Saturday, October 1, 2011

Page 51: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin is the first book in the series entitled A Song of Ice and Fire.  This is a broad sweeping epic with a huge cast of characters, plots and sub-plots, and a setting that becomes more real as you read further and further into the story.  There are four other books published since the first was released in 1996, and I will include them later.

The setting is the Seven Kingdoms which are divided into various feudal fiefdoms very similar to England's feudal period.  The map provided in the book is divided into two main sections.  There is The North with the House of Winterfell as the major feudal entity ruled by Eddard Stark and his family.  Their motto is "Winter is Coming."  Why this is their motto soon becomes apparent when you discover this world has winters and summers that are measured in years rather than months.  A structure named "The Wall" was erected centuries ago and has reached a height of 700 feet.  It is constructed of stone and ice blocks and extends across a narrow section of The North to keep out wild men and other creatures that live north of The Wall.  The Wall is manned by Rangers who are knights and conscripts who have sworn an oath to live out their lives at The Wall.  They dress in black and are considered neutral to the rivalries and battles among the great houses to the south  The Wall, although not in size, reminds me of Hadrian's Wall built by the Romans in Britain to keep the Scots, Picts, and other wild tribes at bay.

The South is obviously warmer in climate and I would guess the distance between The Wall and Casterly Rock, the castle of King Robert, to be 1500 to 2000 miles.  Fortunately the system of measurement used in the book is the English System so the reader doesn't have to do some research to estimate distances, height, etc.

This book is centered around the Starks which include Eddard and his family; King Robert and his family; and the Lannisters, who are the queen's family.  The Starks include Lady Catelyn, Eddard's wife; sons Robb age 14, Brandon age 7, Rickson age 3; daughters Sansa age 11 and Arya age 9.  Eddard's bastard son Jon is 14 at the beginning of the book and is called Jon Snow.  Each of the major houses has bastard sons and use various last names to designate their status.  House Stark uses Snow for a surname.  To make the story even more interesting there is another smaller group, a brother and sister, who are all that is left of the family of the former King and are now in exile in lands farther south of the Seven Kingdoms.  The brother has visions of regaining the throne, but must find a way to raise an army.  The author uses an interesting method for telling his story.  Each chapter is named for one of the main characters and develops the plot and sub-plots around the person whose name heads the chapter.  At first it may seem confusing, but soon it works and the book, all 674 pages in the paperback version, moves along very quickly.

If you are a J. R. R. Tolkien fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings you should like this series.  It is similar, but not the same.  I think this is good.  No one should be able to write like Tolkien and I hope it never happens.  Having said that, this is a very good story that just keeps getting better and better.  Once it pulls you in it does not let go.  I'm already reading the second book in the series A Clash of Kings. The next ones are: A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and the fifth book that recently was published, A Dance With Dragons.  This series is not for the faint of heart.  There is plenty of blood, gore, intrigue, betrayal, and surprises for the hardcore fan of this genre.  Also, the author isn't afraid to kill off some of his main characters.  Some of them deserve killing while others do not.

I realize this quote is long, but I think it will help establish the setting of the book for you.  This appears on the back cover of the paperback version:

"As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer.  Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced.  Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin's stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
    Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance.  In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing.  The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall.  At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to.  Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
    Here an enigmatic band of warriors  bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys.  Amid plots, and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts; the game of thrones."

As Robert Jordan said in his review: "Grabs hold and won't let go.  It's brilliant."  If you are a fan of fantasy and have not read this series, what are you waiting for?  Get reading!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Page 50: Blood Work

Blood Work by Michael Connelly is a departure from the Harry Bosch novels. This time the main character is a former FBI profiler who has survived a heart transplant and is living on his boat moored at an LA marina. Terry McCaleb is still recuperating from heart transplant surgery and concentrating on taking his medications, following his doctor's orders and staying alive.

