The Con Men: Hustling in New York City

The Con Men: Hustling in New York City

When I started reading Con Men I was expecting stories about big time cons in New York.  I was thinking about the classic con men like we see in the The Sting, The Grifters, or Catch Me If You Can.  That really isn’t what this book is about.  This book is about the street level hustler.  The guys paying three card monte and running scams on neighborhood stores. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book.  If you are looking for a behind the scenes look on how someone can talk tourists out of their money, convince a store to let merchandise walk out the front door, or set up Ponzi schemes, then this book delivers.  The authors spend years with scam artists plying the streets of New York and delivers an amazing view into that world you can’t get from reading news accounts or trial transcripts.  They tell you… Read more »

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A Wanted Man

A Wanted Man

The 17th full novel in the Jack Reacher series, A Wanted Man continues the series formula, which has worked for Child so far and works again here.  Reacher is a solid protagonist and you never go wrong reading on of these books. The first thing that struck me in this book is that it carries over some threads from the previous novel in the series, and leaves some threads at the end for the next novel in the series.  This may not seem that odd, but for a Reacher novel it is.  Except for three books early in the series that were also mildly connected, the Reacher novels are fairly stand alone, never referencing the events of previous books.  You could pick up a novel in the middle of the series without ever reading any of the others, and the experience of reading it would be the same.  That isn’t… Read more »

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Train to Nowhere

Train to Nowhere

Train to Nowhere is set in a dystopian future where people are divided into classes and live completely separate from each other.  In this future world strict population controls are in place and illegal children, those children that were born outside of the new rules of the society, are placed on the trains known as Orphan Trains.  The story follows one of these orphans named Garland, as he strains to see the bigger world outside the train. This book has a lot of good things going for it.  First and foremost are the characters, who are well designed and relatable.  You can’t help but feel for Garland as he fights between the desire to leave the train and wanting to be with his friends.  Or be nervous for him when he finally manages to get into the larger world.  The reader is also given a counter in the form of… Read more »

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The Devil’s Code

The Devil’s Code

I was happy that Sandford revisited the Kidd series even after seeing success in his Prey novels.  Kidd isn’t the normal type of hero you see in these books and that is what I like about it.  With a criminal for a main character, a group of hacker as backup, and a cocaine addicted love interested, Sandford is able to come at the thriller in a unique angle we don’t get from a lot of other books of the genre. The story itself isn’t overly unique, but it is well done.  Evil company CEO has pulled the wool over the US governments’ eyes and is using the technology he sold them to his own end.  To keep his activities from being noticed, he frames Kidd and his cohorts and sic’s the government on them as a distraction.  We’ve all seen this plot before.  Where the story takes a twist is… Read more »

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Spy for Hire

Spy for Hire

Mark Sava, John Decker and friends must protect a small orphan being used as a pawn in a turf war between governmental agencies.  Spy for Hire is a straight up action thriller and for fans of the genre it ticks off all the boxes you would expect. The story itself is about as cookie cutter spy/action thriller as you get.  It isn’t bad mind you, just a bit ho-hum.  The good guys are clever and often manage to outwit their adversaries and there is some good action with a few plot twists thrown in to keep you on your toes.  The only real problem with the plot twists is that they are completely telegraphed.  You see where the twists are going almost as soon as they are introduced and readers of the genre will find very few surprises.   Additionally there are problems with the sub-plots.  Mayland introduces events and side… Read more »

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Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

Bread & Butter meshes a restaurant/chef story in the vein of Kitchen Confidential with a more traditional family drama to create a new take on the culinary drama.  While not everything in this book really works I can see what the author was going for and commend her for it. Two things are clear from reading this book.  One is that Michelle Wildgen is a foodie and has a real passion for the subject.  Her descriptions of the food and the cooking of it are the literary version of food porn.  You can almost taste the meals from her descriptions.  Her ability to describe food is what I enjoyed most about the book.  After reading a chapter of Bread & Butter what I really wanted to do is get into the kitchen and cooks something. The other thing that is obvious from reading this book, at least to someone who… Read more »

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Runner

Runner

In Runner, Patrick Lee takes the standard military thriller and manages to add some new twists that elevate the book beyond what is expected from the genre.  Since I am a fan of the thrillers and read a lot of these types of books it is pretty rare that I am surprised by them.  I was really pleased that this one managed to surprise me by the second chapter. This book is an interesting mixture of the standard ex-special forces hero comes out of retirement to save the girl type of story and adds a light sci-fi element giving the plot a nice spin.  What is better is that the twist isn’t held until the end of the book but instead put up front in the first few chapters. The other thing that really helps this book is the pacing.  A lot of thrillers claim to be “fast paced” but… Read more »

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Three Princes

Three Princes

Imagine a world where the Egyptian civilization never fell; a world where the Pharos still maintained power and a legacy going back generation.  That sounds like a pretty good premise for a book, right?  I thought so too.  Unfortunately while Three Princes has that awesome setup and gets the feel of the world right the actual story just doesn’t hold up. This is a book I really wanted to like.  I love Egyptian history and the Egyptian “style” so the idea of bringing that forward into modern times really intrigued me.  And that is the big thing this book gets right. Add to that the fact that in the story the Incans also remain and are the Egyptians main adversary and I am totally on board.  Ramona Wheeler is very good at describing the world in such a way that you can almost feel it.  While the alternate history lover… Read more »

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