Reading this story in monthly increments doesn't do it justice (the trade isn't out until next year) - the pace seemed off and the middle issues (#2 aReading this story in monthly increments doesn't do it justice (the trade isn't out until next year) - the pace seemed off and the middle issues (#2 and #3) felt like set-up issues rather than crucial center pieces to the Darque/Geomancer conflict. However, read in a single sitting the Book of Death's pacing, plotting, and overall feel of is so much more enjoyable.
The reader gets a true sense of the impending doom, death and destruction the world over is to experience should Darque not be stopped. Standing in his way is the Eternal Warrior, protector of the Geomancers throughout time, and Tama, the Geomancer from the future.
Despite all the ripples of time and outcomes of the Valiant heroes glimpsed in these beautifully drawn pages by Robert Gill/Doug Braithwaite, Book of Death is Tama's story, plotting her growth from a timid and semi vulnerable girl to someone brimming with confidence and a true protector/speaker of Earth. The title may center around death yet it's life that prevails as the story reaches its satisfying conclusion.
There are a number of enjoyable cameo's too with Punk Mambo's brief appearance in #3 and #4 a perfect set up for the upcoming Ninjak arc (Operation Deadside). While Unity don't get actively involved in the Darque conflict, their battle with the Eternal Warrior is crucial to the outcome of the book and paves the way for the future look of the team (The Unity ongoing title ends at #25 and I hope we see more of Valiant's answer to the Justice League/Avengers).
Perhaps one of the most pleasing aspects to Book of Death is the subtle shift in the Eternal Warrior's character, from being pure brawn to battling with heart and emotion. Each battle is full of tension with the outcome hinging on his selflessness and genuine desire to be the protector of the Earth.
Book of Death reads as though it was written for trade and that's he way it should be read to fully appreciate what this creative team have come up with. I'd rate this a solid 4.5 out of 5 - Valiant sure know how to write 'event books'.
Ray Stone is an addict. A former pianist who has succumbed to his vice. It's while indulging in this dEd McBain's debut novel is a fun, quasi PI read.
Ray Stone is an addict. A former pianist who has succumbed to his vice. It's while indulging in this deadly habit that he finds himself chief suspect in the murder of young nightclub singer Eileen; the naked blonde who was dead his dead with two bullet holes in her belly.
In order to clear his name, Ray conducts his own drug addled investigation to prove his innocence and find the murderer. As his dependency for his drug of choice dissipates his clarity increases. The pieces of the puzzle form to display a portrait of an unsuspecting murderer.
I really liked this book. The different take on the PI theme is refreshing (despite being originally published well over 50yrs ago) and Ray is a likable protagonist despite his addiction. The pacing is quick and straight to the point and the characters leap off the page.
A dark and brooding noir which cuts a bloody trail across the streets of Brisbane and Cains in the 1980's. Corruption runs rampant and self destructioA dark and brooding noir which cuts a bloody trail across the streets of Brisbane and Cains in the 1980's. Corruption runs rampant and self destruction is a given as the characters of FOUR DAYS battle criminals, comrades and their own inner demons.
Buried beneath the underworld facade is the murder of a prostitute and the disappearance of a policeman begging to be solved and a lone detectives determination to issue justice. Complimenting the core story is Detective Jim Harris' background, misguided love interest and strange family relations which provides readers with a nice side bar to the main event.
FOUR DAYS is a quick read and easily consumable in a single sitting. A nice addition to the growing catalog of dark Australian crime fiction.
The world is an unforgiving place and for Matt Scudder, it's the very bottom of humanities pecking order that helps him ply his trade. Wallowing in thThe world is an unforgiving place and for Matt Scudder, it's the very bottom of humanities pecking order that helps him ply his trade. Wallowing in the pits of despair, reformed alcoholic and ex-cop Scudder gets knee deep in the criminal underworld of exploration, false promises, and broken dreams as he tries to solve a rape and murder of which the key suspect is the victim's husband. The case leads him down a dark rabbit hole that shines a light on the snuff film trade.
Lawrence Block doesn't deviate from the dastardly nature of the disturbed mind, coupling rape and murder, snuff films and corruption into a noir soaked story that is nothing short of addictive.
Despite being a private eye book at it's core, A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE does read as a traditional police procedural, such is the Q&A platform. The dark nature of the plot instills a truer sense of noir which differentiates it from the sub crime genre.
A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE reads well as a standalone (I read the first 3 series books some time ago, this being book 9) and is new reader friendly, something I look for when wanting to give a series a try.
I highly recommend picking this one up, irrespective if you're familiar with the character.
BLOODSHOT REBORN shows just how good a series reboot can be whilst still maintaining a solid semblance of character continuity.
The opening issue of CBLOODSHOT REBORN shows just how good a series reboot can be whilst still maintaining a solid semblance of character continuity.
