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.

 

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.

Awful Reckoning

   Awful Reckoning. A Cade Chase and Simon Pack Novel by John M. Vermillion.

Seemingly, the author is beginning a new series based upon his successful run of the Pack series and a character, Cade Chase introduced in the last of the Pack series. Here Cade again is presented in a Preface as a non-West Point graduate who finished as a heavily decorated four star general now residing in a small Appalachian town because he hated the type of crime that is steadily growing in this country and was trying to do something about it. Following is a list/description of the principal characters The story itself is to retrieve the Stanford Univ. student daughter of a highly successful multibillionaire entrepreneur who has been kidnapped by members of Antifa with threats of dire action if any investigative authorities are notified. Cade receives a call from the father who calls in a long standing mutually reciprocal assistance in desperate circumstances agreement. Cade accepts, gathers his small but highly efficient team and proceeds to devise a brilliant plan that is carried out without a hitch leaving the Antifa Head almost without funds, how it happened and any even vague ideas of who was involved.

Discussion: For readers who like well written action, presented by an eminently qualified author and loaded with suspense and activities that are totally credible this definitely is a book for you. One particularly noteworthy feature is that the plan as devised and executed does not leave any weak spots that can provide the one feature that causes the ‘last minute appearance of some factor that allows for an unexpected ‘hiccup’ that provides for a last minute introduction of ‘surprise’ activity. However, there is even more for the ‘thinking’ reader, especially if adverse to vigilante activity. A fact the author briefly addresses.

Summary: Generally speaking this is a book that will be thoroughly enjoyed from the perspective of the action/suspense aficionado as well as from that of the more cerebrally inclined individual.

5* Enjoyable thriller/suspense on many levels.

HOPE

HOPE published by Dandelion Books Ltd., copyright and written by Julian Papadia.

Sub-titled He wanted to give her freedom, she wanted her daughter back, the story opens in Rickmansworth – Hertfordshire, a coastal small town on the outskirts of London. The protagonist is raging over the telephone. From this early point in the book, the reader is confronted with a quite confusing, constantly twisting tale that involves his once idyllic life with an adored wife and loving young son and daughter. There were difficulties because he, Paul, was a prominent detective in this small English town, and she the same in a Paris, France Police Department. The death of his young daughter, through a situation that both felt was his fault further complicates the story as do the cause of his telephone explosion because the matter about which he is complaining is the unacceptable early release of a prominent Mafia-type Boss’s son after his being the main accuser sending him to prison for a lengthy term. Adding still another problem is his acquisition of a teen age escapee from a religious cult compound who admits killing her mother and father within. The story now begins shifting between Paul’s home town, which is the area within which the compound is situated, and Paris where a brilliant woman surgeon has been taken under the protective wing of his ex-wife in the search for her missing husband who probably is dead and her beloved daughter, missing but possibly still alive after a terrorist attack blew up a visitor’s center in Paris, where her husband and she were going with the child on a vacation. Her delay was the result of having to operate on an enormously wealthy British Legend. After much activity on both situations a final solution is reached.

Discussion/Summary: Spoiler Alert (?) To reiterate, this is a tale with several greatly convoluted plots where the large number of twists and turns are confusing but simultaneously intriguing. Even more confusing is the manner in which the story is presented. Much of the pertinent information is withheld until late in the book. Additionally, a considerable amount of the action, both by the story-teller English detective Paul, and by the surgeon looking for her daughter, seems quite below the age and intelligence level required to reach their levels of accomplishment. So in summary, this reviewer has been left to dichotomize. The suspense/thriller devotee most probably will be intrigued at a high level. The more pragmatic reader, although probably discovering the seeds of an interesting plot(s?) no doubt will be disappointed in the need for good editing.

3*at best. 5 for suspense/thriller devotees; 3 or less, general readership.

Good and Dead

Good and Dead is a book copyright and written by E. L. Pini. It has been published by Producer & International eBook Publishing and sub-titled (An Avner Ehrlich Thriller Book 2) The translation from Hebrew is by Tal Keren.

