Category Archives: Adventure/Thriller

Review: Bio-Strike

Bio-Strike
Bio-Strike by Jerome Preisler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am slightly! behind on my reviews, so this one isn’t as clear as it could be. But I gave it four stars right after I finished it, so I must have liked it 😉 Harlan Devane, a megalomanic with dreams of world domination, has created a super-bug/gene that lies dormant in your genes, awaiting a trigger to unleash it’s deadly potential. It can be designed to target specific groups or people. So he decides to sell the designer gene to various groups, militant whites, militant blacks, Islamists, just about anyone who is interested in exterminating another group or race. And he himself has an interest in one man, the president of a global telecommunications company, Roger Gordian. Why he has a grudge against him personally is part of his endgame, so I can’t spoil it, but as he races to ensure his agents are in place, that the triggers are in the right hands, and is awaiting cash from his various buyers, Roger falls ill, as his trigger has been “pulled.” His security team, and his medical team race against the clock to find out what has happened to him, what or who caused it, and is it related to other unexplained deaths, such as the young new president of Bolivia, who was struck with a mysterious illness and died, although since it might cause a panic in a newly stable country, the circumstances are under wraps. it’s an exciting game of cat and mouse, of betrayal upon betrayal, from large players to small. Written by Jerome Preisler, and created by Tom Clancy and Martin Greenburg as part of Tom Clancy’s Power Plays series. A worthy entry.

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Review: The Games

The Games
The Games by Ted Kosmatka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a really good book – reminded me in a way of Masello’s The Bestiary. The basic premise is that a group of scientists, in the near future, are working on building, from the genetic code, a hybrid animal that will compete in a new feature of the Olympic games, the Arena – these non-human hybrids, one from each country, will fight to the death until only one is standing, and the honor and glory of the best bio-engineering goes to the winner. The game is held in the city of the last winner. The U.S. has been the winner for the past three games, all that has been held. The Games are overseen by a board, and by a board within each country. The U.S. board is pleased that they have been winning, but last time they barely squeaked by. So they decide to bypass the head of the genetic research department, without his knowledge, and ask a computer to design a new animal. What comes out of the mind of the mad genius who built the computer, and the computer’s soft logic programing, is awesome and scary. Terrifying, horrifying, and plausible, it is a stay up all night reading to the end kind of book. Swift paced, not big on characters, but the plot is good, and I thoroughly enjoyed this look into bio-ethics.

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Review: Strindberg’s Star

Strindberg's Star
Strindberg’s Star by Jan Wallentin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a slightly unusual entry into the DaVinci Code type thrillers that I call artifact thrillers. It’s about the story of a man who found pieces of an ancient device, buried in the sands in a city lost in the desert in Southern Russia/Mongolia. When the star shape is placed within the ankh shaped cross, they come together to form a celestial map to something. What that is, and how it is found, then lost,and found again now, is the exciting part. It’s a race against time, and several competing interests, all who want the power that is Strindberg’s Star. Wish I could give you more, but I forgot to write the review before returning the book, and without it in hand, my memory won’t allow me any more details. The main character is a reporter, tracking down the story of a cave diver who found a piece of the device, buried deep in a cave in Sweden, and a lawyer who tries to help him, but for his interests or her own? A race across the continent, through Belgium, Germany and Russia. And a caring sister, who’s hacking skills help them get away from those that would do them harm add to the cast.  No one is quite “clean” here – they all are hiding something, from minor issues to larger ones.

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Review: Leviathan

Leviathan
Leviathan by David Lynn Golemon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really good Vernesque classic romp. The Event group, as this is one of ther adventures, is a super black ops project, deep in a well concealed location in the Nellis Air Force Base. Down about 50-100 stories are levels for administration, research, a super computer that beats all super computers, and levels upon levels of vaults, large and small, that hold the treasures of the world, and the oddities of science, collected by the group. Think of the last scene in Indiana Jones, but instead of a warehouse, climate controlled vaults, and labelled, catalogued, etc. The Event Groups raison d’etre is to follow historical trends, and objects and see how events and things influenced history – to try and learn from it, good or bad. They study the past to help the future. Warehoue 13 thrown in. In this one, the Event Group’s headquarters is somehow infiltrated, and the top leaders are kidnapped, and two vaults are blown up. And the computer storage records on those vaults is missing. Left behind is a skeleton staff trying to recreate what those objects were, to better understand why the kidnappers came. The story starts out with a man in a famous prison, Chateau d’If, where he is languishing because he refuses to give the upstart Napolean his plans for batteries and a submarine that would help him win the war. He escapes, helped in part by a pod of dolphins, and what he calls”angels of the sea.” He eventually ends up in Norway, where the treasure he found on his escape has helped him to finance his further research. After he is killed to try and steal his a special artifact he has, his son continues to find a way to finish his work, and thus the Leviathan is born – a mighty submarine, built around the time of the Civil War, but 100 years ahead of it’s time, to be used for peace, and helping the world’s oceans. Knowledge of the sub disappears after the civil war, but something is out there in the seas now, sending out unknown weapons that can disintegrate a whole battleship in seconds. And then demands are made that oil shipping be stopped, and travel on the sea restricted to civilians. They want to preserve and protect the ocean life, much of which is dying, as well as a certain new element. Led by a fanatical woman, and a faithful crew, the story continues with the Event group working from outside and inside the sub to stop the attack, and find out the mysteries and discoveries of this vessel. Great, ripping yarn as they used to say. Fun, lots of references to books, people, etc. I always enjoy the books in the series, and this as no exception.

