Friday, January 27, 2006

Mini-Review: “Liars & Thieves” by Stephen Coonts

I have many things for which I am indebted to my friend, John Byington. One of those debts is that fact that he introduced me to author Stephen Coonts – not to be confused with Dean Koontz! A few years ago, John, an Annapolis graduate and former Navy aviator, made the following observation: “You have come to know quite a few of us Navy guys who were pilots. If you really want to understand the world of naval aviation, you should read Stephen Coonts’ 'Flight of the Intruder.'”

I did read “Flight of the Intruder,” enjoyed it immensely and vowed to read as many of Coonts’ other books as I could. Last year I devoured “Liberty,” and I have just completed the riveting “Liars & Thieves.” Coonts is a Viet Nam combat veteran and naval aviator, who went on to earn a law degree. He writes with a rapier wit and an acerbic and sardonic view of a world inhabited with a wide and colorful assortment of “bad guys,” and a few old-fashioned heroes. Here is an example of his wry gift for introducing a character and for setting the right tone:

“Obviously Dorsey had not considered the possibility that Willie might refuse to tell her whatever she asked. Few men ever had. She was young, beautiful, rich, the modern trifectas for females. She came by her dough the old-fashioned way – she inherited it. Her parents died in a car wreck shortly after she was born. Her grandparents who raised her passed away while she was partying at college, trying to decide if growing up would be worth the effort. Now she lived in a monstrous old brick mansion on five hundred acres, all that remained of a colonial plantation, on the northern bank of the Potomac thirty miles upriver from Washington. It was a nice little getaway if you were worth a couple hundred million, and she was.” (Page 2)

The plot of this book involves double-dealing - all the way from the Kremlin to the West Wing of the White House, as the two heroes, Tommy Carmellini and retired Admiral Jake Grafton, lay their lives on the line to try to save a former KGB official who has defected to the West. I won’t spoil the treat for you by revealing anything else about the story line.

I could not put the book down. What else is there to say about a great book!


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