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Marion G. Simon
4.0 out of 5 starsI find the book a thrilling readers delight from beginning to end
Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2015
A fast moving novel which pits Payne & Jones against long odds on quite a few occasions. Mr. Kuzneski's writing is full of intrigue, well researched, and descriptive. The friends(Payne & Jones) have a give & take even in life & death situations. I find the book a thrilling readers delight from beginning to end. The book caught my eye because of the Pittsburgh background of Mr.Kuzneski , also being an Ex-Pittsburgher. I would recommend The Secret Crown to anyone looking for fast action, adventure, and some humor while being pursued by criminals, killers. etc. Jonathan Payne & David Jones are Ex-Special Forces Operatives on call from the Secret Service. This is the 6th book in the "Payne & Jones genre. The new series is called The Hunters and is being made into a movie of the same name. Enjoy the book.
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2012
As always, Kuzneski strikes a good balance between historical facts and fictional creations, while crafting his latest entry in the Payne/Jones library of adventures. This novel tracks Payne and Jones search for a lost treasure hidden some 130 years ago by Mad King Ludwig of Bravaria not long before his assassination (he might not have been assassinated in the real world, but was in the book).
I have to admit that I didn't know much about Ludwig prior to reading this book, but it peeked my interest enough that I have since read several historical accounts about the man. If anything, Kuzneski doesn't go far enough in portraying the king's strangeness. I think the book would have been a little better if the author had crafted a few "flashback" sequences of Lugwig, perhaps contrasting some of his stranger behaviors with his Black Swan plans. (IMHO) This method of exposing the king's motivations, oddness, and intelligence would have been more effective than the present day characters relating historical information.
As usual, there's no shortage of action. The most memorable being a running gun battle ranging down the side of a mountain in the Bravarian Alps. Payne and Jones display their usual great chemistry, though some of their verbal jousting felt a little forced in this book...not terrible, but as if Kuzneski had to reach a little for the dialog, rather than it simply being the normal flow between best friends.
Even with these very minor flaws, this was a thoroughly enjoyable book, which I have already recommended to several friends and co-workers. As usual, the only major complaint I have with Kuzneski is that his publisher releases his books first in England and then in the US a year or more later. I really do not understand the logic behind this approach and to be honest, it pisses me off.
5.0 out of 5 stars... of enjoyable characters that live the way many would love to be able to live
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2014
Payne and Jones are a couple of enjoyable characters that live the way many would love to be able to live. Their adventures are world wide with a cast of others that pull everything together. I have enjoyed all of their books and the way Chris writes makes it plausible and fun. There is a bit of historical value, but primarily just a good romp through Europe. Chris Kuzneski is an approachable author that truly seems to appreciate his readers. If you enjoy good dialogue, descriptive scenery, and a mystery thrown in, you will enjoy not only this book, but the others by Mr. Kuzneski.
Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2015
A pretty good entry by Kuzneski. The story is decent and moves along well, although predictably. Dialogue between the two main characters, Payne and Jones, is starting to get repetitive after 6 books, but it still doesn't drag the story down any. As long as Kuzneski keeps the stories original, and keeps tying in historical events and locations, I'll keep reading.
I am a fan of the previous Kuzneski books and enjoyed this one to some degree, however, I felt like I was reading the same information over and over again about the characters. In fact, I am sure if I looked hard enough, I could cut and paste passages from previous books into this one. After waiting a year beyond the release date in the UK to finally get my hands on this book, I was surprised to see that it cost more to purchase it on kindle than if I picked it up in the store. :(
I got hooked on Chris Kuzneski by accent a number of years ago and am glad I did. His books are always action packed and loaded with historical facts as well. I did give it 5 stars but it could have been 4 since the book did have some dull spots but the rest of the adventure more than made up for them. Great adventure and love the team of Payne and Jones. I have his next book on pre-order and can't wait for it to arrive.
3.0 out of 5 starsInteresting fictional development of historical facts
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 21, 2013
I found my response interesting especially given the very mixed reviews this book has received from other readers.
My initial reaction is that given the style of writing I usually go for I should not like this book - eg there is too much communicating of information by the author as narrator instead of letting the reader see the world through the eyes and experience of the characters. I have to admit that this did rather grate with me after a while.
And yet... I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It took an historical figure, one whom I knew little about, and wove an intriguing story and plot around him. I found myself being drawn into the plot and found the transition from historical fact into the fictional addition quite seamless. I even found myself doing some research about King Ludwig. I would however have liked a more substantial ending to the book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 1, 2010
Unquestionably the worst book of 2010 .. the Da Vinci code started a literary fad in bogus alternate history of which this is an appalling exemplar .. the book is written badly in sub-Chicago-ese with loads of obscure Cheesy Americanisms .... who cares about the Swan King .. this book gives no social history of 19th century Bavaria .. no interesting character analysis of the Swan King .. a kind of zap-em novel analogue of a computer arcade game .. there are better ways to waste money,
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 6, 2011
this is the third book i have read by this author and although i quite enjoyed the previous ones i was a little uncertain; this one has made my mind up for me; the writing is poor, the constant banter between the two main characters is just childish and the plot poor; about a quarter of it is taken up with a battle and chase through the mountains with constant reference to 'goons' so i think the best thing to do with this is bin it.
I usually go thru this author's books pretty quickly and have enjoyed my last 4 reads so much-but have to admit this one had way too many dry spots! The narration went on too much most of the time and personally I prefer more of Payne & Jones, than Petr Ulster-unfortunately, Petr Ulster took the lead in this book, or so it seemed to me, something that made most of the book really boring-sorry, this one wasn't like his other fabulous reads!