book reviews

4 More Great Books from NetGalley

I continue to be flummoxed by the quality of books available through NetGalley. Here are four more that I loved:

  1. Gunmetal Gray–the next in Greaney’s Gray Man series, this time Gentry is back serving the CIA
  2. Ring of Fire–a non-stop thriller about terrorists, drone, and the ports they attack
  3. Scar Tissue–a woman’s struggle to escape a murderer after he carved his signature into her skin
  4. Bad to the Bone–a cozy mystery about dogs

Gunmetal Gray (The Gray Man, #6)Gunmetal Gray

by Mark Greaney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mark Greaney’s Court Gentry of the Gray Man series, is in trouble on page one of “Gunmetal Grey” (Berkley 2017). In this case, he’s dispatched to Hong Kong by his CIA handler (after five years of running, the CIA has finally forgiven–or just decided to ignore–his transgressions) to rescue Fan Jiang, a Chinese hacker they hope holds the secret to stopping the invincible Chinese hackers. Even as Gentry steps off the plane, he is targetted, chased, and almost killed by Chinese spies. If you’ve been reading the Court Gentry series, there’s no need to tell you he escaped and a few of the chasers didn’t.  As he continued the hunt for this hacker, he slowly realized that many other groups were also looking for him, and none seemed interested in keeping him alive. The plan devised by his CIA partners was that Court would pretend to work with an Asian gangster group (because they were hunting to kill, it added a layer of complicity and danger that challenged even Gentry, gave his CIA handler ulcers, and created a convoluted web of problems and intrigue no human could be expected to survive.

But Gentry isn’t human. He’s the Gray Man. He does what must be done to achieve his goal.

“Being the Gray Man didn’t mean being in control at all times. Sometimes it meant relinquishing all control, playing the game, and dealing with fucking bullshit like some asshole standing on the back of your head.”

“For the time being, anyhow, Court Gentry was Colonel Dai’s bitch.”

“Are you equipped to infiltrate a compound of armed gangsters?” “I have a folding knife and some night vision and infrared equipment, and by the time I get to the compound, I’ll have a very foul attitude. That’s going to have to be enough.”

“Yes, there was a decent security posture in place to warn of or even repel an attack up the road, but apparently the Wild Tigers here had no major concerns that a lone man [Court Gentry] just might splash, swim, and stagger overland through the slop for hours to get here in foot. Not that it had been a cakewalk [for Gentry, but he’d do it without question].”

“…say you are a Paladin. That you possess some odd moral code that only you understand, but a code that demands you do what you think right.” “Bollocks, Court. That’s not you. With you it’s about doing the right thing, come what may. You’ll do it with an ally, you’ll do it with an enemy, or you’ll do it alone. You’ll die before you go against what you believe in. It makes you the one good man in all this.”

Mark Greaney, author of several Tom Clancy Jack Ryan novels, is one of the top authors in this genre. As usual with Gray Man books, this one is fast-moving, filled with clever defensive moves and always the feeling that Gentry can handle anything. What is unusual from earlier books is that Gentry is no longer running from the American government, trying to figure out why he’s being chased. Trying to prove his innocence. Now he’s back in the fold using his massive skills to benefit the CIA rather than avoid them. It’s clear that’s not always a pleasant experience.

–received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review

Ring of Fire (Pike Logan, #11)Ring of Fire 

by Brad Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Ring of Fire (Dutton 2017), 11th in Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan series, Pike Logan and girlfriend Jennifer Cahill (as part of their Task Force affiliation) are sent to track a data leak from the infamous Panama Papers. What starts as a simple evidence-gathering trip to the Bahamas, maybe even a romantic vacation, becomes complicated quickly when shell companies and Saudis and terrorism become involved. This is one of Taylor’s more complicated plots; here’s what he had to say:

“…off more than I could chew with this plot. It sounded fairly simple at first—explore the possible state sponsorship of the tragedy of 9/11, and have the group attempt to duplicate a spectacular attack in the modern day, on the fifteenth anniversary.”

…but it unfolds in typical Pike Logan fashion–lots of murder, mayhem, sizzle, and frayed nerves.

On the plus side, this story is ripped from a 1970’s real-life event, right down to the law firm Mossack Fonseca that created the Panama Papers. I love this in books–insider knowledge along with the guilty pleasure of a ruthless thriller feeling.

Again on the plus side, a part I always like in this series is the high tech geekisms Pike and his team use to track and catch the bad guys:

“The Dragontooth was a crowd-sourced beacon that utilized the cell network to leverage unwitting cell users on that same net. It worked on Bluetooth and sent data to anyone within range who had a smartphone.”

“How am I going to pinpoint his phone? There could be a hundred people inside praying.” Retro passed across the smartphone. “This is now slaved to his handset, so you can follow the marble until you sort out who has it. Let him go somewhere else, then take a snapshot of the people. Do that a few times, and you’ll figure out who he is.”

