Tag Archives: David Baldacci
The Valley of Shadows: A Novel by Mark Terry (Oceanview, $25.95, 291 pages)
Mark Terry, author of the novels The Fallen and The Devil’s Pitchfork, has produced a “ripped from the headlines” novel about terrorists acting in the U. S. In The Valley of Shadows, members of Al-Qaeda plan to simultaneously attack five American cities: Washington, D. C., New York City, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles. So it’s up to five-person teams assigned to each of the targets to find the terrorists hiding in plain sight, and interfere with their plans to use dirty bombs and maybe nuclear weapons.
Our protagonist, Derek Stillwater, a wild, wooly and instinct-based troubleshooter for the Department of Homeland Security, is assigned to the L. A. team. Derek and his four team members (who will be under the leadership of Cassandra O’ Reilly, Ph.D., of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; a one-time flame of Stillwater’s who has little love or use for him now) have just 48 hours to complete their impossible mission. Oh, and if this isn’t enough to heap on their plates, it seems that the terrorists plan to destabilize the U. S. national election by assassinating one of the two major party candidates for president. The candidate plans to arrive at LAX for a previously scheduled southern California campaign stop.
Start reading this unique thriller and you’re likely to put almost everything else aside for the next 48 hours, or less, in real-time. It’s an e-ticket, fast pass, wild ride from start to finish – from Islamabad, Pakistan to Santa Monica – that never takes a wrong turn. Author Terry has done his homework, having been briefed by members of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration (an air traffic controller has a key role in the story), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It’s clear that he – like his alter ego Derek Stillwater – has friends in high places, and he makes full use of inside information in the crafting of this all-too-realistic tale.
If you’re a fan of authors like Michael Connelly, Joseph Finder and David Baldacci, you may be ready to join the Mark Terry fan club… And unless you plan to purchase a new Porsche Cayman S, you’re not likely going to experience a better ride. Trust me on this.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. The Valley of Shadows was released on June 7, 2011. “Terry mashes the action pedal to the floor in this solid Derek Stillwater novel.” Publishers Weekly
No Rest for the Dead: A Novel by Sandra Brown, R. L. Stine, Alexander McCall Smith, J.A. Jance, Diana Gabeldon, Jeffrey Deaver, Lisa Scottoline, John Lescoart, Kathy Reichs, et al. (Touchstone, $24.99, 256 pages)
Twenty-Six Writers. One Mystery.
“The lineup of writers who have contributed to this mystery is akin to the Murderer’s Row of the 1927 New York Yankees. There is not a weak spot in the bunch.” David Baldacci
Can there be synergy when it comes to writing? If 26 well-known and admired mystery writers collaborate on one story, can it be as good as, or better than, the work of just one of them? That’s the question behind the creation of No Rest for the Dead. Each chapter or segment was written by one of the twenty-six writers or a combination of them.
The book includes police reports of the crime in question (by Kathy Reichs) and journal entries by the cop who would not go of an old death penalty case (by Andrew F. Gulli). The tragedy was that a wife who was the mother of two young children was executed for the murder of her husband, and the cop had serious doubts he ignored at the time of the investigation.
While there are no obvious disconnects among the chapters, there are perspective shifts and slight changes in attitude as each writer adds his or her voice to the mix. The tone may go from cunning to bullying or from scene description to dialogue. For example, Faye Kellerman’s penchant for details marks her contribution and Lisa Scottoline’s snappy, terse dialogue is present in hers.
The typical plot elements include super locations in San Francisco that are accurately described and a sinister observer who is designated by an alternate font/typeface. He/she is puzzling but not quite menacing. Moreover, there are shifts from characters that are clearly cerebral to ones who are driven by emotions and actions.
Readers of Joseph’s Reviews may have noted that this reviewer is quite fond of the mystery genre. Several of the authors who contributed to this book have provided a bedtime lights out that stretched into the early hours of the morning because their stories truly kept this reviewer engaged up to the final page. Now, together, they provide a bit of magic!
A review copy was provided by the publisher. “…except for funds allocated to author payments, all of our profits from No Rest for the Dead are going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.” Lamia J. Gulli