Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Forgotten Soldier: A Pike Logan Thriller by Brad Taylor

The Forgotten Soldier – A Pike Logan Thriller.  Brad Taylor. Penguin Group (USA). December 2015. 432 pp.  ISBN#: 9780525954910.

In a heavy-duty fight in Afghanistan, Guy George’s brother, Sgt. First Class Timothy George, is killed. It turns out that Guy’s brother was searching out terrorists but did not anticipate that they would get to him first or why.  Guy receives the material remains of his brother and his entire perspective changes when he finds the pictures of four of the men who were the objects of his brother’s search.  Guy realizes these were the men who directly or indirectly are responsible for his brother’s death, and Guy’s rage is palpable even to the reader. 

Guy belongs to a Task Force that is off the record but approved by a Committee of upper echelon government players, including the President.  The Task Force includes Pike Logan, a friend and brother, no not by blood but by the bonds formed to protect and honor each member of the Team. After talking it over with his Team, Guy realizes that his brother is just another casualty and the American government couldn’t care less. Indeed at a meeting of this Committee, the players on Guy’s Team realize a very harsh reality, several realities in fact.

Greece is collapsing and the rescue of the Euro is paramount to worrying about a fallen soldier!  In fact, there are political machinations occurring, including betrayal by an American Senator.  No spoilers here but no one anticipates that Guy is about to go rogue and an Arab business owner, needed and used but not connected to Arab royalty, tied to his government will go to any length to guarantee their mission which is far from innocent. Will he succeed or be denounced and perhaps assassinated himself should he meet failure. The threats and dangers are vividly obvious!

Into the mix come Guy’s teammates who are trying to stop him and at the same time halt two other missions that may become globally destructive very, very soon.  The pace in this complex plot is relentless, the violence is mind-blowing in its ferocity, and the world of terrorism and assassination is starkly depicted in this all-too-real scenario. The hunter become the hunted and vice versa. 

Get ready for a great read that will keep you up hours past your bedtime and compel you to seek out the other novels of this very talented, skilled writer.  Nicely done, indeed, Brad Taylor and highly recommended novel!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Song of Hartgrove Hall: A Novel by Natasha Solomons

The Song of Hartgrove Hall: A Novel.  Natasha Solomons. Penguin Random House, LLC. December 2015. 400 pp.  ISBN#: 9780147517593.

Harry Fox-Talbot spends most of his time reliving the years since 1946 when he first met the love of his life, the love who has died a year ago and whom Fox finds it extraordinarily difficult to live without.  Fox’s passion is music but since Edie died he has no incentive to compose, play or even poorly sing anything.  In fact Fox is obviously deeply depressed and stuck in his grieving.

This looming melancholy for the reader ends as Fox shares his memories.  In 1946 their home at Hartgrove Hall, was falling apart and was in such deep financial straits that initially the family decided it must be sold.  However, Fox and his brothers decide they will unite to restore Hartgrove Hall and the accompanying farm to its original splendor.  Into this almost impossibly challenging situation comes Edie, a famous wartime singer.  Fox instantly falls in love with her but her romance seems to grow for Jack.  But Fox is quite oblivious for whom Edie’s attentions are really pining.  Thus he escapes Hartgrove Hall, abandoning his brothers’ project and telling himself that sending money is an equivalent way of helping them to restore their home.  While away he pursues his passion of composing and having orchestras perform the folk tradition oral stories common to the English countryside. For loving your brother’s fiancĂ© is definitely forbidden. Later that reality will change to a need for forgiveness, but the real question is who was responsible for breaking Jack’s heart?

As a mourning widower, Fox has a new project when he discovers that his grandson, Robin, is a four year-old prodigy musical genius.  He can sit down and play absolutely anything on a piano without looking at musical notation.  As the narrator describes these astonishing scenes, the reader can almost hear the music to the point where one is mesmerized by the talent and personality of this young boy and how Fox nurtures it, albeit through many challenging and dire situations.  For Fox is helping Robin to become a decent human being and not just a spoiled brat prodigy.
Fox also takes us back to the intricacies of his development as a composer and the genius behind those who conduct and present those works of beautiful musical art.

The Song of Hartgrove Hall is one of the best novels this reviewer has read.  It highlights both the greatness and smallness of human beings, also introducing the reader to the difficult and glorious moments of composers and musicians, as well as singers.

Highly recommended historical fiction that is absolutely delightful reading!