[books] Robert Clark's Flypaper Page
Books I Have Read

This page list the books I have read since July 1997, most recent at the top of the list. I'll give each book a star rating, from [0.5star] (poor) to [5star] (excellent). I'll also give a brief review of each book, and the month I read it. Where possible I'll link the titles to their entries at http://www.amazon.com/, (use the [usflag]), so that you can purchase them through the Amazon.com Associates Program, or at http://www.amazon.co.uk/, (use the [ukflag]), through the Amazon.co.uk Associates Program. At the bottom of this page there are search boxes to find authors, titles or subjects directly from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

[hit] Tom Clancy's Op-Centre by Tom Clancy, Steve Pieczenik [3star]
I think that this was the first of the Op-Centre series. The National Crisis Management Centre proves itself by managing to avert a war breaking out between North and South Korea. Makes you wonder how much of hte technology is for real or just fiction! (January 2002).

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[hit] The Tailor of Panama by John le Carré[1p5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Harry Pendel, and ex-convict, has reinvented himself as a master tailor in Panama. When Andy Osnard, a young intelligence officer is posted there, he sees Pendel to be his perfect agent; connections in high places who can find all the information he wants, and an opportunity to line his own pocket as well. Little does Osnard realise that all the information he is being supplied is the result of Pendel's active imagination.
I kept reading in the hope that at some stage it would turn into a classic le Carré - I can't begin to imagine why it was turned into a film! (December 2001).

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[hit] Peace on Earth by Gordon Stevens[2p5star]
British SAS officer vs Palestinian terrorist. They each see reports of the results of the others work and know they are destined to meet and eventually do when the terrorist hijacks a plane. (December 2001).

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[hit] Ice Station by Matthew Reilley[4star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Military action-adventure. A small group of Marines are sent to investigate a large metallic object found in a cave buried under a remote Antarctic Ice Station. However, the French government have sent a mission to recover the object or blow it up, a British SAS team is on the way, and for good measure one of the marines is sabotaging efforts as he works for an ultra-secret US government body! Good fun! (December 2001).

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[hit] Plum Island by Nelson DeMille[4star] [ukflag] [usflag]
NYPD detective John Corey is convalescing on Long Island following being wounded in the line of duty. When a young attractive couple, Tom and Judy Gordon, are founded on their patio, the local police chief Sylvester Maxwell calls on John to share his expertise. At first it appears that the couple disturbed a burglar, but soon the authorities start to wonder if the motive is to do with the couple's work: biologists as an off-shore animal disease research centre. Preliminary investigations suggest that the scientist may have been working on a vaccine for some form of germ warfare, and whilst the FBI and Department of Agriculture are happy to promote that theory, to allay local fears, John Corey carries on his investigations.
A good suspense novel (October 2001).

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[hit] Airframe by Michael Crichton[4star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Casey Singleton is in charge of the Quality Assurance team at Norton Aircraft. The firm are working hard to win a big order to supply their wide-bodied jet to China, when one of their planes encounters what the pilot reports as 'turbulence'. The result of the incident is three deaths and 56 injuries.
As the Incident Review Team start their investigations, press reports appear condemning the plane as unsafe and Norton as not having a tackled a long-standing problem - an uncommanded slats extension. This, together with rumours that part of the Chinese deal will include letting the Chinese build the wings for the new jets, make everybody worried, and Casey's life is threatened on a number of occasions as the shop floor workers see her as being instrumental in the possible loss of their jobs.
Good tense thriller (October 2001)

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[hit] Siege of Stone by Chet Williamson[3star] [usflag]
Book three of The Searchers series.
The team are sent back to Scotland to follow up "The Prisoner" and his involvement with some Scottish Nationalist terrorists.
Enjoyable read, but let down by the lack of continuity between volumes two and three - in volume two a crucifix is made of gold, but in this book it is made of silver! (June 2001).

