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Use of Force by Brad Thor

Use of Force by Brad Thor (Scot Harvath #17)

It’s quite the season for the bad-ass SpecOps characters that are filling up my bookshelf. Over the last few weeks, I’ve read and shared with you the latest novel from:

  • the Jonathan Graves series from John Gilstrap,
  • the John Rain series from Barry Eisler, and
  • the Dewey Andreas series from Ben Coes.

This is not a group of guys you want to mess with.

Now in Use of Force, #17 in his series, comes another of my favorites in Scot Harvath, a former Navy seal who has become a covert counterterrorism operative, black cover all the way.

“As a storm rages across the Mediterranean Sea, a terrifying distress call is made to the Italian Coast Guard. Days later, a body washes ashore. Identified as a high value terrorism suspect (who had disappeared three years prior), his name sends panic through the Central Intelligence Agency. Where was he headed? What was he planning? And could he be connected to the ”spectacular attack“ they have been fearing all summer? In a race against time, the CIA taps an unorthodox source to get answers: Navy SEAL turned covert counterterrorism operative, Scot Harvath.” [Amazon]

As always, I suggest starting with The Lions of Lucerne, the first book in the series.

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Final Target by John Gilstrap

Final Target by John Gilstrap (Jonathan Grave #8)

I also love it when old friends like Scorpion, Boxers and Mother Hen return to the page.

I’ve written about this series before when Friendly Fire came out last year. Grave is a hostage rescue specialist who only gets the impossible assignments, always behind the curtain with no rules and ultimate deniability.

In Final Target, Scorpion’s mission this time:

“Drop into the Mexican jungle, infiltrate a drug cartel’s compound, and extract a kidnapped DEA agent. But when Jonathan Grave and his partner, Boxers, retrieve the hostage and return to the exfil point, all hell breaks loose. Ambushed, abandoned, and attacked on all sides, their only hope of survival lies inside a remote orphanage where innocent children have been targeted for death. ”

If you love the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre, you’ll love Jonathan Grave and Final Target.

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Zero Sum by Barry Eisler

Zero Sum by Barry Eisler (John Rain #9)

I love John Rain and I’m glad to see Barry Eisler is keeping him on the page. He is a skilled assassin, but one with a heart and soul … and values that rarely accompany his profession … although you may be understandably dubious about what values John Rain embodies.

In any case, you definitely don’t want to mess with him.

– “In Zero Sum, Rain returns to Tokyo in 1982 after a decade of mercenary work in the Philippines. A young John Rain learns that the killing business is now controlled by Victor, a half-Russian, half-Japanese sociopath who has ruthlessly eliminated all potential challengers. Victor gives Rain a choice: kill a government minister or die a grisly death. But the best route to the minister is through his gorgeous Italian wife, Maria, a route that puts Rain on a collision course not only with Victor but with the shadowy forces behind the Russian’s rise to dominance—and the longings of Rain’s own conflicted heart.” [Amazon]

I highly recommend the 8 novels in Barry Eisler’s John Rain series, starting with the first one, A Clean Kill in Tokyo.

I also love his new series that started with Livia Lone … who is one tough cookie!

If you’re looking for a little action … and for someone who doesn’t wait for the system to deliver justice deserved … John Rain is your man.

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Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk is Still Writing at the Age of 102

You may not remember Herman Wouk, but if you’re a fan of this genre, you’ve probably read one or both of The Caine Mutiny or The Winds of War, that great story of World War II that debuted in 1971 and became a huge TV series in 1983.

Herman Wouk is still writing at the age of 102, and when I watched him in this video update, he remains as articulate in speech and writing as you can imagine for anyone, let alone anyone near his age. Remarkable!

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The Switch by Joseph Finder

The Switch by Joseph Finder

I’ve always enjoyed Joseph Finder’s books and I don’t think I’ve missed any.

Like most writers in this genre, he’s created a recurring hero, Nick Heller, a Special Forces intelligence investigator (who does not appear here), but the majority of his novels are standalones.

In The Switch, a simple mix up throws one innocent man into the crosshairs of sinister government secrets and ruthless political ambitions.

“Michael Tanner is on his way home from a business trip when he accidentally picks up the wrong MacBook in the TSA security line at LAX. He doesn’t notice the mix-up until he arrives home in Boston, but by then it’s too late. Tanner’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers that the owner is a US senator and that the laptop contains top secret files.” (JosephFinder.com)

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Camino Island by John Grisham

Camino Island by John Grisham

If you read anything in the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre, you must have read something from John Grisham, so if you’re waiting, here’s his summer Beach Read.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year and now has over 300 million books in print worldwide.

In Camino Island, A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

  • “Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
  • Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.
  • But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.” Amazon

You can see a short video of Grisham’s conversation about his book at Book Expo, or see more here about what he calls his “beach read”.

