The Five Greatest Warriors is a globe spanning fantasy adventure epic disguised as a 'world outside your window conspiracy thriller'. Take this fictioThe Five Greatest Warriors is a globe spanning fantasy adventure epic disguised as a 'world outside your window conspiracy thriller'. Take this fiction with a grain of salt as Matthew Reilly adds a little bit of spice to the ancient wonders of the world and also enhances his characters with a hint of the supernatural (namely the ability to push through consecutive battles and still be a functioning human being). The superhuman nature of Jack West Jr and his rag tag team of geniuses and special ops expats gives The Five Greatest Warriors a comic-book feel of sorts.
The Five Greatest Warriors does get a little stale in parts due to the set and repeat nature of the missions with a small period of research time between. That being said, any tedium is quickly forgotten once Jack West Jr jumps head first into finding the next vertices.
It's been a long time between books in this series. I went back and re-read this (first read in 2009) in readiness for The Four Legendary Kingdoms which was recently published in Australia (2016). I found the re-read not as good as the first time round but still enjoyable. ...more
I was really impressed with Tania Chandler's debut novel, Please Don't Leave Me Here; a book that explored two very different and unique sides to herI was really impressed with Tania Chandler's debut novel, Please Don't Leave Me Here; a book that explored two very different and unique sides to her lead character Brigitte, a wife, mother and victim. The balance between crime and literary-like insight was perfect and complementary. The follow-up however, didn't hit the same chords.
Dead in the Water sees Tania Chandler return to Brigitte as she rebuilds her life following the events of the first novel. Living on a small island and married to a policeman, she spends a lot of her time traversing back forth from the mainland for work and day-to-day life. It's this daily routine coupled with Brigitte's inner turmoil surrounding her adulterous thoughts that consumes a large part of the novel. At times tedious and, for lack of a better word, boring, I found myself skimming over the chapters just to get to the parts of the novel which focused on the peripheral murder investigation.
The murder of a celebrity chef is the undercurrent that spans Brigitte's own encounter with death, yet again. Requiring the reader to suspend belief is part and parcel when reading fiction, but the amount of bad luck that follows Brigitte is hard to swallow, particularly as it's written in a way which is more sub plot than crime fiction - which is ok if you're into that sort of thing - I'm not.
Dead in the Water was an ok read which didn't match my expectations given how good Please Don't Leave Me Here was. ...more
Imagine a Roman empire so mighty that it never fell and crushed all those who stood in their way as they pursued a never ending expansion across contiImagine a Roman empire so mighty that it never fell and crushed all those who stood in their way as they pursued a never ending expansion across continents and into the fertile and dangerous lands of North America.
Clash of Eagles allows history to alter. Bringing the Roman army to the shores of North America and face to face with American natives. Steel swords and sophisticated battle strategy clash with poison arrows, stealth attacks, and the mound-building Cahokiani.
However, for The 33rd Roman Legion, led by Praetor Gaius Marcellinus on their quest for an easy conquest and acquisition of gold ends in a bloody battle at the hands of the fantastical flight warriors of the Cahokiani outside of Cahokia.
With Marcellinus the sole survivor, he switches allegiance and joins the Cahokiani, bringing modernised Roman warfare to Cahokia to give them the advantage in the never ending Morning War against their local enemy of Iroqva.
Clash of Eagles is loaded historical fact and a healthy dose of fantasy; author Alan Smale gets the dosage just right. Clash of Eagles reads as 'real' with a deep core character in Marcellinus and a Cahokiani supporting cast that I just want more of.
Beware, Clash of Eagles, while depicting an interesting side of life in Cahokia also has a fair amount of battle scenes, as you'd expect - they are gory, frenetic and not for the squeamish - but I liked them.
The first book in the Hesperian Trilogy is a great start with a semi-cliff hanger ending (don't worry, Clash of Eagles still feels like a complete read) that has me adding Eagle in Exile (book 2) straight to the top of my 'next to buy' list.
I was provided a copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a meaty read comprising political intrigue and corruption, world domination by a powerful and influential 1% faction, globe spanning terrThis book is a meaty read comprising political intrigue and corruption, world domination by a powerful and influential 1% faction, globe spanning terror plots, archaeological elements critical to character motives, and a special ops thriller all entwined into a single cohesive narrative that reads 'real'. Thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.
