Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review: Splinter the Silence by Val McDermid

Splinter the Silence (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, Book #9)
by Val McDermid
Release Date: December 1st 2015
2015 Atlantic Monthly Press
Ebook Edition; 416 Pages
ISBN: 978-0802124081
Genre: Fiction / Murder / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

Is it violence if it’s virtual? The outspoken women targeted by the increasingly cruel internet trolls and bullies would probably say so. For some of them, the torrents of bile and vicious threats prove too much. They begin to silence themselves in a series of high-profile suicides.

Or do they? Tony Hill isn’t convinced. But he’s the only one. Former cop Carol Jordan is too busy messing up her life to care. Until she gets an unexpected second chance. Now it’s game on, and the stakes have never been higher.

My Thoughts
Splinter the Silence continues the story of Carol Jordan after her retirement from the police force, her continuing relationship with Tony Hill, how she coped with said retirement, the effects of her drinking, and the mystery came in as a belated last thought, but was still intriguing and definitely important considering some of the online things happening today.  But it all seems to work just fine together, and I was just happy to finally know how things were going to work out after the last novel. This one made me quite happy at the turn of events, loved how some of the other characters were finally given a chance to develop, and the mystery was just there to give everyone something to do.  

First of all, the big mystery.  As Carol Jordan and her team was being reassembled, they happened across a death that shouldn't have been suspicious, but raised concerns in Tony's eyes.  A victim on vicious online bullies and trolls, an outspoken woman against certain men's issues committed suicide for no apparent reason.  As the group begins to look into the death, several more cases are unearthed with very similar circumstances, raising the interest of both Tony and Carol, who are nonbelievers when it comes to coincidences.  What I really liked about the investigation is the author's way of looking into the misconception that people feel that because they are writing 'anonymously' they can abuse and bully online and it is not a crime.  The misuse of online technology is so pervasive, yet people continue to feel that abusive comments and hateful comments are okay as long as they are anonymously online and it just angers me to no end.  I'm glad this author chose to address the issue as a serious crime and treat it as such.  For me, it makes me sick to see some of the comments after a news article or a blog post and I have long ago stopped reading them.  Most people are basically decent, but it's the awful ones that make you wonder about humanity, and they can be written by anyone you know, which is the scary part.  The author showed some of the pain the women felt after having spoken their minds, most of which was highly researched by these women, and written with care and thought.  The idea by the trolls was to make other women scared to speak their own minds and to hide, giving the trolls the power.  

What I really enjoyed in this novel though, was the development of the characters, especially Stacey, and the relationship between Tony and Carol (Finally!!)  I wondered when the author would deal with Carol's drinking problem and I thought it was handled quite well.  For those of you familiar with this series, the problem hasn't yet been resolved and will probably continue with some repercussions for quite a while, something I'm actually glad to see.  I can't say too much more, spoiler, but when you read it, you will understand.   The drinking problem did open up a way to develop Tony and Carol's relationship (yeah) and the two of them were a bit different as they traveled different waters from what they were used to.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops, but I don't anticipate it will necessarily be all sugar and roses.  I was pleasantly surprised by Stacey as it was nice to see a softer side to her as she developed a new relationship.  She's usually so prickly and hard-core, but things weren't necessarily easy for her during this time either, and with someone who has such computer skills available to her, I would be afraid for my life if I didn't toe a line in a relationship with her.  Enough said, you must read the book to find out more.  Interesting storyline, but easy to pick out and figure out what would happen.  Didn't figure on the ending though.  Loved it!!

Splinter the Silence was one of those books where I wasn't overly interested in the mystery this time as I was more concerned about what was going to happen to those characters I have been following for quite a while, and the last book had a bit of a twist I wasn't necessarily expecting.  This one was more along the lines of what I hoped for, so I was quite happy about that, but as always, the author had a few twists and turns up her sleeve, some of which were easy to figure out, some I didn't.   I am really curious as to what kinds of cases Carol Jordan will receive in her new position, but the possibilities are endless.  Looking forward to a new team, news scenarios, new relationships!! Another great entry into the Carol Jordan & Tony Hill series.  
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review: Thread and Gone by Lea Wait

Thread and Gone (Mainely Needlepoint, Book #3)
by Lea Wait
Release Date: December 29th 2015
2015 Kensington
Ebook Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1617730092
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

When a priceless antique is stolen, murder unravels the peaceful seaside town of Haven Harbor, Maine. . .

