The French Orphan

The French Orphan, first published 2012, 2nd Edition 2013, e-book assumed published, copyright and written by Michael Stole.

The plot centers around a young, penniless orphan enrolled in a theological school in Reims whose mission was to indoctrinate sons of nobles into the ways of the church. For some unapparent reason he becomes close friends with Armand, a handsome popular fellow student. As time evolves, the reader discovers that Pierre actually is the son of a man who had been the Marquis de Beauvoir, but confusion existed because he had married an Englishwoman who was not catholic (at this time of extreme religious animosity). Further complications evolved from the fact that Pierre’s father’s older brother who was dominated by his son Henri, was deeply in debt and jeopardized most of his remaining estates by taking one heavier loan to pay his pressing debts. Cardinal Richelieu was involved in his usual clandestine manner to attempt to gain all of these properties. Henri, a vicious person to whom life meant nothing if the individual stood in his way, wanted the Marquis title with the monies and estates attached. As the action unfolds, the reader learns that Armand’s father had been a dear friend of Pierre’s father and actually had enrolled him in the school hoping the two boys would become friends. As may be determined from these few sentences, the plot is quite as complicated as the old manner in which English and French Family titles were held and dealt with by reigning Kings and the impossibly powerful Cardinal Richelieu of France. The situation was further roiled by the fact that the French King was particularly more attracted to young males than to members of the distaff side, but also was still much attached to his sister who was the reigning Queen of England. Pierre and Armand sneak away from the school and the resulting action intensifies. It is replete with espionage, betrayal, distrust, deceit, feats of bravery and love interests by characters acting the appropriate parts, all leading to only a degree of closure that requires the now involved reader to await the next volume to ascertain further knowledge of whether all will end satisfactorily for Pierre and his lovely amour.

Discussion: This is an interesting tale that is nicely paced and peopled by characters who should appeal to readers who have a tendency to enjoy a plot embracing a protagonist whose serendipity overcomes all odds so that seemingly he eventually will accomplish his goals and live happily with his true love. The author seems well-versed in the muddled history of the period, and aware of the ill-fated Knights Templar and the long standing rumors about their ultimate ending. If the prospective reader is a historical fiction aficionado, is one who enjoys the type of story described, and doesn’t mind having to wait for the action to continue, this book definitely is for you.

3* 5* Well-plotted/written/characterized historical tale; -2 as described.

Strategic Entanglements

Strategic Entanglements assumed published, copyright and written by D. K. Knightley.

The author has set forth this initial book in the planned Kendra Veiss series that introduces her and other characters in another world in the year 2977. This world is composed of the dominant empire of Basur who had defeated and literally destroyed Askar, a medium-sized militant nation and left in this state although it’s ideological enemy. Askar gradually had climbed out of its devastated position and was again proving problematical. Both nations retained Counterintelligence agencies including Clandestine Operations, State Security and similar branches. The plot centers in Kendra’s position as an operative in Basur’s clandestine operations and her hot/cold sexual attraction to Aran Reiner, her Askar counterpart, especially after having been abducted by his operatives and submitted to torture. Kai Ansurian, an apparently good friend of Aran but seemingly a Basur-Askar Double agent, presents a somewhat similar problem after sexually attacking her not un-pleasurably during her torture sessions. Additionally, he also was helpful in her survival before release. A number of other supportive characters also are introduced and the story provides no ending per se, but rather serves as an introduction to the next volume in the series scheduled to appear in the near future.

