetrators and stopping further attacks, Gabriel is enlisted by the French government to eliminate the threats. A plan is set into motion, infiltrate the ISIS caliphate by means of a Black Widow operation. A candidate for the role is then selected, and so begins the dangerously sensitive mission.

Daniel Silva writes with seemingly great insight into intelligence agencies from around the world and their counterparts of criminal and terrorist organisations. As stated in the forward and the author’s note, the events, incidents, characters, and places are of course fictitious, but still it is entirely believable in the sense that Silva manages to be realistic and rational.

The book itself could quite easily have been a stand-alone book; a new reader such as myself has no trouble in picking up the plot and the characters. It is not as though all the background information is thrust upon the reader so that the current story can be understood and get underway, but rather Silva reveals the previous stories and details almost with caution, letting them be explained when appropriate. As the reader, there are times when you desperately want to know more about how the past has affected the present situations and relationships, and it is then that more is provided. However, for the many people that have read the series and do know Gabriel’s history, in my opinion these explanations and flashbacks would not feel slow or repetitious. It is easy to tell that these features only scratch the surface of previous events that make up the 15 books before The Black Widow, serving as a reminder to those who have read them and for those who haven’t, making them eager to delve deeper into Gabriel’s story.

There seems to be a lot of fascination for characters like Gabriel Allon; an individual that possesses a skill set that is nothing short of extraordinary which contributes to making him mostly a misunderstood hero, if that; yet always in some respect unknown which seems to provide most of the allure surrounding such characters. Those such as James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Reacher, and many others have proved that there is a definite market in the entertainment industry for these brilliant and complex characters. While similar in the basic undertones, they continue to thrill those who read the books in which their lives are contained or watch the movies where their heroisms are portrayed in 90 minutes or so. Daniel Silva has created an individual that, in my opinion, stands out among these. The Black Widow is the latest instalment of the 16 book series that features Gabriel Allon, and in one book he has been able to spark my interest enough to read more of Gabriel’s story, and this to me shows incredible skill.

Reviewed by Sarah Hayward

The Black Widow
by Daniel Silva
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
9780732298951

Book Review: Never Go Back, by Lee Child

This book will be available in bookstores on Friday 30 August, in time for Father’s Day

I have been a fan of Jack Reacher books for a long time. You can always be guaranteed that Jack Reacher novels have lots of action with the inevitable good guy versus the bad guy/s.

One fascinating piece of information I found whImageen researching Lee Child, the author, is that Lee Child is actually his pen name. He was born Jim Grant. He started writing novels in 1997 with his first one being Killing Floor. Never Go Back is his eighteenth.

Jack Reacher was a former military cop. He starts out in this book, journeying from South Dakota to Virginia and then onto Washington D.C to visit his old unit, the 110th MP. He had earlier spoken to the new Commanding Officer, Susan Turner. Jack liked the sound of her voice and so had decided to pay her a visit, but on arriving at his old unit he found not Susan Turner in his old office, but somebody else – Colonel Morgan. We are then told the story of why the former Commanding Officer has been relieved of her posting. Reacher finds himself embroiled in criminal proceedings and back in the army. Colonel Morgan decides to have Reacher where he can keep tabs on him. “You’re back in the Army, Major. And your ass is mine.”

What Reacher doesn’t expect to happen, is that he is accused of a 16 year old homicide and named in a paternity suit. We follow Jack on his quest to get himself cleared of all charges, and through his ensuing friendship with Susan Turner. The way events unfold, as both of them are charged with crimes, makes for an enthralling tale.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The twists and turns keeps the reader in suspense right to the end. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher story lines may seem to start and finish in a similar fashion, but I enjoy them. 

To all Jack Reacher fans – you will not be disappointed.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Never Go Back
by Lee Child
Published by Random House
ISBN 9780593065747

Email digest: Wed 4 July 2012

This is a digest of our Twitter feed that we email out most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sign up here for free if you’d like it emailed to you.

Events and happenings
Page & Blackmore will be having Afternoon Tea in the shop on National Poetry Day Friday 27th July at 3pm. Bring along your favourite poem to read. All Welcome. [no link]

Book News
Helen McAleer named Chief Global Development Officer at Walker Books

American publisher revives interest in one of Australia’s best-known writers

New and upcoming releases

Lonely Planet has NZ covered with four new guidebooks in 2012

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

From around the internet

So many Wal-Marts, so few libraries. Wal-Mart Converted into a Library

The Jack Reacher teaser trailer is here, starring Tom Cruise as Reacher.

Book lover Paula Green in today’s NZ Herald

Office antics

Just another day at the BooksellersNZ office