Angie Curtis and her fellow Mainely Needlepointers know how to enjoy their holidays. But nothing grabs their attention like tying up loose threads. So when Mary Clough drops in on the group's Fourth of July supper with a question about an antique needlepoint she's discovered in her family attic, Angie and her ravelers are happy to look into the matter.

Angie's best guess is that the mystery piece may have been stitched by Mary, Queen of Scots, famous not just for losing her head, but also for her needlepointing. If Angie's right, the piece would be extremely valuable. For safekeeping, Angie turns the piece over to her family lawyer, who places it in a safe in her office. But when the lawyer is found dead with the safe open and ransacked, the real mystery begins. . .

My Thoughts
Thread and Gone is the third installment in the Mainely Needlepoint series and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The characters were quite interesting, and I definitely loved reading the history of Mary, Queen of Scots, most of which I already knew, but liked how the threads were woven into the story, no pun intended.  
As always, I love the setting of these books; I would be quite happy to visit this area and explore some of the actual places that are mentioned as they sound quite interesting.  I like how the cultural aspects of the town and the day-to-day matters are included as you really get an understanding of how much tradition matters to people and personally, I don't see anything wrong with that.  I would love to live in a house that my family has owned for several centuries, with papers holding many secrets within them, and I never could understand it when people just didn't show any interest in such things and are quite willing to thrown things like that into the dump; it makes me want to cringe.  I guess that's the historian side to me though.  

I found the history of Mary, Queen of Scots, to be quite neatly woven into the story, and for those who are not familiar with the story, it would be quite interesting.  I liked it, but am already familiar with her story and some of her needlepoint history having visited Holyrood Palace a number of years ago, so I paid more attention to the mystery rather than to the history, I am afraid.  I do have to admit however, that the story of the needlepoint and how it came to Maine was neat; I would have liked to have known more about the type of threads they used and other stitching patterns as I did find that interesting, having done some needlepoint myself.  That was one of the parts I did find a bit lacking in this story though, and really missed the whole group getting together to share their needlepoint ideas; I just like it when they all get together as it rounds out the story quite nicely.

One of the characters I was not crazy about was Rob and couldn't see the attraction to him by Mary, the girl who was searching for provenance for the needlepoint she found in her parents' house.  Being more interested in money and worth, he was ready to sell anything in Mary's house to finance his business and pay for their wedding.  I really thought Mary needed to grow a backbone and stand up to Rob; I am curious as to how long their marriage will last as the other young marriage in this book was already in trouble.  Perhaps the author is sending a message to her readers?  The other thing that really made me wonder about was the author's continuous commentary on Angie's drinking habits; it just made me wonder if this was a set-up for future novels, and perhaps the author was going to tackle problem drinking later on.  To be honest, I found this to be more interesting than the mystery, which just kind of ended, after being extremely disjointed.  I was a somewhat disappointed in the ending as it was rather abrupt and didn't seem to flow with the rest of the novel.  

Thread and Gone is one of those novels that I enjoyed for the historical aspect and for the character building rather than the mystery, which I found to be rather abrupt and disappointing.  The research was definitely interesting, and even history buffs with a good knowledge of Mary, Queen of Scots, would find it fascinating to trace the trail of the needlepoint.  I like how the author included more characters in this one, and I hope they will be included in future novels, as many stories were started here that do need to be completed, or continued.  Other than the research however, I didn't find the mystery to be intriguing and found the conclusion to be rather abrupt, which didn't flow with the other aspects of the novel.  Despite all this, I enjoyed the first two novels quite a bit, and look forward to the next novel in this series as I am curious as to what trouble Angie will discover next.   
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review: Medicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois by Sophie Perinot

Medicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois
by Sophie Perinot
Release Date: December 1st 2015
2015 Thomas Dunne Books
Ebook Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250072092
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HFVBT

4 / 5 Stars

Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

My Thoughts
Medicis Daughter is quite an enjoyable novel as it features the daughter of Catherine de Medici, Marguerite de Valois, a historical figure who has not typically been in the limelight.  While I have read countless fiction novels and non-fiction novels about Catherine de Medici, her daughter has usually been just a secondary figure to the religious events of the time and to the life of the Queen and court.  It was quite refreshing to view court life from the perspective of Catherine's daughter and to see things as a daughter of France might have seen them, one whose worth to her mother and brothers may have been the political advantage she brought to the throne through marriage.

