Check out Andrew Kaplan’s latest novel “Scorpion Deception”

Scorpion DeceptionCheck out Andrew Kaplan’s “Scorpion Deception,” the newest entry in Kaplan’s “Scorpion Series,” which just released last Tuesday (28 May 2013). Last year about this time, I had the pleasure of winning an ARC of “Scorpion Winter.” I praised Kaplan’s engaging prose and solid narrative. His writing is incredibly reminiscent of the classic spy novels of the past several decades, and his style can easily be compared to that of Ian Fleming, Raymond Benson, John le Carré, Tom Clancy, and Joseph Kanon.

Following Kaplan’s first two entries in the successful “Scorpion Series,” “Scorpion Deception” aims to raise the bar on the spy genre once-more.

Kaplan had this to say about his latest endeavor:

Frankly, with Syria in the news and the U.S. contemplating military action against Iran that could escalate into war, I can’t think of a book that will give readers greater insight into what’s happening today in the undercover war of espionage and more importantly, what’s going on inside Iran, posht-e pardeh “behind the curtain”, than Scorpion Deception. All this in an incredibly suspenseful story about love – Scorpion’s most passionate love ever – and deception that rockets from the refugee camps of Africa and across Europe to Tehran’s ruling inner circles. This is by far, the most timely and perhaps important book I’ve ever written.

So, if you are looking for a no holds barred, spy romp that is fast-paced and chocked full of intelligence gathering and espionage, than “Scorpion Deception” is the novel for you. “Scorpion Deception” is currently available in print, ebook, and audio books formats wherever books are sold. Check it out, and give it at least a ‘Cheers’ in appreciation.

(SOURCE:  Check out Andrew Kaplan’s latest novel “Scorpion Deception”)


Review: Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver

Carte Blanche (James Bond)Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since Ian Fleming’s death in 1964 numerous writers have taken up the task of penning James Bond novels in an effort to keep the Fleming and Bond legacy alive and well. Some of these authors have had lengthy runs that have allowed them to frame out their version of the titular character with years of careful growth, however, others have had only a mere moment to make their mark on the famous character. Suffice it to say, some of these authors have been more successful than others, because of their respective opportunities.

In particular, I enjoyed John Gardner’s James Bond series, which primarily spanned the 1980’s, as well as Raymond Benson’s more-American take on the most-British of spies.
Recently, the popular fiction author, Jeffrey Deaver, was plucked from the ranks to write the latest 007 novel and on the whole I think he does the series justice. He does not take any chances, but he does hold true to the character and the universe which I think will appease fans but in the end deny them poignancy and relevance.

Deaver begins by taking Bond and bumping him into the twenty-first Century. By doing this, Deaver effectively alters the rules and the environment to create a new stomping ground for Bond to partake in, and because of this drastic change small facets of Bond’s backstory were changed but nothing that compromises the character. Besides these few details Deaver doesn’t really change anything else about the James Bond universe. He stays fairly grounded in the lore, and merely uses the revised setting to make a contemporary tale. As far as research is concerned it probably relieved some potential stress for Deaver as well. All things considering, it is an intelligent decision.

Interestingly enough the plot takes places over the course of a single week. It is quick and seamless. Each scene transitions smoothly to the next and it rarely has slow points because of its rapidity. Also, like most (if not all) James Bond plots, it trots the globe. The introduction takes place in Serbia and finally ends in Sudan with stops in Dubai and of course the United Kingdom.

The first several chapters follow James Bond as he thwarts an Irish hit man from derailing a train and polluting the Danube. This seemingly secluded incident then traces back to the villainous Severan Hydt and a much deeper plot that Bond must unravel before the death toll mounts. Hydt has an affinity for death. He enjoys it so much that he photographs it in order to get off on it privately. Severan is truly a villainous character that fits in to Bond’s wheelhouse of world dominators to a ‘T.’

The plot takes countless twists and turns and introduces various faces; some are familiar, while others are fresh takes on espionage archetypes. In the end and in traditional Jeffrey Deaver fashion, the conclusion is not so neatly sewn up as it may seem. There are numerous twists in the last fifty pages or so, but all-in-all, the good guys win the day and Bond has something left to ponder.

Carte Blanche” is not the best James Bond book ever written, nor is it the worst. It fires on all necessary cylinders to function accordingly, but it does not go above and beyond. It doesn’t push the boundaries, and unfortunately I think it will be easily forgettable a couple years down the line. With this in mind “Carte Blanche” receives three-and-a-half stars out of five.

“Carte Blanche” is not as in depth as a John le Carré or Joseph Kanon’s novels, but it gets the job done. It is a quick read, and the characters (whether new or not) seem familiar to the reader. Deaver pays homage to Fleming, while simultaneously holding true to his own form.

(SOURCE: Review: Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver)

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“The Race” by Clive Cussler

The RaceThe Race by Clive Cussler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clive Cussler is most known for his action-adventure novels, especially those starring his reoccurring character, Dirk Pitt. However, several years back Cussler released his first Isaac Bell novel titled, “The Chase.” Isaac Bell is the lead private detective in the fictional Van Dorn Detective Agency. He is quick-witted, brave, intuitive, tall, blonde-hair, a crack shot, and everything else Ian Fleming would of thought while constructing James Bond.

The Isaac Bell novels take place in the late 19th/early 20th centuries and are always centered on a particularly cunning villain that Isaac Bell has to tangle with throughout the tale. The narrative usually flips back and forth between the two leads, and even though the antagonist essentially embodies evil Cussler manages to round them out making them quite interesting to read about. And, truth be told, Isaac does not always get the better of the villains, which in the end makes for a great read.

In “The Race” Cussler focus on the birth of the airplane. In a story that pans the continent during the height of a newspaper endorsed monoplane/biplane race Isaac Bell must protect the race’s underdog from her murderous brute of a husband, Harry Frost, while simultaneously trying to figure out who is behind the sabotage of the other participants planes.

The book is a fun romp through early 20th century America, while focusing on the classic ‘whodunit’ recipe. The atmosphere can be described as whimsical and thus creates a quick, enjoyable read. I don’t know of too many fictional pre-WWI novels and because this era interests me so greatly I am pleased that Cussler has filled in the void, some what, and produced a fun novel that will interest just about anyone who likes solid action-adventure novels.

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Sometimes I need a smooth latte to squelch my thirst.  I feel primed and ready to explode.  Everything stands at attention, snaps back at my grin, a feel good moment that just wants to burst forth and cop a feel.  A smirk and shift in posture that leads the audience on a magic carpet ride—a political romp through the grittiest of Safaris.  I’d show Hemingway around whilst reading a Fleming.  I’m a spy built for battle–a mage destined to take the tower in hooded geekiness.  I’d stand atop arms akimbo awaiting for a bolt of lightning to strike my chest.  Heart Attack, a flash, and then the sky ripped open and a bolt of Zeus struck my chest, singed the hair, Vibraniumed my rib cage, and jump started my heart like a Chevette possessed to run.  I would have fallen to my knees if I were a lesser man, but instead I transcended—I floated.  I found my path and it wasn’t grounded in literals and metaphors it was steeped in literary sophistication.  As my vision cleared there it was—a pen and a piece of paper propped up on a pedestal.  Like a fountain run black with squid’s ink it flowed and spurt forth lexicons and dictions that kicked the studded tires and squealed out on the lanes of rhetoric.

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