The opening issue of COLORADO sets the tone for an all new yet familiar hero who claims he's anything but while also introducing Bloodsquirt and Kay as unconventional sidekicks of sorts. Bloodsquirt adds a creepy comedic spin to Bloodshot's typically violent sojourn throughout the Valiant universe, while Kay, the late Geomancer who died fighting the Immortal Enemy in THE VALIANT serves as a reminder to Bloodshot aka Ray Garrison of what he's lost and the broken path of self destruction that's led him to a sleazy hotel in the middle of nowhere.
The middle issues (#2-3) don't do much to progress the story, rather showcasing the violent and brutal side of Bloodshot that readers have come to expect - albeit a slightly skewed take with Project Rising Spirit replica Bloodshots causing murder and mayhem across the US. It's a natural way to progress Bloodshot, as a character from being more than a mortal man to the evolution of the killing machine he's destined to return to.
Agent Festival is a nice addition in the middle of the story arc and adds another dimension that's been strangely absent throughout a lot of the Valiant books - providing a law enforcement element focused on tracking down the 'red circle killer'.
Issue #4 introduces Magic, a little know character who looks set for a big role not just in Bloodshot Reborn but possibly the broader Valiant universe. The narrative teases her influence though the reader only catches a glimpse of her as a damsel in distress of sorts.
Mico Suayan's art on issues #1-4 is flawless and took me back to the first Bloodshot (2012) iteration written by Duane Swierczynski.
Rounding out the arc is the Bloodsquirt feature issue that is a nice change of pace and is a little psychedelic as the Bloodshot is thrust into the world of BloodSquirt. I really liked this more having reread it as part of reading the arc in its entirety. The art here deserves special attention, Raul Allen does a great job at inking a definitive look and feel to the change of pace intermission.
COLORADO is a point of no return for Bloodshot, a very enjoyable introduction to a new path that pays tribute to what's come before and teases the future.
This is the fourth novel to feature thief Alan Grofield in his own series (he makes a couple of appearances in Starks' more well known Parker books) aThis is the fourth novel to feature thief Alan Grofield in his own series (he makes a couple of appearances in Starks' more well known Parker books) and the first Richard Stark novel to be published by Hardcase Crime.
For a relatively short novel Stark packed a lot of punch into this one. The story evolves from a failed attempt to lure Grofield into a shady snatch and grab planned by inexperienced and unprofessional crooks. Little did Grofield know that his very public stance by walking out on the deal would lead to him dodging bullets as well as throwing his own in turn.
LEMONS NEVER LIE is very enjoyable and easily readable for both Parker/Gorfield newcomers and those who are well read in either series.
Smitty is a womanizer, piano player and opportunist who finds himself faced with a score too good to pass up; a dame to kill for, and bucket load of cSmitty is a womanizer, piano player and opportunist who finds himself faced with a score too good to pass up; a dame to kill for, and bucket load of cash to run away with. The only thing standing in his way? The husband and owner of said cash, not to mention the monstrous gator lurking in the swap surrounding the Grinnin' Gator - the hotel/bar Smitty works (which is also owned by Croker - said dames husband).
GATOR BAIT is a delicious dip into debauchery; a swamp pulp that perfects the prohibition period setting, playing homage to the pulps of yesterday.
Smitty is a character that you either love or hate. His actions are brass and not without consequence yet you almost feel like he's the one being played - a puppet to his very own perversions taken advantage of by Croker's wife, Grace who knows how to get what she wants or make others get it for her.
GATOR BAIT is a fast paced read that doesn't waste a word exploiting the plot for all its worth and then some.
Fans of Gill Brewer and Elmore Leonard will spot the similarities in dialogue and character and enjoy every bite sized chunk of GATOR BAIT.
(review of collected issues) RED CITY is a cool concept let down by the complexity of characters and conflicting plot threads all vying for a slice of(review of collected issues) RED CITY is a cool concept let down by the complexity of characters and conflicting plot threads all vying for a slice of the readers attention. There is just too much going on too soon with the chief pitfall of RED CITY being the decision to cram, what actually is, a very interesting story into a 4 issue arc.
The plot revolves around Cal Talmage, a former Mars PD Officer and decorated war veteran who has fallen from grace and is now seen as an expendable solution to a budding political problem between the Mercurians and the Neptunians. He's tasked with tracking down Talia Jalen, missing daughter of Ambassador Jalen and pivotal spokesperson for the Mercury / Neptune peace treaty. Sound the dime-store PI routine.
Cal's diagonal is pure pulp and Angel, his sexy sidekick is the femme fatale stereotype true to form in pulp/PI novels. The chemistry between the two didn't leap off the page despite some good but fleeting moments. As for the broader cast - each individual issue provided a run down of the key players which certainly helped but it was still too difficult to get into a story where there are many rival factions both political and military as well as underworld organisations all vying for the readers attention in a 4 issue story arc. Again - a great premise, just executed too quickly.