I really like how Marguerite was portrayed in this novel as historical references to her are not always king, often believing in the rhetoric of the political times, especially a time period that didn't really value strong, dominant women unless they were kings and queens, and sometimes not even then.  Like the author, I have often wondered what France would have been like if Marguerite had been able to inherit the throne instead of Henri de Navarre, but rules in France did not permit females to inherit. In the novel, Marguerite developed from a naive, carefree young girl to one that was twisted by her family's greed, ambition, and inter-fighting, often having to take sides or act as peacemaker.  Growing up with the belief that her mother didn't care for her like she did her sons, Marguerite turned to Henri, her brother, and developed a very close relationship with him, one that eventually became warped by his own ambition and jealousy.  Even an element of incest was indicated between the two, although I really liked how the author portrayed the relationship rather than the history books; it seems much more plausible, considering the strict Catholic rules under which they grew up.  Having spent so much time in the corrupt French court, there are certainly aspect to Marguerite's personality that are not likeable; she gave no thought to giving her friend to another man because she didn't want him herself, and the flirting and other goings-on definitely gave the court its licentious reputation around the world, of which she was a part.  I don't think you can survive a court such as this, being the political figure she was, without learning a thing or two, especially things that are not especially moralistic or nice.  This is what made her so interesting though.  At times you wanted to hug her because of her mother's rejection, and then you just want to smack her because she could be downright cruel.

The one person I did like, and have always liked, is Henri de Navarre.  He is quite refreshing in a novel full of people whose values and morals were quite unrestricted.  But then, life in a French court was definitely very different than anything we would be familiar with today.  Watching Henri de Navarre struggle with the consequences of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre was gut-wrenching and I have to credit the author with the way she handled this aspect of history; seen through Marguerite's eyes made it that much more horrible, and to be honest, I'm not sure if I'd ever seen it explained in such a personal way.  I couldn't flip through the pages fast enough and felt the horror of it all as well as Marguerite's pain when she realized who could have been behind it all.  Characters I had grown to like throughout the novel were seen in quite a different light after these events and this is definitely due to the author's skilled writing.  

Medicis Daughter was a rather gripping and emotional fictional story about the life of Marguerite de Valois and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Marguerite developed from a rather naive girl of twelve when she joined the French court to a woman who could manipulate and connive with the best of them, but is a worthy heroine in her own right.  Despite the fact she is one of the most exalted woman in the land, she was still subject to the whims of her royal family, and bound by the edicts of her birth; furthermore, she came into her own during a time of great religious disunity in her country, taking a stand against her family that would have long-standing consequences for her and make her one of the most disliked people in France in the coming years.  I was glad the author focused on her strengths and how she stood up to her family in the end rather than on her love-life.  I am really hoping the author continues Marguerite's story as there is so much more to tell about this remarkable woman.   

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: Dark Turns by Cate Holahan

Dark Turns
by Cate Holahan
Release Date: November 15th 2015
2015 Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1629531939
Genre: Fiction / Murder / Suspense
Source: Review copy from Meryl Moss Media

3.5 / 5 Stars

Nia Washington is an incredibly talented ballerina. She fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart derailed her career. Taking a temporary job at an elite boarding school was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything but.

Shortly after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. It’s not long before she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn't the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers, save a wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.

My Thoughts 
Dark Turns is one of those books over which I had mixed feelings; undecided as to whether this was a young adult thriller or whether I was reading a fiction novel, albeit with some suspenseful elements thrown in, about Nia's return to professional ballet.  What I did like about this novel in particular, was the character flaws of the characters as it added a depth to the novel which might have otherwise been lacking.  For some reason, I am particularly attracted to characters who are flawed, but who grow and learn from their mistakes and their actions.

What I really did enjoy in this novel was the dancing and the infighting amongst the students and even the staff members.  Being familiar with a competitive environment myself, I well understand the competitive nature these young ballerinas would have and the drive they would need to get to the top; many of them were in their audition year and everything counted, including the roles they won in their showcases.  That drive unfortunately, can also lend itself to mischief if one doesn't get what one wants, and this is clearly the case in this novel.  I found Aubrey's personality to be quite interesting in this novel, as she definitely had the drive and the ambition to make it to the top.  When her plans were slightly derailed by a fiercely competitive and talented newcomer, I couldn't wait to see what she would do.  To be honest, I was a bit disappointed as I think I expected, and wanted, her to be even worse throughout the novel than she was as it would have brought some much needed drama to the set, so to speak.  I was also disappointed in the author when it came to Aubrey as I don't think she really explained her history as well as she could have, which would have made the ending a bit more palatable.

