Just, Ward. Stringer. Graywolf Press, 1984.

Reason read: Just celebrates a birthday in September. Read in his honor.

Stringer is a Civilian Intelligence Agent sent on a mission to Vietnam to destroy an enemy supply convoy. He has a sly sense of humor. When paired with a Captain named Price, Stringer must practice patience. Price is younger, more impulsive, yet in charge. There is no casual conversation between the two men. Neither has confidence in the other. They are on the same team but distrust keeps them miles apart. To keep himself from thinking too much about Price, Stringer recalls his failures: his marriage, their visit to a classmate in a mental institution, Stringer’s short time as a newspaper man. These recollections keep him on task in the present. Ever present is Just’s commentary on the damage of war.
As an aside, the double murder came as a shock and I don’t know why. I should have seen it coming. As an aside, is the trick to aiming and firing a gun to breathe out and pull the trigger when the lungs are at their emptiest and the heart has slowed? I seem to have read this before. Maybe Lee Child had Reacher fire a gun this way?

Quote to quote, “That was the wonderful thing about hindsight, it was morbid, no optimism in hingsight” (p 6), “Eyes and Brains were not equal to the circumstances, they were too selective” (p 118)

Author fact: Ward Just’s middle name is Swift. What an interesting name.

Book trivia: Despite being a slim volume, Just packs in a great deal of action, emotion, and character.

Nancy said: besides saying Ward Just is too good to miss, she mentions Stringer as another book by him.

Playlist: Brunis, Zutty, George Mitchell, Alcide Pavageau, Fitzhugh, Kid Ory, Sassoon, and the Oliver Band.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Ward Just: Too Good To Miss” (p 135).

Over the Edge

Brockmann, Suzanne. Over the Edge. New York: Ivy Books, 2001.

Reason read: to continue the series started in May in honor of Brockmann’s birth month.

If you have read any of Brockmann’s other Troubleshooter books you will know she has a formula for her plots. They all include Navy SEALs who are blindingly, devastatingly, glaringly, or outrageously handsome and the women they lust after, deeply love, or obsessively desire are all undeniably gorgeous, remarkably good looking, or intensely (or sinfully) attractive. Everyone, male and female, has exotic eyes or cheekbones, lush, full, or bee-stung lips, and they always, always, always a hard body to die for. No one seems to have an ounce of fat or ugliness or plainness anywhere. Despite everyone being impossibly beautiful that wasn’t what really bothered me. What irked me is the amount of sex on the brain. Someone could be talking about the abuse they suffered as a child but thinking lustfully about the person across from them. A murder could happen right in front of someone’s face and within minutes he or she has forgotten the death because they’re too busy trying to unzip their pants. Every couple seemed to be either arguing, miscommunicating, making assumptions, or having blistering hot sex. Seriously, there were so many sex scenes I started to skip them to the detriment of the plot. I don’t think it’s a spoiler alert to say the hijack rescue, despite taking the whole book to set up, was over in a matter of minutes. Oh yeah, back to the plot:
In Over the Edge the plot alternates between a present day plane hijacking and a forbidden love during the early days of World War II. Terrorists land a plane in Kazbekistan in hopes of trading hostages. The Navy SEALs are brought in to negotiate a rescue of an American Senator’s wayward daughter. The most interesting character who tied present day with the past was Helga Schuler, a journalist and Holocaust survivor who is losing her memory.

Author fact: Brockmann has written over fifty novels.

Book trivia: I got nothing.

Playlist: “Like a Virgin” by Madonna, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis,

Nancy said: I like what Pearl said about Brockmann’s novels. She said Brockmann gives a “female slant to the James Bond ethos.” The characters are “sharply drawn” and the reading of her work is “interesting.” Too bad I didn’t agree when reading Over the Edge.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our love is Here to Stay” (p 203).


Leshem, Ron. Beaufort. Translated by Evan Fallenberg.  New York: Delacorte Press, 2008.

Reason read: Lebanon gained independence on November 22nd, 1943.

In a word, Beaufort is gritty. The military outpost Beaufort is a living nightmare for Israeli soldier Liraz, (better known as Erez), but yet he must defend it to the death. Twenty-one year old Erez commands the defense with thirteen boy-soldiers with insane courage, sharp wit and fierce loyalty. All around this crumbling and ancient fortress unseen enemies hide just waiting for the right moment to strike. And strike, they do. Erez is witness to death, up close and personal. In order to cope he and his men play a macabre game called “What He Can’t Do Anymore” where, when a soldier loses his life in battle, the survivors list all the things their fallen comrade will never do again. It’s a crude way of acknowledging his death as reality. By the end of Beaufort you will swear Leshem simply interviewed the real Erez and wrote it all down, word for word. Erez, crude and passionate, walks out of the pages in a blaze of glory and his words burn in the brain long after the last page is turned. I can why they made this into a movie.

Confessional: I have never done this before. Somehow I threw away all my notes for Beaufort. Which means I don’t have any favorite quotes to share, which is a shame because I know I had a few.

Author fact: to look at Leshem’s picture, you would never know at the time of Beaufort’s publication he was a deputy director in charge of programming for a television station. He looks like he should be in high school.

Book trivia: Beaufort is Leshem’s first novel.

Nancy said: nothing besides explaining the plot.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the no-brainer chapter called “Leavened in Lebanon” (p 130).


Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

This is one of those giggly books. The main character is so awful you can’t help but laugh at him and dare I say, even like him a little for his brazen attitude. The premise is Flashman is the first installment of the “Flashman Papers 1839-1842” a sort of journal of Harry Flashman’s. Readers get a taste of Harry’s storytelling from the very start: British boy Harry Flashman manages to get himself drunk, expelled from school and into his father’s mistress’s bed in less than the first dozen pages. What first appears as a punishment for another indiscretionary roll in the hay ultimately becomes Harry’s greatest triumph. He is sent to be a secret agent in Afghanistan and manages to emerge a brave hero after the Retreat from Kabul. Harry is so shameless he basks in the honor despite the fact his cowardice is the only thing that saved him. But, his story is told with such honest sarcasm you can’t help but enjoy his villainy.

Two of Harry’s lesser laughed at traits are his womanizing and his racial comments. One has to keep in mind the Victorian era in which these events take place. Women and minorities are not seen as equals on any level.

Typical Flashy moment: “She stood glaring at me. Her bosom was what the lady novelists call agitated, but if they had seen Judy agitated in a negligee they would think of some other way of describing feminine distress: (p 29).

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter, “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 94).