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Prep school boy goes back as a teacher to solve the disappearance of his friend.


Shadow of the Lions

Algonquin Books, 2017, 368 pages



How long must we pay for the crimes of our youth?

It has been almost 10 years since Matthias graduated from the elite Blackburne School, where his roommate and best friend, Fritz, fled into the woods, never to be heard from again, in the middle of their senior year. Fritz vanished just after an argument over Matthias' breaking of the school's honor code, and Matthias has long been haunted by the idea that his betrayal led to his friend's disappearance.

Years later, after hitting the fast lane in New York as a successful novelist - then falling twice as hard - Matthias is stuck, a failure as a writer, a boyfriend, a person. When he is offered the opportunity to return to Blackburne as an English teacher, he sees it as a chance to put his life back together. But once on campus, Matthias gets swiftly drawn into the past and is driven to find out what happened to Fritz. He partners with a curmudgeonly local retired cop and tries to solve the case, dealing with campus politics, the shocking death of a student, Fritz's complicated and powerful Washington, DC, family, and his own place in the privileged world of Blackburne.


In which the writer's teenage years were particularly angsty.Collapse )




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Book Review: Satori, by Don Winslow

A prequel to Shibumi, starring Nicholai Hel before he became the quintessential Gary Stu.


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Grand Central Publishing, 2011, 504 pages



Nicholai Hel--genius, mystic, and the perfect, formidable assassin--was first introduced to readers in Shibumi, the classic #1 bestseller by master storyteller Trevanian. Now, critically-acclaimed author Don Winslow continues Hel's story for the first time in this all-new, blockbuster thriller.

It is the fall of 1951 and the Korean War is raging. Twenty-six year-old Nicholai Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Hel is a master of hoda korosu or "naked kill," fluent in seven languages, and has honed extraordinary "proximity sense" - an extra awareness of the presence of danger. He has the skills to be the world's most fearsome assassin and now the CIA needs him. The Americans offer Hel freedom, money, and a neutral passport in exchange for one small service: go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union's Commissioner to China. It's almost certainly a suicide mission, but Hel accepts. Now he must survive chaos, violence, suspicion, and betrayal while trying to achieve his ultimate goal of satori - the possibility of true understanding and harmony with the world.



An action-packed thriller that misses the satirical bite of Trevanian's novel.Collapse )




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The author of Harry Bosch writes a legal thriller.


The Lincoln Lawyer

Little, Brown, 2005, 404 pages



New York Times best-selling author Michael Connelly delivers his first legal thriller, an incendiary tale about a cynical defense attorney whose one remaining spark of integrity may cost him his life.

Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn't recognize innocence if it stood in front of him. Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense pro who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, to defend clients at the bottom of the legal food chain. It's no wonder that he is despised by cops, prosecutors, and even some of his own clients.

From bikers to con artists to drunk drivers and drug dealers, they're all on Mickey Haller's client list. But when a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman, Haller has his first high-paying client in years. It's a franchise case, and he's sure it will be a slam dunk in the courtroom. For once, he may be defending a client who is actually innocent.

But an investigator is murdered for getting too close to the truth, and Haller quickly discovers that his search for innocence has taken him face to face with a kind of evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, Haller must use all of his skills to manipulate a system in which he no longer believes.


The defense lawyer vs. cops and his own client.Collapse )

Also by Michael Connelly: My review of The Black Echo.




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Another WWII memoir, this one by a Japanese officer who served aboard the Yamato.


Requiem for Battleship Yamato

Bluejacket Books, 1999 (originally published in Japanese in the 1950s), 208 pages



Requiem for Battleship Yamato is Yoshida Mitsuru's story of his own experience as a junior naval officer aboard the fabled Japanese battleship as it set out on a last, desperate sortie in April 1945. Yoshida was on the bridge during Yamato's fatal encounter with American airplanes, and his eloquent, moving account of that battle makes a singular contribution to the literature of the Pacific war. The book has long been considered a classic in both Japan and the United States. As with most great battle stories, its ultimate concern is less bombs and bullets than human nature, less death than life.



There wasn't much glory in serving aboard a battleship that was obsolete when it was built.Collapse )




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A whiny emo stalker blames society for being a creep. The play was better.


The Phantom of the Opera

Originally published in 1909; 264 pages



The story begins with an investigation into some strange reports of an "opera ghost", legendary for making the great Paris opera performers ill-at-ease when they sit alone in their dressing rooms. Some allege to have seen the ghost in evening clothes moving about in the shadows. Nothing is done, however, until the disappearance of Christine during her triumphant performance. With an increasing pattern of fear and violence, The Phantom of the Opera begins to strike, but always with a beautiful young performer at the center of his deadly desires.


The Phantom is a 19th-century Kylo Ren, with a little bit of Batman.Collapse )




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Building a space elevator is not as interesting as it sounds.


The Fountains of Paradise

Harcourt Brace, 1979, 245 pages



Vannemar Morgan's dream is to link Earth to the stars with the greatest engineering feat of all time: a 24,000-mile-high space elevator. But first he must solve a million technical, political, and economic problems while allaying the wrath of God. For the only possible site on the planet for Morgans Orbital Tower is the monastery atop the Sacred Mountain of Sri Kanda.


Clarke's love of Sri Lanka and hard SF.Collapse )

Also by Arthur C. Clarke: My review of Rendezvous with Rama.




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Urban fantasy worldbuilding in Boston that can't quite escape its romance-genre origins.


The Black Wolves of Boston

Baen Books, 2017, 356 pages



Rebuild a life, save a city

Silas Decker had his world destroyed when he was attacked by vampires outside of New Amsterdam. He has rebuilt his life a dozen times in the last 300 years - each time less and less successfully. Now he lives alone, buried under a hoarding habit, struggling to find some reason to wake up with the setting of the sun.

Eloise is a Virtue, pledged to hunting evil. What she doesn't know is how to live alone in a city full of strangers who know nothing about monsters.

Seth is the 16-year old Prince of Boston, ward of the Wolf King. Now he is left in a city that desperately needs his protection with enemies gathering all around.

Joshua believes he is a normal, college-bound high school senior. His life is shattered when he wakes up in a field, covered with blood, and the prom committee scattered in pieces about him like broken dolls.

These four must now come together to unravel a plot by Wickers, witches who gain power from human sacrifices and have the power to turn any human into their puppet. Four people who lost everything struggle to save Boston by saving each other.


Hot angelic slayers, homoerotic vampires and werewolves, and witches who are not the hippie Wiccan variety.Collapse )




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SF&F with a topical flair,


Children of a Different Sky

Kos Books, 2017, 188 pages



A themed anthology concerned with issues around migrants (immigrants, refugees) and their difficult existence. Twelve luminous stories (from authors like Seanan McGuire, Marie Brennan, Brenda Cooper, Pat McEwen, Aliette de Bodard - as well as some writers whose very first published story appears in this collection) and two heartbreaking poems by Jane Yolen make up this charity anthology the profits from which are going directly to two organizations working with migrant populations most directly in need of assistance.


Short stories about immigrants and refugees, a mixed bag of moralizing and light fantasy.Collapse )




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World War Z meets giant robots.


Sleeping Giants

Del Rey, 2016, pages320



An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth - and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved - its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand's code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What's clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history's most perplexing discovery - and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?


How to make a serious sci-fi novel out of Voltron.Collapse )




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Book Review: Dead Certain, by Adam Mitzner

A lawyer with a secret life finds out her little sister has one too.


Dead Certain

Thomas & Mercer, 2017, 348 pages



Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city's most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she's not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she's sold her first novel, Ella couldn't be more thrilled...until she gets a call that her sister's gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister's novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?


Life imitates fiction, a little too closely.Collapse )

Also by Adam Mitzner: My review of A Conflict of Interest.




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