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#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview Zero Day (John Puller Book 1) by David Baldacci Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans.

Hi all:

Today I review a book by a very well-known author I had not read before.

Zero Day by David Baldacci
Zero Day by David Baldacci

Zero Day (John Puller Book 1) by David Baldacci

From David Baldacci–the modern master of the thriller and #1 worldwide bestselling novelist-comes a new hero: a lone Army Special Agent taking on the toughest crimes facing the nation.

And Zero Day is where it all begins….

John Puller is a combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. His father was an Army fighting legend, and his brother is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison. Puller has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable drive to find the truth.

Now, Puller is called out on a case in a remote, rural area in West Virginia coal country far from any military outpost. Someone has stumbled onto a brutal crime scene, a family slaughtered. The local homicide detective, a headstrong woman with personal demons of her own, joins forces with Puller in the investigation. As Puller digs through deception after deception, he realizes that absolutely nothing he’s seen in this small town, and no one in it, are what they seem. Facing a potential conspiracy that reaches far beyond the hills of West Virginia, he is one man on the hunt for justice against an overwhelming force.

David Baldacci is one of the world’s favorite storytellers. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America.

https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Day-John-Puller-Book-ebook/dp/B004TI5N38/

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Readers expect excitement and intrigue in David Baldacci’s books, and Zero Day is no exception…As Baldacci’s new hero narrowly escapes countless close calls, the pairing of the author’s imagination and knowledge create a wild ride for the reader. Puller is gutsy, brash and likable. Best of all, he survives to reappear in the next book of this new series.” (The Free-Lance Star )

Zero Day is a nifty, paranoid thriller disguised as a murder mystery, and Baldacci advances it at a speedy clip with a nice mix of intrigue, tantalizing clues and the occasional explosion…Baldacci’s books are fast-paced battles between good and evil.” (Richmond Times Dispatch )

Review

“Readers expect excitement and intrigue in David Baldacci’s books, and Zero Day is no exception…As Baldacci’s new hero narrowly escapes countless close calls, the pairing of the author’s imagination and knowledge create a wild ride for the reader. Puller is gutsy, brash and likable. Best of all, he survives to reappear in the next book of this new series.” (The Free-Lance Star )

Zero Day is a nifty, paranoid thriller disguised as a murder mystery, and Baldacci advances it at a speedy clip with a nice mix of intrigue, tantalizing clues and the occasional explosion…Baldacci’s books are fast-paced battles between good and evil.” (Richmond Times Dispatch )

Author David Baldacci
Author David Baldacci

About the author:

David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, because “every mom needs a break now and then.”) David published his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, in 1996. A feature film followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 34 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print. David has also published six novels for younger readers.

David received his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

https://www.amazon.com/David-Baldacci/e/B000AQ0STC/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher, MacMillan, for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

David Baldacci is one of these authors whose names a reader (and even a non-reader) cannot escape. His books are widely distributed and he always seems to have a volume or two in the bestsellers list (no, not the Amazon one on a little-known genre, but the real thing). Despite all that (or perhaps because of it, as sometimes some names seem so familiar that I feel as if I had already read/watched or whatever it is they do, them before) I had never read any of his books. I saw that coinciding with a book launch, NetGalley was offering a copy of the first book in the John Puller series, and I decided perhaps it was time I read him. (I don’t have any specific opinions on best sellers as such and I don’t necessarily avoid them as a matter of principle but I do prefer to discover them early on, so I can make my own mind up).

The story, narrated in the third person, mostly follows John Puller, a military investigator that is all you probably would wish for in such a character. He has complex family relations (including a genius brother imprisoned for life for treason), he has seen his share of combat and has the medals and the scars to prove them, he is as skilled at fighting as he is at investigating, and although usually he works as part of a team, he can be a one-man-band when required (as is the case here).  There are some moments (like the first chapter) when we follow other characters, but this is for a very good reason, and we, by and far, experience the events from Puller’s perspective. Of course, that does not mean we know everything he knows, because the book hides information at times and that means there are some surprises (the number of surprises might depend on how close your attention and on how many books of the genre you have read).  The story is a combination of a spy story with highly skilled military investigator/hero in charge, and a more standard police procedural, with big secrets, conspiracies, and environmental issues thrown in for good measure. There are hints of a possible romance, but nobody is up to the task, and the time frame is very tight for such developments.

