What I’ve Been Reading (Book Reviews)

A host of books have caught my attention lately- some sent my way and some I’ve purchased. Here are some of the more notable ones…

Jon Bassoff, Factory Town. A dark, dark book that leaves you guessing, this one reminded me of “A Hanging on Owl Creek Bridge,’ the short story by Ambrose Pierce, and Memento. Our narrator is NOT exactly reliable, but his tortured soul lets us see multiple sides of some terrible things. Who murdered Russell’s little girl? Why is he here? Who was the man who shot himself in the opening vignette? Ultimately, this is about our inner turmoil, the shadows we chase and the ones that chase us

Lee Child, Personal. The latest Jack Reacher novel featured some of the same premise as Child’s One Shot, the earlier novel reworked to become the Tom Cruise vehicle. Sadly, the film underperformed, too, and this story fails to deliver what earlier novels did. Here, Reacher is “called in from the cold” and finds himself traipsing to Europe as a government-directed assassin and sleuth. Not only does tracking a nemesis seem redundant, but Reacher doesn’t travel to Europe, does he? And the reasons seem contrived that find him in one-on-one battles and other silly situations that make this one pretty forgettable. Too bad, as Child is one of my favorites! 3 out of 5 stars

Debbie Crombie, To Dwell in Darkness. This might be the best book I’ve read in the past month. It was ultimately a story about a group of protesters with a loosely-organized friendship, who end up being the cause of a near-terrorist attack in a London subway. When a group of detectives get involved, they find out that few of the people involved are what they say they are. A side plot involving a child molester also ratchets up the tension, but this is mostly a “whodunit” that races to the finish as it ends. 4 out of 5 stars

Andrew Grant, Run. Grant has a lot packed in here, including a computer programmer who may or may not have created a virus that’s a threat to the United States. But when he’s canned at the same company his wife works at, and she shows up expecting him to turn over his files, it leads to fireworks of a negative sort at home… and everywhere the three teams of cops/bad guys follow him to while he runs. It’s not terrific but it has its moments; it’s just a shame that we couldn’t come to love the protagonist more. 2 out of 5 stars

Alan Jacobson, Spectrum. I wanted to like this one, with its split time periods and a no-nonsense protagonist but ultimately, it just couldn’t lure me in. Sadly, I’ll give it 1 out of 5 stars.

Nick Pengelley, Ryder. Ryder, obviously intended for a series given the release dates of two more books, has ambitious goals: desiring to be both politically aware and intelligently captivating, it throws plenty of information at us. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily make us care, and comes off as a political lecture on the state of the Middle East. Instead of luring us in with the whodunit and Ayesha Ryder’s quest to get to the bottom of it, it hits us with two much of the political machinations that are obviously important to the author. Potentially, the next story will ‘get to it’ faster, and prove to be more entertaining and less tutorial in nature. 2 out of 5 stars

Bob Ryan, Scribe. The Boston Globe’s sportswriter and one of the stars of Around the Horn for ESPN, Ryan tells it like it is from his perspective, and it’s entertaining whether you agree with him or not. Having attended Boston College and swung an internship with the Globe immediately preceding his time in the military, Ryan settled into married life, watching the Boston Celtics, and giving his point of view on all things Boston decades ago. As a greenhorn, he learned from the greats both on and off the court, and now he delivers his wisdom learned from court side and the locker rooms. It’s entertaining- definitely for Boston sports fans- and fans will appreciate a point of view they haven’t heard before. 3 out of 5 stars

John Scalzi, Lock In. Science fiction’s best this year, Scalzi’s story is told from the first person perspective of a Haden, a human ‘suffering’ from being fully conscious but unable to move his own body. Thankfully, threeps or “clanks” allow for a Haden to inhabit a robotic body to live in the upright and mobile world, and FBI agent Chris Shane shares his first week on the job. The world also includes integrators (people who can allow a Haden to temporarily ‘borrow’ their body), and on Shane’s first day, an integrator appears to have committed murder. But this isn’t a straight-up murder mystery, because there are politics involved with the Hadens, the law protecting or prohibiting them, and the world where what it means to be human is under attack. The Hugo Award-winning author delivers again, with a stunning world that’s fast, deep, funny, and moving. 5 out of 5 stars


About Jacob Sahms

I'm searching for hope in the midst of the storms, raising a family, pastoring a church, writing on faith and film, rooting for the Red Sox, and sleeping occasionally. Find me at ChristianCinema.com, Cinapse.co, and the brand new ScreenFish.net.
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