I enjoyed some aspects of Nia's character, but I thought she was a bit shallow and selfish, constantly thinking about herself and her professional career.  I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing, to think about your future prospects as a ballerina, especially when you have trained for years to get what you want and become injured.  My problem with Nia is her shallowness and her disregard for others, at times.  Let me explain.  When a student comes to her with a problem, Nia betrays her confidence with no thought, leaving her to own devices and pretty much dealing with the situation herself.  Where are the therapists and nutritionists to help a student clearly dealing with an eating disorder?  Nia really gives no further thought to this student and some of the emotional things she is going through other than how it may affect her dancing and how she looks when dancing.  While I realize this may be a rather good technique employed by the author to show us some of the things that are wrong in the dance world, it certainly didn't endear me to Nia.  And when she begins a love affair with another RA, disregarding fraternization rules, it clearly shows lack of respect for school rules and a contract she has signed.  But Nia's needs are more important than the school's; this bothered me quite a bit.  I also didn't like her new fling as I thought he was a bit creepy.  

Dark Turns certainly had some interesting moments, and I definitely liked a lot of the ballet scenes, the competitive atmosphere, but I felt the suspense and mystery to the story were a bit lacking, and certainly predictable.  Nia was a bit naive and a bit self-centered, risking her relationship with others due to her own behaviour.  Let's get real here, she was an RA and an instructor at a prestigious dance school, and some of the ways she behaved would not really be tolerated.  To be honest, I wonder if I would have liked this book more if it had been more about the dance world, and the competitiveness, rather than being passed off as a thriller.  There were so many aspects in this book that were worthy of exploration and were glossed over, which is a shame, as I think it would have brought this book to a much higher level, and brought it's own form of suspense with it.  I really hope the author continues to write about this world as she is so very knowledgeable and there is so much to explore. 

Book Spotlight & Excerpt: Rath's Deception by Piers Platt

Title: Rath’s Deception
Author: Piers Platt
Publisher: Piers Platt
Pages: 350
Genre: Sci Fi/Thriller

On the cut-throat streets of Tarkis, orphaned teens like Rath end up jailed … or dead. So when the shadowy Janus Group offers Rath a chance to earn riches beyond his wildest dreams, he seizes it. But the Janus Group is as ruthless as the elite assassins it controls. Rath will have to survive their grueling, off-world training, and fulfill all fifty kills in his contract before a single cent comes his way. And ending so many lives comes with a price Rath can’t anticipate. It’ll certainly cost him what’s left of his innocence. It may well cost him his life.
  • Rath’s Deception is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

Piers Platt is the New York Times bestselling author of "Combat and Other Shenanigans," a memoir of his year-long deployment to Iraq as a tank and scout platoon leader. Piers grew up in Boston, but spent most of his childhood in various boarding schools, including getting trained as a classical singer at a choir school for boys. He joined the Army in 2002, and spent four years on active duty.

When he's not writing or spending time with his lovely wife and daughter, Piers works as a strategy consultant in New York city.

His latest book is the sci fi/thriller, Rath’s Deception.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:
A light flickered on the edge of Rath’s peripheral vision: his internal heads-up display had an incoming message.

Rath felt a bead of sweat form at his brow. He smiled at another group of guests and offered them his tray of canapés, simultaneously advancing through screens in his heads-up display to find a photo of Sorgens in order to identify him.
Okay, got it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review: Lone Star by Paullina Simons

Lone Star
by Paullina Simons
Release Date: November 24th 2015
2015 William Morrow Paperbacks
Softcover Edition; 576 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062098153
Genre: Fiction / Literary Fiction
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

Chloe is just weeks away from heading off to college and starting a new life far from her home in Maine when she embarks on a great European adventure with her boyfriend and two best friends. Their destination is Barcelona, but first they must detour through the historic cities of Eastern Europe to keep an old family promise.

Here, in this fledgling post-Communist world, Chloe meets a charming American vagabond named Johnny, who carries a guitar, an easy smile—and a lifetime of secrets. From Treblinka to Trieste, from Karnikava to Krakow, from Vilnius to Venice, the unlikely band of friends and lovers traverse the old world on a train trip that becomes a treacherous journey into Europe’s and Johnny’s darkest past—a journey that jeopardizes Chloe’s plans for the future and all she ever thought she wanted.

