The More You Read . . .


“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

~ Dr. Seuss –  “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”


John Grisham’s “The Broker” – Book Review

Cover of "The Broker (John Grisham)"

Cover of The Broker (John Grisham)

I picked up The Broker by John Grisham and was surprised that I hadn’t read it before. I thought I’d read everything he’d written – including the hilarious Skipping Christmas on which the movie “Christmas with the Kranks” is based. This book did not disappoint. It was chock-full of action, intrigue, spies, the CIA, FBI, leaders of various countries and lots and lots of money.

“The Broker” is the nickname for Joel Backman. A money-hungry power player in Washington, D.C., Joel learns some interesting international secrets and seeks to sell them to the highest bidder. The plot is exposed and Backman ends up in prison for six years.

Suddenly he is granted an unexpected last-minute pardon by the outgoing President of the United States. Whisked out of prison, Joel ends up in Bologna, Italy. He is given a new identity – Marco Lazzeri.

Jay-Marco has Luigi as his handler. Luigi is from some unidentified American agency and his job is to train Marco in his new role in life. He gets him new clothes, a new look, lodging, a tutor for intensive Italian study and drills him about the imporance of blending in. All this is to ensure his safety. Marco is a new man, in all respects. He uses his cunning to stay unobtrusive and becomes wary when he realizes he is being followed.

There are many people from many countries out to kill Jay Backman and destroy his secrets with him. It will happen. The only questions are who will do it and when.

This was a riveting book and only $.25 at my favorite used bookstore, McKay’s in Knoxville, TN. It would make a great movie. . .

Book Review: Gone by Lisa Gardner

I know I’ve been on quite a Koontz kick (I like the sound of that) for awhile so I’m taking a (brief) breather. Gasp!

I’ve read some books by Lisa Gardner before and have forgotten how much I enjoyed them. I picked up Lisa Gardner’s Gone for a whopping $.90 at my favorite used bookstore in Knoxville, TN – McKays. It took me all of one day to read the suspenseful thriller.

Rainie Connor is missing. Her white Camry is abandoned on the side of the road, in the pouring rain with the engine running, the windshield wipers swishing and the driver’s door wide open. Her purse is on the seat. As if that’s not bad enough, her husband is ex-FBI profiler and current private consultant to law enforcement Pierce Quincy. And, they’ve been separated for about a week.

To make matters even worse, someone else is missing – seven-year-old Dougie Jones, a foster child gone wrong and expert fire-starter. Ransom is demanded of Pierce and officials are scrambling against the clock.

The action switches back and forth between what’s going on with Pierce and then what is going on with Rainie and Dougie. It’s easy to follow and builds more suspense. The book is an exciting read.

Book Review: Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Winter Moon"

Cover of Winter Moon

As you can tell from my book reviews, I have become a huge Dean Koontz fan. When I discovered Winter Moon for a quarter at my favorite used bookstore, I was thrilled both to be getting another Koontz book I hadn’t read AND it only was twenty-five cents. It turns out I was fortunate on both counts.

The frenetic pace of this book kept me occupied – dare I say obsessed – until I finished it. I am always enthralled when reading Koontz’s books but I truly could not put this book down. All my favorite elements are present here – mystery, murder, gore, humor, fantasy, sci-fi and drama. I will probably have to reread it soon since I skimmed some parts to get to the action more quickly.

Jack McGarvey, a Los Angeles policeman, is shot down while on a call. After months of hard recuperation, he and his wife, Heather and their son, Toby, learn that they have inherited a multi-million dollar estate in Montana from Jack’s deceased partner’s dad. Ready for a change from the gang-ridden and dangerous city, the family packs up, pays their large medical bills and other mounting debts and moves out to the country.

The farm is beautiful. The Victorian home, caretaker’s house and barn are breathtaking. Eight-year-old Toby gets the golden retriever he always wanted but could never have in the city. Everyone is healthy again. However (of course), things are not as perfect as they seem. Strange feelings of dread, hypnotizing sights and sounds from the TVs and computer are confusing and frightening and the decayed smell from parts of the house are disturbing. Then, when Heather discovers a journal hidden in the freezer noting even stranger events documented by Eduardo Fernandez before he died of a massive heart attack, things get really interesting.

An evil alien force seeks to control the family, both mentally and physically. It seems impervious to destruction but they use all the resources they have in the attempt. It’s a wild ride.

Book Review – The Blood Test

Psychologist Alex Delaware is called in to counsel the family of young Woody Swopes, who has just been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  His dysfunctional parents are rejecting the treatment options. Suddenly the family disappears, including little Woody and his nubile older sister, Nona. 

Alex, and his best friend policeman Milo Sturgis, try to locate the Swopes family so Woody can begin medical care.  The book is set in southern California, with Alex and Milo traveling from LA to the Mexican border in their search.

Along the way, Alex encounters many odd characters. Dr. Raul Melendez-Lynch, an atypical cancer specialist in charge of Woody’s care, is a volatile and unpredictable man.  Lawyer turned cult leader, Noble Matthias, still demonstrates his shrewdness under the mask of peace.  Doug Carmichael, a trim surfer and male prostitute is something of an enigma, and Sheriff Houten of the tiny town where the cult has its base sends out “weird” signals, too.

Alex also has a number of unusual adventures.  What may be out of the ordinary for many people, though, is all in a day’s work for Alex Delaware.  He is beaten by a crazy man who disapproves of Alex’s diagnosis, is given the special gift of a dead rat on his doorstep, there are numerous death threats, the murders of several key characters, Molotov cocktails that threaten Alex’s home and others, strange mutant plants, greed, drugs and incest.

Jonathan Kellerman is a master at action-packed, suspenseful novels and The Blood Test is no exception.  He utilizes humor, cunning plot twists and creativity to lead readers on an emotional journey and its surprising conclusion. 

As with all of Kellerman’s books, I loved this one.  I was surprised but pleased to find this novel published in 1986 that I had never read before.  If you love mysteries as I do, I encourage you to read The Blood Test.  You won’t be disappointed.