The story begins in a manner well described to set the tenor for the entire story, or stories. It unfolds in an old rusted building situated in a seedy park outside of Moscow where a no-holds-barred wrestling match is in progress. The end of each match is declared when the ‘referee’ declares the loser “Good and Dead”. A young well-muscled Yuri Rasputin enters the ring shortly after the last loser has been removed and meets the huge reigning champion whom he cleverly eliminates by using a well-hidden blade. The reader does not again meet Yuri until about halfway into the book where he again appears as a major character in the deadly political chess game being waged and a dedicated enemy of our main protagonist, Avner Ehrlich. Avner, although in his thirties and with the physical results of many combative encounters in the field, once again has been sent on a mission. This time to Tehran to eliminate an Iranian nuclear scientist. This elimination is considered crucial to survival for Israel and possibly part of the rest of this section of the world. Complications develop and he is ordered to abandon the mission but in his usual manner ignores the order. Finally working his way into position for a direct sure shot at Hamdani when the man’s young son comes running into the line of fire. He does not take the shot, returning home through a dangerously tortuous series of maneuvers. Ehrlich takes responsibility for the debacle and is dismissed from duty and placed on leave for disobeying orders.

Because his intuitive abilities make him almost indispensable, he is called back quite quickly because Hamdani reportedly now is involved with Colonel Yuri Rasputin of the Russian Military in naval activity where a stealth submarine has been armed with a mega nitrogen bomb that although purportedly headed for Syria, actually is believed as being designated for Israel. Obviously it is imperative to destroy the bomb or Israel will cease to exist.

Discussion: This Book 2 of what is developing as a quite fascinating series appears to delve deeply into the games played by the many minds involved in this international political maneuvering, as well as providing details of the steps an organization such as Mossad must take to counter and survive. The one feature that may be open to question by the more pragmatic reader is his physical ability to react in the manner he does with the number of severe injuries he has suffered, e.g.; three slipped discs, plus possibly the frequency with which a man in Ehrlich’s position  must be saved from death by activity of others. However, the author has introduced a psychological element into Ehrlich’s physical/mental emotional composition that is compelling and quite unique to discover in persons involved in this line of work. So generally speaking, the true devotee of well-written thrillers will find this book as intriguing and enjoyable as any, and probably better than most, presentations in this genre.

5*Well-paced, beautifully written thriller highly recommended.

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.

The GOLD TRAIN

The Gold Train ISBN: 97817337277, Dos Hermanos Publishing, a Mason and Thorn Western, copyright and written by Larry Richardson and Tom Richardson.

The authors again have embarked upon providing their readers with another in the series following the adventures of their seemingly popular protagonists Mason and Thorn. Thorn is the retired U. S. Marshal for whom Mason worked and he and his wife Amanda are ranchers attempting to save their cattle ranch after another of the devastatingly big freezes that periodically devastate the area ranches. Mason is Thorn’s replacement as U. S. Marshal for the territory and appears to be, along with his wife Grace, in his twenties. The destruction of the huge number of cattle actually proves most helpful for the new Marshal because Thorn is willing to serve as Deputy in the Marshall’s new assignment of seeing the new shipment of gold be safely transferred from Denver to the local area bank. The shipment is close to one million dollars and if this is not enough of a problem. Grace and Amanda want to enter the local auto race as participants for the $10,000 prize money being offered. The manner in which these two plots are developed and intertwined,, along with the skullduggery involved and the new interesting characters introduced form the body of this tale depicting the beginning of a new era of activity in the developing western part of the developing America.

Discussion: The manner in which the authors have presented this fundamentally double plotted story is quite fascinating. Its attendant sub-plots and introduction of characters, as well as handling their activity, is quite appealing. Their stories and reasons largely are credible and create empathy, the pace of the action is good, the interplay of the plots acceptable and the new material presented with respect to this era in the ‘new’ west quite enjoyable. Generally speaking, this is a most enjoyable read for anyone with even a modicum of interest in the early development of the western part of the United States.

5* especially for anyone interested in early Americana.