The investigation is very detailed, and we get to know quite a few of the characters in the small West Virginian town of Drake, a coal mining place that has become almost a ghost town due to the environmental and economic consequences of the exploitation and depletion of its resources by the sole industry in the area. Baldacci shares as much loving detail on the way the coal industry works (or at least some far-from-exemplary companies), as he does on everything else: the way the military works, the different roles of the investigating and security agencies and how they interact, the equipment used, the weaponry… This might be too much for some readers, but I am sure it will make others very happy. I did enjoy more the discussions of the environmental issues and the socio-economic effects of the coal-extracting industry than the details about the equipment, but there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers of mystery, and also spy novels, entertained.

My favourite character is Sam Cole, the female police officer in charge of the investigation. She has problems of her own and also a difficult relationship with her family, and seems the perfect match for Puller. I would probably have preferred the novel to be about her, but that is not the genre or the focus of it. In many ways, her character is the one that makes us see Puller as something more than a perfect fighting and investigating machine, all professional, and efficient. Yes, he has a cat, some sort of relationships with his father, and an interesting dynamic with his brother, but she is the only person who is not a relative he seems to relate to at a level beyond the casual, and it is not only because it is helpful to his mission.

I agree with comments that the novel is formulaic in many ways (Puller survives several attempts on his life, has to subvert orders and get inventive to save the day and manages to pull an incredible feat at the end), although as I haven’t read other Baldacci’s books, I cannot comment on how much better or worse Puller is compared to some of his other heroes (Reacher is mentioned often in the reviews, sometimes agreeing he’s as good, others denying it). I imagine once you have such a following as an author, you know what your public wants and expects, so it is perhaps disingenuous to accuse him of writing to a formula. It is not a genre I read often, and I prefer something more distinctive, less heroic, and with a bit of humour.

The book is well paced, the writing supports the story rather than calling attention to itself (as I said, some readers might find there is too much detail, but I doubt his fans will, and after reading the acknowledgements, it is clear that he is well-informed and has had access to first-hand information not many would have), and if you like lone heroes with a conscience, John Puller makes a pretty decent one. Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans. I am not sure I’d say I’ve become one of them, but I might try another one of his stories at some point.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview STREET SOLDIER by Andy McNab (@The_Real_McNab) Action packed, with an engaging protagonist and a hopeful and inspiring message

Hi all:

Some of you might have read this review as I shared it a while back in Lit World Interviews but I hadn’t shared it here and must admit that I’d never thought about reading any of these authors books despite his popularity and this novel made me change my mind.

Street Soldier by Andy McNab
Street Soldier by Andy McNab

Street Soldier by Andy McNab

Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting. One earns him money, the other earns him respect from the gang that he calls family.

A police chase through the city streets is just another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars convinces him to take charge, and turn his life around.

Now he must put his street skills to the ultimate test: as a soldier in the British Army. And the battlefield is London, where innocent people are being targeted by a new and terrifying enemy.

Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker can save the streets from all-out war.

e-book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Street-Soldier-Andy-McNab-ebook/dp/B019CGXV08/

https://www.amazon.com/Street-Soldier-Andy-McNab-ebook/dp/B019CGXV08/

Author Andy McNab
Author Andy McNab

 

About the author:

Andy McNab joined the infantry as a boy soldier. In 1984 he was ‘badged’ as a member of 22 SAS Regiment and was involved in both covert and overt special operations worldwide.

During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, ‘will remain in regimental history for ever’. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS in February 1993. He wrote about his experiences in three books: the phenomenal bestseller Bravo Two Zero, Immediate Action and Seven Troop.

He is the author of the bestselling Nick Stone thrillers. Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK. He is a patron of the Help for Heroes campaign.

www.andymcnab.co.uk

His amazon page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Andy-McNab/e/B000AP6Y7S/

 

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Penguin Random House UK Children’s for providing with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Andy McNab and I was intrigued by his foray into young adult writing and particularly by the main character. Sean Harker is a young boy (sixteen at the beginning of the novel) who loves cars and speed, whose life has been quite difficult, with no male role figure, a mother who has struggled through difficult and often violent relationships and he find his identity and his sense of self through his belonging to a gang. He ends up in prison and is given the opportunity to join the army and make good. Although at first, it sounds to him as if he’d be betraying his friends, when one of those comes to a bad end, he rethinks his priorities. But not everything is plain sailing and old acquaintances and new temptations come his way.

