Books I’ve Read in 2012

Here are the books I read in 2012. I rated them with 1-5 stars. The book must be truly phenomenal to get 5 stars.

  1. ***Top Secret America (Dana Priest and William Arkin, 2011). An investigative report into the mushrooming number–thousands of them–of secret government agencies created in the aftermath of 9/11. 1/1
  2. *The Scorch Trials (James Dashner, 2010). The second book in his Maze Runner trilogy, set in a future which is part dystopian, part post-apocalyptic. Juvenile fiction. My review. 1/5
  3. ****Legend (Marie Lu,2011). A superb piece of young adult fiction, starring two 15-year-olds in a dystopian Los Angeles. My review. 1/10
  4. ****Smoked (Patrick Quinlan, 2006). Hitmen are on the trail of Smoke Dugan, who had dropped out sight 3 years before after making off with $2.4 million. A madcap thriller also involving 2 pornographers, a mousy library, and Dugan’s girlfriend, who knows karate well. My review. 1/16
  5. ****Fun & Games (Duane Swiercyznski, 2011). The first of a trilogy starring ex-cop Charlie Hardie, here caught up with a movie star targeted by The Accident People, who make assassinations look like accidents. Really great fun. Can’t wait to read the next book. My review. 1/24
  6. ***The Mourner (Richard Stark, 1963). Parker gets involved in a plot to steal a valuable statuette. 1/30
  7. ***The Score (Richard Stark, 1963). Parker gets involved in a major plot to rob an entire remote town in North Dakota. 2/1
  8. ****Savages (Don Winslow, 2010). Ben and Chon are good-guy marijuana dealers. The Baja Cartel kidnaps O, the girl they both love. A roller-coaster, wonderfully written ride. My review. 2/10
  9. ***Only Child (Andrew Vachss, 2002). Burke looks for the killer’s of a mobster’s daughter. The 14th Burke novel (I’ve read them in order). 2/19
  10. **Seven Slayers (Paul Cain). Seven short stories involving mostly bad guys and murders. 2/20
  11. **Erasing Hell (Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, 2011). This book is largely a rebuttal of “Love Wins,” the controversial book about hell by Rob Bell. This book is very much grounded in Scripture, unlike Bell’s book. 2/27
  12. ***Not a Fan (Kyle Idleman, 2011). The difference between being a fan of Jesus and being a follower. Really meaty and straightforward stuff. 2/29
  13. **Down Here (Andrew Vachss, 2003). Burke helps a friend who has been accused of trying to murder a serial rapist. 3/3
  14. ***One Rough Man (Brad Taylor, 2011). An international thriller involving Al Qaeda, an unusual WMD, and tough-guy Pike Logan, an ex-Delta guy who now heads a super-secret government team that pursues and kills terrorists. My review. 3/8
  15. ••Without Mercy (Jack Higgins, 2005). Sean Dillon and other above-the-law British friends vs. Russians out to kill them. 3/19
  16. •••The Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence). Learning to pray throughout the day, living in God’s presence. A classic. My second time through. 3/24
  17. •••Private (James Patterson, 2010). A serial murder of young women, an NFL gambling plot, the murder of a friend’s wife, a mysterious phone caller–four plots, all unrelated, dealt with by Jack Morgan’s firm, Private Investigations. A new series from Patterson, this book written by one of his best ghostwriters, Maxine Paetro. 3/25
  18. ***Woman with Birthmark (Hakan Nessar, 2009). The 4th Inspector Van Veeteren book. A young woman begins killing men, and Van Veeteren and colleagues try to figure it all out. I love these books, always set in an unidentified European country with shade of Holland and Sweden. 3/31
  19. ***The Stalwart Companions (H. Paul Jeffers, 1978, 2010). One of about 15 books in “The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Here, a young Holmes comes to New York City with as part of a Shakespearean play, and becomes involved with a very young Teddy Roosevelt in solving a murder with very large ramifications. An enjoyable story, and a quick read. 4/3
  20. ****The Good Soldiers (David Finkell, 2010). An incredible book which follows an Army battalion during their 15-month tour in Baghdad at the start of the Surge. My review. 4/8
  21. ***Sixkill (Robert Parker, 2011). The last Spenser novel by Robert Parker himself. A disgusting movie star is accused of killing a young girl, and Spenser is asked to prove that he didn’t. He befriends a Cree Indian named Zebulon Sixkill, who fills the Hawk role for this book, and fills it very well. My review. 4/12
