Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

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The Canceled Czech by Lawrence Block

Signet, March 1999.
Paperback, 221 pages.
ISBN: 0451194047.
Ordering information:

The Canceled Czech
by Lawrence Block The year is 1966 and the Cold War is in full swing. Enter Evan Tanner, the spy who never sleeps (his sleep center was destroyed in the Korean War). Tanner is sent to Prague to rescue the notorious Nazi war criminal Janos Kotacek and deliver him to the U.S. government, who thinks he is an invaluable resource for helping them infiltrate certain groups they are monitoring. Of course, Kotacek is tightly guarded in a castle and is set to be executed soon. But Tanner is up to the job and pulls off the kidnapping of the century, while pretending to be a Nazi supporter. Now he's stuck traveling with the revolting old Nazi, all the while dodging various groups who would either like to murder or deify Kotacek. Being Tanner, he stirs up revolutions, makes new friends and finds romance while efficiently carrying out his assignment.

This is the second in the Evan Tanner series, which has been re-issued. The series stands up remarkably well, and provides a wonderful intro to the Cold War for those who didn't live through it. Block's writing is smooth and entertaining, as always. If you haven't met Evan Tanner yet and you enjoy a good spy caper, this is the series for you. Highly Recommended.

--Claire E. White

The Devil's Teardrop by Jeffery Deaver

Simon & Schuster, August 1999.
Hardcover, 397 pages.
ISBN: 0684852926.
Ordering information:

The Devil's Teardrop
by Jeffery Deaver The Digger is the perfect killing machine. He is heartless, cold and expressionless. He is even more frightening when his deadly skills are being controlled by an intelligent psychopath. On New Years Eve, The Digger begins to wreak his path of destruction on the citizens of Washington D.C. when he begins spraying bullets with an automatic weapon from the top of an elevator. "There is a hissing sound as the stream of bullets begins working its way down the passengers on the escalator and they pitch forward under the fire. The hush hush hush of the gun is suddenly obscured by the screams." The Digger walks away expressionless, like one of the crowd. No one even notices him and the police have no witnesses -- but lots dead and injured. The mastermind behind the killings places a demand letter to Mayor Kennedy telling him about the Digger, and that the Digger will go on committing mass-killing in different locations until he is told to stop. The Digger will only stop when the mastermind tells him to, and the mastermind will only tell the Digger to stop when he receives twenty million dollars. The note includes instructions on where to leave the money. The Mayor decides the best thing to do is comply, but before the mastermind can pick up the money he is killed by a hit and run driver. Now the Digger will go on killing with no one able to stop him. The FBI calls upon retired agent and expert forensic document examiner Peter Kincaid, who is by no means anxious to return to crime fighting and would prefer to continue looking after his children. He has been a single Dad since his wife left him and prides himself in taking good care of his children. However, he is eventually coaxed onto the scene, partly because he worries about more people getting killed and partly because of his attraction to special agent Margaret Lucas. Kincaid and Lucas must put their heads together to try to figure out where the Digger will strike next.

Deaver's novels are known for their incredible atmosphere of suspense and twisted, complicated plots. The Devil's Teardrop is no exception. Deaver gets inside the minds of all his characters, letting the reader understand how his heroes solve puzzles and how his villians attempt to trick them into failure in a gripping battle of wits. The Devil's Teardrop is a fantastic and terrifying thriller from the author of The Bone Collector, which is soon to be a motion picture starring Denzel Washington.

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