What are some good novels, and what makes them good, anyway? Black Cross, by Greg Iles. In this commando-espionage adventure set in 1944 Europe, an American physician and a German Jewish Zionist are recruited into a raid on a German research facility to prevent the profileration of a potentially war-winning new weapon. Why it's good: The book is pretty well-grounded and realistic, while remaining adventurous. Nothing to roll your eyes at, but the action is enough to keep on in suspense, and it's fast-paced enough to keep from dragging. The author understands (well enough to write a novel about them) chemistry, medicine, and firearms. The consequences of the main characters failing is engaging enough to turn pages. The characters themselves are pretty well developed, each with (unlike some authors), distinct personalities. And it is interesting to note (though many readers may already know this) that the wonder-weapons of the novel weren't exactly fictional. Overall 4.5/5. Next!