All the perks of a sturdy spy tale, marred by some stumbles.

The Complete Martin Forn Series


A former Interpol operative and Green Beret comes out of retirement to battle terrorists, a cult, and a Russian crime syndicate in this trilogy of thrillers.

In the opening tale, Tchaikovsky’s Egg, Martin Forn’s quiet Indiana life is threatened by his need to kill a man. The aging ex-soldier and Interpol contractor may get his chance when KGB agents show up at his home. The Puravich Crime Syndicate is looking for a traitor—Martin’s wife, Clara Puravich, who, it seems, skipped town. Soon thereafter, someone abducts his daughter Sara’s boyfriend, Johnny Corn-Walters. Since he’s the last living son of Tenskwatawa the Shawnee Prophet, Johnny’s kidnapping comes with a hefty ransom demand. This could be the repercussions of a tribal war or a move by the local Starology cult, but it becomes personal for Martin when abductees include Sara and his son, Elias. In The Price of Peace, a reactivated Martin takes an Interpol contract to pay back expensive intelligence he acquired while searching for his children. He also has the opportunity to get revenge for a fellow soldier killed in action, while Johnny and Sara join Interpol to try to rid Indiana of the Puravich Syndicate’s continued presence. Later, an interest in the Assyrian Plague, a terrorist group, sends Martin and Johnny overseas in The Pale Horse Returned, hoping for proof of the Plague’s “ongoing genocide.” Wilk’s (The Last Heroes Before Judgement, 2016) nicely paced series delivers its fair share of action. Martin’s kept on his toes, for example, by the first story’s overload of agencies, from the CIA to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. And he’s a tailor-made spy, with Clara asserting that contract killing for Martin is a “vacation.” The book’s unfortunately impeded by a baffling structure. Ever shifting, first-person perspective between Martin and Johnny, for starters, becomes hard to track, with no indications of change. Dialogue, too, never has an identified speaker; Wilk shrewdly ensures clarity with oft-uttered names, but that doesn’t make transitioning between narrators any easier. Grammatical and spelling mistakes are likewise distracting (for example, a person’s contacts that “wreak of international espionage”). Notwithstanding, Wilk skillfully ties the stories together with consistent characters and an overarching theme of family versus the life of an operative.

All the perks of a sturdy spy tale, marred by some stumbles.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5371-8308-4

Page Count: 362

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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