Extreme Measures ★★★✬☆

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: Extreme Measures
Series: Mitch Rapp #9
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 412
Words: 132K


From Vinceflynn.com

Now, Rapp and his protege, Mike Nash, may have met their match. The CIA has detected and intercepted two terrorist cells, but a third is feared to be on the loose. Led by a dangerous mastermind obsessed with becoming the leader of al-Qaeda, this determined and terrifying group is about to descend on America.

Rapp needs the best on this assignment, and Nash, who has served his government honorably for sixteen years first as an officer in the Marine Corps and then as an operative in an elite counterterrorism team run by Rapp is his choice.

Together, they have made careers out of meeting violence with extreme violence and have never wavered in the fight against the jihadists and their culture of death.

Both have fought the war on terrorism in secret without accolades or acknowledgment of their personal sacrifices.

Both have been forced to lie to virtually every single person they care about, and both have soldiered on with the knowledge that their hard work and lethal tactics have saved thousands of lives.

But the political winds have changed in America, and certain leaders on Capitol Hill are pushing to have men like Rapp and Nash put back on a short leash. And then one spring afternoon in Washington, DC, everything changes.

My Thoughts:

This was a good thriller. My only real gripe is the ending. The politician who had been doing her hardest to get Rapp destroyed has a complete change of heart when the bombs go off and suddenly she’s all Super Patriot. It was bogus. People like her WANT this country destroyed, which is what makes them so insidious. It also makes them impervious to logic and all rational thought. Sadly, there is only one way to deal with people like that and it almost never turns out well. So that was my gripe.

Rapp takes front and center in this book. There have been times when Irene Kennedy, the director of the CIA plays as big a part but this time she is barely mentioned and pretty much lets Rapp loose. For the record, I am completely FOR enhanced interrogation methods. They work, despite what the media may trumpet. They are liars, pure and simple.

(Man, I keep going off about real world politics here, sorry about that)

Rapp isn’t just a meat head with a steady gun hand. He’s a smart and capable operator and the badguys and people who oppose him would do well to remember that. Rapp shows his brains through the whole book and it was great to see him outmaneuver almost everyone. There is one other guy, Mike Nash, who is similar to Rapp, but Nash has a wife and several kids. Part of the story centers around him and the stresses this creates. I was afraid the terrorists were going to kill his family much like Rapp’s family were killed earlier. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen. But up until the leader of the islamic jihadists was killed, I just couldn’t tell if the author was going to go there or not.

I had taken a break from Rapp last year and started up again in January. I am finding that 3 books is about the right amount for me. So after this book I’ll be taking another break, reading something else and then coming back to Rapp for another 3 books. Balancing my reading is getting more and more complicated but considering that I haven’t had a reading slump in over 6 or 7 years now, well, that means it is working. * pounds fist * Yeah, I am THAT good.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Protect and Defend ★★★✬☆

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: Protect and Defend
Series: Mitch Rapp #8
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 336
Words: 105.5K


From Vinceflynn.com

In Protect and Defend, the action begins in the heart of Iran, where billions of dollars are being spent on the development of a nuclear program. No longer willing to wait for the international community to stop its neighboring enemy, Israel launches one of the most creative and daring espionage operations ever conceived. The attack leaves a radioactive tomb and environmental disaster in the middle of Iran s second largest city. An outraged Iranian government publicly blames both Israel and the United States for the attack and demands retribution. Privately, Iran s bombastic president wants much more. He wants America and Israel to pay for their aggression with blood.

Enter Mitch Rapp, America s top counterterrorism operative. Used to employing deception, Rapp sees an opportunity where others see only Iranian reprisals that could leave thousands of Americans dead. Rapp convinces President Josh Alexander to sign off on a risky operation that will further embarrass the Iranian government and push their country to the brink of revolution. As part of the plan, CIA director Irene Kennedy is dispatched to the region for a clandestine meeting with Azad Ashani, her Iranian counterpart.

