Happy Reading

Toni's bookshelf: read

The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, #4)
Ape House
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Operation Napoleon
Walking Dead
The Sentimentalists
The Heretic Queen
The Midnight House
Cross Fire
Peony in Love
Finding Nouf: A Novel
City of Veils: A Novel
First Daughter
A Place of Hiding
Peter Pan

Toni Osborne's favorite books »

Monday, October 31, 2011

"The Bidding", by Bill Haugland

 2nd novel in the Ty Davis mystery

Former Montreal news anchor Bill Haugland recreates in his Ty Davis mystery the life of an eager crime reporter with his cameraman at his side and his trusty pen and notebook ready to follow ambulances and police cars in a quest to capture the next great scoop. This second novel is a mix of murder accented with arcane symbols reconstructing events that made the news during the 1970s. The main theme digs deep into scandals involving a religious cult, the action focuses on senior news reporter Ty Davis who works at CKCF, his character was first introduced to us in 2009 with "Mobile 9".

The story begins in 1972, with the abduction of a Montreal girl walking home from school. When her body with those of her kidnappers are found in a farmhouse in St-Sauveur, the nucleus of the investigation relocates to the vibrant Laurentian community. The police soon discover strange circles, symbols and triangles drawn on the floor of a secret room in the basement leading investigators to believe there is more behind this strange abduction. Could this be an occult ritual killing?

Ty Davis and his French counterpart RĂ©al Gendron are well-known for their aggressiveness in bringing the latest breaking news to the public ear. With their strong contacts they are soon drawn into a bizarre sequence of events and find themselves in the middle of a complex international conspiracy that weaves back and forth between the Quebec and the Swiss headquarters of a religious cult.

Meanwhile, on the home front, Davis faces personal problems that also need to be addressed while he pursues the demands of his job.

Mr. Haugland has delivered a captivating glimpse into the past, a blend of actual events and fiction that brings back memories of headlines, a blast from the past. The novel may not tell the full story but reading it brought me back to a very tumultuous time, not only with this sad event but also with the political and labour unrest that made the news on a daily bases. The author’s long experience and passion for reporting the news enhances the story tenfold. His writing style is down to earth and expertly captures the atmosphere of the time.

In my review of "Mobile 9", I mentioned how much I loved the intrepid Ty Davis and the rest of the cast, I am still smitten, once again the author has penned an exciting read and I am looking forward to Ty’s next adventure.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Rules of Betrayal", by Christopher Reich

Book 3, in the Jonathan Ransom series

In 'Rules of Betrayal', Jonathan is called to action by the same U.S. military team that trained his wife Emma to be a deadly operative in the espionage game. This time, however, Jonathan has a very short time to learn the ropes and rules of survival before he is placed in a precarious, life-threatening situation.

The story opens with Jonathan in Afghanistan continuing his work on his own without the assistance of Doctors without borders. When his assistant betrays him and all hell breaks loose Jonathan finally gets the occasion to meet Connor, Emma's former boss, who plays an important part in the eventual rescue by an American covert team.

We also learn Emma was recently unmasked as a double agent during an arms negotiation that went terribly wrong. Jonathan has problems accepting this theory but the mounting facts haunt him. The Division fears Emma has gone rogue somewhere in the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and is helping a wealthy arms dealer locate and retrieve a long-lost U.S nuclear warhead missing in remote snow covered mountains. With this revelation, Connor has no trouble enticing Jonathan to work with them on their next operation...

A Mossad agent named Danni will be his primary trainer and show him the latest techniques in the art of foreign espionage. The idea is to have Jonathan replace a Swiss plastic surgeon who is known in the underworld to alter the appearance of terrorists. The word on the street is a rich terrorist operative connected to the warhead wants to alter his appearance and it is felt Jonathan can gain valuable intelligence from him.

