Monday, January 18, 2010

"Out At Night" by Susan Arnout Smith

"Out At Night"
by Susan Arnout Smith
Published 2009 by Minotaur books

If you're into romantic/detective thrillers you just might be interested in picking up "Out at Night" the latest book by Susan Arnout Smith. But I'll warn you, if you are interested in the back story of the main character, Grace Sescanso, you may want to first read "The Timer Game." This book is the second book featuring Grace Descanso, Grace won't talk about why, but she quit medicine altogether. Now, five years later, Grace is a crime scene tech in San Diego, going to AA meetings, scraping by and living to be a mom to five-year old Katie. Most of this is gathered from this book but it really seems as though most of the pieces of Grace's life story are missing and actually detract from what could be a great murder mystery/thriller.

The story opens with Grace on vacation with her 5 year old daughter, Katie. Grace has never told Katie about her father, but Katie's father, from the bits and pieces I could gather in this story, is a rich actor named Mac. They all 3 begin bonding in the Bahamas on vacation when Grace gets a call from her uncle, an FBI agent in California saying she needs to return because of a murder. Here's another missing piece of the background of Grace, apparantly there was a huge rift created in the family, when Grace's father married a woman the family didn't approve. The real mystery at this point is whether Grace is needed to solve the crime, babysit her cousin or is she suspected of murder.

Thaddeus Bartholomew, a history professor, is forced at gunpoint to drive to a soy field. As he lies dying, he leaves a message on his answering machine at home in Morse code: find Grace Descans-. Cut off before finishing, the FBI need to know why he asked for Grace. The plot thickens when it is discovered he was a protester at one of Grace's lectures on DNA profiling of suspects. That is the only time Grace has ever seen the man, but when she investigates the murdered man's home she finds a wall full of photographs of various people, one of those photos is Grace.

The big scare in the area is a terrorist threat towards a world conference on genetically modified foods. As it turns out Grace's cousin is pregnant and in tight with the most violent of these protester's. Grace's uncle wants her to find how deeply mixed is his daughter/Grace's cousin.

Grace uncover's the plot to wreak havoc at the conference in a deadly way and uncovers a plot to rid the world of the Caucasian race.

Once you get past the missing pieces of Grace's past the latter part of the book becomes a thrilling race against time to stop the terrorists.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:10 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

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

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Review: "Phoenix Rising" by Kyle Mills

This is the book that not only introduced my latest hero, FBI agent Mark Beamon, but also my new favorite author, Kyle Mills. I should say this wasn't the book that introduced me to the Kyle Mills "Beamonverse" but that this is his first book and the character of Mark Beamon's introduction to the literary world. The first book that got me hooked on Kyle Mills was "Darkness Rising." I then read "Sphere of Influence," in which Mark Beamon teams up with crimelords to fight Al-Qaida. But let's talk about this book.

Kyle Mills first shopped this book among friends to find out if he had anything worth publishing. I'm glad he had some good friends because this introduction to Agent Mark Beamon and his not-so-by-the-book methods is a fascinating read. Not only do you get a book you can't put down but one that also has you questioning what is wrong and what is right.

The premise to this book is; how to tackle America's drug problem. A former DEA agent has the answer but it won't be pretty, nor will it be cheap. The former agent, John Hobart, is working security for a Televangelist. This man of the cloth is seeing many folks die in the "War on Drugs" and seeks a solution. Hobart has an idea how and works on a way to be funded and put the plan into play.

The plan; poison all drugs coming into the country thus killing off all dealers and users. So Hobart begins his dark life of finding the perfect poison and putting it into the drug supply right at the source. The poison is placed into the drugs right at the point of manufacturing in Columbia for the cocaine and then other poisonings to take place after the initial scare to make sure the point is driven home. Hobart starts up the process and forms the CDFS (Committee for a Drug Free Society)but the Televangelist says that the public should be warned. So Hobart must place ads in all major media stating what will happen. Then the deaths begin.

In what begins a great cat and mouse FBI search and a philosophical discussion of whether tens of thousands of people dying is worth it, Kyle Mills has written a great thriller.

If this is not on your list of books to read...put it there, you won't be sorry.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:08 PM Comments: 0