Jack S. (jack1) - Reviews

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Al Capone (Biography (a  E))
Al Capone (Biography (a E))
Author: Rick Hornung, Random House Value Publishing Staff
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/24/2007


Fascinating from the view of the corruption in the Chicago (and New York) local and state governments in the '20s and '30s.


The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, Bk 2)
The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, Bk 2)
Author: Steve Berry
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 280
Review Date: 9/10/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This is the first Steve Berry book I have read--I liked it and will read more. Its classified as a thriller, and I suppose it is, but it is intelligent and well written. There are multi-level stories, all intertwined, of course. Our action takes place in cities across Europe, the Middle East, and Washington, D.C.

The story line is good, relatively realistic, and involves not only the protagonist, but includes participation by his ex-wife and son in the action, as well as many other parties. What was fun was the treasure hunt following clues across the continents in search of the lost Library of Alexandria. Berry interplays fact with fiction to move the plot along and leaves it to the reader to decide how much we might want to believe. While there is some violence, it is minimized without the usual blow by blow description, which I have come to appreciate, when so many current writers think it necessary to report how much blood has been shed or how many times the hero can be beaten up and still rise phoenix-like to best his enemy. Also rewarding, it was not overridden with foul language or vulgarity (can only think of a couple of instances with mild words and no real obscenities). Perhaps that is my peculiarityusing the language in private but preferring not to have it fill the written page because the writer is not skillful enough to think of better words.

Mr. Berry does add notes at the end discussing the facts and theories on which he based the novel. If you have not read Steve Berry before, you might try this one.


The Betrayal
The Betrayal
Author: Sabin Willett
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 11/6/2007


This is a real thriller, taking place across the US and overseas, though the starting and ending point occur in the labyrinth of Washington D.C. politics and intrigue. Credibility is stretched at times, but the suspense builds continually.


The Blue Zone
The Blue Zone
Author: Andrew Gross
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 127
Review Date: 1/26/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Here's a look inside the Witness Protection Program and what happens when those in the program leave it and hide to pursue their own program. Andrew Gross has written several best-sellers with James Patterson, but this is his first solo effort. Some surprise twists are built in as well as a few coincidences that are a tad hard to believe. Over all, though, I found it good entertainment...and I recommende it.


Breach of Promise (Nina Reilly, Bk 4)
Breach of Promise (Nina Reilly, Bk 4)
Author: Perri O'Shaughnessy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 143
Review Date: 11/10/2007
Helpful Score: 1


Another in the Nina Reilly series set in Lake Tahoe. I found this interesting because it primarily dealt with a trial, which included excellent details as Reilly prepares for a trial that appears to have insurmountable odds of winning. Toward the end, there is a death that turns out to be a case of murder. That provides an interesting denouement and ending. Worth a good, not too demanding, read.


The Bricklayer (Steve Vail, Bk 1)
The Bricklayer (Steve Vail, Bk 1)
Author: Noah Boyd
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 54
Review Date: 3/26/2011
Helpful Score: 2


This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in ages. The Bricklayer is an FBI caper that is plotted carefully and well written. It has no foul language that I can recall, and that is a mark of a good writerone who has the vocabulary to tell a tale without a steady stream of obscenities. Further, the dialogue is clever and reminds of books and movies of the 50s where nuance and suggestion take the place of graphic details of sex. Another real plus, the storyline is excellent, probably because the author is ex-FBI and is thus aware of the inner-workings and the bureaucracy of the agency.

The FBI is, as might be expected, stumbling around an extortion plot in which they are being extorted!! A former agent (now a bricklayer) is called back duty to catch the extortionists. He is a maverick, fired because he did his job rather than follow orders. He is a true anti-hero who excels as a superhero, reading the clues, chasing all the leads, and solving the issues to the pleasure of the Director of the FBI and the consternation to the bureaucrats in between the two. The author was an FBI agent for twenty or more years, now dividing his time between working cold cases and writing. I have already put Boyds next book on my wish list.


Burned (Regan Reilly, Bk 8)
Burned (Regan Reilly, Bk 8)
Author: Carol Higgins Clark
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 136
Review Date: 8/18/2006


Another New York Times best seller by Carol Higgins Clark. A good little suspense story. My wife liked it.


The Camel Club (Camel Club, Bk 1)
The Camel Club (Camel Club, Bk 1)
Author: David Baldacci
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 661
Review Date: 8/12/2007
Helpful Score: 1


A great read. AS usual, Baldacci has a good story line, but in addition to that, it puts in perspective the world situation with terrorists, jihad, and a yearning for peace around the world. On top of all that, the president is kidnapped!


