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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tyler Locke & his Leatherman tool are back!
Yes, Tyler Locke, the protagonist of The Ark, is back, as are his sidekick Grant Westfield, the General, and several other characters from Boyd Morrison's debut novel. One notable exception is Dilara Kenner, who is not featured in this latest adventure. Obviously, this is the second book in a continuing series. In general, I'm a big proponent of reading series books in...
Published on June 29, 2011 by Susan Tunis

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Impossibilities
The problem with books like these, where the authors do considerable research to insure that the action is rooted in reality, is that more often than not some fact or premise is simply fantasy. Sometimes this is because the author simply didn't do his homework, and sometimes it's because the author can't come up with a solution that's grounded in reality.

Here...
Published on August 15, 2011 by John St John


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tyler Locke & his Leatherman tool are back!, June 29, 2011
By 
This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
Yes, Tyler Locke, the protagonist of The Ark, is back, as are his sidekick Grant Westfield, the General, and several other characters from Boyd Morrison's debut novel. One notable exception is Dilara Kenner, who is not featured in this latest adventure. Obviously, this is the second book in a continuing series. In general, I'm a big proponent of reading series books in order, but in this case I don't think it matters if you've read the first. The events of The Ark are barely referenced, even in passing, so you won't be missing a thing.

Like so many action heroes, trouble seems to find Tyler Locke. This time it takes the form of an insistently ringing telephone. Tyler is minding his own business on a ferry commute when an unknown caller tells him he has 28 minutes to defuse a bomb on the boat. Having no other option, Tyler investigates. He is indeed led to a bomb, a blonde, and a puzzle. What he doesn't know is that this set-up is only the first test. The mystery caller is Jordan Orr, a career criminal with an insane-sounding quest. The blonde is Stacy Benedict, another innocent bystander, like Tyler, with a unique skill set. And Orr has acquired exactly the leverage to make both Tyler and Stacy do his bidding. For what he wants is nothing less than the Midas Touch.

Let's stop right there. Yes, THAT Midas Touch, where everything you touch turns to gold. As I read this fairly early on in the novel, I was skeptical. Actually, I don't think skeptical covers it; I was bordering on contemptuous. It was the most ridiculous premise I could imagine for a quest thriller. But I am a big Morrison fan, so I suspended my disbelief and continued reading. (Incidentally, one of the things I like best about Tyler Locke is that he articulates all the things I'm thinking--but more knowledgeably. He doesn't just say that alchemy is a fantasy; he explains why nuclear fission isn't a practical means to turn lead into gold.)

Ultimately, I was rewarded for giving the author the latitude to ply his craft. He never let me down on the entertainment--though there were some scenes that felt a bit contrived to me. And while I'm not going to claim that this is the most plausible plot, Morrison pulls it off. He makes it believable ENOUGH (and I'm not a pushover when it comes to that). There was a science-based plot twist at one point that made me literally stand up and cheer out loud. It was so awesome!

As far as character development goes, I'd say it's about status quo with the first book. Don't pick this book up if you are looking for an intimate character portrait. Pick it up if you want a rockin' car chase on the Autobahn. Pick it up if you enjoy a good heist. Pick it up if you're curious how science can explain the legend of Midas. And pick The Vault up if you're looking for a book that's really hard to put down!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Midas Touch, June 29, 2011
By 
This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
Like James Bond movies, some thrillers ask the reader to accept the unbelievable for the sake of enjoying a fun story. The reader's willingness to suspend disbelief is a function of the payoff -- that is, the more farfetched the plot, the more enjoyable it must be if the author doesn't want to lose the reader entirely. Boyd Morrison stretches the limits of plausibility nearly to their breaking point in The Vault, but the result is just as entertaining as the early Bond movies. A part of the novel, in fact, is almost a homage to Goldfinger.

