I’ve read reviews which compare The Plea’s style to a mash-up of the fast paced action packed books by adventure/action author Matthew Reilly with theI’ve read reviews which compare The Plea’s style to a mash-up of the fast paced action packed books by adventure/action author Matthew Reilly with the tense thrills and courtroom twists of John Grisham’s legal thrillers and can’t think of anything more fitting to describe the Eddie Flynn books by Steve Cavanagh.
The Plea hits hard and fast. The opening pages see the former conman turned lawyer Eddie Flynn dodging bullets and fighting for his life before the story takes a breath and moves back in time in the lead up to the present day gunfight to document a blow by blow account of how Eddie found himself in such a dire situation.
There is always something happening in The Plea, be it Eddie’s courtroom tactics boarding on the brink of genius or the constant threat of his families safety. The balance between reality and absurd fiction doesn’t quite mesh at times but if you suspend your belief enough, The Plea is all the better for it – I mean, the guy hardly catches a breath, sleeps, or eats for nearly two days while fronting up in court, dealing with the FBI, dodging Mexican cartels, and protecting a billionaire potentially framed for large scale money laundering. It can be exhaustive reading – yet it’s addictive.
Despite being book 2 in the Eddie Flynn series, The Plea reads well as a standalone (I’ve not read The Defense, book 1 in the series) but I’m sure references made to Eddie’s earlier escapades throughout the novel will have more meaning for those familiar with The Plea’s predecessor.
I’d rate this book 3/5 – lengthening the time frame of the story to a week from the couple days in the book would've made The Plea read more plausible, but hey, it’s fiction and it’s entertaining; legal thriller junk food for the mind.
The Unfortunate Victim is a historical crime fiction novel set in Daylesford, outside of Melbourne in 1864. With the gold mining town akin to DeadwoodThe Unfortunate Victim is a historical crime fiction novel set in Daylesford, outside of Melbourne in 1864. With the gold mining town akin to Deadwood, this outlaw-like frontier on the surface seems lawless, or at least law-ignorant such is the ineptitude of the police force, a unit that had failed to land a conviction for the previous 5 murders prior to the killing of 17yr old Maggie Stuart in a manner reminiscent of Jack the Ripper.
The opening stanza brings the reader up to speed with Maggie; providing a glimpse at marital life during the 1860’s, the simple things that kept her days full and the sheer newness of life in Victoria; nothing short of atmospheric, the town, people, their predicaments and place of residents be it tent or more structurally sound dwelling were clearly articulated, the mud paved streets and tobacco-infused air instantly transporting the reader to a simpler and dangerous time in Australia. The characters introduced at a steady stream at once coming under suspicion for the crime to come; David Rose – a drifter with an imposing and off-putting demeanor, Joe Latham – Maggie’s step father and violent drunkard, George Stuart – Maggie’s much older husband, and John Pitman – co owner of the local brothel with a keen eye on Daylesford’s more attractive members of the finer sex.
Interestingly, Otto Berliner, the protagonist and expert private investigator appears well after the crime had been committed with a suspect in custody; the author having chosen a different take on the structure and flow of the crime novel – providing something different to great advantage. Berliner’s impact is sudden and sharp as a knife, cutting through the inadequacies of the investigation and reading as a likable intellectual bound for series stardom. Along with a dutiful assistant, the future of his Private Inquiry Office surely has more entertaining stories to come.
Readers will note The Unfortunate Victim is a play on words with the meaning fully realized as the novel progresses and draws to a close – I thought this was a clever touch concluding a very good story – one based on a true crime.
4/5 stars – would have been 5 had the court room proceedings not taken up so much space in the middle portion of the story - whilst important, I felt they could have been condensed a little, that said I really enjoyed The Unfortunate Victim and highly recommend it.
Set during depression era America, this family drama takes the reader deep into inner suburbia where a housewife, mother, and businesswoman can echo nSet during depression era America, this family drama takes the reader deep into inner suburbia where a housewife, mother, and businesswoman can echo noir with the best of them.
Mildred Pierce is the type of book I imagine modern day authors such as Megan Abbott writing. It's seeped in darkness that bubbles to the surface yet never really shows its intentions. Rather using a subliminal tone delivered through deep characterization and a slight of hand twist in plot direction.
