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29 January 2010

Rough Justice (Sean Dillon #15)

Rough Justice by Jack Higgins is the 15th book featuring Sean Dillon and the group known as the Prime Minister's Private Army.

Sean Dillon and Billy Salter, the two operatives who usually take care of business, will get an addition to their team - a British Army Major whose career reads like a desk job, unless you see the classified files. Harry Miller is every bit as dangerous as Sean Dillon and, in fact, met Dillon in the Ireland Troubles.

Now they are teaming up to go after the Broker - an anonymous voice on the phone that has been controlling everyone from Al Qaeda operatives to Putin's head GRU agents.

Higgins is a great espionage/thriller writer. His books are always entertaining.

Higgins, Jack (2008). Rough Justice. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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25 January 2010

Among the Mad (Maisie Dobbs #6)

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear is the sixth book featuring Maisie Dobbs - an investigator and psychologist in England in the early 1900s.

Ms. Dobbs has had a successful investigative practice for a time now and is doing well even though England is in an economic depression. As she and her assistant, Billy Beale, are walking to a meeting to close up the paperwork on a case, Maisie sees a war veteran sitting on the walkway. As she approaches she knows something is wrong and sends Billy back. Seconds later the man kills himself using a grenade and Maisie is thrown across the street by the blast.

Later that afternoon she is seconded to Scotland Yard's Special Branch to find a man who may be connected to the death. A man who letter informs the Prime Minister that if the government does not start taking care of the men who risked their lives and sanity to defend England in WWI, he will retaliate. They have 48 hours.

Maisie will need all of her vast powers of deduction and reason to find the man who is so desperately wounded from the war that he would kill others to make a point. In this series that any Agatha Christie fans will adore, Winspear ups the ante with this volume. It is a must read (but start at the first book so you can meet Maisie as a youngster.)

Winspear, Jacqueline. (2009). Among the Mad. New York: Henry Holt Co.

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22 January 2010

The Killing Ground (Sean Dillon #14)

The Killing Ground by Jack Higgins is his fourteenth book featuring Sean Dillon.

When Sean stumbles across the member of a family he has had battles with in the past, he is surprised to be asked for help. Caspar Rashid, half British and half Beduin, went against his family's wishes when he married a Christian woman. Now his family has fought back by kidnapping his daughter and taking her to the Middle East to marry her cousin - who happens to be one of the most feared al-Qaeda terrorists.

Dillon and his partner Billy Salter will be sent in to kidnap her back, but if they succeed they will have to watch their backs in the future because The Hammer of God will not let them go that easily.

Higgins, Jack. (2008). The Killing Ground. G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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17 January 2010

Shades of Grey, The Road to High Saffron (Shades of Grey #1)

Shades of Grey is Jasper Fforde's latest book - the first in the Shades of Grey trilogy. Anyone who likes to read and has not read any Jasper Fforde should immediately proceed to a bookstore and buy The Eyre Affair or Shades of Grey.

The world where main character Edward Russet lives is different from our own. People live in a stringent hierarchy based on color - not skin color, but the color they can see. The lowest caste is Grey - those who cannot see color but view everything as shades of grey. Eddie is a Red because his parents are Reds. When he is twenty and considered an adult he will have his color sight tested and take his place in society. The more Red he can see the higher up he will be in his caste.

This Chromatic society has many Rules and customs that people must follow and if they do not, they will be fined merits and send on tasks to learn humility. Ultimately they can be sent to Reboot if they are not productive members of the Collective.

Eddie's father, a doctor of sorts, is being sent to the outer fringe town of East Carmine to replace the doctor who has just died. Eddie is accompanying him to conduct a chair census - a task mean to teach him to respect the system and his place within it. But while in East Carmine, Eddie will learn that the Collective is not a perfect as he was taught while growing up in the city.

Fforde has created a believable world that, while I would not want to live there, I love reading about. He is a master of alternate realities and his books are addictive. My only complaint is that the next volume of Shades of Grey is not yet written!

Fforde, Jasper. (2009). Shades of Grey. New York: Viking.

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14 January 2010

Without Mercy (Sean Dillon #13)

Without Mercy by Jack Higgins is the thirteenth book in the Sean Dillon series.

General Ferguson heads a team of Sean Dillon, ex-IRA enforcer, and Chief Superintendent Hannah Bernstein of Scotland Yard. Together with some outside help when needed - usually in the form of Billy Salter, London gangster - they keep Britain free from harmful Riffraff.

But in the last book, Hannah was severely injured. Now Dillon and Salter are the tools Ferguson will use to go after the group that hurt Hannah. And without Hannah, there is no one to bring up the legality or morality of what they do. In effect, Ferguson has a killing team.

Higgins has added a twist to the series that I did not see coming and its consequence will alter the mission of what is referred to as the Prime Minister's Private Army. Now the limits are gone and the team of Dillon and Salter will attempt things that could likely cause war between nations is they are not careful. Together they will cause havoc that readers will thoroughly enjoy.

Higgins, Jack. (2005). Without Mercy. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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12 January 2010

Dark Justice (Sean Dillon #12)

Dark Justice by Jack Higgins is the twelfth book featuring Sean Dillon. After three books that I found not quite up to the Higgins standard, this book proves he is a great writer of thrillers.