  22. **The Command (Marc Ambinder and DB Grady, 2012). About the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, which overseas Delta Force and Seal Team Six and so many other special operations units. Not very well written, and short, but contains a lot of interesting information about JSOC. 4/17
  23. **Txtng: the Gr8 Db8 (David Crystal,200). A non-alarmist examination of texting–how it’s used, how it differs from country to country, it’s alleged dangers, and some very positive ramifications. 4/18
  24. ***Foreign Influence (Brad Thor, 2010). A globe-trotting thriller in which ex-SEAL Scot Harvath pursues Islamic terrorists responsible for major bombings in European cities. Meanwhile, two Chicago cops stumble upon suspicious activities among Pakistani immigrants. 4/18
  25. ****Act of Treason (Vince Flynn, 2006). A bomb kills 19 Americans, including the wife of the president-elect. The vice-president-elect is behind it, though Mitch Rapp doesn’t know that. Mitch pursues the bomber, and get mixed up with Russian hit-men and lots of political intrigue. 4/21
  26. ***Auschwitz: a Doctor’s Eyewitness Account (Niklos Nyiszli, 1960). The testimony of a Jewish doctor, recruited by the evil Dr. Josef Mengele to work with him at the camp. Fascinating (and horrifying) account of what exactly happened in the camp–the sorting of new arrivals, the gas chambers, the crematoriums, Mengele’s experiments on twins, and much more. The foreword by Bruno Bettelheim is worth the cost (I read it twice). 4/25
  27. ***Songs of Innocence (Richard Aleas, 2007). I’ve read 22 books in the Hard Case Crime series, and 2 of my 3 favorites are by Aleas. Again, his protagonist, a PI, lives at the edge of legal and illegal. Here, our hero searches for the killer of a close friend, a prostitute. The search takes him all over the place, and keeps you guessing until the end.  A Hard Case Crime book, an imprint which is a throwback to old pulp noir.4/28
  28. ***Obama’s Wars (Bob Woodward, 2011). Woodward’s inside account of the early days of the Obama administration’s handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Starts in November 2008, as Obama assembles his national security team. Most of the book involves the extensive deliberations in the fall of 2009 regarding Afghanistan strategy and how many additional troops to commit. Obama is very highly engaged in the process, and there is not the dysfunction and backbiting which characterize Woodward’s books about the Bush administration. 4/30
  29. **Deadly Beloved (Max Allan Collins, 2007). Ms. Tree takes over the PI business after her husband is killed, and then begins unraveling several connected murders. Ms. Tree is very tough. A Hard Case Crime book, an imprint which is a throwback to old pulp noir. 5/4
  30. **The Wrong Case (James Crumley, 1975). The first book starring Milo Milodragovitch, a PI who spends a lot of his time being drunk. Not a commendable person. Here, he investigates the apparent suicide of a young man, whose sister is convinced it wasn’t suicide. A number of people get killed. 5/10
  31. ***Shattered (Richard Neely, 1991). A man awakens in the hospital after a terrible accident, with no memory of what happened. He tries to piece together what happened, and to sort through the motives of various people and the nature of his relationship with his wife. I decided I had it figured out by page 100, but as I kept reading, decided that couldn’t be the outcome. But then–it was! A clever, well-written book. 5/17
  32. **Darkness Falls (Jessica Sorenson, 2012). A post-apocalyptic setting, with vampires ruling the night. Kayla, 17, lives in the secure Colony, deep underground, and is a warrior. But she falls short of the required perfection, and is expelled into the outside world…where she meets many others who had been expelled. Her adventures begin. It was not a great book, but I’m very interested in what comes next in this series. 5/21
  33. ***The Pursuit of God (A.W. Tozer, 1948). Tozer’s classic about intimately knowing God and seeking him what all your heart. I read it in the 1980s, and it was past-time to read it again. 5/29
  34. ***Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics (Alisa Harris, 2011). I compelling book. Harris was raised in a Christian, right-wing, activist home; she was picketing abortion clinics before she was in kindergarten. She tells how her views evolved to focus on biblical principles of justice, fairness, compassion, and concern for the poor–principles missing in much of the conservative agenda. I couldn’t put it down. 5/30
  35. ***All is Grace (Brennan Manning, 2011). A very unusual, but fascinating, autobiography of a man–former priest, celebrated Christian author and speaker–who does everything to downplay his own contributions to the Kingdom and focus on God’s grace in his life. A very flawed man greatly used by God, but this book spotlights the “flawed man” part…and gives hope to us all. 6/3
