Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Istanbul Express by T. Davis Bunn

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Istanbul Express by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

World War II is behind them, but now an ominous Iron Curtain is descending in Europe. American Jake Burnes, Frenchman Pierre Servais, and their two wives travel to Turkey to help set a defense against Communist expansion in Istanbul Express, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

I’ve enjoyed the Rendezvous with Destiny series, especially the first novel, Rhineland Inheritance. It was a pleasure to see the four main characters teamed up in this conclusion, and I gained a new favorite, an older character by the name of Phyllis. She brings some refreshing moments to the story, including a fair share of its humor.

While I’d say the suspense and tension in this historical series is on the low-key side in general, I imagined the series might still go out with more of a bang, especially considering some of the high moments in the first four books and the intriguing setup at the end of Berlin Encounter.

However, in this last story, I found the tension and mood so low-key and the pace so sedate that my interest wandered a few times through it, and I never got deeply engrossed in it. More than past the halfway point, I was still waiting for things to pick up, and the ending doesn’t bring the series to a satisfying close so much as the story just seems to choose a place to stop, having nowhere else to go.

I also wondered about the number of punctuation errors in the edition I read (Books 4 and 5 combined in a hardback) and places where the recurring lack of conjunctions feels more awkward than stylish, as if the wording wasn’t given a final polish.

But overall, I got what I was looking for when I decided to read some new-to-me books from the ’90s by one of my longtime favorite authors.

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Here’s my review of Book One in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Rhineland Inheritance.

   

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Berlin Encounter by T. Davis Bunn

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Berlin Encounter by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

American Colonel Jake Burnes has a new postwar assignment: to rescue two rocket scientists in occupied Germany. But an infiltration of Russian spies could foil Jake’s mission in Berlin Encounter, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

On I’ve rolled with this fourth book in the Rendezvous with Destiny series. Indeed, I not only rolled but basically flew through it.

It’s both interesting and pretty heartbreaking, still, to see the dire and precarious aftermath of a world war. Refugees. Hyperinflation. Poverty. The threat of the Nazis now past but Stalin and the Soviets looming like an ominous cloud.

It’s good to see that Jake still has room for inner growth as a protagonist, but he’s not just facing the same problem time and again, as if he “gets over” something in one book, and then he’s totally back to square one in the next. The (continuing) thread of romance is relatively minor but strong here, and though I missed Jake’s sidekick, Pierre, for much of the book, it was satisfying to see him eventually appear–and to know he will appear again.

I found the climax of this story to be fairly tame, but that’s better than a contrived heightening or overstretching of drama would’ve been. And, goodness, Churchill’s historic declaration about “an iron curtain,” along with the last disclosure of this novel, is quite an intriguing setup for the fifth and final book in the series.

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Here’s my review of the next book in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Istanbul Express.

   

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Sahara Crosswind by T. Davis Bunn

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Sahara Crosswind by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

French Resistance leader Patrique Servais might have died during torturous imprisonment if his brother, Major Pierre Servais, and Colonel Jake Burnes hadn’t rescued him in Morocco. Patrique has important intelligence to save the French government from a treasonous post-war scheme, but assassins are determined to kill him, Pierre, and Jake in the desert in Sahara Crosswind, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of this story. Much of the opening is rather solitary (with Jake) and dialogue-less, and the first third or so of the book is mostly about Jake adapting to “the desert way.” Traveling through the desert; coming to appreciate a tribal people as he learns desert living; discovering and appreciating the beauty of the desert; experiencing God and the wonder of what can’t be put into words during his desert time.

The story quietly lays down rich layers that almost feel removed from the overall mission and latent danger that’s driving it all. So when the danger leaps back into the forefront, it hits you.

Here in the middle of the Rendezvous with Destiny series, this book is like an interlude or bridge, continuing and tying up one crucial adventure and making way for the next to begin. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the other side of this bridge.

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Here’s my review of the next book in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Berlin Encounter.

   

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Gibraltar Passage by T. Davis Bunn

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Gibraltar Passage by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Patrique, the twin brother of Major Pierre Servais, reportedly died while working as a leader in the French Resistance during World War II. But Pierre and his friend, Lieutenant Colonel Jake Burnes, receive mysterious word that Patrique could be alive, somewhere in Morocco. It might be too much to hope that Pierre could recover a lost brother—and also recapture a lost love in the process in Gibraltar Passage, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

In this second book in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, most of the story is told from Jake’s perspective, but he’s more of a supporting character this time while Pierre’s situation is at the center. It isn’t a very long novel, but it has key, internal turning points for both men, wrapped up in a tale of allies, enemies, suspense, moments of longing, and flashes of humor. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel by this author where I wasn’t amazed by some brilliant turns of phrase, and certain spiritual aspects of this story, for which there aren’t really accurate phrases to describe precisely, resonated with me.

Other times, I thought the spiritual content to be a little basic and obvious, almost as if using the story to give pointers like “read your Bible and pray every day” to the reader. Also, even as the novel is historical fiction, it seems at one point as if the story pauses to give something of a history lesson for a few pages. It’s pretty near a slow stretch leading to the book’s climax. Then, quite soon after the climax, though I wouldn’t say the story ends on an utter cliffhanger, the ending is clearly just a breather before whatever is coming next.

Nevertheless, I flat-out came to like Jake and Pierre in the book before this one, and I only became more invested in them here. I’m looking forward to continuing on to Book Three soon.

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Here’s my review of Book Three in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Sahara Crosswind.