Fake Truth (Ian Ludlow #3), by Lee Goldberg

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Lee Goldberg and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Lee Goldberg returns with another novel in his off the wall Ian Ludlow series. While the story reads as a little less than serious, the tale moves well and will keep most readers entertained. As Ludlow is still coming to terms with how his last book predicted a real-life event, he has newly-defected Chinese Actress Wang Mei with him. The CIA are eager to learn a little more and hope that Ludlow can use his astonishing powers to predict yet another international event. However, Ludlow seems to be coming up blank, sufferings from writer’s block and unsure how to solve it. Even some steamy trysts with Wang do not help his writing juices flow any better (no comment on any others, though Goldberg does not spare the reader). Meanwhile, a conservative talking head has been fanning the flames about Mexican incursion along the southern US border, in hopes of creating something even more chaotic. Little does anyone know but Dwight Edsey is actually part of a Russian sleeper cell, trying to create new issues as they infiltrate new fake news. When Ludlow stumbles upon what could be a unite story idea, two American tourists falling to their death while taking a selfie, he and his assistant head to Portugal. What looks like an innocent accident might have more daunting implications on both sides of the Atlantic, but Ludlow will have to find the thing that ties it all together. As he is targeted for what he discovers, Ludlow learns that, yet again, his desire to write a bestseller could have international implications for which he was not aware. An interesting piece that entertains more than it stuns, Lee Goldberg does well to keep he fans satisfied. Recommended to those who like a lighter thriller, as well as the reader who needs something with some corny storylines.

I stumbled upon this series and found it to be perfect for when I need a lighter piece that will still entertain. Lee Goldberg does well to keep the reader in the middle of the story, offering both intrigue and some slapstick humour to balance out some of the larger and more chilling ramifications. Ian Ludlow is again a key character in this piece, finding himself in the middle of a major catastrophe without meaning to. His writing skills have garnered him much praise in the past, though he is looking for more. The reader can see some more of his creative efforts throughout, though he seems also to be tapping into a more physical and superficial side. Goldberg does well to offer different facets of the character, though none of them are especially deep. Goldberg uses other characters to enrich the plot and the storyline, though most of the them remain at the same caliber as Ludlow. This collection of characters complement one another well for this piece, which seeks to tell multiple stories before tying them all together. The overall piece was decent, offering the needed entertainment that I have come to expect with this series. However, there is a superficial nature to the piece, almost a hokey or corny sentiment. While I can only surmise that this is Goldberg does this intentionally, it makes for a harder read at times, as I seek something a little deeper. Still, there is an entertaining value to it all and I suspend some of my expectations in order to enjoy this quick read.

Kudos, Mr. Goldberg, for another great piece that fit nicely into my reading journey this week.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Killer Thriller (Ian Ludlow #2), by Lee Goldberg

Eight stars

Lee Goldberg’s highly entertaining new series seeks to top the rave reviews its debut novel received with another instalment. Just as funny and full of thrills, readers will surely be ready for another high impact piece that keeps them guessing. Ian Ludlow is still basking in the success of his latest thriller novel, while remembering how it was tied closely to actual events he lived. Now, he’s being sent to Hong Kong to drum up support for the cinematic interpretation of one novel, while using his time there to do some background research on his next thriller. Alongside him is Margo French, his former book escort turned sidekick during his previous adventures. While Margo has plotted out some wonderful scenes to visit for the upcoming book, Ludlow has problems of his own. His complex plot notes about the Chinese using technology to backdoor their way into America has strong ties to a covert operation presently underway, sending the Chinese into a frenzy. Ludlow is a targeted man and must be eliminated before he can (inadvertently) reveal all through his next book. Additionally, there are ties within the US Government that could help facilitate an easier entry into the country, all of which comes to a head as Margo realises the danger in which they find themselves. It will be a race to stay safe and overturn the ultimate plot, while Ian Ludlow tries to handle the bastardisation of his novel at the hands of a director who wants nothing but a large dose of self-praise. Goldberg has done it again, keeping the reader enthralled until the very end with this explosive piece of work. Recommended for those who enjoyed the first in the series and like a little light reading.