  36. ***Thirteen Hours (Deon Meyer, 2008). A South African thriller occurring over a 13-hour period. An American girl is being chased by a group of young men who already killed her friend, and she doesn’t trust the police. The police, led by Benny Griesel, are trying to find her before they do. At the same time, another murder occurs, a recording executive, so they’re working on both investigations at once. Meyer is a superb writer. His “Blood Safari” was one of the best books I read in 2011. 6/6
  37. ***The Jugger (Richard Stark, 1965). The 6th Parker book find Parker going to a small town to find out what problems an old accomplice–a jugger, a safe cracker–is having. A crooked sheriff, wanting to know where the jugger hid his lifetime of loot, figures Parker knows where to find it. Mayhem ensues. 6/9
  38. ***The Seventh (Richard Stark, 1966). This is, appropriately, the 7th Parker book (out of 24), though in this case it refers to Parker’s cut of a major heist. The heist goes perfectly, but afterwards, somebody steals the money, and Parker and the rest of the gang try to figure out who took it (and who, in the process, killed Parker’s girlfriend). 6/10
  39. ***Blackmailer (George Axelrod, 1952). A tangled plot told first-person by a book publisher. He’s offered a manuscript from a recently deceased but hugely successful author, and it’s sure to be a bestseller. But two different parties are offering the same manuscript, and making it further complicated, with their own agendas, are an ex-girlfriend who is now a very successful actress, and a rich guy who hangs around mobsters. A fun and quick read from the Hard Case Crime imprint. 6/11
  40. ***The First Quarry (Max Allan Collins, 2008). Collins has written ten books starring Quarry, a hired killer. This is his 8th Quarry book, but goes back to the beginning, showing how Quarry got his start. This book follows his first assignment, to kill a college professor. The professor is quite the lady’s man, and Quarry ends up with some of those ladies. A mobster comes into the mix, too. It’s quite a good book. I’ll need to read more Quarry books. 6/15


  1. ****The Reapers (John Connolly, 2008). The 7th book in the Charlie Parker series, but the first one I’ve read. Former detective Parker hardly makes an appearance. Rather, this book focuses on two hired assassins, Louis and Angel, who I understand come to Parker’s aid in previous books in the series. Connolly is an excellent writer–not just plotting, but the quality of writing, which is much higher than you find in most thrillers. Lots of background on Louis, going back to his childhood. This plot involves another “reaper” wanting to get revenge on Louis, and two very rich men who are feuding with each other. 6/17
  2. ***A Fine Dark Line (Joe Lansdale, 2003). An atmospheric period piece occurring during a few months of 1958 in East Texas, the setting for Lansdale’s 1930s-era books “Sunset and Sawdust” and “The Bottoms,” both of which are better books. A young boy, very innocent, discovers a box of letters in a burned-down house, and begins investigating the deaths of two different young women. Told from the boy’s point-of-view. As in the aforementioned two books, race plays a big role. This book moved too slowly for me, but sure made you feel like you were there in 1958 East Texas. 6/24
  3. ***Shake Hands Forever (Ruth Rendell, 1975). My first Inspector Wexford novel. A man’s wife is found murdered in their home, and Wexford thinks he had something to do with it, even though he was nowhere around. A domineering mother, vengeful ex, sexy neighbor, and others come into play. 6/27
  4. ***Killing Castro (Lawrence Block, 1961). Five men are hired to go to Cuba and kill Castro, who had just assumed control. Published just before the Cuban Missile Crisis, under a pen name. Quite interesting. You learn a lot of history about the Cuban revolution. Castro the revolutionary (as opposed to Castro the dictator) is a fascinating crusader admirable in many ways. Part of the Hard Case Crime imprint. 6/30
  5. ***Good Morning, Killer (April Smith, 2003). Another winner (three for three) by April Smith and her FBI protagonist, Ana Grey. A teenage girl is abducted, but resurfaces alive, but only after suffering severe abuse. The search for the Bad Guy permeates the book. But partway through, an interior plotline find Ana pitted against her boyfriend, with her career on the line. And the Bad Guy is still out there, somewhere. Fascinating read. A Black Lizard book. 7/4
