Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Report, Part Deux

  • The Rho Agenda by Richard Phillips (The Second Ship, Immune and Wormhole) - A trio of teenage kids stumbles across a hidden cave in which they find what can only be an alien spaceship. Despite being smart and mature, they investigate it, and fitting peculiar headbands on, they eventually find themselves trainees of the ship's intelligence. They learn that there is another ship, in famed Area 51, possibly sent by a rival group of aliens. Donald Stephenson, lead scientist for the National Lab on the First Ship exploration project, and a nasty piece of work, is meanwhile performing unauthorized human experiments using the alien technology. His ultimate goal is to form a rapprochement with the aliens and rule the world. Can three teens stop him? Of course they can, but thereby hangs this engaging and imminently readable--if lengthy--tale.
  • New World Orders by Edward G Talbot - On a planet Earth teetering on the edge of global meltdown, mass extinction and resource depletion, Samuel Tan heads a secret group of the super-rich and super-powerful with a long-term, even generational, goal of getting the hell off this spinning ball before it's too late. Mega-corporations, massive defense contractors and huge amounts of infrastructure are actually secret parts of the new world order to build their spaceships and transport them to a new terraformed home. Washington, DC police detective Jim Patterson {not my old college professor} stumbles onto their plans, and has only twenty years to stop them. That last bit makes it sound silly, but it did make for a fun read.
  • Hell's Corner by David Baldacci - Hell's corner is a location in Washington, DC where Lafayette Park stands opposite the White House grounds. The jurisdiction here depends on who wants it most: the DC police, the Secret Service or the FBI--or indeed who wants it the least. A sixtyish Oliver Stone (not his real name} is visiting the park, one of his old haunts, before being recalled from a forced retirement to perform a mission at the special request of The Man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He's watching a State Dinner wind down across the street when suddenly a bomb goes off. Just like that, his mission changes, and he is thrown into a hornet's nest of terrorism and intrigue even more complicated than it was in the old days. Tight plotting, quirky characters and believable (mostly) action make this worth reading if you don't have anything better at hand.
  • Black List by Brad Thor - The US government has a list of people to be "eliminated"--and once you get on it, there's only one way off. Counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath has just been added to the list. He's got to find out why, and by whom, and do it in time to prevent the worst terrorist attack in American history. Harvath reminds me of Lee Childs's Jack Reacher character--so proficient at fighting and killing there just isn't any point in the opposition's bothering to try. Of course, if they didn't, there wouldn't be a book. And I like books. He's also not that great a writer, this Thor (pseudonym, much?) but he does have a reasonable take on plot-driving action, which is to say the action seems to drive the plot rather than vice versa. If Brad Thor wants my advice, he would give up on invincible, murderous hero Scot Harvath and devote his career to spinning plots about one of the minor characters here, dwarf computer hacker Nicholas with the giant dogs and similarly outsize romantic desires. Until then, don't bother ...

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