Jordan Orr steals an ancient manuscript from a vault. Eighteen months later, Carol Benedict and recently retired General Sherman Locke are abducted, while Carol's sister Stacy and Sherman's son Tyler are on a ferry with a bomb that's twenty minutes away from exploding. All of this is orchestrated by Orr, who needs Stacy's expertise in ancient Greece and Tyler's engineering skill to help him solve the puzzle of the Archimedes codex and find the Midas Touch -- that is, the power to transmute objects into gold. To further complicate the plot (or maybe just to add a need for speed), Orr is in a race with a beautiful and deadly woman named Gia (a/k/a "The Fox") to recover the Midas Touch from its hiding place in Naples, and thus gives Stacy and Tyler only four days to do the job. Throw in an Italian crime family and a weapon of mass destruction and you've got yourself a thriller.

If you think all of this adds up to a wildly improbable premise, I agree with you. If you can overcome your skepticism, however, The Vault tells a surprisingly entertaining story. With the help of Tyler's co-worker and war buddy Grant, Tyler and Stacy begin a quest that takes them to the Fox's London lair, to a car chase on Germany's autobahn, to a museum heist and a shootout at the Parthenon in Athens, and to a series of violent confrontations in Naples. I was worried that the novel was heading toward a predictable finish, but there's nothing predictable about this story. A little silly, maybe, but I give Morrison credit for putting together a fun, exciting tale.

The Vault moves like the Ferrari that Tyler races on the autobahn. Morrison provides a wealth of interesting information about Archimedes without slowing the plot. He clearly did his research, not only into ancient history but into architecture, steganography, engineering, explosives, extremeophiles, and how to steal strontium-90. He even came up with an explanation for the Midas Touch. I'm no scientist and therefore can't evaluate the explanation but I'm nonetheless -- shall we say -- dubious. Still, the story works so well as an action-thriller that I was willing to set aside my doubts. More troubling is a complicated bit of subterfuge in which Tyler engages toward the novel's end, supposedly without being seen by the adversaries who were guarding him. That the adversaries would be so remarkably unobservant was inconsistent with their behavior until that point and just a little too convenient for our intrepid hero.

Morrison's writing style is unburdened by clichés. His characters aren't deep -- the male characters are standard ex-military Ranger types who are adept at flying planes, racing cars, and defusing bombs, while the lead female is plucky and smart -- but this book is all about plot; the characters exist only to move the story along. This isn't the kind of writing that wins literary awards (just as James Bond movies don't win Oscars), but it is the kind of high energy writing that entertains thriller fans. It worked for me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Impossibilities, August 15, 2011
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This review is from: The Vault (Tyler Locke) (Kindle Edition)
The problem with books like these, where the authors do considerable research to insure that the action is rooted in reality, is that more often than not some fact or premise is simply fantasy. Sometimes this is because the author simply didn't do his homework, and sometimes it's because the author can't come up with a solution that's grounded in reality.

Here we have a least a couple of important premises that simply make no sense. One I can't tell you about because it occurs late in the book and I don't want to ruin it for you. However, let's just say it's a biological impossibility that was a big letdown for me. I felt as though the author couldn't come up with anything better and so just made up something off the top of his head.

The second I can talk about, because it's right up front. We're told that the primary bad guy is mad at the world (and Wall Street in particular) because his father, a Wall Street investment banker, committed suicide after being fired for whistleblowing on an embezzlement scheme inside his employer. The author says he was blackballed by all other Wall Street firms, and his impending permanent unemployment and resulting poverty lead him to kill both himself and the bad guy's mother. Huh?

First, in the real world, if he had in fact been fired for whistleblowing he would have had a slam-dunk lawsuit for wrongful termination, and since his former employer would be supposedly rich, the punitive damages would have beeen enormous. I'm an attorney specializing in employment law, so I know what I'm talking about.

Second, no prospective employer, especially a Wall Street firm, would be loathe to hire someone because they came forward with facts about an embezzlement attempt. All employers have a keen desire to prohibit embezzlement, whether directed against the employer itself or the employer's clients.

Third, even if he had been blackballed by all other Wall Street firms why didn't the father just look for a job somewhere else? Yes, he might have had to relocate, but that's hardly a reason for suicide.

Other things aren't necessarily implausible, but don't make a lot of sense. For example, when the hero (Tyler Locke) suffers a broken rib, he refuses an x-ray. Why? He also refuses to take painkillers, on the ground that it might "dull his senses". This is common among the macho heroes in this genre, but I can never figure it out. I have a chronic painful disease which causes me to take "painkillers" (a misnomer). It's true that taking too much could cloud one's judgment, but pain itself is a distraction. If you wanted your senses to be at their best you'd want a certain amount of pain medication to downplay the interference that pain causes.