Veda, Mildred's daughter is something else. Self centered, manipulative, and plain bitchy, she has no redeemable qualities yet its her character that makes the book. Mildred comes off as a sap, bending to her daughters every request until finally a gross wrong is done to her. By that time it's too late to turn back; the drama dead in the dust.
Mildred Pierce is a classic that largely held my attend but it was prone to lapses of semi-boredom where nothing much seemed to happen. That said, given this book was written so long ago, it holds up remarkably well.
The audio version suffered from a narrator that struggled to make the characters distinguishable at times, particularly early on in the novel. That said, the pitch and breathless delivery fit the tone of the novel perfectly.
Short stories set predominately in the Commonweal during the Empire's occupation in the 12 year war containing a vast array of characters, some new, sShort stories set predominately in the Commonweal during the Empire's occupation in the 12 year war containing a vast array of characters, some new, some favorites, some obscure yet all equally engaging and fun to read. As vast as the characters in this series are, so are their stories. Author Adrian Tchaikovsky writes diverse stories that take his characters on many interesting journeys distinct in their own right but complementary to the series proper. I would recommend reading the Shadows of the Apt series first in order to fully appreciate how good this collection is. 5/5 stars. ...more
You Will Know Me is adolescent girl noir at the top flight of competitive gymnastics. A boiling pot of mystery that takes a step back from the crime iYou Will Know Me is adolescent girl noir at the top flight of competitive gymnastics. A boiling pot of mystery that takes a step back from the crime itself to emphasize the human element; a moments decision in the beat of a heart, a choice made on a whim and whisper, a promise broken for the promise of another kind. Like Dare Me and The Fever before, You Will Know Me flips the script on conventional crime fiction.
Devon Knox is a child prodigy in the world of gymnastics. From the age of three she’s known everything she wants. The path to elite, Olympics, glory paved by her parents, Eric and Katie at first, and later, Coach T, the Boosters and, everyone it seems. Devon is ok with this, her drive, determination and single minded fully committed on her goals. Megan Abbott articulates this in a way that makes you feel like you’re part of Devon’s life, there with her through every practice, triumph, trial and tribulation.
When Devon’s life is turned upside with the death of a major character – an accident on the surface, a murder beneath, Devon struggles – to cope with the day-to-day growing into her body, training to the best she can, and also just coming to grips with being a teenager, the death thrust her into a world of uncertainty and the reader along with it.
I couldn’t imagine a better narrator than Lauren Fortgang. Megan Abbott’s characters really pop and take on a life of their own. Her performance somehow makes You Will Know Me even better, if possible.
There are some books I just don't get. Normal reads as the start of something; futurists locked away in a mental asylum, their collective genius contaThere are some books I just don't get. Normal reads as the start of something; futurists locked away in a mental asylum, their collective genius contained by drugs, seclusion, and most importantly, no access to the outside world. The characters are great, despite the low page count, Warren Ellis manages to write well defined and distinctly unique characters. Unfortunately the plot lacked substance. It felt like there were too many directions slightly tread, only to be taken aback in pursuit of another direction - the end result left me wanting. Wanting more from the story, and wanting a conclusion to pay off the investment in reading time.
