A Fleming-esque spy novel that keeps the story moving without ever losing its sense of fun.

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SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED

THE SECRET FILES OF I__ F______, CODE DESIGNATE 17F

A proto-James Bond thriller based loosely (very loosely) on Ian Fleming’s wartime work.

The protagonist of Cooley’s fiction debut calls himself “Ioan” and responds to “Phlegm,” but it won’t take the savvy reader long to figure out who he really is. Who else worked for naval intelligence during World War II before going on to create the world’s most famous spy? Ioan, who has spent the first years of the war longing to get out from behind a desk, is delighted to be sent on a mission to the Belgian Congo, where he is under orders to determine if longtime double agent Dusko Petrovic has gone from spying for the British government to working for the highest bidder. Petrovic, a fictional version of World War II spy Dusko Popov, keeps Ioan guessing about his loyalties as they move from bar to casino to copper mine, on the trail of—or perhaps cooperating with—Nazi officers. In the course of his adventures, Ioan encounters plenty of Bond trademarks, from gadgets to dinner jackets to the perfectly prepared martini, which is introduced by a classic Bond girl, who brings along a web of her own entanglements. The frenetic thriller plot races through a constellation of names, events and places familiar to any World War II buff or fan of Ben Macintyre’s books: Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, Double Cross, among others. The book’s greatest strength is that it plausibly incorporates historical fact without ever taking itself too seriously, always ready to wink at another Bond artifact. While the writing itself is not always spectacular, the reader is likely to be turning the pages too quickly to notice.

A Fleming-esque spy novel that keeps the story moving without ever losing its sense of fun.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Melnore Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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