But apparently this is just not macho enough for Mr. Boyd and other authors like him. I suspect they haven't had much physical pain in there own lives, and hence don't really know what they're talking about.

Other than the above the book is a good read--a real page turner, as they say. The characters are stereotypical and have the "made for TV" dialog that never happens in real life, but that's par for the course in books in the action genre.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER Home Run from Morrison!, July 6, 2011
This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
I discovered The Ark almost by accident--and after reading it, I gotta tell you, I wish I could have more of those kinds of accidents. We were introduced to Tyler Locke and it didn't take long for Tyler to be immedately compared to a great number of famous literary adventure heroes: Dirk Pitt, James Bond, Scot Harvath, Phillip Mercer, Kirk McGarvey and many others. The comparisons are fair mostly due to the fact that no matter HOW bullet proof Tyler (and all the others) happen to be, there is just something almost impossibly cool about him. I won't go into specifics, but suffice it to say that Tyler is a guy that you'd probably WANT to hang out with, and for good reason.

Tylers morning commute begins kind of routine--but trust me, it goes from normal into the ABnormal rather quickly after an unwanted telephone call turns his day inside out, and his life upside down. Between Tyler and Stacy Benedict, they are given a timetable to solve a puzzle which has baffled some of the most brilliant minds the world has known--and do it in short order or ELSE. Before long, Tyler and Stacy are on a global search to unlock the secrets of the Midas Touch. Now--BEFORE you judge too quickly, don't assume that you have an idea of exactly what will happen or why. Its one of the absolute coolest parts of 'The Vault' that even though you are steered on one direction, Mr. Morrison is carefully manipulating you into thinking one thing while doing another...and NO, reading this won't give you a leg up on what will happen, either--but good luck anyway.

I really enjoy thrillers which can take a plot which on the surface seems to border on the outright absurd, and bring it entirely within the realm of possibility. Now I'm not suggesting that this one is believable--however, I'll hand Mr. Morrison a giant heaping dose of kudos for making it a LOT easier to swallow despite some of the plot points (which I certainly didn't mind, if I can be honest).

Adventure on top of action, on top of danger, and a top-notch techno-thriller to boot, 'The Vault' is certainly one of those books I plan to tell my friends about for quite some time to come. For those interested, check out 'Rogue Wave' by Boyd Morrison...it was another peddle-to-the-metal thriller, too.

What can I say? I eagerly await whatever comes next...and for this reader, it certainly cannot come soon enough.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch thriller, August 10, 2011
This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
Wow. This is the first novel by Boyd Morrison that I have read, and I am hooked. The Vault reminds me most of the best works by James Rollins, notwithstanding his most recent disappointing novel. It combines the Dan Brown like intrigue of ancient puzzles, codexes, mechanical devices and myths with the modern day shoot 'em up exploits of historical detectives and and their immortal special ops assistants, who always seem to find a way to overcome incredible odds. What distinguishes this novel from most in this genre is the element of science within. This is why it reminds me of Rollins. I don't want to give anything away, but the scientific underpinnings in this novel are more credible than most. The best thing I can say is that it kept me engaged throughout and I found it difficult to put down. And I am a thriller addict. I think this may be the best thriller I have read this year.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, ridiculous, full of action, and not easy to put down, July 24, 2011
By 
Bill Weinberger (Kirkland, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
Let's be clear. Three stars means I liked The Vault. It had an intriguing but ridiculous premise, a tight plot with non-stop action, realistic situations and settings, and solid writing. It was very enjoyable and not easy to put down. That should have gotten it four stars, but I had to knock off a few points.

First, a half point off because I never connected with the characters, especially Tyler Locke, the hero. Perhaps because he's immediately thrown into this race against time, I never felt like I got to know him, other than he's a good friend and a good son and handy to have around when you're in a pinch.

