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Last Snow by Eric Van Lustbader
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1671171,264 (3.14)9



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It rather escapes me how a book - though, doubtless, a page-turner with a lot of action and language not even too dry for a political thriller - failed to impress me. The action takes place first in Moscow, then mostly all of it in Ukraine, as American president and his advisers are battling all kinds of Russian factions and adversaries. The protagonist, Jack McClure, the President's most talented adviser and friend is in the middle of the action, along with the President's daughter, whom, as I understand, in a previous book he saved from a kidnapper - this story line also continues.

What I found a little demeaning (though it's just a detail) was the author's choice to invent or make up Russian names for his characters - at least 75 percent of them are combination of letters pretending to sound like Russian names and surnames. I don't believe for a second that he didn't have a native speaker to help him with names, but this sort of thing came through as a mockery.

I know that Mr. Lustbader continued to write the Jason Bourne series created by the late author Robert Ludlum, so he must have an appeal. This book might make a good movie, but as a book I found it a bit shallow. ( )
1 vote Clara53 | Feb 18, 2013 |
It took me a little while to get used to van Lustbader's writing style--I've not read one of his books in quite a while--but after the first couple of chapters I settled in for the ride. And it was quite a ride.

There's so much action in this book it can really rock you back on your heels--which is a good thing. One thing though, you have to really pay attention when reading this book. There's wheels turning inside of wheels in the plot and nobody is exactly as they seem.

A very good book but one you have to pay attention to else you'll be hopelessly lost by the end. ( )
  dketelsen | Oct 9, 2012 |
Last Snow, Eric Van Lustbader’s new political thriller, picks up right where First Daughter left off. Edward Carson is now the President. First daughter, Alli, is recovering from her kidnapping ordeal, and Jack McClure is still talking to his dead daughter. The President is in Russia, negotiating an arms deal, when an important administration ally turns up dead. President Carson is counting on Jack to untangle a web of lies and keep Alli safe — which would be easier if he had some idea who was after them.

Jack McClure is an interesting character. In First Daughter, we learned that he managed to make a name for himself in the intelligence community in spite of — or perhaps because of — his dyslexia. In this environment, his mind works in a completely original way: every walk through a building creates a three-dimensional map in his head, he seems able to assemble tiny fragments of information into a coherent picture at blinding speeds. I’m not sure that dyslexia has this effect on everyone, but it works for Jack.

The plot is a Gordian knot. Everyone is lying, there is no clear view of the big picture, and everything is handled in secrecy. That’s to be expected, since Jack has hauled the President’s daughter on a cross-country dash to stay one step ahead of hired assassins — and those assassins might not all be Russian. There’s a chance there is a traitor close to the President and he may have Jack and Alli in his sights.

I love a good political thriller. I had fun trying to scout the angles in this one, trying to sort out the post-Cold-War political influences that motivated the players. Throw in the possibility of a traitor amongst the President’s advisors, and you’ve got plenty of intrigue to work with. You could almost see the clock ticking down, feel the tension, right up to the signing of the accord, with agents working frantically in the background. I really enjoyed the big build-up

Read my full review here. ( )
  LisaLynne | May 2, 2011 |
Special advisor to the President, Jack McClure, finds himself in Moscow with the president and his family working on an important treaty when word comes that a senator has died in Capri. Strange thing is, this senator was supposed to be in the Ukraine. Sensing something is wrong, the president sends Jack McClure off to investigate. Before he can leave, a strange run in with a Russian woman named Annika stirs the pot and gives him a partner. Throw in the first daughter, Alli, deciding to tag along as well, and you have quite a mixed up group.

Jack just didn't seem to do much for me. Perhaps it was the magical way his dyslexia gave him special thinking powers (not sure if that's possible or not, but it seemed an easy way out). Or perhaps how he always just seemed to get lucky. He really didn't seem to be making any headway on his own. It was all the work of Annika and Alli until the final mystery which he pulls a solution out of thin air.

Annika is hard to describe. I didnt seem to get to know her very well at all. And what I did get to know about her always seemed to be changing.

Alli was by far my favorite character. SHe was stronger than she thought she was. After being through a traumtic kidnapping (the first book) she has a lot of emotional baggage that she is working through throughout the entire story. I couldn't help but admire her tenacity as she tried to find herself again.

The story itself was decent, but there was so much going on behind the scenes that without many strokes of luck our characters would have been dead several times over. I'm still trying to figure out how the ending really was the best solution to anything. I'm all for the surprise twist to keep the reader guessing, but there were a few too many this time.

3/5 ( )
  jasmyn9 | Feb 3, 2011 |
This book is the second thriller [sic] involving Jack McClure, the strong yet sensitive Special Advisor and factotum to the U.S. President, Edward Carson.

