Very Quick Review: THE 6TH EXTINCTION by James Rollins (William Morrow)

RollinsJ-SF10-6thExtinctionUSPBThe tenth Sigma Force novel

A remote military research station broadcasts a frantic distress call that ends with a chilling message: Kill us all. When soldiers arrive to investigate, they discover everyone in the lab is dead — not just the scientists, but every living thing for fifty square miles is annihilated: every animal, plant, and insect, even bacteria. The land is completely sterile — and the blight is spreading.

To prevent the inevitable, Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma must decipher a threat that rises out of the distant past, a time when Antarctica was green and Earth’s life balanced on a knife edge. Following clues from an ancient map rescued from the lost Library of Alexandria, Sigma will make a shocking discovery involving a prehistoric continent, and a new form of death buried under miles of ice.

From millennia-old secrets out of the frozen past to mysteries buried deep in the darkest jungles of today, Sigma will face its greatest challenge yet: stopping the coming extinction of mankind.

But is it already too late?

I’ve been a long-time fan of James Rollins’s Sigma Force novels. I fell behind for a bit, though, and recently decided that it was time for me to get caught up. And so, I eagerly dove in to The 6th Extinction, hoping for some action-packed mystery and globe-trotting adventure. I was not at all disappointed. Continue reading

Interview with GAVIN G. SMITH

SmithGG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Gavin G. Smith?

Just some guy… I am a science fiction, fantasy and horror writer. I tend to write quite action-oriented stuff and inject a bit of humour in often gritty stories.

Your novel, Spec Ops Z, will be re-issued by Abaddon next month. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

I’m not a great respecter of tight genre boundaries and I think Spec Ops Z straddles a few. It’s set in an alternate 1987 where instead of Glasnost, Russia was taken over by hardliners and launched a first strike against the US using a zombie-inducing “bio weapon”. The protagonists (rather than heroes) are the Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) squad tasked with infecting New York. The squad are a crew of somewhat embittered misfits led by led by Vadim Socorlenski a tired and disillusioned officer once hailed as a “Hero of the Soviet Union”. The squad get infected in New York and then it’s all about them trying to get home in the face of WW3 and a zombie outbreak. It’s kind-of apocalyptic post-survival action horror, I guess. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE TWO LOST MOUNTAINS by Matthew Reilly (Orion)

ReillyM-JW6-TwoLostMountainsUKHCThe penultimate novel in the action-packed Jack West, Jr., series.

AN INCREDIBLE VICTORY AT A TERRIBLE PRICE

Against all the odds, Jack West Jr found the Three Secret Cities – but at a heartbreaking cost.

TO THE MOUNTAINS AND THE FALL

Still reeling from his loss, Jack must now get to one of the five iron mountains – two of which have never been found – and perform a mysterious feat known only as ‘The Fall’.

A NEW PLAYER ARRIVES

Amid all this, Jack will discover that a new player has entered the race, a general so feared by the four legendary kingdoms they had him locked away in their deepest dungeon.

Only now this general has escaped and he has a horrifying plan of his own…

I’ve been reading Reilly’s Jack West Jr. series since the paperback release of Seven Ancient Wonders, which I think I picked up on a whim (from WH Smiths, if I recall correctly). It introduced a host of fun new characters, and offered an action-packed thrill-ride. A blockbuster movie on the page, filled with secret history, insane action scenes, some fun technology, and superb pacing. Each of the series novels since (the titles have been counting down) has offered much the same level of entertainment and action, building nicely on the mythology of its particular secret history. The Two Lost Mountains is another fast-paced novel, which sets up the final book very nicely. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE NOWHERE MAN by Gregg Hurwitz (St. Martin’s Press)

hurwitzg-2-nowheremanusEvan Smoak returns, but this time he’s the one who needs help…

Who is THE NOWHERE MAN?

He is spoken about only in whispers. He comes to those in greatest need of his protection. There is no enemy he cannot fight. He lives by his own code. He takes no prisoners. His name is Evan Smoak.

Taken from a group home when he was young, Evan was raised and trained as an Orphan, an off-the-books black box program designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence asset: An assassin. Evan was Orphan X — until he used everything he’d learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man.

But now, his new life has been interrupted by a surprise attack from an unlikely source. Captured, drugged, and spirited off to a remote location, Evan finds himself heavily guarded from everything he knows. His captors think they have him trapped and helpless in a virtual cage, but they do not know that they’re dealing with one of the deadliest, most resourceful men on earth.

Introduced in Orphan X, noble avenger of the downtrodden and persecuted Evan Smoak returns in The Nowhere Man. This time, he’s forced to employ all of his skills and wits to escape from the grips of a psychopathic thief. A gripping action/thriller, I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Excerpt: ONE MINUTE OUT by Mark Greaney (Berkley/Sphere)

GreaneyM-GM09-OneMinuteOutUSToday, Berkley publishes One Minute Out, the ninth novel in Mark Greaney‘s best-selling Gray Man series. The novel is due to be published on Thursday in the UK, by Sphere.