  6. ***Cold Paradise (Stuart Woods, 2001). Stone Barrington is in Palm Beach working for a billionaire, where he becomes entangled with Allison Manning, from the 1997 book “Dead in the Water” and her apparently homicidal and stalking ex. Dino comes down from New York to help out. Other women get involved–his ex-wife Dolce, ex girlfriend Arrington, and new girl Callie, a chef. I liked it a lot. 7/6
  7. ***The Short Forever (Stuart Woods, 2002). A case takes Stone Barrington to London, where an old flame (Sarah) and a new one (Monica) await, with a brief appearance by Arrington. It’s a spy plot this time, involving ex-CIA guys, a few Mossad agents, and British intelligence officers. It got a bit complicated, and I’m not positive I have it all figured out, but it was a fun read. 7/7
  8. ***The Little Sleep (Paul Tremblay, 2009). An offbeat, humorous mystery that kept me guessing right to the end. Our hero, who tells the story, is a narcoleptic private investigator–that is, he can fall asleep at any moment. Stress is a trigger. But when he’s asleep, he can be functioning in sleep-walk mode. In this story, Mark is given a couple photos and asked to track something down, but he can’t remember the client because he was in sleep-walk mode at the time. Like I said, very off-beat. 7/9
  9. ****Quarry (Max Allan Collins, 1975). The first book starring killer-for-hire Quarry. He’s sent to an Iowa town to kill a nondescript nobody of a guy. It goes okay, then bad, and mayhem ensues. That was really the story within the story, because the book begins with a contract killing over drugs at an airport, and wraps up with that plotline. I really really liked this book, and will need to read the rest of the series. Actually, in June I did read “The First Quarry,” which is a prequel to the whole series. That whet my appetite. 7/15
  10. ****The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Stieg Larsson, 2007). The final book in the Millennium Trilogy pick up right where the 2nd book, “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” left off. Lisbeth Salander is taken to the hospital with a bullet in her brain and other injuries sustained in a confrontation with her father. For nearly the entire book, Salander is either in the hospital or in prison, which slows it down a bit. And yet, though it starts slowly (like all 3 books), it revs to fever pitch and becomes totally engrossing. I’m sad to see the trilogy come to an end. 7/26
  11. ***Gone Tomorrow (Lee Child, 2009). Another good Jack Reacher book, though a bit long. Starts with a woman shooting herself on a subway, as Reacher watches. She worked for the Pentagon, and he is asked about two names–John Sansom, a US Senator, and Lila Hoth. What’s the deal? Reacher’s search for answers takes him to a couple mysterious Russian (or are they?) women, a 1983 Delta Force operation in Afghanistan, miscellaneous federal agents, a kidnapped kid, and a missing flash drive. Nearly everything happens in New York City. 7/29
  12. ***Money Shot (Christa Faust, 2011). A Hard Case Crime book. Angel Dare, a former porn actress, is assaulted, robbed, and left for dead in a car trunk. With the help of a former cop, she sets out to get revenge. That’s pretty much the plot. Nothing fancy. Angel is an interesting, well-drawn character. 8/3
  13. *****Crazy Love (Francis Chan, 2008). A modern classic about leading life with a “crazy” love for God. Going all out. Holding nothing back. The book is somewhat controversial in the chapter where he talks about lukewarm Christians, and how they won’t be in heaven. But hey, Scripture certainly backs him up. This is an incredible book–my second time reading it. 8/4
  14. ***Eye of the Red Tsar (Sam Eastland, 2010). Pekkala, a close advisor and investigator for the Tsar before being deposed in 1918, has been imprisoned in Siberia for nine years. Now he is brought out to investigate what exactly happened to the Romanovs–are they actually still alive?–and their fortune. Two stories are told concurrently in interspersed fashion: the present-day 1928 investigation, and Pekkala’s backstory beginning when he left Finland to join the Russian military. I figured out halfway through the book who killed the Romanovs, and it didn’t take much to figure out the secret to the hidden fortune; Eastland needs to mask his clues a bit better. But Pekkala is a fascinating character; Eastland is creating a Russian counterpart to Bernie Gunther, Philip Kerr’s private investigator in pre-war and post-war Nazi Germany. I learned a lot of history in this book. 8/5