But Rapp isn’t the only one hatching plans. Iranian President Amatullah, has recruited Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mukhtar to do his dirty work. For decades Mukhtar has acted as a surrogate for Iran, blazing a trail of death and destruction across the Middle East and beyond. When Kennedy s meeting with Ashani goes disastrously wrong, Rapp and Mukhtar are set on a collision course that threatens to engulf the entire region in war. With the clock ticking, Rapp is given twenty-four hours, no questions asked, to do whatever it takes to stop Mukhtar, and avert an unthinkable catastrophe.

My Thoughts:

Now this was a return to form and expectations. Mitch is set loose on terrorists who have kidnapped Irene Saddler, the head of the CIA. The background is that the Israeli’s have destroyed Iran’s “secret” nuclear facility using an infiltrator and in retaliation the leaders of Iran not only kidnap Irene but also shoot one of their ships and blame it on America.

It’s been 2 years since Mitch’s wife was killed and while he’s holding on, he’s not doing well. He’s at the point of being a mad dog but not one that’s crazy, if that makes sense. He simply doesn’t care anymore. But Irene’s kidnapping makes it personal as she’s probably the person closest to him that he hasn’t completely pushed away.

The action side of things is great. When Irene is kidnapped by jihadi thugs, I was concerned that Flynn might over describe things. Thankfully, he keeps it within bounds of decency while still showing what happens to her. There was no rape, which I have to admit I gave a sigh of relief for. That kind of thing in fiction can be a deal breaker for me. When Mitch gets going he was like a whirlwind. It was exhausting just following along but oh so exciting too!

On the political side, it was ok. A new president had been elected in the previous book and he was a democrat, just like in the previous books. I didn’t know how Flynn was going to handle him. Well, he’s a bloody hawk and pretty much tells Mitch to do whatever is necessary. He showed more backbone than most of the republicans today in real life. So I don’t expect to have any problems, just like I didn’t with previous books and the politics.

We’ll have to see if Mitch falls apart in future books or if Flynn writes him into getting some help. Personally, I’d like to see him get some help. On the other hand, if he goes nutso, I wouldn’t mind him nuking Iran, Afghanistan or even Belgium. You know, for variety’s sake 😉 What I am concerned about is either Mitch turning into a “one book, one girl” kind of man like Mack Bolan the Executioner or even worse, getting involved long term with another woman and getting her killed. I almost quit when Anna died in book 6 and I’ll quit for sure if happens in future books.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Six Days of the Condor ★★★✬☆

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: Six Days of the Condor
Series: ———-
Authors: James Grady
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 159
Words: 56K


From Wikipedia.org

Ronald Malcolm is a CIA employee who works in a clandestine operations office in Washington, D.C. responsible for analyzing the plots of mystery and spy novels. One day, when he should be in the office, Malcolm slips out a basement entrance for lunch. In his absence a group of armed men gain entrance to the office and kill everyone there. Malcolm returns, realizes he is in grave danger, and telephones a phone number at CIA headquarters he has been given for emergencies.

When he phones in (and remembers to give his code name “Condor”), he is told to meet an agent named Weatherby who will “bring him in” for protection. However, Weatherby is part of a rogue group within the CIA, the same group responsible for the original assassinations. Weatherby tries to kill Malcolm, who manages to escape. On the run, Malcolm uses his wits to elude both the rogue CIA group and the proper CIA authorities, both of which have a vested interest in his capture or death.

Seeking shelter, Malcolm kidnaps a paralegal named Wendy Ross whom he overhears saying she will spend her coming vacation days holed up in her apartment. Knowing no one will notice her absence, Malcolm enlists her aid in finding out more about the forces after him. She is shot and seriously wounded in the process, but survives.

It is then revealed that the rogue group was using the section where Malcolm works to import illegal drugs from Laos. A supervisor stumbled onto a discrepancy in the records exposing this operation, thus necessitating the section’s elimination.

Everything works out in the end and the badguys all get theirs and Malcom gets the girl.

My Thoughts:

I have seen the movie, 3 Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford, several times but had never read the book. So when Dix reviewed the movie a couple of months ago and we got talking about the book in the comments it seemed like the moment was right to hunt down a copy for myself and read it.

There is a reason the movie is better known than the book. My first clue was that the introduction by the author was almost 15% of the book. He kept talking and talking and it was more of a mini-autobiography than a simple introduction. It wasn’t bad, but it was NOT what I was expecting.

