Codename Capricorn: Reading Sanctum Potpourri #10

Reading Sanctum: Potpourri is one of our continuing features of quick cut book reviews to help you find some otherwise innocuous books that might have escaped your attention. As a huge library/book reader geek, I love sharing stories about the books I am reading. So, if you love books like I love books, then you just might love this feature, too.

We started the year with Codename Capricorn as a homage to the Secret Agent. We have talked and written about the secret agent in movies, TV, books, and comics. What follows are some of the books I have read in the genre that I have recently either enjoyed or panned on Goodreads, where I curate every book review that I have written for the past four years and counting.

Earlier this month, I talked about the worst of the bunch (which I will not mention here, because I know once I start venting, the writer will be scathed, again) (not that I imagine that he saw my review nor that he cared.) The way this works is that I write about weaker novels first before I write about stronger ones.

Poetic Justice was part of a 20-book Amazon collection priced at .99 cents called Murder and Mayhem. There was plenty of murder, but some of the stories were lacking in mayhem, case in point. This novel is about an orphan named Claire with an eidetic memory that manages to get to college where she gets abducted and experimented on by a secret organization for a year until she manages to escape.

Female spy in hat with face covered by the coat collar

She was being trained to be an agent, but after only one year of training she escapes and eludes capture for six years, only to come after the organization’s main players. This story is a revenge-type tale and if I asked you to continue the story with “What do you think happens next?” most people would be able to predict every single story-beat.

Listen, Heather B. Moore is a gifted writer for women’s historical fiction; however, this thriller did not thrill, and it was extremely predictable. (The absolute worst thing that I can say about a book that is supposed to thrill, is that I know how it was going turn out, way before the last page.) Needless to say, it is the worst book on this list with 2 Grey Geeks.

Proud Helios is a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel #9 written by Melissa Scott about the TV series characters and space pirates that have a cloaked vessel stalking the shipping lanes near the Bajoran wormhole, raiding vessels, and killing their crews. Upon receiving a distress signal, Major Kira and Doctor Bashir use a Federation runabout to attempt a rescue, but the Bajoran vessel is destroyed by Helios before they arrive.

Intrepidly the personnel of DS9 try to stop Helios, but the Cardassians are interfering, and the incident may result in war. Helios seems to have its share of Cardassian spies that may or may not have motives counter to the Federation. This is a solid story that fits well within the continuity, but hints at the possibility that there are some espionage groups which the Federation supports.

To my mind, this is a clear example of an author who can write action, thrills, and suspense. To that end, I would say that this is my first Melissa Scott book, and I was extremely impressed with her ability to write a Trek novel that included such disparate elements knit into a cohesive and exciting novel.

Credible Dagger by Gregory M. Acuña is a World War II thriller and prequel to the Balkan Network, Acuña’s first novel. The writing is almost a staid, sober, journalistic narrative, heavy on story, cloaked in historical data, and light on hyperbolic descriptions of action and emotion.

That may sound overtly critical, but IMHO it is appropriate when attempting to relate such heavy and emotionally charged non-fiction source material dressed in a fictional tale. The heroic actions of the men and women involved in the subversive aspects of the war in the Balkans is an under-represented, and to my mind, untapped vein for stories.

This novel is what I suspect would be the best of such fictions. In our blog, we measure properties in Grey Geeks. This is an almost perfect 4 and a half Grey Geeks. I will round up to make it 5. Great story told well, conscientiously conveyed with immense sensitivity.

Okay, You, amazingly wonderful followers of our little blog. I say thanks for reading our posts and watching our videos. I know that there are some real-life concerns; but that’s even more reason why we should stay connected while discussing things from the sandbox. Remember that we love you. Peace!

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