Death of a Citizen (Matt Helm #1) ★★★☆☆

deathofacitizen (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Death of a Citizen
Series: Matt Helm #1
Author: Donald Hamilton
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 240
Format: Digital Edition



Matt Helm is now an author, married to the woman he loves with 2 children. What he used to be in World War II was a special forces assassin who took out ancillary targets to weaken the Axis war machine. But that is in the past.

Until the woman he used to love comes back into his life and gives him the signal that he’s been reactivated. The target? Communists who are targeting our own scientists so as to destroy the United State’s technological edge.

Things don’t quite add up though and part way through, it is revealed that Slinky Seductress turned long ago and has been using Matt against the United States. Now, with his baby daughter kidnapped, Matt must save a nuclear scientist’s life, rescue his daughter, prove he’s not a communist to his old Section Chief and capture or kill all those who put him in this situation.

When there is nothing but guts and guns, there is no time for glory. And when you are Matt Helm, there is no time for weeping, sobbing, nancypants, mommas baby’s angst.


My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this with just a few caveats, so let’s get them out of the way.

This was written in the 1960’s about the 1960’s. So the attitudes and cultural norms are going to be quite different from 2020 (yeah, yeah, I know it’s 2019, but close enough). That didn’t bother me but I suspect it will for the kind of reader that infests devilreads these days. So don’t be surprised.

Second, and what did bother me, was how casually Matt Helm treated his wedding vows. He’s on the run with Slinky Seductress (henceforth known as Slinky) and within a day has slept with her. I think the author writes something like:

“and since I knew I was going to sleep with her, I figured I’d better get it over with so I could deal with the guilt so it wouldn’t affect me later”.

And then his attitude is that his wife will take him back anyway because she loves him. Ugh. And that is why I knocked off 2 stars.

On to the good stuff.

Matt Helm is a man’s man and whether it is with gun, car or fists, he’s good. Not necessarily the best, but pretty close even after 15 years of retirement. He’s pragmatic to the point of dishonor but he just doesn’t care. He’s a throwing knife that once thrown, goes straight to the target.

As much as I’m an introspective kind of guy, it is refreshing to read about a man who just does what needs to be done, period. At one point he kidnaps the man who had kidnapped his baby daughter. The kidnapper thinks he has the power since he knows where the girl is and Matt doesn’t. Does Matt agonize and moan and beg? No, he shoots the bastard in the gut and stands over him while he takes hours to die, agonizingly. Now THAT is justice for a kidnapper of babies.

I like how this book’s title really gives away the ending. Matt Helm can’t remain just a citizen after what happens. But how does he reconcile that with his family life? We don’t get that answer in this book. Probably in the next one or two. But we do know that Matt Helm, author, is dead and that Matt Helm, special forces assassin, is back. I am looking forward to more of his adventures and to how the author will deal with the twin dynamics of Country and Family.



bookstooge (Custom)



RED (2010 Movie)

redWhat a blast of an action film!  Thanks to everyone who voted for it, it turned out fantastic.

If you care about details, here’s the IMDB page:


Basic synopsis is that Frank Moses is a Retired, Extremely Dangerous, blackops operative. The highlight of his life is tearing up his social security check each month so he can call and talk to Sarah, the bored, attractive woman who wants more than her cubicle job. Moses is attacked one night by a whole team of commandos and goes on the run. He ends up kidnapping Sara to keep her safe, as he knows his calls have been monitored and whoever his enemy is will come after her to get to him. Obviously, Sarah isn’t very happy about this, nor does she believe that Moses is anything more than a delusional nutjob stalker, until he rescues her from a fake police officer who tries to drug and kidnap her. Moses hooks up with various other RED operatives to figure out what is going on. It all comes down to the Vice President of the United States and a village being massacred many years ago.  Sarah gets captured and during the exchange, the real villain is revealed and the CIA agent who has been legally tracking Moses down realizes what is going on, switches sides and the good guys win (well, except for the VP. That bugger still dies).


I have been a Bruce Willis fan ever since I first saw Diehard on tv many years ago so any movie that stars him at least gets a “hmmm, maybe I’ll watch that someday” instead of outright dismissal like most of the movies today.  The rest of the cast is pretty great too.  Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren all fit their roles and one never overshadowed the other.  Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah the young woman (well, I say “young” but she’s gotta be in her early 30’s in the movie) seemed to be there to propel Moses onward and to show off her cleavage. Thankfully, after she gets onboard and realizes that Frank Moses is serious she becomes a good lense of “ordinary” while the others are all trained assassins.