The art from #1 and #2 are great and compliment the story nicely. Cal, Angel and the supporting cast are drawn well while the backgrounds are detailed and make the reader feel like they are on another planet. Anthony Diecidue tool over for #3 and #4 and it just didn't work. Each panel lacked background, preferring to focus on the character which is okay but too big a switch from the opening 2 issues.
I've read RED CITY a couple of times now because I like where writer Daniel Corey was going with this, unfortunately the compressed storytelling and almost too easy path to Talia let down what could've been a very good read.
Murderous acts hidden in smoke and mirrors provides a foundation of lies for a brutal truth that shrouds the populace of Machecoul, a small town whereMurderous acts hidden in smoke and mirrors provides a foundation of lies for a brutal truth that shrouds the populace of Machecoul, a small town where boys never grow old.
Gilles de Rais is an eccentric living in a old castle that casts a very deadly shadow over Machecoul, only the residents don't know it. Seen more as a martyr than murderer, Rais kidnaps the youth and turns them into his playthings until their last breath escapes their tormented corpse, for once he's decided to indulge his lust, the unfortunate are already dead. All the while, the parents of these children are led to believe the disappearance is as result of them being shipped off to gain an education and a chance at a better life.
If I were to compare the writing I'd liken author Lesley Conner to Laura Benedict (who also writes atmospheric character driven horror stories). The unique place-setting and depth the each character make for an entertaining yet cringe-worthy read as Rais' terrors are realized in the fullest.
THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS is a classic character driven horror that compliments the gore with clever storytelling and a slow and steady plot which builds tension as the story progresses towards a blood thirsty finish.
The thing that immediately stands out is the art. Matteo Scalera does a great job at instilling a real sense of the other worldly (or other dimensionaThe thing that immediately stands out is the art. Matteo Scalera does a great job at instilling a real sense of the other worldly (or other dimensional as is the case) which is complimented by exceptional colors and tones throughout the 6 issues that comprise the story arc.
From #1 Remender thrusts the reader into a strange and violent world that immediately sets the tone for the book. These dimensionaughts travel in murderous circles. Grant McKay's use of black science and the bending of reality are not without ramification, which the core characters of BLACK SCIENCE learn all too quickly. Writer Rick Remender doesn't hesitate in borrowing from the GAME OF THRONES precedent of unpredictability - no character is assured of making it through to the next chapter.
I like stories that change my perception, and this does just that. Initially, McKay and co are seen to be experienced inter dimensional explorers well versed in the dangers of undertaking such travel (such as squaring off against humanoid frog people), however, as the story progresses this isn't the case as by #4 Remender drops the bomb that this foray into the unknown is the first with the cast of characters somewhat ill-prepared.
There is mystery, intrigue, excitement, twists, turns, and a few pulp-ish elements infused in a very fast paced and entertaining plot, that, whilst doesn't cater to a complete ending, does build anticipation for the next volume. ...more
Caleb's world is turned on its head following the gruesome discovery of his friend (and policeman) Greg's dead body at a murder scene. His last contacCaleb's world is turned on its head following the gruesome discovery of his friend (and policeman) Greg's dead body at a murder scene. His last contact with the deceased, a text message asking for help and the mention of the mysterious 'Scott'; an name which bares no meaning to Caleb.
Enlisting the services of close friend Frankie, the two set off to catch a killer. However, the police, just as much as those directly responsible for the original murder prove a constant hurdle. Further complicating matters is Caleb's deafness, which in itself make daily interactions difficult despite his well established lip reading and communication abilities.
Caleb's employment is a little ambiguous with the author not defining the circumstances behind Greg's death and the corresponding moonlighting he'd been doing for Caleb's company. Was it a detective firm, onsite security or some thing else all together? Perhaps I just missed it.
Frankie is a character who just didn't work for me; a 57yr old former cop with a drinking and drug habit who also has a shady secret. She's at one point described as passing for a 16yr old then later likened to Caleb's mother. Inconsistency that dims the definitive descriptive nature of the character.
I'm still not sure why Caleb's ex wife is put at risk either, a beautiful Aboriginal woman named Kat. Having had no direct involvement in the cigarettes heist / murder shes plays a pivotal role towards the end of the book without clear cause. Despite this, the ending was action packed flowed at a frenetic pace.
This had the makings of a good book but it just didn't work for me. RESURRECTION BAY has a blistering opening and a great ending so all is not lost. ...more
Michael Morrow is a displaced young man living a macabre life of murder and cannibalism. Having been kidnapped as a child, Michael grew up in a secludMichael Morrow is a displaced young man living a macabre life of murder and cannibalism. Having been kidnapped as a child, Michael grew up in a secluded family home that lived off the land - their game meat being unsuspecting travelers, junkies, and loners who would be little missed by those who know them. His mother, father, sister and brother all in on the family killing desensitized him, making murder a normal and accepted practice. He was forced to act on impulse and under the guidance of his 'loved ones'.
