Impasse by Royce Scott Buckingham

Book Synopsis

A man is left to die in Alaska while on an “adventure vacation” and must somehow survive to get his revenge on those who betrayed him.

Forty and facing a mid-life crisis, Stu Stark has lost his mojo. He simply gave up after being fired from his prestigious job as a prosecuting attorney for losing the biggest case of his career. So when Stu’s best friend gifts him a one-week trip into the Alaskan wilderness to rediscover his manhood, Stu thinks it just might do him some good. But after a horrible week, Stu is crushed when he realizes that no one is coming back for him. Dying, Stu is found by a grizzled old hunter who informs that winter has set in, and they’re not going anywhere for a while.

So begins Stu’s training to become the man he never was…and to get revenge on those who betrayed him. This adult debut by the internationally bestselling YA author is a modern day take on The Count of Monte Cristo.

My Thoughts

Impasse by Royce Scott Buckingham is a fast paced and enjoyable, modern day version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Though it does lack the long term planning that went into Count of Monte Cristo (Impasse took place over the course of six months), it was still an exciting read. It makes me wonder how soft I have become sitting behind a desk all day and wonder what would happen if I was forced to survive in the wilderness with nothing.

I love a good revenge tale and the only real negative thing I have to say was how quickly (and neatly) things came together in the end. I would have enjoyed reading another 50 pages or so about what happened in the aftermath. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Blue Labyrinth

Authors: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publication Date: November 11, 2014

Source: NetGalley

Book Description (from Goodreads):

Special Agent Pendergast-one of the most original, compelling characters in all of contemporary fiction-returns in Preston and Child’s new exhilarating novel
A long-buried family secret has come back to haunt Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast.
It begins with murder. One of Pendergast’s most implacable, most feared enemies is found on his doorstep, dead. Pendergast has no idea who is responsible for the killing, or why the body was brought to his home. The mystery has all the hallmarks of the perfect crime, save for an enigmatic clue: a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach of the deceased.
The gem leads Pendergast to an abandoned mine on the shore of California’s Salton Sea, which in turn propels him on a journey of discovery deep into his own family’s sinister past. But Pendergast learns there is more at work than a ghastly episode of family history: he is being stalked by a subtle killer bent on vengeance over an ancient transgression. And he soon becomes caught in a wickedly clever plot, which leaves him stricken in mind and body, and propels him toward a reckoning beyond anything he could ever have imagined…

In a single word, WOW.  I have been reading the Pendergast series for several years now and eagerly await each installment.  I must admit the last few, (Cold Vengeance and Two Graves) while good, just didn’t engross me like Brimstone and the rest of the Diogenes trilogy.  Things picked up with White Fire, but Blue Labyrinth…. well, it was the Pendergast book I had been waiting for.

We get to see some familiar faces, Vincent D’Agosta, Margo Green, and my favorite, Pendergast’s ward, Constance Greene.  One of the best things about this book is that Constance is front and center in the action.

We get to see Pendergast in a new light, he is completely outwitted, and for the first time he has encountered a problem that he is unable to solve solely by himself.  Seeing Pendergast vulnerable made me realize that while his skills are formidable, he is still only human. Sometimes we need to see our heroes brought low before we can truly appreciate them.

There is a lot of Pendergast history spread throughout this book, particularly about a long buried family secret.  With each book we get snippets of what his family was like and Pendergast’s history is just as odd and mysterious as he is.

The pace is non stop with the chapters moving from character to character.  Toward the end each chapter seemed to leave me on a mini cliffhanger and kept me turning page after page to find out what was happening to the characters.  This is the 14th Pendergast book and the dynamic duo of Preston and Child still keep things fresh and exciting for their readers.  I think Blue Labyrinth may have nudged The Cabinet of Curiosities out of the way as my favorite in the Pendergast series.

Blue Labyrinth goes on sale November 11, 2014 and is a must read for fans of the Pendergast series.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs


Author: Roger Hobbs

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: February 12, 2013

Format: eBook (also available in Hardcover, Paperback, and Audio)

Source: Local Library

327 Pages

Book Description(from Goodreads)

Stunningly dark, hugely intelligent and thoroughly addictive, Ghostman announces the arrival of an exciting and highly distinctive novelist.

When a casino robbery in Atlantic City goes horribly awry, the man who orchestrated it is obliged to call in a favor from someone who’s occasionally called Jack. While it’s doubtful that anyone knows his actual name or anything at all about his true identity, or even if he’s still alive, he’s in his mid-thirties and lives completely off the grid, a criminal’s criminal who does entirely as he pleases and is almost impossible to get in touch with. But within hours a private jet is flying this exceptionally experienced fixer and cleaner-upper from Seattle to New Jersey and right into a spectacular mess: one heister dead in the parking lot, another winged but on the run, the shooter a complete mystery, the $1.2 million in freshly printed bills god knows where and the FBI already waiting for Jack at the airport, to be joined shortly by other extremely interested and elusive parties. He has only forty-eight hours until the twice-stolen cash literally explodes, taking with it the wider, byzantine ambitions behind the theft. To contend with all this will require every gram of his skill, ingenuity and self-protective instincts, especially when offense and defense soon become meaningless terms. And as he maneuvers these exceedingly slippery slopes, he relives the botched bank robbery in Kuala Lumpur five years earlier that has now landed him this unwanted new assignment.

As you can see from many of my previous reviews I read mainly fantasy and (recently) horror.  A few weeks ago I started watching The Blacklist and quickly became addicted to it.  Being the reader that I am, I wondered if there were any books out there similar to it.  A quick Google search brought up Ghostman several times. I do not read many thrillers but since I was so intrigued by The Blacklist I checked out Ghostman from my public library’s Overdrive catalog and decided to give it a try.

I liked the concept of the “ghostman”, someone who for all intents and purposes does not exist.  We do not even know his real name.  He uses the name “Jack”, one he last used five years ago in a foreign bank job that went bad.  That job has come back to haunt him as his old “jugmarker” has asked him to repay a favor and give him the opportunity to wipe the slate clean by cleaning up a casino robbery gone bad.

The level of detail in this book is outstanding.  I work in the technology sector and I appreciate detail.  Some readers do not like loads of detail but I am just the opposite, I love to “get in the weeds” so to speak and wallow in the details.  I was really able to immerse myself in the story with the detailed descriptions of the inner working of banks, armored car deliveries, guns, and the different identities that “Jack” created.

I am not sure if this section is in the hardcover addition but my favorite part of the book was the “Autobiography of the Ghostman”.  That brief section was almost as good as the entire book.

I really enjoyed Ghostman and I think I am going to broaden my reading horizons and read more thrillers, especially if I can find more like this.  Hopefully we will see more of this character in future books by Roger Hobbs.