I also really enjoyed Karl Urban as the up and coming Specialist who is tracking down Moses without knowing the full story.  He is ruthless and completely competent but right from the get go we know he’s not a villain, as he’s talking to his wife on the phone about their son being bullied at school WHILE hanging a guy and making it look like a suicide. That was just awesome! Also, he was a bit more chiseled in his face than when I saw him in Thor: Ragnarok, where he looked like a fat little dumpling. Once he knows the full story at the end he does the right thing. He and Willis do a brutal fight scene inside the CIA and it captures the essence of this movie. Hard, brutal, awesome and totally unrealistic.



Make no mistake, if things being “real” is something you need in a movie, don’t bother with this. In the first scene where Urban and Willis meet each other, Willis steps out of a moving at 30mph, spinning car and times things so he can step out of the car, miss the backend hitting him and starts walking towards Urban and shooting at him.  It is physically impossible to go from a moving car to a walk, as your body is moving 30mph as well. But my goodness, it looked so cool!



At the same time, this was not a grim movie, not by any means. John Malkovich provides enough lunacy as a lsd experiment by the CIA to make anyone laugh and the little subplot with Helen Mirren and her old flame, a Russian operative, is gold. Freeman, as an operative with cancer, brings some poignancy to the movie and Brian Cox, as Mirren’s old flame, almost makes me not want to kill communists (but only “almost”).



I immediately went on and watched RED 2 and enjoyed it too. Not quite so cool, but still fun. However, a 3rd movie was never made and I don’t know why.  I suspect that the 25% drop in revenue between the two movies might have had something to do with it however. This was actually based on a series of comics published by DC but while I enjoyed the movies tremendously, I doubt I’ll ever check them out.

Overall, this was a fantastic movie that scratched that over the top action machoman guy itch I occasionally get.


Next month I’m letting Mrs B pick the movie and I think she’s already settled on one called Penelope. I guess I’ll find out what it is about when I watch it with her 🙂 I just LOVE surprises!



bookstooge (Custom)

Cloak ★★★☆½

cloak (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Cloak
Series: ———-
Author: Timothy Zahn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 566
Format: Digital Edition





A scientist is working on an invisibility cloak. He and most of his team are murdered and the cloaks stolen. The scientists wife is ambushed by skimasked killers and it is only through the intervention of a local private investigator that she stays alive. The detective convinces her not to go to the police but to stay on the run with him. His motives are murky at best.

At the same time, a tactical nuke is stolen from India and somehow the responsibility for finding it rolls right off the Indian government’s shoulders and into the United States’ lap. But the group that stole it knew the US would be looking and plays so many games of misdirection that nobody is sure where it is, where it is going or what the final purpose for it is.

At the same time, the President of the United States is touring the country trying to drum up support for an initiative he wants to pass at at upcoming United Nations meeting. The initiative? To give the UN their own true army, fully weaponized, including tactical nukes.

It call comes together in New York where a rogue Indian General and his agents are trying to nuke the UN meeting to wipe out a lot of political dissidents from around the world and it is up to the scientist’s wife, the PI (who is really a retired FBI agent) and 2 others to stop them. But how do you stop an invisible nuke that you aren’t even sure is in the city?

You figure out it is on an invisible zeppelin floating down the streets of New York of course! And then deactive it.

Score for the good guys.


My Thoughts:

When I read Zahn’s Soulminder back in ’14, even though I enjoyed it, I wasn’t impressed. I enjoyed this one a good bit more. The misdirection is impossible to ignore so I didn’t even try to figure out what was going on. I just sat back and let things happen.

I didn’t know WHAT was going to happen until it did and letting go was good for me. I felt like it was the real strength of the book while at the same time being its kryptonite. I doubt this has any re-read value and honestly, the older I get, the more I like to re-read. So some of my consideration of a book is “would I want to re-read this”. With knowing everything, I suspect most of the punch would be gone.

But since I didn’t know everything, this really packed a punch. Sometimes Zahn would misdirect purposely and at other times it was like he was using previous instances of misdirection to make me question if this current situation was a misdirection or not. I love having my chain yanked like that, when I know it is happening anyway.

