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My Book Reading

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress)

The Night Trade - Barry Eisler (revew published)

The Woman in the Window - A.J. Finn - (review published; just get your hands on this and read it!)

The Kremlin's Candidate by Jason Matthews - (review published)

Into the Black Nowhere - Meg Gardiner - (review just published; superb)

Agent in Place - Mark Greaney (Gray Man thriller, review up)

The Saboteur - Paul Kix (review up)

The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer (review published)

Operator Down - Brad Taylor (done, great book)

Robicheaux - James Lee Burke (in progress - outstanding, of course)

Podcast Favorites

Joe Rogan Experience #1058 Dec. 28 2017 . Nina Teicholz


(I'm deep) Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner

Oh baby, is this UNSUB novel by Gardiner a great one! Somehow this is the first Gardiner I've read, certainly the initial UNSUB book of hers to make it into my hands, and I'm hooked... Began reading yesterday and eager to get back to it tonight.

Serial killing, kidnapping, psychological mysteries ... following FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix as she and her team pursue an unknown killer is captivating reading in the hands of Gardiner. Not usually the type of book I fall so deeply for, Into The Black Nowhere fascinates and thrills.

@MegGardiner1, @DuttonBooks, #IntoTheBlackNowhere, #MegGardiner


The Kremlin’s Candidate by Jason Matthews

Spy and espionage novels have long captivated me. Ex-intelligence operatives and agents turning to fiction in retirement enjoys a long tradition (Fleming, Cumming, LeCarre, etc.), but with his Sparrow books, former CIA spook Jason Matthews has raised the bar. The Kremlin’s Candidate, third in this trilogy, ranks as one of the finest novels I’ve read combining story, characters, and spycraft. 

Some attention for Kremlin’s Candidate will center around how aspects of the plot seem to be playing out in front of us daily, in real life. What if the Russians have real influence on the White House and the U.S. intelligence organizations? Suppose the CIA is compromised. Imagine double-agents on both sides, featuring overlapping levels of intrigue and desperation and intrigue and passion.

Not having read the first two entries in the trilogy, I had no issues whatsoever with The Kremlin’s Candidate. At no point did I wonder about who characters are (and there’s a bunch of them) and what their backgrounds and motivations were. Matthews writes cleanly, and no matter how much tradecraft he wraps into the story, I was always engaged and excited.

Kremlin’s Candidate is dramatic and exciting. I was quickly involved with the plot line and Dominika Egorova, Vladimir Putin (!), and a supporting cast on both sides of this tale. From the Kremlin to Washington D.C., from Putin’s dacha to Turkey and Hong Kong, action and intrigue and betrayal surround double-agents and government intelligence operatives. There’s much more to this story, really, than just the tale in The Kremlin’s Candidate. I believe Matthews has his finger on the pulse of world political and intelligence affairs, and brings his experience and expertise to bear in his writing. Combine that with his skill with characters and plot and spy-craft, and the result is The Kremlin’s Candidate, in my opinion an amazing work on a couple of different levels.

Read and enjoy this is a first-class spy novel with engrossing characters and a damn exciting plot. At the same time, pay attention to the big picture and see how much of what’s in the book lines up with what you think is happening in today’s world. No pun intended - it’s spooky. 

@ScribnerBooks, @BrianBelfiglio, #JasonMatthews, #TheKremlinsCandidate


The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn


I won’t bury the lead:  A.J. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window, is superb, engrossing and surprising. The novel is absolutely amazing, living up to the hype. Wow, four adjectives in two consecutive sentences. I am not exaggerating my enthusiasm.

The hype. Buzz surrounding this book began early. At the top of press releases blared the headline “the most widely acquired debut novel of all time.” Interpret p.r. department statements as you wish, but my attention was captured.

By now you may have read about the call-backs to classic motion pictures woven into the plot line of The Woman in the Window. For me they add a layer of interest, but rest assured, readers unfamiliar with them won’t be aware, or care. Nothing is lost for readers who aren’t cinema students.

Anna Fox, an agoraphobic woman living alone, witnesses a horrid crime in a neighbor’s home. Nobody wants to believe her, including a seemingly understanding police detective, and of course for a variety of reasons she’s not a very credible witness. Over the course of this story, people don’t turn out to be who Fox thinks they are, and events swirl out of her control.

I found Woman in the Window entirely engrossing and satisfying, surprising and compelling. It would be easy to exaggerate and go on and on about how good Finn’s writing is. Damn, it’s wonderful and clever and often breath-taking. As a fan of mysteries and thrillers, I enjoy a good unexpected turn of events. Finn pulls off a couple of wholly unexpected surprises, prose making me pause and slow down and re-read.  I’m not a traditional fan of psychological thrillers, I don’t lap ‘em up, but when people write as well as A.J. Finn, I savor every word.

@WmMorrowBooks, @AJFinnbooks, #womaninthewindow


The Sparrow Trilogy - backwards

I completed Jason Matthews' The Kremlin's Candidate, the final entry in his Sparrow trilogy. My full review will be up soon for this tense, dramatic spy thriller. Sneak peek:  Kremlin's Candidate is superb!

Somehow I've not read the first two, and made it my mission to secure copies immediately. They've arrived. My plan is to continue reading in reverse order, since I began that way. Next up will be Palace of Treason, followed by Red Sparrow.

That's how good Matthews' books are; they stand alone just as well as they form a series.

Thank you @BrianBelfiglio!


The Night Trade - Barry Eisler

The Night Trade is the first of Seattle police detective Livia Lone’s adventures I’ve read. I’m familiar with Eisler’s John Rain novels, but Lone’s sex crimes unit is quite far removed in tone and attitude from his solitary assassin’s world. I found The Night Trade’s topic and pacing compelling, and both Livia Lone and Dox, her unexpected ally, fully-realized characters. There’s nothing one-dimensional about them. Eisler made me care, so I read carefully and immersed myself in the intricate plot and the world of sex slavery in Thailand.

Livia Lone lives her professional life in a manner enabling her to wreak revenge on a band of criminals who committed horrid crimes against herself and her sister years ago. She’s never forgotten, and when mysterious federal agent B.D. Little asks her to investigate the sex trade in Asia, Lone realizes this is the best attempt she’ll have to find Sorn. He’s the head honcho of the remaining scumbags (she’s already killed several of them), but her path to revenge takes several unexpected turns. An unexpected alliance with Dox, an ex-Marine sniper working for the U.S. government, pays dividends and adds depth to the story.

The Night Trade is exciting. Spy tradecraft, realistically and interestingly presented, propels the storyline. I feel it adds depth to the story, slowing things down realistically, so when sudden, sharp action takes place (and oh boy, does it), the contrast is all the more dramatic and compelling.

Barry Eisler is in command of those living in his story. Nothing feels superfluous or unrealistic, as a reader I felt involved, and I’m ready to work backwards and find Livia Lone and any others of his novels I’ve missed featuring the tough Seattle detective.

@AmazonPub, @barryeisler, #barryeisler, #thenighttrade, #livialone