Terry has a visitor one day. Graciela Rivers wants him to find the killer of her sister. Her sister was murdered in a convenience store by a stone cold killer and the police have so far come up with no major breaks in the case. Terry is torn. He misses his FBI work as a profiler yet doesn't want to jeopardize his recovery. When he decides to help he tells his doctor. She tells him point blank that if he does anything to hurt his chances for recovery she will no longer see him as a patient. Being the stubborn and driven person he has always been, he takes his chances and starts an investigation.

Things become interesting very quickly and Terry finds himself on a roller coaster ride faced with a LA homicide cop who hates him for poaching on his turf, and a killer who is smart and devious. His only support is the guy who has a boat in the next berth. The only problem is that he wants to be a partner and not just a driver. A detective from the county helps Terry and they start developing some good leads.

Everything starts to speed up like the downhill ride on a roller coaster and one surprise after another changes everything you thought you had figured out. It just gets better and better until the plot resolution explodes in your face.

Michael Connelly writes good stuff and this is no exception. This was made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood, but please read the book first. The movie was good, but as is often the case the book was better.

No reviews this time, just my take on the book. If you aren't a Michael Connelly fan you will be after reading Blood Work.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Page 49: The King Killer Chronicles

Patrick Rothfuss has published the first two books of his fantasy series. The first is The Name of the Wind and the second is The Wise Man's Fear. I have been reading fantasy ever since I discovered Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings many years ago. I have also read many of the books by Terry Brooks and David Eddings.  Both have created wonderful worlds populated by great characters. Patrick Rothfuss has joined their ranks with The King Killer Chronicles. So, why do I think he is that good?

Patrick Rothfuss has written two books that have not only received good reviews, but have a loyal cadre of followers who are salivating for the third book. In the first book we are introduced to Kote, an innkeeper in a remote village, who is more than he appears to be to the locals. He is in fact "Kvothe the Bloodless", "The King Killer", and several other names that have made him a legend at a young age. A scribe named Chronicler discovers his whereabouts and comes to the Wayside Inn to write down his story.  Kvothe agrees to tell his story much to the surprise of Bast, Kvothe's current student. Book one covers the first day of the telling of the story. There are several pauses or interludes in the story in order for Kvothe to do the kinds of things an innkeeper does.  He prepares food, pours drinks, and banters with the locals.  Here is what Publishers Weekly has to say about the first book.

Starred Review. The originality of Rothfuss's outstanding debut fantasy, the first of a trilogy, lies less in its unnamed imaginary world than in its precise execution. Kvothe ("pronounced nearly the same as 'Quothe' "), the hero and villain of a thousand tales who's presumed dead, lives as the simple proprietor of the Waystone Inn under an assumed name. Prompted by a biographer called Chronicler who realizes his true identity, Kvothe starts to tell his life story. From his upbringing as an actor in his family's traveling troupe of magicians, jugglers and jesters, the Edema Ruh, to feral child on the streets of the vast port city of Tarbean, then his education at "the University," Kvothe is driven by twin imperatives—his desire to learn the higher magic of naming and his need to discover as much as possible about the Chandrian, the demons of legend who murdered his family. As absorbing on a second reading as it is on the first, this is the type of assured, rich first novel most writers can only dream of producing. The fantasy world has a new star. (Apr.)  Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The second book continues the story as recounted by Kvothe during the second day. One of the more poignant  themes of the first book is continued.  It appears that Kvothe is losing his ability to practice the magic that has been the basis of much of the legend surrounding him.

As the story moves on Kovthe is still at "the University", but takes a sabbatical after much urging from the faculty.  His travels take him to another part of his world to work for the the most powerful man in Vintas.  He is given the task of leading a group of mercenaries to kill a band of bandits in the forests of Vintas who are stealing from the tax collectors.  While in the forest he manages to enter the realm of Fae when the group sees the legendary Felurian bathing in a forest pool.  Men have not usually survived an encounter with her, but Kvothe manages quite well and returns with a special cloak made for him by Felurian.  He also travels with his friend Tempi, one of the mercenaries searching for the bandits, to Adem.  Adem is a warrier culture that reminds me a lot of feudal Japan.  In Adem he learns both the physical and spiritual art of the warrier.  While in Adem, Kvothe must overcome challenges that are quite different from those he faces at the University. The book ends with a recounting of the three silences that surround the Waystone Inn.  You will find out what they are when you read the book.