Once we get to the actual story, it was very similar to the movie. One of the days is spent with Ronald being sick with the flu. You can see why that day got axed from the movie. Then there is Ronald’s obsession with big breasted women. He’s a guy so I completely understand, but I don’t particularly need to know that Ronald gets to work on time every day just so he can watch a girl walk to work and comment on her sartorial choices. Plus, the girl he hooks up with to stay under cover is apparently a horny nympho and jumps his bones every chance she gets. Eye roll.

You can tell this was dated and written by an amateur. In one of the chapters Ronald is supposed to meet up with somebody he knows to bring him in. The traitor gets involved and Ronald shoots the traitor in the leg with a 357magnum and the traitor shoots the guy Ronald trusts in a bid to make it look like Ronald is the traitor. Now, he does that with a 22 pistol. And it takes almost until the end of the book for the forensics guys to figure this out. For feth’s sake!

The one thing that I did like about this better than the movie was how the good guys win. In the movie the Condor is pretty much told that he’s powerless against the Machine and it doesn’t matter what he does because he’ll just be ignored or ground up. In the book the traitors are caught and killed.

Overall, I’m glad I read this but if someone were to ask me whether they should read the book or watch the movie, I’m going to go for the movie. It is just a better, tighter story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Act of Treason ★★★☆☆

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: Act of Treason
Series: Mitch Rapp #7
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 348
Words: 116K


From the Publisher

Fallout from a horrific Washington explosion has just begun — and so has CIA superagent Mitch Rapp’s hunt for a killer with a personal agenda.

In the final weeks of a fierce presidential campaign, a motorcade carrying candidate Josh Alexander is shattered by a car bomb. Soon after the attack, Alexander is carried to victory by a sympathy vote, but his assailants have not been found.

When CIA director Irene Kennedy and Special Agent Skip McMahon receive damaging intelligence on Washington’s most powerful players, they call on Mitch Rapp — the one man reckless enough to unravel a global network of contract killers on an explosive mission that leads back to the heart of our nation’s capital…and the inner sanctum of the Oval Office.

My Thoughts:

After the last book, Consent to Kill, where I rage quit because the author took the easy way out and killed off Rapp’s wife and unborn child, I needed a time out with this series. A couple of months seemed long enough and so I dived back in, not sure what to expect.

Thankfully, I didn’t get Rapp immediately jumping into bed with either a femme fatale or a dusky heroine. The romance was nil and Rapp is shown to be pretty unstable. He’s still able to perform his job but he’s starting to age (I believe he’s 39 in this book) and he’s simply in denial about the tragedy.

I thought Flynn did an excellent job of showing a man who is cracking up. I really feel like killing of Rapp’s wife and baby was a mistake by Flynn, as I was looking forward to how he was going to balance the whole “killing machine vs family man” dynamic he had going. This book, while not redeeming that, at least didn’t make it greater by having Rapp turn into the stereotypical action/adventure character of a bedhopping manwhore.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spellbinders in Suspense ★★★★☆

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: Spellbinders in Suspense
Series: ———-
Author: Alfred Hitchcock (Editor)
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 215
Words: 77K


From the Inside Cover

These are mystery-suspense stories. Some will keep you on the edge of your chair with excitement. Others are calculated to draw you along irresistibly to see how the puzzle works out. I have even included a sample or two of stories that are humorous, to show you that humor and mystery can also add up to suspense. So here you are, with best wishes for hours of good reading. –Alfred Hitchcock

Includes the following 13 stories:

The Chinese Puzzle Box – Agatha Christie

The Most Dangerous Game – Richard Connell

The Birds – Daphne du Maurier

Puzzle For Poppy – Patrick Quentin

Eyewitness – Robert Arthur

Man From The South – Roald Dahl

Black Magic – Sax Rohmer

Treasure Trove – F. Tennyson Jesse

Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper – Robert Bloch

The Treasure Hunt – Edgar Wallace

The Man Who Knew How – Dorothy L. Sayers

The Dilemma of Grampa DuBois – Clayre and Michel Lipman

P. Moran, Diamond-Hunter – Percival Wilde

My Thoughts:

I must have read this back in the day because I recognized over 3/4’s of the stories. Now, some of them have been in other anthologies so that would account for some of them, but not the number I remembered. I’d start reading and then it would be “Ohhhhh, I remember how THIS story ends”, etc, etc. I am very sure this is the collection where I was introduced to the Most Dangerous Game (in short story form), The Birds and The Man Who Knew How.

