Terrorist Dispatch (The Executioner #448) ★★★☆☆

terroristdispatch (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: Terrorist Dispatch
Series: The Executioner #448
Author: Don Pendleton alias
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 196
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A terrorist group makes an attack at a memorial in Washington, DC and no one is sure if it was Russian terrorists, Ukrainian terrorists or somebody pretending to be the other. Mack Bolan doesn’t care. With information from the Stony Man intelligence farm, he goes after the local russian and ukrainian mobsters and then heads to the Ukraine to do the same to both their bosses.

Hitting both sides equally, Bolan pits them against each other, thus allowing them to wipe each other. Scratch two bad guys form the list of the world’s badguys.

 

My Thoughts:

I read the original 30 some Executioner books by the real Don Pendleton a couple of years ago. Vigilante Men’s Action/Adventure perfectly sums up these books. Mack Bolan was a driven man, capable, rational and unafraid of blood and violence against those who deserved it. Planning, action and guts were the characteristics of his moves.

This book, written by a ghost writer mentioned in the end credits, is produced by Gold Eagle, a division of Harlequin. What bodice ripping romance books are for women, Mack Bolan books are for men. Sadly, the character of Mack Bolan as depicted originally isn’t the same guy portrayed here. Some of the same “words” are used, but the man portrayed in this book uses the word “whatever” a lot. The Executioner doesn’t use the word “whatever”, that implies a lack of caring about planning and intel gathering. Considering he uses it at least three times in this book, it makes Mack Bolan feel very caricature’ish here.

I am glad that I read this but it has put to rest my curiosity about how the franchise has proceeded. Simply put, it has been simplified even more, to the point that I don’t want to read more. Not recommended unless you need a serious brain break for a day or two.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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The Wrecking Crew (Matt Helm #2) ★☆☆☆½

wreckingcrew (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 Wrecking Crew
Series: Matt Helm #2
Author: Donald Hamilton
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 272
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Matt Helm is back working as part of the Wrecking Crew, that shadowy blacker than black government organization that carries out assassinations against targets around the world who are enemies of the United States.

Helm’s wife served him separation papers after finding out about his secret past during World War II and with nothing else to occupy him, Matt returns to the only thing he really knows. This time he is sent after a shadowing agent working for Russia that took out a valuable double agent for the United States. Hooking up with the dead man’s wife, Helm uses her to find his way to the Mastermind. With lots of twists and turns (who is working for who, are the good guys actually the good guys?), Helm bulls through it all in Norway. Using women like sanitizer soap, Helm eventually gets his man.

The book ends with his wife sending him signed divorce papers and a note that she and the boys are now with another man, a “good” man.

 

My Thoughts:

I liked the story. The twisty turny Cold War aspect was great. It was fun, it was thrilling and it kept the suspense up right until the end when Matt shoots the Mastermind.

Sadly, that just wasn’t enough. Helm’s sleeping with multiple women while still married is not something that I want to give countenance too. Someone as controlled as Helm CAN control himself in the area of sex. He simply chooses not to and I consider that a fatal flaw in a book character.

Throw in that he’s pretty “Awww, whatever” about his wife leaving him and the fate of his 3 children and he just sickened me. When he found out they were all with another man they liked, he was like “Oh good, now I don’t have to worry”.

Very disappointed with how this turned out. Matt Helm is no hero and characters like him, with an empty moral framework, do more to destroy this country than any hardline communist ever could. So I’m done with this series and will be moving on.

★☆☆☆½

 

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First and Only (Gaunt’s Ghosts #1) ★★★☆½

firstandonly (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: First and Only
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #1
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Ibram Gaunt lost his father at a young age and the data surrounding that loss was classified. This drove young Gaunt to become a Commisar, a military and political appointment where he is able to root out the evil of chaos in the emperor’s name.

During his first battle right before becoming Commisar, he is confronted by a prophetess who foretells several things. While everyone else thinks she is just raving, Gaunt keeps all she says in memory and uses it to steer his life.

Once a Commisar, he finds out that his uncle, a highly decorated officer, committed a grave act of cowardice that doomed Gaunt’s father to death. Gaunt duels and executes his uncle, thus leading to a schism between Gaunt’s new military order, the Ghosts and the order headed by his uncle.

During one battle against Chaos, Gaunt increases his fame. A second battle does the same and marks him as a target. The third battle is for a world overrun by Chaos that holds a secret that only the Leader of the Expedition knows about, and Gaunt. The Leader wants the power of the artifact for himself so as to become Warleader of the entire Host while Gaunt knows it is truly chaos tainted and something that lead to the downfall of Humanity many millennia ago.

Gaunt wins and with the surviving Ghosts (known because they are trackers and spies) truly begins his career.

 

My Thoughts:

This is formulaic franchise fiction. So I expect certain things and this didn’t disappoint. Another thing is that I’m reading about an already established universe and so my questions might have been answered 14 thousand books ago or simply dismissed. Franchise Fiction never stands up well to scrutiny; it’s simply not meant to.

So my questions. If Chaos is so bad that it can infect people, planets, etc out of no where, why the heck doesn’t the Imperial Fleet destroy every planet that has Chaos taint? Sure, that seems extreme but if Chaos is worse than the black plague and way more virulent, why is it treated so casually? Why aren’t Imperial scientists working on ways to “vaccinate” against Chaos? Why all the money on the military and NO money on research? If the Emperor is, in essence, just an undead Lich King, how is he any different from the forces of Chaos he claims to be striving against? These all popped into my head and were never addressed. So I just tossed them aside so I could enjoy the book.