  15. **Gun Work (David Schow, 2008). Barney, a guy very handy with a gun, goes to Mexico City to help a friend, who’s wife has been kidnapped. Well, that’s the story anyway. It’s more complicated, and Barney finds himself in big trouble. This, then, calls for revenge, of course. The book could have moved along a lot faster. 8/11
  16. ****Swimsuit (James Patterson, 2009). Maxine Paetro, the best writer under the Patterson brand, creates a unique serial killer, who is actually working on contract with a shadowy bunch of Europeans. The book is told by James Hawkins, a former cop and current novelist, who goes to Hawaii to write about an abduction. It turns into a murder, there are other murders…and then that part of the book ends. Hawkins and the killer, Henry Benoit, meet up and a dangerous (for Hawkins) partnership follows. This is a real engrossing book. 8/13
  17. ****Snow Angels (James Thompson, 2009). A beautiful Somali immigrant, a movie star, is brutally murdered in the far north of Finland, 100 miles inside the Arctic Circle. It’s winter,  a time of perpetual darkness and cold. Inspector Kari Vaara sets out to solve the case, which brings into view his ex-wife and her common-law husband, a rich kid, a dim-witted kid, the Somali girl’s parents, a fellow police officer, assorted other characters, and Kari’s American wife, Kate, who came to Finland to manage a ski resort and is now pregnant with twins. It’s a fascinating tale, made more so by the exotic setting. Keeps you guessing until the end. A debut novel in a series I will definitely be reading. 8/18
  18. ***Climate Coverup (James Hoggan, 2009). The story of the massive (hundreds of millions of dollars) campaign by the big carbon producers–mainly oil companies, but also coal and auto companies–to make Americans believe humans are not causing climate change. Using fake environmental companies with fake climate scientists using distorted information, they have pulled off what will be a textbook case study in public relations classes. It’s very disturbing, actually. Names names and gets very specific. 8/21
  19. ***Private Games (James Patterson with Mark Sullivan, 2012). We’re taken to London for the Olympics. Peter Knight, an investigator with the London branch of Private, a world-class investigation firm, leads the search for a killer who is terrorizing the Olympics games. Cronus, as he calls himself, is killing Olympics officials, coaches, and athletes with the help of three Bosnian sisters known as the Furies. It’s quite an interesting plot, though not as well-executed as the original “Private” by Maxine Paetro. Also, Private as a firm didn’t enter much into the plot–it was all Knight and official law enforcement. In that way, I liked “Private” much better. 8/25
  20. **Shooter (Jack Coughlin, 2005). Coughlin, the top Marine sniper, tells his story–or the little bit that isn’t classified. Most of the book follows Coughlin on the invasion of Iraq. Lots of kills. Coughlin pioneered some new tactics with snipers, putting his sniper teams near the front of the action rather than at the back, and keeping them mobile. Very interesting stuff. The book wasn’t well written, and many parts lagged. But I still enjoyed it. 8/28
  21. ***American Assassin (Vince Flynn, 2010). After writing 10 thrillers starring Mitch Rapp, Flynn went back to the beginning and wrote two books on the early days of Mitch Rapp–chronologically, the first two books in the series. “American Assassin” is the first of them. The book begins with Rapp being abducted in Lebanon by terrorists and placed in a car trunk. Then we go back to the beginning. Rapp’s wife had been killed in the Lockerbie bombing. He gets himself recruited into a special assassination unit. We follow Rapp through his highly specialized training, and then see him undertake assassination missions in Europe. We finally catch up to that first chapter to see what happens. It’s a good book with lots of thrills. I’ve got the next one, “Kill Shot,” waiting on my bookshelf. 9/4
  22. **The Handle (Richard Stark, 1966). This 8th Parker novel finds our bad-boy hero joining a plot to rob a casino on a Cuba-owned island off the shores of Texas and Mexico. Parker’s relationship with the Outfit seems to be mended, since they’re behind the idea. A pretty straightforward story, moving steadily toward the heist. As always, things don’t go quite as planned. 9/11
  23. **Lessons from Armed America (Mark Walters and Kathy Jackson, 2009). Stories of people defending themselves with handguns, and lots of other information regarding concealed carry. 9/20
