Sunday, August 17, 2014

Final Victory


Wade Brogan, Jr., hard-bitten San Francisco detective, suspects that dementia is the source of his failing father’s fanciful tales about his career in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps during the development of the atom bomb.  Then a Russian derelict, well-padded with years, is found dead in a Tenderloin flophouse.  His room is stacked with shoeboxes full of yellowed documents, many of which bear the fading red stamp, “Top Secret.”  The shroud of skepticism drops from his father’s ramblings about his mother having been a Soviet spy.  Over an evening of beers he shares with his fellow cops the story of how the Japanese and the Russians nearly vaporized the City by the Bay but for the frantic scrambling of Wade Brogan, Sr.

It is a little known fact that the Manhattan Project assembled four nuclear weapons before the end of the Second World War.  One, of course, was tested at Trinity Site, New Mexico, and one each were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as we all know.  The last was held in secrecy for use in the event that Japan did not unconditionally surrender.  Phillip Bosshardt postulates how close to catastrophe we might have come if the Russians and the Japanese had cooperated on information gleaned from the sieve-like security surrounding America’s mad dash to perfect an atom bomb.  This epic length saga tells a chilling tale that rings true at each convolution of plot.  The historical backdrop is expertly woven, the characters fully developed and the pace nearly perfect.  All fans of historical fiction and alternative history are going to love Final Victory. 


251,570 Words (A long one!) 

Price $4.99




I didn't find it at Amazon.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The White Prisoner


Galabin Boevski was too small and not well enough connected for acceptance on the football team at Plaven’s sport school so he opted to try weightlifting.  It was a propitious decision.  He proceeded to set records, earn prizes, wealth and win medals—including Olympic Gold.  Officials both rightly and wrongly accused him of doping, coaches and authorities stabbed him in the back, and when he made the foolish mistake of buying new luggage in São Paulo, he was busted with nine kilos of coke surreptitiously sewn into the lining of the suitcase.  Hefting the bulk of a weightlifter then kept him alive for two years in a Brazilian prison.

The world of Bulgarian weightlifting is certainly an esoteric topic and not one I had given much thought, but sports writer, Ognian Georgiev’s journalistic style lends this story—which is based on fact—a kind of urgency that keeps the pages turning.  Boevski’s rise from obscurity, his financial and professional insecurity; physical setbacks, and ultimately, legal struggles, present a compelling story that could unfold anywhere in any sport.  This book has the earmarks of the Louis Zamperini story, Unbroken.  Whether you are a sports enthusiast or not, this is a great read.  
Price $3.99
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Dalliance Back into the Mainstream

When art dealer, Julian Isherwood, is duped into discovering the tortured body of a spy turned dirty art dealer, Gabriel Allon is strong-armed into investigating by the director of the Italian Art Squad.  Once again Gabriel has to suspend the restoration of a famous alter piece, and abandon his pregnant wife in Venice, to go into the field.  The investigation segues into a quest for a Caravaggio that has been missing for decades and the trail leads to the civil war raging on Israel’s northern border with a chance to deprive the Syrian president of his looted assets.

All of Daniel Silva’s tales involve intricate, twisted plots, but The Heist may well be the most convoluted to date.  The impetus of the story changes directions so many times it leaves the reader with vertigo and throughout is woven the subplot of Gabriel Allon’s pending ascension to the directorship of the Israeli Intelligence Service.  As always The Heist is filled with Allon’s dry wit and his tortured past.  I promise that if you weren’t a follower of Gabriel Allon, after you read The Heist, you will return to read the previous thirteen installments in the series.



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I'm afraid you won't find this one at Smashwords.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Declaration: Tales From a Revolution-South Carolina


Katie Harris, near modern day Charleston, is helping her grandmother clear her house in preparation for moving into a nursing home.  Starting in the attic Katie finds an ancient trunk bearing the name ‘Elizabeth Harris.’  Inside she finds letters and documents dating to the Revolutionary period.  An historian from the university arrives to authenticate them and uncovers an even more earth-shattering and plan changing discovery.  Nearly two-hundred and fifty years earlier Justin Harris ekes a living on his tobacco farm on the same piece of land that Katie’s Gram occupies today, however, his dreams of peace and prosperity are haunted by the growing rebellion.  Risking all by joining the Whigs’ cause, Justin earns a commendation for his heroism in defense of Charles Town, but it comes with hefty price.