Lee Goldberg is still a new name for me, though much of his past work has received a great deal of notice. His ability to mix humour with a wonderful thriller keeps the reader hooked until the final pages and wanting to know just a little more. Ian Ludlow comes across as a wonderfully focussed author who wants to grab hold of life and write the next big thing. Standing in his way in that eerie knowledge that much of what he puts to paper, however outlandish, seems to come back to bite him. He remains full of pep and banters well with those around him, losing none of his pizzazz throughout the novel. Complementing him well is Margo French, who has her own sort of independence and passion for life. No longer as down and out as she might have been remembered, she is working hard and finding trouble alongside Ludlow like no other. Their interactions are wonderful and keep the story light throughout. The cross-section of others in the narrative propel things in a number of directions, all of which work well. The reader is able to see the Hong Kong experience from a variety of angles and the characters enrich that experience effectively, while adding to some of the thrills that develop throughout. The story is not as hokey as it may appear, though there are surely some moments of head shaking and completely tomfoolery. Perhaps that is what keeps the story moving forward and entertaining. This is light reading at its best and the reader is surely in for a treat with this piece.

Kudos, Mr. Goldberg, on another successful piece. I am eager to see what awaits in the coming months.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

True Fiction (Ian Ludlow Thrillers #1), by Lee Goldberg

Six stars

Needing a quick read, I turned to this series debut by Lee Goldberg, about which I have heard many good things. When an airplane crashes in Hawaii not long after take-off, the news outlets begin streaming coverage and countless people gasp in horror. However, thriller writer Ian Ludlow is not one of them. Hiding in his Seattle hotel while on a book tour, Ludlow knows that with this event, his life is in imminent danger. Coaxed out of hiding by his author escort, Margo French, Ludlow tells of how the CIA is trying to kill him after an authors’ retreat a few years before. At this event, Ludlow shared a potential plot idea that seems to have been replicated down to the smallest detail. Little does Ludlow know, it is not the CIA, per se, but Blackthorn Securities that has their eye on him and is responsible for the crash. Now it is up to Ludlow, with Margo by his side, to dodge Blackthorn as they zero-in on his location. What started as a fearful writer running for his life has become a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, with only one possible outcome. Fast-paced and with little time to synthesise the info, the reader is taken on this adventure as Goldberg tosses twists at every possible instance. Those who need a good beach read need look no further than Lee Goldberg’s new series.

This is my first time reading anything by Lee Goldberg, though it would seem he is well-established. He has a great ability to portray the ‘author writing about an author’ theme and not make it come across as corny, though does utilise the ‘cat and mouse’ thriller recipe well, injecting a little cheesiness when needed. Ian Ludlow (apparently Goldberg’s nom de plume?) is an interesting character, established in his writing capabilities yet always looking to stay relevant. His slightly geeky side mixes well with the fear of being caught by the giant bully and the story turns into his using some of the resources he has been able to cobble together as a writer over the years. The story progresses as he gains some courage, but the reader must also remember that some of the stereotypical ‘bad ass geek’ is on display here. Hokey at times, Ludlow does come across as somewhat enjoyable and I did find myself laughing while shaking my head on more than a single occasion. Margo French proves to be a nice counterbalance for Ludlow, as she has somehow been pulled into the middle of this adventure without wanting to be there. A dog-walker and amateur singer, French brings the sass and sarcasm to this party without becoming the helpless femme fatale. A handful of secondary characters flesh-out the wonders of this thriller novel, keeping the story edgy and propelling it towards what is sure to be a bloody conclusion. The story was by no means stellar, but it proved entertaining, which seems to be Goldberg’s goal, as he has written much for television and knows how to keep the audience enthralled. I’ll surely keep my eyes open for more of his work, though cannot rave about how wonderful I found the book or how it is likely some of the best reading I have done all year. Still, if you need something for a trip or lounging by the pool, Goldberg has just what you might want.

Kudos, Mr. Goldberg, for an interesting introduction to the series. I admit, I am intrigued and will see what else you have to offer.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons