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Book Review - "The Redeemers" by Ace Atkins

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399173943_p0_v1_s192x300The Redeemers by Ace Atkins highlights Quinn Colson, a former Army Ranger who has returned to his Mississippi hometown to become sheriff.  Action seekers should understand that this series is more than a crime novel.  It is also about the culture of the Deep South and the importance of family within that culture. 

Atkins intentionally chose Quinn to be an Army Ranger, because of “their backgrounds.  I grew up in a town not far from Fort Benning, Georgia, which is where I developed my long admiration for the Rangers and how tough they are.  I knew that a certain type of culture and individual are drawn to this unit. I specifically made Quinn an Army Ranger because he exemplifies the qualities of toughness and endurance.”

Atkins puts out two books a year. He writes the Spenser series made famous by the late Robert B. Parker as well as his own series with Quinn Colson.  Both series’ plots move along through the dialogue of the characters.  There is also a similarity in that the storyline is about how the characters live their life, invoking honesty, toughness, and trust.

Atkins told blackfive.net, “Writing the Spenser books is more of a challenge than writing the Quinn books.  I not only must write a really good novel, but must do so in the style of Parker. I am constantly thinking, ‘what would Bob do here.’ These two characters are similar in that they understand the world is made up of good and bad.

They do not have hypocrisy in any shape and form.  I consider them classic American heroes.  Where the series differs is that the Spenser books has an urban setting, while the Quinn books are based around a rural environment.”

This storyline begins with Quinn pondering his next move as he finishes up his term as sheriff.  He must help solve a case in which local lumber-mill owner Larry Cobb had his safe stolen, literally.  Besides money and jewels the contents of the safe contain ledgers of Cobb’s crooked dealings. The family element comes into play with Quinn trying to reconnect with his estranged father, helping his drug addicted sister, and contemplating his relationship with Anna Lee.  She is someone he has loved dearly since high school but is currently married to an old friend of Quinn, a serious obstacle for both.

The Redeemers has a richness of characters whose lives move the story along.  More than just a crime story these Quinn novels invoke morality, the enduring resilience of family and community, and someone to root for.

Photo - Rotor Wash

Hires_150804-A-XX999-008cParatroopers move to their loading zone as rotor wash from a UH-60 Black Hawk caused a dust cloud during Operation Red Fury on Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 4, 2015. The training helped to increase the unit’s interoperability between ground and aviation units. The paratroopers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. 
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Adan Cazarez 

Book Review - "Badlands" by C.J. Box

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9781466881501_p0_v2_s192x300Badlands by C. J. Box brings back the exciting character, Cassie Dewell, who can best be described as a female Joe Pickett.  Readers are wondering if Box is creating another suspenseful and riveting series.  As with all his books he allows the Western landscape to become almost a supporting character. 

The plot highlights Grimstand, North Dakota, a booming oil town similar to the Old West during the Gold Rush. Readers become acquainted with this town when Cassandra (Cassie) decides to accept the job here as the chief investigator for Sherriff Jon Kirkbride.  She is looking forward to starting a new life and to put behind the hurtful memories of Montana, and losing her husband, a soldier killed in Afghanistan.  The new job entails leading an investigation to find corrupt cops, while at the same time finding out what is behind a fatal car crash.  Along with these duties she must deal with a war between a motorcycle gang and the Salvadorian MS-13. She must navigate a murderous enemy, a key witness, Kyle Westergaard, and swarming single men. The details, about the oil shale industry (fracking), are intertwined in the plot through the various investigations. 

He noted, “I wrote Cassie’s husband as a soldier killed in Afghanistan.  I want Americans to understand the anguish of a war widow, and a son who never will have met his dad.  I think many times those fighting the War on Terror are overlooked.  Many of us can name battles of World War II, but I doubt many civilians can name a battle from Afghanistan.” 

With the Kyle character Box gives a shout out to mentally challenged individuals.  Kyle is a twelve year old who is considered slow, almost invisible to the rest of the town.  Having fetal alcohol syndrome he talks very little, and has a hard time pronouncing his words.  But he is the key to the plot with his tenacious and loyal attitude.  When the story is told through his point of view it gives the readers a different perspective. 

Box commented to blackfive.net, “Over the years I had a lot of kids in books and wrote from their point of view.  I realized in my stories I never had boys, only girls.  I guess that was because I have only daughters.  One of my daughters works for family services so I asked her for help about writing a character with fetal alcohol syndrome.  I found out there are children who suffer from mild to devastating symptoms.  I wrote Kyle with a mild case although he is still over looked by the townspeople.  Yet, in his own way Kyle is sharp and can connect the dots.” 

The main character, Cassie, is gritty, intelligent, tough, determined, and willing to take risks.  She is not the typical hero in that she is plump, a widow, and a mother.  But she is also very talented and will not hesitate to bend the rules to get answers. 

Badlands is part stand-alone, and part sequel to The Highway.  Although the main piece of Badlands has its own storyline, there is a continuation of the plot from The Highway.  Cassie is still after the serial killer known as the Lizard King who preys on girls at highway rest stops.

C. J. Box is one of those authors who turn all books into gold.  He writes thrilling and captivating stories that are fast-moving and riveting.  Along with his descriptive settings and compelling characters the plots are always page-turners that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Fans might be able to see his characters and stories on the TV screen since David E. Kelly is taking the pilot script for The Highway to Amazon and/or Netflix while Robert Redford is shopping the Joe Pickett series to Hallmark and the National Geographic Channel.