The Cardturner
The Cardturner
Author: Louis Sachar
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 1/24/2011


The Card Turner--a novel about a King, a Queen, and a Joker. This book is about a teen-aged lad who is drafted by his blind, rich uncle to accompany him to bridge tournaments to turn the cards for the uncle. In the process, he learns the game and grows up considerably. Aside from the tale about the game of bridge, it is also the tale of a somewhat wacky and slightly dysfunctinal family, so I found laugh out loud situations.

I went looking for this book because of a review I had read praising it. I was very surprised to find it in the young adult section at the store. Don't let that put you off--rather let it increase your enjoyment, thinking that younger readers might actually be enjoying this book as well as we, the more "mature," readers.

If you play bridge, you should enjoy the book. If you don't you have opportunity to learn a bit about this game of skill that stimulates the brain whenever it is played. And if you just enjoy reading about amusing family situations, you should also find it a relaxing and fun read.


Case of Lies (Nina Reilly, Bk 11)
Case of Lies (Nina Reilly, Bk 11)
Author: Perri O'Shaughnessy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 131
Review Date: 10/9/2007
Helpful Score: 1


A good story that had me guessing and fooled me at the end. In telling the tale, the authors wrote a great deal about math functions and prime numbers--and it always amazes me that they can research and speak so authoratively about the subject. But the real question is, who done it? And it was not whom you might suspect. Setting is Lake Tahoe mostly, with a quick trip to Germany. This was a good read about a gutsy female attorney who does not give up.


Chasing Cezanne
Chasing Cezanne
Author: Peter Mayle
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 42
Review Date: 5/13/2016


If you have not yet read anything by Pete Mayle, you need to. Although best known for his book "A Year in Provence," he has also read several pure-fiction little pleasures. My wife and I have devoured all, including the four caper series books and three stand-alones, including "Chasing Cézanne". If you are seeking a well-crafted, easy to read, and entertaining light reading romp, read Peter Mayle. Spoiler alert: Mayle is devoid of obscenities and steamy sex scenes, so if that is what you are seeking, seek elsewhere. For a good plot, intelligent writing, read Mayle. After that paean, "Chasing Cézanne" is a bit more of a thriller than Mayle's other books. A professional photographer passes by a mansion on the Riviera which he has photo'd for a house beautiful magazine and notices a Cézanne being carried out and loaded into a plumber's van. He captures the moment with his camera and sets off to find out why. The result is a bi-continental tale between New York, Paris, and Provence. Midst all the action, the characters take time enjoy sumptuous meals of French cuisine and fine wines. Trust me..you cannot go wrong with Maye.


Cheating at Solitaire: A Gregor Demarkian Novel (Gregor Demarkian Novels)
Review Date: 3/18/2011


Cheating at Solitaire.interesting name for a book which has nothing to do with solitaire or card playing at all. Here is a mystery taking place at a fashionable retreat for the wealthy on Cape Cod. In the midst of a horrendous noreaster (snowstorm), a murder takes place.

The mainstay of the town are the wealthy, who summer there, leaving town when winter arrives. Not so this year, however, because a movie is being filmed there, and it is among the film people that the crime occurs. Because high profile celebrities are involved, crime-solver extraordinaire Gregor Demarkian is called in from Philadelphia to figure out who dunnit. Now it does not make a lot of sense as to why someone from Philadelphia is called to Massachusetts to solve a crime, but off he goes.

Demarkian is an ex-FBI agent who now is a consultant of some sort. He is very much an Americanized version of Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple combinedwise, witty, and astute, as well as laid back. What I found very interesting was the ongoing commentary about the vapidity, the vacous, illiterate, non-talented personalities starring in the movie. There is good insight into society today and our insatiable thirst for scraps of information about the stars who are raised to near idol status by the media. Here we see all the weaknesses of these young people, unaccustomed to sudden wealth as well as the sage wisdom of a seasoned and professional actor.

If you want to find out more, you will want to read the book. And if you figure out what the title has to do with the story, please let me know.


The Chicago Way
The Chicago Way
Author: Michael Harvey
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 3/18/2011


The Chicago Way is a first novel by Michael Harvey, who is a co-creator of Cold Case Files. Here we have detective Michael Kelly delving into a cold case that uncovers long hidden crimes. Although a rough and tumble warrior, Kelly is also a devotee of classical Greek literaturepretty unusual for a hard-nosed crime fighter. Somehow this all flows smoothly together.

