Saturday, July 6, 2019

Lions of the Sky by Paco Chierici

Lions of the Sky. Paco Chierici. Braveship Books. Copyright 2018. $26.99; hb, 292 pp.; ISBN: 9781640620674.

Being a Top Gun fighter pilot is not for the timid.  It’s fiercely difficult; that’s why these men and women are being tested and trained to be fighter pilots are going through real and simulated scenarios.  The action of lack of action can mean instant injury and/or death. Enter the cockpit of an F/A-18 Super Hornet and feel the force of gravity on take-off.  This team are not loners; they’re highly dependent on each other for survival.  Sam Richardson is the leader.  Sam’s dealing with a problem; he’s got two females in this latest division. He had become close to a former female pilot who died in an airplane crash.  The questions haunting Sam are did she cause the pilot error and was it because she was a weaker female pilot?  Sam has to unlearn that error in thinking because it so severely affects the current women being trained to fly in battle missions.  There are nail-biting scenes galore that are truly thrilling adventures that are so enjoyable.  Also one experiences many drinking sessions, sharing of meals, sharing of training – supportive and challenging, sad moments at funerals, gifting of hilarious and serious nicknames, on-shore leaves for officers and trainees, etc.  I absolutely loved this novel and learned so much during it.  The author is a real pilot with over 20 years of experience.  The conflict these men and women are getting ready for is a death-dealing one in the South China Sea where China is preparing to do battle with Taiwan and the Philippines over a slew of islands.  Not a training session – Paco Chierici knows how to depict the real deal!  Highly recommended historical fiction of the 21st century!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Off the Grid: A Mystery by Robert McGaw

Off the Grid: A Mystery.  Robert McCaw. Oceanview Publishing.  July 2, 2019; pb, 304 pp.; ISBN #: 9781608093618.

On the main island of Hawaii lie numerous fields of lava-strewn, barren ground that have destroyed almost all homes, buildings, and cars in the path of exploding volcanoes spread throughout the Big Island. The mystery begins when a tattered piece of cloth leads to the remains of a man who has obviously been tortured before he was murdered and then destroyed in a horrific explosion when a truck and car collide.  A blood-curdling scream is heard as Chief Detective Koa responds to the scene but is followed by an explosion that completely destroys the car which had held the screaming woman.  So begins the hunt for the planners of what quickly seems a planned murder of both victims.

Meanwhile, an election is looming for governor and one of the campaigner’s policies involves drastic cuts in the police department, including laying off one of Koa’s peers who lost his legs in a work-related criminal investigation.  Smithy is twenty-one months away from a pension, one Koa and their peers believe is well-deserved.  There’s also something strange about the way the would-be governor, the mayor and the head of the police are cozying up with each other that goes beyond the usual political machinations.

This then is mystery driven by seemingly insignificant but related past facts.  What is a former Navy Seal doing with spending hours growing variations of orchids.  What is his girlfriend, a former spy, doing with boxes of money that arrive regularly from China?  Who are the goons that try to insert themselves in the investigation supposedly on behalf of the CIA in Langley, Washington? 

Koa has his own secrets, ones that he has sublimated into a hunger for seeking justice wherever he finds it questioned or abused.  He does not brook fools or interference, even with supposedly patriotic or noble motivations.  The struggle will reach all the way back to the beginning of the Iranian nuclear arms policy and a number of American and Chinese spies involved in the Kosovo crisis of the 1990s. 

Koa has unbelievable but remarkable detective skills and leaves no stone unturned in his search for the truth and justice regarding these two murders.  He is well-connected and capable of making connections where others would fail to tread.  This is remarkable international thriller plot that will more than satisfy others who love to read this particular genre.  Injustice ranges from Indonesian killer goons to the top of CIA and Chinese politicians.  

Off the Grid is fine historical and mystery fiction.  Well done, Robert McCaw.