Monday, August 25, 2014

The Lincoln Myth

by Steve Berry
429 pgs  (Cotton Malone series #9)

When I learned that Steve Berry's newest book was going to involve the Mormons, and a secret pact that was formed between Brigham Young and Abraham Lincoln, I had high hopes. As a member of the LDS/Mormon church, I was hoping that Berry would get things right when it came to the church and its history. I was hoping he would be respectful when it came to the beliefs of the church. I was hoping the story would be intriguing and entertaining. And most of all, I was hoping that a high-ranking member of the church would be the story's villain.

Berry delivered on every hope I had.

Shortly following the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, its framers drafted another now-forgotten document; one that was intended to help ensure ratification of the Constitution at the time, but one that if known about during Abraham Lincoln's presidency, would have ensured the South's legal right to secede and torn the nation apart. Lincoln, faced with the real possibility that the country was going to split apart during his presidency, reached out to Brigham Young, who years earlier had led the Mormon exodus from Illinois to the Utah territory, and loaned him that potentially volatile historical document for safekeeping. In return for safeguarding that document, Lincoln promised to leave the Mormons alone and allow Brigham Young to govern the Utah territory as he saw fit. A promise that he fulfilled.

Almost 150 years later, that same document, rumored to still be in the possession of the LDS church, is once again at the center of a battle that could tear the nation part. Thaddeus Rowan, a high-ranking U.S. senator from Utah as well as one of the Church's 12 apostles, is on a mission to find where Brigham Young hid the document, and use it to tear the nation apart. It's up to Cotton Malone to ensure that that doesn't happen.

I usually give Berry's books 3 stars. They're always entertaining and well-written, but they're not spectacular. This one gets an extra star because of the LDS Church involvement in the story.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Red Seas Under Red Skies

by Scott Lynch
558 pgs

Ever since finishing The Lies of Locke Lamora, I've been looking forward to reading the second book in Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard series. However, since Lynch has apparently taken a cue from George R.R. Martin as far as his writing pace is concerned, I figure I'm going to need to pace myself with his series as well--which is unfortunate. Both books so far have been so good that I would have loved being able to pick up the next book as soon as I finished reading them.

Red Seas Under Red Skies begins two years after the conclusion of Lies. This time Locke and Jean have set their sites on robbing Sinspire, the impenetrable casino in Tal Verrar. Their plans, however, get sidetracked when they become unwilling pawns for the head of the city's military force; who wants to ensure his position's relevance going forward, and needs Locke's and Jean's skills for creating mayhem and discord in order to do that.

There are enough plots and subplots in this one to keep you on your toes till the end, and the number of aliases used by both Locke and Jean are nearly enough to require a cheat sheet at times. But as convoluted as things tend to get before Lynch deftly unravel them at the end, the story is as entertaining as you could hope for it to be.

The next book in the series (and the last one written so far), The Republic of Thieves sits appetizingly on my bookshelf right now. I'm anxious to pick it up, as Lynch left a critical thread untied at the conclusion of this one, and I'm anxious to see it resolved. But I plan to wait till I know book IV is coming, so I'll have something solid to look forward to. Otherwise the wait becomes intolerable.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Monday, August 4, 2014


by Dean Koontz
352 pgs

After the last two books by Koontz that I read (The Taking & Life Expectancy) I swore off reading anything else by him again. I don't know if the break up was his fault, or mine, but everything about those two rubbed me the wrong way. The characters behaved like they had mental deficiencies, the dialogue was pubescent, and the story in general was unintentionally humorous. I decided then that I wasn't going to waste any more time nor money on his books. When Innocence came out and I read the summary, it was kind of like bumping into an old girlfriend and thinking "I wonder if we could make it work now." So I decided to consider the past few years a trial separation and I bought the book.

It's a dystopian story about two social outcasts. One, Addison, lives his life alone under the streets of the city due to his horrific and never described physical appearance, an appearance that has caused violent reactions by those who have seen him. The other, Gwyneth, lives alone due to her phobias. Their paths cross late one night in the deserted city library when Addison sees Gwyneth fleeing from a man trying to attack her.

I'm at a loss to try to figure out what happened to the man who wrote Intensity, The Watchers and so many other good books. My working theory right now is that he died several years ago and his estate hired someone who completed an online creative writing course to continue Koontz's literary legacy. It's never a good idea to get back together with someone after you break up with them. It doesn't take long for you to remember why you ended the relationship and figure out that you're just wasting your time and money again.

★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