This was a kickstarter originally. Honestly, I wish he’d do more kickstarter projects and write the books he wants to write instead of sticking to the miserables sods in the Star Wars universe. Well, I don’t know, maybe he LIKES writing in that “wretched hive of scum and villainy” but since I’m no longer a Star Wars fan I want other stories by him. I guess this will have to tide me over.



bookstooge (Custom)



The Empire’s Corps (The Empire’s Corps #1) ★★★☆☆

theempirescorps (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Empire’s Corps
Series: The Empire’s Corps #1
Author: Christopher Nuttal
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 505
Format: Digital Edition



Captain Stalker leads a disastrous rescue attempt on a slum on Earth and ends up with thousands of civilians dead. When he speaks “Truth to Power” (so help me my eyes almost rolled out of my head at the bloody cliched phrase) he and all 80+ of his marines are exiled to a planet on the rim of the Empire, Avalon. He is given a huge budget by the Marine Commander and very vague instructions.

The Empire is tottering and the rim planets will soon be on their own. Marine Commander hopes that Stalker and his marines can keep Avalon from falling into barbarity.

Once on the planet, Stalker is faced with the problems of an entrenched political/economic elite who want to keep thing the way they are even while that path is leading straight to revolution. Stalker deals with the bandits, then deals with the Opposition forces and the Council all in one fell swoop.

The book ends with a Space Navy ship dropping off a note telling Avalon that the Empire will be sending no more ships to them for the foreseeable future.


My Thoughts:

PG’s Rambling has been reviewing this series on and off even though he’s more of a spaceship kind of guy while I prefer the ground pounder action. And that is exactly what this book, and series I assume, is all about: Space Marines during the decline of a galactic empire.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

“Truth to Power”. For fracks sake, responsible people don’t use that hackneyed phrase, only people like the Occupy movement, ie, those with too much time on their hands and no drive to actually support themselves. Thankfully, it was only used 2-3 times but that was just 2-3 times too much. Nuttal also writes about homosexuality enough that I won’t be surprised if I end up dnf’ing this series in another book or two. Thankfully here it was not “PC homosexual character spewing modern liberal cant, CHECKMARK”. He also writes about brothel’s and prostitution and they are both legal in this book universe. One of the characters opines “It’s ok as long as they “want” to get into that business”. It never works that way and always ends up as a legal sex slave trafficking. I was more concerned about the attitude behind it than that it was included. There was also one sex scene that was used as a plot device, so I can’t accuse it of being completely gratuitous, but another one like it in any future books will push this out of bounds for me.

Now on to what I did like.

80 highly trained marines on a backwoods world. Nuttal makes as much hay with this as he can and I loved every second of it. They are like wolves going through a pack of puppies.The fighting was awesome and Nuttal doesn’t make the mistake of writing the bandits or Opposition as complete chowderheads. They are clever and when they have armaments equal to the Marines, a real threat. One thing I was kind of edgy about was how the bandits raped a lot and it was definitely used as a device to make them “Despicable”. It was never described in detail but I just found it bordering on the tasteless with how it was written.

The politics side of things felt a little too pat and easy but considering that Captain Stalker has had to deal with Earth Politics, whatever Avalon throws at him isn’t nearly at the same level. I do appreciate that Nuttal doesn’t try to make his badguy characters to be grey, ambiguous “oh, those poor misunderstood” type of badguys. They are bad, period. Thank goodness for that.

Nuttal is an indie, as far as I can tell, but besides the repeated misspelling of “deport” and its various forms, nothing stood out (depot and depoted were the main culprits). At 500 pages, I was expecting a lot more than that in all honesty. I enjoyed his writing style and his characters had enough depth so they were unique and not just the same character with a different name.

I do look forward to reading more in this series (there are 14 books and it appears that book 14 is the final book) and if it works out, I’ll probably be trying other series by the author.


bookstooge (Custom)


Threshold (Chess Team Adventure #3) ☆☆☆☆ ½ DNF@39%

threshold (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Threshold
Series: Chess Team Adventure #3
Author: Jeremy Robinson
Rating: 1/2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 351
Format: Digital Edition



Did Not Finish at 39%


My Thoughts:

“So, what, Christianity is founded on a magical charlaton?” (Jack Sigler)

“Jesus spent his childhood in Egypt, as did Moses, so it’s possible both men found some ancient source of knowledge and used what they learned to perform amazing miracles.” (Hercules)

Yeah, I’m done with this.When Christ’s Divine Nature is denied, then I stop reading. I will also not be reading any more by Jeremy Robinson.

☆☆☆☆ ½



  1. Pulse (Book 1)
  2. Instinct (Book 2)

Kraken Rising (Alex Hunter #6) ★★★☆ ½

krakenrising (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kraken Rising
Series: Alex Hunter #6
Author: Greig Beck
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 449
Format: Digital Edition



The Chinese try to kidnap Alex’s son. They fail. The Chinese are “secretly” mining in Antarctica and come across a signal from a long lost sub that was an American stealth prototype. They send in their version of Elite Special Forces and also send warships. The Americans aren’t going to let them steal even more technology and send in Alex Hunter and then another HAWC’s team AND warships.

