Review of “Domino Effect” by Davis Bunn

The Domino Effect

Davis Bunn’s novels are creative and contemporary, though his character development often leaves something to be desired.  That’s what made his latest book, “Domino Effect”, so interesting.  The novel revolves largely around the main character, Esther -a solitary, analytical risk-analyst who predicts and attempts to prevent a global economic meltdown.  Bunn actually does a great job developing Esther’s character, creating a woman who has endured deep personal loss and tragedy throughout her life and consequently is a remote and isolated adult who takes comfort in the solidity of numbers, patterns and algorithms.  As an added and interesting touch, Esther is also a genius. But Bunn does such a thorough job depicting Esther as closed-off and anti-social, that she’s not especially relatable from the reader’s perspective.  This contributes to a contrived feeling throughout the book, as Esther is drawn into increasingly meaningful relationships, despite seeming disinclined towards personal interaction. That progression from her isolation to her healthy socialization would actually work fine except that the plot is compressed into an incredibly short time period.

The post-2008 banking setting makes this novel extremely jargon heavy; however, explanation and description of the banking and trading terms is thoroughly conveyed through the characters’ dialogues. The uninformed reader (I fell squarely into this category) will learn quite a bit about trading, the stock market and banking practices throughout this book.

The plot is interesting and realistic; banking practices that brought about the 2008 global recession were mitigated through government intervention and regulations. Though many unethical practices were curtailed, some banks developed new, risky schemes for amassing quick profits and the global economy faces total, imminent (and diabolically engineered) collapse.  While the story is fictional, it definitely rings of truth and perhaps acts as a warning for consumers today.  As mentioned, this story is condensed into a very brief time period, events progress quickly and there’s never a dull moment.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

Product Details

I always enjoy Davis Bunn’s international “thrillers”  (in quotes because they’re not intense or suspenseful enough to be thrillers, but that’s the closest genre description I can think of. Perhaps international, religious intrigue is more accurate. ) I believe one of Bunn’s greatest giftings as an author is his ability to really create a sense of place, drawing the reader into the story not so much because she connects with the characters or the plot but because she is able to imagine herself in the setting.  The food, the smells, the sights- Bunn takes you there.  In the Patmos Deception you will vicariously travel to Greece and become truly hungry for Greek food and you’ll probably begin longing for an extended vacation there – I know I did.  Compared to other recent books by Bunn (The Lion of Babylon series in particular) this book develops the characters a lot better and gives you a far greater sense of connection to them.  You can actually visualize them and care about them to the extent that anyone cares about fictional characters.

As for the plot, it was interesting, but it was a bit convoluted, twisting here and there without building a great sense of momentum.  As the characters work to uncover an international smuggling ring involving Greek antiquities they spend plenty of time building friendships, eating really, really good food and boating.  They also exchange incidental lessons in Greek history and modern-day economical hardships.  Personally, I enjoyed all of that, I’m merely commenting on it because I think it did contribute to the sense that the story meanders a bit.   Finally, the Patmos Deception does contain a cliffhanger, and not one I expected since its about relationships as opposed to international intrigue, but it did produce the desired effect – I’ll be on the lookout for the next book in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Review of “Straight of Hormuz” the third in Davis Bunn’s “Marc Royce” series

Strait of Hormuz

“Straight of Hormuz” is what you would expect of the third book in this series about Marc Royce- rogue, Christian CIA operative.  Like “Lion of Babylon” (see my review here: https://joyclynn.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/a-first-for-everything/and “Rare Earth” and here: https://joyclynn.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/review-of-rare-earth-by-davis-bunn/), this is a fast-paced story of international intrigue.  The key players save the world from terror and destruction with a healthy mix of skill, intuition, prayer and godly intervention.  If you like the spy/thriller genre, but prefer an emphasis on Christian faith, this series for you.  However, if you love books like Joel Rosenberg’s “The Damascus Countdown” or Robert Lundlun’s “The Bourne Identity” then you’ll probably only be mildly satisfied with this series, because it doesn’t attain the scope or depth of those other books.  There are several reasons for this: one is that Bunn’s plot is simple, readily resolved, and events are rushed and anti-climatic at times.  The primary problem, however, is that three books in, character development is still lacking in this series.  Bunn is excellent at portraying a sense of place; from European cities to the Sinai desert, you can easily imagine yourself there thanks to Bunn’s skill at descriptive writing.  He also very adeptly weaves Christian themes like forgiveness, faith, and repentance into his storylines and the plots are engaging and entertaining.   But those strong points aside, the result of poor characterization is that you don’t feel connected to the story.  I have never been able to visualize the main character, Marc Royce, because he’s never been described.  Kitra is a young, beautiful and brave Israeli woman, but apart from that what’s the attraction between her and Marc based on?  You only know the characters at arm’s length and the thread of romance woven into “Rare Earth” and “Straight of Hormuz” disappoints, because it has very little depth.  She’s an attractive, single woman and he’s presumably an attractive single man who shares her faith, so voila- they must fall in love.  This may seem like a harsh review, and that’s not my intention; I really enjoy Davis Bunn’s novels and I recommend him as an author, this series just falls a little short of excellent for me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Review of “Rare Earth” by Davis Bunn

I can’t help but compare Davis Bunn’s “Rare Earth” to its precursor- “Lion of Babylon.” If you read the first book and enjoyed it, then you will like “Rare Earth” – and you’ll probably like it more.  If you’re familiar with Bunn’s work, then you know he is skilled at depicting believable settings; the reader can almost feel the oppressive heat and the bleak hopelessness of a Kenyan refugee camp or city slum, where most of the story plays out.  The plotline is engaging and keeps you reading; covert operative Marc Royce sets out to find a missing aid worker and in doing so uncovers a hidden international scheme to monopolize rare minerals used in advanced technologies.  He also falls in love along the way, though the romance is pretty weakly developed.  As with “Lion of Babylon”, this book is not so suspenseful that it will keep you up at night, but it is action-packed, contemporary, and entertaining.  Also like “Lion of Babylon”, “Rare Earth” is weak on character development.  Though you would not need to read the first book to understand and enjoy this one, you will be left with no mental picture of Marc Royce, the main character (you wouldn’t have found it in the first book either), and you will not get any introduction or background about him…you’ll simply have to accept that he’s amazingly capable, indeed, divinely anointed, in all he does.  I find myself frequently picturing a Christian version of some action movie spy hero, say Jason Bourne or Jack Bauer, for lack of any character description or introduction.  I think this is why, in general, I don’t feel any real connection with Bunn’s characters- you don’t really get to know them, you simply read about them.  The true book lover will know what I mean by that!

Ultimately, “Rare Earth” is a better book than “Lion of Babylon”.  The conflict is better, and not so effortlessly resolved, making it more believable and slightly more suspenseful.  Without a doubt there will be a third book and I’ll read it when it comes, if only because they seem to keep getting better every time.  Despite some weaknesses, Bunn is a strong writer when it comes to plot and setting, and for that reason I really enjoy his writing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.