Two tales for readers who enjoy a good thriller

Two tales for readers who enjoy a good thriller

I love a great thriller, but because of my woeful ignorance of stocks, treasuries and other such matters, I don't usually select ones dealing with high finance.

Until now. I happened to pull a debut novel that received great reviews about the world of political and financial intrigue. Those of you who think, like I did, that this doesn't sound appealing — well, give it a chance.

In "The Ascendant" by Drew Chapman, I discovered Garrett Reilly, a young man with an attitude, who happens to be a genius with numbers and pattern recognition. He's a star in his Wall Street firm, until his life is turned upside down when he notices a strange upswing in sales of U.S. Treasury bonds: $200 billion worth in one morning.

After reporting his findings, he is the target of a car bomb and is picked up by the U.S. military. They want to use his gifts to assemble and lead a rogue group of soldiers that can fight smarter and out-of-the-box. They take him to California's Camp Pendleton and begin his training in Chinese culture, history, weaponry and language.

He's like a human processor: They pour information into his brain, and he is able to organize it into useful facts and patterns.

The problem in this plan is that Garrett has a deep anger toward the military and the government as a whole after a possible coverup of his brother's death. Known for his temper and self-destructive habits, Garrett doesn't fit in, until he proves that he may know a little bit more about the future of smart warfare than some of the army generals.

This book touched on our vulnerable spots in homeland security and skipped around the globe in creating a story of true international intrigue. The author has written for various films and television shows, and if this title is any indication, we'll see a lot more of him in the future. Fans of the late Tom Clancy and the television shows "24" or "Homeland" will also enjoy this.

We get a completely different type of thriller in "Saving Laura" by Jim Satterfield. Set in Colorado and Wyoming in the late 1970s, the story describes a man who did something really foolish to save his girl.

Lee is devastated to see that the girl he loves has fallen into the clutches of a powerful drug lord. Amid the beauty of the mountains and the glamour of star-studded parties in Aspen, drugs are bought and sold with wild abandon. When Laura gets in with the wrong crowd, Lee is desperate to get her out and get her cleaned up. He decides to rob the dealer, escaping with 5 kilos of cocaine and $75,000.

While in hiding, Lee hatches a plan to rescue Laura from the abuse of the kingpin and his cronies, but he wants to make sure that the drug lord is unable to retaliate or continue his illegal business. Unfortunately, Lee gets into a lot of trouble along his route and is wanted for questioning by the police — for crimes he's witnessed, not the cocaine theft.

I was transported to the snowy mountains, and the author, a wildlife biologist, does a tremendous job of setting the scene with tales of fly-fishing, hunting and the reclusive people who live in the mountains. The story is one of redemption, and I was rooting for Lee throughout the book. He's clever, but he also seems like an all-around nice guy with motives of justice and compassion.

Lee's task is daunting, but with the expressive descriptions and amusing characters, it was a quick and enjoyable read. Even though there was a lot of snow. And I'm really tired of snow!

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.

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