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Review: Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice
Fire and Ice by Paul Garrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid thriller about a man and his doctor wife who sailed the south China seas on their small yacht with their daughter, stopping at al the local islands and attending to people in distress. In reality they were running away from a past that had happened to them, not because of anything they had done. One day they get a distress call from a supertanker – someone needs help. But at the same time, on the atoll where they are to be picked up, is a man dying of gunshot wounds. The father, Michael, decides to stay and help the old Polynesian sailor, while his wife and daughter board the super tanker and help the passenger there. Before he know what is happening, their boat is picked up, swung aboard and the tanker leaves him stranded on the tiny atoll, while his wife and daughter are aboard the supertanker. Having no idea of who or why, Michael sets out on a journey across the China seas, looking for help along the way. In his search he goes to Palau, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and eventually Tokyo as he tries to unravel the mystery of his wife’s disappearance and apparent kidnapping, while he is being followed by thugs out to kill him. In between his adventures are the ones of his wife and daughter on board the tanker as they themselves try and figure out where they are, and how they can get safely back. Full of sailing terms and nautical stuff, it’s still a good yarn. You don’t have to know how to reef a sail to appreciate the majesty and terror of the high seas. Unique and powerful.

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Review: Fertile Ground

Fertile Ground
Fertile Ground by Charles Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good solid medical thriller. Delaney Jeffries and his wife Jordan, are scientists exploring the Amazon jungle when they stumble upon a group of Indians that blows a dart at Jordan, and seems to be ready to attack the rest of them. They radio for the helicopter to return immediately, and since by that time, several of their members were looking ill they headed for home, as that had been the last leg anyway. But unknown to them at the time, a lethal virus had entered their systems, and that some of them were dying, exhibiting signs of rage and cannibalism. Meanwhile, the freighter that brought them to the area where they could hop a flight home, is also having trouble – they found a murder victim on board, but one by one, they too are felled by the sickness. The Us government immediately goes into crisis mode, quarantine, etc., and tries to find not only the virus or bacteria that created this toxin, but also the mode of contagion. And then it’s back to the scene of it all, as the try and trace the origins, in that fertile ground before one of them dies from it….

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Review: Kill Decision

Kill Decision
Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an explosive novel. Like his two previous novels, Suarez takes onto the cutting edge of technology and gives you a what-if scenario. Starting with drone attacks, planned and unplanned, and then on to a myrmecologist, studying weaver ant social structure in Africa, and posting her algorithm structures of their activities on-line. Weaver ants are unique in that they are the most aggressive species and of the few species besides man that seeks out and destroys rivals. They don’t just wait until they invade – they seek them out. They communicate through a trail of pheromones, and through that complex scent trail, can lead other ants to food, defense, or offense. Unfortunately, her research has been hijacked by an unknown group and used to form a drone army. She gets dragged into it, since it’s her algorithms that form the drone swarm behavior. Along with her is a super secret special ops guy named Odin and his trusty team. Fascinating look at ants, but also a terrifying glimpse into the abyss of automated weaponized objects. Not all the drones were actual drones. Some were built to look like real animals and insects. The group must thwart an attack that could start of WWIII, and force the nations of the earth into a drone build-up, something to be avoided at all costs. Suarez as usual does a great job at not only drawing you into this very complex web of action and intrigue and technology, but also alerting you to the possibilities that lie only small steps away. There are plenty of links at the back of the book to shore up his research. One to read and be scared of.

