Pulp fiction roundup

A wrap-up of recent pulp fiction: Tom Clancy's Point of Contact (by Mike Maden), The Thirst (Jo Nesbo), Exile (James Swallow) and Nighthawk (Clive Cussler with Graham Brown).

Mike Maden
Penguin Random House NZ

There is something uncomfortable about a book cover saying: "The No 1 bestselling author Tom Clancy’s Point of Contact", when  Clancy is in fact dead.

Point of Contact  is written by Mike Maden, but follows closely the extremely successful formula devised by  Clancy.

To be fair, the book received mixed reviews overseas — some of them downright scathing. But the scathing reviews missed the fun of a Clancy-style book.

Jack Ryan jun, the son of  United States President Jack Ryan, continues to work at The Campus, but is reassigned after making a mistake, not a fatal mistake but one bad enough to cause his colleagues to report him. When former US senator Weston Rhodes hires Hendley Associates to look over his company’s books ahead of a major business merger, he specifically asks for Paul Brown, a forensic accountant, and the best analyst Hendley has, Jack jun.

The pair head to Singapore to look over the deal, but what starts out as a routine audit soon turns into something far more dangerous when Jack Jun uncovers a potential sinister motive behind the merger.

Maden puts his own spin on Jack jun, who is a slightly different but vastly improved character from the one seen in Duty and Honor. In the past, Jack jun has felt like a secondary character trying to play the lead. With  Maden behind him, though, Jack jun has really come into his own and flashes plenty of star power to build on in the future.

Overseas reviews say Maden’s strengths are a perfect match for this franchise, and this reviewer agrees.

Longtime fans can rest assured Point of Contact reads like a vintage Tom Clancy thriller.


Jo Nesbo
Penguin Random House UK

Jo Nesbo never fails to please with his Harry Hole thrillers, and The Thirst (Penguin Random House UK) is no exception.

Harry is, as always, seriously troubled with his life, his job, his partner, his son and the world in general.

A serial killer has returned and is carrying out the most gruesome of murders, which readers will find, after a while, follow a pattern.As expected, characters from previous books play a large part in the latest thriller as good guys are sacrificed and the bad guys (in and out of uniform) thrive.

The book is lengthy and  not  easy to read in an extended session. But the wait is worth it.


James Swallow

Exile by James Swallow (Allen & Unwin) is a real page-turner, a book hard to put down if  you find the idea of a nuclear threat of destruction aimed at three global cities gripping.

It took a few chapters to realise the book was the follow-up of Nomad, which was good enough. Exile is a step higher and follows a similar formula of Marc Dane teaming up with Rubicon operatives to stop the really bad guys.

This time, the really bad team is a Somali group led by a vicious warlord. Ramaas, the warlord, wants revenge on the countries and organisations which brought poison and death to his country.

In the background, Combine — the group from the first book and which Dane nearly exterminated — is playing the long game.

Dane has his own personal demons to deal with as he and a team of experts take off around the world — from Croatia to the sands of Somalia — to try to stop one of the last small nuclear weapons from exploding. This book is certainly worth picking up and not putting down for quite a while.


Clive Cussler with Graham Brown
Penguin Random House NZ

Clive Cussler runs hot and cold in his books and often it appears to come down to just who he picks as his fellow author. With Nighthawk (Penguin Random House NZ), Cussler combines with Graham Brown.

The plot involves the most advanced aircraft ever designed vanishing over the South Pacific.

Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are drawn into a deadly contest to locate the fallen machine. Russia and China covet the radical technology, but the United States worries about a darker problem. It knows what others do not — that the X-37 is carrying a dangerous secret, a payload of exotic matter extracted from the upper reaches of the atmosphere and stored at a temperature near absolute zero. As long as it remains frozen, the cargo is inert, but if it thaws, it will unleash a catastrophe of nearly unthinkable proportions.

The book is an easy read but do not expect to think too deeply.

- Dene Mackenzie is  business editor at the Otago Daily Times.


The ODT has three copies of Point of Contact, written by Mike Maden, to give away courtesy of Penguin/Random House. For your chance to win a copy, email books editor shane.gilchrist@odt.co.nz with your name and postal address in the body of the email, and ‘‘Point of Contact’’ in the subject line, by 5pm on Tuesday, July 25.

Winners of last week’s giveaway, Black Marks on the White Page,courtesy of Random House NZ: Jennifer Hopkinson, of Dunedin, Madeline Enright, of Dunedin, Betty-Mae Cathro, of Mosgiel, Alvina Brown, of Balclutha, and LesleyBurt, of Wanaka.


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