Archive for the 'Book Reviews' Category

A Darker Place

A Darker Place

A famous Russian writer and ex-paratrooper named Alexander Kurbsky is fed up with the Putin government and decides he wants to -disappear- into the West. He is under no illusions, however, about how the news will be greeted at home, having seen too many of his countrymen die mysteriously at the hands of the thuggish Russian security services, so he makes elaborate plans with Charles Ferguson, Sean Dillon, and the rest of the group known informally as the -Prime Minister-s private army- for his escape and concealment.It-s a real coup for the West except for one thing: Kurbsky is still working for the Russians. The plan is to infiltrate British and American intelligence at the highest levels, and he has his own motivations for doing the most effective job possible. He does not care what he has to do or where he has to go . . . or who he has to kill.

It’s 16th book in Sean Dillon series.
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Sean Dillon is a former IRA enforcer turned British special agent

Killing Grounds

Killing GroundsHiggins pits series hero ex-IRA enforcer Sean Dillon, now British Intelligence’s go-to guy on antiterrorism, against terrorists Hussein Rashid, better known as the Hammer of God. The Hammer’s plan is to enter England, kill Dillon’s boss and kidnap a 13-year-old who has been promised to him as a future bride. This is a familiar but engrossing cat-and-mouse game involving a vast assortment of British, Irish, American, Russian and Muslim players on both sides of the board. Christopher Lang’s crisp rendition aids tremendously in following Higgins’s constant shifts from the Hammer’s progress to Dillon’s attempts to halt it. Lang also possesses a talent for accents. It’s fun listening to him handle the group chats, with lightning shifts from lilting brogue to clipped old Etonian, guttural grunts to staccato Middle Eastern twang. One can’t ask for any more than that.

Death Run

Death RunA mafia banker wants to defect and give evidence against his former bosses, and John Chance’s boss Ardman is handling the exchange. But when the criminals realise they might be able to exert influence on Chance by getting at his children, Rich and Jade, the twins find themselves in the firing line. With a kidnapping in Venice and a shoot-out at a private school in England, this sequel to SURE FIRE will have both young and old Jack Higgins fans hooked.

Rough Justice

Rough JusticeThe master of the game is back, with another pulse-pounding adventure featuring the unstoppable Sean Dillon Whilst checking up on the volatile situation in Kosovo the US President’s right-hand man Blake Johnson meets Major Harry Miller, a member of the British Cabinet.

Miller is there doing his own checks for the British Prime Minister. When both men get involved with a group of Russian soldiers about to commit an atrocity, Miller puts and end to the scuffle with a bullet in the forehead of the ring-leader. But this action has dire consequences not only for Miller and Johnson but their associates too, including Britain’s Sean Dillon, and all the way to the top of the British, Russian and United States governments. Death begets death, and revenge leads only to revenge, and before the chain reaction of events is over, many will be dead!

Sure Fire

Sure FireFor thirty years, Jack Higgins has enraptured adult readers with his thrilling tales of spies and intrigue. Now, for the first time he brings his bestselling touch to the world of teens with an adventure to remember.

For fifteen-year-old twins Rich and Jade, their lives have just been turned upside down. When their mother is tragically killed in a car crash, their long-lost father John Chance appears to collect them at the funeral. He’s a bachelor who lives on his own, and it’s clear that Rich and Jade aren’t welcome. But when Chance suddenly disappears, Rich and Jade uncover the truth: He’s a spy. And now, whoever kidnapped their father is after them, too.

Dangerous, fast-paced, and packed with action, Sure Fire is a gripping adventure from the master of the modern thriller.

Thunder Point secrets of a Nazi diary

Thunder Point secrets of a Nazi diaryThis is the finest book about drinking I’ve ever seen. With every action, or conversation, emotion, or other thing of interest, a drink is enjoyed by the characters. Recent studies have shown that a good drink will noticeably improve the dramatic quality of a story. That is quite evident in Thunder Point, whose 320 pages are enhanced with no less than 87 glasses of various types of beer, wine, and spirituous liquor. That is an average of one every 3.5 pages! If only real life could be so liquid!

There is an amusing subplot about a U-boat wreck in the waters off the Virgin Islands, but the real action is where the booze is. And I would caution readers new to Higgins that not just action is denoted by the approach of the bartender. Characterizations are also neatly done by the bottle, so to speak. The hero, Sean Dillon, is Irish, but he loves champagne. This renders him romantic, and not a little enigmatic. This is not to say he won’t drink other things such as Irish whiskey or even scotch, but the core of his personality is built by champagne. Would you believe he even goes for a bit of brandy after a dive in the cold ocean?

Also, the impeccably correct English brigadier who runs covert operations for England prefers scotch, but by the end of the tale he has begun to unbend to the extent that he starts to enjoy champagne, too, seemingly as much as Dillon! I hope it won’t be considered a spoiler to relate that while in the first half of the book scotch is running neck and neck with champagne for frequency of mention, by the end champagne has outstripped scotch by 23 glasses–39 to 16. This is in keeping with the generally celebratory and joyous tone of the work.

