Tokyo Express

Tokyo Express USS Bull Shark Naval Thriller Series, Book 4 assumed published copyright and written by Scott W. Cook.

This 4th book in the seemingly popular suspense thriller series by this author again follows the activities of the brilliantly aggressive Captain Art Turner of the somewhat unusually designed USS Bull Shark submarine as it operates in the Pacific Ocean from August 15, 1942 through August 24th, 1942 and sometime beyond through an Epilogue. Most of the main action described takes place in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and especially those of New Georgia where the Sealark Channel, popularly called “The Slot” provided a straight supply line from the Japanese Holdings at Rabaul and Bougainville. Once the U.S. had established their base on Guadalcanal and completed Henderson Airfield, their air superiority gave them control of this area during the day. This provides the base for this fact based novel.

To overcome the problem of supplying Japanese troops in these areas, Admiral Yamamoto developed a plan of running the fast destroyers down the slot at night when air power did not operate with any degree of success and destroyers were specially equipped to fight submarine attacks if attempted. The Americans immediately named it the Tokyo Express. Along with these naval engagements, Several Marine-Japanese hand to hand engagements are included with men serving on the subs as well as with the Marines included. A couple of naval battles – Solomon Islands, Savage Islands and individual Carrier-Enemy Aircraft engagements also are included.

Discussion: The author’s knowledge of his subject appears to be quite extensive as his description of pertinent minutia with respect to submarine working parts, movement, maneuverability and the results of attacks described, as well as the effects of bombs received by surface craft. His descriptions of hand-to-hand combat as well as other land battle scenes and their aftermath also are graphically set forth and thus, just as horrifying to the uninitiated as those of the results of a ship’s receipt of bombs from the air as described. The author’s understanding of the psychological aspects, pertinent perhaps more particularly to submarine warfare, appear to be quite accurate, as well. This is the second of the series I have read, and highly recommend as a WW II thriller.

5* Highly recommended war thriller.

 

A Hitite and a Shaman

     A Hititite and a Shaman at Queen Nefretari’s Service by Naveen Sridhr.

This fundamentally is a historical tale of royal intrigue during the era of Ramses II long reign with his beloved wife Nefretari. It is replete with the usual deceit, distrust, betrayal, deception and treachery among the kings and other heads of state, many branches of the same family. It also is a story whose history the author has stated he has attempted to follow as closely as possible.  Fortunately for the reader he also has included a list of the characters and a glossary of terms. The plot follows the flight of a deposed Hitite King and his son to Rameses country, the possibility of the new king demanding his return for prosecution and the maneuvers in which Rameses, and more especially his Queen Nefretari, engaged the situation to obtain a peaceful conclusion to the affair.

Discussion: The author has provided a most interesting discussion with respect to how adroitly a Shaman and Nefretari managed to acquire a peaceful settlement for a burgeoning problem and the lasting effects its use by Rameses had for the good of his people. In general, a lesson is set forth with respect to the value of peace versus war and much is learned about both of these monarchs. The only disappointing feature of this book from this reviewer’s perspective, is the redundancy and repetition employed to describe Nefretari’s, the Shaman and each provider’s viewpoint of the subject under discussion. Granted, the discussions are pertinent. However judicial editing could have reduced this material substantially to provide a more enjoyable read.

4* 5* material; -1* for reasons noted.

Big Stone Gap & Beyond

Big Stone Gap & Beyond: A Novel assumed published, copyright and written by John M. Vermillion.

The narration is provided by someone who has lived a millennium and fortunately the book’s opening contains a list and short explanation of the individual’s interrelationship to the large number of characters included in the story. Basically it is about the coal industry and those involved, largely from the minors’ level. It is split into three tales, the last following the life of Felix Forthright Fox a person of far advanced intellect who is bored with traditional school work, does not do well and is resentful with having to complete tasks he does not like. His forte is facing a problem, recognizing the core and developing an answer that will work. As an adult he progresses rapidly into a power within the coal industry, and as he grows older and matures, moves into other areas of endeavor compatible with this growth and change.

Discussion: This is the first of this author’s books this reviewer has read. He appears to be very well received, is a West Point Graduate with appropriate service and additionally has obtained three Master’s degrees. His characters are interesting, generate empathy, and the story’s pace is good. One particularly interesting feature is his ability to blend the story teller’s thoughts/beliefs into the thought patterns he provides through the characters. Thus, a most interesting and enjoyable read that supplies more usually unknown facts about a subject of particular importance at this particular time in history.

