Book Reviews

Pulse, by Jeremy Robinson

pulse-iconPulse was my second experience with Jeremy Robinson’s writing.  An excerpt from Pulse was placed at the end of Kronos, and that alone was enough to send me scurrying online order Pulse.  And to put it plainly, it was not a disappointment.  Pulse is a wild adventure that spans the globe as it takes the reader on a journey through genetic manipulation and Greek mythology.

The novel centers around a Delta Force squad whose team leader inadvertently stumbles upon a series of mutated creatures while helping secure an archeological dig site.  The elite Delta troop is known as the Chess Team.  The team leader, King, calls in the rest of the Chess Team as they follow a trail that leads them to the multi-national corporation known as Manifold.
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The Silent Sea, By Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul

This is the seventh installment of the Oregon Files series by Clive Cussler.  The series started out as a spin off of characters created in one volume of the Dirk Pitt series, also by Cussler.  The characters turned out to be a perfect base on which to launch another successful series of books.  To date, I have enjoyed every installment of the Oregon Files series.  And The Silent Sea is no exception.

The story starts on a family owned island off the west coast of the United States.  For generations, the family members have struggled to reach bottom of a flooded shaft at the center of the island.  At the bottom of which is believed to be an abandoned pirates treasure.  But while the young men of the family line have struggled for generations to reach the bottom, none have yet discovered its secrets.
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Beneath, By Jeremy Robinson

Beneath was an extremely enjoyable read.  While NASA and SETI search for extraterrestrial life, many debate what that life might look like.  Recent exploration has been centered on the search for water on other planets assuming that where there is water, there may also be life.  If that’s the case, any life found is likely to be carbon based and simple cellular.

Jeremy Robinson’s latest book, Beneath, starts with a chance discovery of a meteor that points to the possibility of microbial life on Europa, the 6th moon of Jupiter.  This discovery is the precipitating event that launches an expedition into space.  Traveling deeper into the black than any humans in history, the team makes its way to the surface of Europa.

The story is as plausible as it is entertaining.  No liberties have been taken at expense of the story.  The technology used to launch the mission is based firmly in credible science.  No magical transported technology or phaser guns.  This isn’t a fast and lose sci-fi adventure.  Robinson does an artful job of crafting a credible and suspenseful adventure story that happens to be set in space.
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Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Back for the second season, ABC’s Castle is one of this seasons prime-time shows that I am most interested in.  Season 1 was compelling and sure to interest fans of Nathan Fillion.  Many will remember Fillion from his role as Malcolm Reynolds on the classic but short lived Firefly series.  Needless to say, Fillion’s roll as crime author Richard Castle plays to the actors strengths and makes for an amusing series.

So, here’s why I find this show interesting enough to warrant a post.  The shows main character, Richard Castle, successful author who decides to kill off the character that made him famous.  The plot explains that Castle is bored writing about the character because he knows him inside out.  He wants to create a new character.

Castle spends some time with the NYPD and finds inspiration for a new character.  He pulls some strings at the NYPD and the Mayors office and get assigned as a consultant to a detective on which he plans to based his new character.  The new character, Nikki Heat, is based on NYPD detective Kate Beckett.  Wikipedia has some interesting background on the characters.

At the beginning of season 1, Castle kills off the lead character that supposedly made him a house hold name and risks his career with a new book.  He starts investigating strange cases with Beckett.  Shortly into season 2, Castle is about to release the first book based on the Nikki Heat character.  This is the part that I find fascinating.
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Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage

I finished reading Blind Man’s Bluff this week.  A departure from my traditional fiction based novels, this book details submarine based spying and counter-spying during the Cold War.  Throughout the book I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t an outlandish functional accounting of American and Soviet naval activity, but in fact entirely fact based.  So many of the missions detailed seemed larger than life and too far fetched to be reality.  But, just the same they were real.

This is where the book shines.  Each chapter is the result of a mountain of research conducted by the three authors.  Declassified Navy reports, political documents, new coverage, and person to person interviews were all used to flush out the facts needed to properly document the history of submarine warfare throughout the Cold War.