Book Review - "Nemesis" by Catherine Coulter

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399171277_p0_v1_s192x300Catherine Coulter's 19th FBI thriller, NEMESIS, keeps the reader turning the pages between two fast-paced and complex plots. This is the first thriller where husband and wife team Sherlock and Savich are separated, each working their own case.

Coulter wanted to explore “how each would react when they are not together, including the fear, and helplessness of being kept in the dark.” 

The most interesting and realistic of the two storylines involves FBI Agent Lacey Sherlock.  While in a security line at JFK Airport a man pulls out a grenade and captures a hostage.  His plan is foiled when Sherlock is able to take out this jihad terrorist.  But this was only a diversion for the real terrorist attack that is occurring at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  It is a cat and mouse game played between the terrorist leader, known as the Strategist, and Sherlock, who is irritating him, because a woman is able to thwart his plans. 

 The secondary subplot has FBI Agent Dillon Savitch, with the help of Agent Griffin Hammersmith, trying to solve murders where the perpetrators have no recollection of committing the crimes.  Savitch must use his psychic abilities to stop a master manipulator, Stefan Dalco, who evades his dreams, tries to kill him, and seeks revenge killings on others.  This story is based on the real Wicca religion, which believes in Witchcraft and supernatural abilities.

Coulter stated to blackfive.net, “I did a crash course on ‘Wicca for dummies. It was a lot of fun to work with.  But readers should remember this storyline is fiction.  If I can scare the reader silly with the psychic dream attacks, then I've succeeded. I also scared myself writing them.” 

Coulter always introduces new characters, in this case, FBI Agents Kelly Giusti and Callum (Cal) McLain.  They are admirable, likeable, and someone readers root for.  With the terrorist plot, women are front and center with Giusti, the interrogator, Sherlock, the Agent who connects the dots, and the terrorist’s wife, a ferocious, independent, who stands up to Islamists.  From the very first page of Nemesis the action ratchets up.

Unfortunately, Coulter will not have these new characters return because “I like bringing in new and different characters in every book.  If I were to bring them back they must be able to move the story forward and not stop the plot.”

Coulter's third thriller in her new series, A BRIT in the FBI, THE END GAME, comes out in September.  Nicholas Drummond and Mike (Michaela) Caine find themselves involved in an extraordinary plot by terrorists committed to the destruction of the West. The plot is very timely considering the situation in the Middle East today.

Coulter always enjoys hearing from her readers. Send her an email note at ReadMoi@gmail.com or post her at Facebook.com/catherinecoulterbooks. She posts every morning and replies to all comments.

Book Review - "The Hunters" by Tom Young

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399166891_p0_v1_s192x300The Hunters by Tom Young is a mystery novel for airplane enthusiasts.  It takes readers back to the days when pilots had to use many of their own skills and instincts to fly.  Because he served in the Air National Guard he incorporates this knowledge into the stories. 

Young noted to blackfive.net, “ I have had a life long interest in the DC-3.  I got the idea for this story when I was personally approached in the 1990s to fly a relief mission.  It did not involve a DC-3, but rather my favorite plane, a C-130 Hercules.  Unfortunately, this project never got off the ground. I wondered if this group had settled for a less expensive plane, the DC-3, maybe it could have been realized.” 

This is more of a Colombo type mystery where readers know almost from the very beginning the outcome of the struggle.  What makes the pages turn is trying to figure out how the protagonists will escape.  The story begins with Colonel Michael Parson, convinced by his good friend Sophia Gold, into using his leave from the Air Force to fly relief supplies into Somalia in an antique DC-3 cargo plane.  They come up against an al-Shabaab leader, The Sheikh, who recruits young boys to become Jihadists for food and violently kills anyone working with the aid group. 

Young noted to blackfive.net, “Parsons has grown over the years.  In rank he has been promoted from Major to Colonel and has become a commander.  He sees himself as wanting to use his skills to make the world a better place.”

The theme of the book is something people have struggled with throughout history; does one good deed overcome all the other horrific acts?  Although Young attempted to draw sympathy for the teenage Jihadist Hussein it fell short.  His actions were not just violent but horrifying be-headings.  How could someone become redeemable, and should they, after committing these acts?


The Hunters has a very violent plot so anyone squeamish might have trouble with the storyline.  Others will find it a fast-paced, action packed plot.

Photo - Tactical Insertion

Hires_150705-N-XE158-064cU.S. Marines set up a perimeter after a tactical insertion with an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft as part of an amphibious assault during Talisman Sabre 2015 at Fog Bay, Australia, July 11, 2015. The Marines are assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The bilateral exercise trains U.S. and Australian forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations. 
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Louis Rojas 

Photo - Boat Ops

Hires_150712-N-NI474-252cU.S. Marines conduct small boat ops using combat rubber raiding craft from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay during Talisman Sabre 2015 in the Indian Ocean, July 12, 2015. The Marines are assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. 
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Young 

Photo - Fight Before Markmanship Training

Hires_marinesgrapple2aMarine Corps Lance Cpl. Thomas Campos, right, fights to subdue Lance Cpl. Devon Borks during a short-range marksmanship qualification course aboard the dock landing ship USS Rushmore while at sea, July 9, 2015. Marines grappled for two minutes before the course of fire to simulate firing under stress and fatigue, which can occur in combat. Compos is an M32 gunner and Borks is an automatic riflemen, both with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Exp U.S. Marine Corps photo by Emmanuel Ramos