Excellent follow-up to the previous novel, Pines. A great mix of mystery, horror and a bit of sci-fi.
Ethan Burke is now sheriff to the idyllic mountain town of Wayward Pines. The town that no one can leave and few know what lies outside its electrified fence. Many inhabitants secretly want to leave. But careful of what you wish for because if the Stepford life is not for you, the world outside presents a hell that is even far worst.
Blake Crouch does an excellent job of conveying the frustration Ethan and his wife have in communicating to each other when they know they and all the people of this town are under constant surveillance and the wrong thing said or done could mean a death sentence. No matter how horrible their day is they always see each other at dinner and force a smile and say their day was good and life is good but underneath is the seething discomfort at not being able to tell the truth to each other. The torment of going to dinner to a neighbor's home and not being able to talk about much more than the weather and vegetables and then the long awkward silences. Ethan is frustrated that he has to lie to new arrivals about life in Wayward Pines, telling him to read the manual. He sees the confusion that he confronted on his arrival in their faces and is bursting to tell him the truth but he cannot. There is also a murder mystery that Sheriff Burke has to solve at the core of this story which reveals the true nature of a key character.
I did not think that the writer could pull off a sequel after the big reveal at the end of the first book but he did. I think this book, although not as mysterious as the first was as good if not better than the first book. And the ending is a great cliffhanger. On to the third book!
Pandora's Star is a space opera on a grand scale. The year is 2380. Many inhabitable planets are now part of a system know as the Commonwealth. The planets with plants secreting acid that burns through your space suit are considered off limits. Thanks to stem cell research in Europe, that was banned in America, your body can be rejuvenated. Your memories recorded and stored in a crystal at the base of your brain. Nobody really dies but you can live for hundreds of years and be young but with a lifetime of memories and knowledge. OC tattos, or organic computer, make your body connected to the Unisphere, the internet that is vast and shared with all the planets. A complex interstellar wormhole transport system, the CST, connects planets of the Commonwealth making travel to far away planets quick and easy. And amazingly enough all the planets of the Commonwealth are at peace. There are aliens and humans living in harmony.
One night while star gazing, astronomer Dudley Bose makes an simple observation of a lifetime. Something that will boost his lackluster career. Dudley sees a star 1000 light years away disappear. Simply vanish. Loads of speculation begins about what this could mean and how this could happen and why. It is as if a giant force field surrounded the star system. But who has the technology for this and why would they do this? Is it to trap the beings inside or keep others out? Or is there another reason. This star system is too far outside the Commonwealth to use the wormhole system to reach but the government wants to sent a ship there to investigate. But some mysteries are better left alone.
I enjoyed it and it kept me interested. There were some very clever concepts used in an extremely original way. You have to be patient with the first half of the book because everything he introduces has a purpose. I am not, however, in love with this book. Why? Because of the length and the vast number of characters (at least 70) and the pacing. It follows multiple characters and many seemingly disconnected story lines and for the first 300 pages or so you feel like there is no way all of these stories and characters can be brought together into a cohesive story line. But by the middle of the book I am on the edge of my seat with the suspense cheering and in shock, and at times laughing, only to have the rug pulled out from me by the story going in another direction and get bogged down with political discussion. It was like here is 300 pages of intriguing world building. Then 200 pages of why are these multitude characters being thrown into the book. Then I can't put this book down for another 75 pages. And then I am bored out of my mind with the political B.S. and family dynasty crap. Also there were some 21st century concepts and technology that to me would seem outdated in this time period. But by the end I am literally baffled by a strange cliffhanger ending and wanted to read the 2nd half of these two books because I invested so much time into reading about these characters.
John Lee does an excellent job with the voices, although the American accent is not quiet right, I can give him a pass on this. On to Judas Unchained but I think I will read the e-book to get through it quicker. 47 hrs is a lot of time to spend listening to one book.