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[hit] Empire of Dust by Chet Williamson[3star] [usflag]
Book two of The Searchers series.
The undercover CIA agents are sent to investigate strange events in the Southwestern deserts. Now searching for more evidence of "The Prisoner", and his internment by the Catholic Church and The Knights Templar. (June 2001).

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[hit] City of Iron by Chet Williamson[3star] [usflag]
Book one of The Searchers series.
Laika Harris, Tony Luciano and Joseph Stein are CIA agents given assignments to investigate psychic phenomena and debunk tricksters and fraudsters. After their first successful assignment, they are sent to investigate the discovery of eleven charred bodies in a remote mountain lodge and the disappearance of a New York artist. Both events are soon discovered to be linked....
Strong X-Files like story lines. (June 2001).

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[hit] Black Market by James Patterson[3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
When Wall Street is bombed by a group calling themselves Green Band, the world financial markets go into a spin. Agent Archer Carroll and Lawyer Caitlin Dillon are given the task of investigating the loss of stock and bond certificates stolen during the attack, but find that Green Band are always one step ahead of them.
The first James Patterson book I have read - I'll be looking out for more! (April 2001).

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[hit] The Year 1000 - What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger[4.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Somewhere around the year 1020, a manuscript showing the feast and saints days of the year was produced. This document (now in the British Library) also had small sketches for each month showing rural scenes from Anglo-Saxon Engla-lond. This inspired the authors to research what life was like at the turn of the first millennium. Using the months of the year and the sketches, we learn what the monthly tasks for the average citizen were. This books is full of interesting facts including average heights of the people, how coins were minted, and the origin of place names ("ham" as in Clapham is Old English for "settlement", indicating Anglo-Saxon origins, whereas "by" meaning "farm" as in Grimsby indicates a Danish or Viking origins).
From scant documentation, the authors have investigates and surmised (in some instances) to produce a very readable book about the life and times 1000 years ago. (September 2000)

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[hit] News from Tartary - A Journey from Peking to Kashmir by Peter Fleming[2.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Peter Fleming was the brother of Ian Fleming the famous James Bond author. None of the heroics and fighting of his brother's books, but a tale of his journey with fellow journalist Kini Maillart from Peking to India in 1936. Fleming comes across as a bumbling amateur, but (maybe because of that) nevertheless they managed to complete their mission despite difficulties with the Chinese authorities and officialdom, recalcitrant pack animals, monotonous diet, extremes of weather, deserts and mountains. They covered the 3,500 mile journey in just under seven months for less than 150.
A very gentle read, but with some interesting insights into the political situation in that area at the time. I would have found it useful if there had been a map to aid understanding of their journey and the hazards they encountered. (September 2000)

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[hit] Disclosure by Michael Chrichton[4star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Tom Sanders is a successful manager in a firm producing computer components. The are in the the process of merger discussions and Tom has high hopes of securing one of the senior posts in the new firm. When his ex-girl friend is appointed he is surprised, but prepared to work on with the expectation of big bonuses when the firm is floated on the stock market in a couple of years time. A late-night meeting turns the situation around when Meredith tries to seduce Tom, even though Tom is now happily married. When Meredith accuses Tom of sexual assault, Tom seeks the assistance of a lawyer who specialises in sexual discrimination cases. In the mean time their are technical problems with one of their new products, and Tom is made to appear foolish when the explanations that he and Meredith give to the executives in the other firm appear to be at odds with each other. Their latest product - a fast CD drive and reader codenamed Twinkle is leaving the production line with unacceptable performance problems. As this is under Tom's responsibility, it appears that he is to blame, until he discovers that cost-cutting measures have been instigated by Meredith without his knowledge.
A very readable book - managed to get through it in two days whilst waiting for my wife to do her shopping! (June 2000).

