Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Review of The Third Secret by Steve Berry

The Third Secret
The Third Secret by Steve Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

Explosive in both its pace and its revelations, The Third Secret is a remarkable international thriller. Bestselling author Steve Berry tackles some of the most controversial ideas of our time in a breakneck journey through the history of the Church and the future of religion.
Fatima, Portugal, 1917: The Virgin Mary appears to three peasant children, sharing with them three secrets, two of which are soon revealed to the world. The third secret is sealed away in the Vatican, read only by popes, and not disclosed until the year 2000. When revealed, its quizzical tone and anticlimactic nature leave many faithful wondering if the Church has truly unveiled all of the Virgin Mary’s words–or if a message far more important has been left in the shadows.
Vatican City, present day: Papal secretary Father Colin Michener is concerned for the Pope. Night after restless night, Pope Clement XV enters the Vatican’s Riserva, the special archive open only to popes, where the Church’s most clandestine and controversial documents are stored. Though unsure of the details, Michener knows that the Pope’s distress stems from the revelations of Fatima.
Equally concerned, but not out of any sense of compassion, is Alberto Cardinal Valendrea, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Valendrea desperately covets the papacy, having narrowly lost out to Clement at the last conclave. Now the Pope’s interest in Fatima threatens to uncover a shocking ancient truth that Valendrea has kept to himself for many years.
When Pope Clement sends Michener to the Romanian highlands, then to a Bosnian holy site, in search of a priest–possibly one of the last people on Earth who knows Mary’s true message–a perilous set of events unfolds. Michener finds himself embroiled in murder, suspicion, suicide, deceit, and his forbidden passion for a beloved woman. In a desperate search for answers, he travels to Pope Clement’s birthplace in Germany, where he learns that the third secret of Fatima may dictate the very fate of the Church–a fate now lying in Michener’s own hands.

What Do I Think?

I think Steve Berry is a remarkable writer and having read nearly all of his books I think I can say with all honesty that they continue to take me to a world of adventure and mystery a world filled with wonderful characters, plots, twists and turns, and world famous locations.

An out-and-out story weaver who weaves stories and plots of all you could want in a genre that is so difficult to write.
Everybody appears to be writing books on the subject of the Catholic Church ever since the Da Vinci Code was written, I liked the Da Vinci Code unlike a few others but then again I am a catholic and I do like conspiracy theories.

Steve Berry can weave a story which includes some of the best conspiracies you could ever want and the Third Secret is one of his best examples, yes it’s a work of fiction but there’s nowt like a bit of truth to make you question exactly where the fiction ends and fact begins, a real testament to his research.

This was an extremely compelling thriller that involves the story of the third secret of Fatima, in addition to the political machinations in the Vatican; it is a high-speed plot focused detective story
I found myself compulsively turning the pages as the story evolved just to see what happened next, the story may upset some readers this is owing to the portrayal of some of the priests who are shown to be as corrupt and able of murder as the worst of criminals but, one should consider that in the past we have had some quite nasty popes, cardinals etc in the church more to the point, priests are people, and, as such they like us are subject to temptation.

The focal point of the story is the third secret of Fatima, and even though the third secret of Fatima was released to the world by Pope John Paul II this secret was so unlike the other two secrets as well as being so enigmatic that loads of people believe there was more to the secret than was published.

This master story-weaver has taken advantage of this and has woven a story that is interwoven with historical facts, world events, along with his very own plots, twists, and turns.
I believe this is a story that will be enjoyed by fans of “The Da VInci Code” and “Angels and Demons”, as well as by those who enjoy well written thrillers.

In conclusion “The Third Secret” has it all, travelling in Europe, homicide, deception, and excitement, it is compelling and provocative read it and enjoy.


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A Review of Back with a Vengeance by C. J Carver

Back with Vengeance
Back with Vengeance by C. J. Carver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

Page-turning action with female sleuth Captain Jay McCaulay – When Jay McCaulay wakes up, drugged, in a strange hotel room; she knows things can only get worse. She’s in Moscow, and she has no idea how she got there. Memory shot to pieces, Jay returns to the UK to find her beloved uncle Duncan missing. Soon Jay is entangled in a web of lies and betrayals that stretches from Newbury Racecourse to Siberia.

What Do I Think?

This story starts with a genuine hook; Captain Jay McCauley awakes in a hotel room feeling dreadful. Staggering to the window, she opens the curtains and realises she is in Moscow, but she cannot remember how she got there. When she contacts the hotel desk she discovers that she has lost five days of her life.

This story from a much switched on story-weaver is an extreme adventure, an honest thriller of classic design. I just could not put this book down and look forward to reading more from C. J Carver this story really deserves a 4 stars, very highly recommended.

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A Review of : Holy Warrior by Angus Donald

Holy Warrior
Holy Warrior by Angus Donald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I know I have gone and done it again and read a book out of sequence, I don’t care this was a fantastic story told by a master story-weaver.

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

Arrows will fly. Swords will swing. Heroes will fall. Legends will survive. And the Holy Land will never be the same. 1190 AD: Richard the Lionheart has launched his epic crusade to seize Jerusalem from the cruel Saracens. Marching with the vast royal army is Britain’s most famous, most feared, most ferocious warrior: the Outlaw of Nottingham, the Earl of Locksley — Robin Hood himself. With his band of loyal men at his side, Robin cuts a bloody swathe on the brutal journey east. Daring and dangerous, he can outwit and outlast any foe — but the crimson battlefields of the Holy Land are the ultimate proving ground. And within Robin’s camp lurks a traitor — a stealthy enemy determined to slay Christendom’s greatest outlaw before the trumpets fade. Blazingly paced and richly imagined, featuring a cast of unforgettable characters and packed with fast, furious action, Holy Warrior is adventure at its thrilling, white-knuckle best.

What Do I Think?

A story of a real historical figure and a legend what more could I ask for? A lot more and did I get it? Yes I got intrigue, battles, romance, murder, mystery, and a fast paced story that I could not put down and what is more important I think I have found the successor to Bernard Cornwell’s crown as master story-weaver.

Those of you who have read Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian stories will recognise the set-up of the story being told by the main character who in this story is Alan Dale who in his declining years tells of his youth spent with the legendary bandit Robin Hood. It is a no holds barred account, with the normally portrayed gallant and wayward Robin depicted as a merciless robber baron.

Angus Donald blends in a small amount of subplots with the actual crusade itself so the story becomes a mystery/murder as well as a fast paced historical thriller this story will keep you turning the pages as you want/need to get to the bottom of these sub-plots all the while in your mind’s eye you are taking part in the great pilgrimage which is on the face of it is a correct account of “The Lionheart’s” expedition to free Jerusalem and the story-weaver makes it more real with some outstanding battle scenes.

Angus Donald’s story-weaving is outstanding, fast paced, evocative oh so evocative! you can almost smell the blood, the cities and towns you find yourself empathizing with the characters yes even some of the baddies and nothing detracts from the main plot, this story-weaver keeps you turning the pages so much so that you have finished the book before you know it.

In conclusion I can only say that this is a story I will want to read again and again it is a Boy’s Own Story for Grown-up Boys and Girls, I just can’t wait for the next instalment which is waiting on my bookshelf, the first in the series will just have to wait!

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A Review of : Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland

Eye of the Red Tsar
Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


My wife saw this on the quick choice shelf at Pimlico library and it was also a book I had read about, can’t remember where. I read it and I think it could quite easily be turned into a TV series or a film it’s that good especially when you find that Sam Eastland is a British writer who lives in the United States. The Eye of the Red Tsar is the first novel in a series featuring Inspector Pekkala.

