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 »

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"An American Spy", by Olen Steinhauer

Book 3, the final chapter in the Milo Weaver trilogy

The final volume has a complex story that deepens as the plot moves forward spanning the globe going into and developing every nook and cranny of the multilayered and multifaceted world of espionage. The thriller starts off as a very challenging read it masterfully portrays the action from different angles and perspectives as it jockeys back and forth in time. The abundance of Chinese names and the intricacies of their customs and bureaucracies develop into mind bending and complex situations that are highly action packed, concentration is a must but the dividends are rewarding in the end.

The action starts in the aftermath of 37 departmental Tourists (undercover assassins) targeted and eventually eliminated in orchestrated raids by Chinese spymaster Xin Zhu. Milo Weaver although wounded was one of the few who managed to escape. In the ensuing investigation, Alan Drummond was fired and the department dismantled. With revenge on his mind Alan does his best to recruit Milo who unfortunately has one thing on his mind, put the past behind and assume a normal family life.

Alan’s determination is so strong he goes rogue and uses one of Milo’s compromised aliases, attracting immediate attention and setting off alarms in the underworld of international espionage. When Alan suddenly falls off the radar Milo feels he is the one best equipped to track him down and attacks the challenge with the determination of a pitbull. Milo is soon caught up in an endless web of deceit with no backup facing danger on all sides. Hunted by a dragon with many heads even his family is at risk.

I highly recommend reading the two previous novels. With them fresh on your mind it will be easier to make sense of this intricate plot and understand the main characters’ background. I feel it is essential in order to appreciate the full depth of this complicated by highly entertaining story.

I will miss the unique adventures this protagonist brings to the table in his quest to protect country and family back home.

"Headhunters", by Jo Nesbo

This standalone novel has a very cinematic quality about it and is an invigorating read that provides hours of entertainment. It offers a wonderful change of pace from the author’s well-known series featuring the tough, hard drinking police inspector Harry Hole.

The story is fast paced and is narrated by a smooth, secretive and deeply bashful business executive Roger Brown whose high paying job is to recruit senior managerial talent for leading international corporations. Roger’s vanity is his fine head of hair and his trophy wife Diana who runs a fashionable Oslo art gallery which he heavily subsidizes. Their lifestyle stretches the limits of their day jobs so to pay for their extravagance, Roger has a lucrative sideline. Without his wife’s knowledge Roger and his assistant from a security firm steal precious art works and connect them with the discreet well to do for a hefty price.

Everything goes fine till one day he mixes his day job with his extracurricular activities. While breaking into the house of one of his well to do and well-connected clients he uncovers his wife’s missing personalized cell phone and realizes she also may have a shady hidden side to her life. In days to come, Roger discovers he may have targeted someone too close to home. The client/victim/lover and very dangerous man is now hell bent on finding the person who crossed him and will go to any extreme to make him pay. Roger will need all the brainpower and plenty of luck to distance himself from the predicament he is in.

Jo Nesbo has a unique writing style that encompasses an abundance of twists and turns and side plots that are well-crafted. He skillfully builds suspense into dynamic plots that have excellent narration and characters that are not only intriguing but also extremely well-developed.

This mystery had my full attention right from the start and it was a blast till the very end.

"Snow Job", by William Deverell

Book 4, in the Arthur Beauchamp series

“Snow Job” is the first book I read from this author, it has been on my TBR list for a long time and I finally got around to reading it. Before writing my thoughts I needed to refresh why it ever made it on my list, digging deeper I discovered that Mr. Deverell is a crime writer who has won several major crime-writing awards and also the Stephen Leacock medal for Humour. Since I am a fan of thrillers and mysteries, it must have been a recommendation at one point by a friend. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of mystery thrillers seasoned with political and judicial satire.

The story spins a wild tale full of biting satire about the Canadian political machine, tactics employed by CSIS and some eco-terrorists hanky-panky. The author works the crime and mystery side through his protagonist, Arthur Beauchamp, and the suspense and intrigue inevitably moves the storyline to the House of Commons in Ottawa where his wife Margaret Blake is serving as the leader of the Green Party of Canada. There is plenty of gripping action but it is often overshadowed by the author’s description of the shenanigans that go on behind the lines in the halls of power. The author’s perceptions hit home and it is quite laughable especially when it mirrors what we read or hear of on an almost daily basis. The story has numerous characters and each one has a tale to tell. However at one point there are just too many details and the theme becomes laboured and tiresome.

The offbeat plot opens when a delegation of government officials from Bhashyistan is targeted and their car is blown sky high on Bronson Avenue and the aftermath causes the shares of a Calgary-based oil company with interest in the country to promptly drop like a stone.

Arthur, the crafty lawyer who has years of experience, is only too happy to jump to the defence of the suspected assassin who is in hiding. With collaboration from and accompanied by a dubious spy who happens to work for the Canadian intelligence agency CSIS, Arthur travels back and forth between Ottawa and Garibaldi, finally ending up in, of all places, Albania….

If you are not familiar with Canadian politics and the two major languages it may be difficult to fully grasp the satirical content of this wildly imaginative and truly Canadian story.

"Performance Anomalies", by Victor Robert Lee

This debut novel is definitely a literary cloak and dagger thriller and I hope it is just the start of a captivating series. The story is fast paced and very intriguing, I found it a bit hard to get into at first but within a few chapters I had grasped the style and I had a feeling the author would expand on the pertinent details in the following paragraphs. Elegantly written this spy novel introduces Cono a protagonist who can run with the best. This young man of mixed heritage is blessed with a hyper-fast neurological system. With this asset and other natural talents he acts as a freelance spy offering his services to dubious organizations and governments. This is not a drawn out story with excess information or a book you can read a few pages at a time. I feel concentration is a must, the more you are into the storyline, the more you will enjoy connecting the dots and see the whole picture and not miss anything along the way.

“Performance Anomalies” brings Cono to Kazakhstan on a personal mission to rescue a former lover who has a habit of following the rich and famous who run the line between corrupt and good business. The country is rich in natural resources, oil for one with Beijing as its main buyer and uranium which is coveted by the Soviet market. These resources are also highly targeted by jihadists who will go to extremes to gain control of them.

Once there he is sucked into a maelstrom of troubling events, some very explosive and violent. He also quickly finds himself targeted by this growing underground force. As the plot thickens there is no shortage of action and details that are guaranteed to stimulate ones imagination. The mystery reaches far beyond the confines of one country and a hefty price awaits anyone who interferes.

I would consider this debut novel to be an excellent choice for anyone who enjoys thrillers with a twist.