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[hit] Don't Stop The Carnival by Herman Wouk[4.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
This book is a must for anyone visiting the Caribbean!
Norman Paperman decides to leave New York to start running a small hotel in the Caribbean. The ideal turns to strife when the layed-back attitude of the Caribbean starts to cause him problems; his bartender runs away, the cistern runs out of water (and then collapses after a heavy rainfall), the chamber maids run away, his builder leaves him half-way through construction of some new rooms, but Norman manages to overcome all these hurdles and more!
The book highlights the attitudes and difficulties of living and working in the tropics; just because you are used to things working in civilisation, doesn't mean they will work the same way here! (May 2000)

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[hit] 1000 by Gavin Robertson[3star] [ukflag]
Simon Northcott sells equipment to developing countries using money from the US aid program, but being a computer expert, does a little side line in hacking; resetting his credit card, changing his airline ticketing, etc. He realises that there is money to be made from the Foreign Exchange scheme, and uses his contact Buddy to give him the necessary access codes. However, his mathematical skills to carry out the big break are limited, and would love to ask Buddy's colleague Kay (abbreviation K = Thousand, hence her nickname and book title), but as they had one disaster our encounter in the past, Simon is not keen to renew social contact with her. However, when Simon loses his job and Buddy and some other close contacts are found dead under mysterious circumstances, Simon and Kay work together to make the big steal.
Quite an interesting idea; don't know how accurate some of the details are, but enjoyable none the less (April 2000).

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[hit] Hannibal by Thomas Harris[4star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Hanibal Lecter is living the good life incognito in Florence when Clarice Starling is pilloried by the press and some of her colleagues when a drugs bust ends with five deaths. Lecter sends a note to Starling, and the hunt to find him starts, lead by one of his previous victims; Mason Verger. Verger, now living in a respirator, has been plotting his revenge for many years, and has paid informers to give him any news of Lecter anywhere in the world. Starling starts building a library of evidence and information on Lecter that eventually leads to Lecter being caught my Mason's gang.
A thrilling read - once started I couldn't put the book down. Not sure that I agree with the ending, but it certainly was a surprise! (February 2000).

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[hit] The Matarese Countdown by Robert Ludlum[3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Once again, the Matarese are plotting the downfall of governments and civilization. The new kid on the block in the CIA, Cameron Pryce, is sent to find out from Brandon Scofield all that he knows about the Matarese, but when his Brandon's retirements hideout is bombed and attacked, Brandon joins Cameron in a fight to defeat the Matarese for a final (?) time
I read this book first and enjoyed it. The reviews at amazon.com slate the book, and I have to agree that some of the detail isn't as sharp as one usually gets from Ludlum, but the plot still holds up. (February 2000).

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[hit] The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum[3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
When key figures on the US and Russia are assassinated, the killings have all the hallmarks of renowned spys from the opposite camp. However, some influential figures realise that this can't be true, and to the two sworn enemies, Brandon Alan Scofield and Vasili Talaniekov, join forces to fight the common enemy - the Matarese. However, both the US and Russia are out to eliminate their own men as the Matarese has control and the very top of governments worldwide. The Matarese was previously known for carrying out highly-priced and untraceable assassinations, but now is out to take control from the governments through commercial and banking schemes.
A fast moving story - makes you wonder who is really in control! (February 2000).

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[hit] Stone 588 by Gerald A. Browne[4star] [usflag]
Phillip Springer is a small but successful diamond broker in New York, running the family firm established by his father and uncle. When his daughter miraculously recovers from a mental condition that had consigned her to a series on institutions, she credits her recovery to a flawed gemstone. When Philip's lover, Audrey, tends to her aging guardian with the stone, more remarkable healing is evident. When the President is cured of a massive heart attack, Stone 588 becomes a magical asset. Soon after, the Springer firm is robbed of its jewels, including the lucky stone. Springer and Audrey enlist the assistance of a former disgruntled employee of one of the largest diamond houses in New York to plan and carry out their own robbery, made all the more important as Springer's son is found to be suffering from terminal cancer - something Philip and Audrey believe the magical stone could cure.
A very exciting thriller with lots of twists - I'm surprised it hasn't been made into a movie. (December 1999).

