Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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by David Morrell

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06/02/10
This story was like reading a book by Whitley Strieber--only written while he was on crystal methamphetamine.   It is historical fiction of sorts about the mysterious, colorful lights in the sky that have been seen, by some, for centuries, in Marfa, west Texas. 
 
According to Wikipedia, "...The Marfa lights are unexplained lights (known as "ghost lights") usually seen near U. S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of Marfa, west Texas..."  
 
Morrell makes this phenomenon the backdrop for his top-secret-government-project-gone-awry-thriller.  One day a police officer's wife disappears from home and he tracks her to the town of Rostov, where she has traveled to view the ghost lights from her past.  While there, the lights somehow cause a spectator to go mad and kill several viewers brought by a tour bus. 
 
While this is occurring, an Army officer is back in Rostov to continue the hush-hush experiments that his grandfather started during WWI.  Not only are the lights mesmerizing, they also seem to emit a sound that appears to drive people towards exhibiting aggressive behavior.  The military stance is anything that colossal has to be controlled and developed into a powerful weapon! 
 
Morrell's stance seems to be anything that colossal has to be surrounded by several flashy fire-fights, meddling news teams and an over-the-hill main character.
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by Stephen Hunter

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05/28/10
The sniper's motto is BRASS:  Breathe.  Relax.  Aim.  Slack.  Squeeze.
 
Bob, The Nailer,  is back and he again is taking no prisoners.  In this latest edition, Swagger is hell-bent on proving that the most decorated Marine sniper of all time's legacy is not tarnished.  Bob knows in his gut that the late Carl Hitchcock could not have committed the atrocities that are being blamed on him.
 
T.T. Constable is the billionaire-blamer, whose wife is one of the recent multiple sniper victims and he wants immediate closure on this high-profile case.  T.T. is not a man to take lightly.  He is a man who is used to getting his way.  He will use all his resources to accomplish his goals.
 
Nick Memphis is given the task to lead the sniper investigation for the FBI and he calls on his old friend, Bob Lee,  for insight.  Since Memphis is not moving the case along fast enough for Mr. Big Bucks, a conspiracy is started to discredit Memphis and remove him from the case.
 
Hunter has  fun with this novel and takes some liberties by basing two of his characters on Ted Turner and Jane Fonda.  A fast glance at the author's Acknowledgments page is worth the read.        
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by David Stone

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05/27/10
This book came highly recommended by a co-worker.  It is the first in a series about a "cleaner" for the CIA, Micah Dalton.
 
Stone is more a descriptive writer than one that is adept at creating dialogue.  The chapters are longer than in most mysteries.  Chapter 3 is 78 pages!  If the reader enjoys, for example, James Patterson's style of  3 to 4 paragraph chapters, this is not the book to read.  However, as far as protagonists go, Micah Dalton can rival popular fictional characters Joe Pike and Jack Reacher, even on his bad days.
 
Dalton is in a self-imposed celibacy.  He is a deadly killer.  A loner.  He is on assignment investigating the strange death of a good friend and co-worker in Italy. He is exposed to an airborne hallucinogen that results in him having several encounters with the apparition of his dead colleague, Porter Naumann.
 
Dalton's nemesis is somewhat of an apparition himself.  Dalton is traveling the world trying to get his hands on this elusive serial killer, who might be a native American Indian bent on vengeance.
 
As who-dunits go, this was a good first book.  Stone has the knowledge and background for writing these international thrillers since his former career was in military intelligence.
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by Stephen King

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05/11/10
Fans of Stephen King are aware of his passion for baseball.  His new novella  is the bizarro world version of his other recent release:  Under the Dome.
 
Where one novel requires over 1200 pages for the story to unfold, Blockade Billy can be read in a half hour. The story is remnant of a 1960 Twilight Zone episode entitled:  "The Mighty Casey;" a story about a phenom baseball player that's behavior is off-center.  It also is comparable to Bernard Malamud's The Natural...an unknown sensation with a sordid past.
 
Billy Blakely is the third replacement catcher for the New Jersey Titans and preseason hasn't even ended.  Blakely is a positional band-aid until a seasoned veteran can be acquired.
 
Coincidently, Blakely plays his first game with a band-aid on one of his fingers.  He agrees with the coach's suggestion that it was a shaving accident.  A base-runner collides at the plate with the Titan catcher late in the game and is rushed to the hospital with a lacerated leg.  The opposing team accuses Blakely of purposely cutting the runner's leg with something like a sharp finger nail. P
 
ost National Anthem, the curious, first few innings of an expedited ballplayer's 30-game career begins.    Blakely's behavior continues to draw his coach's suspicions culminating in a face-first dive on the baseball field of life.
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by Tim Wendell

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04/28/10
'Tis the season to be jolly...about the start of the baseball season, that is.  In every league from T-ball to the Majors, pitch speed has always been one of the most controversial topics for discussion.
 
In Little League, the most feared pitcher was the one that brought the heat.  He always was a little taller and heavier than the other guys on the team.  Or he was the one that could simply tie his cleats without bending over.  In American Legion ball, the fastest throwing pitchers were always ones on the Big League scout's radar.
 
Who was the all time fastest hurling pitcher?  Most dedicated fans can name the top 10.  In this book, Wendell goes about answering that question with equal parts logic, research, personal experience and in-depth interviews.
 
This review will not contain a spoiler alert.  However; the Chosen One will not come as any surprise.
 
