Shawn Kupfer - 47 Echo
Russia, 2019. Combined Chinese and North Korean forces have taken increasing amounts of territory in a war that is devastating the world.
Nick Morrow is a convict conscript assigned to 47 Echo—a suicide squad. No one cares whether they live or die, as long as they complete their missions. Under the command of a Marine Corps with nothing but contempt for its squadron of felons, they are on a mission to defend what's left of war-ravaged Russia.
A half-Chinese drifter, much isn't expected of Nick. Like the other members of 47 Echo, he's viewed as little more than cannon fodder. However, Nick's sense of honor, analytical mind and skills on the battlefield just might be what the squad needs to survive the meat-grinder that is the front lines of this bloody war. But can Nick himself survive the brutal crimes that haunt his past?
Ross Pennie - Dr Zol Szabo Medical Mystery 01 - Tainted
The latest suspense novel written by a real-life Canadian doctor demonstrates that our country’s contribution to the medical thriller subgenre is not so much evolving as stabilizing. Tainted immediately admits Brantford-based physician-cum-university professor Ross Pennie into the small but growing club whose ranks include Kathy Reichs and Dan Kalla. Content-wise, it leans more toward the latter, which is understandable, given that Pennie, like Kalla, is an infectious-disease specialist. Alas, he also shares his cohorts’ propensity for overwrought melodrama in the face of otherwise quite credible science-based suspense. The plot, which concerns a mutated form of mad cow disease, is, in fact, very well woven. Twists and turns are expected in a story of this type but, to his credit, Pennie consistently parcels out just enough information to keep even the most jaded reader guessing without being confused. Better yet, the eventual explanation for the outbreak, as deduced by three characters chasing separate leads, is quite clever. The dialogue, however, proves to be a stumbling block. In a style reminiscent of the Hardy Boys, Pennie shoehorns urgency into ridiculously expository dialogue. And some of that dialogue is simply ludicrous: “‘Isn’t it ironic,’ said Colleen, ‘how preoccupied they were with the appearance of the outside of their skulls, while a time bomb ticked away on the inside?’” If the dialogue is problematic, the characterization is downright farcical. Pennie works too hard at giving his protagonists “humanizing” problems. Hungarian hero Dr. Sol Szabo spends more time wrestling with guilt over his temper and curtness than he does analyzing the facts at hand; Dr. Watsonish diagnostician Hamish Wakefield makes bull-headed statements but is easily offended, possibly due to being a closeted homosexual; taciturn but reliable lab assistant Natasha Sharma could connect disparate dots easily, if only she could get her Punjabi mother to stop phoning to try to arrange a marriage. The whole thing reads less like a cultural mosaic than a collection of obvious stereotypes. Pennie also includes an entirely unnecessary, action-filled climax involving a back-country redneck sausage manufacturer, a suitcase of blood money, and a double murder (well, if you include the dog). The redneck’s involvement in the medical plot is legitimate, but the story was good enough without the sensationalistic endgame.
Stephen J Sweeney - Battle for the Solar System 01 - The Honour of the Knights
When starfighter pilot Simon Dodds is enrolled in a top secret military project, he and his wingmates begin to suspect that there is a lot more to the theft of a legendary battleship and an Imperial nation's civil war than either the Confederation Stellar Navy or the government are willing to let on.
Within weeks of being reassigned to the Confederate border system of Temper, the five would begin to untangle a web of lies and a cover-up that seemed to span the length of the entire galaxy. And it would not be long before they themselves would come face to face with that which destroyed an empire: an unforgiving, unstoppable, and totally unrelenting foe.
There seemed to exist only one glimmer of hope of driving back the darkness: The ATAF Project - a secretly developed set of starfighters that may well just harbour some terrible secrets of their own.