Joe Leger is enjoying opening day Orioles baseball game in Philly with his best friend Rudy Sanchez and Leger's dog Ghost. Yes Ghost loves baseball and beer too. Ghost happily laps up the beer that Joe "accidentally" spills. The day is beautiful and everyone is having a good time, relaxing and watching opening ceremonies. One of those rare days when all of Joe's cares have drifted away. Then a drone flies into the stadium. At first the crowd is marveling the drone as part of the show but Joe's "something is wrong" antennae goes up. That antennae is never wrong. Joe and Ghost go inside to make a call as drone explodes, sending the crowd of people in the stands running for their lives. Chaos, injuries and death follow. Then more drones come in disguised as pigeons exploding leaving bodies everywhere. Joe can't stop the stampede or the killing and he and Ghost are nearly killed trying to stop the madness.
Elsewhere in the U.S., computer driven cars, planes and military equipment are killing their passengers and it is up to Joe and Echo team to stop the people behind this intrusion of computer driven devices. To make things worst and they always get worst, is that the terrorist behind this make personal attacks on members of the DMS, crippling the only organization that can combat this type of attack. In this book, no character is safe. Even the minor characters without combat experience are placed in the middle of the terror and have to defend themselves and rise to the occasion to help others in their darkest moments.
Love this series and it never gets old. All of the books are built upon previous books so it is best that your read them in order to understand the characters and their relationships and the history of terror that culminates to this book. Maberry does stop occasionally to explain some of the past but it is just sound bites. The story will make more sense if you read the previous books first.
This book started out with some great surprises that you would not see coming but good explanations for the events that happen. They blend one real life person with the fiction. The action scenes are great edge of your seat, nail biters. Jonathan Maberry carefully crafts multiple parallel cliffhanging plots that take the reader from one heart pounding moment to another. And even though you pretty much know that Joe and Echo team can handle the bad guys, you don't know what his friends and their family across the country can do to save their lives when they are attacked. Joe can't be everywhere. You don't know who will make it out of this one alive. This is a call in sick kind of book. I did not want to stop listening. And as always Ray Porter IS Joe Leger and Church and Bunny and Top.... Can't imagine anyone else reading this series.
John Schuyler Moore, a crime reporter for The New York Times, recalls an investigation he was involved with from 1896 in which he and group of others search for serial killer of young boy prostitutes. The killer mutilates these boys in a horrific fashion, yet because they are prostitutes and because of police corruption, there is a lack of real interest in investigating by the local authorities. Moore joins forces with Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist and others to make a psychological profile and find the killer .
Caleb Carr does a good job in recalling historical details of New York in the 1890's. Moore narrates the book and he is looking 23 years into the past. Using the limited resources of the time, the main characters painstakingly make a profile the type of person who would commit the killings. Forensic medicine and psychology were in its infancy and fingerprints were not completely believed to be of any importance. Carr does bring to life the historical details with sights and smells of 19th century New York. And this is the best aspect of the book. From filthy dark tenements of the poorer sections of Manhattan to the wonderful upscale multicourse meals of Delmonico's restaurant. We get a taste of the limited role of women and blacks at the time. What he fails to convey in this book is characters with any dimension to them. I really did not fall in love with any of the characters. Especially the character Moore who narrates. Little is known about him except he lives with his disapproving grandmother and writes for the New York Times. Carr gives us some mystery about Laszlo Kreizler's past to try to hold the reader's interest but it is not enough to make Kreizler really stand out and be the exceptional character of the title of the book. Carr seems to skim onto certain flaws in the characters but fails to go into enough depth to make the reader really care enough about them. All the other characters have smaller roles as support. What was really annoying about this book is that often the characters worked in pairs and when one had an epiphany and realized an important clue, they would grab the other character and say "we have to go now" without sharing any information with the other baffled character. Giving the book a made for TV feel. I know this was to add suspense but this gimmick was used too often in the book and got old fast.