If you are a baseball fan, like studying statistical comparisons, and can never get enough past dugout stories and past glories, this book is a must read for the summer.
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by Jonathan Nasaw

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04/13/10
This is the 5th book in the E. L. Pender series.  Pender is an enigma.  He is a hard-drinking, fat FBI Special Agent.  It wouldn't be a surprise if he gargles with gin when he wakes most mornings.   His job is flying across the country while acting as a investigation liaison between the FBI and community law enforcement officers. 
 
In this story, Pender is searching for a young man that was dealt a poor hand since birth.  A life spent in and out of foster homes helped shaped Luke Sweet's nasty outlook on life.  He is on the run and leaving a trail of bodies of those who have done him wrong in the past.  
 
Pender teams-up with a gimpy private investigator who has the distinct honor of once capturing Luke while wanted for suspected murder.  Together the two diverse personalities try to close the gap between themselves and Luke while not becoming victim to his warped revenge adventure. 
 
Nasaw has the ability to create characters that are flawed and permeate with realism.
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by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

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03/30/10
This is the 3rd installment in the Michael Bennett mystery series by Patterson. Bennett is the widower father of 10 adopted children.  He also is a NYC homicide detective who has an Irish live-in nanny who is deeply in love with him and the kids. Throw in Bennett's wise-cracking Catholic priest grandfather who talks with a thick Irish brogue and never has met a drink offer that he could refuse and there is the formula for a novel reeking in colorful characters.
 
This story is about a terminally-ill-serial-killer who kidnaps offspring of the Rich and Famous, but doesn't ask for any ransom. He has a game-plan that he rigidly follows and nothing will prevent him from reaching is final goal.
 
Bennett is partnered-up this time with a beautiful FBI profiler who specializes in youth hostage retrieval.  She is a 2-year removed divorcee with a 4-year old daughter.  Ironically, that is the only age child that Bennett isn't fathering. Tension and passions rise for both in and out of the squad car. Stir in to the mix that Bennett is suppose to be helping organize a special surprise birthday party for nanny, Mary Catherine, while trying to prevent another senseless murder and the race is on!
 
The dichotomy of Bennett's loving nature and brutal occupation makes this series special.
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by Christian de Metter

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03/17/10
For anyone who struggled with trying to make sense of this Dennis Lehane mystery, here is a graphic novel's interpretation that might help shed some light. 
 
Christian de Metter is another one of those award-winning European illustrators who had this book honored in France. 
 
There has been a lot of debate about the ending of Shutter Island.  It is said that one picture is worth a thousand words.  There are a great many pictures in this graphic novel.  Words still escape me.
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by W.E.B. Griffin

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03/04/10
This is Griffin's 5th installment in his Honor Bound Series.  Marine Aviator, Major Cletus Frade, is back and still working for the O.S.S. as a spy in Argentina. 
 
The Nazis have begun Operation Phoenix, an egotistical plot to move high-ranking Nazi officers and party members out of Germany and relocate them to Argentina, under phony names and passports, before the war is lost to the Allies.    They also are stockpiling massive amounts of gold and precious stones, colleted from prominent Jewish families paying ransom for loved ones being held prisoner in concentration camps throughout Europe.  Himmler has found another way to profit from the misfortunes mandated on occupied Jews. 
 
The plan is simple.  Families are contacted by the Nazis and given the option to either pay the blackmail price per relative for their freedom or never see or hear from that loved one again.  The monies collected are then smuggled into neutral Argentina in hopes to be used when the Reich rises again after its upcoming defeat. 
 
Cletus, whose father was in line to become the next President of Argentina before the Nazis assassinated him, inherited his father's enormous wealth and loyal followers; most all former national soldiers.  His cover is that he is running an airline service using planes supplied by his buddy, Howard Hughes.  This was a plan conceived by President Roosevelt as a personal payback to Charles Lindbergh for once saying that Goering had the best air force in the world.
 
In this new chapter, Cletus and his pregnant wife, Dorotea, await the birth of their first child as a high-ranking Nazi SS Officer is personally dispatched to Buenos Aries by Hitler with the orders to destroy all the planes in Cletus' fleet and kill him.  
 
Griffin is one of the leading authors of World War II historical fiction.  He is strongest when blending fictitious and famous characters into a suspenseful story that always leaves his readers wanting more.
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by Tony Lee

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02/25/10
Ever wonder where the name Hood came from in Robin Hood lore?  This book has a different twist than most.  It doesn't claim reference to Sherwood Forest roots or slang words for criminal.   Written by a proclaimed expert on Robin Hood history, this story digs deep into the relationship between father and son and king and country.
 
Over the last 800 years that this tale has been passed on by word-of-mouth and in written prose,  character names change (not to protect the innocent) and plot-lines differ.  For example, in this version, Marian is a recent widow.  Her husband, the assassinate of Patrick of Locksley, Robin's father.Templar friar, Tuck, along with Will Scarlet, are Crusaders who have fought side-by-side with Robin.
 
Some things never change.  Sir Guy still suffers from a bad self-image and bad press; who's responsible for the death of Robin's father. 
 
John of Sherwood is still not little.
 
Like most graphic novels, the coloring is dark and ominous.  I don't think pastels are ever a first choice on the color pallet of GN artists.
 
In some versions Robin saves the day and dies in the end.  In others, Robin saves the day and lives on to serve his King and weds the fair maiden.  The ending is never the prize or payoff for the reader.  It is the fascinating adventure and the soul-searching struggle of evil vs. good.  Goliath vs. David. Only this Davey's in green tights.
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