William F. Brown Thriller Novels

Author of Action Adventure Thriller Novels

Category: Book reviews (page 2 of 3)

My Writing Blog – What to do with Pneumonia.

Thriller Book Reviews – I’ve been struggling with a bout of pneumonia for ten days and too tired to keep hacking away on the draft of my next novel; so, I set it aside and dove into my Kindle Fire, where I found Michael Connelly’s “The Crossing,”, Lee Child’s “A Wanted Man”, and Daniel Silva’s “The English Spy”… Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, and Gabriel Allon…  I wonder what I can contract next?

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I have felt for many years that this triumvirate of mystery and suspense writers are the best in the business these days. The neat thing is that their styles could not be more  different one from another.   I love the Michael Connelly  Harry Bosch books and watch his slow, careful, unwinding of the plot as Harry circles and traps the bad guys.  In Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon, we watch a master chess player play 3-dimension international chess against terrorists, sweeping  across borders from city to city to a conclusion where the bad guys usually end up dead. The dead part is equally true for Lee Child’s  Jack Reacher, but he solves his conspiracies with a;; the subtlety of a sledge hammer. Al excellent, all great fun, the top three on my Beach Book thriller list… or the list of boosk to read when you get pneumonia.

The trick of course is to always have two or three of them downloaded on your Kindle Fire, or at least on your Kindle Wish List where you can immediately “break the glass” and grab one in the event of emergency, such as a rainy day, blizzard, or illness, without having to plow through the morning Kindle Daily Deals to find a good one.

Bill Brown is the author of eight mystery and suspense novels currently for sale on Kindle — Burke’s Gamble,” “Burke’s War,’ ‘The Undertaker,’ ‘Amongst My Enemies,’ ‘Thursday at Noon,’ “Aim True, My Brothers,’ ‘Winner Lose All,’ and ‘Cold War Trilogy.’ Enjoy!  You can read my thriller book reviews at the Book Review tab on my website.

Michael Connelly’s The Crossing – Book Review

Book Review – This is a very good Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly. You don’t need to know anything else. Connelly is the best in the business. The stories are always about watching Harry Bosch slowly pick at the threads of a mystery, one thread at a time until he has the case solved and the bad guys in jail. In this one, he is actually sharing screen time with Mickey Haller, his half-brother defense lawyer, who is hte main protagonist of five of his own books in the second series by Michael Connelly. Those Mickey Haller books are every bit as good, but I personally prefer Harry Bosch. He is a dark, plodding vulnerability about Harry that is hard not to like.

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“The Crossing” refers to Harry Bosch going to work for the criminal defense, which violates every Blue Line cop rule and earns him the enmity of the other LAPD homicide detectives, at least until he makes his case. I love Harry Bosch, but Connelly has created a slight character/ plot / chronology problem for himself. As those of us know who read all of the books, Harry Bosch was a tunnel rat in Vietnam, I think, in nineteen sixty-eight. Even if he went in when he was 18 or 19, he’s now in his upper 60s and getting a little long in the tooth for the action scenes, much less having an eighteen-year-old daughter. I thought Clint Eastwood was a little old for the part in Bloodwork, but now he’d probably work just fine in The Crossing.

Bill Brown is the author of eight mystery and suspense novels currently for sale on Kindle — Burke’s Gamble,” “Burke’s War,’ ‘The Undertaker,’ ‘Amongst My Enemies,’ ‘Thursday at Noon,’ “Aim True, My Brothers,’ ‘Winner Lose All,’ and ‘Cold War Trilogy.’ Enjoy! You can find other reviews under the book review tab on my website.