Another half point off for all the viewpoint jumping. This was my biggest issue and probably contributed to my disconnect with the protagonist. Whenever it was more convenient for the story to be told from the viewpoint of a different character, it was. But that means we not only see things from the perspective of a few primary characters, we also get inside the head of a host of secondary and tertiary folks, including (however briefly) a soon-to-be-deceased henchman. I found this jarring and distracting. It just chopped things up too much, giving the story the feel of a badly edited movie-of-the-week.

Otherwise, this was a pretty decent summer read and I will be reading more books by Boyd Morrison.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tyler Locke is Back!!, July 2, 2011
By 
Blue Goddess (CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
With only two reviews present, and so well written, I find it hard to add anything new. Yes, this is a fast paced thriller/adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat. No, it's not going to win a Pulitzer. It's very likely that if Mr. Morrison's novels sell as well as I think they will, his books will, in fact, be made into some rockin' action/adventure flicks. I've been trying to cast Tyler Locke in my mind for almost two years now, and have had fun imagining actors in this role.

Morrison has clearly done his research, just as one reviewer stated; and as another reviewer stated, I was thinking...."wha?? Midas? Seriously?" Having read Morrison's three previous novels, though, I knew I would not have to worry about the ride I was about to take. I also knew, that while there would certainly be technical explanations, Morrison would never let them get so out of hand that they interrupted the flow of the story. He could go all Cussler or Clancy on us, and I know some people are into all of that techie detail - I simply am not one of them. Just get to the point so I can imagine what's going on, and then get the story moving. Morrison does just that, and does it so well. He also has made this book a stand-alone, that needn't rely on The Ark. Very smart.

In my mind, I liken him to Dan Brown; but knowing how some feel about Dan Brown, I'm not sure it's complimentary. But then, I think to myself, how many books has Dan Brown sold? Oh yeah, that's right, MILLIONS! Clearly there is a huge audience for this type of story, so I don't think Morrison has to worry. So sure, this isn't great literature. Your life won't be changed forever. But you Will spend an exciting few days living out the danger, excitement, and fun of Morrison's latest adventure.

I look forward to a long Tyler Locke series, that will grace my shelves alongside John Sandford's "Prey" series; Jonathan Kellerman's "Alex Delaware" series; Sue Grafton's "Kinsey Milhone" series; and yes, I admit it - Dan Brown. This gives you an idea of my reading tests, so if they coincide with yours, I urge you to give Morrison's books a try.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Locke is my new summer staple., July 27, 2011
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This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
After absolutely loving The Ark last summer and being thoroughly enthralled this summer by The Vault, it is starting to feel like future summers won't be complete without an edge of your seat, science infused thrill ride with Dr. Tyler Locke and his loveable counterpart, Grant Westfield.

Archimedes is arguably one of the most genius inventors who has ever lived. King Midas was possibly a real man who is the center of the myth that everything he touched turned to gold. Anti-terrorism organizations are becoming more and more concerned with homemade `dirty' bombs that threaten domestic cities with radiation exposure. These three aspects come together when Tyler Locke is blackmailed to use an ancient Archimedes instrument to find the real life Midas Touch, or the blackmailer will permanently alter a U.S. city.

Okay, I don't do the plot justice in my paltry recap, but Locke, Army buddy Grant Westfield, and newcomer Stacy Bennett are in a desperate search through Europe and the U.S. for the Midas Touch and have to constantly try and stay one step ahead of their blackmailer.

Boyd Morrison is an entertaining writer! His stories manage to grab me from the first page, he keeps me interested throughout the fast-paced, high adrenaline plot, and he bases his stories on just a shred of truth without spinning a conspiracy theory. Oh, and I am madly in lit-love with Locke!

I did rank this one just slightly lower than The Ark because of the similar plot structure - but not too much lower because I LIKE the structure! I also preferred the religion undertones of The Ark a bit more than the mythology basis of The Vault. All in all, minor complaints about a book that I devoured cover to cover in just a few sittings!

