Saturday, April 28, 2012

Getting the Solution Squared

  Some books are just fun to read.  They may be somewhat serious but that doesn't mean they can't be light as well. Sometimes a book is borderline, not quite light and not quite serious. Hunt for Red October was serious; One for the Money is not. Today's book is one in between. I once read a critique of the Wilder/Ford movie Cisco Kid which said the movie couldn't make up its mind if it were a drama or a comedy which offended me. Not just because I liked the movie, although I did, but because life is neither all serious nor all comedy. Now we have all sorts of "dramedies", those movies that are comedies with lots of drama thrown in.  TV shows as well. Mike Fontenot's Solution Squares is just the opposite, a drama with comedy thrown in much like NCIS. Written lightly about some very serious goings on, it is indeed interesting.


Solution Squared
By Michael P. Fontenot
Published by Center Mass Books
lengt: 446 pages
ISBN 1-453-83240-8



From Amazon:
    Courtney Bergstrom: Her inimitable aptitude for analysis, lets her see things – things the rest of us don’t, or perhaps can’t. Her mind operates as smoothly, and as quickly, as a computer – one or zero, on or off. At twenty-five years of age, she will mastermind and execute one of the most intricate defections in the history of espionage.
     Whitney Bergstrom: Quick, agile, deviously cunning, and with a demeanor most often described as dispassionate, she appears and disappears like a shadow, on a cloudy day. At twenty-five years of age, she will kill a man, with nothing more than her bare hands, and never give it a second thought.
     Together they are the CIA’s latest solution – squared.
     Catch is, the bad guys have no idea there are two of them.
     Meet Christine Nelson, the always bubbly and absurdly efficient Staff Attaché, attached to the US Embassy, London – aka Courtney OR Whitney Bergstrom. Catch is, unless they want you to, you’ll never know which one of them she is. Just one of the many benefits of being identical twins.
     What at first appears to the sisters, to be an intriguing one of a kind opportunity, quickly becomes a daily life and death struggle as they weave their way through the onslaught of deceit, danger, and daily insanity that is life as a CIA field agent. In the end, they will discover one of the harshest realities of life as a spy – the good guys don’t always win.
    Their first field supervisor’s cynical statement that ‘…in this business, at some point, everyone dies,’ will in the end, prove to be a chilling reality. 



ABOUT THE BOOK:
     
     These twins who were almost inseparable from birth have taken full advantage of their identical looks to fool everyone, even their family and boyfriends. By cultivating one set of mannerisms, speech pattern, and responses from the time they were small, they have guaranteed that no one could possibly tell them apart. Little did they know their success would capture the eye of the CIA.
    As they trained to become one person, Christine Nelson, they develop both sworn friends and sworn enemies and the CIA benefits by keeping the bad guys off balance. Add to that the fact Miss Nelson causes more havoc than any one person could possibly cause and you have an agent with a target on her (their) back. From the very beginning, starting with their first op, the twins do more and cause more trouble for the bad guys than any other spy.  Quickly they work their way into some of the toughest ops ever, including extractions and creating death scenes, with the last op being the final straw for them.


MY TAKE:
    The story did start a little slow. The background stuff wasn't as much fun as it could have been however, when the story did take off, it really took off; saying "just one more section" until 3:00 am type taking off. The book was fun and was written in a way that the reader wasn't told everything about every op in the beginning allowing the scenes to unfold neatly before the reader. This technique has a way of putting the reader right there. Some things I thought I knew only to find out I was wrong. Surprise in a book is hard to write, especially if your audience reads tons of books but Mike Fontenot manages his share of surprises.
    The book is mostly clean with only a few typos that might stand out.  On the whole the book was well written and put together in a manner I found appealing. Fontenot did his best to keep the reader informed about which twin was telling the story, though I occasionally got lost.  This may be my short coming and not the author's failure. When a book is exciting, I tend to read a bit too fast.
    I enjoyed the book, especially after the background was completed. I will warn you that for spies, the twins seem to both cry and laugh a bit too much, leading me to believe the author has a very different idea of what women spies are like than I do.


RECOMMENDATION
    I recommend this book to everyone who wants a good read with lots of action and a share of lightheartedness. There is sex but nothing over the top, some romance, and lots of spying and intrigue.



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