Tag Archives: thriller

The Catch by Taylor Stevens

the catchI LOVED The Informationist.

I read and loved The Innocent. And The Doll.

So it’s no surprise, really, that Taylor Stevens’s latest, The Catch, was another winner for me.

For one thing, I love the specific-countries-of-Africa that we get to know a little and Stevens’s treatment of them (in this book and The Informationist). We don’t get a generic setting, or a generic Africa. We get specifics and distinguishing characteristics, while still acknowledging that some overriding truths do apply across the board.

For another, I love the role language (and languages) play.

Mostly, I just love Michael Munroe.

The Catch wasn’t as jaw-dropping as The Informationist or The Doll, though. I think the factors that make me respect The Catch the most are the same things that make it not as much of a thrill ride as the earlier installments of Vanessa Michael Munroe books.

Michael is healing, you see. As the series has progressed, she’s becoming more in control of herself. She’ll never be normal (“normal” is a fallacy anyway), but she’s getting much closer to that than she was when we met her in book one. This is a very good thing; Stevens has allowed her protagonist to grow in a logical and believable way. But I’m afraid it’s also a bad thing. Will this be the end of the series? Will we as readers never again get to watch Michael work simply because she’s more capable of dealing with her past than she used to be?

This installment, because of the character’s growth, is much more character-driven than previous books were. But again, this is something I like in a book, yes, even in a thriller.

The world still has a place for someone with Michael’s skills; I certainly hope the book world still has a place for her, too. I may be better at delayed gratification than I used to be, but I’m not perfect. There’s still plenty for me to learn and do. Perhaps that’s an appropriate corollary? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Do you like character driven books? Have you ever read a book where character growth made said book unpalatable?

Other views:
Books and Movies
S. Krishna’s Books
Stacy’s Books
A Bookworm’s World

Disclaimers: This book was provided to me by the publisher. This post has affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I might get a few pennies, without it costing you any more.

The Pawn by Steven James

Word Lily review

The Pawn by Steven James, book 1 of the Patrick Bowers Files (Revell, 2007), 432 pages

Summary
FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers is called to North Carolina to consult on a serial killer case. The guy calls himself The Illusionist, and he’s one of the toughest Bower has ever been up against. On top of that, turmoil from his personal life — his wife died of cancer, leaving him with a teenage stepdaughter he hasn’t really figured out how to communicate with yet — keeps breaking in on his thoughts.

Thoughts
I’ve heard so much great buzz about this series (mainly from Deborah and Tami, I think) over the last couple years, and I’m glad I finally got around to starting it.

Patrick Bowers, our protagonist, is a coffee snob, a man grieving the loss of his wife. His specialty is environmental criminology, which at times reminded me of Numb3rs.

The story is well-written and gripping.

I enjoyed it so much I immediately picked up the second book in the series, The Rook.

Really an excellent read.

Rating: 4.25 stars

About the author
Steven James (@SJamesAuthor) lives in Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. When he’s not writing or speaking, he’s rock climbing, playing disc golf or slipping away to a matinee.

Other reviews
Tree Swing Reading
A Peek At My Bookshelf
Window to My World
Genre Reviews
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The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

Word Lily review

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens, book 1 of the Vanessa Michael Munroe series (Crown/Broadway, March 2011), 320 pages

Summary
Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information. If you need to find out something undiscoverable — and have the resources to pay — she can figure it out for you. She grew up as a missionary kid in Cameroon, and she still bears the scars of her past life (literally and figuratively). Her gift for languages comes in handy in her work. When a Texas oil man wants her to find his daughter, who disappeared in Africa, she’s thrust back into the jungle haunted by her past.

Thoughts
I knew I wanted to read it when I heard the first whisperings of the hardcover. When I had the chance to read the paperback, I was thrilled. When I cracked open the pages, I wasn’t disappointed.

I love so many things about this book, about Vanessa Michael Munroe. I love the West African setting, the heart-pounding story arc, the genuine pain of past hurts that comes through (not that I’m glad the pain exists, but I’m glad it shows up and feels real). I love Munroe’s skill with languages and reading people. I enjoy the [few] personal connections she does have.

While the blood and sex and language might make this book an uncomfortable read for some, I found it generally appropriate for the setting and the characters.

