This World War II novel was of great interest to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, its setting in that time period is a source of endless fascination for me as I love to read about it, and now to write about it in my own novel, Journey To Marseilles, which also takes place during that global conflagration. Secondly, it is a dual narrativeâas is Journey To Marseillesâwith storylines that finally dovetail in conclusion.
It is a story of searches. The blind French youngster, Marie-Laure LeBlanc, searches her way through city streets with nothing to aid her but a cane and miniature neighborhood models that her locksmith father constructs for her, and at the same time navigates her way through the hardships and complications of the war that threatens her very existence. The scientifically precocious German boy, Werner Pfennig, in his search for knowledge and a way out of an orphanage, finds himself being trained in a regimented Nazi youth camp and finally electronically searching the battlefields for enemies of the Reich. And finally, a Nazi treasure hunter searches for a priceless and legendary gem he believes may have the power to save his life.
With an eloquence of language and heartbreaking imagery, Anthony Doerr deftly conducts the reader on a fascinating search for a fulfilling conclusion. I can't recommend this novel highly enough.
Take the Mob, Howard Hughes, the CIA, J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI, Fidel Castro and the Cuban Exiles, the Kennedys (the father and 2 sons) and three indelible characters -- Kemper Boyd, Pete Bondurant, and Ward Littel -- toss them all together into a tightly woven narrative that reads like real American History even though it purports to be a novel, and you get a fast-paced, violent, gut-wrenching story of crime, conspiracy, and betrayal that begs to be believed as fact. James Ellroy pulls no punches and he throws quite a few. Whew! This one will wring you out and you'll love it.
If you like your detective stories âhardboiled,â you must read Ken Kuhlken's The Angel Gang alongside Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer tales. I do have to take exception with film historian Stephen Bowie's description of the Mike Hammer stories as â . . . the trashiest of the film noir-era literary detectives . . .â since I consider Mickey Spillane's writing to be âhardboiledâ with a touch of noir, rather than vice-versa. But I digress. This review is about The Angel Gang, not literary tropes.
Ken Kuhlken's hero, Tom Hickey, is the protagonist in this and the marvelous six-book Hickey Family Mystery Series. Every bit as tough, reckless, and uncompromising as Mike Hammer, Tom Hickey is a more rounded-out character than the Hammer that Edgar Award-winning author, Megan Abbott describes as â. . . hypermacho, wildly violent: he'll take on the mob, the Russians. He's almost a Superman.â He has a great love for his wife, Wendy, a tendency toward consideration for the fairer sex in general, and a somewhat off-key habit of pipe-smoking Sir Walter Raleigh, whereas Hammer has only a soft spot for his secretary, Velda, and smokes unfiltered âbuttsâ like a chimney.
Set in post-WWII California, Hickey pulls out all the stops when his pregnant wife is kidnapped because of his poking his detective's nose into places it's not welcome. In a state of near panic, he races from Northern California to San Diego to penetrate the underworld of Southern California, which includes the infamous and much-talked-about-but-never-seen Mickey Cohen. He holds another gangster at gunpoint for much of the novel while desperately trying to solve the mystery and corral the culprits who snatched his fragile and mystical wife.
Real the whole series, by all means, and enjoy, like I did, The Angel Gang.
Check out this opening line: "I was bathing in the lake when I saw the unicorn." One of the best opening lines I've ever read and had me hooked right from the get-go. Fascinating tale of the future where all mechanical and electronic devices have stopped working, and magic has returned to the world. Couldn't stop reading it till I finished. Great!
Like "Band of Brothers" or "Unbroken," "Beneath a Scarlet Sky" is one of those books that reveals a heretofore undiscovered genuine World War II hero. In this case it is 17-year-old Pino Lella of Milan, Italy, who dares to rescue Jews from the grasp of the Gestapo and smuggle them through the dangerous escape route over the Alps into Switzerland. Further, Pino becomes an undercover operative for the Italian Resistance by working right under the Germans' noses as the personal driver for Nazi Major General Hans Leyers, who is responsible only to Hitler himself. Pino experiences every kind of danger and risk you might imagine taking place in war-torn Italy. Based on a firsthand account told to author Mark Sullivan, this marvelous adventure of the horrors and heartbreaks of war is a compelling read not to be missed.
Once again, Michael Connelly's hardnosed LAPD detective, Harry Bosch, pursues justice for the underdog as he chases the decades-old murder of a combat reporter in his dogged and relentless manner. While he simultaneously juggles internal LAPD rivalries, a shaky love life, and a challenging teenage daughter, Bosch travels far afield into California's Central Valley to crack a cover-up conspiracy that becomes increasingly deadly.
This latest foray into mysteries involving the New York Museum of Natural History by super FBI Agent A.X.L. Pendergast is a fascinating and twisty-turny journey that is the most personal conflict yet for the enigmatic sleuth, and involves one familiar character (William Smithback) and a new heroine: Dr. Nora Kelly. Highly recommended for Pendergast fans or any reader who enjoys a good mystery/thriller.
Erik Larson's exhaustive research into the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition presents a fascinating compendium of facts and social commentary on the tenor of those times. The contrast of the âBlack Cityâ of urban Chicago and the âWhite Cityâ of the Exposition is striking to say the least. The staggering amount of âfirsts,â from the introduction of Cracker Jacks to the Ferris Wheel, is absolutely amazing. Throw in the grisly tale of America's first-known serial killer, Herman Mudgett, aka H.H. Homes, and you are reading an absorbing account of a truly historic American event.
