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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


Dead On Arrival by Matt Richtel

Wow! What!? I kept mumbling such things while keeping my face buried in the pages of Richtel’s superb Dead On Arrival. In his book, technology and society overlap and clash. Some of today’s most critical issues play out in this  captivating story, while intertwined in a complicated, interesting mystery. Dead On Arrival starts off with one of the finest, craziest opening sequences I’ve read, and never slows down or fails to deliver. It’s a solid, “I’ve gotta tell people about it” novel. 

Early in Dead On Arrival a mystery presents itself, possibly involving the spread of a rare disease utilizing unknown methods. But nobody knows.  From a plot standpoint, nothing new there. Author Richtel quickly drew me into his tech and society-themed thriller, effectively asking me to wonder and discover along with the characters. I did so, happily.  

A worn-down, troubled, possibly alcoholic doctor of infectious disease, Dr. Lyle Martin, introduced in the opening, finds everything he knows about the world, and much of what he thought he knew about science, turned inside-out when the commercial aircraft he’s flying on lands at an airport seemingly populated by dead people. His initial investigation shows everyone’s not all dead, but there’s a short-circuit or something creepy going on with their immune systems and brains, he determines through quick examination. At the same time, there’s no radio or cell network to communicate with the outside world.

Pursuing the mystery takes a back seat to recovering his mental faculties, once he returns to his “real life.” Martin doesn’t know what’s going on with his memory, as flashes of memories come and go about events he can’t get a handle on but knows are critical. Such as the entire plane trip - it’s disappeared from his mind. Martin fears he’s going crazy. 

From the thrilling, mysterious plane landing where it all begins, Martin searches for answers, encompassing trips to the Centers for Disease Control, and even the mysterious environs of Google. Every answer creates further questions. Is anyone who they appear to be?

I’m frankly not doing justice to the very-much-alive and distinctive characters in Dead On Arrival. As a tech-meets-future society-twisted by social media commentary, it’s on top of the game. As a psychological thriller with a huge twist of mystery, it’s superb. I didn’t want to put the book down, I didn’t want to go to sleep - I wished to keep reading. Dead On Arrival is a mesmerizing, exciting novel.

@mrichtel, #deadonarrival, @WmMorrowBooks


Munich by Robert Harris

Attempting to stop, or at least slow down, the aggressive moves by Adolph Hitler and Germany as they begin to spread to Eastern Europe is the overall theme of Munich. In a broad sense, Hitler and Neville Chamberlain are the main characters in this tense historical thriller, most of which does take place in Munich. But the story is really told through two others.

Hugh Legat, a minor member of the British diplomatic corps, had a close friend at Oxford years before named Paul von Hartmann.  Hartmann is now a member of the German Foreign Office. The two haven’t been in touch with each other in years, but share warm memories of their relationship. Britain and France are working feverishly to mollify Hitler and arrange treaties, pretending they aren’t giving away part of Czechoslovakia in the process. Hugh and Paul find themselves at the center of world events. They share a common cause and find opportunity to change the course of what they correctly see as a madman out of control.

Author Harris displays a keen sense of pacing and tension. Legat and von Hartmann don’t even come together until two-thirds through Munich, but as crisis after crisis rolls in, their pivotal roles become apparent. Stress and tension rise off the pages of this engaging novel, which I found unable to put down once I was a few chapters in. Munich combines spies and history with a riveting series of characters alive on the page.

Munich is the first of Robert Harris novels I’ve read. Now I have eleven earlier works to find and enjoy!

I recently viewed the fine movie The Darkest Hour, which picks up after Munich ends. The book and movie work seamlessly together, quite a nice coincidence.


#Munich, @Robert_Harris, @AAKnopf


Fools and Mortals - Bernard Cornwell


Let’s get the big news out of the way upfront. Fools and Mortals is a departure for author Cornwell from swords, horses, battle scenes, castles under siege, and an anti-hero valiantly fighting tides of bad guys. In this stunning work readers meet the Shakespeare brothers, struggling to establish a legitimate toe-hold for theater in 1595 England. Told through Richard Shakespeare as he strives to survive as a player in the ranks, as his relationship with his older brother William develops, so do Richard’s talents flourish onstage. Life improves for Richard when he meets a servant girl named Silvia and they quickly fall in love, but the politics and cultural currents of the day sweep over them.

