Mystery4

Point of Impact                  Stephen Hunter            Nov 2009     Audio Book
Time to Hunt                     Stephen Hunter            Nov 2009     Audio Book
Temple                              Matthew Reilly            Jan 2010    
The Lost Throne                Chris Kuzneski            Feb 2010


Point of Impact                  Stephen Hunter        Nov 2009     Audio Book

Bob Lee Swagger is a badly damaged Vietnam Veteran.  Bob Lee was the most effective and most highly decorated marine sniper in Vietnam.

The book opens with Bob Lee knocking down a huge old 12 point buck.  He uses a specially designed bullet that temporarily stunned him - and then Bob Lee cut off the antlers to keep him from being shot by trophy hunters.  This is interspersed with a shadowy group planning on using Bob Lee for their purposes.  The scam is that the "Bad Guys" hire Bob Lee to calculate how the President could be killed so that they can frame Bob Lee for a murder.  They are successful and now Bob Lee is on the run and he is out for revenge and to clear his name.

We follow the "Bad Guys" several efforts to kill Bob Lee and how his skill and careful planning foils them each time.  At the end he gives himself up but he shows that it is all a frame-up because of a simple precaution he had taken at the very first of the story.

The book was written before 1993 when it was copyrighted and it has predated several novels with a similar theme - a "good guy" who is damaged Vietnam veteran, bad guys using his expertise to frame him, and several bad FBI, CIA, or other agents who are either evil or jump to conclusions to quickly.  It also illustrates the points made by James Webb in his book on Scots-Irish in the US.

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Time to Hunt                  Stephen Hunter        Nov 2009     Audio Book

 Another chapter in the life of Bob Lee Swagger.  A previous chapter was Point of Impact and another may be Black Light.  His books bounce around.  This one opens in the mountains of central Idaho.  A sniper waits for a small family.  He thinks it is Bob Lee, his wife Julie, and their daughter Nikki.  The sniper shoots and kills the man - but the man is not Bob Lee.

The book skips back to 1971 in Washington D. C. where Donny Fenn, the first husband of Julie Fenn Swagger is stationed.  He is on ceremonial duties until a vengeful Naval Intelligence Officer sends him back to Vietnam where he will become Bob Lee's spotter until he is killed. 

We jump back to Idaho just before the sniper shot.  Bob and Julie have a squabble so Julie and Nikki ride ahead.  They are met by a neighbor who is also on horseback and it is he that the sniper kills.  Julie is seriously wounded.  Bob Lee determines to find the sniper and find out why he/they are being targeted.  Bob Lee finally decided that it is not him, it is his wife Julie.  Why?  By this time he is in Washington D.C. and the CIA flies him back to Idaho to protect his wife.  He parachutes down to the cabin when she is staying and after a long gun battle he kills the sniper.

After Julie heals, they move back to Arizona, and their horse recovery care operation seems to be going well.  Bob Lee decides to go back and clean up a few rough edges.  The CIA agent, who was the Naval Intelligence Officer with Fenn follows him.  He is tracked to an abandoned warehouse.  There they confront each other and just before Bob Lee is to be killed he is able to set off a Claymore mine which kills all of the CIA agents who were Soviet moles. 

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Temple                  Matthew Reilly        Jan 2010    

Do I hear Dan Brown muttering in the background?   The hero of the book is a "mild mannered academic",   Ancient Languages at NYU.   He is not the world expert but he knows the gentleman.  He is rushing to get to his morning class when he is met by fully armored special forces troops just outside his office.   They are there on a mission from DARPA and they need his expertise.  What follows is a series of wild adventures, our "mild mannered academic" turns into an amazed Superhero.  He saves the world two or three times - it gets a little confusing.   He makes use of Arthur C. Clarke's phrase, "Any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic." or whatever.   Unfortunately the author's science and math is not quite up to the task, it would have flowed a little better if "his Fairy Godmother flew up and touched her magic wand and he flew away from the Abrams tank that had just fallen out of the airplane."

I enjoy Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Adventure stories, I just like it a little clearer where we are from moment to moment.  The book is worth a read while you are very bored, not otherwise.

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The Lost Throne                  Chris Kuzneski        Feb 2010    

Dan Brown must be having a good day today. All sorts of people are using parts of his basic plot lines. This book features the search for a missing throne that was constructed for a statue of Zeus in ancient Greece. It had been missing for about 2,500 years, long before the Incas, Masons, or the Christian Church. The book features a couple of ex-Special Forces soldiers, a beautiful (is there any other kind?) archaeologist, a colony of monks and the Greek Orthodox Church, Interpol, and a group of Spartan Warriors. No, this is not a time traveller book, the Spartans are descendants of the originals who have kept their cultural identity intact for 3,000 years.

The hero's are of course the Special Forces guys. They are of course invulnerable and all powerful in all aspects other than their mastery of the English Language. They fight their way through incredible odds to achieve their quest - the retrieval of the old chair. Did I mention that it is really, really big and covered with gold? Anyway, the bad guys are vanquished, the good guys show signs of becoming rich, and an ancient wonder will soon be unveiled to the world. A little hokey but well worth an uncritical recreational read.

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