Over 550 book reviews with full author links

28 July 2014

Laird Hunt : Neverhome

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A very original vision of the Civil War
There have been many books about the US Civil War but probably none of them with such an original vision of the war seen through the eyes of a woman fighting for the Union. This book was a great surprise for me - and a good one, especially as it was told in Laird Hunt's plain, evocative and delightful prose that took you into the heart of the character and the heart of the war and its impacts on society.

"I was strong and he was not, so it was me who went to war to defend the Republic". The first line of the book graphically tells us so much of what the book was about. Constance and Bartholomew Thompson agonised over how to support the Union and it was Constance (renamed Ash) who put on a man's uniform and joined the war. Ash was able to fit in the army because with her slender build she looked like the many teenagers, too young to shave, who had also joined the fight.

Ash has the instincts of a man but the emotions of a woman. We see the war through her eyes, brutal, dirty, bloody, deceitful, and horrid. She is a great warrior but needs to prove herself so that she can hold her head high and go back to Bartholomew. She survives in battle, is captured and escapes and eventually gets exposed and imprisoned before she can make her way home.

The story is really more about Ash than it is about the war. She is not a hero but someone struggling to survive in very difficult times. There is no sexual content to the story, despite her friendship with his/her Colonel (later a General), and a potential sapphic relationship with a nurse who befriended her.

Laird Hunt's writing made this unbelievable story about an androgynous Union soldier believable. It is a very different gem of a book that kept me absorbed from the beginning to the end.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book for review. It is scheduled for publication on 9 September 2014.


27 July 2014

Geoffrey McGeachin: Blackwattle Creek

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Another good Charlie Berlin mystery
This is #2 in the excellent Charlie Berlin detective series set in Melbourne from the late 1940's to the present day. In the first of the series, THE DIGGERS' REST HOTEL, Geoffrey McGeachin introduced us to Charlie Berlin, recently returned from WWII where he was a bomber pilot, with traumatic memories of being shot down over Germany and suffering as a POW at the end of the war. He also introduced us to Rebecca, a photographic journalist who later became Charlie's wife.

Roll on a few years and Charlie and Rebecca are a loving couple living in Melbourne with two fine but demanding primary school children. Charlie is still with the police force but he has not progressed as far in the force as he expected due to his independent ways and the effects of continued traumatic memories. Rebecca is still active with her camera and finds the most profitable jobs to top up the tight family budget are weddings, not the top news assignments that she hoped for.

One day Rebecca asks Charlie to help a a recently widowed friend with a problem in his spare time. He soon finds that the problem isn't a minor one when he discovers that her friend's husband had been buried missing a leg. Charlie discovers that funeral parlours all over Melbourne are sending body parts to Black Wattle Creek, a defunct asylum for the criminally insane. Things become dangerous as Charlie investigates, his best friend in the force who has helped him with information is seriously attacked, Charlie is warned off by the Special Branch and his family are threatened. What follows impacts on the contemporary Cold War scares and fears of nuclear war.

My main memory of this book won't be the investigation, carried out in Charlie's inimitable independent style, which is pretty far out and fanciful, but the great evocative picture that Geoffrey McGeachin paints of suburban life in Melbourne in the 1950's, with milk bars; Admiral TV's bought to view the recent Olympic Games; their spec built suburban house with a back yard and chook run, Hills Hoist and outside toilet; fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, and steak and kidney pies; Tom Thumb firecrackers; distrust of recent immigrants ("reffos" and "bloody wogs"); and of course the Aussie Rules grand final.

I have now read #3, #1 and #2 in the series and would rank them in that order. The series is well recommended to readers who like a different style of detective novel, especially one set in Melbourne more than 50 years ago.

23 July 2014

Fredrik Backman: A Man called Ove

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What is a curmudgeon?
This is a gem of a feel-good debut novel about A MAN CALLED OVE by Swedish author and blogger Fredrik Backman. It will make you laugh and make you cry and you will remember Ove for a long time.

Some would call Ove a curmudgeon, a lovely word meaning a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person. His wife called him the most inflexible man in the world - he borders on being obsessive compulsive but is generally a grumpy man who doesn't tolerate fools and likes things to be done that way he wants them. While many think that he is  just a rude and grumpy man, at heart you will find out that he is one of the kindest persons you will ever know.