I finished reading this book a couple weeks ago, and I’m still over the moon about it. Love it!

My biggest problem with this book is that, when I finished it, I couldn’t yet get my hands on the second book in the series, The Innocent, due out December 27. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but I want more! I can’t wait.

Rating: 4.75 stars

About the author
Taylor Stevens (@Taylor_Stevens, Facebook) was raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond the sixth grade; she broke free of the Children of God and now lives in Texas. She’s working on the third Vanessa Michael Munroe book.

Other reviews
Jenn’s Bookshelves
Leeswammes’ Blog
S. Krishna’s Books
Beth Fish Reads
Toothy Books
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I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Book Spotlight: Atracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills

About the book:
Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. When the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on an isolated ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash is known for being critical and exacting, and he’s after the same promotion Meghan is. But when the threats escalate and ranch security’s breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect — it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined.

Read an excerpt of Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills.

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Book Spotlight: Thunder in the Morning Calm by Don Brown

About the book:
Lieutenant Commander McCormick is assigned as an intelligence officer to Carrier Strike Force 10, which is being deployed to the Yellow Sea at the invitation of South Korea for exercises with the US Navy. During pre-deployment briefing, he learns that the North Koreans may still be holding a handful of now-elderly Americans from the Korean War in secret prison camps. Gunner’s grandfather, who was an officer in the Korean War, disappeared at Chosin Reservoir over 60 years ago and is still listed as MIA. Sworn to silence about what he read, the top-secret memo eats at him.

Read an excerpt of Thunder in the Morning Calm by Don Brown.

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Book Spotlight: Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady

About the book:
Smokejumper Silas Kent thinks he has achieved his dream when gets his own fire crew. But a blaze in the Sierra Nevadas sparked by lightning has his team in the air even before they train together. Pilot Elle Westmore is supposed to drop the crew into the heart of the forest infernos. As the single mother of a mysteriously ill 6-year-old, she thinks her life can’t get more complicated. It doesn’t take long for things to go very wrong.

Shawn Grady is also the author of Through the Fire and Tomorrow We Die.

Read an excerpt of Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady.

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker

Word Lily review

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker (Center Street, April 19, 2011), 368 pages

Summary
The Priest’s Graveyard centers around Danny Hansen, a priest who doles out punishment to people who have skirted justice through the usual channels, and Renee Gilmore, who has dedicated herself to getting revenge for the murder of the man she loved.

Thoughts
There’s one particularly bloody scene early on that had me seriously considering quitting this book. I’m not prone to a weak stomach, and I’ve most of Dekker’s recent thrillers (he’s prolific); this is the first one I had such a visceral reaction to. [My reaction could be related to my more-fragile-than-normal state when I picked the book up, but what’s a girl with a deadline to do?]

I’m still going back and forth a bit on what I think about this book. On the one hand, it’s just another — albeit slightly more stomach-turning — Dekker thriller. On the other, I’m getting tired of this. I felt like he yanked the reader around (I survived because I pulled back and didn’t allow myself to engage on that level because of the aforementioned gore.) by the collar, sticking our collective nose in one dung heap after another until we cry uncle and can successfully restate the message in our own words.

The book is about morality, codes of ethics, right and wrong. He’s making a statement, but it’s one I caught a strong whiff of in the first chapter, so the rest of the book felt heavy-handed.

Dekker feels like a provocateur, like he’s playing devil’s advocate. I feel like his books are more sermons than explorations. That may seem off base, since most of his books (recently, especially) barely rate as Christian at all, but bear with me.

Premise: The best art is created when the artist wrestles with something — an idea, a concept, a problem, etc. The best art asks questions rather than purporting a single answer, particularly when the question hasn’t even been collectively asked!

I feel this book (and many of Dekker’s recent books) started out with a stated agenda. Which makes it propaganda, not art.

I did like the connection to the Bosnian war.

More info
• Trailer:

Book website
read an excerpt

Rating: 2.75 stars

About the author
Ted Dekker (Facebook) is a prolific author, having published more than 20 novels. He’s known for stories that could be described as thrillers. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and children.

Other reviews (most of whom liked it much better than I did)
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Jenn’s Bookshelves
Book Journey
My Friend Amy
The Bluestocking Guide
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I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.