Here is the review from Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. As seamless and lyrical as a song from the lute-playing adventurer and arcanist Kvothe, this mesmerizing sequel to Rothfuss's 2007's debut, The Name of the Wind, is a towering work of fantasy. As Kvothe, now the unassuming keeper of the Waystone Inn, continues to share his astounding life story—a history that includes saving an influential lord from treachery, defeating a band of dangerous bandits, and surviving an encounter with a legendary Fae seductress—he also offers glimpses into his life's true pursuit: figuring out how to vanquish the mythical Chandrian, a group of seven godlike destroyers that brutally murdered his family and left him an orphan. But while Kvothe recalls the events of his past, his future is conspiring just outside the inn's doors. This breathtakingly epic story is heartrending in its intimacy and masterful in its narrative essence, and will leave fans waiting on tenterhooks for the final installment. (Mar.) 
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

I hope I have enticed you to read these books whether fantasy is your genre or not.  One caveat before you begin.  They are long, but read quickly.  I listened to the Audible version of the second book.  When I downloaded it there were five sections of approximately 8 hours each.  I enjoyed every minute!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Page 48: The Harry Bosch Novels by Michael Connelly

I have been reading many books including a few audio books since my last post.  Sorry for the delay. Thank you to those of you who still visit the blog and also to those of you who are new.  I appreciate your interest and hope you have been encouraged to read some of the books I write about.  Instead of blogging just one book in this post I thought it would be a change of pace to talk about several books by the same author with a brief description of each.

Michael Connelly has been writing great crime fiction since his first Harry Bosch novel entitled The Black Echo. The next three in the series are The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde and The Last Coyote.

The Harry Bosch novels are about a homicide detective who is a loner, butts heads with the "brass", is as persistent as a dog with a bone, and is very very good solving murders. The scene for most of the books is Los Angeles. Connelly portrays the city in a straightforward way. He takes you from the towers of Universal City to the back alleys of Hollywood. I keep checking a map of LA to try to follow where his investigations take him.  So far I have read the first four Harry Bosch novels and am working on a fifth novel, but more about that one in another post. The fifth is not part of the Harry Bosch series.  Once I find a series I like, I prefer to read them in order. I am glad I am doing this with the Harry Bosch series since the character development has been a continuous thread throughout in these first four books.  In addition, more is revealed about Harry's past that helps explain his doggedness and being a loner.  This is especially true in The Last Coyote.

Here is a brief description of the first four books:

The Black Echo introduces Harry Bosch.  Harry has been demoted from an elite investigative unit to the Hollywood Detective Division.  A body is found in a a drainage pipe near a reservoir off Mulholland Drive.  The deceased was once in Harry's platoon in Vietnam.  Their job was to go down into the underground tunnels of the Viet Cong with just a flashlight and a pistol to kill as many as possible and still come out alive.  Then they would blow up the tunnel in order to collapse it.  Tunnels are the theme for this story and Harry ends up working with the FBI as he tries to solve the murder.  The FBI is trying to solve a bank robbery that is connected to the murdered man.  The robbers dug a tunnel and came up into the vault on Memorial Day weekend.  This one has a lot of surprises and the plot moves along at a very good pace.

The Black Ice involves an investigation into the death of a narcotics agent that apparently committed suicide in a run-down motel.  Harry goes against the suicide conclusion and pursues his own theory of how the agent was killed.  As he follows the clues they lead him to Mexico and the discovery of a connection between a Mexican drug lord and an LA cop.  The story is fast-paced with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing the outcome until the very end.  Even when you think you have it figured out, forget it, you don't.

