Friday, 25 April 2014
Title: Amongst My Enemies
Author: William F. Brown
“Amongst My Enemies” is the 2nd novel I have read by William F. Brown and I have to admit I was looking forward to reading it as I had enjoyed the other novel which was entitled “The Undertaker”. I wasn’t disappointed as I found “Amongst My Enemies” to be an enjoyable thriller that kept me entertained from start to finish.
The plot itself follows Michael Randall, an American who is shot down over Germany during the latter stages of WWII and is captured alongside his friend, Eddie Hodge. They are soon taken to the frozen submarine port of Konigsberg where Eddie soon succumbs to the hard environment. Michael determined to ensure his death is not in vain manages to stow away on a German U-boat which is heading out on a secret mission. What occurs on the submarine defines Michael’s path for the next few years of his life as he becomes the lynchpin in an adventure involving Nazi war criminals, stolen treasure, Russian spies and Mossad agents.
I have to admit I really did enjoy this book with Brown’s wonderful descriptive writing set the initial scenes wonderfully so that I was engrossed from the first chapter. The adventure is intelligent, thought-provoking and unfolds in a manner which keeps the reader wanting more. Whilst this is an enjoyable story with murder, mystery, romance and action it does lack any real twists and turns in the plot which would help to build up the suspense a bit more. This is actually similar to the previous novel I read by Brown in that he doesn’t bother with red herrings or blind alleys, he just sticks with a thoroughly enjoyable yet rather direct story.
The characters are compelling, realistic and developed in a manner that the reader gets a sense of who they are. Michael himself really draws the reader as you get to understand his suffering and the needs which are driving him on to avenge his dead friend and heal his own spirit. However, Brown also spends time developing the villains of the story with former SS officer Heinz Kruger being a real stand out for me. The reader is actually shown what is going on in Kruger’s head which whilst not being pleasant as the man really is a murderous psychopath; it was very interesting to see.
Overall this was another enjoyable thriller by Brown that has made me yearn to read a few more of his books. The plot is entertaining and intelligent enough to keep the reader interested although there are no real twists or turns in the story. Basically, if you like your thrillers to take you down a more direct path then you won’t go wrong with this book.
Monday, 21 April 2014
Title: The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition
Author: Ira Steven Behr
The Book Depository
"The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition" by Ira Steven Behr is a rather short book which basically lists the various Ferengi Rules of Acquisition that have so far been revealed via the various mediums of Star Trek. That is basically it; this is quite simply a list with zero commentary on the rules beyond an amusing little introduction from Quark.
Yes some of the rules did make me laugh and smile but to be honest I think you can find them all listed for free on various websites and get the same amusement without handing over any hard earned cash. We don’t even get to enjoy some new rules created to fill up the holes in the list never yet touched, these are all rules that you will probably have heard before if you are a Trek fan of some description.
The sad fact is that my favourite bit of the book was the introduction and I just wish that Behr had maybe tried to include some commentary from Quark for each of the rules. This would have added so much more to the book and helped to ensure I didn’t feel like I was being exploited in handing over my money for a list. I suppose it is ironic that this rather weak cash grab of a book is exactly the type of thing Quark would have loved!
There really isn’t much more for me to add to this review as there isn’t really that much for me to comment on. I can’t really recommend anyone buy it as there are plenty of resources online where you can find these rules for free. Personally, I just hope that “Legends of the Ferengi” another book by Behr adds a little bit more to the Ferengi mythos than this book did.
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Author: Dan Simmons
Genre: Science Fiction / Mystery
The Book Depository
“Flashback” by Dan Simmons is a mystery novel set in the former United States now devastated by economic and political collapse. In this world we get to meet Nick Bottom, who like much of the country is addicted to a drug known as Flashback which lets people re-live earlier moments of their lives. Nick, a former police officer is plucked from his ruined life by a Japanese businessman who wants him to help solve the six year old murder of his son. However, before long it becomes clear that there is much more to this mystery that the murder itself and Nick discovers that his own deceased wife may have been involved in some manner.
When I picked up “Flashback” I was a bit worried as a fair few of the reviews were quite negative. Now that I have finished reading it I find myself in two minds, the actual mystery aspects were interesting and well written but the novel is also interspersed with some quite forceful right wing conservative views that I found a little bit hard to stomach. It isn’t that I can’t accept novels with dystopian societies created by authors with conservative leanings; I mean we get to see enough written by those with a leftish leaning. The problem is that we are almost forced to read vast amounts of padding just included to put forward a right wing viewpoint. At times I found that it actually affected the flow and feeling of the novel, especially when I found myself laughing incredulously at some of the points it was making.
As said above however, the mystery itself was enjoyable to follow and the twists were clever, thoughtful and unexpected. In addition, the dystopian world he has created is actually quite interesting when the anti-liberal rhetoric is reduced to the elements needed for the story itself I was quite impressed. The noir atmosphere that Simmons has created was very likeable and it was very obvious to me that no matter his political views, Simmons does know how to write.
The characters themselves where a bit of an enigma to me, it was hard to actually like any of them to the point that I am not sure I was bothered about who lived or died. The problem is that due to the dystopian environment, the people have been reduced to quite pathetic individuals. This helps to enhance and give real credence to the world Simmons has created but it did make it hard for me to actually engage with any character. In particular I found Nick’s son to be an incredibly unlikeable and annoying character to the point I actually didn’t want to read about him.
Overall, I did enjoy the well written and interesting story that was hidden amongst the political diatribe but getting to it at times could be a bit of work. Perhaps if I was a right wing conservative myself I would have more than loved the politicising but as someone with liberal leanings I came away from the book feeling like what could have been a great book had been let down badly.