This is a fun “soldiers kill stuff and fight battles” kind of book. The infighting between Imperials pissed me off, but it was supposed to. Abnett shows just how corrupt Humanity is, even in the face of raw Chaos. Considering this is Ground Pounder action, I am planning on reading all 14 or 15 of these. Wouldn’t surprise me if Gaunt dies right at the end though, that’s how Warhammer seems to roll.

★★★☆½

 

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Haunted Forest Tour ★★★☆☆

hauntedforesttour (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:
Haunted Forest Tour
Series: ———-
Author: James Moore & Jeff Strand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror
Pages: 270
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A forest grew up in one day in New Mexico, destroying a small town and killing almost all of the inhabitants. The survivors reported seeing otherworldly monsters.

The owner of the land opened up a tourist attraction where people could take a ride on armored buses through the edge of the forest to see the various creatures. He also hired cryptozoologists to study the remains of the creatures. The Haunted Forest Tour has a 100% safety rating and no one has ever gotten hurt.

For months now, crew have been laying down new track to the center of the forest. On Halloween a select group of 80 people are invited to go deeper into the forest than anyone has ever gone before. Unfortunately for them, the power goes out on the track and an accident occurs between 2 of the buses. Also, the monsters begin attacking, something they’ve never done before. The tourists split, some staying in the buses to wait for rescue and others to try to strike out and rescue themselves. Those who stay are eaten rather quickly.

The group we follow make it to an abandoned facility within the Forest. They realize they’ve gone even deeper into the forest and one of them strikes out on his own to follow the rails back to the edge of the Forest. The remainder are split up. It is revealed that the Forest is an intrusion from a demonic dimension and that the ruler has made a deal with the owner of Haunted Forest Tours. This demon needs a willing sacrifice AND a willing host to fully integrate his dimension into ours. He gets the sacrifice but is outwitted and some other humans destroy his host.

The whole forest and all of its denizens return to the their dimension and only a few people survive.

 

My Thoughts:

I have to admit, I was hoping for more. Part of that was me wanting answers well before the authors chose to give it. I didn’t learn that the Forest was a hell pocket until well past the 50% mark and up to that point I was trying to figure out what was going on. The deal with the devil explained almost everything but it came too late for me, as I was too distracted by my own questions up to that point.

I was also disappointed in how the military reacted. They’re shown as a bunch of lackwits and idiots. I was hoping for something a bit more in the vein of Through the Looking Glass by John Ringo.

The violence was pretty high but felt like some sort of B movie violence where it was just so splatterific that it moved into silly territory when that was NOT the intention. There was one torture scene near the end though that was just grotesque.

For a horror book, I never felt a moments dread. Horror is atmospheric, not just describing people getting killed horrifically. This had as much atmosphere as an empty elevator.

Overall, I don’t feel like my time was wasted, as I got all the splatterific I could handle but there was no nuance and the whole supernatural side of things was just shoehorned in. The ending seemed to happen in 5 pages and authorial handwavium definitely occurred. This book didn’t leave me wanting to seek out any more by either author.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Engineer Reconditioned (Polity #13) ★★★★☆

engineerreconditioned (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 Engineer Reconditioned
Series: Polity #13
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 260
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories from Asher’s Polity Universe, his Owner universe and some general SF shorts.

 

My Thoughts:

Really, my previous review still stands. Asher just unloads several times on anything “religious” and even in one of his intro’s to a story admits that’s exactly what he is doing. Makes me wonder why the vitriol. His wife hadn’t died yet, so it wasn’t like he was blaming God for that. In fact, now that his wife has passed on, I’ve noticed LESS bashing of religion in his books. Thankfully, I knew this was an element in this book so it didn’t shock me like it did the first time around. Scyenze is Asher’s god, he just won’t admit it.

I enjoyed the Owner stories a lot this time around as I now had the Owner trilogy under my literary belt. Did make me want to add them to my tbr. Once I finish up my Polity re-read, I’ll probably re-read the Owner books to tide me over until Asher’s Jain trilogy wraps up.

There was a story about the Hive (turns out Wasps are sentient creatures) and I have to admit I would like a trilogy about them at some point. I doubt it will happen and I’d be ok with just some more short stories, but since I’m wishing, a trilogy is what I want.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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

 

Synopsis:

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.

★★★☆☆

 

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The Gabble and Other Stories (Polity #12) ★★★★★

gabble (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 Gabble and Other Stories
Series: Polity #12
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 384
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories ranging all throughout Asher’s Polity Universe.

 

My Thoughts:

Several stories deal with the Gabbleducks, which we know are the deliberately devolved descendants of the Atheter. We also get one story about the Csorians, the 2nd alien lifeform wiped out by the jaintech; from how the story goes it appears that they won’t be making any reappearances in Asher’s writings any time soon. Another story has Penny Royal involved. Since Penny Royal got its own trilogy, I’ve been paying a lot more attention any time it is mentioned.

In my last review, The Technician, I mistakenly claimed that this book explained how the Atheter mem-crystal was found. That is not so. Instead, a bit of the original is used as bait in one story and that is how I got things messed up. The Technician should be #11 in the Polity series and this one the 12th.

I gave this 5stars this time around because of several reasons. One, I really do enjoy the short story format when there is a bunch of them all by one author. It really works for me. Two, I enjoyed this just as much as I did back in ’12, if not more. Third, I plan on enjoying this just as much when I re-read it yet again in another decade or so. Finally, I enjoyed this a ton of a lot more than I have the previous 3 SF books I’ve posted on the previous Fridays.

★★★★★

 

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