I just recently found two books by JL Curtis, both called The Grey Man, but one is Vignettes introducing the characters, and the other is a whole novel of adventures. I was trying to explain the style to my First Reader, and he pointed out that the author, being ex-military, strongly flavors the stories. There is a good reason they ‘feel’ like after-action reports. You can find his fascinating blog as the Old NFO here.
These are less about the characters than they are about narration of the events that happen. Detailed, although less so than the Tom Clancy books I would compare them to (this is a good thing), they slowly unfold a chain of events that cascade into serious life-disruption for an already seasoned veteran, and his grown granddaughter who lost her parents early and lives with him on a ranch. It’s… complex. Deceptively so. I really enjoyed The Grey Man: Payback, and would stack it up next to Clancy’s Without Remorse as a book about a man going after those who hurt his loved ones, who has no recourse in the law. By the end of the book, despite the dry narrative style, I found myself tearing up. While less character-driven than, say, WEB Griffin’s tales, they are still reminiscent of those, and I think if you enjoyed either of those authors, you’ll like Curtis’s tough Old Man.
These stories are straightforward cop and military tales, no magic, no science fiction. I used to read a lot of this, and I miss it, I’ve found. Being sick these last couple of weeks had me hitting the Kindle Unlimited program hard, looking for good reads. I have been rewarded with several that were good enough I told the First Reader he really needed to try, and that I’d share them with you all.
The other series, an alternate history, is Jerry Lawson’s story sparked by time-travel gone wrong. When a cell phone is inadvertently sent back in time, what happens? Well, if it was a to a medieval world, nothing. But to 1955, into a nascent technological boom, and into the hands of a bureaucracy under Eisenhower that does the mind-boggling and releases it into private hands? Well, world-changing is about it… Jerry has done three books, and more coming, as the single cheap burner phone loaded with tech books almost as a prank by grad students is the spark to spin off an alternate, and very different, historical path.
Short, enjoyable reads, although laden with historical facts and trivia, Lawson’s stories are as much sociological commentary as they are fiction tales. Again, the character building is light, and drier than my usual fare, but the way he tells it, I don’t mind at all. If he could keep me interested while I was sick, and disappointed once I’d sucked up the first three to have to wait for number four… he’s doing something right.
In other news, my fantasy tale The Dwarf’s Dryad is free today through this coming Tuesday. Set in a world with rapunzel, the herb the Witch was named for, and magic but not powerful magic, this was something I spun out of my head in a few hours one chilly morning, and a world I may revisit, but with other characters. These two… well, you’ll see. Enjoy! Pass the link on, I love to give stories away to new readers who might then be tempted into buying my books.