The story is set in the UK (and it uses its location, and particularly London at the end, in a very effective and spectacular way), told in the third person, from the point of view of the young protagonist, Sean, who is street wise but not always good at fully appraising his circumstances or seeing the whole picture. He has his heart in the right place (he feels for his friends, is loyal and wants to protect his mother, and dislikes the racist and sexist comments of some of the other members of his unit) but he can be manipulated and influenced by those more experienced than him. Although the story does not go into psychological depths regarding Sean’s personality and thoughts, and it does not dwell in detail on his past, there is enough to make him sympathetic, and his reactions, doubts, mistakes and fears are all too recognisable and real. He is the small guy everybody tries to take advantage of, who doesn’t know whom he can trust, but he eventually finds his way.

There is plenty of action, including violence (and traumatic and sad events) and use of swear words (although this is not extreme considering the genre), and the novel deals with difficult subjects throughout, including suicide, extreme maiming and death of a teammate by bombing, terrorism, ultra-right politics, gang warfare, domestic violence, imprisonment… The pace is fast, fluid, and there’s not let down of tension and intrigue. It is a true page-turner, and although at times it seems about to go in a dangerous direction, it pulls it all together beautifully at the end. The protagonist is put to the test emotionally, physically and psychologically and although his reasons might be good (or so he thinks) he makes many mistakes. Thankfully he is given a second chance and he proves himself worthy of it.

At the end of the book, the author identifies himself with the main character and explains that his life circumstances were quite similar to those of Sean Harker and how he was also given a chance and now he spends part of his time going to schools to spread the word.  The character and McNab’s own story made me think of many young men I’d met in prison (when I worked as a forensic psychiatrist) whose lives and circumstances were not that different to those of the character depicted in this novel. I just hope they all have the chance, the opportunity and the will to make good too.

Street Soldier is a great read for young adults (and adults) who like action, a well-plotted book, full of tension and emotions. It also delivers a positive and wholesome message and I can see it turned into a successful TV series or an action film. I’m sure this won’t be the last of Andy McNab’s books I’ll read.

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publishers for the book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK! And enjoy your weekend!

 

Categories
Guest author post

L.W. Smith. Military, prisons, death, mediums, Australia, photography…

Hi all:

As I told you last week I’ve decided to dedicate a few posts to share the works of other authors bloggers whose blogs I have already recommended but I’ve realised I haven’t yet talked to you about his books. And no time like now.

Today I bring you an Australian blogger who fascinates me for his versatility, and the great variety of topics he covers in his blog. If you haven’t checked Laurie Smith, I advise you to do it as soon as you can. And here he is!

L. W. Smith

L. W. Smith
L. W. Smith

Writing gritty, adult crime based novels seemed like a natural extension to Laurie Smith’s working life. Retired now after a life of working in the military, prisons, police and security he believes that he has something to write about and says, ‘You can’t be immersed in prison life, then work the streets as a copper without picking up the feel of crime and criminals. These experiences transfer easily to my books, set mainly in Queensland they add a local flavour not found in most novels of this genre.’

Laurie arrived in Australia as a boy from England in 1961 and lived in Sydney for a while before moving to Queensland. After joining the army he was stationed back in Sydney for two years before going to Vietnam. He felt drawn to Kings Cross, Sydney’s notorious red light district. This is where his first novel, Mountain of Death was born. He writes the Death series as L W Smith.

Retired now he fills his time when not writing another novel in his Death series, with photography, blogging and travel. He lives with his wife Lorelle on their rural hideaway in south-east Queensland.

Here his unmissable blog:

http://laurie27wsmith.wordpress.com/

And now his books!

Mountain of Death
Mountain of Death

Mountain of Death

Ten years on the inside can change a man. It changed Jack Hardy, it made him meaner. He knew his first step outside the gates would be the hardest, what he didn’t count on was coming up against someone from his past who brings mean to a whole new level. Everybody enjoys a big payday, none more than Hardy. They called him Hardman in Sydney’s Kings Cross and not just for his disposition. You have to start somewhere and he cut his teeth as a strip club bouncer and thief. A chance encounter brings Eddie Barnes, a Melbourne jockey on the run, into his life and along with a U S serviceman on R&R from Vietnam they pull off an Army payroll. Success breeds confidence and going on the run isn’t part of the deal. Neither is falling in love. Jack’s journey will take you on the road, along the way it’s a mixed bag of sex, violence, pain, loss and death culminating in an orgy of destruction on the Mountain of Death.

