Tag Archives: thriller

Review: Romeo’s Rules, by James Scott Bell

Romeo's Rules, A Mike Romeo Thriller by James Scott Bell

Romeo’s Rules, by James Scott Bell (Compendium Press, 2015)

Mike Romeo is an former cage fighter trying to stay off the radar in Los Angeles—until he comes to the rescue of an attractive woman whose children are missing after a church bombing. Helping Natalia gains him some powerful—and violent—enemies, but Mike is not one to back down.

This is a noir-feel thriller, fairly clean but so violent in a couple of places that I skipped some pages. That said, it’s written with a pleasing dry humour. And Mike and his wheelchair-bound Rabbi friend Ira (a former Mossad agent) are seriously impressive in their skill sets.

Although this is a mainstream novel, the author’s Christian worldview comes through in a few places, never in a preachy way. The hero, Mike, is prone to highly intellectual philosophizing—often right before he has to lay somebody out. And violent as he can be toward criminals, he’s outspoken against domestic abuse.

Romeo’s Rules is the first in the Mike Romeo Thriller series. At the half-way mark (the bit I skipped) I thought it’d be the only one I could read, but after that scene it was manageable and I hope to read book 2, Romeo’s Way.

James Scott Bell also writes legal thrillers (including a few with zombie lawyers) and he’s a respected author of books on the craft of fiction writing. For more about the author and his work, visit jamesscottbell.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Legion: Skin Deep, by Brandon Sanderson

Legion Skin DeepLegion: Skin Deep, by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment, 2014)

This is the second Legion novella, and I’m really enjoying the series. It’s an intriguing concept: what if an everyday-boring-normal guy is actually brilliant, but only because of his mental illness?

Doctors can’t quite label Stephen Leeds’ condition, but they think it’s a form of schizophrenia. Steve sees a host of imaginary characters called aspects. Each one is an aspect of his own personality, and each one is “unhinged” in his or her own way. Each is also an expert in some field of knowledge, based on what Steve has read. Fortunately for him, he’s a speed-reader and can also absorb audio books.

Steve has forty-seven aspects. The biblically literate will appreciate the “Legion” reference.

Here’s how he describes one of them:

Sarcasm was kind of her native tongue, though she was fluent in “stern disappointment” and “light condescension” as well. [chapter 1, page 4]

I love how he describes the office layout for the office building he visits, which is set up with a variety of informal, creativity-building opportunities:

Like a gorilla enclosure for nerds. [chapter 4, page 2]

Or this description of one of the engineers:

He wasn’t particularly overweight, but had some of the round edges that came from a life working a desk job. [chapter 5, page 1]

In this story, Steve must locate a dead body at the centre of high-stakes industrial espionage. With the minor complication that the other side has hired an assassin to stop him. At the same time, he struggles to manage his aspects, and he faces the possibility that he may be helpless without them.

Legion is a hybrid of science fiction and thriller, so it’s faster-paced than Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy novels. Same skill and deft touch, and a satisfying twist to the ending.

This is a mainstream novella, but I was surprised to find some mild profanity from this author.

Brandon Sanderson is best known for his epic fantasy novels, most notably the Mistborn and Stormlight series and the final books in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. For a real treat, listen to the opening five minutes of the audiobook version of Legion: Skin Deep from audible.com at SoundCloud (narrated by Oliver Wyman).

[Review copy from my personal library.]