Archives

The Freedom Broker by K. J. Howe

by
The Freedom Broker by K. J. Howe The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe
Series: Thea Paris #1
Published by Quercus on February 7, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Kidnap negotiator Thea Paris has spent her entire life with survivor's guilt, following an unspeakable childhood tragedy. At eight years old, she watched, frozen in fear, as her twelve-year-old brother, Nikos, was abducted from their home in Kanzi, Africa. Although he was recovered nine months later, he was never the same after that; worse, Thea discovers that she was supposed to have been the target.

This defining experience drives Thea to become one of the top operatives in the field of kidnap-and-ransom consultancy. Nicknamed "Liberata" because she once secured the release of a captive from the Sicilian mob without her client paying a cent, she travels the globe trying to bring hostages home--mostly through negotiation, but occasionally through more forceful means. She is very good at her job.

Twenty years after her brother's abduction, Thea's worst nightmare is revisited when her father, oil magnate Christos Paris, is taken on his sixtieth birthday. He disappears from his yacht while it is moored at Santorini, the ship's whole crew slaughtered mercilessly.


Thea immediately calls in her team at Quantum Security International, premier K&R specialists. Following protocol, they break down Christos' life, looking for leads, but the list of enemies and business competitors is endless. Not surprisingly, Christos Paris has imprinted his designer shoe on innumerable backs during his journey to the top of the oil business. And he was abducted only a few days before the biggest deal of his career.

From there, the case only gets stranger. Unlike most abductions, there are no ransom demands, no political appeals, no prisoner release requests. Instead, the kidnapper sends foreboding quotes in Latin by text from burner phones. What does the kidnapper want?

And most importantly for Thea, will she be able to prevent a second kidnapping from destroying her family for good?

I have to admit, I really enjoyed this action adventure/mystery novel. Thea’s job is get back people who have been kidnapped, whether through negotiation or rescue operations, and she’s good at it. So when her father is kidnapped she can’t trust anyone but her team to get him back. Of course, it’s not simple. We’ve got arms dealers and African politicians and oil magnates all vying for power, with her father smack dab in the middle of it. And we’ve got a love interest for Thea. It’s got a lot going on, but exciting and fast-paced.

Thea’s a great character, smart, tough, and skilled. She’s also a bit blinded by her feelings toward her family. This is one of those instances where the reader knows a lot more about what’s going on than the protagonist, but even at that there are a few surprising twists.

The author has clearly done her research into kidnappings and hostage situations. I also appreciated that Thea is a diabetic. It’s not often that we see women in fiction checking their blood sugar levels before jumping out of airplanes or worrying about whether her insulin will stay cool enough in the heat of the desert. Being diabetic doesn’t hamper Thea, it just means she has to be even more prepared.

Over all, a great start to a series. I’m looking forward to reading more, hopefully with a little less focus on crazy family drama.

About K.J. Howe

Kimberley Howe is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest. Thrillerfest is a conference of International Thriller Writers held every July in New York City. She is also a former medical, health, and fitness writer, as well as, a world traveler, cyclist, swimmer and tennis player.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Friend of the Devil by Mark Spivak

by

Friend of the Devil by Mark Spivak

Friend of the Devil by Mark Spivak Friend of the Devil by Mark Spivak
Published by Black Opal Books on May 27, 2016
Source: Pump Up Your Book!
Genres: Thriller
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, cut a deal with the Devil to achieve fame and fortune. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano.

The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

First a confession, I watch a lot of the Food Network, so I couldn’t pass up a “culinary thriller.” Friend of the Devil turned out to be a fun thriller full of drugs, sex and food. Not a bad combination.

David is a writer who first meets  Joseph Soderini di Avenzano while doing a story. He is then hired to write the famous chef’s biography and is summoned to the Chateau de la Mer, where the menu is amazing, the chef a brilliant, if often drugged-out, showman, and the hostess irresistible. Actually, that is my one complaint, how quickly David and Alessandra hook up. I guess they have to for the rest of the story, but it just seemed a little quick. Of course, everything at the Chateau is a little intense.

For me, it wasn’t a quick read. I’m not sure why exactly. The pacing was good and there was enough action to keep the story moving. I enjoyed the bits of history that Avenzano mused about. I guess maybe I just didn’t care about the characters. I think I was supposed to like David and be “rooting” for him, but I didn’t understand his obsession. It might just be me, though. It seems like it could be a page-turner for some people. It’s got all the right ingredients and it is a seasonal read. David heads to Florida for the winter, like so many people.

Overall, it’s a good thriller, and the food pushes it up a notch.

Excerpt:

Several years after the opening of Chateau de la Mer, the triumvirate of Avenzano,Walsh, and Ross appeared to be one big happy family, although there were rumors of strains in the relationship.

One night, at the height of the Festival of Champagne, there was an incident. Ross, a notorious womanizer, was sipping Cristal with a redhead at the restaurant’s corner table. His wife slipped through the front door of the mansion, unannounced. Walking slowly through the dining room, past the Medieval memorabilia and dramatic cast-iron griffins,she strolled up to Ross’s table, took a revolver from her evening bag, and calmly shot him through the heart.

The ensuing chaos did more to establish Joseph Soderini di Avenzano in the American imagination than his designer pasta, his Bedouin stuffed poussin, his recipes transposed from Etruscan or Old Genoese, or his library of ten thousand cookbooks.

This was more than a good meal, after all. This was sex and death in Palm Beach. Even more intriguing was the chef’s refusal to comment on Ross after his death, except for informal and effusive eulogies in his famous baritone.

“Watch that Cristal,” David’s friend Bill Grimaldi told him before he left Manhattan to do an assigned story on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Chateau de la Mer. “It’s a killer.”

About Mark Spivak

Mark Spivak is an award-winning author, specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, andwas honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the Food Editor for Palm Beach Illustrated; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on www.palmbeachillustrated.com. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. From 1999-2011 Spivak hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Spivak is the author of two non-fiction books: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). Friend of the Devil is his first novel. He is currently working on a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

by
Curious Minds by  Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton
Series: Knight and Moon #1
Published by Bantam on August 16, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Light Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

Janet Evanovich can be hit and miss for me. I’m not sure which category Curious Minds falls into. I like Knight and Moon. He is over the top eccentric, but cute and funny. Moon follows the rules, usually, but ends of having to go along with Knight. They are a good couple, and the dialogue at times is laugh-out-loud funny, but I’m not quite buying the sparks yet. I think for the pair of them, this was a good first novel. I think I’ll enjoy them in later books, as long as the plot is a bit better.

The whole conspiracy in this one was just over the top. Brothers working together to steal money from the Federal Reserve and more or less control all the world’s economy, I think. The conspiracy reaches into the NSA and the Supreme Court. Maybe something like that could happen, but it stretched believability for me. It’s just too big for the wacko and side kick to deal with in a week. On the other hand, it is a quick read with plenty of twists and turns.

Curious Minds is definitely a light, summer kind of read. Parts are amusing, but it’s not as good as others I’ve read by the authors.

About Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

About Phoef Sutton

Phoef Sutton is a writer, producer, and novelist who has written for shows such as Cheers, News Radio, and Boston Legal. Sutton is also the winner of two Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

%d bloggers like this: