What with one reason or another, mostly due to a stressful time in the office while also being persistently unwell (and worried about the state of the world, including this bit of it), my reading has changed a little lately. I’ve not been reading much contemporary crime or psychological thrillers. This is a temporary thing, I’m sure, but for the moment I’m not too good at reading anything too gritty or featuring unlikeable/unreliable people. This doesn’t mean that I’m not reading anything dark. On the contrary, in some ways I’ve felt drawn to it (just look at Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver – you don’t get much darker than that).
I’ve been gobbling up ghost stories (I can’t wait to read The Lost Ones by Anita Frank) as well as the new Stephen King novel, The Institute, and I’ve also been reading historical fiction and sad tales, such as The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott. But I’ve also been after escapist reads and that means feeding my addiction for fun action thrillers and delving into cosy crime – I adore Jessica Fellowes’ Mitford series and I’ve been reading these at any available moment while still trying to spread them out. And my love for science fiction has meant spending time with Peter F Hamilton and Emma Newman – such fine writers.
And talking of historical fiction, I’m really looking forward to reading The Last Battle by Nick Brown shortly. Several of my favourite Roman series finished last year which has left a big gap in my reading. This will help to fill it although, sadly, it is the last adventure for the Agent of Rome, which does make me a little nervous.
What this all means is that my ginormous to be read mountain has suffered a bit of a slide. Some books have come off it to be read at a later date when I’m ready for them and can do them justice while others have come off it for good. I don’t normally read books published in the distant future until they’re almost out. That’s gone out of the window (I’m about to read a book that isn’t published until April 2020 – We Begin at the End by the genius Chris Whitaker). It also means that I’ve been buying more books than I even do normally. I’ve always spent a lot of money on books each month – every book blogger I know does the same – but the last couple of months I’ve gone a bit daft with the book buying! I have more on my list to buy next weeks…. #Oops.
This has presented a bit of a blogging quandary. I don’t always review books that I’ve bought because I often buy them purely with the intention of having fun with them while not thinking up anything to say about them. But I realise that this might leave the site a little bare! So, I thought that in between the ‘proper’ reviews I’d write briefly about some of the other books I’ve read, partly because I like to spread the love about books I’ve enjoyed, but also because it shows that I am still reading!
This time it’s the turn of two thrillers: The Resurrection Key by Andy McDermott and The Titanic Secret by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul.
The Resurrection Key by Andy McDermott
I love this series and I’ve enjoyed reading them all over the years so I bought this, the fifteenth in the series, the day it came out and immediately started reading. The books depict in thrilling fashion the archaeological adventures of American Nina Wilde and her ex-SAS Yorkshire husband, Eddie Chase. The two of them together are a riot, Eddie makes me laugh so much, and it’s just as well that they can keep on laughing because they’ve been through an awful lot over the years. Discovering Atlantis, the Ark of the Covenant, King Arthur’s Sword and so on is dangerous work. And now that Nina and Eddie have a child to care for, they’re starting to think that they should put the risky days behind them. After all, they’ve left a trail of dead bodies behind, some of them friends (there have been tears along the way). But fate has a habit of getting in the way and soon Nina and Eddie must head to China on the trail of an ancient, secret civilisation, the discovery of which threatens the future of mankind. All in a day’s work for NIna and Eddie…
The storyline continues those of recent novels but the good news is that Macy is now 10 and is no longer an irritation! In fact, she’s becoming an interesting character in her own right, which is great and bodes well for the future. I do miss the old days but this is as good as the last one, The Spear of Atlantis, and is action-packed from start to finish and is thoroughly entertaining and exhilarating. Eddie Chase (and his jokes) remains the star and how I love him. If you’ve not read this series and you enjoy an archaeological adventure then do take a look. I’ve been hooked for years and long may it continue.
The Titanic Secret by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul
I am a huge Dirk Pitt fan and so when I heard that the latest Isaac Bell thriller (the eleventh) features Dirk I could not resist. It’s a bit of a mix because Bell is a detective from the past (he’s recently survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906) and Dirk Pitt is the head of National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), an agency that works for the American government in the present day. But what links these two together here is The Titanic and that’s what drew me to this, the first Bell novel I’ve read in some years. The Raising of the Titanic was the first Cussler novel I read many years ago and so the idea of reading a prequel to this was irresistible.
It’s very easy to work out which of the authors wrote what, with Cussler doing the prologue and epilogue with Dirk, and Jack Du Brul writing the rest, which is set in 1911 and 1912, although the influence of Cussler is everywhere, especially in the numerous scenes on trains and in vintage vehicles (a trademark of Cussler’s thrillers). Isaac is a likeable hero – an Edwardian Dirk, really – and he stars here in a very exciting thriller which covers a fair bit of the globe.
I did have a couple of issues – the mistake of calling Newcastle-upon-Tyne (in NE England) a coastal city on the English Channel is pretty unforgiveable and shabby. Also, The Titanic is right there on the cover but don’t expect to find her in these pages. Nevertheless, this is a fun read albeit not the best written of Cussler’s books – perhaps it’s the historical setting which has made the prose rather stilted and laboured. The action scenes are where this thriller does its job properly and happily there are a fair few of them. It made me want the next Dirk Pitt thriller more than ever.