I still labeled this as crime fiction, because it has aspects of criminality involved, but unlike some of Hitchcock’s other collections, this doesn’t focus nearly so much on that. I wasn’t sure what else to label it as, so inertia won out 🙂

While this was not as thrilling or exciting as some of the others, I’d choose this one collection if I had to recommend one so far. With the authors and stories involved, it gives a very broad collection upon which to build a good literary foundation, even for a Hitchcock book. Let me put it another way. The first story was a Poirot story and while I HATE Poirot with a passion, I still went on and read the entire book. I don’t know what higher praise I could give.

Oh wait.

If you read this book:

  • You will win the lottery
  • Your hair will be the style you always wanted but couldn’t get because of Nature
  • You will be at your ideal weight
  • People of the opposite gender, complete strangers, will come up to you and tell you how amazing you are and how they wished they knew you better
  • Hollywood will pay you 100 million dollars to make a movie about your life, starring your choice of actor to play you
  • You will get a magic fridge that is always full of just what you want to eat, AT THAT MOMENT!

If none of that appeals to you, then you shouldn’t read this book. I’m actually writing this post on my new Lear Jet while on my way to check out locations in the Bahamas for the movie “The Bookstooge Chronicles”. And I’m drinking a Pina Colada Bang. That I just took out of my magic fridge.

’nuff said.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Future is Yours ★✬☆☆☆

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 Future is Yours
Series: ———
Authors: Dan Frey
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF Thriller
Pages: 226
Words: 69K


From the Publisher

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

My Thoughts:

I have seen the future. And it is narcissistic jackasses and emotionally stunted losers. This book was pushing the DNF line almost the entire time and I ended up reading it in one sitting so that I wouldn’t DNF it. Why didn’t I DNF it? Because I wanted to see the ending. And then I regretted that decision when I got there.

Both Ben and Adhi disgusted me to the core of my being. They adequately represented everything that I think is wrong in the world today and it was not one bit entertaining or fun to read about them. Personally, a good old fashioned apocalypse that killed them both, and millions and possibly billions like them, would be an acceptable solution to me. As characters they disgusted me that much. Not one shred of moral fibre was shown, not one tiny bit of backbone was revealed and Principles were jettisoned from the get-go. I actively disliked them the entire book. Even the ending where Adhi shows Ben a solution is so like him, he shoves all the responsibility onto Ben and it’s pretty obvious from Ben’s behavior in “the past” (which is the future) that we all know that the loop will continue. It was enough to make me want to use some profanity and tell them both to grow up and simply make ONE responsible decision in their entire lives.

The fact that Frey writes characters like these is reason enough for me to add him to my Authors to Avoid list. I don’t want to spend time reading the words of somebody who can think this qualifies as entertainment. I’ll give up fiction reading altogether before accepting something like that.

Read at your own risk.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Breakout ★★✬☆☆

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: Breakout
Series: ———-
Author: Paul Herron
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 237
Words: 88.5K


Publisher’s Blurb

Hurricane Anna: a superstorm made up of two Category 5 hurricanes coming together to wreak unprecedented havoc along the eastern seaboard.

When the superstorm hits, the correctional officers at Ravenhill flee, opening all the cell doors and leaving the inmates to fend for themselves as the floodwaters rise. But Jack Constantine, an ex-cop serving ten years for killing one of his wife’s murderers, isn’t going to just lay down and die. Not when his wife’s two remaining killers are among the prisoners relocated to the Glasshouse to ride out the storm.


Kiera Sawyer, a Correctional Officer on her first day at work is the only officer left behind when the others flee. Sawyer rescues Jack and offers to team up. If they can make it to the Glasshouse they might just survive the hurricane. But that involves making their way through the prison, fighting off eight hundred blood-crazed inmates as the building fills with water and the wall crumble all around them

My Thoughts:

I have to admit, when I was done reading this I was left disappointed. For a slightly more positive review, check out Mogsy’s Review from earlier this year.