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[hit] White Sun Red Star by Robert Elegant[2star] [ukflag] [usflag]
This tome continues the story of life in China started in Elegant's book Mandarin, but this time features the next generation of the Howe's and Halevie's. (So much for having said that Mandarin was the last in a trilogy!) A slow, ponderous book, covering the struggle between the Nationalists and the Communists from 1921 to 1952. (November 1999).

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[hit] Vortex by Larry Bond[3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Karl Vorster, the South African Minister for Law and Order, discovers that the ANC are planning to ambush the famous Blue Train when it carries the government to Pretoria. His right-wing views differ from the government, which wants to scrap apartheid, and so Vorster withholds the intelligence information from his colleagues. Following the massacre, Vorster takes over as President and starts reversing the liberalisation, using the AWB to establish right-wing government.
When South Africa attacks Namibia, Cuba (with Soviet backing) jumps to their defense. Cuba launches a three-prong attack on South Africa, aiming to take over the mineral mines that are so essential to the West.. As the situation continues to escalate, the US and British forces attack Cape Town aided by a mutinous faction of the South African Defense Force. The tension increases as the South Africans make use of nuclear weapons and the Cubans use chemical warfare.
Bond graphically describes the battles, the politics and the diplomacy in this tense story (September 1999).

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[hit] Maze by Larry Collins[2.5star] [usflag]
I find it strange how I can read books from different authors one after another that have a strong common theme between them. In this story, the US and Russia are both studying the power of the brain and how it works. When one of the American's best psychics is discovered murdered it is first assumed to be a mugging gone wrong. However, close examination show that it has all the hallmarks of a KGB assassination, but why they should choose her as a victim is unclear unless they have discovered that the CIA were using her to 'find' Russian submarines in the middle of the ocean. The Russians are more interested in the brain signals given out and whether these can be recreated to trigger a response in a given target.
An exciting read - I'm surprised that it is out of print and only availabe as an audio-cassette! (September 1999)

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[hit] Interface by Stephen Bury[4star] [usflag]
When the President announces that he is going to renege on the national debt when he is returned to power, big business is worried. This news also causes Governor William Cozzano of Illinois to have a stroke, loosing his ability to speak properly and affecting one side of his body. The conglomerates close ranks to develop the technology to plant a biochip in Cozanno's brain to overcome the stroke damage, and start a campaign to get him nominated and elected as President of the US.
This book is labelled as " A brilliant black comedy for the network age". I found very little humour, but a riveting and plausible story where nothing is as it appears because of the control taken by The Network. (August 1999)

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[hit] The Dark Room by Minette Walters[3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Jinx Kingsley wakes up in hospital suffering from amnesia following a car crash that the police believe was a suicide attempt. Two weeks of her life are blank, including the period just after she split-up from her fiancé. As she is recovering, her fianceé and her best friend's bodies are found bludgeoned to death - is a similar manner to the murder or Jinx's husband. Jinx's step-mother and step-brothers don't meet up to the expectations of millionaire Adam Kingsley and so resent Jinx's relationship with their father. The police continue to suspect nearly all of the Kingsley clan of the various murders right up to the end. A good read! (July 1999)

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[hit] Clandestine by James Ellroy[3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Set in L. A. in the 1950s, Frederick Underhill is an ambitious patrolman determined to make his fame as a detective. As a womaniser he chases and gets whoever he sets his eyes on. One of his one-night stands, Maggie Cadwallader, is found murdered and Underhill start investigating. The information he finds earns himself on a small team led by Dudley Smith investigating several similar murders. Using various interrogation techniques they manage to obtain a confession. When it is discovered that their suspect had an alibi, Underhill becomes compromised and is forced to resign from the LAPD in shame.
Several years later, as his marriage starts to come apart another woman is murdered in similar circumstances. Uderhill feels compelled to investigate and soon finds links to the murder of Maggie for which he was shamed and lost his job. As he investigates, more evidence comes to light to identify the true murdered.
A more enjoyable and readable story than L.A. Confidential. (July 1999)

