Tag: David Stone

The Venetian Judgement by Daivd Stone

venetian-judgementMicah Dalton, the lead character in David Stone’s series of espionage thrillers, is a stone cold killer (excuse the pun).  And the job is starting to wear on him.  At the start of Stone’s latest book, The Venetian Judgment, Dalton – a CIA “cleaner” whose connection to the agency is a little nebulous at present – is snuffing out the last remnants of a Serbian mafia gang that shot the women he loves and sent her into a coma.  He is intent on following this revenge until the bitter end even if, and maybe preferably, if it means his own end as well.

But instead he finds a catharsis of sorts and throws himself into a new case.  Accusations of treason and treachery are once again bringing chaos and destruction to the clandestine services section of the CIA.  A retired and beloved code-breaker has been murdered in a particular gruesome fashion.  And Dalton’s superior, head of clandestine ops, Deacon Cather is under suspicion of being a mole. Meanwhile, Dalton’s old nemesis Kiki Lujac is either dead or at the center of this new conspiracy.

To solve the mystery Dalton will have to survive long enough to find the answers.  Doing so will take him from Venice to Greece, Turkey, and eventually back to Langley. The answers are tied up in the seemingly ancient history of the Cold War, but they will have deadly repercussions if left unchecked.

Fans of Stone and Dalton will enjoy the latest adventure with its typical blend of action, intrigue, violence, and tongue-in-cheek type gallows humor.  The plot is a bit convoluted, but it is an entertaining read and there is a thread of political commentary running throughout for those who understand the debates involved.

More below (including “spoilers”).  (more…)

The Orpheus Deception by David Stone

How much violence and brutality is too much and how much adds a entertaining sharp edge to a thriller?  This is not an easy question to answer unless you are one of those people on the extremes who enjoys either none at all or an unlimited amount.

It is also tricky because it depends on both the reader’s tastes and the author’s skills. Some authors can make a violent story darkly beautiful while some make the same level of violence seem over-the-top.

As you might have suspected, I bring this up in relation to the David Stone thriller series featuring Micah Dalton.  I reviewed the first book (The Echelon Vendetta); just finished the second book (The Orpheus Deception); and I am planning to tackle The Venetian Judgment soon.

This is an often violent, and at times gruesome, series.  Stone seems to like villains whose souls are twisted beyond recognition and who therefor do some very nasty things.  The hero must both escape being given this treatment, but also stop a larger threat to US national security.

This time it involves some sort of chemical weapon, a stolen tanker, a former colleague sent to the infamous Changi prison in Singapore, and Dalton’s Balkan crime lord nemesis.

Stone manages to pull all these threads together and weave a suspenseful, action filled, and entertaining plot.  I found the second book had a consistent vibe of black humor which I enjoyed but, like many in the genre, it is quiet violent and often strains credibility.  It also barely qualifies as a stand alone work.  If you haven’t read the first book it is difficult to fully enjoy this one.

Further thoughts below.  (more…)

The Echelon Vendetta by David Stone

2009 seems to be the year of the thriller for me.  Once I got started with the genre I just kept finding more to read.  My latest in this vein is a series by David Stone featuring Micah Dalton.  The first in the series is The Echelon Vendetta.

There is a lot going on in this often violent, and at times gruesome, espionage thriller and it isn’t easy to capture it all.  I found the most succinct and accurate summation at Entertainment Weekly of all places:

When a mission goes awry in David Stone’s The Echelon Vendetta, the CIA calls in Micah Dalton, a ”cleaner” who dispassionately mops up the mess. But then a friend and fellow agent dies in an apparent suicide and the pal’s family is found hacked to death. As he follows the trail from Tuscany to London to CIA headquarters to the Rocky Mountains, Dalton encounters government spooks, Native American mysticism, hallucinogens, and gruesome violence with which he seems creepily comfortable. But Stone’s unsettling tale keeps losing momentum, due to his nasty habit of interrupting the action with poetic travelogues at each new stop around the globe.

There are really three threads involved in this story.  The main thread is a rather straightforward, and well done, espionage story.  Dalton has to find out what is behind his friend and colleague’s death.  He eventually finds out that his mystery Native American killer is brutally murdering anyone connected to a mission gone bad on a project called Echelon.  Dalton tracks down the killer, and his true identity, as the bodies pile up.  The tension builds until the two confront each other.  Then Stone throws in a twist at the very end.