The Concrete Blonde has a very creative plot.  It follows Harry Bosch during a trial where the city is being sued by the family of a man Harry killed prior to the timeline of the first book.  This is what got him demoted to the Hollywood Division. Harry shot and killed a man he thought was "The Dollmaker", a serial killer who put makeup on his victims after they were killed.  Harry followed a tip that "The Dollmaker" was in a second floor apartment.  Harry went to the apartment, kicked in the door and found a man standing by a bed.  The man reached under a pillow, and Harry warned him to stop, but he kept reaching.  Harry shot and killed him.  When Harry checked, he found the man had been reaching for his toupe.  While Harry must be at the trial every day, he is also conducting an investigation when another body is found in concrete under a storage building that burned during the riots in Watts.  Questions start popping up.  Did Harry shoot the wrong man?  Is there a second killer imitating "The Dollmaker"?  All questions will be answered, but only after a plot that moves so fast you will have trouble keeping up.

The Last Coyote reveals the most about Harry's past and the forces that drive him.  This book finds Harry  suspended for striking his supervisor and pushing him through the window of his office.  He is required to see the police department psychiatrist.  As the book progresses we find that Harry's mother was murdered in the early 1960's and her body found in a dumpster.  The murderer was never found and the case quickly ended up in the unsolved files.  His mother was a prostitute and Harry spent most of his youth in institutions after he was taken away from her.  After Harry visits one of his mother's old friends, he decides to try to find out what happened.  Some of those involved are still living so Harry tracks them down and tries to get answers to his questions.  Some are cooperative, others are not.  In fact, people start dying and the plot rockets faster and faster from there.  All I can say is that Michael Connelly gets better with each book.  If you like crime fiction, Michael Connelly is one of the best.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Page 47: Unbroken

The full title of this book is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption written by Laura Hillenbrand who also wrote Seabiscuit.  On the surface this is story of a very brave and courageous man who experienced the horrors of internment in various Japanese POW camps.  The lesson for all of us reading about the life of Louis Zamperini is that the will to survive knows no limits if you are made of the right stuff  and have a few breaks as well.

This biographical story includes his childhood, delinquent behavior, track star status and Olympic competitor in the 1936 games in Berlin, his experiences as a bombardier on a B-24 in the Pacific Theater, the shooting down of his plane, and his survival in the infamous Japanese POW camps.  It is truly a story of survival, resilience, and redemption.

I can go on and on about this book, but in order to appreciate this story please read the book.  Take my word for it.  You will not be disappointed.  I have read many books this past year, some great ones, and this is one of them.

Here is a description from the author herself:

"Eight years ago, an old man told me a story that took my breath away. His name was Louie Zamperini, and from the day I first spoke to him, his almost incomprehensibly dramatic life was my obsession.
It was a horse--the subject of my first book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend--who led me to Louie. As I researched the Depression-era racehorse, I kept coming across stories about Louie, a 1930s track star who endured an amazing odyssey in World War II. I knew only a little about him then, but I couldn’t shake him from my mind. After I finished Seabiscuit, I tracked Louie down, called him and asked about his life. For the next hour, he had me transfixed.
Growing up in California in the 1920s, Louie was a hellraiser, stealing everything edible that he could carry, staging elaborate pranks, getting in fistfights, and bedeviling the local police. But as a teenager, he emerged as one of the greatest runners America had ever seen, competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he put on a sensational performance, crossed paths with Hitler, and stole a German flag right off the Reich Chancellery. He was preparing for the 1940 Olympics, and closing in on the fabled four-minute mile, when World War II began. Louie joined the Army Air Corps, becoming a bombardier. Stationed on Oahu, he survived harrowing combat, including an epic air battle that ended when his plane crash-landed, some six hundred holes in its fuselage and half the crew seriously wounded.
On a May afternoon in 1943, Louie took off on a search mission for a lost plane. Somewhere over the Pacific, the engines on his bomber failed. The plane plummeted into the sea, leaving Louie and two other men stranded on a tiny raft. Drifting for weeks and thousands of miles, they endured starvation and desperate thirst, sharks that leapt aboard the raft, trying to drag them off, a machine-gun attack from a Japanese bomber, and a typhoon with waves some forty feet high. At last, they spotted an island. As they rowed toward it, unbeknownst to them, a Japanese military boat was lurking nearby. Louie’s journey had only just begun.
That first conversation with Louie was a pivot point in my life. Fascinated by his experiences, and the mystery of how a man could overcome so much, I began a seven-year journey through his story. I found it in diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs; in the memories of his family and friends, fellow Olympians, former American airmen and Japanese veterans; in forgotten papers in archives as far-flung as Oslo and Canberra. Along the way, there were staggering surprises, and Louie’s unlikely, inspiring story came alive for me. It is a tale of daring, defiance, persistence, ingenuity, and the ferocious will of a man who refused to be broken.
The culmination of my journey is my new book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. I hope you are as spellbound by Louie’s life as I am."