It’s a testimony to Higgins’ considerable skill as a writer that in the last thirty pages when the characters’ drinking falls off, he neatly picks up the slack with mayhem. And the author has clearly done his homework in this department. Not only do the villains kill everyone who knows anything about the submarine, just as they do in real life, so too do the agents of Her Majesty kill everyone who knows anything about the villains. Is it just coincidence that this is how it happens in Hollywood? I don’t think so. I think Mr. Higgins has access to the highest levels of government, which in turn are tutored by the sages of Los Angeles. And this is fitting. For years and years Hollywood has been telling us that any problem can be solved with a gun. The box office figures show that they are right. When will people listen?

Not only that, but this recent trend toward not smoking and toward accusing smokers of being not romantic is utterly demolished by Sean Dillon. He has a special lighter called a Zippo, and when he uses it to light one of his cigarettes (I’m not sure which brand he likes best, but a champagne called Krug is his favorite champagne) you just know something cool is going to happen. For example, when one of the evil men who is in on the plot to get a briefcase out of the submarine thinks he is going to escape punishment, Dillon is right on the scene and his arrival is heralded by the Zippo. Get this: the Zippo is turned on not to light Dillon’s own cigarette, but the evil man’s! Then Dillon disposes of the evil man.

Don’t be turned off by the idea that this is all about scotch and champagne. Beer and wine play an important part, and there is a healthy amount of gin as well. The vodka lovers among you will have to wait until Dillon goes to Russia to sort out some problem there. And if tequila is your favorite, take heart. While there are no references to tequila in Thunder Point, the Virgin Islands are not far from Mexico. Not far at all. Maybe Higgins will send Dillon, Zippo flaring, to the cantinas of Chiapas to work with Subcommandant Marcos to solve that troublesome situation.

Bad Company

The novel, the author’s 35th, begins promisingly, playing to Higgins’s greatest strength, WWII action. Young Baron Max von Berger, entrusted by Hitler during the last days of the Third Reich with his diary as well as the key to a vast fortune in Swiss banks, makes a daring and exciting escape from the F?hrerbunker. But once the narrative leaps toward the present, it begins to flag, with a second setup (including a nifty Saddam cameo) explaining why and how the baron inherits the wealth and power of the Rashid family, the Arab oil kingpins destroyed by Higgins’s customary antihero, Sean Dillon, in the last book. Problematic is Higgins’s use of von Berger and his thuggish son as villains here; they lack the evil charisma of the Rashids. To avenge the death of the Rashids, von Berger targets Dillon and his master, British black ops commander Gen. Charles Ferguson, who fights back with the help of the usual crew of “hard” men, including computer whiz Major Roper, White House black ops chief Blake Johnson, London tough guys Harry and Billy Salter, et al. Matters pick up a bit when von Berger’s son kidnaps General Ferguson to Germany, but Dillon’s rescue attempt whips by much too quickly, as if Higgins were hurrying to finish this book and get on to number 36.

Thunderpoint

In this thrilling tale that combines World War II espionage with contemporary politics, Higgins proposes that Nazi lieutenant Martin Bormann escaped Allied forces in 1945 and made his way in a U-boat to South America, along with a notebook listing U.S. and British Nazi sympathizers. One of the names in the notebook happens to be the Duke of Windsor. In 1992, a diver in the Caribbean finds the wreck of the vessel, and word gets back to the British authorities that the notebook is still onboard. Irish terrorist Sean Dillon is recruited to retrieve the item, but he’s not the only one interested: a notorious drug dealer with Parliamentary connections is also in on the hunt. The involving story unfolds rapidly across two continents as the rivals race to secure the momentous prize. Helped immeasurably by Dillon’s fascinating character and a stylish performance by Roger Moore, the tension builds to an enthralling climax. Highly recommended.

Sheba

ShebaIn this slick archeological thriller, Higgins (The Eagle Has Landed) reaffirms his skill as a storyteller. In 1939, with the world on the brink of war, American Arabist Gavin Kane is hired to find a missing husband. The missing husband, John Cunningham, disappeared while on a wild goose chase through the Middle East in search of the legendary Temple of Sheba. The Temple turns out to be all too real. And, unfortunately for Kane and his friends, the Nazi’s have discovered the Temple first and are using it as headquarters to implement Hitler’s plan to destroy the Suez Canal. The mixture of archeology and Nazism, naturally brings to mind Indiana Jones and, in fact, the book is very reminiscent of those movies. This is the kind of story where all the villains have German accents, and the heroes can survive a 30-mile hike in the desert with no water. Who cares if the characters are one-dimensional stereotypes (the dashing archeologist, the mysterious beautiful woman)? This fast-paced story has enough action and adventure to make up for any such shortcomings.