And there were times in this book where it got just go bogged down in small, small details and just starts to plod. I mean I liked the profiling and I love historical mysteries but at times I needed it to pick up the pace a bit and move forward.
Jacob Underwood is the perfect hit man. Cold detached, methodical, no emotion or feelings. He is given assignments and he completes them with obedient efficiency. But this assassin is different. Jacob was brain damaged in a motorcycle accident and suffers from Cotard's syndrome. He has no fear of death because he thinks he is already dead. The obedient Underwood is given the assignment of finding a bank employee who has disappeared with some important bank information. He is told to kill the employee. But for the first time, Jacob has other plans.
Told in first person in a detached and clinical style this book works on many levels in telling of a near future world where many jobs are replaced by robots designed to act like humans and a lead character that acts like a robot. Surveillance and tracking is the norm and no one can escape being found. You see the world through the eyes of a man who cannot read emotions of other humans. He hates to be touched and is mistaken for being autistic. He refers to his body as a shell but at times you see a spark of humanity in Jacob. A hint of life that awakens in him and you can only hope he can break out of the world of the dead and join humanity.
Once again, Jonathan Maberry delivers a great adventure with Joe Leger and Echo Team. His ability to describe an action sequence puts you right in the middle of a fight ducking the punches. And along with the physical pain of battling with enemies, you feel the psychological pain of these characters. This is never brushed over and even the Department of Military Sciences psychiatrist Rudy Sanchez has a difficult job trying help the team cope with loss and give them confidence to battle the evil forces that Team Echo may be no match for. And Maberry adds just enough science to make his supernatural enemies plausible as well as plenty of history to explain how they evolved.
This time Joe and Echo Team are in Iran chasing down multiple groups of terrorist with nuclear devices. How many nukes and where are they? It is difficult to say. As Mr. Church, Baltimore head of the DMS and his team work to decode ancient text. But the tension never lets up in this superbly written and complexly plotted book.
There is even a bit of humor with mistaken identity as Leger makes his way to a "safe house" in Tehran. "Do I look like a vampire?" an irritated Joe Leger ask. But things quickly turn serious and a few old enemies emerge as well as new ones. And Joe teams up with a beautiful and unbelievably fast and agile assassin, code named, Violin, who more than once "saves his bacon" And a set up for a sequel I can't wait to read as a bit of evil slips through the cracks.
The citizens of Wayward Pines have been prisoners in an idyllic mountain valley town. No crime, no taxes. No worries but no privacy. Everyone is pleasant, smiley faces and yet cracking under the strain of the lie. But no one can leave this town surrounded by a high electrified fence. And no one knows why. What lies beyond the town is not questioned but always in the back of the residents mind. To try to explore could mean death by the hands of the towns own people. This town is a kind of Eden and Mr. Pilchard, their leader and town creator is God. At least he thinks he is God but Ethan Burke, the town sheriff, knows better and Burke knows the truth about the town and what exist outside the town. When Ethan gathers all the people and tells them the truth in the last book, well all hell breaks loose. The suspense never lets up in this one and plenty of nail biting moments and surprises. Loved this series. Very well written, following the lives of several different characters or groups of characters in their quest for survival after knowing the truth. The only bit I could have done without is the contrived romances between several main characters and then the former husband or lover that they thought was dead, comes back into the story in the middle of people fighting for survival. Then they have to grapple with who they will hang with. Not something you want to think about while fighting for your life but still not enough to mar a great series.
Highly recommended. Love the way the writer describes death and carnage in a sort of detached matter of fact way and yet he keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what will come next. Never a dull moment in this one yet, it slows down enough to develop characters and show some back story so you know why they behave the way they do and how they all ended up in this strange place.
Yes, it kept me guessing up until the end. A mystery that is also science fiction but not too outrageous or unbelievable. Mystery that was well paced and in the end gratifying.
Ethan Burke, who is just trying to get home to his wife and son.
Yes. The voices are great.
Yes but I will no give any spoilers.
