Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Robert Swartwood”

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Revew #46: The Inner Circle by Robert Swartwood

Almost forty reviews ago, I read and reviewed Man of Wax, the first in this trilogy. Since then I have been fortunate to have some contact with the author, and he liked my initial review enough to send me his latest novel, The Inner Circle. The Inner Circle is the sequel to Man of Wax.

Spoilers for Man of Wax below:

In Man of Wax, Ben Anderson was entered into a brutal game requiring him to kill and torture people in order to save his family. Ben was rescued from the game by Carver Ellison, and the book picks up two years later. Ben and Carver have spent the last two years, along with computer-whiz The Kid, saving multiple people from the game. Some have joined their army, in the fight against the game’s mastermind Caesar, although others have not been so lucky.

In this novel, they get some inside information (through tragic circumstances), that Caesar is planning a modern version of the Roman Games. The team must work quickly to infiltrate these new Games, especially given that hundreds of members of the Inner Circle will be present. This is their chance to end Caesar and the pain and suffering that he continues to cause.

I really enjoyed this book. It takes us deeper into Ben and Carver’s operation, giving us some touching and brutal back-stories on different team members. Ben is, needless to say, a very different man from the first novel. His life has been ruined, and he is trying to find his place with his new mission. The book keeps up the action very well, always leaving me wanting more. My only complaint is that there were too many car-chase scenes (at least three or four). These all jumbled together at some point and I found myself barely skimming those parts. Again, the author does a really interesting job (as he tends to across all of his books) looking at the dynamic of human nature with a very slight spiritual lens. This is NOT by any means a religious book, and it is definitely not a Christian book, but it is interesting to see how the characters approach the question of their own spirituality given the never-ending brutality they are faced with. It is a bit of a surprise in a book filled with some of the most evil acts I could think of, but it keeps it from being too cynical or depressing of a book. As long as the characters question and acknowledge these issues it keeps them human. Certainly, the end of the book is quite the cliffhanger, and I am excited to see where it goes next.

Disclaimer: Without a doubt, this book is not for the faint of heart as Swartwood describes the Inner Circle’s torturous acts in often graphic detail. On a kittens to Blake Crouch scale of 1-10, it is about a 6 or 7. Thankfully, we usually find out the details of the aftermath (and not from a victim’s first-person perspective as they are being tortured), but there is definitely a fair amount of brutality.

Read more reviews at my blog!

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 review #17: The Calling by Robert Swartwood

I actually have a lot to say about this book which certainly says something, I’m just not sure what. Before that though, I have a nifty story to tell. After writing my second review of Robert Swartwood’s work, No Shelter, Swartwood himself posted comments on my reviews! I geeked out totally, emailed him, and we had a couple email exchanges where I got to ask questions about his writing process, as well as the online publishing process. It was all very cool, and he was very gracious and down to earth. He also sent me the e-versions of two of his newer novels “The Calling” and “The Dishonored Dead.” I put off reading them to add some variety to my reading list and reviews, but decided it was finally time.

One of my biggest criticisms of the other three Swartwood books I’d read was that he seemed to be stuck in one archetypal tale–that of the protagonist’s loved ones getting kidnapped and the protagonist having to go above and beyond to find them. Well, The Calling certainly does not follow that format, so it was exciting to read something totally different from him.

Read the review at my blog!

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 #10: No Shelter by Robert Swartwood

This is the third book by Robert Swartwood that I have read (see a review for Man of Wax here), and I am seeing that his style is quite distinctive. So far it seems that there is some version of “hold loved ones hostage to make protagonist do something they don’t want to.” This is fine, since it certainly provides lots of action, but I would like to see him vary it up a bit.

This time our protagonist is Holly Lin, nanny by day, assassin by night. She is a kick ass, but deeply flawed character. We get some background on her as the book progresses, and get the sense that she was once the top of her field but events over the last couple years are causing her to unravel a bit. She’s taking risks where she normally wouldn’t and going off books too often. It’s this that drives the storyline.

Read the rest of my review here!

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #7: Man of Wax by Robert Swartwood


Ben Anderson is happily married with a four year-old daughter. He lives a simple but satisfying life, until he wakes up in a nightmare. Ben wakes up in a motel miles away from home; his glasses replaced with another pair, and new clothes and a cellphone. He receives a call from a man named Simon, who informs Ben that he is not part of a game, and that his wife and daughter’s lives are dependent on his cooperation. From here we follow Ben in the game, as he attempts to save his wife and daughter.

Read the rest of the review here at my blog!

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