Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Book Review - "The Husband" by Dean Koontz

All married couples recite the words "til death do us part." (Okay except for those few that have "alternative" weddings) Those five words are pretty much taken for granted, especially when you look at Hollywood and today's divorce rate. But there are a few of us out there that not only take that seriously but feel that sentiment with our heart. But digging down deep how far will you go to prevent that parting?

In this novel, "The Husband" by Dean Koontz, we find out just how far Mitch Rafferty will go, including killing someone and finding out the dark side of his family. The cover of the book reads "We have your wife. You can have her back for 2 Million- cash." This sounds like a typical kidnapping crime book, but as any Koontz fan knows nothing is ever typical.

Mitch Rafferty is simple Landscaper/Gardner who has his own small business in California. His wife, Holly, is a secretary that wants to become a real estate agent. Living their own lives simply and normally. That is until when one day at work, Mitch receives the call from Holly and then the kidnappers telling him they want $2 million. Mitch says, "I'm just a gardener, I don't have that kind of money." To which the kidnappers simply reply, "We know." Then to prove they are serious they kill a man walking his dog across the street as Mitch watches in horror.

So what would a man do to get back his wife? Well without giving away too much, Mitch will do anything. But an insistent Detective Taggart seems to think Mitch is hiding something. Mitch was told not to involve the cops but was forced to call 911 after he sees the man shot.

It is soon revealed that (as with most of Koontz's "heroes") Mitch had a very troubling childhood. Mitch's parents were tenured Professors of Psychology at UCI and had their own way of raising children. This bizarre upbringing for Mitch and his 4 siblings included such abuses as "the learning room," a sensory deprivation room where the children could spend up to 2 weeks in said room to "think about" what they did wrong.

While Mitch may have turned out pretty normal, his brother Anson, the family Jewel, turned out to be very successful. Mitch soon learns that Anson is also hiding a secret.

With more action and thrills than any movie ever produced this book will keep you riveted and not wanting to put it down even after the extremely exciting conclusion.

"The Husband" proves when it comes to thrills/chills and plot twists, Dean Koontz delivers.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:51 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Book Review: "Free Fall" by Kyle Mills

Mark Beamon is the FBI agent created by Kyle Mills and is the main character in 5 of his 9 books and has to be one of the most interesting fictional characters created. You're never really sure if Beamon is on top of everything or if it's just a bunch of dumb luck. No matter what the case Mark Beamon is the one to turn to when wanting to find someone that can't or doesn't want to be found. Even the FBI top brass that don't like his ignore-the-rules methods, will pick Beamon to be the guy in such a situation.

In this book it seems more of a mix of both dumb luck and some smarts from Beamon that helps find an alleged murderer of a rock climber/government employee. At first tracking the murderer who is an expert rock/ice/mountain climber as well as being the ex-girlfriend of the victime. What at first could be a lover's tryst unfolds before Beamon to be a darker side of the run for the presidency.

Before I get too far ahead of myself in this review, let me first applaud Kyle Mills for creating an edge of your seat thriller that includes his personal passion/obsession of rock climbing. Mills spends his off time rock climbing in his native Wyoming (as well as other prime climbing sites). With 2 successful books under his belt ("Rising Phoenix" and "Storming Heaven") it was time to combine his passions; writing and climbing.

FBI agent, Mark Beamon is being held accountable for some leaked wiretappings that incriminate several prominent political figures. The recordings were discovered in his previous case and somehow leaked into the media. While he did not release the tapes, the political elite need a scapegoat and that's what Beamon is best at being. The FBI offers him a deal in which he will do minimal jail time if he confesses. They give him 3 weeks to decide. During that 3 weeks he is suspended. As he prepares for the political machine to mow him over, he breaks it off with his girlfriend so she can move on and not have to be wrapped up in this mess. But being Mark Beamon he can't just do nothing.

