APEX, A Max Algren novel ISBN: 9781543966428 Design and Production by Book Baby. Copyright and written by Ryan W. Aslesen.

Max Alegren, a former Special Forces, CIA, and now private operative is still attempting to avenge the death of his family but requires another name for his ‘hit list’. Congressman, former General Marklin, for whom he works sporadically, has such a name but will not provide it until Max has accomplished a seek and extract operation for a senator’s son who has disappeared. He encounters a rather weird young woman reporter who is interested in the situation and manages to be helpful enough to join him. Together they deduce where the young budding geneticist is probably being held. It is an island in the infamous “Devil’s Island” group owned by the French Government. Indications are that it also is under control of a dangerous geneticist who has escaped other missions to apprehend him. The French closely guard all evidence of the island’s existence which is rumored to house dinosaur-like creatures and even more vague tales of a hunting area where humans can be hunted for a million/day. Max assembles his team from former acquaintances and the story proceeds at break-neck speed, with only an occasional ‘break’ to provide pertinent material.

Discussion: The author is a former Marine officer and now security consultant as well as “a bestselling writer of military science fiction that is both authentic and replete with intense action and suspense”. This volume is another in the same pattern. The only regrettably negative aspect, and possibly from this reader’s overly developed pragmatic perspective, is a degree of discomfort mostly with parts of the action and the realities of weaponry, its supply, usage and results which in this volume seem to have moved, unfortunately, into the realm of difficulty with respect to credibility. But to reiterate, this could be as a result of many years spent in very practical activity.

3* Most enjoyable but providing an unfortunate personal impression as explained.

Haliden’s Fire

Haliden’s Fire, A Pine Tree Book, published, copyright and written by Christopher R. Sendrowski.

The plot is centered in a time of the past in a land comprised of nine kingdoms with Circle and Tritan the governing houses. The protagonist is a particularly famous artist who has returned home while fleeing from a conflagration that is engulfing the entire collection of kingdoms. It is being accepted as the will of the gods by a cult of ‘Firestarters” who aid and abet the carnage. To act as a carrier of the entire town’s important documents, he becomes a “runner’ for them in the hope of reaching a safe place and must dispose of all of his wealth and most of his pictures to join the masses fleeing before the rapidly moving flames. He is assailed by constant thoughts of the wife he lost by neglect through his incessant need to paint, although during his flight he does experience some happiness with his very first love, whom he again encounters and also loses. The flight takes him through numerous most unappealing and perhaps even revolting, situations and places during which he is under constant threat and actual attacks by others in flight, as well as by horrendous beasts. The story eventually reaches an unpredictable but logical finale.

Discussion: Basically this book is a dark fantasy thriller and has been very well received by several reviewers and they have provided their reasons. Contrarily and most regrettably, this reviewer is far from being in accord. Although I can appreciate and enjoy selections from among fantasy tales, this one impressed me rather negatively as repetitive activity on the same theme with the only differences being in slightly different approaches in similarly unpleasant circumstances and places. Unfortunately, from my perception the author has described quite succinctly the reason for our ‘differences of opinion’. In his “About the Author” statements at the end of the book he says that writers “dig and toil among our private wastes, sifting through toxic sands and sipping swill alongside beggars and scoundrels. It’s where I’m most at home, at peace. But like all things in life, it sometimes comes from darker times, darker places. It’s a toll worth paying, though, and perhaps what’s necessary to spur my particular muse.” This reviewer has published 4 award-winning novels (plus several text books) and most fortunately has not found it necessary to delve into such depths to gain the necessary insights to compose. Neither have any of the authors of my acquaintance. However, this is not criticism per se. It simply offers an explanation for this reader’s opinion of this book.

2* Explanation for this reader’s review above.