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BOOK REVIEW: The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski


US - ThroneAt Holy Trinity, a monastery atop a towering cliff in central Greece, seven monks hold a secret meeting of an ancient brotherhood. Their inaccessible stronghold is invaded by a stealth force of warriors wielding ancient swords; a squad that quickly beheads all the monks and hurls their bodies off the cliff. Nick Dial, a senior member of Interpol, is assigned to investigate the bizarre events at Metéora. He arrives to secure the scene and meets Nicholas, the sole surviving member of the massacre. Yet, when he questions the local police about the monk, he’s told there were no survivors. Who is the elderly man and how was he able to penetrate the police barricades?

In St. Petersburg, Russia, Richard Byrd is desperate. Having uncovered the location of an ancient treasure, he’s running for his life. Trying to meet-up with Allison Taylor, his research assistant, Byrd is executed by a sniper. With no where to turn, Allison follows Byrd’s instructions and calls on Jonathon Payne, ex-MANIAC. With the help of his best friend, D.J. Jones, they set out to save the girl, find out who killed her boss and find the treasure.

The Lost Throne, the fourth book in Chris Kuzneski’s Payne and Jones series, is an edge-of-your-seat read from the first page. Payne and Jones, former members of a secret unit of the armed forces, utilize their specialized skills to help friends out in difficult situations. Readers will find their banter endearing. Kuzneski wisely uses this brotherly teasing to provide a release for tension, providing readers with a breather before once again spiraling up the action.

Kuzneski’s research and fascination with St. Petersburg is evident. In a pivotal chase scene he describes the buildings in astonishing detail, bringing the scene to life with cinematic vividness. In an interview with Mark Terry he describes the way he: “…took photographs of the buildings and landmarks and attached them to a street map of the city. When my characters ran down a street I knew exactly what they would be looking at.”

While part of a series, The Lost Throne can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Those eagerly awaiting the fall release of the new Dan Brown may find Kuzneski’s newest just the thing to fill the gap.

ISBN10: 0399155821
ISBN13: 9780399155826

512 Pages
Publication Date: July 23, 2009
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Author Website:

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BOOK REVIEW: Saving Cascadia by John J. Nance


John J. Nance’s 17th book, Saving Cascadia, departs from the formula used in many of his earlier novels, which focused much of the action in airplanes. While fans of the genre may be disappointed in this new direction, they will still get some edge-of-their-seat flying time – just in helicopters rather than jetliners – combined with a ticking time-bomb in the form of an earthquake.

Seismologist Dr. Doug Lam has spent years researching his theory of Resonant Amplication: the idea that continuous small resonances sent into a “locked zone” can eventually trigger the big one for the Pacific Northwest, an earthquake larger than any the region has seen since the Alaska earthquake of 1964 or the largest tsunami to hit the region which was triggered by a massive earthquake in 1700. For 300 years, seismic activity has been building up in the Quilieute Quiet Zone, just waiting for the trigger to release another magnitude 9+ earthquake.

All someone needs to do to trigger that major catastrophe is to “pull the plug” on the pent-up seismic activity, and construction of Cascadia Island’s new casino resort may have done just that. Now Doug has to figure out a way to stop the devastating tsunami he knows could take many lives at any moment and save the woman he loves.

Saving Cascadia has all the requisite features of an eco-thriller: a discredited scientist, impending natural disaster, politicians who refuse to see the truth, conflict between family members and a heroine on the run from unknown bad guys. Rather than allowing this novel to become just another formulaic thriller, Nance uses his significant scientific knowledge to raise the bar for the rest of the genre.

Having completed extensive research for his 1988 book on earthquakes, On Shaky Ground, Nance is dealing with familiar subject matter in this offering. Solid research is a prerequisite for any author who wishes to add a true psychological thrill to their adventure tale. Presenting a scenario that has the potential to happen creates greater tension and engages the reader’s imagination more quickly. Here Nance handles the earthquake research with confidence, providing enough context to create credibility without bogging down the pacing with too much background.

Where Saving Cascadia does fall flat is in the romance between Doug and Jennifer Lindstrom (pilot and CEO of Nightingale Aviation). The relationship felt forced, as if it was added purely to create additional tension, but only succeeded in hindering the exact tension it was meant to enhance. Since there seemed to be little spark there, Jennifer’s supposed jealousy felt contrived and distracted from the action spinning quickly out of control.

Nance displayed a much more able hand in the relationship between Jennifer and her father, Sven. The complex psychological mess swirling between them rings true and aids in fleshing out both their characters, while also ratcheting up the price-tag on the natural disaster when their conflict threatens to hinder rescue operations. The believability of these characters creates a stronger emotional bond for the reader, pulling them deeper into Nance’s world.

Unlike many fast-paced thrillers, the surprise twist in Saving Cascadia came completely out of left field, taking this reader by surprise. In hindsight the clues were present, but so well integrated into the plot that they didn’t stand out like a beacon in a lighthouse.

John J. Nance has built an impressive body of work since first publishing in 1990: 13 fiction and 5 non-fiction. A licenced commercial pilot, veteran of the US Air Force, internationally recognized air safety analyst and advocate, author and public speaker, he folds all this technical knowledge into his writing. Saving Cascadia, released at the end of January 2006 in mass market paperback, and the soon to be released Orbit (March 2006) are his newest works.

See the review as it is posted at Curled Up with a Good Book – Saving Cascadia.

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