From the first page you’ll be drawn into Jack’s world. Stand next to him in his cell as he mulls over his failures and triumphs. There are the women he’s used and those that have used him for their own ends. Feel the excitement mount as he nears the end of ten long years inside where every waking moment could have been his last. Now all he wants is the woman he loves and his three million dollars. All good reasons to be happy, yet he knows that the minute he walks out of the front gate he’ll be the target for anyone with the guts to take him on. He’s left a trail behind him of those who have tried and failed. His journey will take you down dark alleys where you’ll feel knuckles striking flesh, into prison remand yards where a kick in the balls is the least of your worries. You’ll find yourself in dingy strip clubs and grubby flats, tasting the sweet delights of willing female flesh, and good scotch whiskey. Or in the middle of a shootout where bullets don’t discriminate, they kill. This is not a book for the weak of heart, so I suggest you bring along a supply of arnica cream for the bruises and a couple of shots of penicillin – you may need both.

http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Death-Book-1-ebook/dp/B007N66TRM/

Valley of Death
Valley of Death

Valley of Death

Drug addicted, abused and homeless, no one seems to care what happens to street kids in Fortitude Valley. When an underage girl is found dead from an apparent heroin overdose Detective Annie Leeson puts her reputation, career and life on the line to find answers.

So what do you do when your worst nightmares become a living reality? When people from your past aren’t who you think they are. Who can you trust? More importantly, who are you?

Constable Annie Leeson is hard, smart and sexy. A young woman who lives her life with lusty abandon and if she can’t talk her way out of trouble, she’ll fight. She has a good job, relationships and wealth and can handle most things the police force throws at her. It’s difficult enough being a woman and bi sexual in the job. So if you don’t want her in your face then don’t gossip about her adopted dad, Homicide Detective Johnny Leeson. The mail van robbery and his sudden retirement posed more questions than answers. The only downside to life is her dreams and they bring with them more questions than answers. Why do they terrify her? Who are the people in them, and where is her real father?

Fortitude Valley is an inner Brisbane riverside suburb steeped in crime, sex and violence a magnet for the good time crowd. It also attracts the homeless, mentally ill and runaways who fall prey to predators of all ages. Drug dealers ply their trade in the clubs and back alleys and the innocents don’t stay that way for long. Street kids and drug users are not high on society’s list of endangered species. They are seen as a blight, a nuisance something to be ignored. Annie can’t ignore them and when a girl is found dead of an apparent heroin overdose, it brings up frightening connections to her own life. The questions pile up and so do the bodies. She becomes caught up in a perverted web of child abuse, pornography and murder, run by men whose only aims are lust and profit. Who can you trust when those in positions of power do nothing?

Rod and Grace Davis, friends of Detective Johnny Leeson when he was alive, are her only link to the past and she turns to them for help. Lives and reputations are destroyed and she discovers that there is more to love than raw sex. No one she cares about is safe, and driven by her dark past she treads a path that leads only one way – downhill.

http://www.amazon.com/Valley-Death-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00A6QR8A8/

River of Death
River of Death

River of Death

A young woman’s body is found hanging in an abandoned shipping container, at Pinkenba, near Fortitude Valley. This is Detective Senior Constable Simon Fynch’s first case and it’s nearly his last. DSC Annie Leeson, from Brisbane Homicide is assigned to the investigation. When the next body washes up on the shores of the Brisbane River, they find themselves on the hunt for a killer with a bent for the mythological and the bizarre. He has a preference for red haired, green eyed victims, and if they’re pregnant it’s a bonus. On a downward spiral he strives to find his perfect, pure woman and if she doesn’t exist, then he’ll make her. Refined, charming and sadistic he’ll keep killing until he reaches his goal.
If one killer isn’t enough another is on the run from Sydney’s Long Bay Jail and heading north to Queensland. He’s cold, brutal and someone from Detective Annie Leeson’s past. Annie may have hardened and matured since Valley of Death but her relationships are still in turmoil. Old friendships are reignited, new friends are made. Loved ones move on and new lovers fill the emptiness in her life, while she juggles work, relationships and motherhood. Her daughter, Susan is the cornerstone of her life and the centre of her frustration. A gifted child, she has a ‘special friend’ who keeps her company, much to the annoyance of her mother. Killers aren’t Annie’s only problem, her reputation is brought vividly into the spotlight again. Will it affect the investigation, more importantly will it put Susan’s life at risk?
River of Death will keep you reading as the breadth and scope of the killer’s reach unfolds. No one is safe from either killer as they are drawn together by a common bond. Understaffed and overworked the police at Fortitude Valley put everything into tracking down a monster, despite the toll wrought on them.

There are true horror stories out there and they aren’t about vampires and werewolves. We have made these creatures up, to hide the obvious fact that we are the monsters.

http://www.amazon.com/River-Death-L-W-Smith-ebook/dp/B00JAXRZYW/

Thanks so much to Laurie for always sharing the most wonderful content on his blog, thanks to you all for reading, and please, like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

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