The Coldest War is the second of Ian Tregillis's triptych about an alternative history of the Second World War and its aftermath. The first novel mainly covered the period from the Spanish Civil War until the defeat of Nazi Germany. This novel picks up the main characters in the early 1960s, about 20 years after the end of the first book. It is at the height of the cold war.
Of course it is a cold war unlike the one we knew. How could it be otherwise when Soviet supermen contest with British warlocks? This book provides a lot of suspense and action and some really unusual magic. At the end the world literally hangs in the balance. (Avoiding spoilers -- there is resolution, but all is not resolved.)
I await the third section of the triptych.
"Fire And Ice" is a pretty good crime thriller. State trooper Liam Campbell steps off the plane at his new station in Newenham, Alaska and literally right into a murder scene. Talk about being tossed into the deep end! To complicate things, his predecessor leaves without giving him any kind of briefing or workup. Also, Liam's old flame is standing right there on the tarmac by the fresh body, making it a totally "WTF?" moment. Before he can even begin to come to grips with the murder at the airport, Liam is called away on another incident.
Liam never gets a chance to catch his breath as one incident follows on another. However, he doggedly presses on and eventually begins to tie the various threads of these seemingly disparate crimes together. Eventually we reach a conclusion with most of the bad guys paying for their crimes in one way or another.
This story gives us lots of action with murder, assaults, and old mysteries. Also, there is some romance (integral to the story), and more than one colorful, oddball characters. (Additionally, I learned much more about herring fishing than I ever expected to know.)
All in all, a good and interesting story.
The adventures of Alaska state trooper Liam Campbell pick up again some three months after the events of "Fire And Ice". Liam is finally getting settled into his new position when he gets two big cases: a family has been found dead on their fishing boat and an assistant has been murdered at a remote archeological dig. Liam's life is further complicated by the unannounced arrivals of an attractive new assistant trooper and Liam's father, who is on a special mission for the Air Force. As I have learned to expect from Dana Stabenow, this story has several twists and mixes in action (once again, Liam's uniforms take a beating), murder, and old mysteries. Some of the colorful, oddball characters from the first book reappear, and the romance between Liam and Wy continues to simmer in the background. All in all, "So Sure Of Death" is a pretty good crime thriller spiced with some humor and romance.
"Huntress Moon" had been sitting in my TBR list for a while. Though highly recommended by a friend, I had been putting it off because I thought it was urban fantasy, which I haven't been in the mood for lately. In fact it turned out to be a crime thriller, and a good one. It has strong hint of dark supernatural forces, but PTSD developed by the mysterious young "huntress" after a horrible event in her childhood could explain that. There are in fact totally evil monsters in the story, but they are all flesh-and-blood men. Their motivations now -- well, that is where the hint of supernatural comes in.
Alexandra Sokoloff tells a good story in two alternating threads. The first is of the young woman, the huntress, whom death seems to follow. The other is of the FBI agent who is hunting her. As the two threads come together the suspense builds powerfully. The plot is quite twisty; several times Sokoloff surprised me (which is something I like).
I thoroughly enjoyed this book -- four solid stars. Upon finishing it, I immediately bought the sequel (Blood Moon).
"Worth Dying For", the 15th Jack Reacher novel, picks up shortly after the events of "61 Hours". Reacher still hasn't physically recovered from those explosive events when he finds himself deep in a new set of problems.
It all starts simply enough. Reacher is making his way across Nebraska and stops at a remote Motel. He aids an abused woman and in the process runs afoul of the Duncans, who seem to rule this part of the Nebraska corn country. It soon becomes apparent that something evil is going on. The Duncans use local muscle to get rid of Reacher, or rather they try to. (As anyone who has read any Jack Reacher books knows, he is very very hard to get rid of.)
Reacher soon finds himself fighting to survive against not only the local muscle, but also three sets of out-of-state gangsters, which just makes the mystery deeper. Why are all these thugs interested in this remote stretch of Nebraska? There is a deep secret here, and Reacher is just the man to dig it out.
Lee Chile surprised me several times in this book as the story took unexpected turns.
In the early cruel winter months of 1970 Smokey Dalton is struggling re-stabilize his life after the gut wrenching events of "Days of Rage". He receives a frantic phone call from his son's friend, Keith Grimshaw. Keith's 13-year-old sister, Lacey, has been lured to the Starlite Hotel and attacked. Smokey hurries to the Starlight and finds that his "son" Jimmy has rescued Lacey from a rapist. He rushes the injured and traumatized girl to hospital.
When Dalton tracks down the rapist, he discovers that Lacey is not the only victim. The Outfit, a mob-based group with political connections has been preying on girls from Lacey's school and brutally forcing them into prostitution. Smokey tries to get help from official channels but soon finds that the police have been bought off and other options are blocked. Then, just when things are starting to look hopeless, he finds unlikely allies. Street justice will be required to stop this evil, and Smokey Dalton and his allies are just the ones to administer it.
I love this series. Smokey Dalton is a real hero.
Intense and brutal, Germline is a totally absorbing military SF novel. It is also difficult to describe. It reminds me a lot of the stories that came out of World Wars 1 and 2 in that it is not about glory and has very little heroism. It is more about the ultimate hopelessness of war and the physical and mental destructiveness, even for those who survive.
The term "germline" refers to genetically engineered soldiers who form an important part of the fighting forces. However, to me that isn't what the story is about. It is a grim, grim story of battle and it is also a story about friendship and caring.
The main protagonist is Oscar Wendall, a reporter for Stars and Stripes. He has a drug problem and sees his career spiraling downward. He hopes that an assignment to the front will let him redeem himself. That isn't how things work out. Instead, he finds himself trying to survive in the midst of a brutal, all-out, no-holds-barred struggle -- a struggle in which his own personal demons come out to haunt him.
In the hands of a less skillful writer, this story would be a caricature of war. But, T.C. McCarthy pulls it off very well.
I quite enjoyed The January Dancer. Michael Flynn weaves a complex story from multiple viewpoints, most seemingly unrelated at first. However, all the threads connect in some way to a strange and ancient alien artifact that comes to dominate the lives of the protagonists.
Michael Flynn's skill as a writer makes this much more than just good space opera. Recommended for those who like Ian M. Banks's Culture series.
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