5* Interesting & enjoyable; particularly important at this time in history.

The Uquiet Genius

The UNQUIET GENIUS ISBN: 9780999117378 TMR Press, LLC by Glenn Dyer.

In this Conor Thorn (Book 3) the author again has provided his readers with a rapidly moving thriller taking place in the European theatre during WWII. This time it is as a result of Mussolini, and the Vatican wanting to retain a brilliant nuclear scientist, while the Germans, Russians and Americans’ all wish to convince him of the need they have for him to join them in their final movement toward building an atomic missile. The scientist also is an ordained man-of-the church who had successfully faked his demise and for four years successfully hidden in a monastery high in the Italian mountains. Deciding what he has done to his family was an unbearable action, he writes them a letter. A copy lands in ‘unfriendly hands’ and the secret is divulged, thus creating the involvement of the groups mentioned.

Discussion: The author has set forth an action-packed suspense/thriller/romance complete with Nazi cruelty as well as displays of betrayal, deceit, treachery and deception involving quite a large cast of characters who are sufficiently under-developed to result in fundamentally a plot-based tale. Enough empathy is developed among enough characters, however, to provide interest for those who enjoy other than plot –based stories. A particularly interesting note from this reader’s perspective is the inclusion of thought relative to the horrific results from atomic fission – a subject beginning to be addressed more frequently in the scientific community as time passes and circumstances change, but not previously noted so prominently in fiction.

5* Largely plot-based suspense/thriller/romance with interesting aside.

All We Have to Believe In

     All We Have to Believe in ISBN: 9781957013039 Hybrid Global Publishing published copyright and written by Jeffrey J. Lousteau.

The story opens in May 1919 in San Francisco with a parade followed by celebration in the rose garden of the Parthenon for the soldiers just returned from Europe with termination of WWI and selected family members. The book describes the WW1 horrors, the men who participated and the many levels of suffering they encountered, the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, the ‘mockery’ of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, the Great Depression, the government’s attempt at legislating the curtailment of personal consumption of alcohol termed Prohibition, the racial hatred, and more. All has been encapsulated in a family and their acquaintances in a time when wide spread unrest existed. The protagonist is Edward Dooley, a young Irish immigrant who enlists in the army directly from high school, and participates in heavy combat, returns suffering from a degree of what today finally has been determined PTSD, maries a loving and understanding woman with whom he has three children. But, to include a more complete overview of the era, he has been placed in the position of the son of immigrant parents upon whom his family becomes heavily dependent.

Discussion: The author has set forth a history of the 1900’s by employing a main character fully representing the average American man who was involved totally in the activities of the chaotic century making the errors made by most members of the generations struggling through with tenacity of purpose to survive. Generally speaking, it is a depressing story that in attempting to ‘cover-all-bases’, often becomes entrapped in unnecessary details. However, if the reader can accept these oversites, he/she will discover a quite extensive knowledge of the era told plainly and setting forth the main protagonist as an individual of strong character indoctrinated with the strong morality and work ethic existent within the generation as well as the other firmly established beliefs that appear to have been included in the members of those generations so as often being referred to as The Great Generation.

* 5* history of an era; -2 lengthy discussions; depressing but recommended.

The Rise of the American Navy

The Rise of the American Navy: Published, copyright, and written by John Williams Ptolemy.

This author has contributed numerous books and articles to help the person with similar interests gain knowledge of this fascinating subject. Subtitled Maritime Battles through the First 100 Years, he again has added a sizeable number of not particularly well-known activities by several individuals and has provided a large number of footnotes from whence his supportive data have come.

Discussion: Simply stated, the author has proceeded to write another volume to add individual, lesser known facts about this section of the country’s history. The book contains a certain amount of redundancy and repetition that, if removed by thoughtful editing, would greatly enhance one’s pleasure in reading.

4* 5* addition of interesting material; -1 as explained.

Jupiter, Illinois

Jupiter, Illinois a novel assumed published, copyright and written by William Graham.

