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Best Books of 2019 – Chapter 4

Blackout was another BookBub find that I don’t know I ever would have read had I not previously read John J. Nance’s first novel, The Last Hostage, that introduced his hard-driving female protagonist, Kat Bronsky, an FBI field agent.  This airline novel also featured Kat.

I love a book that is a page turner and one that gets your heart racing as the story climaxes.  However, I think this is the first time that happened for me beginning after I had read only the first 15% of the book and almost never let up for the rest of the book.  At times, the story got so intense that I had to stop reading for a bit to slow down my heart rate.  It is that kind of book.

There is little I can tell you about the plot without spoiling it for you but if you like a fast-paced book with deadly twists and turns and not knowing who can be trusted, you will definitely enjoy this book.  It was published in 2000, a year before 9/11 and so paints that more simple time of air travel (at one point in the story, several people go through security without boarding passes and I thought, wait they can’t do that but then remembered the publication date).  But incredibly, Nance in this story was somewhat prescient of what would eventually occur that following September.  I remember enjoying the first in this series but this one is by far the best.  Sadly, after finishing it, I was ready for the next one only to discover there were only two.

I have written before that I am a huge fan of author David Baldacci having read pretty much everything he has written.  So, when I got notification of the pending publication of his latest book, Redemption, the fifth in his Memory Man series, it was a no brainer to add it to my Amazon wish list.  What prompted me to purchase it when I did was one of those marvelous one-day-only sales at a very reasonable price.  I consumed this book in just four days after having multiple times forcing myself to stop reading and go to bed.  I have enjoyed all of the books of this five-book series, but I think this is one of my favorites so far (If you have not read any of these, I would highly recommend reading them all in order).

This book opens with Amos Decker, the Memory Man, back in his hometown revisiting where tragedy struck his family many years ago.  But while grieving his own personal loss, Amos is catapulted back into re-investigating his first homicide as a local police detective.  The story takes a number of twists and turns as bodies begin to pile up and then explodes towards the end into a huge unexpected surprise.  I won’t say more about the plot but if you have trusted my recommendations in the past, you will not be disappointed with this book.

I have to really thank my sister-in-law for introducing me to BookBub several years ago because I have discovered so many excellent books that I would never have otherwise encountered.  Noelle Salazar’s debut novel, The Flight Girls, is another one of those.

Because of our common love for the Museum of Flight in Seattle where my daughter and I have taken her two boys for so much fun, my daughter and son-in-law have given me many great airplane themed books over the years (I recently learned that my son-in-law in fact had no small part in the book’s selection).  So, when this book popped up on my daily BookBub, I thought I would give a shot.

At first, I was afraid it would turn out to be a “chick lit” book that would be too mushy for a guy and I must admit some parts were in fact written specifically for a woman in love (an advantage obviously a female author has).  But the moments were brief and by the time I turned the last page, I wished the story had not ended.

This book is a really enjoyable wartime love story about women who loved to fly, a fact of most interest to me.  It is a historical fiction novel which prominently features a critical real-life program that women participated in during the war in both learning to and flying a multitude of military airplanes (Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)).  Set at the beginning of America’s entry into World War II and travelling through to its end, you will quickly grow to love Audrey its heroine and the joys and heartaches she endures.  Being a bit of a romantic, I do enjoy a good love story and this one did not disappoint.  In fact, in reading the Acknowledgments at the end of the book, I was delighted to see that she was already working on her next book.  I look forward to it.

Based on thoroughly enjoying reading his Kat Bronsky books, I decided to try one more book by John J. Nance, this one, Lockout, a New York Times bestseller.  I am glad I did.  I had to force my self to stop reading each night as it was an exciting page turner.

This story involves a device installed on a modern-day airliner that can lock the on-board pilots out from controlling the plane (and thus the title of the book).  Only problem is, no one knows how this device has gotten onto a commercial airline.  The plot twists and turns with multiple government agencies accusing or being accused of being behind the development of the device.  All while the crew and passengers are powerless to wrest control back as their limited fuel supply is depleted.  Even the president is involved in uncovering the mystery.

Multiple times as I was reading this book actually on flights to and from San Francisco, I was on the edge of my seat in suspense.  In the end, all is revealed in a fascinating and clever plot.  I will definitely have to explore more of Nance’s airplane suspense novels!  And if you decide to read this one, like me, you will not be disappointed.

     To be continued…

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