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is first of a new series, published, copyright and written by Larry Richardson and is a truly entertaining story delivered in the time-honored manner of all of the good ‘story tellers’ of old. It begins with the killing of the wife of Vincent Marshall by the prominent and formerly untouchable Mafia Boss, Santino Giovani’ A spectacular court scene describes the face-off between the two men with subsequent assignment of Giovani to Federal Prison and necessitates Vincent’s assignment to the Witness Protection Program. Meanwhile,  Phil Branson, a rapidly rising General Manager in one of the largest Retirement Living Organizations is offered to leave his highly successful position in Orlando to take over the similar, but foundering organization, in Billings, Montana with the firing of their manager. From this moment a steady mystery thriller begins to develop and expand with a side of possible rising romantic attachment for this man who lost the love of his life shortly after an idyllic relation with this wife. The sub-plots are many and beautifully intermingled as this Retirement Home the Sanctuary had been selected as the scene of the Witness Protection Program; an assassin ‘who never failed had been hired by the Giovani family was closing in on Vincent; pieces of evidence against the former Sanctuary General Manager was playing with the CEO of the General Organization: a dedicated cop was working diligently with Phil in his attempting to gain the required evidence; and the one girl who seemed ready to replace Phil’s lost love suddenly was offered a career choice that would fulfil the dreams of her childhood.

Discussion: The author has set forth a mystery, thriller romance that should appeal to every aficionado of any of these genres as well as those readers who, as stated earlier, enjoy a well-paced, well-characterized, and intermingling of interesting and well-designed plots.

5* Highly recommended

Bivrost Nine

 BIVROST NINE is the first in a proposed nine book series described as “an Epic Space Opera adventure (The Bivrost Nine Saga Book One)” Broken Wing Publishing, copyright and written by Andrew Tanner.

The prologue describes in detail the desperate last efforts by super hero woman warrior space pilot to perform her almost impossible ‘last stand’ attack on the attacking Otheran battle ship. Nysse Ann Hazara-Ghazi is successful in providing the last blow necessary when combined with the other successful battle results achieved by Earth’s forces, to make the invaders withdraw. The tale then moves into a period of uneasy peace among the various countries forming this huge intergalactic world in which Earth is a very new component. Nysse now is aboard a flight to her new assignment as a Commander in the uniquely structured ruling section of a small city left “on a chunk of what was left of the continent Bivrost Nine- an expanse of barren, reddish rock along the horizon” of a huge gap overlooking nothing but empty space.

The first chapter of this book opens with Nysse, now after participating in a ‘renewal program that has made this late middle-aged women into a vibrant and completely fit warrior who appears and acts like an individual twenty years younger. A person also particularly qualified because of her many years spent intermingling with the many different inhabitants of this intergalactic mass of diverse individuals.

She is on her way to assume her new position as commander of an outpost that represents a new approach to attempting to bring peace to the many highly diversified with many war-preferring nationalities sharing this outpost thousands of light years from its initiating conception by Earth. Her new team most prominently includes Sam, a person largely rebuilt from what was left of his badly destroyed body and referred to as Cyborgs which is a name, along with others rather distasteful to those involved; a brilliant, but totally unorthodox scientist Winston; then unfortunately assigned from the less favorable possibilities, Ishlaa, an Othren priestess, and her own long-time warrior ‘protector’ Ufthuf who hated humans. The committees’ task is to hammer out a lasting peace among this diverse and seemingly war-preferring intergalactic mixture. And the place in which they have to do it is as described, the small city situated on what is left of a partially destroyed continent sitting on a huge section of rock overlooking nothing but a huge abyss of endless space. The time of the tale’s beginning is only shortly advanced from Earth’s present year and the story is one of constant activity with danger, duplicity, treachery, betrayal and more.
Discussion: The author sub-titles this endeavor “The last hope for peace” and proceeds to present a sci-fi-thriller with undertones of mythology and philosophy from his self -professed position as a simple citizen who supports scientific advancement but finds the amount of authoritative pressure so widely extant to appear to be a little oppressive. Seemingly his beliefs seem quite in common with those expressed by individuals similar to his own background and training. He has served in the military, acquired academic training in one of the large California colleges and supports the concepts set forth by Black Lives Matter and of universal equality. His present endeavors seemingly are to attempt to add his ‘little bit to attempt to better the world from his position as an independent investigative individual who provides written analyses of his findings from his perspective’.  Summarily speaking, the author has produced a first volume of his proposed series that is a fast moving, sci-fi space thriller with interestingly portrayed characters with whom the reader can empathize, in interestingly presented imaginative situations and with a touch of humor. Attempts to impart some bits of philosophy and a tad of mythology additionally are included. The reader will need to decide how well he has accomplished his opening salvo, but if he/she enjoys the trend set by today’s futuristic thinking authors, they no doubt will enjoy this new book/series.

5* as described.