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[hit] Lucky Your by Carl Hiaasen[2.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
JoLayne Lucks buys a ticket for the Florida Lottery from her local Grab N'Go, choosing as her numbers her age when she had problems with various boyfriends that had left her feeling jaded about relationships. Her home town of Grange is a stop-off point for regular pilgrimage tours as it has several religious shrines; a weeping Madonna, a road stain Jesus, and a guy exhibiting (self-inflicted) stigmata. The jackpot for the lottery is $28m, and JoLayne has one of the two winning tickets.
Unfortunately two white supremasists have the other ticket and decide they want the whole jackpot for themselves so that they can build an army to fight the threat on NATO troops attacking from the Bahamas!
Tom Krome, journalist, is sent by his editor to get the story on the lottery winner called Lucks. As he is researching the story, the two hoodlums attack and rape JoLayne and steal her lottery ticket. She isn't happy to let them get away with the crime (she wants the money to buy a plot of land for a nature reserve), and so sets off with Tom to try to recover her ticket, and so begins an adventure down to the Keys.
Not as much black humour as some of other Carl Hiaasen stories. (June 1999)

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[hit] Tom Clancy's Op-Centre: Acts of War created by Tom Clancy & Steve Piecznik[3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Mike Rogers is leading a team testing the Regional Op-Centre (ROC) in Turkey It's sophisticated electronics monitors the destruction on an important dam by Syrian-based Kurdish Freedom Fighters. As the americans try to find the terrorists, they are ambushed by their targets The terrorists soon learn some of the capabilities of the ROC, but the Americans are determined not to let it remain in the hands of the KFF. As the terrorists start to attack other targets, a rescue mission is put into action.
The story covers the growing crisis from a political, intelligence and military perspective as the situation starts to escalate out of control. (June 1999)

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[hit] L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy [2star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Having enjoyed the film, I decided to read the book. Even though all the main characters were there, I found the book more confusing as it was filled with 1950's cop slang, which as a Brit, I found difficult to understand. Having said that, the book certainly conveys the tensions between Exley, Bud White and Jack Vincennes. I guess I'll have to watch the film again to see how close to the original story it is! (May 1999)

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[hit] Cyber-Killers edited by Ric Alexander and Peter F. Hamilton [3.5star] [ukflag]
A collection of science fiction short stories centred around three topics; network and network terrorists, robot and android crime and virtual murder. Written by such famous authors as Terry Pratchet, Iain M Banks and Larry Niven this is a great selection. Each story is introduced by the editors with a brief into accompanied by an outline of the author's background and major writing achievements. (March 1999)

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[hit] (The) Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell [3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
A Chief Inspector Wexford mystery. When Wexford is on holiday in China he doesn't expect to end up investigating the murder of one of his travelling colleagues several months later. Once again Rendell sews in some clever twists into the tale, although in this story the solution is a bit of a let down. (December 1998)

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[hit] A Guilty Thing Surprised by Ruth Rendell [3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
A Chief Inspector Wexford mystery. Elizabeth Nightingale is found murdered in the woods one evening. As Wexford and Burden investigate, the inevitable skeletons appear from the closet, but the solution is still a surprise. (December 1998)

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[hit] Shadowhunter by Geoffrey Archer [2.5star] [ukflag]
A good story about nuclear submarines. Two British subs are on the loose during a NATO exercise off Russia. One of the subs fails to respond to orders and it is feared that it may be about to hand over to the Russians a new top-secret mine as the captain is being blackmailed by the Russians. A chase ensues to try to stop the treason. (December 1998)

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[hit] Notes From a Small Isle by Bill Bryson [2star] [ukflag] [usflag]
This book has been in the best seller lists for a number of years and has had rave reviews. I was extremely disappointed in the book. I found very little humour and got irritated by Bryson complaining about architecture, transport, etc. This isn't a travelogue, just a sequence of towns visited with incidents on the way. As a Brit I didn't feel that it painted an accurate picture of the people or the place. I feel sure that there are better books that address the issues - leave this one on the shelf. (December 1998)

