Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reads to Keep Summer Alive!

While the calendar and back to school sales make it clear that summer is on the wane, a stack of great reads gives me hope to keep summer alive.

Ice Station Nautilus - Rick Campbell (St. Martin’s Press)

The late great Tom Clancy put the submarine thriller on the fiction road map with the classic The Hunt for Red October. Stepping into the breach to take control of the sub-genre is retired Navy Commander Rick Campbell, who had over twenty years of submarine tours under his belt before he retired.

He follows up his earlier outings The Trident Deception and Empire Rising with his latest Ice Station Nautilus. This one was one of those reads that just hit the perfect groove for me; I have been fascinated with the whole frozen tundra military thing since I first watched Ice Station Zebra as a kid. Add to that Campbell’s been there done that writing style combined with his ability to set the hook on the thrills and this one ends up cool enough to bring a chill and a thrill to a ninety degree day.

Breaking Cover – Stella Rimington (Bloomsbury)

Okay, full confession up front; while I had come across Stella Rimington books in the past, I had never picked one up and did know what her background was. Much like legendary British espionage writer John le Carre, Rimington signed on with the British Security Service, MI5 and spent decades tackling counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter terrorism before being named Director General in 1992.

So when it comes to been there, done that writing, I can’t think of too many folks with her list of qualifications. Breaking Cover is Rimington’s ninth Liz Carlyle novel, which finds the protagonist back at MI5 with an assignment that will allow her to recover and mourn the loss of her lover and colleague. That’s when the best laid plans get derailed and news that the Russians are trying to silence those critical of their incursions into Ukraine and Carlyle is launched headlong to the hunt for Russians spies.

Aside from the plausible storyline ripped from the headlines, Rimington ratchets up the authenticity as the story pounds along a steady pace. While I may be late to the game, Breaking Cover convinced me that this won’t be my last foray into the writing of Stella Rimington.

The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear – Stuart Stevens (Knopf)

I must be on a fiction authenticity streak here; Stuart Stevens, a guy who earned his keep running political campaigns draws on that experience for his second novel, The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear, in which protagonist J D Callahan finds himself hip deep in a political campaign and neck deep in family issues when his estranged brother crawls out of the woodwork and squarely back into his life at a critical juncture.

Stevens draws up an oddly familiar sounding challenger squaring off against his sitting Vice President candidate; an anti-immigrant, right-wing populist. While the novel may not be about the 2016 Presidential race, Stevens serves up a well balanced mix of caustic commentary, insider knowledge, and often surprising sense of humor that makes this one worthy of your buying vote. Based on the fact that one of Stevens most recent political forays was to guide the Mitt Romney campaign, put up against his skills with a pen, he might want to ponder a permanent move away from politics. 

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