Where Death Meets the Devil is Pure Escapism

Reviewed for Netgalley

Jack Reardon’s 35th birthday is not going as planned when he comes to tied to a chair in the torture shack owned by the same criminal Jack was sent deep undercover to infiltrate over a year ago. And when Ethan Blade, world renowned assassin and ruthless killer, enters the shack, Reardon doubts he’ll be making it to his 36th birthday.

L.J. Hayward’s story of a former SAS soldier on an assignment gone terribly wrong and the world’s 7th deadliest assassin is total entertainment from the get-go. The story shifts each chapter from Then, when Reardon first encounters Blade, to Now, one year after the pair met and had to fight their way through an army and a desert together to survive. These shifts enhance the suspense, dropping hints in the present about what happened between the two in the past and then returning to the Then to expand on those hints and set the story for what is happening in the Now and why. It created an excellent pace for the story and a momentum that would not have been present had the story been told in a linear fashion.

And while events near the end require some Fast-and-Furious-level suspension of belief, Jack is well developed and complicated, having doubts about himself, his mission, and Blade. He’s a former Special Forces soldier whose mind still carries the scars and trauma of all that he has been through, and it shows in the doubts he has in his current agency and the decisions he makes.

I enjoyed the characters, the action, and the non-linear story telling. I look forward to more works by Hayward and hope she’ll bring Jack and Ethan back in a sequel.

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Out on the Drink is a unique tale of addiction, adventure, and survival

Reviewed for Netgalley

If you can ignore the many, many typos, misspellings, missing words, and misused words, Bill Bunn’s Out on the Drink is an engaging, unique tale which follows young alcoholic Sean on his biggest, dumbest blunder yet. In the middle of Newfoundland snow storm, he accepts a dare to climb aboard an abandoned cruise ship, where he promptly passes out and awakens much later to find that the ship has torn aware from its moorings and is adrift on the ocean.

Sean must learn not only how to live without alcohol, but how to live alone on a decrepit ship with little water and food that expired almost three years prior to his misadventure. His very survival depends on it.

Bunn did a nice job with the pacing of the story. Sean’s stint aboard the Lyubov Orlova slows the momentum a bit, but I think that was intentional to show how long Sean is stuck aboard the cruise ship and how lonely he is during this time. The pace definitely picks up again when company comes aboard.

The story is original and engaging. Despite Sean’s many stupid mistakes, I found myself hoping he and his ship-imposed sobriety would both survive. I recommend this book despite the many errors.