DEATH TRAIN by Alastair Mac Neill

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Death Train, is a far-fetched thriller― a train journey far from smooth, as villains set out to deliver a dangerous wagon load while a team from UNACO – an international police force, set out to stop them. Written after the death of Alistair Maclean and contrary to the large misleading print on the cover, this was a novel written by an Alastair MacNeil (set out in small print).  The plot though is based on an Alistair Maclean’s story line and could have been a best seller, but needed Maclean’s expertise in making the story plausible. This story fell well below the standard one would expect from Alistair Maclean.

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MIDWINTER by JOHN BUCHAN

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Midwinter is one of John Buchan’s better novels. The story is set in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie’s sweeps down from Scotland to take the throne from and unpopular George the Second. The main character, Alistair Maclean, is an officer and Jacobite in the service of the prince. His task is to seek out and win support- military preferably, from Old England for the Scottish campaign. The story however has little to do with the campaign and even Midwinter (who features only periodically) and is more about the adventures of Alastair Maclean and the setbacks in fulfilling his mission.

This is a well written novel though in a verbose form of English peculiar to the 1930s. While the story has a good realistic easy to follow plot and might otherwise appeal to a Scot, it is spoiled by poor proof reading. Scottish people in particular find it highly offensive to be referred to as Scotch (Scotch being a liquor) and Scotchman instead of Scotsman. Apart from these bad errors and a title that is totally misleading, this is a good novel.

Brian Wilson

THE ISLAND OF SHEEP- JOHN BUCHAN

The Island of Sheep (Unabridged)

Similarly to his classic, Thirty-nine steps, this book contains adventure, danger, heroes and villains and at times is a hard book to put down, though at others a somewhat difficult book in 1930s English to read. The plot involves a sworn oath between Hannay, Lombard, and the older Haraldsen in which the former two assisted by Lord Clanroyden are called upon when the younger Haraldsen is faced with the prospect of evil intentions by dangerous villians to dispossess him of his immense wealth. From this point the story progresses from demands to threats, blackmail, kidnapping and open warfare and is somewhat far-fetched, though there are great descriptions of various landscapes.

While this book falls well short of the story line in thirty-nine steps, it is well written and well worth reading.

OPERATION IRAN -BRIAN WILSON

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Operation Iran by Brian Wilson is a fast-paced espionage thriller stretching from Mexico to New Zealand and across the Middle East, pitting its protagonists against one another in a deadly game of cat and mouse. The CIA, MI6 and the KGB assign some of their top agents to a mission on which the future of the world may be at stake. A mysterious laser weapon is being moved along a perilous journey to an unknown destination that will decide its use for good or evil. Those assigned to locate and take possession of the weapon are unsure of who or what they are up against. What they are sure of is the urgency of their quest and the consequences of failure. It is a quick-moving suspense tale that will draw you in and keep you there.

Donald Bush is a CIA executive determined to track down the laser weapon, assigning two of his most promising recruits to the chase. Ted and Graeme are on the trail of Adam Brown, a seasoned operative who has been rumored to have been killed in action. The rumors prove unfounded as Adam is on the trail of Saber Azamov and Dr. Ghasemi, Islamic operatives seeking to capture the weapon for their own overlords. Also on the hunt are two couples: Sarah and James, as well as Frank and Olga Reza. Only as the paths intertwine and overlap, patterns develop as does a pressing question: who is actually working for whom?

The author cleverly uses a geopolitical backdrop against the chessboard upon which the characters compete. The Iranian government is suspected to be behind the plot, only they point to the enmity between Israel and their mortal enemies of Islam as the source of the true conspiracy. The Mossad proves to be one of the behind-the-scenes players, though the USA and the UK are also highly concerned as to where the super weapon ends up. As the plot unfolds, we find that Russia and China have also dealt themselves in. The story builds to a climactic finale in which numerous operatives are uncovered as double agents. Adam, Ted and Graeme find themselves in a moonlight masquerade where the person alongside them may be a traitor whose face is the last they’ll ever see.

It’s a whirlwind tour around the globe, taking readers on a chase where deception and betrayal lie around every corner. For espionage fans and action/adventure readers, Brian Wilson’s Operation Iran is a must-read.

J DIZON

The Blight by John Reinard Dizon

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They started out as a special force of four- Government operatives assigned to carry out the hard impossible jobs in Iraq. Now as super cops they continue carrying out dangerous operations; putting their bodies on the line as they fight the blight, as they clean the streets of gangs of drug dealers. But now everything is to change as X a psychopath comes on the scene; the encounter with crime now becoming personal as the hunters become the hunted.

This is an action packed novel that reveals the ugly side of the criminal world, corruption and the dangerous job of policing crime in the USA. As the author states, “Violence is a plague, a blight, an incurable disease”. He leaves one with a question to whether the job of the four as Government assassins is any worse than X attempting to take out criminals as well as innocent parties who fall in the line of fire?  Is violence justified as a means to a desirable end?

John Dizon is a talented writer. His action packed novels and command of the English language provide for good reading. This is a book with twists and turns that will have you perched on the edge of your seat. It is a novel I can recommend.

Brian Wilson

BB&RED: The New Playmate -Suzanne Jones

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BB & Red: The New Playmate, is the second children’s book published by Suzanne C Jones. It is a book that would appeal to an age group of about 3 to 10.

As a granddad I have a renewed interest in children’s books, but I should add that this is not by choice. When a children’s story book is thrust into my hand I find that a well-illustrated, colourful story book is the ideal. Children love colourful pictures and identifying things. Preferably the book should be short with a simple story, because often children ask us to read the same story over and over again. Children just love repetition even if grandparents and parents don’t.

Suzanne Jones has over thirty years working with children as a primary school teacher. Her book is colourful and well-illustrated with an added feature of an activities page. The story reflects her Australian lifestyle with the addition of a bit of humour.

This is a book I can recommend.

The Jesus Experience- Wendy Anderson

The Jesus Experience by Wendy Anderson. Wendy Anderson is to be commended in writing a book about her spiritual experiences given that there will always be skeptics who find reason to be a doubting Thomas. My own mother, when she was in her sixties, was diagnosed with bowel cancer. People prayed and a month later an x-ray showed her to be clear. She lived on to be 85. As a reviewer I can therefore identify with spiritual experiences.

As a first-time New Zealand author, Wendy has her own unique style in telling her story. I found this to be a difficult writing style to follow, which had a less coherent structure and grammatical errors. I understand though that this book has now been rewritten.This is Wendy’s story, about family and her relationship with God. It is an insight into the lives of those living on the beautiful, narrow stretch of land bordered by sea and mountains called the West Coast. Just over one hundred years ago, this was an area swarming with gold miners panning the rivers in their thousands. Then, as the gold ran out, bustling communities dissipated leaving ghost towns, and smaller communities dependent largely on services provided from the other side of the Southern Alps. Some of Wendy’s stories are based around her dangerous journeys through these mountains.

The Jesus experience is not just an inspirational book for Christians. This is a book that others may also enjoy as Wendy invites you into her Christian life and the experiences of a West Coaster.