There are many review of this book.  Here is one of them.

   From Publisher's Weekly:

"Starred Review. From the 1936 Olympics to WWII Japan's most brutal POW camps, Hillenbrand's heart-wrenching new book is thousands of miles and a world away from the racing circuit of her bestselling Seabiscuit. But it's just as much a page-turner, and its hero, Louie Zamperini, is just as loveable: a disciplined champion racer who ran in the Berlin Olympics, he's a wit, a prankster, and a reformed juvenile delinquent who put his thieving skills to good use in the POW camps, In other words, Louie is a total charmer, a lover of life--whose will to live is cruelly tested when he becomes an Army Air Corps bombardier in 1941. The young Italian-American from Torrance, Calif., was expected to be the first to run a four-minute mile. After an astonishing but losing race at the 1936 Olympics, Louie was hoping for gold in the 1940 games. But war ended those dreams forever. In May 1943 his B-24 crashed into the Pacific. After a record-breaking 47 days adrift on a shark-encircled life raft with his pal and pilot, Russell Allen "Phil" Phillips, they were captured by the Japanese. In the "theater of cruelty" that was the Japanese POW camp network, Louie landed in the cruelest theaters of all: Omori and Naoetsu, under the control of Corp. Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a pathologically brutal sadist (called the Bird by camp inmates) who never killed his victims outright--his pleasure came from their slow, unending torment. After one beating, as Watanabe left Louie's cell, Louie saw on his face a "soft languor.... It was an expression of sexual rapture." And Louie, with his defiant and unbreakable spirit, was Watanabe's victim of choice. By war's end, Louie was near death. When Naoetsu was liberated in mid-August 1945, a depleted Louie's only thought was "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!" But as Hillenbrand shows, Louie was not yet free. Even as, returning stateside, he impulsively married the beautiful Cynthia Applewhite and tried to build a life, Louie remained in the Bird's clutches, haunted in his dreams, drinking to forget, and obsessed with vengeance. In one of several sections where Hillenbrand steps back for a larger view, she writes movingly of the thousands of postwar Pacific PTSD sufferers. With no help for their as yet unrecognized illness, Hillenbrand says, "there was no one right way to peace; each man had to find his own path...." The book's final section is the story of how, with Cynthia's help, Louie found his path. It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative of the atrocities committed (one man was exhibited naked in a Tokyo zoo for the Japanese to "gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body") against American POWs in Japan, and the courage of Louie and his fellow POWs, who made attempts on Watanabe's life, committed sabotage, and risked their own lives to save others. Hillenbrand's triumph is that in telling Louie's story (he's now in his 90s), she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption. (Nov.) -Reviewed by Sarah F. Gold"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

I have a pretty good back log of books I plan to blog about.  Keep checking in for more.

Keep on reading!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Page 46: Three Stations

Martin Cruz Smith, in his seventh Arkady Renko novel Three Stations, brings us another look at the seamy side of Moscow and the criminals that flourish there.  This time Senior Investigator Arkady Renko is in danger of once again being fired for doing his job.  He steps on a lot of toes and searches for truth where those higher in the food chain don't want the truth to be discovered.