  24. ***You’ll Die Next (Harry Whittington, 1954). Henry Wilson’s day begins with a nice breakfast with his wife, Lila. Then a guy comes to the door and punches him in the face. Then he loses his job. And nearly gets run down by a man and woman in a car. What’s going on? Did his wife’s past, working for the Kit Kat club, have something to do with it? This is a masterfully crafted plot from Whittington, who wrote over 100 novels during the 1950s. I’ve read three of his other books (which are hard to find). Great stuff. 9/23
  25. ***The Rise of Nine (Pitacus Lore, 2012). The third in the Lorien Legacies keeps the series going strong, with lots of action. New characters are developed, especially Nine (who briefly appeared in the second book) and Eight. The only one of the 9 Garde children we haven’t yet met is Five (who, in this book, is quickly making his way from Brazil to join the others). After a brief time in India (where Eight is found), the remaining Garde (along with an unexpected 10th) find themselves in New Mexico fighting the Mogadorians and US government collaborators. The chapters are told first person by Four (John, the star of “I Am Number Four”), Six, and Seven. 9/27
  26. ***Recoil (Jim Thompson, 1953). Patrick Cosgrove, jailed for 15 years for bank robbery, is released into the custody of Doc, a somewhat shady character. Patrick, who tells the story first person, spends the rest of the book basically trying to figure out what Doc has in mind. Two women close to Doc, a tough Corrections official named Myrtle, Doc’s lawyer, a two-bit detective, and a few others fill out the plot. It kept me guessing until the end. Some of Thompson’s books are brilliant, some get a bit weird. This one is a straight-up plot which gradually unveils to the reader what is happening. 9/30
  27. **A Killing in Comics (Max Allan Collins, 2007). The writer of a popular comic book superhero is murdered. Jack Starr, VP of a comic publisher, who conveniently happens to also be a private investigator, sets about trying to solve the murder. Lots of possibilities, most of them other persons involved in the comic business, including other cartoonists of rival superheroes. Cartoon drawings at the beginning of each chapter spice up the book. Kind of interesting, but I wasn’t all that crazy about the plot. 10/3
  28. ****Spycatcher (Matthew Dunn, 2011). The debut of a new author, and of what promises to be a superb series with a fascinating–and thoroughly deadly–protagonist. His name is Will Cochrane, an MI6 agent who goes by the name Spartan, and is known by very few people. The bad guys are Iranians, and most of the book revolves around the search for an Iranian spymaster who is plotting something very, very big to hit at either England or America (they don’t know which it will be). The CIA provides four very deadly men to work wit Cochrane. The book starts in New York City, but then switches to Bosnia for much of the book, with interludes in Berlin and other places in Europe. I really loved this book, and will look forward to reading the sequel, “Sentinel,” when it arrives in paperback. 10/7
  29. **Mask Market (Andrew Vachss, 2006). This was one of the more complex Burke novels. It’s a murder mystery which involves Beryl, whom he rescued from a pimp many years before (an earlier book). Various unsavory characters come into play, along with Burke’s usual posse. As always Vachss works in all kinds of education about sexual abuse, especially of children. 10/14
  30. **Baby Moll (John Farris). Peter Mallory gets pulled back into the mob business to find out who is gunning for his former boss. Plenty of suspects to go around, and plenty of pretty women. Mallory, of course, figures it out. A Hard Case Crime book. 10/21
  31. ***The Affair (Lee Child, 2011). We go back to Jack Reacher’s last case as an MP. He goes undercover in a southern town to help track the murderer of a young woman. He teams up with the local sheriff, who just happens to be a gorgeous woman of the same age, and ex-military to boot. Not a lot of suspects, but it keeps you guessing. Could have been shorter without hurting anything. 10/25
  32. ***Dead Zero (Stephen Hunter, 2010). The seventh book starring former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger, and just as superb as all the other ones. This book brings in Ray Cruz, who will star in Hunter’s books now, since Bob Swagger is approaching age 70. Cruz, a young sniper, was set-up during a mission in Afghanistan. Now he’s back in the States, vowing to kill the Afghan leader he was sent to kill, but who is now a darling of the US government. Swagger is recruited to track him down. Some great twists. You also have three Muslim terrorists who cross the Mexico border and are gradually making their way to the East coast, mission unknown. 10/31