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J.K. Rowling & the Harry Potter Empire

J.K. Rowling & the Harry Potter Empire

I’m diverging a bit today from my usual recommendation to celebrate the incredible saga of J.K. Rowling’s fiction career … justified even more because, as you’ll see, she is already 3 books into a crime series of her own.

Monday was the 20th Anniversary of publication in Great Britain of first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published in September in the U.S. under the name, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s the 5th best-selling book of all time, selling an astounding 107 million copies.

The Harry Potter series is the best-selling book series of all time, and the other 6 books in the Harry Potter series have each sold between 50–100 million copies.

“The last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, with the final installment selling roughly 11 Million copies in the United States within 24 hours of its release.” Wikipedia

Incredibly …

“The original seven books were adapted into an eight-part film series by Warner Bros. Pictures, which has become the second highest-grossing film series of all time as of August 2015.

“In 2016, the total value of the Harry Potter franchise was estimated at $25 billion, making Harry Potter one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.” Wikipedia

Like many of you, I’ve been intrigued by her story and how she tediously and laboriously plotted the entire series:

“Jo conceived the idea of Harry Potter in 1990 while sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London King’s Cross. Over the next five years, she began to map out all seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and gradually built up a mass of notes, many of which were scribbled on odd scraps of paper.” JKR Website

Her output is prodigious as she has followed the Harry Potter series with not only the film adaptation of the books, but …

  • 2 books based on the titles of Harry’s school books within the novels,
  • a novel for adults being adapted for TV by the BBC, and a 3-book (so far) crime series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike (with another BBC series underway),
  • an original new story for the stage. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two is now running at The Palace Theatre in London’s West End,
  • her screenwriting debut with the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a further extension of the Wizarding World, marking the start of a five-film series to be written by the author.

Whew.

By any measure, an incredible story of achievement that few authors can even image.

Way to go, Jo!

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G-Man by Stephen Hunter

G-Man by Stephen Hunter

Finally, my ol’ buddy, Bob Lee “the Nailer” Swagger is back in the 10th novel in this series from Stephen Hunter, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist. In this the latest episode in the Bob Lee Swagger saga, Bob Lee is uncovering his family’s secret tommy gun war with 1930s gangsters like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.

In G-Man, Swagger is a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant and the most heralded sniper in Marine Corp history. Interestingly, his fictional character is loosely based on USMC Scout Sniper Carlos Hathcock.

Hathcock’s record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was honored by having a rifle named after him: a variant of the M21 dubbed the Springfield Armory M25 White Feather, for the nickname “White Feather” given to Hathcock by the North Vietnamese Army. Wikipedia.

Bob Lee is the main character in the movie, Shooter, starring Mark Wahlberg. The stories of Bob Lee have also become a an excellent TV series by the same name starring Ryan Phillippe, which I’m happy to say is returning in July for a 2nd season on USA Network.

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Testimony by Scott Turow

Testimony by Scott Turow

It takes a talented writer like Scott Turow to tackle the theme of the Bosnian War.

In Testimony, his character, Bill ten Boom, … yes, that name is correct … investigates the murder of 400 members of a Gypsy refugee camp that has been brought before the International Criminal Court at the Hague in the Netherlands.

“Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped to examine the disappearance of an entire Gypsy refugee camp—unsolved for ten years—he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career.

While it’s obviously a fictional account, the story also educates us about a war that most people know very little about. Good stuff from Turow … as always!

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True Evil by Greg Iles

True Evil by Greg Iles

Just over one month ago, I said that if you’re hankering for something to read … maybe to carry you into summer and beyond … you should tackle the Penn Cage series from Greg Iles starting with the first book,, The Quiet Game. I had just finished the 6th novel in the Penn Cage series, Mississippi Blood, and the final book in the Natchez Trilogy (which comprises Book #s 4–6) arrived and it is absolutely fabulous.

Now, Iles has published his latest thriller, True Evil. It takes place in the same area of Natchez, Mississippi, with only a passing reference to some of the characters Iles identified in his Penn Cage series … except for Dr. Chris Sheppard who is the partner of Dr. Cage, Penn Cage’s father.

You’ll thank me for introducing you to Greg Iles if you haven’t already found him, and this book is no exception. An outstanding series and author … and I don’t say that about too many of the hundreds of writers I’ve read in this genre.

“Dr. Chris Shepard has never seen his new patient before. But the attractive young woman with the scarred face knows him all too well. An FBI agent working undercover, Alex Morse has come to Dr. Shepard’s office in Natchez, Mississippi, to unmask a killer. A local divorce attorney has a cluster of clients whose spouses have all died under mysterious circumstances. Agent Morse’s own brother-in-law was one of those clients, and now her beloved sister is dead. Then comes Morse’s bombshell: Dr. Shepard’s own beautiful wife consulted this lawyer one week ago, a visit Shepard knew nothing about. Will he help Alex Morse catch a killer? Or is he the next one to fall victim to a deadly trap of sex, lies, and murder?”

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