This time Arkady is involed in the investigation of the death of a prostitute.  His boss insists it was an overdose, but Arkady stubbornly pursues his instincts that tell him she was murdered.  His investigation leads him to a member of the Russian capitalist oligarchy that helps provide clues to the killing.  Arkady battles his boss as steps are taken to relieve him of his position.  To make matters more interesting, a young mother has her baby stolen about the same time as the death of the young prostitute, and the parallel plots play out as we are introduced to the characters who hang out at "Three Stations" also known as Komsomol Square in Moscow.

Several critics feel this is one the weaker novels in the series, but I think it is good enough since it provides a look at a side of Moscow you won't find in any of the travel brochures.  The writing is still excellent and the tenacity of Arkady is like a dog with a bone.  He hangs on for dear life when he believes he is right even if it means the end of his career.  All in all this is still a good Martin Cruz Smith novel.

Here is a review from Bookmarks Magazine:

"Taken together, notes the Cleveland Plain Dealer"Cruz's novels chart the political and social changes that have transformed the former Soviet Union over these last 30 years--and the banes of indolence, indifference and corruption that seem to survive every Russian regime." The capable Renko, of course, has followed right along, and he is still as adept as ever at exposing dishonesty and corruption. Critics agree that if Three Stations is not the best entry in the seven-part series, Cruz brings to harrowing life the world of prostitution rings, runaway children, street gangs, and corruption, and his writing dazzles. A few opine that Three Stations feels a little thin and rushed, but that is a minor complaint in a series that continues to follow, warily and intelligently, Russia's evolution."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Page 45: Dead or Alive

The last two months have been very busy.  I have been promoting my book, The Craft, but still trying to read more books.  My apologies to all of you who came to this site for the two month hiatus and found not a single new blog post.  With a new year just beginning I will once again be doing regular posts, at least until it's time to do my taxes. Here is the first with more to follow.

I just finished Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy along with Grant Blackwood.  The top secret private organization, the Campus, is back.  The search for the elusive terrorist, the Emir, is the main focus of the plot.  Jack Ryan Jr. is featured along with the other members of the Campus.  President Jack Ryan is also in this book, and the problem of his finding out what Jack Jr. is really doing is finally resolved.

John Clark and Ding Chavez participate in one last mission for Rainbow Six in Libya before they retire and return to CIA headquarters at Langley for further instructions.  The Agency has changed with the election of a new president. The two warriors find it being run by bureaucrats who are more interested in politics than national security.  They are summarily retired by the Agency.  However, both John and Ding are recruited by the Campus and jump right into the search for the Emir.  The plot is classic Tom Clancy and moves along at a very rapid pace.  The Emir is in the midst of planning several operations that, if successful, will create very major problems for the United States.  He is number one on the most wanted terrorist list and the staff at the Campus start unraveling threads they hope will lead to his capture or death.  Jack Ryan Jr's. cousins, Dominic and Brian Caruso, round out the cast of main characters involved in the search for the Emir and his fellow terrorists.

This is a chilling and all too possibly real story about terror attacks here at home and abroad.  If you are a Tom Clancy fan this is must reading.  He is back on his game!!

Here is one review of the book:

Los Angeles Times

"Clancy fans may regard "Dead or Alive" as rather like one of those NBA "dream teams" they throw together for the Olympics; win, lose or draw it's fun to see them all on the court. This time, the best characters from all Clancy's previous novels are on the case, including Jack Ryan and his son, Jack Ryan Jr.; the deadly John Clark (Jack senior's darker half); the Caruso brothers, Dominic and Brian; the ace intelligence analyst Mary Pat Foley; and even Clark's protégé, Ding Chavez. Their quarry is the "Emir," a Bin Laden-like terrorist in hiding after a series of horrific attacks on the United States by his Al Qaeda-like network...For fans of the genre, "Dead or Alive" is likely to provide a long weekend's pleasure..."--(Rutten, Tim)