Friday, June 29, 2012

Right Ascension

By: David Derrico

Humanity's position of political and technological dominance within the galaxy is suddenly shattered when a sleek alien vessel arrives unexpectedly at Earth. Admiral Daniel Atgard and the crew of the Apocalypse embark on a mission to find these enigmatic aliens, but the focus of the mission quickly turns from finding answers to exacting revenge. Meanwhile, a belligerent species of reptilian warriors, seeking to avenge a previous defeat at the hands of the human-controlled United Confederation of Planets, takes this opportunity to plan an all-out assault on Earth. Faced with overwhelming odds and the terrible knowledge of mankind's most horrifying secret, Daniel must choose between honor ... and humanity's very survival.

I don't like science fiction novels. It's an odd thing to me. I like both Star Trek and Star Wars, but the thought of reading about adventures in space doesn't appeal to me in any way. With that in mind, I have no idea what I was thinking when I downloaded Right Ascension to my Kindle. Perhaps I wasn't aware of what the book was about. I think it may have been during a time that I was simply downloading titles that sounded good. "Right Ascension" doesn't sound like science fiction, but then again, I don't think I was concerned about that because I wasn't anywhere near that genre on  In any event, when I flipped the first digital page and saw the date set in 3040, I'm pretty sure I let out an audible groan. I decided to give it a chance, however, and soon I was in the midst of an intergalactic firefight. . .

. . . And I was hooked.

Derrico brings you right into the middle of the story where you are introduced to a cast of characters so diverse, yet so identifiable, that you can't help but turn the page.  The story follows Daniel, Admiral of the Apocalypse, as he witnesses incredible tragedy that threatens to destroy the whole of humanity. In his search for answers, he discovers more than he barganed for and now he must face the cold reality that mankind, perhaps, deserves the fate that is inexorably drawing near.  Can Daniel face his internal demons and come to grips with the truth that casts a cloud over all he holds dear?

While the story idea is far from original, Derrico masterfully weaves a tale that drives the reader forward. Yes, it was predictable in parts, and it was even somewhat anti-climactic (though that may be a byproduct of my reading habits: reading it in half-hour chunks of time), the story is eloquently told. I wasn't impressed with the planets, or the fights, or the "Earth is gonna die" parts of Right Ascension - I am incredibly impressed with Derrico's storytelling ability. If he can tell such a predictable tale and it is this good, I can't wait to see what he can do with a quality piece of originality!

If you like sci-fi, you'll probably enjoy Right Ascension. Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone, and I am on the lookout for more works from Derrico. It's that good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Third Murderer

By: Jack Flanagan

A professor's murder at a small New England college and a forgotten manuscript lead recently retired school teacher, Richard MacKenzie, and his wife, Morgana, through a labyrinth of secrets, deceptions, and murder. Will revelations about Morgana's past hinder the ongoing investigation about the professor's death, and damage her marriage? Will Richard be able to save his brother's job? Will the killer be found before he strikes again? Everything depends on Richard. Who said retirement is like a walk in the park?

Another Amazon Kindle find for me, and another really good book. Flanagan creates an intricately woven tale of murder, deception, and innocence in The Third Murderer. Richard MacKenzie is trying to enjoy retirement when news of a death at his alma mater requires his presence as the deceased is a man that his wife, Morgana, dated many years ago. After the funeral, the local Sheriff, who also happens to be Richard's younger brother asks Richard to help him out because the death was ruled a murder, and the newly elected Sheriff has no idea what he is doing. Richard decides to help Kyle out and he and Morgana find out more than they wanted to know - when another murder takes place. This time the victim is a dearly loved professor. Can Richard and Morgana sort through their emotions to find the killer?

Flanagan creates a well thought out story with characters that are instantly recognizable and identifiable. I immediately liked the character of Richard, and I identified with his relationship with his wife.  As the story progressed, I found myself liking certain people more and other characters less. I got wrapped up in the story and I didn't want to put it down at all.

The Third Murderer is in first person so it reads like a commentary, and I must say, Richard is quite funny.  Since Richard and Morgana are married, there is some sexual material, but it is done with a class and panache such as I have rarely seen.

I am quite taken with this book. I will be looking for more of Flanagan's work, and I suggest you look for him as well. It will be well worth your time.