The President is Missing: James Patterson/Bill Clinton

I’ve never been a big fan of Patterson. The problem when you churn out novels like Fritos corn chips is that … well … you get Fritos corn chips: bland, empty and indistinguishable from each other.

But at least it didn’t suck.

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Nemesis Games: James SA Corey

While the Rocinante is undergoing a re-fit, the crew all goes off individually and we get to see them when they’re not part of their whole. Interesting, but even more satisfying when they all get back together again.

More individual back stories satisfyingly being filled in, even if the whole Free Navy success timeline is patently absurd.

Don’t Let Go: Harlan Coben

SPOILER ALERTS

In many ways, Napoleon Dumas, French-born New Jersey cop, is the mirror image of my favourite Coben character, Myron Bolitar (who actually makes a two-line cameo in the book; cool). Mirrored because in some ways they are so alike, but in others so different. Both are loyal to a fault to their friends and family, and have an internal moral compass that isn’t going to change for anyone. Nap’s moral compass runs a little less true than Bolitar’s, however. And that makes all the difference.

Coben is the master of describing average, ordinary people’s lives thrown awry from one small minor incident and DON’T LET GO is no different. As usual, the characters and story are mostly solid. I did roll my eyes over the vastly over-used trope of high school lives ruined from casual recreational drug use.

SPOILER ALERT: it was refreshing to finally see a story where former high school sweethearts actually have a happy ending.

Reamde: Neil Stephenson

Neil Stephenson must have heard the joke: a priest, rabbi and a minister walk into a bar…

Except in Stephenson’s universe it’s an Ethiopian girl, Russian mercenary, Hungarian computer hacker, Chinese gamer, Idaho survivalists, Muslim jihadists, pot smugglers, game developers, MI6 and CIA spies and Russian mafia who all stumble into a terrorist plot.

If we were back in the bar joke, the entire menagerie would simply walk into the plot. Here, they amble, stroll, sashay, drift and saunter.

Stephenson creates great characters but although a lot happens in the book, it is definitely not, as one reviewer called the book, “fast-paced.”