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[hit] The Healing of Holly-Jean by Irene Lin-Chandler [3star] Sorry! Out of Print!
Holly-Jean has established herself as a private investigator in intellectual property rights, specialising in computer software. Given her Chinese background, one of her ex schools friends who runs a chain of English Language Schools asks Holly-Jean to investigate a series of rapes on oriental students. Other events lead to Holly-Jean flying off to Taiwan to investigate, and finds that all the events are part of a continuing fight between two rival Chinese triads. (November 1998)

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[hit] Glitz by Elmore Leonard [3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Vincent Mora, a cop from Miami is injured when a mugger attacks him. To recuperate he holidays in Puerto Rica and falls for a beautiful girl. Vince is concerned when she is lured to Atlantic City to work in one of the casinos, but has to deal with a psycho, Teddy Magyk, tries to get Vince for putting him in prison. When Iris, the girl from PR is found dead in Atlantic City with Vince's name on a piece of paper in her knickers, Vince doesn't believe the accident/suicide theories proposed by the local police. Acting independently from the cops, he manages to solve the murder, catch a minor hoodlum, tidy up the casino scene, fall in love with a cabaret singer, and make some money!
A compelling read, the characters certainly come alive. (November 1998)

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[hit] The Hunted by Elmore Leonard [2star] [usflag]
Jim Rosen is enjoying his retirement in Israel when his actions help save a group of American holidaymakers caught in a hotel fire. His picture appears in press photos, and soon has a small gang on his tail as he was responsible for giving evidence to court that led to the arrest of two criminals. He goes into hiding, aided by a US Marine, as the gang, his secretary, his lawyer and his lover all start looking for him.
I saw that Elmore Leonard wrote the book "Maximum Bob" that the TV series was based on; having enjoyed the TV show I decided to try one of his books. Unfortunately, this one isn't infused with the same humour as the TV series. (October 1998)

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[hit] An Expensive Place to Die by Len Deighton [1star] [usflag]
I bought this in a car boot sale after seeing on the cover "his most intriguing yet", but it was a very disappointing read. The intrigue must be trying to understand the narrative, as it jumps around. The main character in the story is a British under-cover agent trying to pass secrets across to another country, but he falls into investigating a clinic that is actually a front to gather sordid secrets of its clients. I'm not surprised that this is now out of print - the edition I read was on its third reprint and I can only guess that it has been sold on the author's reputation rather than the story. Don't try to buy it! (September 1998).

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[hit] Free to Trade by Michael Ridpath [2.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
I was seduced by the hyperbolas on the cover "... the thriller everyone has been waiting for", "Britain's most exciting new thriller writer", but I don't think the story lives up to these comments. Paul Murray is a junior bond trader in the City of London with ambition and drive to succeed. When his colleague is found dead in the River Thames, Paul becomes the police's chief suspect. As he investigates the circumstances to her death he uncovers a large-scale fraud, and is also accused on insider dealing. It soon becomes apparent that to solve the murder he will have to solve the fraud and clear his name (August 1998).

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[hit] Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle [3star] [usflag]
Although respected Science Fiction authors, this isn't really Science Fiction. The book centres on what happens to society after the Earth is hit by a comet. The impact causes earthquakes, floods and changes in the weather. Society falls apart - small enclaves set up and protect their own interests, whilst marauding armies, cannibalistic gangs and religious nuts roam the countryside. All of this leads up to a battle between the roaming army and one of the more successful strongholds led by an ex-Senator.
When I finished the book, I was slightly disappointed - I wanted to know about how the characters survived. Perhaps that is the mark of a good book - it leaves you wanting to know more! (August 1998)

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[hit] The Discworld Companion by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs [3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Everything you wanted to know about the Discworld, from "Abbys" to "Zweiblumen, Jack", but were afraid to ask! The individual entries are written in the same humorous style as the books which makes for easy reading. Steven Briggs has contributed some of the sketches and maps. Also includes a brief history of Discworld and an interview with Terry Pratchett. (June 1998)