But the lifelong bonds Chloe and her friends share are about to be put to the ultimate test—and whether or not they reach Barcelona, they can only be certain that their lives will never be the same again.

My Thoughts
Lone Star is one of those books that I think is packaged a bit erroneously.  While touted as a so-called "love story", I think it is more to do with Chloe's coming-of-age story and learning to be honest with herself as well as those around her; it is a story about a young woman coming to terms with some of her issues and realizing who she is as a woman and what she wants.

First of all, I didn't have a problem with the slow start to the story as I think it was necessary fodder to the rest of the plot; it was important to set up the relationships of the four young people before they headed to Europe in order to understand the slow break-up of said relationships over the course of two weeks.  And while I couldn't wait until the Europe part of the book, I figured there must be a reason for the beginning, and there was; the reader just had to be patient.  I wasn't overly crazy about any of the teenagers before they left for Europe as I found them to be somewhat immature and a bit spoiled, even Blake who I was fondest of right from the beginning.  No one had ever traveled anywhere outside of their area and here they were, embarking on a two-week trip to Europe by themselves.  And because none of them could afford it, Chloe's grandmother offered to pay for the trip, with some stipulations, some of them I found to be quite interesting, especially as it required them to visit some concentration camps and to visit family.  I remember thinking this could get quite interesting, as some of the areas would definitely not be what they were used to.

And while I enjoyed the author's descriptions of Eastern Europe, I definitely could have done without the whining over the food and the sleeping arrangements, and the trains, and the buses, and so on.  I have traveled quite extensively and one of my policies has always been to try local food and to explore the culture of wherever I am, and I have instilled this into my children.  As I don't eat McDonald's here in Canada, I would definitely not eat it in Poland.  So the whining by Mason and Hannah over the food drove my crazy and I was constantly thinking, just eat the stuff and quit complaining and acting so spoiled.  I get that many of the things were culture shock and lack of traveling experience, but it was annoying nevertheless.  I did love the fact however, that Blake took the time to read up on the places he was visiting and learned some historical and culture facts and was willing to share them with the others, who showed little interest, and knowledge.  Really?  You're visiting a foreign country, and don't know anything about it?  Because this is something I would have done (okay, I'm a history geek and I teach history), I took to Blake enormously.  And to be on Auschwitz's doorway, and have no interest in visiting?  That I don't relate to, at all.

When Chloe met Johnny Rainbow, I figured he would be the catalyst that helped with the disintegration of the relationships, but that was not how things were played out.  Personally, I didn't care for Johnny and couldn't see the attraction Chloe felt for him.  I actually thought he was the most annoying character in the book and I couldn't see why someone would fall for someone with obvious tracks in his arms and who had spent time in jail.  Chloe was incredibly naive and how she survived traveling by herself in Europe was a miracle.  While Johnny was a charmer, he was devious and a liar and a cheat and I didn't like him.  Only Blake could see right through him, and I was definitely on his side in this case.  However, Chloe falls for him, hook, line, sinker, and chose to ignore the obvious signs of a drug abuser and a criminal.  Her affair with him was actually my least favourite part of the book simply because I didn't like him; I also couldn't believe she would ditch her friends in Europe and chase after this guy by herself.  Who does that?  I especially liked the scene where the characters are honest with each other for the first time, and finally disclose their secrets to each other; I thought it was refreshing to hear their real thoughts and emotions for the first time.  It's too bad the author didn't explore this a bit more, rather than explore the affair with Johnny, as I would have enjoyed that more.  I was glad to find out what happened to them all after Europe though, as it was nice to have closure. 