Trystan has pretty much given up the free life of rock climbing and is working on a law degree at Georgetown, he gets a job working for the government looking for newly declassified documents. Trystan runs across a file called "Prodigy," in which the Hoover era of the FBI kept tabs on promising upstarts in order to use against them in case they became too powerful, Kennedy is one such person that would fall under the Prodigy profile, with his affairs. What Trystan sees in this file is so amazing that he risks his job and takes the document from the storage house to hide somewhere.

Enter Darby Moore, the world class female climber, pop philosopher, Trystan's friend and once girlfriend. She convinces Trystan to go rock climbing for the weekend. During the night of the climb Trystan and Darby are abducted by men looking for the file. Trystan is injured, but he and Darby escape. They split up and plan to meet back up to evade their unknown pursuers. When Darby returns to her van the next morning she finds it surrounded by police and the body of Trystan hanging out of the van.

Turns out that 3rd party presidential candidate David Hallorin wants that file to use the information to guarantee his election bid. Now Darby is wanted for the murder of Trystan and is pursued by all the law enforcement agencies and Hallorin's men.

Someone wants Darby found and wants her found fast, and since the best man to do the job is not busy, Mark Beamon is hired by an unknown person and promised enough payment to cover his legal fees and get out of the frame job from the FBI.

So the adventure begins with Mark Beamon trying to track down a woman who can live in the mountains and not be dependent on society, while at the same time finding more and more that Darby is also being framed. To find out why he has to find Darby Moore.

The thrill of the chase and the constant twists and turns are what Kyle Mills is good at writing and he doesn't let off with this book. The descriptions of some of the climbs and the struggles made my knuckles turn white.

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posted by Gil T. @ 11:27 PM Comments: 0

DVD Review: "Justice League - The New Frontier"

The next installment of the DC universe original animated movies soars onto shelves when Warner Home Video releases- Justice League: The New Frontier on February 26, 2008, and let me be the first to tell you it is pretty darn good. At the end of this review I will tell you how 2 lucky winners will get their very own copy of this DVD.

Normally, I'm a pure Marvel fan, but right now I will confess my secret fan-boy craving for The Flash and sometimes Green Lantern. This DVD had a treat for me with those two characters being featured, so I gave it a chance, and I was not let down.

The story and the artwork on this film are superb. The artwork had that classic 50s feel to it but at the same time meeting with today's High Definition standards. The scenery was complex and beautifully drawn. The same goes for the heroes. Not your primary colors only scheme here, this film really captured the colors of the costumes and even kept them toned down so as not to have that campiness that comic book heroes can have. (Remember the 60s Batman TV series? 'Nuff Said.) It also manages to be dark but not too dark like, say for instance the Spawn animated series. There are moments like when Hal Jordan (soon to be Green Lantern) kills a Korean soldier. The blood does splatter but the moment passes and the scene is not dwelt upon. But I'm starting to give away some of the story so let me give you some more background before the synopsis.

This movie is inspired by the best-selling graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke and produced by the multiple Emmy(r) award winning animation legend, Bruce Timm, The New Frontier is the epic tale of the founding of the Justice League. Superman, Batman, The Flash and Wonder Woman are all here of course, and so are Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter whose incredible origins are told. Strangers at first, these very different heroes must overcome fear and suspicion to forge an alliance against a monster so formidable, even the mighty Superman cannot stop it. If they fail, our entire planet will be "cleansed" of humanity.

The graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke re-envisioned the DC heroes as getting their start in the 50s in the height of "The Communist Scare," "McCarthyism" and the end of the Korean War. This movie, written by Stan Berkowitz captures that idea and really punches home the idea that the heroes have other things to worry about other than just fighting crime. For instance, The Flash wears a RED costume...red is for commies. So as you can see suspicion can be a formidable foe especially if one wears a mask.
It is 1953, and the US is coming off yet another war, and the start of the cold war. The Justice Society has been disbanded, with members hunted by the government in an era of McCarthyism. People are suspicious of each other and their motives. Even the super heroes question what is right and wrong.