Book Description/Synopsis

First in a gripping new series of detective novels set at the birth of Stalin’s Russia,
It is the time of the Great Terror. Inspector Pekkala – known as the Emerald Eye – was once the most famous detective in all Russia, the favourite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he once hunted. Like millions of others, he has been sent to the gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is as good as dead. But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by Stalin himself to investigate a crime. His mission – to uncover the men who really killed the Tsar and his family, and to locate the Tsar’s treasure. The reward for success will be his freedom and the chance to re-unite with the woman he would have married if the Revolution had not torn them apart. The price of failure – death. Set against the backdrop of the paranoid and brutal country that Russia became under the rule of Stalin, Eye of the Red Tsar introduces a compelling new figure to readers of crime fiction.

What Do I Think?

First Sentence: “Through blood-dimmed eyes, the Tsar watched the man reload his gun” that hooked me straight away; however I wasn’t expecting a very good read from a debut novel, I was pleasantly surprised I got a good read, fast paced in parts, slow in others but all of it good.

Sam Eastland’s main character Pekkala was once a highly respected, and fearsome, police agent trusted by and specially chosen by Tsar Nicholas, the last Tsar of Russia.

Sam Eastland’s use of imagery of his characters, the flora and fauna, the weather and buildings is extremely effective; he paints visual pictures in your mind and he also imparts upon you a useful look at the period in time, there was some good quality historical information and an exceedingly different observation of Rasputin that was fascinating.

His main character Pekkala could easily have been portrayed as the formulaic sleuth/spy but Sam avoided taking us down that road by providing us with a skilful background story of his live which I found intriguing.

There never was a minute where I contemplated putting this book down it was too well written with each chapter containing an unexpected twist and building up to a final dramatic climax.
For historical interest this new and exciting story-weaver has included a detailed account of established facts regarding the real death of the Tsar at the back of the book.

In conclusion this was a good read worth 4 stars because I find that there is nowt more pleasing than a well told story with a gripping, dramatic opening and a dramatic ending and Sam Eastland provided this, Sam Eastland without doubt has talent as a story-weaver and I am eagerly awaiting his next book.

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A Review: Rules of War by Iain Gale

Rules of War
Rules of War by Iain Gale
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

When I read “Four days in June a battle lost, a battle won, June 1815” which I gave 5 stars to, I said “I will unquestionably give Iain Gale’s other stories a go”. I have with “Rules of War” it was as though I was reading a story from a different author and I was so disappointed.

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

In the early 18th century the British army led by John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, were the leaders of a wide-ranging and very successful alliance. Ramilles 1706—one of the great victories of the British army, a battle honour for the regiments who were there. But Captain Jack Steel, maverick gentleman and super soldier, finds himself at odds with his Allied partners and receives contradictory orders; and even after victory, he finds himself mired in further difficulties. The Allies had thought that they were liberating the Low Countries but some preferred their previous masters, the French, who at least were Catholic, and some wanted independence from all powers, while others of his fellow officers wanted out of the war altogether. Far from the battle lines he enjoys, Jack Steel is sent undercover to deal with the traitors and identify the loyal locals who would let British advance troops into the besieged city—a dangerous mission made deadly by an old enemy of his and the brilliant malevolence of the renegade French pirate who is in charge of Ostende.

What Do I Think?

I tried I really tried I had been looking forward to another cracking read from Iain Gale and I didn’t get it!
On the book’s cover it says “if you like Sharpe, Jack Steel is your man”. A smart tactic used by the publishers to induce the fans of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe to go out and buy it, but Iain Gale is no Bernard Cornwell, now don’t get me wrong the Sharpe stories are not without a flaw, however they are a cracking good read. I found Jack Steel a dreary character, and the story itself lacked pace, by the third chapter I had had enough and gave up.

This is a pity as the age in which the Jack Steel stories are set in is a very thrilling one from the point of how England dealt with her enemies and allies in addition to the army and navy, and we don’t have many authors who write about this era.

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