Mr. Morrison - I definitely want more of Locke and Westfield!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exhilarating action-packed thriller, July 8, 2011
This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
Gordian Engineering Special Operations Chief Dr. Tyler Locke was ten minutes into his commute on a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton when his cell phone receives a text message from an unknown caller whose words are answer his phone or die in twenty eight minutes. Locke responds to the person's next call when he says he planted binary explosives on the ferry and wants Locke to defuse it as a test to prove whether he can handle a special job; failure means death for him and the rest on board. He heads to a truck where he finds waiting for him is Chasing the Past TV host and classical languages expert Stacy Benedict who interprets the Greek instructions so he can defuse the bomb that he created from Archimedes' geolabe for Jordan Orr and save her kidnapped sister Carol and those on the ferry.

Solving the puzzle with seconds to spare, they learn this pretest is to prove they have a reasonable chance to find King Midas's lost treasure. To do so the pair will need to interpret the arcane Antikythera Mechanism's cryptic clues; another puzzling deadly device created by Archimedes over two millennia ago. Failure to find the loot in five days will result in loved ones like Carol being brutally murdered; success will save Carol, but cause mass destruction to others.

The above is just the opening act of an exhilarating action-packed thriller that hooks the audience from the first text message to the confrontations in New York and elsewhere. Readers will never look at the Hudson sediment in the same way as Boyd Morrison provides a taut thriller that never allows the heroes or fans to take a respite.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Page-Turner Thriller From A New Master Of The Genre, July 5, 2011
By 
Thomas C. Dulaney (CHESTER SPRINGS, PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Vault (Hardcover)
The Vault rips off the starting block with readers looking over the shoulder of the bad guy. His finger is on a detonator. Boom, a Mercedes in London's Piccadilly Circus blows up. Evil Orr and his crew use the diversion to break into a vault and steal an ancient document--and a unique artifact: a human hand made of pure gold, anatomically correct down to the last vein and capillary. Legend says it's the hand of King Midas' daughter, turned to gold at his touch.

And thus readers are rocketed off on another thriller from relatively new author Boyd Morrison, and they can thank the ebook revolution for the great ride. More on that later.

The Vault is a refreshing take on the genre of thrillers that entwine true history, fascinating ancient artifacts, a daring modern day expert in engineering named Tyler Locke, and a beautiful and brilliant classic language expert and sidekick/love interest in Stacey Benedict.

There are ancient Greek documents and inclusion of Archimedes as the designer of the very real Antikythera Mechanism. That device (Google it! There is an especially fascinating video if you Google "lego antikythera youtube.") It was created over 2,000 years ago and is an amazing device more complex that Swiss watches made 1,500 years after Archimedes--a true mystery from the ancient world. It is also the key to unraveling the legend of King Midas and his golden touch in The Vault.

The Vault, in refreshing new ways, scratches the itch of those of us who like real ancient history, coded documents and mysterious devices wrapped up in a modern-day rip roaring plot line. The book improves on the fun of Clive Cussler's works, is even better than Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and The Symbol. The Vault delivers all the high-speed excitement thriller fans could want.

Morrison's third follows two other exciting novels of the same gripping type, all full of hard-fact science delivered in a highly ready tale. His first, The Ark, launches Noah's Ark into today, bearing a cargo of threat to the modern world. Rogue Wave, published long before the tsunami in Japan, supplies the science of monster waves in a heart-stopping story of a killer wave heading toward Hawaii.

Those novels, and one more still to be released, were rejected by traditional publishers for a plethora of reasons--usually in total conflict with each other. Dejected, Morrison published his novels on Amazon's fairly new Kindle ebook platform. Readers flocked to the books. Publishers, impressed by his soaring self-published sales, came calling. A published writer who seems destined for stardom dawned.

I've interviewed Morrison a number of times over that last several years, traded emails and notes on the Kindle Social Forum before his breakthrough, and can tell you he is a fascinating man with a passion for writing thrillers and is committed to writing thrillers as both "my job" and "a career."

His biographical detail reads like the credentials of a character in a thriller--Ph. D. in engineering, numerous patents under has name, former employers including NASA, MicroSoft and RCA, outdoor adventurist. And there is a fantastic romance story: he set aside his writing ambitions for nearly a decade to support his wife as she studied to become a doctor.
The Vault is 5-star reading and the man is a 5-star human being.
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The Vault (Tyler Locke)
The Vault (Tyler Locke) by Boyd Morrison
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