I still rate this book 3/5 purely because it has the foundations of a good story with decent characters and I found myself turning the pages wanting to read more. Had the plot been more defined I wouldn't hesitate rating it higher. ...more
The Dry is a highly entertaining crime thriller set in rural Victoria, Australia where the harsh landscape isn't the only thing threatening to burn amThe Dry is a highly entertaining crime thriller set in rural Victoria, Australia where the harsh landscape isn't the only thing threatening to burn amid the heat and horrors of Kiewarra. Protagonist Aaron Falk is a Melbourne based police officer returned to his hometown for the funeral of a childhood friend. What looks to be an open and shut case soon turns speculative when the suicide/homicide investigation yields questionable results, namely mismatched bullets and lack of motive. From there Falk’s ghosts return to haunt him and the townspeople taunt him making life difficult in the day-to-day let alone trying to aid the small town police force in gather proof to support their suspicion. I devoured The Dry in a couple of sittings, the mystery is addictive, the story enveloping – 5/5 stars. ...more
The novelisation of Rogue One written by Star Wars Battlefront scribe Alexander Freed reads so well it could easily have been written BEFORE the filmThe novelisation of Rogue One written by Star Wars Battlefront scribe Alexander Freed reads so well it could easily have been written BEFORE the film script. Not only does Rogue One include added character introspection not fully realised in the movie but also provides additional supplemental information that elaborates on the story for extra context complementary to the film. To fully embrace this book and get the most out of it, I'd recommend reading the prequel Star Wars Catalyst and watching the Rogue One film. Rogue One is truely a great read and perhaps the best Star Wars story to date. 5/5 stars....more
Jason Starr gets inside the crawl space of the minds of his characters in similar fashion to suburban noir authors James M Cain and Megan Abbott as heJason Starr gets inside the crawl space of the minds of his characters in similar fashion to suburban noir authors James M Cain and Megan Abbott as he weaves a seductively good tale infused with satire, secrets, and murder.
The suburbs are a breeding ground for gossip, and it's this gossip that leads to a very public accusation of murder and a fallout which destroys long time friends and rocks a family to it's everyday middle class core.
Karen is the girl next door - the middle aged mom version that is, while Mark is the love struck boy - circa middle-aged family man. Mark's wife, Deb, knows something is going on between Karen and Mark. The subtle flirting, the texting, the whispered conversations and morning jogs together. She can see her husband drifting off to the arms of another woman. She is certain of this. So much so that confronts Mark about and then Karen - causing a stir and creating a scene which changes their lives forever.
Sounds like a midday-made-for-TV-movie doesn't it? Think again. Jason Starr has a knack for writing troubled characters who succumb to an all too easy darker persona while making said dark persona shine with normalcy. The blue collar noir of Jason Starr's earlier novels rears it's head in the mean streets of suburbia and the end result is a topsy turvey thriller sure to please....more
Crimson Lake, set in and around the tropical north Queensland city of Cairns is centered around three distinct crimes linked by circumstance after theCrimson Lake, set in and around the tropical north Queensland city of Cairns is centered around three distinct crimes linked by circumstance after the fact. Candice Fox weaves both Amanda's and Ted's history into the present day setting; that, along with the coupling of the damaged protagonists gives the book added depth, making Crimson Lake a meaty read but still an easy page turner.
Crime one is the abduction and rape of a 13yr old girl, last seen at a Sydney bus stop talking to then Detective Ted Conkaffey, the man who is accused of the terrible crime. The charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. Ted's move to the tropical north was meant to distant himself from this failure of justice and that of his broken down marriage.
Crime two is the brutal murder of a young and popular teen some 10+ years ago by the current local PI Amanda. A crime she doesn't dispute yet doesn't provide a motive. Something isn't adding up - the book explores this event in Amanda's past and unveils some very interesting revelations.
Crime three is a mystery where the culprit isn't easily identifiable, nor for that matter are the suspects as the sleuthing unveils leads on the path to crazy - a clever use of misdirection. The local literary star has gone missing, presumed dead by his all too blase' wife, with police seeming to be dragging their feet, Cairns PI Amanda gets involved.
Crimson Lake is a fast moving book with well developed and likable characters but its strength lies in the detail; the meretricious weaving of plot threads to form a single coherent narrative results in a truly enveloping tale that races towards an edge-of-your-seat finale.
Never Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox is a murder mystery set in an outback mining town in Western Australia. The protagonist, Detective HarrNever Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox is a murder mystery set in an outback mining town in Western Australia. The protagonist, Detective Harriet Blue is sent to the remote outpost to investigate the presumed murder of one of the miners; I say presumed, as only a foot has been located belonging the to miner - he could be alive and well though it's unlikely.
The mine itself is full of interesting and dark characters. The authors do well in establishing a varied cast as suspects including but not limited to a local drug dealer, members of an Eco friendly protest group and shady mine workers. I for one wasn't able to 100% guess who the murderer was. Never Never also provides a great insight into life on a working mine. From the sanctioned drug dealers and prostitutes (fictionalized though i'm sure this is plausible) to the portable living arrangements, food rations and forms of entertainment on and off the site pursued by the miners to pass time, Never Never was certainly atmospheric.
