FATAL EXCHANGE by Russell Blake (Review)

Fatal Exchange coverI am a big fan of Russell Blake’s JET series, so I downloaded the first of this other series with high expectations.

It is not the same. It was harder to read (mind you, almost anything would be harder to read than JET) – but especially the first fifty or sixty pages, and this because of the multiple changes of viewpoint. I hate that at the beginning of a story. You get a few pages of one character and setting, then are switched abruptly to another, then – when you could still remember the first – to a third, then a fourth – and when you do finally get back to the first – or was it the second? – you have forgotten what that was all about and have to turn back. (Not easy to do with a Kindle.)

I always give up at that point. Well, not always. I didn’t in this case, but only because he is a favourite author of mine and I was still hoping …

I won’t say it got better. It didn’t. And there were two totally different stories going on, two separate sets of murders and murderers, quite apart from the continuing multiple viewpoints.

But after a while two viewpoints began to stand out from the rest. Teresa (Tess), who turns out to be the link between the the two sets of murders – she is to be the next victim in both! – and Ron, the NYPD Detective that she, the beautiful tattooed and studded rebel, finds herself thrown together with.

Of course, I identified with Tess, and that’s how I came to finish the book. And to have downloaded the sequel, Fatal Deception. You can’t keep a good author down.

I can’t believe I said that. I know several good authors who have been kept down.

Anyway, you can’t keep this good author, Russell Blake, down.

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JET 7: SANCTUARY by Russell Blake

 

No point in posting a full review – if you haven’t read the others in the series, don’t read this: start with JET, the first one, or with the prequel, JET: Ops Files.(Click for my reviews of these.)

Here, I want simply to say that in JET 7 the author and Maya (Jet) are back on top form after the not-quite-so-good (but still dazzling) JET 6.

Two More JET Stories – JET: Justice and JET: Ops Files by Russell Blake (Review)

It was when JET IV: Reckoning first came out that I discovered Maya and this series, and read JET I, II, III and IV straight off, back to back. Then, later, came JET V: Legacy, another 5-star thriller if ever there was one.

After that I took a break.

I have just read JET VI: Justice. Which was bit disappointing judged by the high standard set in this series; four stars rather than five. Because, in a nutshell, there is less Maya: there is more hopping to other (frequently depressing, extremely bad guy) points of view, when all the reader wants (or at least all this reader wants) is to stay with Maya throughout the story. I mean, it is the identification with Maya – the ultimate kick-ass super-woman – that makes each book so unputdownable and the series so addictive.

JET: Ops Files has no number because it is the much-needed and long-awaited prequel to the original story JET, which kind of started off in mid-air. And it is perfect. If you have read any of the JET books, read Ops Files next. If you haven’t read any of the JET books, read it first. Forget your TBR list. Read it now.

The JET Series by Russell Blake (Review)

I happened on this the other day and I must say that it seems to me the most arrogant piece of nonsense I have ever come across. It is Sue Grafton speaking:

To me, it seems disrespectful… that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. … Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.

You can find the article I read HERE – do read it, it’s great stuff.

Sue Grafton is the author of the “A is for Alibi”, “B is for Burglar” series of murder mysteries featuring Kinsey Millhone. I read a couple of them years ago but was not moved to seek out any of the other twenty-four. (Are there twenty-four yet?)

By contrast, Russell Blake’s series featuring the ex-Mossad agent known as Jet is self-published, and downloadable from Amazon as an ebook. Exactly the kind of thing Grafton is sneering at. It is faultlessly edited (anyone who is a regular reader of this blog will know that I can be hypercritical!) and so gripping that I read all five stories straight off within a week.

How did that happen? It’s quite simple, and in itself proof that the Amazon Kindle sytem of Free Book Days works.

I saw that Jet was on offer free that day and, curious, I downloaded and read it. And immediately ordered Jet II and Jet III, and read them during the next three nights. Each book stops with unanswered questions – you want to read on. You need to read on. I downloaded Jet IV and Jet V. And would have ordered Jet VI had there been one. (I’m waiting, Russell!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s how I come to be writing a review of (or at least an introduction to) not just one but five books here today.

Jet is, as I say, ex-Mossad. Well, not exactly ex-Mossad, because the group she was once a key member of are ultra-secret super-specialists whose very existence is apparently unknown to the Mossad.

When the first book, Jet, opens, Jet is living a quiet life in Trinidad, running a small internet-café. Only tonight is not quiet because it is Carnival Night. And because as she is shutting up shop, a little early as that evening with all the excitement there will be no more customers, a garotte is looped over her head. In less time than it takes to tell, her attacker is dead, and within minutes so is the back-up. Jet, we see, is deadly – and virtually indestructible. And a woman with whom I for one, and I am sure thousands of others, identify immediately.

But who had sent the hit team? No one knew about her new identity. No one?

She cannot stay on the island – too many dead bodies around for a start, and anyway her cover is blown – so she sets off on a journey of revenge, a quest which inevitably leads straight on to another, and then another, in Russia, Miramar (Burma), Thailand, Argentina, and various parts of Europe and the US.

What can I say? Don’t read the first book of this series – or even the first couple of chapters of the first book – unless you want to be up all night for a week.

And please don’t, anybody, generalise about self-published books. Many of them are as good as or better than anything the big publishers are bringing out these days. And don’t generalise about “published” novels either: some of them are so carelessly written and edited that one simply does not know who to blame.  (You want an example? I don’t review crappily produced books here, but have a look at my previous post, The Begotten, and Paul Doherty’s Bloodstone , which is far worse and only here because it is by one of my very favourite authors. What happened, Paul?)