“A Wanted Man ” suspense thriller by Lee Child – Book Review

A Wanted Man – I’m not sure what Lee Child has against Nebraska and its surrounding states, but he has placed several recent novels in that setting. Not just Nebraska, but Nebraska in winter, with flat, cold, muddy, stubbly cornfields. This story, like a wanted man, is are dark, which fit precisely with the setting. It’s a little like that scene in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, where Cary Grant finds himself standing at that crossroads with absolutely nothing around him from horizon to empty horizon, except

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Child’s stories usually happen at night. Clearly, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce needs to have a talk with him. Stylistically, Child seems to be writing stories that are as sparse and Spartan as the landscape — no character back-story, very few adjectives or adverbs, just straight action. After 18 books in the Jack Reacher series, no one needs any back story on him, but would be nice to better understand some of the other characters. Lee Child and Michael Connelly are my two favorite authors. That said, I do have two criticisms about this book. First, the back and forth car trips and plot moves about two thirds of the way through the book get pretty confusing. Secondly, as with several of his other recent books. We know absolutely nothing about the bad guys. In “A Wanted Man,” Reacher kills them all, but they have no face, and we never do get a clear picture of who they are or what they are doing, much less how Reacher figured it all out.

Bill Brown is the author of eight mystery and suspense novels currently for sale on Kindle — Burke’s Gamble,” “Burke’s War,’ ‘The Undertaker,’ ‘Amongst My Enemies,’ ‘Thursday at Noon,’ “Aim True, My Brothers,’ ‘Winner Lose All,’ and ‘Cold War Trilogy.’ Enjoy!

The Heist – Book Review – Daniel Silva’s spy novel

The Heist – Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon stories are always entertaining and he’s one of the best writer of spy novels in the business, but I’m beginning to have three bones to pick with his story telling. First, too many of his books have the same “let’s get her alone and talk her into betraying her boss and her country” scenes. Second, Allon is becoming the Hamlet of Jerusalem. And third, his endings — this one

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in particular – are wholly unsatisfactory. Who would go to all that trouble, have $8 Billion in hand, enough to ruin the Assad regime, and just walk away and let him stay in place. If I were his boss, I’d fire him. The end of the Heist needs to build to a more significant climax than that. Still, I gave it 4 Stars and intend to read the next one.

William F. Brown is the author of 6 suspense novels with over 500 Five-Star Reviews: The UndertakerAmongst My EnemiesThursday at NoonWinner Take AllAim True, My Brothers, and his newest, Burke’s War.  You can check them out at  http://www.billbrownthrillernovels.com

‘Freedom’s Forge’ by Arthur Herman – How US Industry and WW II

“Freedom’s Forge” is an excellent book and a must read for anyone interested in business history. It is the story of how US business ramped up from a dead start during the depression and produced all those tanks, airplanes, and ships that won WW II not only for the United States but for Great Britain and Russia as well. It is the story of many people, but primarily Bill Knudsen, the assembly line expert and President of GM who Roosevelt called in 1940 to organize war production, and of Henry Kaiser, master builder and the father of the Victory and Liberty Ships and the west coast shipyards. It is the

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story of B-17s, B-29s, tanks, guns, Rosie the Riveter, and mobilization of the US car companies. The weapons design, redesign, manufacturing plant layout, union problems, Washington politics, shortages of raw material, and every other problem you can think of is an amazing story of good triumphing over stupid. It is also the story of how determined businessmen like Knudsen fought interference from government bureaucracies, Congress, labor unions, and even the white house to get the job done to supply not only the US, but Great Britain and Russia as well. By the end of the war, GM alone outproduced Germany, Japan and Italy put together, and we can see in hindsight that Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was right. They had indeed awakened a ‘sleeping giant;’ and when Freedom’s Forge began producing arms, they did, they never stood a chance.

William F. Brown is the author of 5 suspense novels with over 300 Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers. They are all available on Kindle and now on Audible Audio Books. You read about them at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com

Book Review – Dress Her in Indigo – John D. McDonald

A book review by Bill Brown of John D McDonald’s Travis McGee mystery story,  “Dress Her in Indigo.”   I think I discovered John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee thriller novels when I was a senior in high school and devoured all 21 at least once. Travis McGee is the prototypical knight errant and John D MacDonald is the master of weaving a slow, easily told Florida mystery. At the time, they were breaths