The story begins with an explanation about the birth of Jupiter, Illinois.  In 1867 two staunch friend graduates in the classics from Yale University arrived in the prairieland of central Illinois about two hundred miles south of Chicago and decided to build their own college with surrounding town. As sons of wealthy shipping magnates from New York City, they could well afford to purchase and establish the college and with complete faith that their institution named Byron College after their favorite poet, Lord Byron, would excel in teaching all aspects of scholarship and business to its assumed burgeoning supply of students, they proceeded with the next step. The town was established and named Jupiter after the Roman god of sky and thunder. From this introductory description the story moves immediately to a number of years later when the college appears not to have developed to the founders intended level and is pretty much forgotten. However, several plots develop within the town and its residents and are followed through a number of years. The town also has been hit hard by the closing of a factory that manufactured automobiles, the main source of income for the residents. The story from hear on, follows the activities of the largely middle class residents with advent of a tremendously wealthy entrepreneur who makes a deal with the mayor to reopen the abandoned automobile factory. He intended to produce a new version of an electric automobile and had decided to build a new and extravagantly designed home as well. Rules of the new factory employment were not particularly compatible with the employees’ best interests and together with the plant owner’s outrageously expensive house design, trouble ensued. The story proceeds as it plays out the activities of a number of the residents.

Discussion: This is an interesting book in that it provides an unvarnished picture of the lives of important players in a relatively small Midwestern town formerly dependent upon a now closed factory as the main source of income for most residents and a college that also had not lived up to the founders’ expectations. New blood is provided by entree of an extremely wealthy entrepreneur who offers to reopen the empty factory owned by the city, and also to join the community by building a new home of very costly design for him and his younger new wife. His rules of employee function, quite unfavorable to the employees, begin to generate dissatisfaction and are exacerbated by the costly construction of his new home. The activities of a number of the involved citizens are followed as each of their stories unfold.

The author appears to be a well-developed writer with excellent educational background and a large number of credits in published works including poetry, adult and young adult fiction, travel and biography. His style seems to be to present the unadorned facts of activities, whether business or more personal relationships. It is a style that brings to mind the theme of an old TV series based upon the main character, Sgt. Friday, stating to an interviewee, “Just the facts, Mam, Only the facts.” It is a technique allowing the reader to decide whether or not characters are ‘worthy’ of empathy. (A psychological note – perhaps a thought pattern that could develop in residents of a town who had lived through this town’s past and present problems?)

 

5* Enjoyable story from several perspectives

The Roar of Ordinary

The Roar of Ordinary ISBN: 9781734629015

Published, copyright and written by J. C. Foster. 

A coming of age story set in America during the twentieth century, this is an expression of love that focuses on brothers and sisters from a supportive family that has resulted from the merger of residents mostly of the northeast portion of the U. S. with immigrants from Italy who face numerous personal ordeals, predominantly a product of the time. Recognizable family life evolves while on a collision course with the randomness of war, the Great Depression and other problems of the twentieth century. Close siblings find themselves in an era of challenging circumstances with life and death tied to their decisions, as fate hovers to devour the unlucky. This is a memoir setting forth an account of growing up in the embrace of a loving family with a sometimes ‘difficult to determine’ demonstration of that basic passion by a person of shifting moods and in a period of time overshadowed by wars followed by the fallout that combat brings. It’s a tale of introspection, hope, and redemption in the aftermath of loss while it scrutinizes the Vietnam War and identifies lingering governmental actions that exhibit forgetfulness regarding the lessons of Vietnam as well as those of other world conflicts. Along the way Jack, the protagonist dreams of what brought him to the here and now. He realizes that family, though an ordinary one, has provided required incentive, privilege, and opportunity as events, experiences, faces, and conversations appear. But he also sees that his individual decisions and those of his relatives and friends are what influenced fate to place each of them where they presently dwell.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author has presented in much detail the large number of activities in which an intelligent, active child, adolescent and young adult would engage while growing up in neighborhoods offered children of this era. Many may seem outlandishly ridiculous to today’s readers but assuredly were not beyond the thought patterns of those growing up in the early and middle parts on the 1900s. And the descriptions of the changes in thought patterns evolving in the mid-century are particularly well remembered and presented. The resultant conclusion is that in spite of some of the unevenness and redundancy exhibited, this is a book that describes in great detail the era of the 1900s as viewed from the perspective of a thoughtful young person gradually maturing under the guidance of a warm family environment with enough breadth to mitigate the perhaps harsher elements.

5* excellent portrayal of coming of age in the last century.

The Andean Cross

The ANDEAN CROSS ISBN: 9781648038372 Westwood Books copyright and written by Lawrence Clayton.

