Monday, July 10, 2017

Reach the Beach - Fiction

Trap the Devil: A Thriller – Ben Coes (St. Martin’s Press)

Given the current machinations floating around about the so-called deep state, there is a real feel, ripped from the headlines quality to Ben Coes’ seventh installment in the Dewey Andreas series, Trap the Devil.

Could a group of highly placed, high profile folks, in positions of trust be at the core of a long game, coup plot to over throw the U.S. government? The wheels of this deviously plotted takeover are starting to ratchet up and the intensity of the story gets slammed into high gear early and often in this break neck thriller.

While some may choose to quibble over realism of some of the turns in this story, I for one am a willing participant, in the one man stands in the way of this fiendish plot, suspension of reality. In the Dewey Andreas character, Ben Coes has long ago claimed his rightful place among the master agents provocateur, who ply the trade craft of thriller writing. Andreas is a tough guy for all seasons, not only a burly brut, but a guy who can think and move fast in dangerous situations.

Coes firmly grounds this ambitious story with just the right amount of head scratching, “hmm…could that really happen” reality to keep things plausible. Coes also knows how to draw the bad characters so well that he will keep you pulling for the good guys win the day. Loved the high velocity nature of the plot and Dewey’s never give up, never say die attitude in the face of growing odds.

Here and Gone – Haylen Beck – (Crown Books)

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. There is just a creeping sense of dread and doom the envelopes the opening passages of Haylen Beck’s debut, Here and Gone. Acclaimed crime writer Stuart Neville, uses the Beck pen name to craft this chillingly good story about a mother trying to escape her abusive husband, when on her cross country journey with her two kids, she gets pulled over on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway.
Arrested for pot possession, that creeping finger crawling up your spine is the sense that something isn’t quite right and while assured the kids will be “someplace safe” you just know that isn’t case.

Beck/Irwin masterfully crafts a dark story that is in one sense familiar and in another utterly terrifying. The pace gets ratcheted up as the clock ticks down in a desperate search for the children; the fires up with the chilling line, “what children?”

You’ve just gotta love a guy who crafts his pen name from his two favorite guitarists, Eddie Van Halen and Jeff Beck!

The Force – Don Winslow (William Morrow)

Don Winslow has penned a half a shelf full of novels over the course of his career with some recognizable titles sprinkled in along the way. In 2015 he stamped his name in bold letters as a writer to reckon with, with his book The Cartel finding its way onto countless lists of the best books of the year.

While I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with Winslow’s work, I can tell you that there is something just flat out cool about Winslow’s style that he flexes to good effect with his latest, The Force. Winslow populates the pages of The Force with cops that seem to be a throwback to a different era; guys and gals married to the job who struggle mightily with a desire to do the right thing, but who all too often prey to the temptations of an easy score.

You get the sense that Winslow keeps a firm grip on reality when developing his characters, he’s not so much inventing these folks out of whole cloth as he is depicting real people that he has crossed paths with or down a shot and a beer with in a cop bar. There is a cinematic element to the words strung together so elegantly on these pages and it’s easy to see why a big screen auteur like Ridley Scott will be at the helm of the film version of The Cartel.


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