Power of the Dog Series – Don Winslow

There are three books in the series:

  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Cartel
  • The Border

The central characters are Art Keller, a US government official waging the war on drugs, and Adan Barrera, the major player in the Mexican drug underworld. Over the course of the three books, each of these characters is developed beyond the archetypal goodie and baddie, as the continual struggle to stem the drug tide is artlessly implemented by the governmental forces, helped – in the loosest sense of the word – by Keller’s somewhat unconventional approach. Continue reading


Off Armageddon Reef – David Weber

This is the first of a successful space opera series that is built around the idea of the last survivors of humanity hiding out (from their alien foe) in a faraway planet. To minimize the risks of their being found, the rulers have imposed an anti-technology religion. So far, so good. Unfortunately, whatever interest I had in the scenario was killed stone dead by leaden dialog and too many flourishes of overwriting. The poor characterization didn’t help. Neither did the palpable lack of tension.

In a word: avoid.


Total English?

In short, no.

The following appeared on a Ra’anana building fairly recently. (It’s still there as at the time of posting.)

Expect correct English?

This rubbish arises because it’s a direct word for word translation from the Hebrew way you would say expect more. The lack of a capital letter after the full stop is, so to speak, the icing on the cake.

In a country brimming with native English speakers, this is inexcusable from – presumably – a professional company; whether Total-E or their marketing people, they should have done better.

As far as I can tell, it’s some kind of gym/fitness venture. For their sake, I hope their business is more fit for purpose than their marketing.


The Quantum Magician – Derek Kunsken

Billed as a science fiction heist tale, this book did not engage me nearly as much as I would have liked.

First, the characters are flatter than the proverbial pancake. Interesting? Not really.

Second, the character interactions often came across as stilted, as if the plot required certain things to occur, but the characters didn’t believe their actions were credible.

Third the sci-fi setting was OK, but it lacked substance and any wow effect.

Finally, the story telling didn’t work for me. The writing neither inspired nor involved me.

In a word, dull.


Eurovision, Israel, and Hamas

And let’s not forget Islamic Jihad…

Eurovision 2019 is done and dusted. For Israel, it appears to have been a huge success. Notwithstanding the sniping from the usual suspects, the event passed off without a major hitch, and injected a real buzz into the Tel Aviv scene for the best part of the week up to and including the final. Supporting events were so popular, the police made public appeals for people not to attend as they were already overcrowded! While much of the crowds were locals, anecdotal evidence suggests that tourists also had a great time. Given the western media’s hunger for anti-Israel stories, it would appear the anecdotal evidence is more persuasive than usual. Continue reading


On the table – Ligny 1815

I am currently playing Ligny 1815. It is the third game in the Eagles of France series  (after Fallen Eagles (Waterloo) and Rising Eagles (Austerlitz)), all designed by Walter Vejdovsky, and published by Hexasim. Turns are  1 hour, hexes are about 200 m, and units are regiment sized with each strength point representing 100 combatants.

I played the first in the series long enough to have a good grasp of the rules, but I needed to pay attention to the tweaks to the system that extended playing has brought about. As usual, I’m supplementing the gaming with some reading on the topic to refresh my knowledge and enhance the experience. Should be good fun.


Silence is not golden

Or, what you won’t see reported by the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, and too many others to name.

The Times of Israel reports here on the ‘Nakba demonstrations’ in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria.

Here’s what you wont see in those not so fine examples of the media:

In a speech at the border area, senior Hamas official Fathi Hamad, known for his fiery rhetoric, warned Israel that “The day of your slaughter, extermination and demise is approaching.

“We came to tell the Zionist enemy, its men, army, government and Knesset: ‘Go away from us,’” he said.

“All of you should look for a place in Europe…hell, the sea, the ocean or in the Bermuda Triangle. There is no place for all of you in Palestine. There is no place for you in the land of Jerusalem. There is no place for you in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre or any place.”

What a charmer.

Of course, this is precisely the context that they don’t want to highlight for fear it contradicts their ‘Israel is wrong’ narrative. So they won’t. All part of the invidious campaign they wage to demonize, delegitimize, and denounce Israel. All rock solid proof that when it comes to liberals, they can be as hypocritical and hateful as right wing extremists.


Embers of War – Gareth L Powell

This is a space opera tale of a sentient spaceship, Trouble Dog, that is attempting to repay a perceived sort of debt to society for formerly acting as a warship. Now it is part of the House of Reclamation, trying to rescue spaceships that get into trouble. The crew have their part to play as the current mission starts: to investigate the disappearance of a ship in a disputed star system.

On that missing ship was one Ona Sudak, a poet. Separately, intelligence officer Ashton Childe is ordered to find and rescue Sudak.

Both strands come together and become involved in something more significant than the disappearance of a single ship.

I did not like this. The story is OK. It features some cool stuff, like sentient ships, but I found the writing so clunky and pedestrian that I lost interest. It’s fun in places, but only rarely. And ever so predictable. The characters do not seem believable. The dialog is, to put it mildly, often unconvincing. The futuristic universe has nothing that marks it out as unique or fresh. To put it another way, this is derivative. Now that can be overcome, but there needs to be compensating factors and there are none to be found.

A dead end. Not recommended.


Stalkers – Paul Finch

This is a modern crime novel about a large number of women who have disappeared. All of them have vanished into thin air without apparent rhyme nor reason. One such girl’s sister connects to Detective Sergeant Mark Heckenburg, who is supposedly investigating the disappearances, and off they not so jolly well go.

Inevitably, their investigation puts them in danger, especially as they get closer to the truth of what is behind the disappearances.

Heckenburg is one of these invincible guys, but if you can suspend your disbelief about that aspect, the rest of the tale does have its entertaining and suspenseful moments. The book is also somewhat bloody and, at times, relentless in its violence. Unfortunately, the supporting characters do not amount to much, and there’s nothing of substance by way of atmospheric backdrop.

The writing didn’t work for me. It didn’t connect. Oh, the words all made sense, and the story was clear enough. But the writing never drew me in. I could have stopped reading and would not have cared what happened to the characters.

So, what you have is a lightweight production which is easy enough to read, but ultimately (for me) unsatisfying. It was OK, but I won’t be going any further with the series.