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‘Ship’ solid NUMA Files entry ‘Suspicion’ is a can’t-miss thriller

‘Ghost Ship’ (Putnam), by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
“Ghost Ship,” the latest NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency) Files entry by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown, is the closest yet to a flat-out James Bond adventure. The best Cussler stories are the ones that are the most personal to the hero, and for Kurt Austin, a failed rescue attempt still causes nightmares. A multimillionaire, his wife and two children were aboard a sinking yacht. Kurt had dated the man’s wife, Sienna, and his inability to save her and the children still haunts him. His resulting injuries have kept him out of the field, and although he’s lucky to be alive, he is bitter about not getting back into the game. Brian Westgate, the sole survivor, has no hostility toward Kurt since he knows he tried to save them all. Dirk Pitt, head of NUMA and Kurt’s boss, wants to get Kurt back into action, but everything he knows demonstrates that Kurt isn’t ready. And he might not be again. Then Dirk learns that Kurt has been investigating whether Sienna is alive and using her computer skills to aid US enemies. How does all of this tie into the disappearance of the SS Waratah, a vessel that never made port over 100 years ago? A subplot involving Westgate and his colleagues could have been explored since the resolution at the end of that angle feels like an afterthought. Otherwise, “Ghost Ship” is another solid entry in the NUMA Files series.

“Suspicion” (Dutton), by Joseph Finder
Danny Goodman loves his teenage daughter, Abby, more than he can express. He’s been having a rough go of things raising her since her mother died, and the private school that Abby attends has been invaluable. Abby has begun to thrive academically, and she has found a best friend, Jenna. Then the bills begin piling up. Abby’s school tells Danny that $5,000 is immediately required for a trip to Italy, along with the rest of her tuition, or she will be forced to leave. How can he afford it? Then Jenna’s wealthy father, Thomas, offers to help. He tells Danny that Jenna had been on the verge of delinquency and Abby is the answer to his prayers. He offers to loan him $50,000. And he assures Danny that he can pay him back when he can afford it. Danny accepts the offer and begins to resolve his financial troubles. Then he’s pulled into a meeting with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Thomas has ties to a Mexican drug cartel, and by accepting his money, Danny has become a criminal. The DEA offers him a way out: go undercover for the agency. Danny must now play a game of deception as he struggles to save everything he loves.
“Suspicion” is arguably Joseph Finder’s best novel to date, and he’s one of the best thriller writers in the business. He’s a master at making the reader feel every emotion, jump at every shock and squirm with every twist that Danny must overcome.
Online: http://www.josephfinder.com/

“The Directive” (Little, Brown and Company), by Matthew Quirk
“The Directive,” Matthew Quirk’s follow-up to his best-selling “The 500,” continues the adventures of lawyer and former con man Mike Ford in another exciting page-turner.
Mike, who has reformed, is looking forward to marrying his fiancee, Annie. They are finalizing china patterns and wedding invitation fonts when Annie’s father pulls Mike aside and tries to buy him off. He wants Mike stay far away, and since her father seems to be eerily similar to the person Mike used to be, he’s suspicious. He refuses, earning the wrath of Annie’s father.
Shortly afterward, Mike’s brother, Jack, invites him to dinner. They have been estranged, and Jack wants to reconcile. Mike has a hard time believing Jack has reformed because his brother was also a master of the con. He wants to believe that Jack is now on the right side of the law, but it’s difficult. His suspicions are justified when men with guns arrive.
Mike is forced back into the world of cons to not only save his brother, but Annie as well. These criminals will stop at nothing to get what they want, and murder is nothing more than a means to an end.
The minute wedding details at the beginning of “The Directive” give the story a bit of a slower start than most thrillers deliver, but the mix of business-insider insight and deception propels this compelling story from Quirk.
Online: http://www.matthewquirk.com/index.html

Also:
SAN FRANCISCO:
Online commerce titan Amazon.com on Tuesday said it doubted that it would soon bury the hatchet with book publisher Hachette. Negotiations between Hachette and the biggest book seller in the United States over pricing, discounting and other terms for selling works have been unsuccessful. “The two companies have so far failed to find a solution,” Amazon said in a post at an online Kindle forum. “Though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.” Amazon is pressuring the Hachette Book Group, a subsidiary of French company Lagardere, as the two renegotiate their contract, according to US media reports. Noticed tactics include delaying delivery of Hachette books and not discounting works handled by the publisher, and suggesting that readers looking for some Hachette titles might enjoy a book from another author instead.

Amazon.com said Tuesday that it has cut its inventory of print books from Hachette and is no longer taking pre-orders on works slated for release by the publisher. The Seattle-based e-commerce colossus blamed the failed contract negotiations. Amazon.com maintained that the discord with Hachette affects a small percentage, along the lines of a dozen out of every thousand, of the Kindle-maker’s book sales. “If you do need one of the affected titles quickly, we regret the inconvenience and encourage you to purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors,” Amazon said. A recent New York Times report maintained that the “scorched-earth tactics” arose as Hachette balked at Amazon’s demands for better terms in contract negotiations. Hachette early this month confirmed that many of its older titles and a few new releases sold by Amazon were being hit with shipping delays that it attributed to the negotiations with the e-retailer. (Agencies)

Amazon has a reputation for negotiating hard to push down prices for the goods it sells online. In a turn that may have emboldened Amazon, US Justice Department triumphed in at e-book anti-trust against Apple. Last year, the judge who found Apple guilty of illegal price-fixing for e-books ordered the tech giant to steer clear of new contracts with publishers which could violate antitrust law. US District Judge Denise Cote ordered Apple to refrain from any agreement with publishers “where such agreement will likely fix, or set the price at which other e-book retailers can acquire or sell e-books.” The order followed the judge’s July ruling that Apple illegally conspired with publishers, including Hachette, to boost the price of electronic books.

Apple can still sell e-books through its online channels, but cannot make any special arrangements or collude with publishers to fix prices. The trial focused on a six-week period in late 2009 and early 2010 during which Apple negotiated contracts with publishers ahead of its iPad launch and proposed a new and more profitable business model. Apple’s deals with five major publishers aimed to undo the “wholesale” pricing model set by Amazon by shifting to an “agency” model where publishers set the price and paid a 30 percent commission to Apple. Cote sided with the government on charges that Apple helped orchestrate the industry’s shift. Apple is appealing the decision. “To me, the current situation proves that the Justice Department’s view was wrong and Amazon is not strictly interested in low prices for consumers,” lawyer turned famous author Scott Turow was quoted as saying Tuesday in the Chicago Tribune newspaper. “They are interested in using their market power to their own advantage and to pad their bottom line. The problem that Hachette is experiencing right now is that there really is nowhere else to go.” (Agencies)

By Jeff Ayers


By: Jeff Ayers

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