Ove is a 59 years old widower who has just been arbitrarily retired after 30 years in the same job. His world now revolves around his home and neighbourhood housing complex where he rules the roost making sure that all local rules and regulations are followed. He is very lonely since his wife died, he quarrelled with his best friend and neighbour years ago and rarely has contact with his neighbours.

Ove's world is one of anger and sadness. One day a new neighbour accidentally flattens Ove's mailbox driving in an area where vehicles are prohibited. This starts a very amusing, heartwarming and frequently very sad story as Ove's rigidly structured world is disrupted by unexpected friendship from Parvaneh, a vivacious small and very pregnant Iranian woman who has moved in next door with her Swedish husband Patrick and two girls. Parvaneh is perhaps the only person who can take on Ove directly and win, and starts to change his life for the better.

We also go back to how Ove met his vivacious and loving wife Sonja who was the direct opposite of Ove . At a critical time in her life she said to him "We can busy ourselves with living or dying, Ove. We have to move on." Now a widower Ove is struggling to move on.

This is one of the best feel-good stories I have read for some time and it gets a place in my best books for 2014. I strongly recommend it to someone who wants to read something different that will hit at your heart. If you are emotionally affected by books I strongly suggest keeping a box of tissues handy.

My thanks to Net Galley and Atria publishing for a copy of this book for my review.

21 July 2014

Daniel Silva: The Heist: A Novel (Gabriel Allon Book 14)

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Following stolen art and the money trail
Daniel Silva is one of the best political/espionage thriller writers around and this is the 14th adventure featuring Gabriel Allon. By this time most writers are finding it difficult to find different plots but this action-packed story is as current as today's news headlines about the Middle East at the end of the Arab Spring.

Gabriel Allon is one of the most fascinating characters in modern espionage fiction. He operates in two quite distinct worlds, that of a world renowned art restorer and that of a senior operative of Israel's Security Intelligence Service - "the Office". He is a skilled artist in both worlds, one very gentle and the other, while still very skilled, at times can be very violent.

Gabriel is living in Venice and is having one of his rare times of contentment, restoring a notable artwork and his beautiful wife Chiara (also an operative) is expecting twins. During this peace he is also pondering his future when in a year he is committed to become head of the Office.

"Not peace, though; for this restorer, peace was only the period between the last war and the next....men such as the restorer never allowed themselves to be seduced by the notion that peace would ever be possible."

His peace is disturbed by a visit from General Ferrari of the Italian Art Squad with a clever proposition with terms he couldn't refuse. Ferrari asks Gabriel to help him investigate the torture and murder of Jack Bradshaw, a former British diplomat, and art collector and help him track down stolen art, especially the holy grail, an altarpiece by Caravaggio that has been missing for decades. What Gabriel doesn't realise is that this will not only send him into the dark world of stolen art and forgery and but ultimately on the money trail of the finances of  a Middle East dictator which will involve the Office in one of its most unusual cases.

Returning readers may find the story starts slowly as as Gabriel collects together a fascinating team of specialists from both sides of the fence that he has worked with in the past to help him. Silva introduces each character quickly and effectively making it easy for the first reader to follow but also helping others to remember the characters from other adventures.

This book shows once again the depth of Daniel Silva's research and understanding of the of the dangerous world of the Middle East. Fans of Gabriel Allon will not be disappointed but will probably be surprised to see a softening as he contemplates fatherhood and the responsibilities to come.  While the characters and the modus operandi are a similar to previous adventures and could be considered a bit predictable by some, this contemporary tale is probably one of the most complex, puzzling, nail biting, and exciting with an ending that is hard to predict.

With impending fatherhood and Gabriel due to take over the helm of the Office, I will certainly be looking forward to the the next book in the series.

Michael Rowbotham: Missing You

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Psychological thriller at its best
Michael Robotham is one of the best authors of psychological thrillers on the planet, and this is undoubtedly one of his best. Key elements in a good psychological thriller are to weave a chilling story and to leave you guessing to the very end - Robotham does that in spades.

Marnie Logan is having a terrible life. Her second husband Daniel disappeared a year ago and she is left to bring up 2 children, a young boy, Elijah, with developmental problems from celiac disease and a teenage girl, Zoe,  from her first marriage. There has been absolutely no sign of Daniel, no bank account or credit card transactions and the police can find no trace of him - he has disappeared into thin air. Because she doesn't have proof of death she can't access his bank accounts or £300,000 life insurance.