In the previous “episode,” First Daughter, Jack had rescued the President’s daughter Alli from the clutches of an evil serial killer who had kidnapped her and held her hostage for a week. In this book, Jack is once again asked to help with Alli, who has still not recovered psychologically from her ordeal. Jack, it seems, is the only one who can get through to Alli. Jack is also the father of Alli’s former best friend Emma, who died in a car crash at age 20 the year before, but hangs around in The Ether to help her dad when he’s in danger.

Last Snow avoids some of the narrative excesses of First Daughter, but not completely. The prose can be beyond bizarre. This, for example, is a description of a man admiring a girl even though he knows she is too young:

"This does not stop him from staring at the intimate dewlike sheen that licks the shadowed dell from which floats toward him the unmistakable aroma of freshly peeled lemons.”


This same man thinks that whatever pleasure he is getting from whatever the heck he thought before, doesn’t help:

"He is still living in the moment that occurred three hours ago but that continues like a whipping, devastating in its excoriation.”


Actually, that should be your question, as in: “And you continued to read this, why?” Well, you see, the local library was closed, and I was feeling alienated from my TBR pile, and there you have it…

Anyway, back to Jack McClure. He is with the President in Russia, and in his hotel room he can hear a couple arguing in the room below:

"‘I hate you!’ the woman said, her raw emotion vibrating through the pipe. ‘I’ve always hated you.’

‘You told me you loved me,’ the man said, not plaintively, which might be expected, but with the guttural growl of a stalking male.

‘Even then I hated you, I always hated you.’”

Great dialogue, that…

Meanwhile, speaking of great dialogue, while listening to the quarrel, Jack is also listening to his wife berate him on the phone:

"If you cared about me, if you cared about repairing the damage to our marriage, you would have found a job closer to home.”

Um, the Special Assistant to the President of the United States should have “found a job closer to home?” Sounds realistic to me…

Wait, I’m digressing again. Back to the USSR, or more accurately, Russia. Jack somehow gets involved with the Russian mafia, who are somehow involved with the Russian secret service, who are somehow involved with American contract killers, who are somehow involved with the previous administration, who are somehow involved with the President of Russia, who, etc., etc. The plot is very convoluted, but not in a good way. We are not talking about expert twists, but rather, an increase of muddling.

Jack gets it all, however. In spite of being amazingly naïve for someone in his position, he happens to have a form of dyslexia that endows him with Special Powers (e.g., seeing patterns that others do not, seeing dead people that others do not, and learning Russian, Arabic, and Farsi all within the same eight-month period). It’s a good thing he has this magic thing going, because you could sell this guy real estate on the moon. In fact, because of his naivety, he must eventually make use of Alli’s revelation that she too has a Special Power. Hers is to be able to detect lies. Jack finally decides (wisely) to avail himself of her Special Power in order to help him evaluate a situation before he uses his Special Powers.

In the end, the plot lines don’t all get completely tied up, but you don’t even care, because you’re just glad to be out of the book, already!!!

Evaluation: Even besides the bad prose and worse plot, if you are at all sensitive to stereotyping (such as, all Russian men are pockmarked sleazebags, and all Russian women are hot blonde babes ripe for the picking), you won’t necessarily want to pick up this book. Even if your library is closed. Try a movie, perhaps? ( )
  nbmars | Jul 30, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765325152, Hardcover)

The electrifying follow-up to the Jack McClure thriller First Daughter from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bourne Sanction and The Bourne Deception

Jack McClure, Special Advisor and closest friend to the new President of the United States, interprets the world very differently from the rest of us. It’s his greatest liability, and his greatest asset.

An American senator, supposedly on a political trip to the Ukraine, turns up dead on the island of Capri. When the President asks him to find out how and why, Jack sets out from Moscow across Eastern Europe, following a perilous trail of diplomats, criminals, and corrupt politicians. Thrust into the midst of a global jigsaw puzzle, Jack’s unique dyslexic mind allows him to put together the pieces that others can’t even see.

Still unreconciled to the recent death of his daughter and the dissolution of his marriage, Jack takes on a personal mission along with his official one: keeping safe from harm his two unlikely, unexpected, and incompatible companions—Annika Dementieva, a rogue Russian FSB agent, and Alli Carson, the President’s daughter. As he struggles to keep both young women safe and unearth the answers he seeks, hunted by everyone from the Russian mafia to the Ukrainian police to his own NSA, Jack learns just how far up the American and Russian political ladders corruption and treachery has reached.

In the vein of Eric Van Lustbader’s latest bestselling Jason Bourne novels, Lustbader takes us on an international adventure in this powerful page-turner that will keep you reading through the night.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Jack McClure, Special Advisor and closest friend to the new President of the United States, takes on a personal mission along with his official one: keeping safe from harm his two incompatible companions-- Annika Dementieva, a rogue Russian FSB agent, and Alli Carson, the President's daughter-- and finding the people responsible for murdering an American senator who was supposedly on a political trip to the Ukraine.… (more)

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