It was shocking to read what the Navy allowed to be reported in the book.  It only makes me wonder what else happened out there that no one will ever read about.  Chapters cover the entire history of submarine spying staring in 1949 as an early CIA operative joins the crew of the Cochino as it heads for Soviet waters carrying a new antenna design to pull intelligence secrets out of the air.
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Extraordinary Powers By Joseph Finder

I originally read this book in the late 1990’s and was intrigued by the story.  Since it has been a while, I decided to dig the book back out and give it another read.  I could recall the story being compelling and creative, but I couldn’t recall the details of the story well enough to wreck the outcome of the mystery as I read.  So thanks to my poor memory, I was able to read the novel again, for the first time.

The story starts with a journalist explaining that a manuscript recently fell into his possession describing the behind the scenes details of some rather extraordinary political news.  The journalist explains that he can’t be certain of the authenticity of the story, but the detail and insight into recent news headlines checkout and make the story worth considering.  So, with that out of the way, the book continues in the first person from the perspective of ex-CIA agent Ben Ellison who is now working as a patent lawyer in Boston.

This is a tough book to review without giving away vital secrets before they unfold in the story.  I think its enough to say that something extraordinary happens to Ellison that gives him an ability no other espionage agent in the world has, but all would kill for.

The novel was originally published in 1994.  But is as credible and intriguing today as it was in the 90’s.  Surprisingly, as is the case today, the world is in economic peril and forces behind the scenes are working to manipulate that to their favor.

Joseph Finder has 9 previous works and is about to release book 10.  While each of the previous novels were one-off stories based on unique characters, book 10 promises to be the beginning of a series based on a single case.

His 1998 book, High Crimes was turned into a big budget thriller starting Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.  Aside from that, several of his other works have earned great acclaim and several awards.

Extraordinary Powers is available at
Read more about Joseph Finder


Medusa by Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos

The guys from NUMA are back in the latest release from the great Clive Cussler.  This is book 8 in the NUMA Files series staring the character Kurt Austin, special projects director for the National Underwater and Marine Agency.  As with the rest of the series (and in my opinion just about every other thing that Cussler has ever written), this novel is a fast paced action adventure from cover to cover.

This story is based around a viral outbreak in China.  The United States tries to aid in the development of a cure by utilizing the venom of the rare Blue Medusa jellyfish.  The Chinese Triads try to prevent the development of a cure to further their own agenda and threaten to allow the disease to over take the planet.
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The Silent Man by Alex Berenson

I finished reading The Silent Man by Alex Berenson last night.  Its the 3rd book in the John Wells series of novels.  As with the first two, I really enjoyed it.  This release deals with a Muslim group trying to steal and smuggle two Russian made nuclear weapons into the US.  John Wells, struggling to adjust to his life as a normal CIA operative is having difficulty and working through personal issues.  He pretty much stumbles into this terror plot and finds what he needs to keep going.

Being the third book in the series, its good to have the characters still developing.  Since we know them better at this point, Berenson digs deeper into their personalities and their entwined relationships.  At the same time, the story details a great deal of the work the extremists experience as they attempt to smuggle and refit the atomic bomb.  This lends to a full and complete story.
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The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson

I recently finished reading The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson.  From what I understand, it made it to the New York Times paperback best sellers list.  All in all, an interesting read.  I do recommend it.  It deals with a deep cover CIA agent working behind al-Qaeda lines for about 10 years prior to being sent to the US by al-Qaeda’s chief tacticianer.

I’m not a big fan of war stories, but this didn’t really fall into that genre.  The story is more about how the agent deals with his work as he struggles to complete his mission after returning to the US.  The plot is well conceived and doesn’t suffer from lulls in its pacing.  Berenson does an excellent job of putting the reader in a position where they can experience the mixed emotions of a person who has spent a decade in deep cover.
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The Sea Hunters II by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo

I just finished The Sea Hunters II by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo.  It was an interest look at some of the great shipwrecks of history.  Each chapter begins with a fact based fictional account of the events leading up to a ship wreck.  These parts of the account are detailed, entertaining, and based on the known facts that lead up to the loss of the ship or aircraft being addressed.  As with his fiction books, Cussler adds depth to the characters in his recreation of the event and makes it easy for the reader to identify with the people involved in the disaster.

The second part of the chapter is Cussler’s own account of the events that led to his involvement in the search.  He explains how the search got started, those he consulted with, and the team he used for the search.  From there he accounts for the ups and downs of the expedition and lends insight into some of the more unusual events that took place on the expedition.  And while each story is very different, they are all entertaining.
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