Daniel was a gambling addict and left her with a large debt to a disreputable character, Patrick Henessy, with a contract making Marnie equally liable for the debt. Henessy won't write off the debt and her only recourse is to work for his escort agency to pay it off. When she refuses to service a client her handler Niall Quinn beats her up. What is particularly scary is that Quinn later turns up the next day in the local canal  with his throat cut and the police question her because she was the last one known to have seen him alive.

Following her depression following Daniel's death she has been consulting her neighbour, psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. She doesn't tell him everything about her difficult childhood or that from time to time she feels that she is being watched.

At last Marnie finds a way to access Daniel's personal effects from his office and finds a red book that he was creating for her birthday with her life story told through her family, friends and acquaintances. Jo and his friend retired detective Vincent Ruiz help Marnie to follow the leads in the book, and the scary part is that some more people associated with Marnie also start to get hurt.

Robotham writes a chilling  and disturbing story about Marnie's life, interleaved with observations from someone who has been following Marnie for years. Slowly he gives us clues and then reveals the answers but he leaves one of the questions unanswered even on the last page. Well done Michael Rowbotham, you have eclipsed all of your excellent previous psychological thrillers.

Now we wait for the release of LIFE OR DEATH in a few days time. Rowbotham says "It’s my tenth novel and one that I feel I was destined to write." Many of you may not be aware that while all of his novels are set in the United Kingdom, Michael Rowbotham is an Australian author who lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

15 July 2014

James Swain: Mr Lucky

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Can someone always be lucky?
MR LUCKY is the another great read in the entertaining and well written series by James Swain featuring Tony Valentine, a retired cop from New Jersey whose beat covered the casinos in Atlantic City. In retirement Valentine provides valuable advice to casinos throughout the world on identifying cheaters.

Tony thinks he's seen it all until he meets Ricky Smith, once a small-town loser, who now seems to be the luckiest man on earth. Ricky gets caught in a hotel fire in Las Vegas, and survives when he dived off a high-rise balcony through the hotel spar glass roof and onto a mattress. In bare feet he runs over to the next door casino and starts an incredible winning streak around the tables and even beats world’s greatest poker player Tex "All In" Snyder.

Nobody has that kind of winning streak and the casino won't pay out until all possible scams are investigated. Despite vowing never to work on Nevada casino matters again Valentine takes on the challenge of showing that Mr Lucky hadn't been lucky at all. When he travels to Ricky's home town, appropriately called Slippery Rock, to find out more about the lucky man he finds more than he expects, especially when his investigation starts to become violent.

Because he is on a tight time schedule and can't be in two places at once, Valentine reluctantly co-opts his son Gerry, who has had gambling problems in his past, to visit Tex Snyder, reportedly a pretty obnoxious individual. Gerry gets tempted by Snyder which brings him into a violent confrontation with the Dixie Mafia.

Swain takes us on a switchback of violence and tricks which extend his magic understanding of gambling tricks to the limit. Again it was an easy and entertaining read which gives an amazing insight into the murky world of gambling scams and cheating.

13 July 2014

Nora Roberts: The Heart of Devin MacKade (MacKade Brothers)

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The formula continues - two down, two to go
This is the third book in Nora Roberts' quadrilogy about the four Mackade brothers following her successful family romance formula of wild brothers maturing and finding their life partners. None of the romances are straightforward as each partner faces up to a long term commitment greater than their physical attraction.

In the first two books Roberts gets Jarad and Rafe Mackade married off and they now have an offspring each from their marriages. Regan, Savannah and her son Brian are now well and truly accepted into the fold of the Mackade family. It is now the turn of Devin, a tough guy who is Sheriff of the town but a real softie at heart.

From his high school years Devin has always held a flame for Cassie and was devastated when she married Joe Dolin. He was even more devastated when Dolin turned to domestic violence against his wife and son and in Book 2 Devin was involved in Dolin's arrest and imprisonment. Cassie is now divorced and with the help of Rafe and Regan Mackade, she manages the Mackade Inn, an antebellum "haunted" mansion which is now a successful  up-market bed and breakfast. She is starting to put together a life of her own after Joe but still has to heal properly.

Despite being Sheriff, Devin is at heart a gentle man. He always believes that Cassie will become his soulmate but knows that he must proceed cautiously because she has not recovered from her ordeal with Joe and believes that all men are similar. He also needs to proceed very cautiously with her son Connor who is also suffering the after effects of his father's violence. Roberts spins a very sensitive romance as Devin, Cassie and Connor work out their relationship.