Discussion: The author is described as presenting “A red-hot battle of the sexes designed for sophisticated readers looking for something original and out of the ordinary.” From what this reader seems to have been able to assemble from relatively diverse social intercourse, she has provided a vehicle that should have great appeal for these individuals. If the potential reader has not attained the more advanced levels of this mental state, however, the following notes may be helpful. Kendra’s at times almost hostile verbalization and actions with respect to attitudes of male dominance certainly are understandable after the horrible results of such activity she encountered within her own home. Similarly, such chauvinistic attitudes, even without her life experiences, are totally understandable and justified. It is only in the manner in which she often uses them that is difficult to accept. It would appear that she held almost a ‘death wish’ associated with some latent desire to be dominated as demonstrated by her totally unrealistic actions that repeatedly placed her in a dangerous, even untenable, position from which some dominant male’s activity was required to extract her. Additionally, the basic direction of the tale was a little difficult to discern. Besides depicting a highly intelligent and totally modern, courageous young woman fighting male chauvinism, an underlying tone of hesitant titillation seems prominent. For example, a rather extended scene seemingly slanted toward raising the expected titillation, proceeded during the torture period but was followed by quite clinically explicit descriptions that, perhaps purposely, nullified its apparent direction. Another feature of this volume that readers who prefer at least partial closure to parts of a story, may find the tale a little annoying in that it’s serial nature dictates that one must wait with baited breath until the author has been able to furnish the next episode.

Summary: If the prospective reader is not deterred by the above listed features, they will discover a well-written tale incorporating tension and sexual, as well as other, intrigue between attractive characters in a foreign land of the future. A good first novel.

3* 5* “…battle of the sexes …for sophisticated readers”       -2* for some as described.

NEXUS

NEXUS ISBN: 9781543981551 assumed published, copyright and written by Ryan W. Aslesen.

In this new addition to the popular Max Ahlgren series, Max is continuing to attempt to discover and eliminate, in as painful manner as possible, the men who had murdered his wife and son. During this continuing process, he is asked to help a new FBI agent to continue her assignment to deliver a brilliant Israeli Scientist, his young son and his tremendously advanced scientific achievement in Artificial Intelligence to a safe house outside of Washington, D.C. Margaret Leet, the new agent, along with her more experienced partner were attacked while waiting for a delayed flight at Los Angeles Airport. Her partner had been killed, but she, the scientist and his son temporarily were safe until Max’s arrival. They again set out only to be attacked repeatedly by supposed friends as well as foes. The action escalates in the manner usually provided by the author’s novels to an interesting conclusion seemingly much more philosophical in its content than usual before preparing the reader for the next book in the series.

Discussion: The author, well-known among thriller aficionados, has provided another high octane thriller again featuring the indestructible Max Ahlgren. The action, in a less usual manner, is slowed somewhat   with a portion describing dreams similarly suffered by most service men who have participated in heavy combat. Also, a considerable amount of time is spent discussing the fact that “dynamite, TV and the Internet –each created for betterment of mankind and for peaceful purposes, instead now are instruments of murder and mass control” because “The wisest and kindest intentions don’t matter when greed and narcissisms become involved.” These latter features, as applied to the plot of the story, actually add another worthwhile dimension to the content of the ongoing series.

4* thriller but 5* for added dimension demanding serious thought.

The LIon’s Prey

The Lion’s Prey, a thriller/mystery assumed published, copyright and written by Cameron Mays.

Cole Cameron, a special ops type of individual, works for CIA on a covert project attempting to eliminate a former lieutenant to the former Muslim leader whose main thrust is to throw the U. S. into disarray by losing cyber-attacks to affect the main business activities. Cole is quite a brilliant tactician and with his smoothly functioning team constantly is being sent to areas where Intel indicates the Muslim chief reportedly has been seen. His desire to find this man is strengthened by the fact that his daughter, Jess, had been attacked and almost killed by him. This now college attending daughter’s reaction had been to apply for, and begin training to join the FBI. Added to Cole’s problems is his love for FBI agent Hannah and the interference in its progression because of their constantly conflicting work schedules. The characters provided for the reader are quite numerous and besides the main protagonists, include Jess’s friend, Hannah’s parents, an ill-intentioned congressman and his cohorts, and several Muslims, a couple of beautiful spies and a number of upper echelon members of the government. The finale provides a quite presentable entree to a no-doubt following volume to this second in the Cole Cameron saga

Discussion: The plot of this story in many ways is quite similar to others in this genre. The management however is well done by an author with knowledge of his subject, providing interesting characters, periods of high tension activity and a romance that makes a reader hope eventually will terminate successfully.