Some might call the subject matter of Geek Love controversial, even objectionable, but there is no doubt that the skill with which this compelling novel, though admittedly unpleasant at times, is absolutely mesmerizing. Once I began to read it I had to finish it as soon as possible. It turns out that although the story is set in the world of carnival, the story is more about family relationships and the nature of man. Not to be missed by discriminating readers.
The first entry into the second trilogy of "The Girl . . . " series doesn't quite have the verve of the first three novels, but after a slow start -- which may just be a difference in Lagercrantz's style from that of the original author, Stieg Larsson, things do begin to pick up as the plot and action develop. Of course, with more involvement of the main character -- Lisbeth Salander -- the story definitely begins to pick up more lustre. All in all, a satisfying read that makes me want to move on to the next volume in the series.
Okay, so this is a vampire tale in that it is a search for the legendary Dracula figure by noted fictional historians, but it is no sensational and glossy tale of bloodsuckers. Told through a series of letters, a young woman searches for the truth about her historian father, her more-than-mysterious mother, their relationship, and the terrible truth about the fate of her grandfather, another historian on a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler and his final resting place. Sound circuitous? It does describe a grand circle in a most absorbing read, one that you should take your time enjoying. Don't expect to read it like a âsummer beach novel,â rather experience it as a magnificent quest of epic proportion.
It took me a while to get in step with Michael Connelly's new character, Renee Ballard, but as he revealed more and more of her inner self, I began to see the similarities with our old friend, Harry Bosch. Harry is intense and unrelenting, as is Ballard, and she has a fierceness about her that Bosch fans will enjoy. Like Harry, she's willing to go the extra mile for a victim: "Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts." I'm looking forward to Ballard and Bosch crossing paths eventually.
The basic plot of Stephen Coonts's "Liberty"--Muslim terrorists smuggling nuclear warheads into the U.S.--seemed a bit tired to me, however, the development and execution of that plot, plus the surrounding action and characters was outstanding. Even though Jake Grafton is the main character in this series, I thought his character was outshone in this one by the Tommy Carmellini character. The story's pacing kept me turning pages, so I stayed up late at night to finish it.
I've read all of the Burke's Dave Robicheaux series up through this one, and I finally found myself getting a little irritated by the hero's constant wallowing in his self-loathing because of his alcoholism. When I dared to bring up this response on a James Lee Burke fan site, I found myself taken to task by Facebook trolls who apparently appreciate Dave's deeply seated flaw more than I do. I still appreciate Burke's beautiful prose and canny insights into human nature, but the hero's constant drumbeat of self-hate got to me a little. Also, Burke categorically states at one point that he is against capital punishment, but it's OK for Dave and his pal, Clete Purcel to go after the bad guys under a "black flag," one meaning of which is to give no quarter and take no prisoners. Still a good read but not a "keeper" for me.
To quote a famous sportscaster: âOh, my!â This fascinating and delicious novel by Erin Morgenstern is a must-read for all lovers of tales that contain wonderful love stories (it has two!); tales of magic and magicians, circuses and carnivals, miracles and murder. It is eerie, supernatural, mysterious, and moving. It is a story of unscrupulous magicians and wonderful wizards. It has jaw-dropping moments and lump-in-the-throat moments. You will love the characters (except for a couple of them!). Make this tale of ambition and self-sacrifice the next read on your list.
Diane Moody has written a detailed and moving tale of two young peopleâDanny McClain and Anya Versteegâwho live through the harrowing times of World War II. This is an especially meaningful story for me since my parents lived through similar trials and ordeals of that global conflict. The reader gets to know both characters in up-close and intimate portraits as Ms. Moody deftly paints a picture of each character's growing pains â Danny in Chicago and Anya in Utrecht, a city near Amsterdam in the Netherlands â as they both deal with their individual family relationships and crises. While Danny co-pilots an Army Air Corps B-17 on bombing runs over Germany, and Anya throws herself into working with the Dutch Resistance and evading the Nazis in the occupied Netherlands, the reader can begin to anticipate an inevitable intersection of their paths. To borrow Irving Stone's title, we get to experience âthe agony and the ecstasyâ of what it must have been like to endure those most trying of times. Of Windmills and War is a hard-to-put-down and satisfying read.
While my dialogue hero's characters do not disappoint in their interchanges, I found the plot of Pronto to be slightly disappointing and pedestrian considering Leonard's usual action-packed and often (pleasantly) jolting stories. Also disappointing were some of the stereotypical gangster characters, but the introduction of U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens does give me something to look forward to in the following Raylan Givens volumes. I might even have to give the TV series, "Justified" a look-see.
Another fast-moving portrait of Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Parker is an estimable dialogue maven in the same class as Elmore Leonard, perhaps even more tightly written and laconic. If you enjoy a Western adventure with finely drawn characters and swift and deadly action, Parker's Cole & Hitch series is for you. Along with Volume #1 - "Appaloosa" -- the movie by the same name is a fine illustration of Parker's writing. The fine casting of Ed Harris as Virgil Cole and Viggo Mortensen as Everett Hitch will give you a vivid portrait of the two gunmen as you work your way through the series of books.
James Carlos Blake brings the Wolfe family into the 21st century and gives the reader another insightful look into the world of the outlaw with all its brutality, betrayal, family loyalty, and death. It's a good idea to read this novel's precursor, "Country of the Bad Wolfes," which will give the reader a much more fulfilling experience when reading "The Rules of Wolfe."
An unflinching look at the horrors of war and the Holocaust as perpetrated by the French Vichy government and the Parisian police force. The anti-Semitism and betrayal of the French Jewish population was a crime against humanity and an indictment of French society for its collaboration with the Nazis and its indifference to its own citizens. Could have been a 5-star read but for a slow beginning and some unevenness--predictable in places but throat-gripping in others. Probably will keep my copy and read it again.