Then came Alice, a record store clerk who immediately struck a chord with Michael's heartstrings. She was someone he could see a future with, a future that left behind the murder and mayhem he'd known so freely all his life. But Rebel, Michael's twisted and sadistic 'brother' had other plans. Plans that would turn Michael's life and everything he thought he knew on its head.
BROTHER is a great book. Author Ania Ahlborn's characters are emotionally deep and equally terrifying - she makes you care for Michael even though you know he's committed horrific acts of murder and dismemberment. Rebel is just plain bad - the personification of nightmares - a pitch black darkness to Michael's drab gray light. Reader beware, BROTHER is not for the faint of heart.
Benny Gower is a stand-up guy caught up in a world of crime sustained by drugs, violence, and intimidation. He's the nice guy of the underworld, runniBenny Gower is a stand-up guy caught up in a world of crime sustained by drugs, violence, and intimidation. He's the nice guy of the underworld, running nightclubs and musicians, kicking cash up to the powers that be on the regular. He even manages to turn his junkie girlfriend away from the poison she pumps into her body. So naturally things all go to shit for him in a moment of red rage that leaves the heir apparent to the criminal organisation dead and causes a retired hit man to strap on the tools of the trade to hunt down Benny.
WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER is a revenge fueled romp into the underbelly of noir.
When Benny guns down Weir (the man caught sleeping with his's girlfriend and the supplier of her habit) his world turns for a second time, with the first, being the catalyst for his entry into the underworld - the same underworld he now finds himself on the run from.
The story largely follows Wynn, the hit man commissioned from retirement to track down Benny as he questions all known acquaintances in order to locate his quarry. The tact allows the author to progressively provide the reader with insight into Benny's character and context to the almost justifiable homicide. There are also nice touches of character development that make Wynn more human than just a generic hit man.
WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER is a quick read that sits nicely in the carved out niche of noir.
Tram 83 is a proverbial delicatessen of debauchery where mankind is mere meat readily and willingly consumable.
James Ellroy would appreciate this wriTram 83 is a proverbial delicatessen of debauchery where mankind is mere meat readily and willingly consumable.
James Ellroy would appreciate this writing style. The complex prose presents the reader with a puzzle pieced plot that gradually comes together, weaving its tale of self destruction through a foggy drug induced haze highlighting all the particulars necessary to depict poverty, sexuality, criminality, and the tedious boredom that comes with a fallen high. Tram 83, the destination of the destitute is the biggest character in this unique novel and acts as the glue that binds its noxious narrative with author Fiston Mwanza Mujila not holding back on the evocative nature of the place-setting, its happenings, and its regular customers.
Lucien, Requiem and an accompaniment of characters provide for a broader story that's difficult to fully realize due to the same-same nature of their dialogue yet, as Tram 83 (the place), is at it's core, a story in and above itself, I get the interchangeable nature of characters. That said, I would've liked more independence and distinguishable dialogue from one to another.
TRAM 83 is a book to be savored, read slowly, and with an appreciation for the language.
The impending alien invasion is further explored and the role the Aurora crew have in protecting mankind is realized.
The fifth installment in the AurThe impending alien invasion is further explored and the role the Aurora crew have in protecting mankind is realized.
The fifth installment in the Aurora series by Aussie science fiction author Amanda Bridgeman serves as a bridge between what has been and what is to come.
Reaching out into the unknown depths of space further than ever before, EDEN provides more than a glimpse at the possible future of Earth as warmonger-like aliens invade the planet. With only Alphas (nee Jumbos for readers of the previous books) to fend them off; series antagonist, Sharley, and his vision of creating an army of genetically modified super soldiers isn't without merit - in fact, it's a necessity.
EDEN, once again sees the Aurora crew grow as a tightly knit unit while also undergoing a slight change. The earlier motives of their enemy are slowly accepted and the rationale behind the drastic transformation into Alphas is embraced by most yet the darker side of this extreme form of modification is still paramount thanks to Drazen and a band of brutal warriors determined to destroy Carrie Welles and take her twins (the only true-born first gen Alphas). The yin and yang showcases the extreme spectrum of the good and bad than can be done when normal people are transformed into Alphas - it also provides a duel threat and an interesting sub plot that compliments the broader invasion story-line.
The action scenes in EDEN are the best of the series so far (and are incredibly vivid and bursting with tension). I won't delve into any detail as I don't want to spoil what happens but the later stages of EDEN are an adrenaline junkies dream.
I once again find myself eagerly anticipating the next book as has been the case with each installment so far. Bridgeman has built an interesting universe populated by dynamic characters that look set to be turned on its head in the not too distant future. Bring on book 6!