The Nora Roberts' formula for this kind of series is one where four brothers find their life partners. In each one either the brother or the girl have something that prevents them from making a commitment. It was so successful that three years later Roberts wrote the equally successful Chesapeake Bay Saga, another quadrilogy about four brothers, using a similar formula.

I am reading this quadrilogy as interludes between my normal dose of heavy thrillers. At first I wondered if I would read all of them but there is a certain attraction with Roberts' writing and her romantic formulas. The fourth book concludes the saga with Shane, the farmer, who has played the field as an independent man for so long. What kind of woman will snare him? I have read book four which I think will surprise you.

10 July 2014

Stephen King: MR MERCEDES

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An automobile in the wrong hands is as dangerous as an assault rifle
Stephen King has written a humdinger of a thriller which starts with a bang and continues to hold you on the edge of your seat till the very end.

Everyday we drive automobiles that could be as dangerous as an automatic assault rifle. In the hands of MR MERCEDES an automobile mowed down a crowded line of desperate job-seekers waiting for what was advertised as "1,000 GUARENTEED JOBS". (Was this a deliberate misspelling or an editing mistake?) At the height of the recent US recession there were many hopeless people seeking any job available. Janice Cray, a single mother, was one of the most desperate and she had to bring her young baby Patti with her for the long wait in the cold and damp early morning hours. She is befriended by Augie Odenkirk who gives up his sleeping bag for Patti. None of them realises that the grey Mercedes driving over the parking lot was going to accelerate into the crowd and end their lives and those of many others and shatter the lives of the seriously injured.

Brady Hartfield is a sociopath who lives with his alcoholic mother. He was the driver of the Mercedes and the only person who enjoyed that day. The power of the slaughter excited his sociopathic mind and everyday he re-lived the excitement of the slaughter, especially the death of the baby. To increase his excitement he tracks down and targets those who have been inadvertently involved, the owner of the stolen Mercedes and the detective who was unable to solve the case.

Detective William Hodges has recently retired but is still haunted by the cases that he was not able to solve especially the Mercedes Killer. He has become overweight and depressed, leading a solitary and  unmeaningful life spending long hours watching senseless TV, and even contemplating suicide. One day he gets a letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes Killer which brings him out of his depression and onto the trail of the killer on his own. His big worry is that the killer may have something even larger planned.

King then takes the reader on a hell of a ride with twists, turns, cul-de-sacs and switchback rides while Hodges, an unexpected lover and a weird mixture of Camel Club type friends try to track down the killer before he can strike again. The killer taunts them and hurts them while he plans his ultimate terror strike.

King builds up a chilling picture of the development of a sociopath and his thinking processes, and the impact of retirement on a person whose life has centred around his job. His writing skills are brilliant to the very last sentence, which made me laugh out loud. You need to read right through to the end to see what I mean.

Stephen King is a master storyteller and in MR MERCEDES shows that he can again write a rattling good book outside the horror genre. The only other book I have read by Stephen King is his time vortex novel 11/22/63 about the assassination of President Kennedy - this one nearly matches the outstanding quality of that story. I would highly recommend MR MERCEDES to all Stephen King fans and also to others, like me, who are hesitant to read his other books because of the horror context.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book for my review.

07 July 2014

Deanna Raybourn: Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey)

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An interesting but not outstanding Victorian "melodrama"
This is the second book in Deanna Raybourn's successful historical romantic/sleuth series about Lady Julia Grey, a rich Victorian widow, who stumbles into a "career" as a private investigator when her husband dies. In the first book she met enigmatic and potentially very sexy Nicholas Brisbane, a part-time private investigator for the aristocracy, who told her that her husband has been murdered and asked for her help in finding the culprit.

Julia has just spent a year abroad in Italy recovering from a fire which destroyed her home and her husband's murderer and nearly took her life. During that time she hasn't heard a word from Brisbane and when she returns to home for Christmas to Belmont Abbey she is surprised to find Brisbane there as a guest of her father. She is more surprised to find that he is to become Lord Wargrave and she is even more surprised to find that he is accompanied by his fiancé, Mrs Charlotte King.