This was a big action’y story with tons of tension and drama. I didn’t find the two main characters quite up to snuff though. Jack is a tortured ex-cop ex-military, who didn’t hear a bloody thing when his wife was killed. Wouldn’t want him on guard duty! And for an ex-military guy, forgetting that the prison had an armory was just unforgivable. I don’t expect all military characters in books to be Special Forces level, but come on, weapons?!? Then we come to Lady Guard Sawyer. She’s an attractive female guard in an all male prison, most of whom are in for a VERY long time. And they pretty much leave her alone when all hell breaks loose and everyone is free. Now, if she had been raped, I probably would have dnf’d the book, so I appreciate that. But at the same time, outside of one token badguy doing some vaguely nebulous “a wimminz” thought, there was nothing. It rang as false as a wooden nickle.

A decent read but nothing more. I won’t be reading anything else by Herron on purpose.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Memorial Day (Mitch Rapp #5) ★★★✬☆

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: Memorial Day
Series: Mitch Rapp #5
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 450
Words: 137.5K


From Wikipedia & Me

Intelligence gathering has indicated unusual activity in financial markets, and Rapp, back in the field after a long stint on desk duty for insubordination, unearths a bomb plot during a daring commando raid on an al-Qaeda stronghold in Afghanistan. A decision is made for the President and his cabinet to leave Washington, D.C. in early morning hours based on the bomb threat. However a United States strike force manages to intercept and disarm the nuclear weapon moments after it arrives by freighter in Charleston, South Carolina. Everyone, including series stalwart President Robert Hayes, congratulates themselves on a job well done, but Rapp is not convinced; he believes al-Qaeda leader Mustafa al-Yamani has smuggled a second nuclear weapon into the country and plans to detonate it in Washington, D.C., during Memorial Day celebrations.

Rapp, a ruthless terrorist pursuer by temperament and training, turns it up several notches this time around, following al-Yamani’s scent with feverish abandon. When a missing Pakistani nuclear scientist is found to have passed through LAX on his way to Atlanta, and a truck driver turns up dead due to radiation sickness, the chase is on again. Ultimately the terrorists approach Washington D.C. by water, are spotted from the air, and killed by Rapp. The second bomb, however, has been activated and is in its countdown, unable to be deactivated. After an assessment of options, Rapp transports the bomb to a secure underground facility where it explodes with minimal human or environmental affect.

My Thoughts:

Oh man, I love a good “nuke loose in the United States” thriller story. It sends a frisson down my spine to even contemplate such a thing in reality, but in a book, I can handle it and it really amps up a story, that’s for sure.

I found that Flynn’s way of handling Rapp, now stuck between being a desk jockey and wanting to be a Field Operative, was handled well. For the most part Rapp doesn’t go cowboy’ing it and laying the smackdown on the terrorists. That job is mostly left to the other Special Forces. Rapp does get into the thick of things near the end when they are chasing down the remaining nuke and have to find a safe place to let it go off.

Mrs Mitch Rapp is out of the story, as she’s at her family’s cabin on the lake for the Memorial Day Weekend. Kind of sneaky of Flynn to get around the issue that way but it works for this book and I know Flynn isn’t ignoring the overall situation of the Rapp’s as a couple. I’m sure the nitty-gritty of their relationship will pop up once again.

On an aesthetic note, the cover I chose was the only one that was even half-way “actiony”. Every single other one was boring, political logo branding. I have no idea why the covers are made that way. While not The Executioner, they should have an appropriately cool military/assassin/spy cover. Give me goodguys with guns or badguys with bombs. Or planes, trains and automobiles. Just something besides the generic “looks like a folder on the desk of a bureaucrat” that I’ve seen.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Fallout ★★★✬☆

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: Fallout
Series: ———-
Author: Kenneth Royce
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 285
Words: 92.5K


In the aftermath of Chernobyl, a patient escapes from a Soviet mental hospital. As he wanders through a blighted landscape struggling to recapture blocked memories, British Intelligence and the KGB hunt him for the secret he holds–a secret that threatens glasnost itself.

