This book will appeal to readers of Patricia Cornwell, Kat Kijewski, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and Janet Evanovich. The main character is a police oThis book will appeal to readers of Patricia Cornwell, Kat Kijewski, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and Janet Evanovich. The main character is a police officer who has invested enough in her job to not have much of a private life. The gory scenes in the book aren't quite up to Richard Montanari's level, but they do require a taste for the grittier read to get through. The humor is well done and you'll probably find yourself laughing out loud at least once or twice throughout the first few books in the series. The minor characters (the aging mother, the overweight partner) are drawn deftly enough to avoid becoming two dimensional cliches and the main character's love life invokes empathy as well as interest. These books are fast paced and quick reads, and the author has mastered the art of cutting anything extraneous that might bog the pace of his story down out of the book entirely. ...more
Excellent follow up to "Ghosts of Belfast"; think the mafia is tough? You ain't seen nothing til you've taken a look at Ireland during "The Troubles" Excellent follow up to "Ghosts of Belfast"; think the mafia is tough? You ain't seen nothing til you've taken a look at Ireland during "The Troubles". Clancy's "Patriot Games" touched on the brutality engendered by the IRA, but "Ghosts of Belfast", set in Ireland, shows just how casual, accepted, and everyday beatings, shootings, extortion, etc. were. Writing a protagonist like Gerry Fegan, who's a sociopath and a terrorist and managing to make him somewhat sympathetic is nothing short of a literary feat of genius. Gerry remains quite human, never degenerating into the two dimensional combat characters that litter American movies (think Rambo for starters) and are absolutely unstoppable once they've been pushed too far. But he is also someone other people don't want to mess with because he has that flat affect that denotes someone who is pretty much past caring what happens to him. While you'll never root for Gerry quite the way you root for Dexter, this is one of those "Omigod it's 3 a.m. and I have to get up for work tomorrow" books. While "Ghosts of Belfast" was spooky, "Collusion" is a more straightforward thriller with an ending that will make Hollywood big budget directors positively drool. The small added touches are what make this book a winner; the almost Greek fate feeling of a man who cannot escape who he was no matter what he wants to be now or how far he runs. And details that make the Irish so...well... Irish. The way that touches of the supernatural, or fey, are simply part and parcel of their world, and people "who see dead people" are spooky but not necessarily con artists. But the otherwordly touches don't prevent these two books book from being gritty, nor do they take over the book and push it into the genre of straight horror. If you like gritty and noir, Ghosts of Belfast and Collusion should be at the top of your list of mystery/thrillers. Just don't start Ghosts of Belfast at night if you're home alone....more
When I read every one of the Spenser books published thus far I mourned the end of my guilty pleasure reading. (There’s another book that will be comiWhen I read every one of the Spenser books published thus far I mourned the end of my guilty pleasure reading. (There’s another book that will be coming out in the spring, and I’ll savor it considering that it will most likely be the last one.)
I tried the classic noir characters Parker had used as inspiration for Spenser, but they were a little too dated to pull me in. I had almost given up on finding something that would appeal to me the way Spenser had. Then I stumbled onto Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.
Like Spenser, Reacher is self actualized; he knows precisely who he is, what his needs are, and could care less whether or not he meets the standards of anyone else he comes in contact with. While many of the “hard boiled” or “gritty” heroes and heroines go through agonizing self doubt or are still trying to come to grips with their place in their world, Reacher and Spenser have settled those issues years ago and are busy living their lives, which is very refreshing. Both men have decided that it’s okay to rip up the social contract of “live and let live” provided someone else has violated it first. There’s none of the “but if you respond with violence, you’re simply sinking to their level” claptrap, and yet they manage to remain firmly in the “hero” camp, not crossing over in to that grey “antihero” realm.
This book is a thoroughly enjoyable beach read and I’m interested in seeing more about Reacher’s homeless lifestyle, which gives him a quirk not many other characters can match; he travels around with little more than a bank card, a folding toothbrush, some contacts, and enough urban smarts to allow him to cadge a hotel room without having to register or leave any trace.
Fair warning, though, I read this with my husband, who’s a special forces solider, and while parts of Child’s description of special forces life had my husband nodding in agreement (like the fact that in a bar, suddenly every soldier you run into is a tab qualified green beret even if he couldn’t find Camp Mackall with a color coded map and mapquest directions), many parts had him laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of his assertions (like the part that officers in the military all have a loyalty to their brother officers and will come to their aid).