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of fresh, exciting air from one of the prolific giants in the mystery-suspense field with over 78 books to his credit. His lead character, Travis McGee is an errant knight with a deep concern for the environment and a sense of fairness. He can’t abide brutality or wrongs that need righting, and he usually figures out a way to fix them. Unfortunately, MacDonald died in 1986. While the Travis McGee mystery series remained available in paperback, Amazon wasn’t able to bring out Kindle editions until earlier this year. Regrettably, they are prices at $9.99, which is a bit high. The stories remain good reads, but after a steady diet of Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Daniel Silva, David Baldacci, Dennis Lehane, Vince Flynn, and others, I found Dress Her in Indigo a bit dated and slow. In his day, he took the craft to a new level, but a lot of new writers have now passed him by. Still, without the Travis McGee mystery series, there would be no Jack Reacher; and John D. McDonald is always worth a read.”

William F. Brown is the author of 5 thriller novels with over 300 Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers. They are all available on Kindle and now on Audible Audio Books. You can read about his books and find more book review at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com

Book Review of Robert Tannenbaum’s “Tragic”

Book Review of Robert Tannenbaum’s “Tragic” by William F Brown. I used to love this series and read all of Tannenbaum’s excellent thriller novels and bought the new book as soon as it came out. Robert K. Tannenbaum has published 25 novels, perhaps a dozen of which feature crime busting New York City DA Butch Karp, his quirky, feisty, Italian wife Marlene Ciampi, their savant daughter, and there twin sons. The best of them were a fast-moving combination of detective story and courtroom drama, and they were all New York City. Invariably, Karp drove the story, taking the lead against one nasty bunch

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of bad guys after another, with his family providing fire support. True, the novels got a bit bloated and under edited in recent years; but book after book they were great reads as long as Tannenbaum stuck to the basic formula of great characters, lots of action, a nasty crime, and enough twists and turns to serve as a plot. It isn’t that “Tragic” doesn’t have some of that, it just doesn’t have enough of it. The family seems to take an extended vacation. And for some reason he has decided that “On the Waterfront” meets “MacBeth” can pass for a plot. I don’t mind the “On the Waterfront” part nearly as much as I mind the inexplicable allusions to “MacBeth,” complete with three witches standing around a fire. All of the good suspense writers seem to go through dry patches, and “Tragic” could well be one of them. That would be ‘tragic,’ but we loyal readers will continue to stick with the brand, hoping the Golden touch returns in the next one ─ up to a point.

William F. Brown is the author of 5 suspense novels with over 300 Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers. They are all available on Kindle and now on Audible Audio Books. You can read this review and others at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com

The Racketeer by John Grisham – Book Review

The Racketeer, by John Grisham. He Is usually the master of the southern legal thriller, with well-known and best-selling books and films such as “The Firm,” “The Pelican Brief,” “A Time to Kill,” “The Client,” “The Runaway Jury,” “The Chamber,” and many more. “The Racketeer” is one of the newer books in that fine line. It is told in the first person, through the eyes and actions of Malcolm Bannister, a black, small town Virginia lawyer. While Grisham is white, he practiced small town law in Mississippi and has a pretty good feel for the South. The opening lines of the novel are, “I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It’s a long

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story.” All three are true, especially the long part. Bannister was caught up in a money-laundering scheme of which he had no part. None-the-less, he was convicted, disbarred, lost his wife and family, his ‘good’ name, and is serving 10 years in the Federal pen, frustrated and angry, until fortune finally smiles his way. The corrupt Federal Judge who convicted him is murdered and he learns from another prisoner who did it and why. Bannister contrives an intricate plot to get himself out of jail, get his hands on the millions the Judge has squirreled away, and get his revenge on the system that sent him away. However, if Bannister started out as an innocent man, he is anything but at the end. It is a fun read, but long and slow in parts; and in the end it leaves a lot to be desired. The ending of the Racketeer almost seems rushed, as if Grisham looked at the clock, or his page count, or got one too many demands from his publisher and quickly wrapped The Racketeer up — too quickly, with a lot of ‘he did this, and then he did that’, The End.’ The story deserved better.