World War 3, with nukes, is about to happen.

Aimee Weir knows what’s under the ice and she is supposed to guide the HAWC’s team. Alex is on his own and the Chinese Special Forces have NO idea what they are in for. The mimic from Under the Dark Ice isn’t dead, isn’t stupid and it wants to play with its food. Eventually, all the survivors band together and flee in the missing sub. The kraken follows and fights the chinese fleet. They destroy it but are so hurt that they can’t stand up to the American fleet. Everyone goes home. Just like that. Really.

Alex and Aimee and their son are all reunited and the glimmer of a family life for all 3 is possible.

The End of the Series.


My Thoughts:

This series comes full circle. In the first book Alex Hunter meets Aimee Weir and the monster under the ice and they barely escape with their lives. This time around they have something to live for, namely, their son.

My biggest complaint was how stupid 2 of the characters acted. The leader of the Chinese Special Forces was such a fanatic that everything was an American plot meant to trick him, somehow. He was almost a caricature instead of a viable human threat. The other problem character was one of the HAWC’s who won’t take orders from Casey and constantly questions her and undermines her. The HAWC’s are supposed to be the Special Forces of the Special Forces and this guy comes across as a green marine just out of boot camp with a huge chip on his soldier. I can’t see Jack Hammerson allowing someone like that into his elite unit.

Really good fights and some “old favorites” of the monster variety. The black worms that eat you from the inside out make a dramatic visit and were probably more memorable to me this time around than the kraken.

The overall plot wasn’t as lean or taut as some of the others and while nothing felt like padding per se, there were times that some movements/actions/descriptions felt unnecessary.

This book ends on such a note that it could be considered the end of the series. While there might be future Alex Hunter or Son books, this was a good place for me to end. Beck hasn’t written any new Alex Hunter books since this and has written other books in other series, so I suspect his interest in this character is done. It is always better to wrap things up while they’re still fresh than to let them sit and stink like a week old fish.

★★★☆ ½



  1. Hammer of God (Book 5.5)
  2. Gorgon (Book 5)
  3. Black Mountain (Book 4)
  4. This Green Hell (Book 3)
  5. Dark Rising (Book 2)
  6. Beneath the Dark Ice (Book 1)
  7. Arcadian Genesis (Book 0)

Instinct (Chess Team Adventure #2) ★★☆☆☆

instinct (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Instinct
Series: Chess Team Adventure #2
Author: Jeremy Robinson
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 365
Format: Digital Edition




A rogue Vietnam General comes across a super plague that he weaponizes. He uses it against the President of the United States and that sets the stage for the Chess Team. They are sent in to find a cure [as the plague has the potential to wipe out mankind within 2 years] but of course nothing can go easy, or they wouldn’t be the Chess Team.

They run across a Vietnam special forces who are dedicated to wiping them out. They come across monstrous, devolved neanderthals who are all female and who eat humans and rape men to continue their race. They also come across a lost scientist who has started his own race of neanderthal/human hybrids and who wants the plague to succeed so his “children” can rule the world.

That is a lot to overcome. Plus the burden of saving the whole world. Phhhh, just a day’s work for the Chess Team.


My Thoughts:

This was easily on track to being a 3.5star adventure. Then the author started talking about shoving guns down the throats of Fox News anchors and calling them fear mongering haters, or something close to that. That tanked this for me. It makes me suspect the author is a dickwad and someone I’d gladly punch in the face. But rather than give in to my baser instincts to hunt him down and beat him to within an inch of his miserable life, I chose to let it go. You don’t see ME threatening to KILL anyone just because I don’t LIKE them. Beatings are VERY different from killing.

On to the book then.

Pretty good adventure and action. The devolved neanderthals and their Lost City of Blah, Blah, Blah and how they used to be Masters of Humanity was a bit much for my taste in conjuction with the whole Plague Wiping Out the Whole World thing, but hey, it’s better to have too much adventure than not enough.

Lots of fighting, lots of guns and stuff. What I expect and what I like in a military action/adventure story. And Bishop, the guy who got super human powers in the last book, he gets his head ripped off, regenerates and comes back badder than ever. And gets a “magic” crystal so he doesn’t go all ravening zombie anymore. Quite convenient that. I guess the neanderthals were good for something.



  1. Pulse (Book 1)