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[hit] Trial by Fire by Harold Coyle[2.5star] [usflag]
A revolution in Mexico removes nearly all of the corrupt officials, and in the process the customers and informants of an underworld "Mr. Fixit". In a bid to try to de-stabilise the new regime, his mercenaries start a guerrilla war along the US/Mexico border. It doesn't take much for the whole situation to turn into war. The story covers the story from various perspectives; the Colonel in the Mexican Army, the mercenaries, the soldiers on both sides, and the professional journalist who acts as a go-between. (April 1998)

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[hit] Extraordinary Powers by Joseph Finder [4star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Ben Ellison left the CIA to work for a legal firm specialising in patent law, making use of his photographic memory. When his father-in-law, Harrison Sinclair, the Director of the CIA is found dead in mysterious circumstances, Ben's previous employer ask him back to help investigate the background and allegations of fraud. Ben is asked to carry out a psychological experiment and emerges with the ability to read thoughts. With his wife Molly, Ben sets out to unravel the events and background to this and other deaths of high-placed intelligence officers. An exciting thriller. (March 1998)

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[hit] The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block [3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Bernie is given information that a rich divorcee, the ex-wife of his dentist, has jewels, etc. worth his attention. As he is about to leave the apartment, the owner, Crystal Sheldrake, returns with a boy friend, so Bernie shelters in a closet, leaving the attache case of jewels in open view. When the boy friend departs, Crystal locks the closet before going to the bathroom. Bernie again has to hide when another visitor arrives who murders Crystal with a dental scalpel and takes Bernie's attache case. Bernie becomes deeply involved in the plot, suspected by the police and others involved, so with his usual lock-picking skills, solves the crimes to everyone's satisfaction and his financial gain. (March 1998)

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[hit] The Burglar who Traded Ted Williams by Lawrence Block [3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
In this story, Bernie's landlord threatens to raise his rent. In an effort to make ends meet, Bernie breaks into an apartment, finds some cash and a body. The next morning he is arrested by the police for a different burglary. However, there is no such thing as coincidence, all these events are related. Bernie seeks to clear his name and untangle the links, and even pokes a little fun at the "The Cat Who..." series by Lilian Jackson Braun. (February 1998)

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[hit] The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins [2.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
First published in 1868, the plot concerns the disappearance of a fabulous yellow diamond. It had originally been plundered from an Indian temple, but found its way back to England. On her birthday, Rachel Verinder inherits the gem from her uncle. She wears it proudly for her party, but in the morning it has been taken. This detective story is written in the format of first-hand reports by the witnesses to the events, recounting their own role in the scenario. (February 1998)

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[hit] The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling by Lawrence Block [3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Bernie Rhodenbarr is induced into stealing a unique copy of a long-lost Kipling Poem. When attempting to deliver the volume, Bernie is drugged and awakes to find a gun in his hand and a corpse sitting opposite him. With the police searching for him, he and his friend Carolyn Kaiser set out to clear his name and discover why so many people are interested in the book. (February 1998)

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[hit] The Cat Who Turned On and Off by Lilian Jackson Braun [3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Jim Qwilleran moves into "Junktown" - home of all the antique and bric-a-brac stores. With the help of the his two cats he solves the death of one of the dealers - it had been thought to be an accidental death, but Jim proves he was murdered. In the process Jim manages to avoid several attempts on his own life, and wins a writing prize for staff on the newspaper. (February 1998)

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[hit] The Cat Who Moved a Mountain by Lilian Jackson Braun [3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Lilian Jackson Braun has written a series of books featuring Jim Qwilleran and his two seal-point Siamese cats, Kao K'o Kung (Koko) and Yum Yum. In this story they holiday at the top of a mountain in a converted inn. As the party move in they discover that the previous owner, a local millionaire developer, was murdered in the home a year ago. Jim discovers that a local lad who protested against the increasing commercialisation was found guilty of the murder. Soon he is investigating, and finding evidence that a miscarriage of justice has taken place. As usual the cats help Jim find the important clues to help him solve the case (February 1998)