This homey tale continues relating the stories of two generations of the Harris family separated by more than two centuries.  Being a fan of both history and genealogy, this book had much appeal for me.  I am also greatly enamored of Charleston and the Low Country in general, so all aspects of The Declaration were calling me.  However, I must offer a constructive criticism: the dialogue is unconvincing.  The characters never speak to one another without referring to each other by name.  If a husband and wife are talking, how frequently do they call each other by their proper names?  I was particularly bothered by the conversation of the slave, Terrance, who spoke like he had been educated at Eton and referred to Justin as “Mister Harris” instead of “Massa.”  Ignoring the overly formal speech and the political correctness, Lar D.H. Hedbor’s Declaration is worthy of attention. 

Price $4.99
52,140 words

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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Half-Hanged Man



Thomas Page was not finished being hanged when a would-be campaigner bought his indenture and saved his life with the condition that he join his band of mercenaries on the Continent.  Page not only excelled at pillaging, he became the leader of a company of plunderers—known as the Wolves—who made their living sacking castles and towns from Navarre to Burgundy.  Enter the Raven, a black haired Spanish courtesan with a grudge toward King Pedro of Castile. Page and the Raven are lethal pair but are compelled to stay one-step ahead of Hugh Calveley who is determined to avenge Page’s killing of his cowardly cousin, William Calveley, the misguided general who saved Page from the gallows.

The Half-Hanged Man is a fine story told in the format of eyewitnesses relating their tales to a well-known chronicler.  There are three parts and points of view that come together in a jarring climax.  The context is the fourteenth century Europe and David Pilling’s knowledge of contemporary terms and trappings is impressive.  He transports the reader to the time and place with his excellent prose and use of language from the late 1300’s.  All fans of history will enjoy The Half-Hanged Man.

I've only found this book at Amazon, but the good news is it's free.
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Monday, July 7, 2014

The Legend of Henry Berry Lowery


Henry Berry Lowrie was a very wily blue-eyed Indian.  In the final days of the Civil War when all of the South sat on the brink of starvation, Henry Berry and his Lumbee Indian friends and relatives waged a war of plundering the rich and sharing with the needy of Robeson County, North Carolina.  The Lumbee knew the swamps around the Lumber River better than anyone else, having taken refuge there from the depredations of white encroachers since colonial times.  At the war’s end when the outrages of Reconstruction were heaped upon the genteel white community they became indignant at the effrontery of the Lowrie gang and offered irresistible bounties for their capture.  Henry Berry was nothing if not an upright man—his thieving and revenge killings aside—and because he lived boldly and openly, captured he was, and escape he did.  Then he and his gang members were captured by treachery, and craftily escaped.  Enter on the scene, two vengeful widows, victims of Henry Berry’s murderous side and downtrodden by the insults of Reconstruction, then the blood money reaches a staggering sum.  Armies of bounty hunters swarm the swamp and most are never seen again.

Astoundingly, this story is true.  Warren Reichel’s research and descriptive skills combine to make the kind of a tale that one wants to stay with to the end.  This is the kind of lovable rogue saga that everyone treasures, but unlike Robin Hood, this man was real.  The determination to preserve the community, protect friends and family, extract justice and to enjoy life in the face of adversity is as inspiring as entertaining.  The author has told his story brilliantly and delivers the astonishing climax with aplomb.  This is exactly the kind of book I love to read, and although I had not known of Henry Berry Lowrie, I am familiar with the Lumbee culture and the region, and in fact, I claim a Lumbee ancestor, so this was a double delight for me.  I think everyone will enjoy it, too.


So far it is only available via Amazon in paperback for $17.99.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Virtual Conflict


A Chechen assassin fulfills a contract on a cyber-security software executive, while on the opposite side of the world, a North Korean cyber-warfare expert is recruited to work with a team of Chinese students being paid to hack into the data bases of major corporations by a mysterious Russian-American billionaire.  Oddly, when the attack occurs, no real damage is done except to the  stock market.  Subsequently, there are a series of mischievous hacking incidents against Chinese government websites that intend to embarrass the regime.  As all this is transpiring, North Korea is plotting to turn upcoming war games into the real thing.

Virtual Conflict is a multilayer, complex and intriguing story with loads of action. Terence Flyntz’ technical knowledge of his subject is vast, and the turns and surprises never stop coming.  Unfortunately the prose is a little stiff and repetitive in places.  This is a story that is more told than shown,  plus the dialogue is often multiple paragraph soliloquies that don’t sound like normal conversations.  I rate this tale  at five stars for content but only three for execution.  Nevertheless, the plot is in league with The Hunt for Red October and I did enjoy reading it.

142,590 words
Price $4.99

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