“…so it was up to Retro to try to trick the handset into thinking their aircraft was a cell tower, then implant malware into the operating system of the phone that would allow him to manipulate its embedded GPS function.”

On the neutral side, Logan seems to be more Cro-Magnon than in earlier books. He exhibits a taste for rabble rousing, sometimes to annoy people and see what pops out. Or maybe he’s bored. I just don’t know.

“…saw Carly and Knuckles still in the corner, and I couldn’t resist. I went over to them, ending their conversation. They both looked at me expectantly. I said, “Carly, I appreciate the intervention today, but it won’t matter at selection.” She looked at me quizzically, while Knuckles scowled like he wanted to stab me in the heart. She said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “I’m going to bed. Ask your sponsor.” She turned to Knuckles and said, “What’s he talking about?” Knuckles spit out, “He’s an asshole. I have no idea.”

“Eventually, we reached a lane with a distinct odor.And by odor, I mean it smelled like someone had farted into a Ziploc bag holding a dead cat.”

“I’m the ghost. I’m the one who keeps America safe, and if carving you up is the price, I’m willing to pay it.”

But it does shake things up. Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed.

One part I found odd: Both Pike and girlfriend Jennifer got into an extended debate with a Muslim policeman discussing whether all Muslims are bad because some are bad. I confess. I skipped most of that. The answer seems too obvious.

Overall, this is another in the top-notch Pike Logan series. If you love fast-paced thrillers, and especially those with Pike Logan, you’ll love this book.

–received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review

Scar TissueScar Tissue

by M.C. Domovitch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Scar Tissue (CreateSpace 2017), first in MC Domovich’s two-book Mindsight series, Ciara Kelly, a successful fashion model on her way to supermodel status, is kidnapped and tortured by a madman who carves profanity into her skin. She finally escapes only to be run down by a car and end up in a weeks-long coma. When she finally awakens, she can’t remember anything that happened after the completion of her final photo shoot. Her physicians have no idea if or when she might recover her memory, but do note that she has unusual activity in a normally quiet part of the brain. Without her memories, the police can’t track down her torturer and Ciara starts a new life as a cosmetician for a mortuary, far from New York where it happens. What she hoped would be a peaceful separation from the horror she experienced ends when she accidentally touches a dead child and relives her last moments in full detail. Concurrently, she begins to remember what happened during her captivity. Getting her memory back is not something the torturer will allow so she again must flee, using every cerebral and physical skill she has to stay at least a step ahead of the man who now wants to murder her.

This is a clever, story as much about the hearts and minds of those involved as it is her flight to freedom. And it has a zinger of an ending you won’t want to miss. This is well-recommended for those who like murder mystery mixed with a dab of romance and a touch of the paranormal.

–received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review

Bad to the BoneBad to the Bone

by Linda O. Johnston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Linda O. Johnston’s latest Barkery and Biscuits mystery, Bad to the Bone (Amazon Digital Services 2017), is a doggie cozy mystery set in Knobcone Heights, California. Carrie Kennersly, part-time veterinary tech and full-time entrepreneur, owns two side-by-side bakeries, Icing in the Cake for humans and Barkery for pets. As she’s negotiating a contract with a major pet food manufacturer, the company’s representative is killed and a friend calls on Carrie for help proving his innocence.

The pace is measured as you’d expect in a cozy with sufficient time spent on reflection and character development. The story is cute–cozy–and readers quickly develop affection for Carrie and everyone around her–who couldn’t love people who love dogs? It’s told in first person, through Carrie’s eyes, so a lot of the story’s believability falls to this reader-narrator relationship. I confess, I struggled with that at first, this being my debut reading of Johnston’s series, but quickly I got used to Carrie and her method of solving crime.

“Hey,” I said, “my chicken Kiev tonight is really good but I’m letting it get cold. Anyone else enjoying their dinner?”

Those who have read the prequels will have none of these problems.

Recommended for those who like cozies and love dogs.

–received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review

View all my reviews

More thrillers:

First Strike

Gray Retribution

Escape Clause

More dog stories

Blood on the Track

Reckless Creed

Zero-Degree Murder

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for Summer, 2017. Click to follow its progress.

16 thoughts on “4 More Great Books from NetGalley

  1. All terrific reviews, Jacqui – you’re a natural! Is Mark Greaney similar to Robert Ludlum books? It’s the feel I get. I love the mixture of fact and fiction in Ring of Fire – wow, the first three are such action thriller books I was glad to read about the calmer last book you reviewed. I agree, Netgalley has an astonishing set of wonderful books available to review – I feel they have improved in quality over the last year? What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greaney is similar, but without the international feel that Ludlum does so well. Greaney does do international; just feels different.

      I do think they get better and better. I’m always surprised that the #1 books are available there, like Greaney.

      Liked by 1 person

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