Books I Just Finished
Red Widow series by Alma Katsu.
Katsu is a (former?) analyst in the CIA and writes with authenticity about a female CIA case officer. Katsu’s books are a good lesson in internal dialogue; how to do it, and in some cases, when too much internal dialogue gets in the way of pacing.
Book one, Red Widow, was excellent in plot, characterization, twist, and story. I like Lindsay, the main character, and I find myself rooting for her. Friends become enemies, and enemies become friends. Highly recommended.
Book two, Red London, is a bit muddled. It starts strong, but practically abandons the main plot that was set up in book one in favor of a different plot that never seems to get off the ground. Lindsay ends up being mostly ineffectual as the plot unwinds predictably. The writing lesson is that you want your protagonist to take charge, usually after the mid-point of the story, and be the catalyst that solves the mystery or saves the world or rescues the damsel. In Red London, Lindsay blunders through and is mainly a subplot to the real story that is going on off-screen. It’s worth a read, but you’ll see what I mean. Recommended.
Friend’s Books Now Free in Kindle Unlimited
My author friend Ethan Jones has recently put his seven-book Javin Pierce spy thriller series into Kindle Unlimited. If you happen to be a KU reader, and you’re looking for a new book, give book one, The Corrector, a shot. Let me know what you think.
Video I Made
I’m a pen nerd. Yes, I have a few gold-nibbed fountain pens. But this video is about my favorite, cheap, high-quality, gel pens that I use for note-taking, book research, line editing, and everyday scribbling. Watch it here.
New Favorite Podcast/YouTube Channel
Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett. I started with the YouTube version (1.6M subscribers), but I moved to the podcast for my morning commute. I find Bartlett to be wise beyond his years and a low-ego and high-EQ interviewer who attracts big names and covers important topics. A couple of my favorites are The Mindset Doctor with Professor Steve Peters and The World’s No.1 Sleep Expert with Dr. Matthew Walker.
What I’m Streaming Now
After listening to Mark Greany’s interview on Joe Rogan, I watched The Gray Man on Netflix starring the hunky Ryan Gosling (so says my wife). With all due respect to Mr. Greany, who has way more publishing chops than I do, the movie felt like a rip-off of the John Wick series – a ton of CGI-style action, some laconic one-liners, and light on original plot. At least John Wick is an unapologetic action romp starring the iconic Keanu. I’m happy for Mark as I’m sure it’s helping him sell books, but not sure I’ll be tuning in for the sequel.
A better recommendation is the FBI Crossover Event on CBS, titled Imminent Threat, which I stream through Amazon Prime Video using Paramount+. The three-part series starts with FBI: International season 2, episode 16, moves to FBI season 5, episode 17, and finishes with FBI: Most Wanted season 4, episode 16.
Like most of Dick Wolf’s stuff, including all the Law & Order series, the FBI franchise is formulaic comfort food suitable for long stints on my bike trainer. This type of canned entertainment is a good lesson in character development and shows how audiences (and readers) tune in to check on their favorite characters more than they care about the plot. In the FBI series, pay special attention to Stuart Scola as he navigates his love life and personal demons. Highly recommended.