Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Reviews by Carl Brookins

The Bone Chamber
by Robin Burcell
ISBN 9781590583753
HC from Poisoned Pen Press
2009, 378 pages

Feisty independent-minded FBI forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick is off again. This time she bouncing between Washington, DC, San Francisco and various Italian locations. All the while she and her cohorts dodge international hit men. Burcell is a good writer and her varied law enforcement background gives her writing a level of authority lacking in some crime fiction.

The novel is a wide-ranging tale of intrigue, sanctioned and unsanctioned black ops, the CIA the FBI, and several other sometimes questionable agencies. Here are active old and new world mafia figures, the Knights Templar, and several world overnments. The story dredges up long standing rumors, beliefs based on very sketchy and tenuous evidence, ancient legends and involves some vast and secretive organizations such as the Vatican, Freemasonry and maybe some left-over bits of the Tri-Lateral Commission.

Conspiracies within governments, especially those involving questionable banking institutions and practices are fruitful and always interesting. That is especially the case when the venal actions of important institutions from the distant past are held up to the unblinking gaze of modern research. This novel has 'em all. And that's part of the attraction of the book. Burcell has linked in an essentially fanciful way, an incredible chain of real events that reach back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and possible implications in the modern era. The novel proves that murder, corruption and cynical manipulation with the goal of great power and wealth are not the province of our times.

If the novel has flaws it is the multiplicity of threads that wind through
the book, sometimes creating a Gordian's Knot of complexities. Nevertheless, "Bone Chamber" never completely loses its foundation in the real world of plausible outcomes. A tense and intriguing ride from start to finish.

Carl Brookins
www.carlbrookins.com, www.agora2.blogspot.com
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!

******

Fly By Wire
by Ward Larsen
ISBN: 978-1-933515-86-1
Hard Cover, 301 pgs.,
Published by Oceanview Press, 2010

An unusual and fresh plot device blends world finance, international espionage, religious zealotry and cutting edge aviation technology in a fine and mostly fast-paced thriller. It is clear that the author knows intimately the setting of his story, aviation accident investigation.

A new design, a flying wing cargo plane, has crashed in France and a former Air Force pilot, now working as an accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board is sent to the crash site as liaison. His name is Jammer Davis and he's something of a hot-shot loose cannon. Think the macho pilots in the movie "Top Gun," and you get the idea. Davis's life is complicated by the presence of his teen-aged daughter-and her dating difficulties-Davis is a widower. It's a nice touch, and while Davis is in France struggling to figure out a series of odd circumstances around the place crash, his daughter occasionally calls him on his cell, disturbing and altering the rhythm of the plot. The story line is also interrupted from time to time by the machinations of the evil cabal behind the plot which serves to ramp up the tension. The author is careful to dole out intriguing information in tantalizing dollops which maintains reader interest.

That's a good thing, because there are several sections of fairly technical information which are necessary to explain the plot, but occasionally are too long for my taste. The major flaw in the novel is the somewhat old fashioned macho attitude expressed by the narrative in several places. There is at times a sense we are living once again in a simpler time when there was a perception that men and especially women had their defined roles with lines to be crossed at considerable personal risk. It was a time when enemies of the nation were always summarily dealt with. Moral ambiguities and our system of legal niceties were almost as much obstacles to getting the right thing done, as protection of the rights of everyone.

With these caveats, I found "Fly By Wire" to be a rousing patriotic story that moves along at a decent pace to an eminently satisfying conclusion. I particularly like the domestic surprise at the end.

Carl Brookins
www.carlbrookins.com, www.agora2.blogspot.com
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!

******

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