Archive for category Action Adventure

Lee Child 4: Running Blind

Lee Child has outdone himself in his fourth novel, Running Blind. Sure, sure his enigmatic hero, Jack Reacher, is still the solitary figure with a sense of justice who protects the Everyday Joe. In this installment, he viciously takes out a couple of thugs trying to shake down the owner of his favorite Italian joint in New York City. And when he is done with the beating, Jack sends a clever message to their boss. But this book isn’t just the hard-boiled Reacher we know and love. Instead, Child takes this novel to another level — to Michael Connelly levels of mystery writing — and we follow Reacher as uses his training as a military policeman to help the Feds solve a string of murders. Crimes for which Reacher would be the prime suspect, if he hadn’t been in the Big Apple at the time and under surveillance. All in all, this is a first-rate mystery novel and nothing more can really said about the plot without giving it away. After reading a lion’s share of mystery novels, I’m not usually surprised by the ending. I have to admit, Child and Reacher totally got me on this one and I can’t wait for the next adventure.

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Lawrence Block 5: Tanner’s Tiger

Leave it to Lawrence Block to pen a spy novel set at the World’s Fair. That’s exactly what he does in Tanner’s Tiger, where sleep-deprived spy and political scholar/activist Evan Tanner travels to Montreal for the 1968 Expo to investigate the Cuban exhibit. Getting into the Great White North proves difficult for Tanner, who has snuck into numerous unfriendly countries across the world. On his first attempt, he is turned away at Montreal Duval airport. His second attempt via car from Buffalo draws a tail, which leads to his arrest by the Canadian Mounties. In an entertaining twist, Tanner escapes on horseback and leads the police on a chase through downtown Montreal. With nowhere to run, Tanner turns to the Quebec separatist movement, where he meets a tiger named Arlette Sazerac and is drawn into a political assassination plot. Like the other Tanner books, one must use a James Bond-esque suspension of reality as the plot beautifully winds to a close. But if you can overlook the zany plot and focus on the artful dialogue and characters, you’ll enjoy the Block character that brings the political 1970s back to life.

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Lawrence Block 4: The Scoreless Thai

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 40 years since Lawrence Block wrote The Scoreless Thai, his fourth book featuring ultra-intellectual master spy Evan Tanner. As one can surmise from the title, most of the book takes place in Thailand, where Tanner comes to the rescue of a Kenyan princess who has been taken hostage. Tanner also befriends a sex-starved native whose lack of success is the basis for the title. In addition to Thailand, Tanner’s travels also take him to Laos and Korea, which were not popular destinations in 1968. (Two things struck me about Tanner’s travels. I recently spent 17 hours in the air flying from Washington, D.C. to Tokyo to Bangkok. Tanner’s 1968 flight from New York to San Francisco to Honolulu to Tokyo to Bangkok must have taken twice as much time. Once in Bangkok, Tanner was greeted by a customs agent who searched his suitcase. In modern day Bangkok, there were no customs agents.) Like previous books in the series, Block pens a zany espionage adventure featuring a lead character who cannot sleep thanks to a brain injury. Not to worry, Tanner uses this extra time for intellectual pursuits such as writing a doctoral thesis on “the socioeconomic implications of the Boxer Rebellion” for a lazy NYU grad student or writing articles for a variety of ethnic newsletters. Like his lead character Tanner, Block is a prolific writer and I always enjoy his novels featuring a variety of New York City-based lead characters with interesting quirks and lives.

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