It's winter, it's cold outside all the time, and dark for most of it - what better way to pass an evening than to do some reading? Here's a couple I got through in January...
I was introduced to Jake Needham through the first of his Inspector Samuel Tay books, The Ambassador’s Wife, which I really enjoyed. I thought I should give his Jack Shepherd series a try, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a character-focused rather than an action-packed thriller, and Jake Needham does grumpy, out-of-sorts-with-the-world characters really well, and comes up with some strong storylines to push them through.
Jack Shepherd is a former big-shot Washington lawyer, now living in Thailand and teaching at a University. Unfortunately, the strength of his US and White House connections see him targeted by the world’s best-known and wealthiest fugitive, and the result sucks Shepherd into a grim and tragic plot that threatens to lose him everything. It’s well-paced and well-written, and as I’ve set a couple of my books in that part of the world, I appreciated seeing someone else doing it. Recommended.
I picked this book up to research the war in Vietnam, as I have a story planned that features a US Marine Corps Sniper from that tragic conflict. I'm not going to pull any punches on the writing - this is not great literature, but that's not its purpose or point. I suspect that it does exactly what it set out to do, which is show the reader the mechanics of a very particular form of warfare - humans hunting humans with long-range weapons. If you want to know how the US Marines went about training and using snipers in Vietnam, then this is your book. If you want psychological insight into the cost of engaging in hunting and killing your fellow man - even while harbouring reservations about the politics of the war - then it's not your book, Ward doesn't really go there. But perhaps that's why he was so successful at this most rarefied of jobs.