Zotov, with the help of a former lover and 2 English controlled spies, escapes and makes it to England. Where the doctors do the exact same thing to him that the Soviet doctors did. He goes completely crazy and kills himself.

The End.

My Thoughts:

Despite the ending, I enjoyed this book. I think part of it was that Royce was showing a literati’s disdain for The Government (whichever one you might choose to think about) and also a disillusionment about the Cold War. When Titans collide, the little man is the one getting squished, no matter which Titan is right or wrong.

The only other Spy novels of this era that I have read are the Jason Bourne books by Ludlum. In fact, as soon as it was revealed that Zotov, the main russian character, had amnesia, I immediately thought “Bourne Identity”. Thankfully, this was quite a different story, but the atmospheric tension of not knowing what was going on was exactly the same. Cold War Thrillers have the same flavor I think. Just like Cozy Mysteries I think.

The tension is always high. The action is very sparse and while not non-existent, isn’t the point of the book like a James Bond book. Political maneuverings are as important, externally and internally. In fact, Zotov wouldn’t have been able to escape if it weren’t for the political infighting going on in the Soviet Union during this book. As much time is given to this political side of things as to anything else. Probably more of interest to those interested in history at this point.

While I did enjoy this, I don’t know if I enjoyed it as much as Jenn did. Please check out her review for a slightly more enthusiastic take on this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Cold Fire ★☆☆☆☆

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: Cold Fire
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 495
Words: 134K


From Wikipedia

Recently retired teacher Jim Ironheart (aptly named) risks his life to save lives. In Portland he saves a young boy from an oblivious drunk driver in a van. In Boston he rescues a child from an underground explosion. In Houston he disarms a man who was trying to shoot his own wife – and he is not just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. He gets “inspirations” and knows he must hurry to wherever prompted. He rushes off to hail a cab or catch a plane, dropping whatever he’s doing at the moment, much to the surprise of those around him. He has no idea where these visions come from or why, but he believes that he must be some sort of God-sent guardian angel with a heavenly gift.

Reporter Holly Thorne was in Portland to write a less than exciting piece on a school teacher who has recently published a book of poetry full of poems which Holly finds are pure transcendental garbage – but such is Holly’s lot in life. She is a fine writer but is failing at her job because she is filled with too much integrity and compassion to be a good reporter. As she is leaving she witnesses Jim rescuing the child from the drunk driver and felt there was something fishy in Jim’s explanations of how he started running for the child before seeing or hearing the van coming. She discovers there have been 12 last-minute rescues reported over the last three months in other newspapers by a mysterious Good Samaritan named Jim with blue eyes.

Holly is intrigued by Jim and his intense but cold blue eyes – eyes which burn with a passionate, cold fire, hence the novel’s title.

Holly decides to follow this humble yet elusive savior on his next “mission.” Unbeknownst to Jim, she rapidly follows him to the airport and boards a United Airlines DC-10 plane bound for Chicago. She decides to confront him and learns about Jim’s strange but extraordinary powers. Jim tells her that he has been sent by God to save a mother and a child on the plane – he does not know why God has chosen these two in particular, but he does know that they must change seats or they will die in the horrific plane crash about which he has been sent a vision. Holly is struck by Jim’s belief that he has some magical power, sent by God no less.

Holly takes a more cynical view on things and decidedly argues how ridiculous such thoughts are. She questions why “God” would choose to let these two people live, and allow 151 other passengers to die, as Jim has foreseen. Surely there are much more worthy people aboard, and why would God even have the plane crash at all? Holly presses Jim to do much more than just tell the couple to move, but that he should warn the pilot and maybe save everyone aboard. Jim initially refuses, and decidedly refuses to question his visions. He tells Holly simply that God sends him, and he only follows the instructions – to do anything beyond that would be to somehow go outside God’s will. Who else, he asks, could be sending him visions to save lives precisely at the right time? Holly reasons with him, and convinces him that there is no good reason for Jim (or God) to let anyone die needlessly. The plane, however, is damaged beyond saving and still crashes, but the number of fatalities reduces from 151 to 47.