One of my must-read series, I’m very happy that the publisher has allowed me to run this excerpt from the new novel. First, however, the synopsis:

While on a mission to Croatia, Court Gentry uncovers a human trafficking operation. The trail leads from the Balkans all the way back to Hollywood.

Court is determined to shut it down, but his CIA handlers have other plans. The criminal ringleader has actionable intelligence about a potentially devastating terrorist attack on the US. The CIA won’t move until they have that intel. It’s a moral balancing act with Court at the pivot point.

Now, on to the excerpt…

Continue reading

Quick Review: HOUR OF THE ASSASSIN by Matthew Quirk (William Morrow)

QuirkM-HourOfTheAssassinUSA very fast-paced, political conspiracy thriller

Framed and on the run for his life, a former Secret Service agent discovers how far some men will go to grasp the highest office in the land…

As a Secret Service agent, Nick Averose spent a decade protecting the most powerful men and women in America and developed a unique gift: the ability to think like an assassin. Now, he uses that skill in a little-known but crucial job. As a “red teamer,” he poses as a threat, testing the security around our highest officials to find vulnerabilities — before our enemies can. He is a mock killer, capable of slipping past even the best defenses.

His latest assignment is to assess the security surrounding the former CIA director at his DC area home. But soon after he breaches the man’s study, the home’s inner sanctum, Nick finds himself entangled in a vicious crime that will shake Washington to its foundations — as all the evidence points to Nick.

Nick knows he’s the perfect scapegoat. But who is framing him, and why? To clear his name, he must find the truth — a search that leads to a dark conspiracy whose roots stretch back decades. The prize is the most powerful position in the world: the Oval Office.

To save himself and the people he loves, Nick must stop the men who rule Washington before they bury him along with their secrets. 

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Quirk’s novels ever since I got my hands on an ARC of his debut, The 500. I blitzed through it in one long, gloriously entertaining sitting (staying up way into the night). Since then, I’ve read most of his novels and each has been a fast-paced thriller set in and around American politics — often in and around D.C., specifically. Hour of the Assassin is exactly the kind of novel I expected from Quirk: fast-paced, entertaining, and filled with commentary on the state of modern politics. Continue reading

Upcoming: RAISING DION (Netflix)

The trailer for Raising Dion dropped today. It’s a new super-hero show executive-produced by the ever-excellent Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Black Panther, Friday Night Lights, Creed, etc.). It looks really cool:

Here’s the official synopsis:

A young boy struggling to control his newfound powers. A single mom fighting the odds to keep her son safe. Secrets, conspiracies, mysteries, all dangerously swarming around one family…

Starring Ja’Siah Young and Alisha Wainwright, Raising Dion launches October 4th, only on Netflix.

Very Quick Review: THE BOYS (Amazon Studios)

Boys-HomelanderPosterA fantastic adaptation of a comic series I couldn’t finish…

THE BOYS is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It’s the powerless against the super powerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven,” and their formiddable Vought backing.

When I first heard that Amazon was adapting Garth Ennis’s The Boys into a TV series, I admit I was skeptical. Mainly, my reaction was, “But… how?” It is a series that by no means pulls its punches, is graphic to the point of being gratuitous, and doesn’t exactly come across as corporate-friendly. Nevertheless, I dipped in, and blitzed through it. The Boys is a fantastic show. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: ASH KICKERS by Sean Grigsby (Angry Robot)

GrigsbyS-2-AshKickersToday, we have the annotated first chapter of Sean Grigsby‘s latest novel, Ash Kickers — the sequel to Smoke Eaters. Published this week by Angry Robot Books, the author has added some commentary about the story and his writing. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

With ex-firefighter Cole Brannigan in command of the Smoke Eaters, the dragon menace is under control. Thanks to non-lethal Canadian tech, the beasts are tranquilized and locked up, rather than killed. But for Tamerica Williams, this job filled with action and danger, has become tediously routine.

When a new threat emerges, a legendary bird of fire – the Phoenix – it’s the perfect task for Williams. But killing the Phoenix just brings it back stronger, spreading fire like a plague and whipping dragons into a frenzy. Will it prove to be too much excitement, even for adrenalin-junkie Williams?

And now, on with the excerpt!

Continue reading

Quick Review: THE BREAK LINE by James Brabazon (Berkley/Penguin)

brabazonj-mm1-breaklineushcAn assassin sent into the field with limited information, confronted by a bizarre, deadly mystery in the jungle

British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent.

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he’s never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.

His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It’s his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.

I’m so used to reading thrillers and spy novels starring American protagonists — be they independent contractors, CIA or FBI agents. It was therefore quite refreshing to read James Brabazon’s debut novel. It is, at times, wonderfully British in idiom and style and it left me a little homesick. It should definitely still appeal to an international readership, however (as a Brit living overseas, however, there were things that struck a chord of nostalgia). Overall, I enjoyed this quite a bit. A promising start to a new series. Continue reading