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[hit] Jian by Eric Lustbader [2.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Jake Maroc is ambushed as he tries to assassinate his long-term adversary, Nirchiren. This story moves from Japan, Russia, Washington, Peking and Hong Kong as the spies, agents and their masters fight for control of each other and ultimately, Hong Kong. Full of martial-arts fighting, the solution to this convoluted story (almost 700 pages) only gets solved on the last page of the epilogue. (January 1998)

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[hit] Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen [4star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Carl Hiaasen, an investigative journalist for Florida, has written several funny, satirical crime stories, featuring an ex-governor of Florida and a State Highway Patrol trooper. This story centres around crimes and scams following a devastating hurricane. Hiaasen manages to knit several separate events into a fascinating and amusing story. (January 1998)
Hiaasen's books are essential reading for anyone who believes there is more to Florida than theme parks and Miami Vice.

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[hit] Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block [3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Bernie Rhodenbarr, a professional burglar, is asked to steal a box from an apartment. Whilst searching for it, two cops catch him red-handed and also find a body. They assume he murdered the victim. Bernie escapes and sets out to prove his innocence.
It makes a change for the baddie to be the hero of the story. Lawrence Block has written several other stories featuring this lovable rogue. (January 1998)

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[hit] The Silent Miaow translated by Paul Gallico [4star] [usflag]
A delightful book for ailurophiles (cat lovers). An autobiographical manual for cats and kittens on how to get the upper hand in a household, translated from the Feline by Paul Gallico. (December 1997)

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[hit] Mandarin by Robert Elegant [3star] [usflag]
A tale set in China between 1850 and 1875 covering love, war and business as the Western and Chinese cultures learn to live with each other. This is the last in a trilogy of books. (December 1997)

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[hit] Gridlock by Ben Elton [2.5star] [ukflag]
Dr. Geoffrey Pearson, a spastic, Inspired by love for Deborah, a paraplegic, invents a new engine that uses water as its fuel. Interest in this new engine is taken up by one of the largest car manufacturers, the road building industry, the oil producers, etc. Ben Elton is famous as a British Stand-up comedian, and as a script-writer (he worked on the BlackAdder series). (November 1997)

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[hit] Nemesis by Isaac Asimov [3.5star] [usflag]
An earth colony, Rotor, leaves the solar system for a new home, a red dwarf star named Nemesis, only to discover it is on a collision course for Earth. Their new home also has intelligent life! Earth sets out to find where the settlement has gone, and in the process develop super-luminal travel. (November 1997)

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[hit] The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov [3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
A good SF story base around the idea of Time Travel and the paradoxes involved. (October 1997)

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[hit] The Apocalypse Watch by Robert Ludlum [3.5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Another story with a German/Nazi background. Hunt by intelligence officers to find and expose neo-Nazis dedicated to the emergence of a Fourth Reich. Story keeps you guessing to the end - with some clever twists! (September 1997)

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[hit] Genesis by W. A. Harbinson [3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
This fictional account based on some known facts centres on the idea that the Germans are responsible for UFOs. Some plausible explanations for quite a good story (September 1997)

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[hit] Trevayne by Robert Ludlum [3star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Average story. Honest businessman becomes a sub-committee chairman to investigate corruption in business in the USA. Discovers that many influential people and the Mafia don't want the status quo changed. Nice twist at the end. (August 1997)

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[hit] Microserfs by Douglas Coupland [5star] [ukflag] [usflag]
Excellent book. The diary of a computer worker at Microsoft and then in Silicon Valley. Gets a lot of the computer culture. The characters are very true to life, and if you work in the computer industry you may find colleagues like these! (August 1997)

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[hit] Close-Up by Len Deighton [1star] [usflag]
Really a disappointing book. I was expecting another exciting adventure, but this book is about an author writing the biography of a film-star, whilst the star worries about his skin, his performances, the next contract, etc. (July 1997)

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These pages are © Robert Clark, 2004.
Date last updated: 24th May 2004
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