This book was given to me, and for some reason, I put it on the back burner, thinking it would not be all that much fun to read. I was wrong and regret the delay. The story line flows smoothly and the tale intrigues. Those readers who are Chicago natives should recognize various landmarks throughout the book, as Harvey has tried to stay true to the city he obviously adores, but at the same time you should also recognize where/when he diverges from the actual fabric of what makes the city hum.

All in all, I enjoyed the read and will order the two subsequent books Harvey has written since this was published. I recommend it as a nice, relaxing tale. The ending offers surprises that seem plausible and perhaps could be anticipated if you recognize the clues that are dropped along the way.


Code to Zero
Code to Zero
Author: Ken Follett
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 171
Review Date: 3/22/2007


Ken Follett is a master story teller. Good suspense, well told. Also a good look inside NASA as they prepare for a rocket launch.


The Color of Blood: An Irish Novel of Suspense
The Color of Blood: An Irish Novel of Suspense
Author: Declan Hughes
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 8/18/2010


This might well be a novel of a decaying old Southern family, except it takes place in
Dublin. Since Ireland is on my bucket list, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the city, the climate, the upper-class family as well as the lower. Did not find out much about those in the middle. The tale of the decaying family is fast-moving and not so much from an edge-of-your-seat suspense as it is for how the characters emerge and the plot unfolds. We have the typical hard-boiled, hard drinking detective on the surface who, at the same time, shows a somewhat tender side. While murders do take place, it does not contain the vivid (and gross) violent scenes that populate so many books nowadays. Aside from one frequently used four-letter word that I thought only sailors knew, the author otherwise uses a fairly intelligent vocabulary.

This is the second novel by this author, who is a published playwright and experienced theater person. Hopefuly we will see more.


Dead Famous (Kathleen Mallory, Bk 7) (aka The Jury Must Die)
Dead Famous (Kathleen Mallory, Bk 7) (aka The Jury Must Die)
Author: Carol O'Connell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 71
Review Date: 10/2/2010


This is a psychological thriller, and a curious one at that, but I recommend it. A young cop is the hero, the mover, the enforcer. Yet she is cold, unemotional, ruthless at times, and always in control. While she is not an anti-heroine, nei-ther is she particularly sympathetic because she is never in peril.

By contrast, there are two victims (not in the fatal sense) who are warm, living humans with faults, whom you root for. The first is another cop who was traumatized after being shot four times prior to the start of this book. The en-tire plot focuses on our cop heroine strategizing to shock him into recovering his former sense of self while identifying a serial killer. The second victim is a psychiatrist who seems capable of always saying the right words, taking the correct actions, to move the story line along. Both of these two are the ones you want to see win.

While it becomes fairly obvious who the perpetrator is well before the book ends, the suspense arises from how the tale plays out and how it will end. And there is the surprise, bittersweet, you will discover should you decide to read.

What I found especially intriguing is that the author was able to portray all the mind games that the layman usually associates with psychiatry and its practi-tioners. If her portrayal is accurate, she has done an excellent job.

This is the sixth or seventh in the series involving this cop, but the first I have read. I suspect some of the cast of characters repeat in the other books. I in-tend to read more of this author.


The Death of a Difficult Woman (Bonnie Indermill, Bk 5)
The Death of a Difficult Woman (Bonnie Indermill, Bk 5)
Author: Carole Berry
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 4/14/2008


First time to read this author. Part of a Bonnie Indermill series. Fun read, nothing heavy. Was fairly to see where the author was going in solving the death of the difficult woman, but not what the outcome (who dunnit) would be.


The Diamond Slipper (Charm Bracelet Trilogy, Bk 1)
The Diamond Slipper (Charm Bracelet Trilogy, Bk 1)
Author: Jane Feather
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 103
Review Date: 8/11/2006
Helpful Score: 1


My wife liked this one.


Do Unto Others (Jordan Poteet, Bk 1)
Do Unto Others (Jordan Poteet, Bk 1)
Author: Jeff Abbott
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 40
Review Date: 7/29/2008
Helpful Score: 1


First book by Jeff Abbott and a delight. A Jorday Poteet series book. Takes place in a small Texas town, with several murders and eight or so suspects. Good sluething and a very easy read. I recommend it. (I had read a later book by Abbott and decided to go back to the beginning.)


Entombed (Alex Cooper, Bk 7)
Entombed (Alex Cooper, Bk 7)
Author: Linda A. Fairstein
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 142
Review Date: 8/21/2007


Edgar Allen Poe is the star of this tale. I learned a lot about him in an innocous manner. Fairstein spins a good tale that is very readable. No heartstopping moments but a continuing thread that keeps you reading avidly. I plan to read more of her work.


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