When an assassination attempt on the President of the United States fails, the assassin is traced back to England. Dillon, Ferguson, and Bernstein are tasked with finding out who hired the man.

But the plot at the end of the trail is a terrorist organization whose main recruiter is an imam in London. When he is taken by Dillon, Hannah Bernstein - who has always had difficulty with their work outside of the law - may have finally had enough. She will have to examine her role in the fight against terror in comparison to her own ethics and laws.

Dark Justice is a thriller that will have readers up late and then scrambling for the next book to see the consequences of this one.

Higgins, Jack (2004). Dark Justice. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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11 January 2010

Bad Company (Sean Dillon #11)

Bad Company by Jack Higgins is the eleventh book featuring Sean Dillon - an ex-IRA enforcer who now works for British Intelligence.

Though Higgins is a great suspense writer, after reading ten other Sean Dillon books this one feels like a recycling of plots. For Bad Company, he combined the revenge plot and lost Nazi document plot to write another book.

That being said, it still had the thrills and action for which Higgins has become known. I highly recommend the series and know I will keep reading in spite of the slight disappointment for originality of this volume. Dillon, Bernstein, Ferguson, and now Johnson and Roper are all interesting characters who are worth reading about.

Higgins, Jack. (2003). Bad Company. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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09 January 2010

Impact (Wyman Ford #3)

Impact by Douglas Preston is the third book featuring Wyman Ford - an ex-monk, ex-CIA agent. He was first introduced in Tyrannosaur Canyon and then appeared in Blasphemy (though it is not necessary to read the book in order).

Ford is hired by the science advisor to the President to reece a mine in Cambodia - the mine is producing a new type of gem. It is beautiful and radioactive. His assignment is to take pictures and report its exact location so the CIA can be sent it. When Wyman finds the mine he discovers something strange. The mine is really a crater from a meteorite.

In the meantime, on the coast of Maine, Abbey Straw is playing with her new telescope when she captures a meteorite on camera. When she and her friend realize that the news is wrong about the meteorite hitting the ocean (no resulting wave) they set out to find it.

Preston, a master at the science-based novel, has created a plausible story that will fascinate readers to the very end - and leave them wondering about possible futures for our planet.

Preston, Douglas. (2009). Impact. New York: Forge.

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06 January 2010

Midnight Runner (Sean Dillon #10)

Midnight Runner by Jack Higgins is the follow up (in the middle of a series) to his previous book Edge of Danger - the remaining antagonists of the previous book plot revenge against Sean Dillon.

Though there is as much action and suspense Edge of Danger and Midnight Runner as in his other books, the villains in these two books were not as compelling for me. Having said that, Higgins is still a master of the thriller.

Sean Dillon and Billy Salter are excellent characters who readers will follow on any adventure. They are the right combination of good and bad to get away with just about anything - sure they work outside of the law but they do it for the right reasons - to get the bad guys. All of Higgins repeating characters are interesting, complicated people who are worth reading about and the series overall is worth the time to read for any fans of suspense thrillers.

Higgins, Jack. (2002). Midnight Runner. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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05 January 2010

Edge of Danger (Sean Dillon #9)

Edge of Danger by Jack Higgins is the ninth book featuring Sean Dillon - an ex-IRA enforcer who now works for British Intelligence. Dillon's skills outside of the law come in handy in this volume of the series.

An international play for control over oil fields in Oman triggers a mad man to begin a string of assassinations in the name of protecting his family.

The Rashid family is half British and half Bedu. One the one side of the family the can trace their roots in England back to before King James I. The other side from the Bedouin of Oman. And while both sides of the heritage play a part in the man Paul Rashid has become, the deciding factor may be madness.

After his mother is killed in an apparent auto accident, Paul plots his revenge against the Russians and Americans who are working on an oil deal in his father's native land. He hires an IRA assassin to attempt to kill the United States President. If that fails he has other targets lined up as back up.

Edge of Danger features Dillon's skills as well as pulling Billy Salter farther into the mix. Higgins continues to hold his fans' attention with the series. Though this is not my favorite book out of the series, it was still a book I could not put down.

Higgins, Jack. (2001). Edge of Danger. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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03 January 2010

Altar of Eden

Altar of Eden is the latest book by James Rollins. Rollins writes books that capture readers and take them on some wild rides. This time he explores gene manipulation for military purposes.

Dr. Lorna Polk works for ACRES - the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species - as a geneticist trying to prevent more animals from becoming extinct. Working and living in New Orleans she is aware of the black market for endangered animals who are sometimes smuggled in through the bayou from outside of the country.

Jack Menard, an agent with Border Patrol, calls Dr. Polk when a ship is washed up on one of the small islands in the bayou after a storm. But this boat of animals is unlike any other that has been smuggled into the area. These animals are not only genetically engineered, but they have traits that have died out thousands of years ago. For example, the sabre-toothed Jaguar that has escaped.

Dr. Polk, Menard, and a team of Cajun volunteers must hunt down the Jaguar before it can finds its next meal. Once that impossible task is complete, the team as ACRES will study the other animals and try to find out who created them.

Rollins is a master of suspense writing based on science - science fiction without aliens or dragons. He takes the latest research news and weaves stories that could conceivably happen as a result. His books are fast-paced thrillers that will keep readers up late to finish the story.

Rollins, James. (2010). Altar of Eden. New York: William Morrow.

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