  33. ***Kill Shot (Vince Flynn, 2012). Chronologically, this is the second Mitch Rapp book. This one finds Rapp in Paris, where he is ambushed while carrying out an assassination of a Libyan terrorist. He summons his Swiss girlfriend, and sets about figuring out who set him up.  He doesn’t trust anyone, including his colleagues back in the States–who, it turns out, send a team over to find Rapp, and some of them do NOT like Rapp at all. It’s good book and tells us more about the early Rapp. 11/11
  34. **Trapline (Carl Hiaason and Bill Montalbano). Hiaassn and Montalbno collaborated on three books in the early 1980s, all now published under the Black Lizard imprint. I’ve not read all three, and none of them stand out. This one involves a Florida fisherman who gets drawn into a drug and people smuggling operation. It gets complicated. 11/13
  35. ***The Third Rail (Michael Harvey, 2010). The third book starring Chicago PI Michael Harvey. All have been excellent (all from the Black Lizard imprint). Here, Kelly is intentionally ensnared in a mass killing by someone who has an undetermined beef with him. This is a book that just keeps going. You think it’s done, and there’s more. 11/20
  36. ****The Troubled Man (Henning Mankell, 2011). The final Kurt Wallander book, 11th in the series (I’m pretty sure). This is a lovingly-written book, slow-paced but beautifully done, with references to various books in the series. The plot to be solved involves the disappearance of a former Swedish naval officer and suspicions of spying. The mystery unfolds slowly, as Wallander is caught up in various other things, including his own battle with aging. It’s a fitting end to the series. 12/15
  37. ***The Cross in the Closet (Timothy Kurek, 2012). A fundamentalist Christian (sort of) begins questioning the hate-homosexuals attitudes he’d been taught. What’s it like to live with the “gay ” label? He tries an experiment for a year: pretend he’s actually gay. He “comes out” to his family (who react fairly well) and his church (who don’t). We follow Tim throughout his year as he navigates the gay community. Along the way we meet some fascinating people and hear heart-breaking stories. This is not a theological book. But it’s a deeply personal look at this issue which now touches to many lives. 12/17
  38. ***The Blue Eyed Devil (Robert Parker, 2011). The fourth (and probably final) Parker western starring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch (told first-person by Hitch). They return to Appaloosa, the locale of the first book in the series, and bump heads with a new sheriff with higher political aspirations, and a big-wig rancher. There are gunfights, and Indian raid, and lots of other fun stuff. I love these books. I haven’t heard that anybody has been hired to continue this series, following the death of Parker. Too bad. 12/18
  39. ****The Snowman (Jo Nesbo, 2012). My introduction to Norwegian detective Harry Hole, as he goes after Norway’s first serial killer. Nesbo is a superb writer, with a superb translator. The writing and imagery are beautiful, and the plotting is meticulous. Harry Hole, despite his susceptibility to alcoholism, isn’t a downer of a figure, like Kurt Wallander and other Scandinavian sleuths. He’s an imposing guy, 6’4″, and very physical. I like him, and liked reading about him. 12/24
  40. ****The Leopard (Jo Nesbo, 2012). This book is 150 pages longer than The Snowman, but worth it. We have another serial killer, who is picking off persons who all spent the same night in a remote mountain cabin. It kept me guessing, and it just kept on going. Side trips to the Congo figure into the plot. A rousing ending. I’m hooked on Nesbo, I’m afraid. 12/29
  41. ***The Old Testament. Read through it using the “One Year Bible.” You betcha I’m counting it as a book. 12/31
  42. ***The New Testament. Read through it using the “One Year Bible.” 12/31

Top Ten for the Year (So Far)

    1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
    2. Savages
    3. The Good Soldiers
    4. The Leopard
    5. Legend
    6. Practice of the Presence of God
    7. Smoked
    8. Auschwitz
    9. Fun & Games
    10. Private
Share Button

2 Comments to 2012 Books Read

  1. Not so many reviews recently. Love to post some on my site, if/when you do.

  2. Busy boy Steve. Most of my non work reading fell into re-visiting a Loui L’amour book for a couple hours of escape.


Leave a Reply to Dave Atherton Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *