Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Gary Gatlin Reluctant Hero: World War II Trilogy Book 1 by Carl F. Haupt

Gary Gatlin Reluctant Hero: World War II Trilogy Book 1. Carl F Haupt. Dudley Court Press. November 2019. pb, 318 pp.; ISBN: 9781940013572.

Those Gary Catlin begins his life as the son of a Utah farmer, in a family that grows and sells product fruit.  Upon reaching his teen years, he accompanies his father to learn more about how to grow better apples.  During this time he learns more about agriculture, learns to fluently speak and write Japanese and meets a young Japanese-American woman for whom he has feelings but is unable to pursue because of other business agenda he wants to master before making a family commitment.

This is the story of his wild sea journey to Formosa where he hopes to learn more about modern apple pruning techniques.  During this time he is kidnapped by Formosan brigands, saves one of them from death, becomes their friend and then he is rescued from the Japanese soldiers who believe he is a spy.  On that escape he escapes death several times and actually is responsible for bombing a Japanese ship, a formidable task given the onset of WWII between America and Japan as well as Germany.  He meets several British spies during this time, all quietly carrying out their service. 

The essence of this book is about dedication and commitment no matter how difficult the civilian or military task to which one is assigned.  Gary Catlin is an honest man of integrity who gives his all to whatever he does and moves beyond that mode to help those who are unjustly persecuted and are suffering.  The author depicts a man whose heroism is in living true to decent human values.  In the course of these scenes, Gary makes dear friends for life and dramatically changes the world both in America and overseas.  This reviewer found this novel to be adventurous, mysterious, dangerous and real; I think readers will join me in looking forward to further books in this planned trilogy.

Finely crafted, Carl F. Haupt.  Highly recommended reading!

Firewall: An Emma Streat Mystery by Eugenia Lovett West

Firewall: An Emma Streat Mystery. Eugenia Lovett West. Spark Press.  November 2019. pb, 352 pp.; ISBN: 9781684630103.

Emma Streat is no stranger to mysteries and solving international and domestic crime.  Her husband was killed in the first case she later got involved in.  Now the threat is a bunch of criminals involved in international cyberterrorism.  This story begins when her elderly godmother is blackmailed, gives in to the demand but then sets out to find who is the blackmailer. She may be elderly but she’s a feisty lady who is no slouch and Emma shares many of the same attitudes and determination!

Her involvement will force Emma to bond with an ex-lover and other secret agents.  She will be compelled to travel to France, Italy, Ireland and Geneva, Switzerland.  In each place, more attempts at kidnapping will occur, some with horrendous attacks causing multiple deaths.  The flair of each character involves twists and turns that are unexpected.  Criminals may be multiple smart people but there are always miniscule mistakes they did not foresee which expose them to capture.

The bottom line of this mystery concerns multiple attempts to bribe wealthy individuals followed by the laundering of criminal monies.  All of this costs big money that must be moved around by other criminal types and the criminal plot just keep growing more convoluted and complex, with Emma moving forward on her best instincts, both with and without legal protection. Violence and death will occur to many involved, both planned and accidental.  She’s obviously a woman who thrives on following her instincts and love for adventure.  Her children are in college and now she has taken up what seems to be a new career, being a sleuth who’s very good at listening to people, observing them and following her gut instincts in a process that is breath-taking and nerve-wracking, a double whammy package that keeps the reader reading rapidly, flipping the pages and wanting both a solution and yet also not wanting it all to end.

Ms. West has remarkable talent and skills to make this a nail-biting, satisfying international mystery.  Readers are guaranteed to remember this read and to want more of the same in the near future!

Flying Alone: A Memoir by Beth Ruggerio York

Flying Alone: A Memoir. Beth Ruggerio York. FSB Associates. December 2019. pb, 246 pp.; ISBN: 978173399609.

Once flying got into Beth Ruggerio’s blood as a teen, she was totally hooked.  At first she was sidelined with a brutal diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  But with medication she was able to make a plan to get into flying.  It wasn’t to be through the Navy training she had initially planned but she decided to would take lessons and earn and licenses through the hours she put in flying and the tests she would have to take along the way.  This is as much an adventure story as it is a memoir for Beth’s way was far from easy and fraught with numerous examples of dangerous events which became life or death challenges to overcome.

Beth finds a flying instructor who also becomes her boyfriend.  However, as Beth puts it, Flying is number one for Steve and everything else comes after that.  Steve is a great instructor but is not too beg on building up a person’s ego. He pushes her as hard as he does himself.  But she learns to handle every difficulty, even to the point where it begins to impair her mental health.  She flies in poor visibility, in storms, with mechanical plane problems and more.  She also doesn’t work for the employers who place employees’ needs and well-being on a priority list.  She even works for a company that is flying dangerous material and newspapers that top over the weight limit.  While she is doing all this, some of the friends and acquaintances she has met die in brutal accidents that should never have happened.

Eventually Beth winds up in counseling and taking anti-depression medication and realizes she will die if this pattern continues. She therefore works her way into commercial pilot work and then returns to school to do Chinese translation work.  Her story is riveting, harrowing and a whole message of wisdom and caution about the choices one makes for achieving one’s dreams.  The costs may be larger than the dream.  Interestingly, the challenges are also about personal victories that shape an individual with or without the assistance of others.  There are also some scenes that point out the changes in the airline industry from male to female employees.  All in all, this is a fascinating memoir full of unrelenting tension, insecurity and triumphs that will leave readers thinking and asking questions about choices and decisions.