BOOK REVIEW : The Midnight Line By Lee Child

I am about to type words that I never thought could be extracted from me. These words, to paraphrase President Roosevelt, will live in infamy, and I am sorry! I DIDN’T LIKE THIS BOOK! Please understand, I am a fan of Lee Child. He is my hero. He created and maintains Jack Reacher. I am like thousands of readers around the world, we all love Lee Child, but he bit the big one on this novel. Mr. Child has produced twenty-one Jack Reacher novels. A Vegas gambler would tell you that the odds are that there would be one that I didn’t like; a ratio of 21:1. But as a major Child fan, that isn’t a good enough reason why I didn’t like The Midnight Line.

The Midnight Line fell from favor because my most favorite author in the world spent most of the 368 pages getting to the story, which inhabited only about the last dozen pages. Child had Reacher go on endless sorties into towns, villages, and log cabins. He described in detail the act of climbing a stair, which did not step the story closer to the action. When he got to that, the event was also a bit flat and could have benefited from a lift, stairs or otherwise! It offends my sense of right and wrong and somewhat unfair to criticize a person’s work without stating the reasoning it was deemed inferior to his prior works. So, in fairness, let me identify those puny portions postulated on the populace.

The story begins with an interesting, albeit improbable, premise but let’s go with a suspension of disbelief for the moment. Walking down a street of the current town in which Reacher finds himself marooned, he passes a pawn shop window and spies a ring. But not just a ring, a West Point Class Ring. All Reacher fans understand that The United States Military Academy(USMA), is also known as West Point, the Army’s elite military academy located in West Point, New York. This ring is a woman’s ring, and Reacher is both surprised and a bit offended that it resides in a pawn shop. So what do you suppose he does? Of course, he pawns (read buys) the ring and decides to return it to the rightfully West Point graduate to whom it belongs. Now, you might reasonably imagine how difficult a search like that would be. And it is. Lee Child does an amazing job of taking Reacher from place to place; to town, village, hamlet, and burg, in the righteous quest to find the owner of the ring.

BOOK REVIEW : King Ron Of The Triceratops By S.S. Paulson

It has been some time since I read books to six-year-olds, but I can imagine that my sons would enjoy the story of King Ron. As an adult, I found it odd that the title character turns out to be the villain. The real hero of the fable is Little T, Ron’s brother. Well, not brother by birth, but by being raised together from the first dino egg hatching. As Ron grows faster and larger than his siblings, it turns out that he’s not a Triceratops at all, but a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He uses his size and appearance to intimidate the other dinosaurs in the herd to make him King. And they do. But you must read the rest of the story yourself. Ms. or Mr. Paulson has done a service to kids by exposing the political reality of the world they will soon inherit. The other lessons of morality and fair play are equally subtle in delivery and just as important. The writing style seems to me to be appropriate, speaking to his/her audience at their age level without condescending or talking down to the audience targeted. The illustrations by Milagros García are well done and illustrate the plot points of the story. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my review and would say that a six-year-old would recommend this book and give it a five-star rating. And so do I.

BOOK REVIEW : Chill Factor By Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is as intelligent as she is sexy. I admit that she is also one of my favorite authors. Her way of weaving the real world into a thrilling mystery is magical. The significant literary talents she employs are well displayed in Chill Factor. She mixes just the right amount of sexy sass to highlight the plot and embolden her characters. This is one of those books that a writer will ‘dog-ear’ to quickly find certain passages he finds unique or memorable. Writers becomegood writers by reading and studding the works of great writers. Ben Tierney is in the North Carolina Mountains. It’s where he earns his living as a freelance magazine outdoor journalist. But his current reason for being there has nothing to do with writing an article. He is inspecting a shallow grave. And a major storm is approaching that location. When he has to abandon his stalled rental car and find his way through the forest in a blizzard to the road, the plot thickens, as they say. The sheriffs recently divorced wife hits Tierney in the roadway with her car and wrecks it. Now, with his injuries and the storm, the reasonable thing to do is head back up the mountain to her cabin. The story only gets better from this point onward. You had better have on your” long johns” and a ski parka when you open this one. The story, in the capable hands of Sandra Broun, will chill you to the bone. This one will join the many of her novels on my bookshelf for re-reads.

BOOK REVIEW : Birth Of An Assassin By Rik Stone

The title of this novel was what got my attention to read it. I like to post reviews of the books I enjoy in the hope that others will benefit from my opinion. In this case I also committed to post a review in exchange for a free download of the book. Are assassins born? In this Rik Stone telling, they are made into an assassin, not born to it. And in this story, they are made to implement the lofty goals of those who made them. The story and plot are interesting and generally well told. From my personal taste standpoint, I would have preferred a more compelling hook revealed earlier in the story. As written, I was well into the first half of the book before any serious interest developed. Most readers would not be that patient. And that is a shame as the story, complex as it is, is an interesting tale. Set in 1947 Russia, the author takes the reader into both many of Russia’s large cities and small villages. Stone weavesthe post WW II economic circumstances of the struggling nation with the personal deprivations of the poor, contrasting them with the perks of the privileged. As a past visitor to that country, I could relate to the author’s descriptions of decay in infrastructure of cities as well as in her people. The protagonist, Jez, a young farm lad, wants desperately to join the Russian Army. It is his life goal. Lacking both education and physical size, he becomes the ward of a high ranking Russian Army General. Through a set of circumstances the officer mentors the boy through a series of selected military career paths, all from a distance. But the general keeps a constant eye on the
progress of his charge. Along the way, there is budding romance with a woman army member, but this storyline could have been treated more importantly by the author. The second half of the story is interesting, set in a time and place not often shared with readers of fiction. The writing style is more than adequate, but far from great I’m afraid. Tolstoy need not fear the competition from Stone. The most disappointing thing, the one that took away most of the prior positives of the reading experience, was the two part epilog. In one fell-swoop, Stone wraps up all the elements of an intriguing story, answering all the developed dangling devices in a few paragraphs. Answers are inserted to the questions it took fifty-nine chapters to create, whipped away in the blink of an eye. This is poor craftsmanship. Just as the structure of epilogs, this reviewer’s opinion turned a four star rating to a three minus.