Like a really great episode of the Twilight Zone. Adventure and mystery and sci-fi in one book. And succeeds on all fronts.
A London hospital is bombed and thousands of people are killed, incinerated without a chance of escaping. Joe Ledger barely healed physically and emotionally from his last violent mission in "The Dragon Factory", decides to come back and work for the DMS. (Was there any surprise in this?) Joe is back with all his anger intact and exacerbated by the tragic ending of the last book. And he is out for blood ready to kill the parties responsible for this heinous act of violence.
An international group of terrorist hunters gather to try to figure out who is responsible for the hospital bombing and why but for now no one has a clue. Meanwhile more and different types of attacks are planned as innocent people working in labs with deadly pathogens are forced to help anonymous terrorist in releasing deadly viruses that will spread and kill millions. The only clues Joe Leger and the DMS have to go on are The Seven Kings logo left after the bombing and anonymous phone calls from an insider. And then the DMS is warned that The Seven Kings have people everywhere even in the DMS and trust no one.
Pretty good story, although not as intricately plotted as the two previous novels in this series. But this book provides a more realistic adversary for Joe and Echo team this time out. No zombies or hybrid mythical monsters. The story, at times, is painfully bogged down with seemingly endless round table discussions on the DMS side centering on who could have done this and why all juxtaposed by conference table discussions by the Seven Kings using biblical references and philosophy of long dead historical leaders to justifying what they are doing and each King offering a different and deadly terrorist act to leave the world in chaos and destruction. The Seven Kings, the baddies this time around, are a vast network of people all over the world. So big that the members don't all know each other. They are planted everywhere. They use window dressing to make themselves mysterious since they are religious fanatics. They follow a "Goddess" as their leader and do what she wishes. Long and complicated rants of why terrorize the world when the reason becomes so very simple. The discussions are needed to a point but they go on for most of the first half the book and I wondered when the story would focus and move forward. It was like listening to "Meet the Press" for 8hrs. But luckily, the book does finally focus down to a few bad guys and Joe and his team.
The other problem I had with the book is that with all the terror events that were happening globally, why would you go forward with high profile big celebrity filled charity event on a cruise ship? Why have such an obvious target for terrorist be carried out? OK yes there are more that a few celebrities on this ship we could all do without, no one sane would want to be bait themselves on this ship.
There are some great new characters mainly Joe's new partner a military trained and multi-talented German Shepard dog named Ghost. Lovable in courage but not a dog you pat on the head if you need your fingers for typing. The other great new character is wonderfully creepy Nicodemus who is the all knowing, and the only somewhat "supernatural" element to the book. I have a feeling he will show up again in the future. He is so damn creepy he even has Rudy the DMS psychiatrist, is scared of him. And Rudy if you say "Dios Mios" again I will scream. The good news is that some old familiar bad guys from a previous book we thought were dead make a come back although a bit crispy around the edges. But they are welcomed as they make worthy adversaries for Leger and when they get to work and start plotting evil, fighting Joe and fighting each other the book finds its stride and becomes truly enjoyable.
There are a few unresolved story lines so I can't wait to read the next installment. And as always Ray Porter does an EXCEPTIONAL job with all the voices. Especially the Scottish accent which is really difficult. His children voice even sound like children. Love him as Joe Leger. Nobody does a character better.
Hell Yes! Excellent action sequences AND character development. Rare in this type of genre. Love the characters. Intricate plot that is not predictable, nor confusing.
The Echo Team battle their way through the enemy infused Dragon Factory when Joe and Bunny reunite with the wounded Top. Top ask "What took you so long?" Bunny replies, "We had to stop off at a titty bar for a couple of beers."
Mr. Porter nails all the voices of the characters and brings out the sarcasm more than you could do by reading yourself. The women sound like women. The men sound like men and every character has a different and distinct voice.
Hell yes, Call into work sick good.
A worthy sequel to the series. Makes me want to read them all.
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