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The Third Gate: A Novel
The Third Gate: A Novel by Lincoln Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great single book from Lincoln Child. Fast-paced, great atmosphere, and a fun background, albeit a little improbable make this one good thriller. I flew through it, as I do all of his (just finished Utopia recently for the 2nd time and it was as good as the first time). This one takes place in the Sudd, a nasty bottleneck swap of flotsam and jetsam that has floated down the Nile, and been caught there, creating a morass of fetid smells and muck. The pharaoh’s tomb they are searching for they think is at the bottom of the Sudd, and so they have erected a huge enclosure over it to keep out prying eyes. This could be the find that eclipses Howard Carter and King Tut, as it may be the tomb of the king who united upper and lower Egypt millennia ago. Spies, curses, and paranormal activity keep this going with our hero, a prof. of medieval history and also an enigmalogist who dabbles in things that others don’t understand, like the Loch Ness monster, etc. Suspend your disbelief and you will have fun. Clean, good fun.

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Review: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel

Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel
Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the latest Sigma Force thriller from Rollins. Since this one is focused almost entirely on the group’s main adversary, it does help to have read at least some of the more recent books in the series, to understand not only the subtle relationships between the group, but also the history with the Guild, the arch-nemesis of Sigma. Sigma is a shadowy governmental force, buried deep within DARPA, which is comprised of Painter Crowe, the leader, with his girlfriend, a doctor named Lisa, Grey Pierce, the head of the field team, Kowalski, a big bear of an ex-special forces soldier, Monk, one of the team, whose loss of a hand in combat a number of books back led to a sort of early retirement and house-husband duties as his family expands to two kids, and his wife Kat, also an agent who has left the field, but returns for this one mission. Add in Seichan, a former Guild operative, a new but promising young computer expert Jason, and a new temporary, but likely to return team of Tucker and his war dog, Kane, a highly trained dog with a thousand voice commands and hundred of hand signals, who help proves to be invaluable when the president’s daughter is kidnapped while 8 months pregnant. She and her husband fled the family’s compound after she received information that led her to think she and her baby were in danger. As they chase the leads from Somalia to Dubai, and back to South Carolina, the action if high, the tech is out of this world, and the bio ethics cutting edge. The Guild is exposed, but not dead. At the end, he gives a number of links to various sites where you can find more information to back up much of the research in the book, and some of the fascinating facts. A fitting piece to the Sigma Force.

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Review: Utopia

Utopia
Utopia by Lincoln Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great one by Lincoln Child, writing solo. This is the second go around for me, previously having read it about 8 plus years ago. It is a very well-researched, strong thriller in an amusement park, miles outside of Las Vegas, set in a deep chasm, so that visitors approach the front of the park on ground level, and it falls away behind the park to several levels of offices, maintenance etc, . The park is under a large dome, sectioned into four themes – Gaslight, a perfectly recreated Victorian London, complete with Jack the Ripper holograms waving bloody knives and running around, fog, and tea, lots of it. It also “rains” every so often, just for about 90 seconds, a light mist, just enough to keep it cool and damp. It even smells like old London might. The next is Callisto, a bustling spaceport, with tons of fabulous roller coasters and scream rides, along with robots. All the robots are connected to a main frame via a metanet, or AI intelligence device that takes what the robots have “learned” each day, uploads it to the mainframe, and down loads it back to them each morning. The next is Boardwalk, a recreation of a turn-of-the-century boardwalk, like Coney Island, down to the costumes, food and rides – a wooden rollercoaster cleverly disguising the latest in modern roller coaster technology with a steel inner frame. The last is Camelot, a medieval recreation, complete with staged battle scenes and shows, with fire breathing dragons. Specialists are brought in from everywhere, to ensure that the park is perfect – food specialists in history, orchid specialists to tend to the orchids, fireworks guys, and Andrew Warne, who has been summoned by his one time love, now head of the park, Sarah, to look at the metanet, due to some possible bugs. A widower, he brings along his teen daughter Georgia to let her have some fun after what he thinks is a short meeting. But he is told he will have to dismantle the whole metanet, his baby and the vision of the original founder of the park, now dead, Eric Nightingale, who envisioned more of an immersive experience and less on rides, and casinos, and vendors. Warne is appalled, it is his life’s work, and since he is currently floundering , he needs this metanet to work. They start looking at why there have been one-time glitches in various robots, with one major one in a ride that resulted in a broken leg. As they dig deeper they begin to see that the code has been altered, but by whom. Meanwhile, upstairs in the offices, Sarah is being visited by an arrogant man, who says he controls the park, and she must do as he says. As he stages bigger and worse accidents around the park, they must race to save the park and themselves, as they are effectively trapped inside the dome,with a madman and his crew holding them hostage. Taut, well written, and meticulously researched, this is Child at his best.

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