Side note: despite been book 4 in the Curtis O'Connor series, The Alexandria Connection reads perfectly well as a standalone. I've not read the previous three books and it did nothing to curb my enthusiasm or enjoyment of The Alexandria Connection. ...more
Max and Angela do Hollywood in the 4th installment of the Bruen/Starr humorous noir series collaboration.
Max, now a hardened criminal with an over-inMax and Angela do Hollywood in the 4th installment of the Bruen/Starr humorous noir series collaboration.
Max, now a hardened criminal with an over-inflated sense of self worth and delusions of grandeur, finds himself as the sole mass producer of wonder drug PIMP; a drug that will surely etch his name firmly among the criminal elite as well as make him a bucket load of cash. Out with the blue collar, in with the pimp strut, so to speak.
Angela, of the returned from the dead variety, has managed to work her way through the porn industry into the prime position of producer for a TV series based on hers and Max's criminal exploits entitled 'Bust'. Under the guise of Brandi Love, her pron pseudonym, Angela forges a lifestyle she'd only dreamed of - made real by her easy acquiescence to murder, backstabbing, and bribery.
PIMP is a damn good book to read. I loved every minute and hope to read many, many more crazy tales encapsulating the criminal capers of Max and Angela. ...more
SKIN PALACE paints a picture of a certain kind of book. One where the adult entertainment industry is at the forefront and, being a crime novel, accomSKIN PALACE paints a picture of a certain kind of book. One where the adult entertainment industry is at the forefront and, being a crime novel, accompanied by an ever present underworld influence. That's not what SKIN PALACE is about. It's a character study and so much more; a steady evolution of character through a decrepit viewfinder.
True, criminalities seep into the seedy underworld of sex, drugs and adultery bringing together critical plot elements centered around film, photography and family drama to form a complex topsy turvy narrative depicted in equal parts night and day. Yet it's the lives of the characters that envelope the reader in a shroud of uncertainty, trying to figure out each angle, plot thread, and core direction of story.
A the center of all that happens in SKIN PALACE is Sylvia who's passion for photography leads her to the Canal Zone; a dangerous quadrant of the city and rabbit hole of sorts which brings together a mystery of a man, a bloodthirsty gang, and a cinema (The Skin Palace) owner who sees something in her that her partner (and lawyer) doesn't - exploitation or opportunity?
SKIN PALACE is complex, interesting, and certainly not what I was expecting - in a good way. Despite being book 3 in the Quinsigamond Quintet it reads perfectly well as a standalone. Highly recommended.
The Coughlin saga ends in a satisfying hail of bullets with WOLD GONE BY reaffirming Lehane’s place as one of my go-to-for-a-great-mob-book authors.
JoThe Coughlin saga ends in a satisfying hail of bullets with WOLD GONE BY reaffirming Lehane’s place as one of my go-to-for-a-great-mob-book authors.
Joe Coughlin has lost his wife and buried many friends during his life as a fedora wearing, smooth dressing gangster but WORLD GONE BY takes his time in ‘this thing of ours’ to new extremes. Learning of a contract being placed on his head by a less than reputable source does little to crease Joe’s smooth veneer – after all, he’s more a businessman these days, too valuable to the underworld to lie six deep but when the threat steadily emerges and the pieces align to a pistol pointed his way, Joe does what he does best – lean on his standing in the crime community to negotiate a deal to keeps his lungs full of air, and his enemies/friends pockets lined with cash.
Yeah, that doesn't quite work out.
WOLD GONE BY is an emotionally charged book thanks to some very good writing and solid plotting. Joe and his crime compatriots are well defined characters that give life the underworld. I’m still left reeling from the conclusion and suspect I will for some time yet – Lehane has crafted cinematic quality structured scenes written to make an impact – and that they do.
REVOLVER is fine storytelling - seamlessly switching gears through alternating timelines to deliver a multifaceted crime tale, steadily increasing inREVOLVER is fine storytelling - seamlessly switching gears through alternating timelines to deliver a multifaceted crime tale, steadily increasing in complexity as the narrative unfolds. Spanning three generations each enveloped in heady blood red mist of murder and mystery surrounding the deaths of Philadelphia cops Stan Walczak and George Wildey in 1965, Swierczynski ensures his fictitious bullet fired some 50years past is still dangerous in the present.