Despite all the turmoil, heroes like Batman work underground as a mysterious cult envelopes the world and clues about something called, "The Centre" may spell doom for mankind. Along the way, characters such as Hal Jordan, John Jones - the Martian Manhunter, Flash trying to fight off this unknown enemy.
A scientist tries to make contact with what could be life on Mars; instead he beams back John Jones, a real live Martian. The scientist dies of heart failure due to the shock and John Jones takes on his identity and others before settling on that of a detective.

Batman is seen as suspicious by the public and unknowingly frightens children. When this secret is revealed to him, he takes on a young crime-fighting ward known as Robin.

The Green Lantern Corps, who have been fighting "The Centre" across the galaxy, give Hal Jordan a ring so he may help join the fight, thus becoming the Green Lantern.

Many more heroes are revealed throughout the movie including some Golden age heroes. It was actually fun to sit and try to identify the many heroes.
One final note about the film itself...HOLY ENSEMBLE CAST, BATMAN. The actors voicing the heroes are just as great as the heroes themselves. One of my favorite actors Miguel Ferrer is the voice of John Jones (btw, in the comics the name was Jon Jonnz) the Martian Manhunter, David Borreanz (you know, Angel the vampire) is Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Neal Patrick Harris (yes Doogie Houser, will he ever not be Doogie?) is Barry Allen/The Flash, John Heard is Ace Morgan, Lucy Lawless is Wonder Woman, Kyle MacLachlan is Clark Kent/Superman, Joe Mantegna makes an appearance as a crooner, Kyra Sedgwick is Lois Lane and Brooke Shields is Carol Ferris.

Now let's talk a bit about the DVD extras, there's one really cool feature called "Super Heroes United!" this features a great comprehensive history of the DC comics universe. There's even some mention of Marvel comics and the world's greatest comic hero creator Stan Lee makes his appearance, as well as Fantastic Four creator Marv Wolfman. Oh yeah and all the big names from DC as well. So you can see it's clearly bi-partisan comics in action.
The double disc set has even more extras like; "The Legion of Doom-The Pathology of a Super-Villain," "Comic Book Commentary" pays homage to the fans of the New Frontier books and Justice League Unlimited animated series bonus episodes.

This DVD is a must have for any comics fan...even Marvel fans. I sat with my 7 year old son and watched this movie and we had a blast watching the great heroes in some great action. By the way the Centre is one really cool creature...Superman cannot defeat this massive villain.

Okay now for the part some of you have been drooling...er..uh..I mean waiting for. So do you want to win your very own copy? It's easy and maybe fun. I will have 2 winners, so there will be two contests.

Contest 1 is what I like to call "Share the Joy/Link." All you have to do is repost the link to this review in as many places you can think of, blogs, bulletin boards, and MySpace comments, anywhere. Once you have done that email me and let me know you have done so and provide me with the links so that I can verify the posting. The person with the most shared links is the winner of the first contest.

Contest 2 is a random drawing. I will place the names of all the people who comment on this review into a hat and draw out...better yet I'll have my son draw out a name and I will contact you to let you know you won.

So there you have it 2 contests, 2 winners.
Good Luck!!

The drawing will be held on the date the DVD is released February 26, 2008
Winners will be notified no later than February 29th, 2008.

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posted by Gil T. @ 3:00 AM Comments: 3

Friday, February 15, 2008

Book Review: "Mistress of the Art of Death" by Ariana Franklin

I have just read another very interesting historical fiction. But I was fooled as I was reading it. Let me clarify that a little, Ariana Franklin writes of murders and death around the year 1171 in Henry II's England. But Franklin uses the prose and style of today's thriller writers mixed in artfully with the language of the time. The story never falters nor did it leave the me confused by archaic language. I guess what I'm trying to say that without the Historical Fiction label this was a great thriller/mystery.

