Friday, August 25, 2017

The Death Factory by Greg Iles


This short novella is an add on to the Natchez Burning trilogy from Greg Iles. In this book, Penn Cage's father has had his heart attack and is called to the hospital. While family members come in from around the USA, Penn ends up driving his uncle around in a car so his uncle can explore his old town of Natchez.

Penn tells his uncle of a story from a certain part of Texas called the Death Factory because of the volume of death row cases. The story is told entirely as Penn speaking to his Uncle. It's about a case of a young girl who is raped and the accused gets a super easy plea deal due to the lab screwing up. A different worker from the lab tells Penn about the error and Penn tries to right the wrong.

An interesting little book. I would recommend reading it after the Natchez Burning trilogy.

First Line: "When you're told that your dying father has something important to say to you before he passes, two feelings flash through you: first, the sense that you're in an Alexandre Dumas novel, that some momentous family secret is about to be revealed - the lost inheritance, your true paternity, something like that."


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry


Cotton Malone's father died when he was a child. He was the captain of a submarine which malfunctioned and was never able to be recovered, during an expedition to the Antarctic. As an adult, Cotton knows there is more to the story but has never been able to find out what happened, until now. His friend in Washington provides him with classified information stating that there was never a recovery mission except for a handful of Navy personnel. The sub was supposed to find evidence of a very early super culture, one we know nothing about.

Once Cotton gets this classified information, he is almost immediately assaulted by two people. Other people want this information two.

Cotton finds twins whose father was also on the sub and they want the truth as much as Cotton, but possibly for other reasons. The search takes them from Germany to France down to the Antarctic.

This book lays out its premise as a search that Charlemagne created. I had never heard of him and knew nothing so I'm not sure if this was why I couldn't appreciate the quest or whether it was the author's fault for making it rather convoluted. The suspense wrapped up in the last quarter of the book but the first third was tough to get through.

First Line: "The alarm sounded and Forrest Malone came alert."


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunrise at Kusatsu Harbor by Dan Maloney


Mieko and Tori are young lovers, determined to spend the rest of their lives together when WWII starts. Mieko is sent off to work in a prisoner camp in Japan and come up with a weapon that the Japanese can use to end the war. While Mieko is at the camp, the bomb is dropped on his home of Hiroshima. He sneaks out of the camp so that he can go home to see if his family or Tori has survived. Tori did survive, and starts making her way to the camp to find Mieko as he's the only one she has left. The two end up missing each other and then the Nagasaki bomb is dropped, which severely injures and disfigures Tori. She decides she can never be with Mieko because he will only feel sorry for her and Mieko decides he must make the Americans pay for what they did and goes to the USA.

This book is a short one about love and forgiveness. It's a nice love story and the message of forgiveness is quite strong, on both the Japanese and American side. There's a twist at the end of the book that I didn't mind but can understand why some would not like it.

First Line: "I have always loved my wife."


Friday, August 11, 2017

MonkeeWrench by P.J. Tracy


A couple is killed in a church and when the officers arrive at their house to investigate, they find the house completely booby trapped. An officer dies trying to get in to the house and the police wonder why an elderly couple has a home rigged up so well. They soon find out that this family has moved from city to city, changing their name every time they moved.

At the same time, a jogger dies in a park with no evidence and then the next day a girl dies posed on a statue of an angel. The police are contacted by software company Monkeewrench, who have posed these exact crime scenes in a new video game of theirs. The problem is that there are many more murders in the game and at one a day, the cops need to figure out who is up to these before many more people are killed.

The cops in this book were good characters with interesting personal lives to transition between major plot points. It wasn't too hard to figure out who the murderer was as there were pretty limited options. There was also some unnecessary romantic tension that took a little away from the book. Overall a good debut though.

First Line: "The brandy had been absolutely essential."


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned With the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson


At the start of WWII, Jewish families were doing anything and everything they could to get their children away from the Nazis. Families got split up as parents could tried to emigrate their children out of Germany and to safety. There were many boys that ended up in America, though mostly only one per family as there were rules about sponsoring immigrants. By this time, some of the boys had experienced a concentration camp, but all of them had experienced discrimination and possibly even violence as things got worse and worse in Germany.

Most of the boys had no idea what had happened to the rest of their family and by the time the US entered the war, all they could think about was getting back to Germany and helping fight against the Nazis. However, being citizens of a country the US was at war with, they weren't all warmly accepted in to service. Most of the boys ended up becoming American citizens, and they ended up at Camp Ritchie. The men from this book were brought to that training facility because they knew German and were taught interrogation techniques. The Ritchie Boys ended up being responsible for many important intelligence finds during the war that likely saved many lives.

This book takes a look a few individual men that were part of the Ritchie Boys. It explains what happened to their families to cause them to seek emigration to the USA, many of the times a heartbreaking story about how life changed under Nazi rule and then how they had to leave their family behind not knowing what would happen for safety. The short time they spend in the USA is described to show how well they integrated, and then the start of the war. Some struggled being German in the USA but they all eventually found their purpose in the Ritchie Boys. Much training was needed, and eventually they all ended up in Europe, at war.

The story of the Ritchie Boys is expertly told in a very compassionate way. You can tell this is a work of passion. It's obvious a lot of research went in to this, as well as trying to figure out how to tell the story of multiple boys in a coherent way without seeming disjointed. This book will appeal to those who are history buffs and those who just want to read a good story. It's very accessible from that way.

I really enjoyed this novel, both the subject and the writing. I'll be looking up other books by this author.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. Interested in purchasing this book? You can do so here.

First Line: "Loud banging at the front door jolted Martin Selling out of a sound sleep."

About the Author
Bruce Henderson is the author or coauthor of more than twenty nonfiction books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell. He lives in Menlo Park, California.
Find out more at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.