Audrey is a CSI in training, studying her craft from afar, the family outcast is cast into the spotlight when she seeks to uncover the truth surrounding her grandfather’s murder in 1965. With her father (Jim) a cop and brother (Stas), her keen eye and inherent internal compass for justice (albeit a justice that feels slightly out of character) is right on point. What she discovers is just as destructive now as that day when her grandfather and his partner were gunned down. This time it’s not bullets raining down on her family but syrupy secrets and morbid revelations.
The route REVOLVER takes is not conventional and that’s one of its biggest drawcards. Linking different timelines through a single act of violence without giving away the motivation while embedding a complex family drama element is satisfying reading when done right – luckily it is here.
Readers of Swierczynki’s previous works will see REVOLVER as somewhat of a departure from what’s come before and a progression in his crime fiction prowess. While being a self-contained story, the door is left ajar for further exploration into the Walczak world – fingers crossed Swierczynski revisits it again at some stage.
With AFTERMATH introducing a rag tag team of characters led by pilot Norra Wexley, LIFE DEBT provides them a placeholder in the extended canonical uniWith AFTERMATH introducing a rag tag team of characters led by pilot Norra Wexley, LIFE DEBT provides them a placeholder in the extended canonical universe; hunting down key Imperials for the New Republic. Capturing that Star Wars feel, Jas, Temmin, Mr. Bones and co. are thrust into adventure and danger as they traverse the galaxy in search of their quarry. However, it’s the use of popular Star Wars staples that instils a sense of belonging to the Aftermath series in Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. The blend of old and new characters works well with author Chuck Wendig creating the right chemistry between them.
LIFE DEBT pays particular attention to relationships. The interactions between Norra and Wedge (pilots who know each other from the Resistance), Han and Chewbacca (of which the title Life Debt is derived), Jas and another prominent character (who I won’t detail as to avoid spoilers) drive a large component to the story yet the direction to develop and explore these relationships doesn’t detract from the story, rather, they complement and rationalise the direction the book takes in many ways.
Admiral Sloane feature prominently with the empire still struggling to find its footing. Her and Norra form an arch nemesis dynamic that is a joy to read.
Like AFTERMATH, LIFE DEBT is punctuated with interludes which provide glimpses into post war era worlds as they fight to establish their own identity from beneath long term rule. All is not sunshine and rainbows – these interludes clearly articulate that. Jakku also features which is a nice link to THE FORCE AWAKENS .
There is a long going on in the second book that many fans/readers will enjoy. LIFE DEBT is another serviceable entry into the new cannon. ...more
The day the devil came to the small town of Breathed, Ohio, it was in the form of an unassuming young boy, hot on the heels of hell's own heat wave.
RThe day the devil came to the small town of Breathed, Ohio, it was in the form of an unassuming young boy, hot on the heels of hell's own heat wave.
Responding to a public notice, this figure sought and found his caller; a disenfranchised lawyer and father of two who had renounced his faith. Autopsy Bliss (a fitting name for a story about the devil) welcomed the 13 yr old boy going by the name of Sal into his home under the assumption he wan't the devil, but a runaway looking for a family.
Sal acclimatized to eventually being part of the warm and loving Bliss family, only for the town to destroy it - perhaps under his influence? A subtle menace or pure circumstantial?
The physiological horror that ensues throughout is complex, distributing and hard to stomach. Paranoia coupled with fanatical belief drives the devil to decay the town's hive mind and sensibilities. The big unresolved question is whether or not the devil is Sal or the townspeople themselves as a collective, cursed by the mere suggestion of the dark prince in their midst.
The Summer That Melted Everything is a lean horror that is more thought provoking than gore splatter.
It's certainly a book that will stay with me for a long time.
Tamar Valparaiso is a budding pop star set to become a household name. Unfortunately for her, and her record label, her star is rising for all the wroTamar Valparaiso is a budding pop star set to become a household name. Unfortunately for her, and her record label, her star is rising for all the wrong reasons. Two masked men storm a boat hosting Tamar's record launch and kidnap the pop singer, beating her dancer and injuring her in the process. Their ransom demand? A relatively low 250k, a fact the kidnappers soon realize. Upping the ante to 1mil, Tamar's once bright future now looks bleak with the record exec balking at the price and police wanting to have a presence at the drop in an attempt to catch the kidnappers.
Sounds pretty formulaic and reads as much for the better part of the novel until Ed McBain infuses his noir-like darkness on the stereotypical police procedural in the later stages. A gritty and gory twist ensures the oddly titled The Frumious Bandersnatch sheds any notion of normalcy as it races towards a violent and shocking end.