I think the best way to describe the synopsis of the book is to take the tv series CSI and plop the characters down in 12th century England. Adelia Aguilar, a female doctor (unheard of to the Brits, in fact a woman even dabbling in healing would probably be punished as a witch) specializes on listening to the dead and determining cause of death, much like modern medical examiners. Adelia is sent by the King of Sicily to help King Henry II with her companions to root out who is killing the children. The locals are accusing the Jews, but 3 of the 4 murders occured while the Jews were locked in the castle. The Christians don't let this stop their wild stories of Jews taking flight and eating children.

Adelia's companions are Simon of Naples, a Jew and investigator, trusted and employed by various European monarchs to sort out their more intractable problems. Mansur, a Marsh Arab, helped and sheltered by Dr Aguilar who found him running away from the monks who had him castrated as a child in order to preserve his soprano singing voice– a not uncommon occurrence. He is Adelia’s devoted protector.

Not does this book involve the thrill of the chase of tracking down a child killer but the prejudices and superstions of the time are explored and even at times hinder the investigation. The murderer, it is determined, is a returned Crusader, this puts nearly every male in town in suspicion. Even the tax collector Sir Rowley Picot. Notice the "Sir." Sir Rowley was knighted upon taking Henry II's first born's sword to the Holy Land during the crusade. He has his own motivations for tracking down the murderer. These are discovered when he tells his tale of his "adventures" on the Crusades.

There are several humorous occasions in the book to break the dark story line. My favorite, for some reason unknown to me, is when Adelia asked if the coroner looked at the children and the response was (paraphrasing here)yes but he had no info on their death, the coroner has no need to know medical things.

All in all this book has great characterization and the strong female lead character of Adelia at times seems out of place for the century but makes the book that much stronger. If you are a fan of CSI, turn off your TV and pick up this book and get lost in a great thriller.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:02 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Win the New Justice League movie on DVD from me.

The next installment of the dc universe original ANIMATED movies soars onto shelves when warner home video releases- Justice League: The New Frontier –ON february 26, 2008 !

And I will have your chance to win your own copy.

I will be posting the contest on the following sites:







Great for comic book fans of all ages your chance to win a DVD of Justice League: The New Frontier. Details coming soon.

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posted by Gil T. @ 3:20 AM Comments: 0

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Book Review: "Storming Heaven" by Kyle Mills

I've recently become a fan of Kyle Mills and especially of his character, FBI Agent, Mark Beamon. And this book, makes me even more of a fan. "Storming Heaven" is Kyle Mills second book and the second of 5 books (so far) with Mark Beamon. Let me tell you in this book Mark Beamon gets everything thrown at him that can possibly go wrong...but, spoiler alert, he wins in the end. However it is an extreme rollercoaster ride of thrills in this book before we get to the end.

Mark Beamon, just off the case of solving who's poisoned the drug supply, is put out to pasture, that's right the FBI director still doesn't like Beamon, even though Beamon gets the job done. So now serving in Flagstaff, Arizona, Mark Beamon gets what could almost be called a simple case of murder and kidnapping, but nothing is simple when Beamon is involved.

Agent Beamon arrives on scene where it seems the Davis' have been murdered and their 15 year old daughter, Jennifer has been Kidnapped. The girl's boyfriend has an alibi and Mark seems to have hit a brick wall when it comes to clues for finding the girl. With the help of his young assistant, Chet Michaels, Beamon starts uncovering some clues that lead to a very bizarre story of corruption and the politics of religion. The religion in question a newly formed religion in the Church of the Evolution in which the leader of the church is the self proclaimed new messiah.

The church has its fingers in everything and sometimes those same fingers clutching the necks of some pretty high ups in the corporate world and politics. Through the book we know that Jennifer is the grand-daughter of Albert Kneiss the founder of the church. She has been kidnapped by the woman who is running the church, Sarah, while Kneiss slowly dies. The plan is for Jennifer to die on Good Friday leaving Sarah with all the power. So on top of Mark Beamon trying to solve the case, we have the adventure of Jennifer surviving the abductors.