Despite the problems with some of the special forces details, I plan to indulge myself in this series. I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed. ...more
A wonderful taste of China, a nice, tightly plotted mystery, but a truly annoying female protagonist. After all, if you're going to live in China, howA wonderful taste of China, a nice, tightly plotted mystery, but a truly annoying female protagonist. After all, if you're going to live in China, how bright is it to deliberately antagonize public officials? Doing everything you can to alienate people isn't feisty, or independent, it's aggressive, annoying, and in a foreign country where you haven't bothered to learn even the simplest of phrases in the language, it's criminally stupid. This is one of those books where the reader is screaming at the characters the entire way through the book, because it's inconceivable that a person with an I.Q. above room temperature would not see the shit storm they're bringing down on themselves. While it's true that some brilliant people have blind spots where most people have common sense, the author needed to show that in other areas to have it be a legitimate explanation for Margaret's woeful lack of insight in dealing with the Chinese. Margaret is an awful lot like the heroines in those B rated slasher movies who know there's a serial killer lurking somewhere, so they gear up with a flashlight that has failing batteries to explore the basement....more
Caveat Academics!!! I won't belabor the obvious, as it's been done quite well by other reviewers, but I just couldn't stand not to add my own "hear heaCaveat Academics!!! I won't belabor the obvious, as it's been done quite well by other reviewers, but I just couldn't stand not to add my own "hear hear!" to the fray. If you're going to create a character who is an expert, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make sure you check your facts! Whoever edited this drivel ought to be sewn in a sack with a rabid raccoon and flung into Lake Michigan.
And just as a matter of good taste - your expert should not be an expert in everything under the sun. That's one of the hallmarks of poor writing.
Even if I were not a practicing pagan, I would find it stretching credibility that every single item the characters run across is a symbol of goddess worship. Five pointed star? Goddess worship. Chalice? Goddess worship. Porcelain toilet bowl? Goddess worship. Pilot ball point pen? Goddess worship. You get the general idea. Not only is every item part of the mythology of the divine feminine, but every number is also part of the divine feminine. Hello? Is a cigar NEVER just a cigar?
And some of the claims of symbolism are just plain wrong, as the editor would have found out if he'd bothered to do some fact checking. Remember those military chevrons that, because of the way they were pointed, represented the female divine and those poor slobs of soldiers had been running around all these countless centuries with goddess symbols flaunted on their uniforms without knowing it? The only problem with that premise is that the chevrons facing in their current direction is relatively recent - according to my military historian husband, they faced the OPPOSITE direction for quite some time before being reversed (for what reason, I have no idea...unless the generals all got together and decided they didn't have quite enough goddess symbols on their uniforms and needed it fixed post haste).
My theology professor ended up traveling around the country giving talks about this book to thousands of interested people. He loves the book if only because he's now giving pretty much the same information that he used to give to dozing freshman and sophomores to packed theaters of interested listeners. He tells a story about being somewhere in southern Ohio and making a joking remark about the celice being something that all Catholics wore and how now the secret was out, and there was a lady in the back row who elbowed her husband and said "See? I told you so!" The increased interest in history is about the only positive thing that's come out of this book. Honestly, you don't need to make anything up about the Catholic church to point out that it's been the source of some horrible things.
I could go on about the poor research and editing in this book, but others have done a pretty thorough job of finding the problems with it.
If you want a decent page turner, go for it. If you want something well researched and accurate, give this one a big ol' pass.
This is an icky book - it weaves together horror, supernatural touches and mystery/crime fiction. It has some standout supporting characters (have somThis is an icky book - it weaves together horror, supernatural touches and mystery/crime fiction. It has some standout supporting characters (have some fun while you read it, figure out who would play Angel and Louis in the movie). My one major problem is that this man is supposed to be a sympathetic character and a more or less average guy. And yet his wife and his daughter are tortured and murdered, skinned by a serial killer who wanted to get at the main character. Parker finds out exactly what went on and then has to deal with it as well as his guilt for not having been there to protect them or head the killer off in some way. This guy should be not emotionally scarred for life, but emotionally crippled. We're not talking about the walking wounded here, we're talking about a nice rubber room for him to bounce around in while they try to get enough thorazine in him to turn him from a basket case into a manageable basket case. This man should simply not function well for a very long time. Unless you explain how he walls off or represses or somehow eviscerates the very human reaction of debilitating grief that normally accompanies atrocities like your wife and your daughter being tortured to death.
There have been some very convincing stories revolving around horrific pain that has made the sufferer appear super strong and untouchable because anything that meant something to him (or her) has been stripped away, leaving something less than human but almost unstoppable in his or her determination. Those kinds of characters are tragic but somehow still believable (Jennifer Roberson did a credible sci fi version in "Sword Singer" and "Sword Dancer"). But for Parker to have recovered so quickly and feel so little after something that gruesome.....well, it just doesn't ring true, not from a reader's viewpoint, and not from a counselor's viewpoint either. He should be attempting to recover for years, and that only after he's spent a lot of time totally unable to function at all.
But if you can get past the fact that this character manages to deal unreasonably well with this horrific event, I guarantee you'll get caught up in a fascinating tale that does a wonderful job of commingling horror and the supernatural with crime fiction....more