Saturday, July 30, 2011

Great Minds Think Alike (I hope!)

I became a fan of Daniel Silva over night (literally) when I read The Defector in two days. When he released The Rembrandt Affair, I snatched it up, but didn’t read it until just recently. So I was excited when I saw his latest work, The Portrait of a Spy. It was an easy decision to buy it.

Then I read the inside jacket.

In Portrait, Silva’s protagonist Gabriel Allon investigates bombings in London, Copenhagen and Paris. I’m working on the finishing touches on the third Corey Shaw mystery, Invisible Curtain, in which he investigates bombings in London, Copenhagen and St. Petersburg. I haven’t read Silva’s latest (until after Curtain is finished) but I’m sure the similarities between the books end there.

Allon is an ex-assassin, formerly of the Israeli Secret Intelligence. He wants nothing more than to live out his years quietly with his beautiful wife Chiara in Cornwall and restore valuable works of art. He’s come out of retirement almost as many times as Brett Favre as Israel still needs his skills.

Corey Shaw is a native of Massachusetts, trained to develop paranormal abilities such as clairvoyance and telepathy. He is still searching for Mr. Right, but having a good time with all the Mr. Wrongs for the time being.

I have no idea how Mr. Silva devises the premises for his stories, but I rely on the Agatha Christie method: wherever I travel, I use that location as a setting for a mystery/story. Last year, I went on a cruise through the Baltic Sea with my family to celebrate my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. In Invisible Curtain, Corey is on a cruise through the Baltic Sea with his family to celebrate his mother’s seventieth birthday. This story has been in the works for over a year. I’ve gone from unemployed, to employed, back to unemployed in that time frame.

I’m sure that Mr. Silva, a New York Times best-selling author, won’t think I’ve copied his ideas. But if I came up with a chain of events similar to one he did, I must be on the right track.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Burning Love by Nomar Knight

Nomar Knight is an accomplished and exceptional horror author so I was intrigued when he wrote an action thriller, with not a spooky specter in sight. Whether it’s a grisly tale or a battle between hit men, Knight tells a great story.

In Burning Love, Candy Seymour thinks she has found her perfect man in Sam Collins. Unfortunately, that dream is irrevocably shattered when she learns her Mr. Right is also Mr. Hit Man. Torn between leaving him, knowing that he knows she knows, or becoming like him and not his next victim, she takes the second options.

As a test of her abilities, Sam sends her to kill his wife. The hit goes awry when Sam’s wife is accosted by another attacker just as Candy is about to go in for the kill. She becomes her victim’s savior instead of assassin.

Sam is furious but gives her a second chance to eliminate his wife. Before that can happen, Candy bumps into Lucas and is immediately swept off her feet, harder than she did for Sam. Lucas seems to be everything Sam is not. Then he offers her the opportunity to be rid of Sam forever.

From then on, Candy’s life is a whirlwind of running for her life and fighting for her life. Soon she doesn’t even know who she can and cannot trust.

Knight pumps up the adrenaline as Candy tries to figure out how she is going to come out of the biggest adventure of her life alive. He also injects a bit of science fiction and humor in the persona of a talking computer that takes an instant dislike to Candy. Who knew computers could be bitchy and catty?

As the climax approaches, I found myself reading too fast and accidentally skipping ahead in excitement. I had to force myself to read slower but Burning Love grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go.

Find Burning Love at:

The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva

I hadn’t been a big fan of spy novels but I had never read one by Daniel Silva. After reading The Defector (and loved it), I snatched up The Rembrandt Affair and read it…nay, devoured it in two days. It is a gripping edge-of-your-seat ride.

What sets Silva apart is his meticulous attention to detail in describing things and places the average mortal may never see. He states that it is a work of fiction but he forces you to believe it. I don’t know if the CIA actually has an underground facility below Grosvenor Square in London but the manner in which Silva describes it so vividly, I’m convinced there is.

His main character Gabriel Allon, former agent and assassin of the Israeli secret intelligence, wants nothing more than to retire to the cliffs of Cornwall and live peacefully with his beautiful wife and restore priceless works of art. That plan is shattered when an old friend comes calling, begging him to retrieve a stolen Rembrandt. Gabriel cannot resist the opportunity to rescue a painting from one of the Masters.

His investigation into the painting’s provenance reveals it was ‘bought’ by a high ranking Nazi officer during the occupation of Amsterdam. From there, the story delves into the atrocious crimes committed by the Third Reich and the sizeable fortunes of the Jews that disappeared during the Second World War along with their owners. Allon’s path crosses those of two men, each of whom had a father with activities of horrific distinction during the war. One is trying to distance himself from his father’s atrocities. The other is capitalizing on his.

But what horrifies Allon the most is the vast wealth of the Holocaust victims being used to fortify a country bent on creating a second holocaust with nuclear weapons.

As with The Defector, Silva spins a mesmerizing tale that involves the top secret intelligence agencies of several nations and their complicated interaction and cooperation. Or lack thereof. How much of it is fact and which is fiction? The secret agent stuff makes for an awesome read and The Rembrandt Affair is a must-read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slayer of Gods by Lynda S. Robinson

I’m disappointed that there are no more Lord Meren novels after Slayer of Gods, the sixth and last and the series. I’m more disappointed in my self for waiting so long to finish reading Lynda S. Robinson’s books which are all extremely well-written and very enjoyable.

For six novels, Lord Meren, the Eyes and Ears of the Pharaoh King Tutankhamun, has been keeping the boy safe and secure on his throne. However, the boy king demands to know who killed his beloved step-mother, Queen Nefertiti, who was poisoned some ten years prior. The search for the murderer has put Lord Meren in mortal peril many times and has even endangered his children.

Accompanying him in this final installment is Anath, the Eyes of Babylon. She’s clever, resourceful and beautiful enough to turn even Lord Meren’s head. She joins him as he travels up the Nile to the remote city of Syene, to question a former bodyguard of Nefertiti’s, and back to Memphis. Meren has the advantage of her wit and cleverness but also the comfort of her body.

While Meren is chasing suspects all over Memphis, Robinson brings ancient Egypt alive in its glory and its ugliness for us beginners. She describes the sights, sounds and smells in vivid details, immersing the reader in the environs as if he/she was traversing the hot dusty streets.

She also brings the characters to life in amazing realism. Lord Meren seems to leap off the page as he anguishes over his children, during his daughter’s kidnapping and an attempt on Kysen’s life. He’s torn between protecting his family and protecting King Tutankhamun. Many times, he seems to be the only one trying to keep the throne safe from would-be assassins and usurpers.

Lord Meren is one of my favorite literary characters. He’s smart, loyal and not afraid to be humble. But he’s not perfect. Although humble before the king, he doesn’t forget his importance of being the Eyes and Ears of the Pharaoh. Sometimes that self-importance clouds his better judgment when among the riff-raff in the streets and not at court where his countenance is well-known.

Kysen, Meren’s adopted son is also a strong character and another one of my favorites. He plays a smaller role in this novel as opposed to others but still comes through for his father.

I hope that Robinson decides to continue with her Lord Meren series. Her spellbinding novels surpass other Egyptian series and are as good as any historical and non-historical mysteries.