Lone Star definitely had some interesting moments and Ms. Simons is a fantastic writer; I truly enjoyed the dialogues between the characters as they are full of emotion and feeling, and her descriptive language is truly unique and fascinating to read; it makes you feel like you were right there in the middle of the scene.  It did take me awhile to realize the connection between this book and her The Bronze Horseman Trilogy, although I'm not sure why as I have read the trilogy, but it was only the periphery of the story.  I wasn't overly crazy about many of the characters as I thought they were whiny and selfish, although it was nice to have a relatively happy ending to this story and to know the characters came out alright in the end.  I don't think Chloe deserved Blake as she didn't treat him very well, and I definitely didn't understand her pining away for a man she'd known for several days, especially one I didn't think was all that likable. I do wonder if I would have liked Johnny more if I had known a bit more about his story and why he took the path that he did; unfortunately, the only Johnny I really knew about was the criminal Johnny and I didn't find him particularly endearing.   The undercurrents to the story were very subtle and I think you would have had to read the trilogy I mentioned in order to catch them.  They didn't go into the detail needed that would have given a bit more depth to the story and made it clearer to those who haven't read the trilogy.  This was definitely not my favourite Paullina Simons book, but as always, I am looking forward to seeing what she does next. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review: The Lost Codex by Alan Jacobson

The Lost Codex (OPSIG Team Black, Book #3)
by Alan Jacobson
Release Date: November 3rd 2015
2015 Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller
Ebook Edition; 428 Pages
ISBN: 978-1504003636
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

In 930 CE, a revered group of scholars pen the first sanctioned Bible, planting the seed from which other major religions will grow. But in 1953, half the manuscript goes missing while being transported from Syria. Around the same time, in the foothills of the Dead Sea, an ancient scroll is discovered—and promptly stolen. Six decades later, both parchments stand at the heart of a geopolitical battle between foreign governments and radical extremists, threatening the lives of millions. With the American homeland under siege, the president turns to a team of uniquely trained covert operatives including FBI profiler Karen Vail, Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos, and FBI terrorism expert Aaron Uziel. Their mission: Find the stolen documents and capture—or kill—those responsible for unleashing a coordinated and unprecedented attack on US soil. 

My Thoughts
The Lost Codex is the third novel in the OPSIG series that features Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos.  Many characters from other novels typically show up throughout the novels so it was a treat to have Karen Vail on board as a member of the team as I love the wit and sarcasm that she peppers throughout the situations that arise, both to herself and to others; it definitely helps relieve the overall tension, and she's a lot of fun, even when being bad-ass. I was also glad to see FBI Agent Aaron Uziel back for the ride as well.

First of all, the author's research abilities always astound me and I've always thought he must have experience in this field, either as an agent or something else in order to know so much.  Having done research with the FBI's Behavioural Analysis Unit as was as doing numerous seminars with the FBI, his knowledge is astounding, and this is one of the things I admire about these books, including this one.  And knowing that a lot of what I've read is factual, information from the Notes at the back of the book, makes me feel a lot better as it made the events that much more terrifying as you realize they could happen.  And unfortunately, so many situations in this book really hit home, especially with the situation in Paris and with ISIS and other terrorist organizations.  There were many times when I couldn't believe how the themes paralleled actual events making it a bit eerie.  

This novel definitely has all the makings of a great novel.  Although the novel was well-written and there were some great plot elements, I just found that when all of these elements were put together, they just did not live up to their promise.  There were times when the author did fall back on predictable patterns of behaviour rather than taking a risk and I was a bit disappointed by that.  For example, I thought the Codex would play a greater role than it did, given the title of the book, but except for a few minor points, it was relegated to background information only.  There just wasn't enough information about it to make it even remotely interesting, and unfortunately, the plot denigrated into good guys killing the bad guys using a variety of different weapons and techniques that got kind of boring and repetitive.  I also didn't feel like the author used any of the characters appropriately, kind of downgrading their importance to shoot-outs, often relegating them to background characters, Karen's being the worst, I think.  Her comments got to the point where they sounded churlish and unprofessional, almost like she was feeling what I was feeling.  That being said however, there were some great moments in this novel, ones that did keep me flipping through the pages, but there were also moments when I was looking forward to the end of the novel too.  

The Lost Codex is one of those books that had some great moments in it, had some great characters, but unfortunately, the whole didn't quite work that well when put together.  While I have some knowledge of the Israeli/Palestinian issue, it was interesting to learn a bit more in this novel and to delve into more sensitive issues, those issues really paralleling some of the ones happening in our world today which is kind of scary. The novel is definitely worth reading for the discussions on terrorism alone as they're quite interesting and they do make you think. The blend of fiction and technology was quite seamless as well, and I also enjoyed that aspect.  I was disappointed in the minor role the Lost Codex played in this novel as I enjoy historical mysteries and would have loved it to have been much bigger than it was.  Overall, I did enjoy many moments in this novel and will continue to read future novels by this author.