Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis

The decapitated body of Brother Stanislav, a Piarist monk is found in the Maria Treu Kirche Church yard close to the school where he teaches. This is no ordinary decapitation - the head was literally torn from the body. Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt of the Vienna Security Police is baffled by this mode of decapitation. Who or what has the strength to commit this heinous crime? He calls in his friend, psychoanalyst Dr. Max Lieberman to help with the investigation. (This is the same Dr. Lieberman who is featured in several of Tellis' previous works.)

In the course of the investigation, the body of Councillor Faust is found at Maria Geburt church. He has been decapitated in the same manner as Brother Stanislav. The only clue at both crime scenes is a patch of black sticky mud. Dr. Lieberman uncovers that both Stanislva and Faust were vocal members of a shadowy anti-Semitic group. Could the Jewish population, especially the Hasidic community be responsible for these crimes or had the Jewish golem, a legionary figure, arisen?

The investigation soon becomes personal for Dr, Lieberman. His privileges at the local hospital are suspended and he is on the verge of losing his medical license. After the third decapitated body of Jeheil Sach, a local pimp, is found, Dr. Lieberman turns to the Hasidic Jews to find answers. The question is why had the Jews killed one of their own?

What transpired in the investigation as Dr. Libermann searches for answers leaves you in suspense. Tallis keeps you turning pages as he weaves his intrigue and brings the story to the final conclusion of who or what committed the crimes. However, it is very difficult to keep your focus as the plot jumps from subject to subject. Tallis has received many accolades for his work, and his fans will definitely want to read this one. However, I do not recommend Vienna Secrets for first time reader of Frank Tallis.

This book was supplied by Random House as a review copy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan

Andrew Klavan writes The Long Way Home in the first person serving to bring home the personal turmoil that the main character lives with. Charlie West, a 17 year old high schooler, who previously lived in a small town with his parents and sister, is on the run. He went to bed one night and woke up one year later accused of murdering his friend Alex and being a terrorist in an organization called "The Highlanders".

Charlie was found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison. With the help of an unknown benefactor he excapes from prison and is running from the police and the Highlanders.
Charlie cannot remember what transpired duiring his lost year. He wonders if he really is a murderer and a terrorist. How can he prove his innocence and who is really behind all this? Was he framed, as his friends say, or did he really do these terrible things? Charlie returns to his home town, holing up in a vacant house called the "Ghost Mansion". He teams up with his friends Rick.Josh. Milner and his girlfriend Beth to discover the truth about the murder he can't remember and who is behind the Highlanders, a terrorist group. The author keeps you turning pages as you eagerly anticipate answers to these questions and to see if (and how) Charlie will evade the police and the Highlanders. The book is well written and interesting, and ends on a cliffhanger.

Overall, this is an exciting mystery novel that keeps the reader interested in the outcome partially due to the first person perspective and partially due to the constant chase that Charlie finds himself in. A fun book for mystery readers. If you are new to this series, you must read the first book of the series to see what transpired in Charlie's life to bring him to the situation he finds himself in at the start of this book, book 2 in the series. Charlie's story continues in Book 3 - The Truth of the Matter.

This book was supplied by Thomas Nelson Publishers as a review copy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rediscovering God in America by Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, takes us on a walking tour of the nation's capitol - Washington, DC. The touch begins with The National Archives, Washington Monument, the Memorials of Jefferson, Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Capitol Building, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Ronald Reagan Building, The White House, World War II Memorial, and last but now least, Arlington Cemetery and the grave of President Kennedy with the eternal flame. Gingrich give a small dissertation of the history of each and the trials and tribulations encountered in the building of these historical buildings.

This book, in part, is a history lesson of America. Gingrich clearly describes our founding father's faith in God. From our first president, George Washington through George Bush II, God has played a mayor role in decisions made by these men, Washington at Valley Forge, Roosevelt's "fire side chats", Eisenhower's prayer on the beaches of Normandy on D-day, Kennedy's famous speech -"ask not what you country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".

Our country is founded on the principle that "all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights..." The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights all stress the importance of the invisible hand of Almighty God. The novel is not written as political, but spiritual. Gingrich points out that our founding fathers knew that power came from God and that a nation cannot survive without God. Faith of our presidents and their devotion to God is clearly depicted in their speech3es, scriptures carved in and on all the monuments and buildings that make up our nation's capital. He also points out that our founding founders established our nation to be a nation "under God".

The secular Left's relentless effort to drive God out of America is succeeding at an alarming rate. The Supreme Court ruled we can no longer say "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The writer points out that we are allowing five people to completely change the structure of America.

The book is not intended to be political, acknowledge any particular religion, but is spiritual in context. Ir clearly warns us that we must stand up for God and our believes or lose our rights as a nation under God.

Callista Gingrich's photography throughout the novel is outstanding.

I am reminded of Jefferson's immortal words in the Declaration of Independence that all " are men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..." and the inescapable truth that freedom is strictly from God's grace. Don't let it slip away

Good read - will renew your faith in God. Gingrich did an excellent job.