The story begins by ushering the reader into the world of mystery, cruelty and intrigue heralded by the Conquistadores and their invasion and mutilation of the culture and peoples on the New World under the guise of Christianity. Mathew Weston, a relatively young Texas History Professor, is on a summer break and joins a group looking for the wreck of a Spanish Galleon lost on its trip back to Spain with treasure. The unusual Andean Cross purportedly was included among the gold and silver that was lost during its journey to Spain from the Land of the Incas in 1544. The expedition make positive discoveries and he is fortunate to obtain funding to establish a dive team to investigate further the supposedly exact spot where the vessel was sunk in the Bay of Panama. But even before his obtaining this grant, the story initiates leads with respect to this particular shipment. It appears that the description of all of the items is not to be divulged. The nature of this secrecy and the underlying reasons provide the fundamentals upon which the author has constructed this unique historical, religious, suspenseful mystery with a large component of romance. Clair Snowden, an expert on one phase of history pertinent to some of the artifacts also is a member of the team and she and Weston gradually attain a level of understanding that reaches new heights for them both as the story continues to provide further information about the long rumored extent of the early dissemination of Christianity by its apostles.

Discussion: The author appears to be well known for his scholarly approach to the early rise of the Christian religion. The sites have been well researched as well as the material and the entire package is relatively well-assembled. Fundamentally, this is a plot driven tale in which a large group of characters are gathered together, and although somewhat vaguely presented as to exact positions within the story occasionally, function well. Regrettably for this reviewer, occasional character activities appropriate to the story are difficult to accept when assembled within the picture the author’s earlier descriptions have provided to build a mental picture of a person; e.g., Mathew is presented as a well-trained, knowledgeable diver who can qualify to gain a grant for money sizeable enough to run a dive team, yet he can almost pass out in a simple faint when thoughts occur to him about possible repercussions about his possession of the Andean Cross illegally, ‘because it provides a needed advancement for the overall forward motion of the plot’. Unfortunately, attributing such an action to a certified Deep Sea Diver will be unacceptable to most even slightly knowledgeable individuals and impossible for anyone with any information of the rigors of the required training alone. However, for the average historical fantasy, thriller, mystery, romance devotee this is a story that will satisfy in all areas. For the more casual reader, following the plot as it develops still will provide an interesting story and possibly new thoughts with respect to some aspects of the origins of Christianity.

4* 5* multi-genre plot-driven tale for many readers; at least 4* for most.

A Beconing Hellfire

A RECONING HELLFIRE, A Novel of the Civil War, Kindle Edition by JDR Hawkens.

The author has set forth a coming of age tale of a young farm boy in the horribly difficult time of the Civil War between the states. His father has joined the Army of the Confederate States of America and left him to manage the large but somewhat hardscrabble farm in western Alabama with the help of his sisters and mother. Unfortunately, he is killed and the family is informed just before Christmas shortly before the boy’s 18th birthday that was to occur the following year. With a typical display of the bitterness exhibited between residents of the northern and southern states, plus an anxiousness to “get into the action existent in almost all naïve young men, he is determined also to join in the bitter fighting to “gain revenge on the Yankees:” The story unfolds following the young man’s subsequent enlistment and experiences as he becomes one of the many young men involved in the gradual expansion of the deadly hand-to-hand combat of a member of the Southern cavalry fighting under the flamboyant and highly successful J.E.B. Stuart. Unfortunately, he is a rather simple young man and quite naïve whose plight is made worse by his actions immediately before leaving for the army. Fortunately however, he is aided considerably by his lifelong close friend who joins with him and by his unusual horse that has been his close companion for many years actually in a similar fashion as a companion dog in many ways.

Discussion: The author is a well-known and eminently well-qualified individual writing in this area of American literature. Actually seemingly the only woman with this reputation and once again she has provided readers with a well-researched, well-written, mostly poignant story of one series of actions that could have taken place during the conflict. It is a story of the common soldier with only an occasional glance into the lives of the cavaliers and the storied lives lived by the wealthy plantation owners and that from which came the Southern Officers of their military structure. Instead it depicts the farmer, blacksmith, store clerk and others who made up the largest proportion of the soldiers involved in the horrendous conflict. It is not a story for the delicate reader and, as are any descriptions of battle scenes as they truly exist, subject to a goodly amount of repetition or repetitive-like description. However, the informed reader will learn much he/she may not previously have known about the substitute foods and other innovative moves the southerners ‘manufactured’. So in summary, although a poignant tale and largely quite depressing, it is a worthwhile addition to the collection of stories of this great American conflict.

5* thoughtful addition to the American Civil War literature.