William F. Brown is the author of 5 suspense novels with over 300 Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers. They are all available on Kindle and now on Audible Audio Books. You read about them at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com

The Hunter and The Outfit, Richard Stark’s Thriller Novels

The Hunter and The Outfit were written by Donald E. Westlake, who was one of the most amazing and perhaps least known American writers of the 20th Century. As unbelievable as it sounds, he was the author of over 100 thriller novels, screenplays, and short story collections written under 14 pen names, both male and female, and his books have been made into 24 movies prior to his death six years ago. I suspect all the pen names are one reason for his relative anonymity compared to dozens of less talented writers with far fewer writing credits. I’m sure he cried all the way to the bank. That said, Westlake was best known for two utterly different series of crime novels. One is the thirteen

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‘Dortmunder’ novels — comic capers by a gang of dimwitted and always unlucky crooks. The best of these, and the best of his movies, are “The Hot Rock” and “The Bank Shot.” Read the books or rent the movie. You’ll die laughing. On the other hand, his second series is the 26 ‘Parker’ novels written under the name Richard Stark. ‘Stark’ is also a pretty good description of the lead character, the stories, and the writing. They are well beyond noir. Parker is a brutal, remorseless killer and the stories about him, such as “The Hunter,” the first of them, and “The Outfit,” the third, usually deal with violent crime and revenge. Parker doesn’t believe in ‘proportional response.’ When crossed, he kills everyone in sight and “lets God sort it out;” or he would if he believed in anything except money, which he doesn’t. Unlike Dortmunder, who has many redeeming character traits and is impossible to dislike, Parker has none, zero. No character arc, no quirky habits, no funny sidekick. He is a loner and a humorless killing machine. Some people refer to Parker as the prototypical ‘anti-hero’, but even they must have at least one redeeming, sympathetic character trait, and Parker has none. Hence, my dilemma. I loved Westlake’s other books; and then I read “The Outfit,” and I hated it. However, all the literary critics and Hollywood-types love the Parker character, the dramatic plots, and the technical stuff, so I figured I must be a dolt and missed something. To give it another chance, I read “The Hunter.” Same result. I didn’t like it either. The best comparisons I can draw are to some of the early 87th Precinct hriller novels by Ed McBain or a couple of less-successful Elmore Leonard novels, but maybe I just don’t ‘get’ it. Read them yourself and see what you think.

William F. Brown is the author of 5 suspense novels with over 300 Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers available on Kindle and Audible Audio Books. You can read about them at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com

The Colonel’s Mistake by Dan Mayland – Book Review

The Colonel’s Mistake by Dan Mayland ,  is the first book in a three book series featuring Mark Sava, the aging, low key, former CIA Station Chief in Azerbaijan in former Soviet Central Asia. You can’t get much more backwater than that. Sava has stayed on as a consultant living in Baku, the country’s hot, dusty, corrupt capital. He gets dragged into a friend’s kidnapping, an attempted coup in Iran, and a proposed Chinese oil pipeline. Think George Smiley, not James Bond or Mitch Rapp. Like the rest of the countries in that area,

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Azerbaijan has become a pawn in the 21st Century version of “the Great Game” of oil, international politics, intrigue, corruption, and espionage between Russia, Iran, China, and the US. With twists, flips, and turns, that is the real life screen upon which Mayland’s The Colonel’s Mistake thriller novel project. I have no doubt that his complex, seamy, and corrupt picture of the region is spot on, as I have no doubt that our current State Department wizards don’t begin understand any of it. Too bad the wizards in Washington never read history or even Rudyard Kipling. Any of that could have kept us out of a number of recent wars from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Series books are very much in vogue these days. which makes a book review difficult. I usually dislike them, because I feel they all-too-often cheat the reader. To me, a story should be distinct and complete from cover to cover and not simply a teaser to get the reader to buy yet another book. I don’t know how the next books in Mayland’s series will work out, but after The Colonel’s Mistake, I intend to read more of them.

William F. Brown is the author of 5 suspense novels with over 300   Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers available on Kindle and Audible Audio Books. You can read about them and my book review of this and other books at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com

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