This novel of international espionage is suspenseful from start to finish, a thriller that kept me on the edge and rapidly turning pages. The story has the necessary elements to make it interesting: plenty of action, wonderful players, an exotic local and an exciting storyline made to measure for our hero, Jonathan. The author has created Jonathan as a unique character always willing and able but somewhat manipulated by both his wife and government officials. On the other hand, Emma is portrayed as a fearless super woman...

Mr. Reichs crisp dialogue, simple prose and short chapters make reading his books a pleasure.

"Worth Dying For", by Lee Child

Book 15 in the Jack Reacher series

Jack Reacher's new adventure will bring him closer to Virginia, his eastward destination. He leaves Bolton, South Dakota and his adventure in '61 Hours' behind him by hitching a ride that takes him to a desolate town in Nebraska County, his intention is to stay overnight at the only motel in town and hit the road early next morning. Avid followers of Reacher know better, trouble is never far behind.

You will think that after fifteen episodes, Reacher would know enough to keep his distance from trouble. This time his plans change when he befriends a doctor that is trying to drown his sorrows at the motel bar and offers to help him when he gets an emergency call to treat a local woman in distress. When they realise she has a broken nose and is a victim of conjugal violence, Reacher feels he is the woman's only line of defence. He soon gets embroiled in a power struggle between the town's people and the husband's powerful family. The family enforcers do not like strangers meddling in personal matters and have a tendency to discourage any involvement with brute force. After many encounters and looking like a pro-fighter on a bad day, Reacher wonders how his friend Susan in Virginia will react to his roughed up appearance. Giving back the town's people their self-respect is his immediate concern and leaving the local undertaker plenty of work has always been his trade mark before he moves on....

This novel has all the ingredients to be a successful thriller: a tough hero with a code of ethics and true American values, easy to read, although the prose may seem a bit rough it is nevertheless clear and concise, the dialogue is rather artificial but don't let it bother you too much, the storyline is an absurd and unbelievable one but full of suspense with enough violence to satisfy the average fan. It's corny, it's fun, and it's a real blast to read.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Agent X", by Noah Boyd

Also published under the title “Last Chance to Die”

Book 2 in the Steve Vail series

Former FBI Agent Steve Vail and Assistant Director Kate Bannon are back. This second instalment to “The Bricklayer” works perfectly well as a stand-alone title although to understand where the characters come from, it is always preferable to read books in sequence. This is definitely for the dye hard lovers of espionage.

In a blurb: 

Steve is asked to return to the FBI by Director Bob Lasker to handle a particularly challenging and sensitive case involving Kate Bannon, former confrere and Steve’s sometime love interest. She was rumoured to have attempted suicide but the director was never really convinced and would like to prove it. Steve agrees to help and immediately digs into the mystery and the deceit behind Kate’s incident. Steve and Kate work together on leads that take them deep into the political world and the dark and dangerous underground of foreign espionage involving the Russians.

My thoughts:

This second novel is a fast-paced and intricately detailed thriller giving an overview on how a FBI Agent may proceed in solving high-profile cases. The author presents us with a challenging story and a smart-alecky lead character, Steve, who had no trouble recognizing that the Russians had moles working within the FBI. Navigating a maze of hidden codes and deciphering the names of the rogue agents became his priority, a delicate operation, one he exceled at, a real cat and mouse game to get to the agents before the Russians eliminate them and silence their mission. 

I enjoyed most of the story, although, I admit losing some focus along the way. The plot is loaded with puzzles and plenty of action; some are repetitive and border on the silly side at times, nevertheless, the storyline is nicely written and is an entertaining read. My favourite of all the characters is Kate Bannon, she is far more engaging and intriguing than the wild card lead protagonist. It was also fun to follow the hot and cold romance between Kate and Steve; the dialogue between them is rather peppered with sarcasm making it an interesting relationship…Overall, the story is a well-rounded with a little something for everyone who is attracted to the world of thriller novels.

This series may come to a sudden end with the sad and unfortunate passing of its author.