In London at this time, donors and benefactors were necessary to keep a theater company afloat. The biggest help an acting troupe could have is to be under the protection of royalty. Competition for players was fierce, and space to perform was at a premium and expensive. London had many more players than it did playwrights, and relationships often changed at sword-point.  

Over the course of a story gaining steam as it progresses, Richard Shakespeare transitions from being a pretty good thief to a damn good player. Theater society of the era begins to recognize the quality of William Shakespeare’s writing, all the more important as new theaters are built and it becomes apparent that great writers are rare, while good players on commonplace. Conflict and betrayal bring bumps in the road - sometimes solutions are at the point of a sword 

Cornwell thrusts the reader directly into the burgeoning theater world of 1595 London. His sense for language and how productions were created, what went into putting them together, and the relationships involved is profound.   

I found Fools and Mortals to be a wonderful read as a historical thriller. My involvement with Richard and Silvia grew as the pages flew past, and I was sucked deeper into the storyline. The research gone through for Fools and Mortals seems overwhelming to me. Cornwell has actually disguised a pretty good adventure tale as something set in the theater world of London, England circa 1595. Fans of Bernard Cornwell and William Shakespeare will be delighted.

#foolsandmortals, @harperbooks, @BernardCornwell, @HDrucker


Tom Clancy Power and Empire by Marc Cameron


I’m a long-time Tom Clancy-series fan, from when Clancy was writing with attitude and (as legend has it), attracting attention from the government for knowing hard data about weapons systems they thought were secret. Since he died in 2013 I’ve not read a Clancy-inspired novel, though I’ve bought the Mark Greaney-authored books (yet not gotten to reading them; in my defense, I’ve read the entire Grey Man series).

Author Marc Cameron has taken hold of the Clancy series and made it his own, on his first attempt. Power and Empire is wonderful. It’s really a hardcore spy story laced with action, with plenty of tradecraft. This book very much exceeds the low expecrations brought on by the boring cover art. This is a compelling story that old-school Clancy fans, and readers of Flynn and Thor and even Berenson and Silva will salivate over.

Jack Ryan remains a central character, as does his son Jack Jr., in this novel. Never fear, John Clark is never far away, as is another full cast of characterers, good and evil. I don’t need to go over the plot; it’s exciting and fulfilling at every level.

Power and Empire is a standout thriller with a military bent. It’s exciting, filled with characters I invested a lot of myself in. I couldn’t be happier with where Marc Cameron is taking the Clancy franchise. 

@PutnamBooks, #MarcCameron, #tomclancypowerandempire, @MarkGreaneyBook


The Take by Christopher Reich


Make no mistakes, The Take is a thriller, a mystery, a grand theft drama. Make some coffee if you’re begin reading at night, ‘cause you’re going to be up for a while.

Freelance spy Simon Riske is an opportunist, a spy for hire. He generally considers himself one of the good guys, having spent enough time on the other side of the line to know the players on both sides. He’s been bad, but now he’s bad only when he has to be, working for the good guys. 

When he crosses paths with an adversary from his past, someone who’s surprised Riske is even alive, matters get tense. Hell, his entire life becomes scary. One of the richest men in the world has been robbed, but as the CIA and Russians and French law enforcement are all making clear, there’s so much more involved. Something few people want to acknowledge, much less talk about. Possession and even knowledge of this special item marks one for death. Even so, everyone is after this thing, first and foremost Riske and the CIA.

Add a beautiful French policewoman and some truly horrible criminals to the clever plot, and The Take becomes one of those thrillers mixing intrigue and action difficult to put down.  I felt Riske’s character blossomed and came alive over the course of the novel.

I didn’t stay up all night reading The Take, but it sure as hell captivated me. This is probably the first book by Christopher Reich I’ve read, but I’ll be correcting that.

@Mulhollandbooks, #christopherreich, #thetake, @TheRealBookSpy