Like with any James Patterson books, the pages turn quickly and rarely is there room for deep character development as the thriller aspects turn into overdrive. That said, the influence of Candice Fox is evident, Never Never DOES have interesting and well fleshed out characters, that, despite some strange plotting, do read 'real'.
Never Never is a fun easy read set against a colorful and unique backdrop with an interesting plot and equally interesting characters. 4/5 stars....more
With the offer of a cool thousand dollars in exchange for spending one night with a comely young woman at a high class motel while impersonating a marWith the offer of a cool thousand dollars in exchange for spending one night with a comely young woman at a high class motel while impersonating a married man wishing to evade the public spotlight for his adultery, private detectives Cool and Lam can hardly refuse the easy score. However, things get complicated when their detective agency becomes involved in the murder investigation which occurred at the same venue.
Written in 1962, the dialogue and manner by which this case was conducted doesn't stand the test of time. Then again, that’s not really the purpose here; Try Anything Once is a pulp private detective novel which reads, court scene aside, very much like a Carter Brown book full of wanton females, inept cops, and a PI with a knack for closing cases and winning big both personally and professionally – near dime-store pulp all the way.
While entertaining enough, the frenetic ending and surprise suspects came all too quickly as the case closed at rapid speed. The final court scene felt out of place with the rest of book and read more as an easy tool to end the book and break open the murder case as apposed to a cleverly orchestrated conclusion.
Despite being book 23 in the series, Try Anything Once is new reader friendly if you can track down a copy that is. I confess, I only picked this up because of the new Hardcase Crime books. Ok pulp but I’ve read much better. 2.5 / 5. ...more
The origin story of the Governor is haunting, atmospheric and complements the TV series perfectly.
In Rise of the Governor, the 'turn' has just happenThe origin story of the Governor is haunting, atmospheric and complements the TV series perfectly.
In Rise of the Governor, the 'turn' has just happened and Phil, his daughter Penny, brother Brian and a couple of friends find themselves thrust into a real world survival horror. Fans of the Walking Dead will see nothing new here but the foreboding sense of dread is tension filled in each scene making this book hard to put down. Sure, the descriptive gore is repetitive but it works and doesn't feel reused; the world in these books demands the repetitive, after all, the characters are moving through a world of dead things and have to fight every inch to stay alive.
The narrator was perfect, effortlessly switching between characters with distinct pitch while adding a sense of urgency in the delivery throughout. I don't tend to binge on audio but I took exception here. 5/5 stars. ...more
Milat is the confronting story of the serial killer who preyed upon young women backpacking through Australia, raping and murdering without remorse. AMilat is the confronting story of the serial killer who preyed upon young women backpacking through Australia, raping and murdering without remorse. Author Clive Small, a senior detective on the case is methodical and clinical in his recollection of the case itself, procedures, process and investigative methods used to put Ivan Milat behind bars. Whilst interesting in a morbid way, this approach did result in a monotonous dour tone which at times led to distraction.
True crime readers wanting to know more about the backpacker murders will get what they are after in full gore through the harsh reality of, well, reality. Ivan is a brutal murderer with no redeeming qualities as is evident by Small’s writing of the book. Whilst the detail is hard to swallow at times, the devil needs to be brought to light to fully paint the picture that is Milat and the heinous crimes he committed.
Towards the later stages of the book, the author sidesteps Milat to detail other crimes he’s either been part of from a policing point of view or those which are likened to the backpacker murders. These vinaigrette's are insightful but all too brief. The case of a Milat family member (not Ivan) brutally murdering his mate whilst another filmed it is downright scary and warrants more page time. Returning to Milat towards the end provides a glimpse at the murderer maintaining his innocence though contradicting himself on occasion. His prison health and mental stability are also well documented.
Narrated by Peter Hosking, Milat felt at times like a lengthy nightly news bulletin. I did have to concentrate heavily through the more dour passages than I would’ve liked as the monotone was near sleep inducing, particularly late at night. (Tip - listen during the day). That said, Hosking’s Australian accent works perfect for this book and the narration itself was good enough to keep me listening.