As Mark Beamon gets closer to the church as the answer to sloving this case, the church does everything in its power to destroy Beamon's already shaky reputation. First they convince the head of the FBI to get Beamon off the church angle. seeing that not working they publish stories in major newspapers of Beamons credibility, especially with his drinking. Then the church destroys his life by releasing misinformation labelling him as a child molester, and to make matters worse they destroy his credit and cause the IRS to come after what little he has left.

But it takes a lot more than that to take Mark Beamon off the case, no longer an agent and now a wanted fugitive, he puts together a team of a computer expert that is a former member of the Church of the Evolution and a cantankerous old electronics bugging genius from the J. Edgar Hoover days of FBI work. Now not having to keep to the rules of the justice system Beamon and his team take on the Church of the Evolution. The rollercoaster ride becomes more thrilling at this point when at times Jennifer is rescued only to be abducted again and then rescued and then Beamon is double crossed by a trusted ally and so on and so on.

You will not be able to put this book down check it out.

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posted by Gil T. @ 1:54 PM Comments: 0

Friday, February 01, 2008

Book Review: "Naked In Death" by JD Robb (aka Nora Roberts)

Nora Roberts had a great idea for a story, A female cop that kicks serious but around the year 2050. But due to contractual reasons she had to write the story under the pseudonym of J.D. Robb, thus launching the "...in Death" series of books. This book, "Naked In Death" was the first in what is now 26, with more to come and some short stories in some anthologies.

This book launched the coolest cop character I've ever read, Lt. Eve Dallas. Lt. Dallas is one tough cop and with some cool sci-fi tools from the mid 21st century she can get the job done. Before I go any further I've got some things to say about the series. First I didn't get interested in the series until the 24th or 25th book but I'm glad I did pick them up. I'm now going back and reading the series in somewhat publication order. I've skipped around some and am just now getting to book one. Also I want to point out that yes, Nora Roberts is a romance writer, and yes these books have those moments. In whole I don't mind, (I'm just not much of a fan of romance novels, something about the airbrushed models on the covers or something.) Each time in these books that I get to one of the romantic moments, I trudge through this book seemed to have more than the others I've read in the series, and at times it seemed like they went on for too long. I'm a thriller sci-fi type guy, not a mushy kissy kissy guy, okay, not with books anyway.

"Naked in Death" introduces us to Lt. Eve Dallas, a hardcore NYPSD detective that takes no bull from anyone and kicks serious butt. She has a dark past which comes back to haunt her usually in her dreams. She was abused and molested by her father and then abandoned at the age of 8. She was raised in the "system" and turned out to be a tough detective that cares for the victims and won't give up until justice is served.

Also introduced in this book is what turns out to be Eve's love interest, known simply as Roarke. Roarke though, also has an interesting past. Right now he's a multi-billionair that owns nearly everthing on Earth and a few interests off-world.

The story starts with a murder of an LC (Licensed Companion, prostitution is legal as long as they are licensed in this near future). The big hitch in this murder is that the LC also happens to be a member of an influential Senator's family. Senator DeBlass, at the time of his grand-daughter's murder is introducing a morals bill to ban LCs. The murderer also left a note at the scene and sent a video to Lt. Dallas saying "1 of 6." Then there are two more LCs murdered each with the corresponding numbered notes. Also each victim was shot with antique bullet style guns (hey it's the mid-21st century, they now have lasers and stunners) and each time the gun was left at the scene. The suspects are all collectors of antique weaponry.

The list of suspects is a tough one. First there's Roarke, the multi-billioniare, who does not have an alibi for the nights in question and he's a known weapons collector. Another suspect becomes the man who tries to stall the investigation at every turn, the Chief of Police.

The romance between Roarke and Eve is a dangerous one, in that he's the prime suspect and Eve risks her job just being seen with him, but she has already ruled him out. The actual murderer has a darker and more heinous motive that hits close to home for Eve.

So when it comes to futuristic thrillers, J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) has me convinced. Check out this book and get hooked on the "...In Death" series.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:36 PM Comments: 0