The Power of Twitter

Twitter works! It is an unbelievably powerful promotional tool. I am a believer. I also know that just about everyone in the world has discovered this relatively new fact of life before I did.

I am not a social media sort of person. This blog was created as a means of testing the social media world and learning a little about it as I go along. I do have a Twitter account that I use to announce a new blog entry, and don’t do much else with it outside of following a few sites that interest me.

One of the Twitter accounts I do follow is David Morrell, the author of First Blood, which introduced the original Rambo character. David Morrell is a legend in the thriller community. I have heard him speak, and read some of his work. I was impressed. He has a very intellectual approach to his writing, and shares his expertise in a very engaging manner. I suggest reading Morrell if you want to see a master writer at work.

Recently, David Morrell tweeted that “And the great spy novelist Charles McCarry THE TEARS OF AUTUMN died recently.” As an aspiring thriller writer, I was embarrassed to admit to myself that I was not familiar with McCarry at all, and I had never heard of THE TEARS OF AUTUMN, so I marched to my local library, which is a member of a very large library system. There were several copies of THE TEARS OF AUTUMN in the system, but all were recently withdrawn. The system noted there were a number of requests for the book pending. I placed my name on the list. After about a month I am still waiting for these copies to be returned, and I am still pretty low on the waiting list. I was able to withdraw a very well-used copy of a Charles McCarry book, OLD BOYS. This was not his most popular book, but it  is still pretty darned good.

I wanted to say thanks to David Morrell for alerting me to this author. I am looking forward to reading THE TEARS OF AUTUMN, but I fear that will be some time in the future. I also wanted to say thanks to Twitter for moving me to action. In my local, limited universe, there was a lot of demand for McCarry’s work. Undoubtedly, a huge demand nationwide and even worldwide has now been generated. All due to a tweet from a respected writer. That tweet moved me, and a whole lot of other people as well. A powerful force!

Thanks again to David Morrell (and Twitter) for leading me to a great writer I would have missed. I’ll be posting my review of OLD BOYS shortly.

Review of “The Eighth Sister” by Robert Dugoni

Eighth Sister

Author: Robert Dugoni

Publication Date: 2019

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

ISBN: 13: 9781503903036 (hardcover)

Agent: Jane Rotrosen Agency

Source of Book: NetGalley


Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.

(Source of Blurb: Author Website)


The Eighth Sister is a well written espionage thriller. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The best part was the first half of the book, in which the protagonist, Charles Jenkins, travels to Russia to take part in a clandestine operation. The mission is not what he was led to believe, and he must improvise in order to escape Russia and the dogged Russian FSB agent assigned to track him down. The cat and mouse between Jenkins and the Russian agent makes for very good reading and is difficult to put down. The chase is very realistic, and the fact that Charles Jenkins is an agent around 60 years of age with deteriorating but still formidable operational skills is a refreshing twist.

My only criticism involves the second half of the book, when Jenkins arrives home. At that point, it turns into a legal thriller rather than an espionage story. It is a very well done legal thriller, but the second half involves a lot of courtroom preparation and legal maneuvering rather than a traditional espionage story. It was still very enjoyable , just not what I expected. To me, this was a very novel story structure, and it worked.

I could see this book becoming a movie. The juxtaposition between the action scenes in the first half of the book and the courtroom drama in the second half of the book would play out very well on the screen.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Link to Author’s Website:

Purchase Link:





News–Some Observations

I have tried not to get political on this blog, and I intend to keep it that way. I do want to make a few  comments that are only loosely related to thriller writing and reviewing.

I try to keep relatively informed on current events. I believe a good touch of current events makes a thriller more relevant, and more compelling that way. I noticed a few problems with the news, at least how I seek it.

My issue is with CNN and Fox News. I first noticed this after watching a presidential debate during the run-up to our most recent presidential election. I watched the debate and then looked at the commentary, first on CNN, then on Fox. I wondered if I had watched the same debate. I sensed a complete lack of objectivity on each of the two networks. What was presented as “analysis” was really “spin”. CNN spun it one way, and Fox, the other way. Since then, I looked a little closer to each of these networks, particularly their website. I believe both networks tell the “truth”, but they certainly select what they say with a careful agenda. Maybe I was the last one on the planet to notice.

I believe we have a “free” press, but I don’t believe we have an “objective” press, at least not in some of the sites I follow on a regular basis. If the current administration does something wrong, or incorrect, I know CNN will let us all know about it. If the “left” does something wrong, Fox will let us know. This is, of course, what a free press is all about, and I am very thankful we have that. I have seen situations where the press is not free.  I believe the free press is one of the necessary conditions for an effective democracy, or any other form of effective government. I would like to find a site I could trust to present the news without the spin, the selective inclusion, or the not-so-hidden agenda.

As it is now, I believe people who are leaning towards conservatism, will seek out conservative media and harden their positions. On the other hand, people with liberal leanings will look at liberal media and harden their positions. This will stifle discourse and debate and harden everyone’s positions. A bad state of affairs, coupled with the fact that computer search engines will compound this problem by leading a searcher to what the search engine decides they would like to hear. People leaning to the right will be directed to right-leaning media. People leaning to the left will be directed to left-leaning media. Positions will become even more hardened.

Let’s keep the press free, but hope for some objectivity in the mix. It has been a long time since I heard anyone say “I changed my position on that based on reading…”

Review of “They Shall Not Grow Old”

“They Shall Not Grow Old” is a marvelous movie to see. It is a WWI documentary, but unlike any documentary I have ever seen.

It is essentially old WWI films, enhanced and colorized, coupled with some poignant narration from the point of view of the soldiers who did the fighting. It traces the experience of soldiers in the trenches of WWI, starting with the joining-up process, through training, shipping to France, arriving in France and marching to the front. It describes life in the trenches, preparing for a charge from the trenches, making the actual charge, returning from the charge with German prisoners, and finally transport back to England and the soldiers’ return to civilian life. The movie is heartbreaking and pulls no punches. Several members of the audience left midway through, most likely unable to watch the incredible, vivid carnage.

The technology is magnificent. Very old film is enhanced, colorized, slowed down, to make it seem like this was happening today. As I left the theater, what struck me most was the sound. I can only recall being so impressed by the sound in a movie one time, during the landing scenes in “Saving Private Ryan”. The voices sounded like they were standing on the stage speaking to me, and when there was some singing involved, particularly at the end of the movie, it was beautifully done.

This movie was exceptional at every step, from the concept to the execution. It is not for the faint of heart, but viewing it was a fantastic experience. I don’t believe I can recommend a film any higher than this one. If you know what you are walking into, this film is something to see.