Tag Archives: cinematic writing

Deacon Blues

Red Cell: A Novel by Mark Henshaw (Touchstone, $24.99, 336 pages)

The president of Taiwan orders the arrest of a set of spies from China, and China retaliates with a military attack.   As the U. S. moves battleships into the war area, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) learns that its top mole within China, “Pioneer”, has been uncovered; and that the president of China is ready to go to war with America.   It seems that the Red Chinese have a secret weapon known only by the code name The Assassin’s Mace.

With the prospect of a war to end all wars on the horizon, The Company turns to Kyra Stryker, a young Jason Bourne-like agent who barely survived her prior mission in Venezuela.   Now she’s called upon to not only rescue Pioneer, but to also – as a member of the select Red Cell think tank, find and destroy The Assassin’s Mace.   Nothing less than the future of the Free World rests in her hands.

Mark Henshaw has written an espionage thriller that can stand beside the very best of its genre.   A former, highly-decorated CIA analyst and member of the Red Cell, Henshaw takes us deep within the world of spies, from Virginia to South America and Asia.   This one will make a great film, and every young actress in Hollywood will vie for the role of Kyra Stryker!

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Red Cell was released on May 1, 2012 and is also available as a Kindle Edition and Nook Book download.

 

 

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When You Wish Upon a Star

Last Night at Chateau Marmont: A Novel by Lauren Weisberger (Washington Square Press, $15.00, 384 pages)

“You have to be ruthless about your privacy.”

Lights, camera, action!   Lauren Weisberger’s latest novel makes the reader feels like she’s watching a movie.   Devoted wife and nutritionist, Brooke Alter, has supported her talented singer/songwriter husband, Julian, for years as he refines his talents.   Brooke works two jobs and yet still manages to attend most of Julian’s performances at local New York City bars and nightclubs.

All through these formative years, Julian and Brooke manage to keep their relationship healthy and meaningful.   Then, the obvious occurs when Julian’s marginal contract with Sony becomes a ticket to stardom thanks to a photo opportunity with a gorgeous woman.   The story line is foreseeable.   The studious, devoted wife of a dedicated musician must learn to cope with his success and fame all the while trying to keep in tact her own career as a registered dietician.   The paparazzi provide more fodder for Julian’s notoriety with more than a little help from him.   Brooke is thrown into a melee of popping flashbulbs and tabloid lies/half-truths.

Along the way the reader meets the families and the friends of both Julian and Brooke.   Brooke’s BFF, Nola, is a real treasure.   We should be so lucky to have her for a buddy.   A few real-life rock stars and acting celebrities are thrown in to heighten the mood and give a sense of scale to Julian’s newly anointed status as a rock star.

This reviewer had a malingering sense of impending doom for Brooke and Julian’s relationship and Brooke’s career.   Author Weisberger builds enough tension to keep the reader’s attention and foster plenty of sympathy for Brooke’s plight.   No spoiler alert needed.

This is chick lit at its most polished and predictable best.   Why go to the trouble of courting fame and fortune if you can’t enjoy it?

Recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Last Night at Chateau Marmont was released in trade paperback form on June 14, 2011.

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After the Goldrush

The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby (Avon; $14.99; 339 pages)

“I was thinking about what a friend had said, I was hoping it was a lie…”   Neil Young

“I could always heal the birds,” he admits…  Echo takes his hand, “Joseph says that birds are the only creatures that have blind faith.   This is why they are able to fly.”

Ilie Ruby has crafted a magically moving novel composed of disparate elements: a tragic childhood death, a kidnapped woman, American Indian (Seneca) ghosts and spirits, wolves that interact with humans, unrequited love, and a parent’s illness.   The book is also replete with dysfunctional families who, sadly, may represent normality in American life.   Dysfunctional families are fueled by shame and secrets, and the secrets are kept until they must be divulged in order to save lives.

Two of the key characters in The Language of Trees are Grant Shongo and Echo O’Connell.   Grant is a half-blooded Seneca with the power to cure sick and wounded birds and animals.   He is also a person who cannot cure himself.   Then there’s Echo, who feels that she is lost in her life in spite of the fact that she’s true to herself.   Echo is the one person in the story who is free, except that she’s not aware of it.   And, except for Echo, the book is populated with characters that are haunted by the past – literally and figuratively – as they search for peace and redemption.

“Happiness is just as hard to get used to as anything else.”

The Language of Trees is written in a cinematic style.   It begins slowly and it takes the reader some time to absorb all of the many characters and to understand the personal issues affecting them all.   There’s also more than a touch of mysticism and magic to the story.   There are unique and spiritual events that will seem almost commonplace to those with even a touch of Native American blood.   (The author demonstrates a great deal of respect for Indian folklore and beliefs.)

What is initially calm builds to a highly dramatic and satisfying conclusion.   Coming to the final pages, I was reminded of the style of Pat Conroy in The Prince of Tides, which found this reader both excited and sad that the journey was about to end.   As with Conroy’s novels, Ruby leaves us with a life’s lesson, which is that one must let go of the demons of the past in order to “not (be) afraid of the future anymore.”   Once the nightmares of the past have been left behind, we are free to soar like birds.

At its conclusion, this novel has the power to transport the reader to a better place.

“Well, I dreamed I saw the silver space ships flying in the yellow haze of the sun.”   (N. Young)

The Language of Trees is nothing less than masterful and transformational.   Let’s hope that we will not have to wait too long for Ms. Ruby’s next novel.   Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was received from the publisher.

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