What follows is a very interesting house party of family and friends. Julia's family, the Hart's, are known for their eccentricity but the addition of murder and theft make this a most unusual house party. Of course Julia teams up again with Brisbane to find the culprits and there is some sexual tension, but not as much as I would have expected.

All in all this turned out to be something of a Victorian "melodrama", with potential villains everywhere, all played out in a Victorian country house party environment, with family, friends with unknown backgrounds, ghosts, secret passages, gypsies, poisoning and jewel theft set against a background of Victorian manners and behaviours.

While this series is a little outside my normal reading stream I enjoyed the first book because I was left with anticipation of what would happen next. At the end of this book I was disappointed that the relationship between Julia and Brisbane had not developed as fast as I expected and there was a lot of the same. I am not sure if I want to keep reading to see where the relationship heads.

06 July 2014

Adrian McKinty: I Hear Sirens in the Street

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More troubles for Sean Duffy
This is second book in the Sean Duffy detective trilogy set in "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s. This is gritty stuff in an authentic setting full of danger from all parties, the IRA, the Protestants and even the police and MI5.

After his successes in #1 in the trilogy, Sean Duffy has been promoted to Detective Inspector in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. While Duffy's job as a detective is to investigate crime there are rarely any normal criminals in Northern Ireland at that time who don't have some kind of connection to "The Troubles".

When Duffy checks out a bloody trail in an abandoned factory that leads to a rubbish skip he is stunned to find a suitcase oozing blood and inside a man's headless naked torso cut off at the knees and shoulders. He is even more stunned when the pathologist tells him that the man had been poisoned, dissected and frozen for some time.

Where do you start with such a case? Duffy is a very methodical detective and has a major clue, a tattoo on the dead man's back "No sacrifice is too great" which Duffy quickly tracks down as being part of the motto of the US Army's First Infantry Division. This starts a hunt for the disappearance of a fairly recent US visitor to Northern Ireland. Although not many people consider Northern Ireland as a tourist destination at that time there are still hundreds of visits to check out and Duffy and his other detectives don't get much help from the Americans. As the investigation proceeds the inevitable links to the parties to the Troubles come up, including another murder of a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

While this is a great crime thriller it is the authentic setting and the character of Sean Duffy, a Catholic in a predominantly Protestant police force living a life in what is virtually a war zone, which are my main attraction to the series. His work is dangerous - machine gunned and petrol bombed during riot patrol in an armoured Land Rover - and even at home he is visited at 2am by his Catholic neighbours wearing balaclavas. His girl friend has left him to work as a pathologist for a safer climes in Scotland and for a while he takes solace in his speciality cocktail - a pint of vodka gimlet, half vodka, half lime juice.

Sean Duffy is a compelling detective because he is prepared to go "off-road" to solve cases when he gets nowhere with conventional methods. In the first book in the series THE COLD COLD GROUND he gets a Queen's Medal and promotion for his efforts. This case is more complex and dangerous and may not get the same commendation. I highly recommend this series for readers wanting something different in crime/detective stories and I look forward to reading the last book in the trilogy IN THE MORNING I'LL BE GONE.

03 July 2014

Noel Barber: Tanamera

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Great Saga of Early Singapore
After many years it gave me great enjoyment to revisit this wonderful epic historical romantic saga of the early days of Singapore. TANAMERA is in the same league as TAIPAN and THE THORNBIRDS,  but is probably closer in content to two epic sagas of WWII by Herman Wouk, THE WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE.

In 1902, Jack Dexter,a pioneer wealthy colonialist in Singapore, built a huge house for his family 3 miles from Raffles Place, the centre of Singapore, which he called TANAMERA (Malay for red earth). Grandpa Jack, as he was later known, had made his fortune in shipping, rubber, land and any other enterprise that would make money. His house was next door to P P Soong, one of the richest and most influential Chinese in Singapore. Tanamera is the story of the interconnected lives of the Dexter and Soong families, especially just before, during and after the occupation of Singapore and Malaya by the Japanese.

Johnnie Dexter was born in Tanamera in 1913 and grew up with his elder sister Natasha and brother Tim, playing and laughing with their next door neighbour's children Paul and Julie Soong. While close relationships were possible at this level, strict colonial conventions separated the white settlers from the local Chinese. Tanamera is a story about this relationship as a forbidden romance develops between Johnnie and Julia.