While The Frumious Bandersnatch is deep into the 87th prescient series, it reads perfectly well as a standalone. ...more
This darker version of Shadowman bares little resemblance the first (early 90's) and current (2012-) iterations of the character and title. The seriesThis darker version of Shadowman bares little resemblance the first (early 90's) and current (2012-) iterations of the character and title. The series was published following the Acclaim buyout of Valiant resulting in a shifting of substance; moving away from the super-hero nature of its predecessor to focus on mature and violent content. It worked for the first 4 chapters (issues) of Shadowman with story and art reminiscent of Frank Miller in full flight before loosing it's way a little with the Deadside chapters.
For the most, those Deadside chapters (1-3) are visually stunning; obscure and obscene styling that compliments the violent and hellish afterlife of the Deadside. Credit to Ashley Wood, his Deadside and characters are truly horrifying. Where this 'act ' drops the ball, so to speak, is with Paul Jenkins' storytelling. There is little to link Deadside with the early story (setting aside) which left the first act (Shadowman 1-4) reading a tad incomplete. While still enjoyable, Deadside (1-3) largely reads as three distinct standalone chapters highlighting the horrors of the Deadside and it's murderous inhabitants. I'd feel better about the Deadside act had chapter 4 been more than an unpublished script. I don't know what the people at Valiant, in reprinting these stories, didn't invest in an artist to ink the script for the purpose of this collection.
The Garth Ennis and Ashley Wood Shadowman is a must read for Shadowman and horror comics/graphic novel readers. This is collection dark and violent with characters that leap off the page full of murderous intent.
BLACK SAILS, DISCO INFERNO is a criminally good novel that ripens the rotten forbidden fruit of romance amid the slippery red violence of the underworBLACK SAILS, DISCO INFERNO is a criminally good novel that ripens the rotten forbidden fruit of romance amid the slippery red violence of the underworld in a classic retelling reminiscent of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.
Competing crime families Holt and Cornwall fire pot shots at one another with little remorse, populating morgues and spreading grief as easily as they fill disco's and line the pockets of their henchmen. In an unnamed city, this plight for power is omnipresent yet it's one young female character who stands omnipotent through it all; Trista - a flawed yet endearing protagonist who, despite her easy acquiescence to murder shows a softer side with a caring and needful nature yearning to indulge in love and the more harmonious side of life. Yet the bullets fly, killing friends and dreams alike.
Author Andrez Bergen has crafted a distinct literary noir oozing all that is sullen and grey while knifing his fictional reality with slithers of color and hope. From the outset there is little chance of a happy ending yet it's one hell of a ride arriving to that forgone conclusion.
I was provided a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.
The thief’s theme is rife in this cross continent noir by Aussie crime writer Andrew Nette.
Gary Chance makes his hard earned cash from stealing othersThe thief’s theme is rife in this cross continent noir by Aussie crime writer Andrew Nette.
Gary Chance makes his hard earned cash from stealing others hard earned cash. He’s a professional in a profession where the big ‘pay-off’ is the pinnacle but prison is a more probable outcome – if not death. His latest job takes him to the Gold Coast but all is not glitter, gold and sunny beaches. The planning is precise, the target a foreigner with a penchant for poker games and an accumulator of cash. Gary’s newly assembled team (consisting of less than reputable and trustworthy characters) looks set to score but things soon change when bundles of drugs are discovered midway through executing the plan. Unbeknownst to Gary, this had been planned from day one – only no one told him. With the stakes raised, bullets puncture the thinly veiled fabric of Gary’s reality and he’s soon on the run with an unlikely traveling companion from both killers and the law.
Make no mistake, Gary isn’t just a thief, he’s a harden criminal with contacts, motivation, and a knack for getting into and out of trouble. The Parker influence abounds with Gary a well-defined Australian counterpart to Richard Stark’s popular character. Gary is street smart who plays the hardman as easily as he plays the lover. His easy acquiescence to violence akin to Parker at his most dangerous.
GUNSHINE STATE’s distinct stanzas read as bite sized chunks of episodic noir, each comprising a full complement of crime, characterisation, and sub plot which bind together to form part of a broader narrative. While helping to keep the story fresh, these distinct elements enhance the reader experience by flipping the script from a locale perspective and changing up criminalities.
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend readers of Richard Stark’s Parker series check it out.