After the crash, Holly manages to gain Jim’s confidence. They are attracted to each other, but Holly cannot help but be curious about Jim’s mysterious visions. She decides to discover exactly how, why, and who, just as any reporter would naturally want to know. Yet the more she pries, the stranger things get. Nearly all Jim’s childhood memories are completely missing, except that he knows his parents died when he was 9 at his grandparents’ ranch. He only knows very vague details about everything from his childhood, and gets angry when Holly questions him. She begins to see that his strange abilities are linked to his childhood and lack of memories from then. She hears him whisper in his sleep continuously for several nights, “There is an Enemy. It is coming. It’ll kill us all. It is relentless.” She and Jim start to have identical terrifying nightmares surrounding the old mill from his grandparents’ ranch, and during one of these “nightmares” they are both completely conscious and experience violence while fighting some eerie force coming at them from the walls and ceiling – needless to say, they are convinced the force behind it all is definitely not God, nor is it benign.

Holly unquestionably decides they must go back to the ranch to find the source of everything, though she is fearful of what they will find. Jim is at first reluctant, but as they near the ranch, he becomes more and more convinced that the being is something wholly great and powerful – something not of this world.

Once inside the windmill’s creepy tower room, the alien reveals itself from the adjacent pond, at first through sounds analogous to church bells and then an entrancing display of dancing colors and exploding lights. The being then starts to magically use a pen and paper to make words appear, and later manifests as a voice. It calls itself THE FRIEND who has come to them from ANOTHER WORLD. When asked why, it says, “TO OBSERVE, TO STUDY, TO HELP MANKIND.” Holly asks why, then, it attacked them the previous night, to which THE FRIEND replies that that was the work of its other half: THE ENEMY. When asked about the bells and lights, it says that it does that “FOR DRAMA?” Holly asks why the certain individuals are chosen over others, and THE FRIEND gives replies that one will cure all cancers, one will become a great president, one will become a great spiritual leader, et cetera. While Jim is wholly enthusiastic and pleased, Holly cannot believe the answers, for it does not make any logical sense and the answers seem trite, fantastical and childish to her.

Holly questions THE FRIEND far and deep about Jim while he is out of the room. All the answers continue to be too predictable to believe, and it finally answers her nagging with threats and then, most shockingly, with the words “I,” “MY,” and, “ME.” At that moment, it is discovered that Jim is actually himself the source of both THE FRIEND and THE ENEMY, that it is he who is causing the nightmares and not God or some alien force. After Jim’s parents died, the 9 year old became obsessed with a book about an alien in a pond next to a windmill – he became so obsessed that the child never grew up until one day an adult-in-body Jim ran away and started a presumably normal life. Holly helps Jim deal with his past and the two begin a new life together.

My Thoughts:

If Koontz had stuck to this being his typical thriller, I’d probably have given it 3.5 stars and seriously thought about upping it to 4.

However. There was this quote and several in the same vein:

“If there’s a God, why does He allow suffering?”

Alarmed, Father Geary said, “Are you feeling worse?”

“No, no. Better. I don’t mean my suffering. Just… why does He allow suffering in general?”

“To test us,” the priest said.

“Why do we have to be tested?”

“To determine if we’re worthy.”

“Worthy of what?”

“Worthy of heaven, of course. Salvation. Eternal life.”

“Why didn’t God make us worthy?”

“Yes, he made us perfect, without sin. But then we sinned, and fell from grace.”

“How could we sin if we were perfect?”

“Because we have free will.”

“I don’t understand.”

Father Geary frowned. “I’m not a nimble theologian. Just an ordinary priest. All I can tell you is that it’s part of the divine mystery. We fell from grace, and now heaven must be earned.”

The bolding is mine. Besides this blatant heresy, Koontz makes sure that his readers know that the main character not only studied a variety of religions, but WAS an “X” and believed in them all. A Super Ecumenist as it were.

It has never been clearer that Koontz is not a Christian even while using Christian terminology when it suits him. You don’t get to try to take the benefits of using Christian terminology while denying the strictures. You do not play games with Christ. As such, I’m done with Koontz now.