The story is also a history of Singapore and Malaya before, during and after the war. Noel Barber paints an indelible picture of pre-war colonial life in Singapore for both the white setters and the Chinese - the heat, the social life (tennis and "curry tiffins"), and institutions that still exist like the Raffles Hotel. It also follows the buildup of "fortress Singapore" by the British and the many mistakes made by the military and the colonial administration that let the Japanese capture Singapore Island comparatively easily. The story continues during the occupation as Johnnie joins in guerilla warfare against the Japanese in the jungles of Malaya.

This is a great love story about Johnnie and Julia through days of peace and war, taking in the differences of class and race at that time as they tried to break through current conventions. It is a long way from the modern world of today's Singapore. The book had a great impact on me because, as an Aussie, I know today's Singapore well as a frequent stop on travels to Europe and a port of embarkation for Asian cruises. Also in the 1980's I spent several weeks in Kuala Lumpur at a time when some of the older colonial houses in the style of Tanamera had not yet been visited by the wrecker.

This is a wonderful, but fairly long, book, part history, part romance, part family and traditions. Noel Barber brings an authentic touch through his own experiences as a foreign correspondent. Despite being written in 1981 the intimate scenes were quite advanced. The story has not dated, in fact it has probably matured as we see history clearer with the passage of time. This book is a proud part of my modern classics collection of recently released ebooks of memorable epic sagas which had been out-of-print for some time.

02 July 2014

Mark Greaney: Support and Defend

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Should Tom Clancy's work be continued?
Clancy's last three major novels before his death were co-authored with Mark Greaney. For some time Clancy's work had gone off the boil and but  IMHO the last two books, THREAT VECTOR and COMMAND AUTHORITY  took us back to something nearer to Clancy at his peak, probably because Greaney took a primary role in the collaboration.

I started this book with some trepidation because of the obvious question - can (and should) Mark Greaney carry on the Tom Clancy heritage? Many Clancy fans will think that Greaney has the writing capabilities to continue the tradition, others will think that things should be left to rest and we should remember Tom Clancy at his best with the earlier books in the Jack Ryan series. Your view on this book will be the decider.

The plot of this book is a mini Edward Snowden affair about the leaking of sensitive classified information. Ethan Ross a mid-level staffer for the National Security Council is a bored narcissist lusting for attention. He believes that he can get that attention when he passes what he thinks is minor classified information to a the International Transparency Project, a Wiki Leaks kind of organisation.

Dominic Caruso, member of the 'The Campus', a top secret intelligence agency that works off the books for the U.S. government, is on a training mission to learn Krav Maga martial arts from a former Israel Defence Forces officer, Arik Jacoby, now living in India. Caruso is devastated when he is unable to thwart an attack by Pakistani suicide terrorists which kills his trainer and his family. It soon becomes clear that the attack is linked to a breach of classified digital information showing both Jacoby's status as leader of the Israeli raid on a Gaza flotilla which killed Al-Qassam operatives and that he is currently living in India.

The US Government starts a huge witch hunt led by the FBI to find who has leaked the information. Ross goes to his ITP contacts for help when the FBI suspect that he was involved. They persuade him to access more very sensitive classified espionage information to use as leverage against possible criminal charges for leaking classified information.

From then on everything seems to go wrong for Ross when he goes to the Venezuelan embassy for asylum using some of the information for protection. They take him to Panama where the chase becomes more hectic and improbable with the FBI, the Israeli's, the Venezuelans, as the Panamanians involved, as well as undercover Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard agents. Last but not least, the Russian SAS and the US Army join the fray in earnest to get their hands on the valuable information. Surprisingly the CIA and Al Qaeda don't get part of the action this time.

Caruso also gets involved in the chase almost on his own, like a Don Quixote, with a beautiful medically trained female transportation director Adara Sherman acting as his Sancho Panza. With some help from the Campus, Caruso attempts to track down Ross almost single handed, using scuba equipment and a motorbike instead of a horse, plus of course a satellite phone. As Alice said "Curiouser and curiouser!"

What is my answer to the question I posed earlier? While Greany may have the writing skills to create adrenaline-packed action, it is too over-the-top and unbelievable to qualify to take over the Clancy banner. It was difficult for me to give this book more than a 2.5 star rating, rounded up to 3 stars where half stars are not allowed. While this will be the last "Tom Clancy" book that I will want to read, I hope that Greaney continues to write successful books on his own account.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing an Advanced Reading Copy of this book for my honest review.