4* Well done thriller with a touch of mystery and of romance.

Broken Monarch

Broken Monarch ISBN: 9781090260742. Assumed self-published, copyright and written by Tom Schneider.

This short book opens after an introductory statement: “All places, secret programs and some events were real.” The entire story extends from August 19, 1979 through sometime in September, seemingly in the same year, although the injuries suffered by the protagonist would make the following year more probable. The story opens with a man and woman discussing an upcoming apparently clandestine operation in which the man seems to be the manipulator and the woman the subject’s ‘handler’. The next chapter follows the activities of another person named Glenn walking away from a just exploded vessel docked in a marina. From these somewhat confusing, but definitely dark opening activities, the story evolves into a sinister tale of a shadowy group of individuals who are initiating a series of activities by which they intend to control the world. The MKUltra project, now referred to as Monarch, is a procedure initiated somewhere in the CIA or other such weird-thinking organization to experiment with controlling minds with a sub-project referred to as Spellbinder. The objective was to create sleeper assassins that could be activated by a trigger word, phrase or even a symbol who could then act with no subsequent memory of the activity. Congressional hearings shut down the project, but unfortunately a shadowy group of powerful ‘insiders’ simply moved it into a hidden agenda and continued. The plot evolves by following Glenn as pieces of his memory begin to reappear, strengthened by meeting and becoming emotionally involved with his ‘handler’, and the plot moves quickly through subsequent violent activity. The ending fully prepares the reader for the following installment.

Discussion: The basic plot is somewhat reminiscent of a theme of the motion picture “The Manchurian Candidate”. Here it perhaps is somewhat more involved with both sides being visited and more details of the procedures revealed. It is a short, quickly evolving tale that additionally provides an emotional relationship between the subject and his handler with perhaps unexpected results that provide a basis for the next episode. The story’s initial phase is somewhat indeterminate but builds well and with a few hiccups provides a fast pace of violent activity that many thriller devotes will thoroughly enjoy.

5* A short, quickly accelerating action tale for dark thriller devotees.

NONDisclosure

NONDISCLOSURE ISBN: 9781733771405 published, copyright and written by Geoffrey M. Cooper.

Brad Parker is a highly successful scientific investigator who, like numerous such individuals are coerced into assuming a position of curtailing his investigative activities to assume a position of department chair at one of the prestigious universities in Boston. His administrative assistant comes to him with a problem of not being able to discover the reason for a $20,000 shortage in their budgetary allotment at the same time his top grant money recipient Mike Singer comes to him reporting an even graver problem. He believes another prominent staff investigator has just raped one of the graduate students working with them. He reports the situation to the dean and the president and one of the members of university’s police force, Karen Richmond, is sent to investigate. She insists that Brad work with her because of his obviously extensive knowledge of the individuals involved. Further details would be a disservice to potential readers. Suffice it to say, that although a fictional tale, the convoluted story gradually evolves to expose an involved set of actions that most readily could be factual. It is a fascinating look at a prominent, long existent problem particularly associated with the student-mentor relationship in the university ‘publish or perish’ milieu that exists in such institutions. Another item examined is the rivalry among investigators.

Discussion: Sub titled “A Medical Thriller”, this book also is a tale of mystery and romance. Its setting is academia. Its theme is modern day research and problems that not infrequently can arise when fertile minds produce important interdisciplinary results. It places a spotlight on universities finally facing the long ignored problem of sexual harassment on all levels, but seemingly more prevalent within the academic sciences where, as described above, a situation exists from which the misuse of authority so readily could arise. It also demonstrates a situation that has grown to ridiculous proportions within the last few years. The almost uncontrollable competitive situation among pharmaceutical houses to spend huge amounts of monies to aid in the discovery of significant results and for the originator to acquire some degree of compensatory gratification. As an individual once immersed in academia, this reader highly recommends this author’s presentation as a thoroughly enjoyable novel based on matters about which he demonstrates an intimate knowledge.

5* Well done novel by knowledgeable author.