A collaborative effort, SOMETHING IS ROTTEN is the first book from New Zealand based pairing of Swedish-born novelist Linda Olsson and award-winning pA collaborative effort, SOMETHING IS ROTTEN is the first book from New Zealand based pairing of Swedish-born novelist Linda Olsson and award-winning playwright Thomas Sainsbury writing as Adam Safaris.
A quick look at the blurb for this book might have you shaking your head a bit. Having an ex-terrorism expert working as a mechanic, despite the personal tragedy that made him change course that way is unexpected territory. You might also wonder why it is that sex worker Jade Amaro turns to him when the gruesome death of her friend is labelled suicide. But both elements do kind of make sense, or at least the action is so rapid you probably won't question any of it until way after the final page has been read.
Things progress rapidly in SOMETHING IS ROTTEN once Hallberg comes to share Amaro's concerns about the death of Brent Taylor. Not just because there is a missing manuscript and something very suss about the official verdict. There's a lot of suspect goings on at official levels as Hallberg and his friend, business journalist Lynette Church start to discover.
Crime fiction is at it's best when it delves into the murky side of real life. Goodness knows corruption and dirty political dealings isn't something new, but it's something that's increasingly being revealed. What's fascinating is the way that that scenario is illustrated by something as seemingly "ordinary" and "mundane" as meat supply quotas for New Zealand goes to show that nothing much can be taken at face value anymore. Personally it seems to explain an awful lot about the way that people are getting sick to death of politics and corruption and disengaging.
SOMETHING IS ROTTEN isn't utterly and completely pitch perfect - there are some odd clangers in some of the phraseology and some weird technical assertions. These definitely did drop this reader out of the flow of the story on a number of occasions (enough to make me bookmark them anyway). But with the leniency always applied to a debut novel, SOMETHING IS ROTTEN, overall shows considerable promise.
When they say "write what you know" Anne Buist seems to have taken that advice very much to heart, especially when it comes to the clinical and workinWhen they say "write what you know" Anne Buist seems to have taken that advice very much to heart, especially when it comes to the clinical and working experience of her central character - Dr Natalie King. Hard to say about the Ducati, history of mental health problems and clothes sense.
MEDEA'S CURSE starts out in extreme acceleration mode with the back story of a contretemps on the steps of the Court, followed by an encounter with Crown Prosecutor (and later sex interest) Liam O'Shea, and the disappearance of a child. The father of the missing child was also the father of a dead baby, one that her mother had pleaded guilty to killing. That mother, Amber Hardy, is in prison, and both O'Shea and King aren't convinced she should be there. Hardy's story, her partner (and the father of both children) Travis, and his new daughter and partner are quickly expanded, along with that of another patient of King's, and from there the cast gets more complicated with work colleagues, fellow band members of King's, O'Shea as a love interest, the drummer of the band as a love interest, a mad cockatoo, the bike and Hardy's own therapist.
Needless to say, in the first half of this book readers will need to be paying attention. There's a lot of characters, a lot of back stories, a lot of interactions and a lot of health and welfare information imparted. King is a complicated person in her own right, what with her own mental health problems; a "friends with benefits" relationship; problems with work colleagues and patients; a strong sexual attraction to O'Shea (despite his being married); her relationship with (and tendency to try to snow) her own therapist; and a reckless disregard for her own safety - not just because she rides the Ducati.
To be fair though, paying really close attention might mean that some flaws become slightly over-obvious. Such as why she's somewhat blasé about her personal safety despite the increasingly threatening behaviour of a stalker. It's doubtful that I was the only reader screaming "security camera's..." for a big part of this book. Whilst it may be that much of the personal jeopardy elements of King's behaviour were not completely unbelievable, they did became increasingly frustrating. And then there was all that pet bird disregard. Okay if you want to put on your security system version of a nightie and high-heels and trip around with a candle fine, but somebody needs to think of the bird!
Of course it is possible that many of the worst of the unbelievable elements were designed specifically to show King's tendency for erratic behaviour. Just as her increasing concern, and involvement in the lives of her patients is designed to show the caring, considerate part, but it did prove a major distraction at points.
On the upside there's certainly nothing wrong with the pace of this plot, as for all it's complications and interwoven elements, it rips along at great speed, and King is an interesting new character on the Australian Crime Fiction scene. Edgy and difficult, complicated and unusual, she's got a lot of potential to be a very welcome addition. Perhaps now that her foibles and strengths have been established, and the pattern of behaviour and craziness established, future books will have a little less of the kitchen sink feel about them. Especially as it's hard to imagine that King's going to be spending any time near anything as mundane as a sink.
The third in the Peter Clancy series, BLURLINE takes Clancy to swinging London and the edges of the "red-top" newspaper world. Granted he headed thereThe third in the Peter Clancy series, BLURLINE takes Clancy to swinging London and the edges of the "red-top" newspaper world. Granted he headed there with high hopes of getting a job in slightly more salubrious circumstances, but needs must and when the money starts running low, a reputation built on the back of The Truth newspaper in Melbourne isn't going to help when it comes to "serious newspapers".
When Clancy lands himself a job on one of the even lesser of the lesser scandal rags, he ends up posing as a biographer ghostwriter, supposedly helping well known, and drug and alcohol addicted Olivia Michaels to write her own story.
Getting to meet Michaels is a big part of the story of BLURLINE as Clancy firstly dates, and quickly falls in love with the daughter of a very famous rock musician. One that he stupidly started out convincing he is a writer of thrillers, as opposed to a scandal journo. By the time he realises that his relationship with this girl means a lot to him, he's dug himself half way back to Australia and broken the shovel handle into the bargain. Plus he's agreed to help Michaels with her book, and his boss at the newspaper's very pleased about this subterfuge, as it gives the paper an insider view of the celebrity world. What Clancy doesn't bargain on is how dangerous the ugly secrets become, how much somebody doesn't want the dirt dished, and how far they will go to stop it.
There's something deliciously inevitable about Clancy working for a British red-top, living in a horrible little flat, above yet another take-away food place. Part of what makes that same stuff, different place feel right is the jolt that love and relationships bring to Clancy's life. The sense of time that these books work within is really strong in all of them, but possibly more so in BLURLINE. Add to that the minefield that Clancy is tiptoeing around in, dodging villains with distinctly antagonistic views to his book writing persona, and a girlfriend and her family who are going to have exactly the same reaction to his journalist persona if they ever find out.
The plot here has some inevitable elements about it, what with celebrity, and power and excesses of behaviour, but the details, and the who is / isn't involved aspects provide enough surprises to keep the reader well and truly hooked. To say nothing of good, fast pacing that combines with the characters and plot to make this into a real page turner.
Having been lucky enough to read all three books in this series now, it's pleasing to know there's a fourth on the way. If you've not been lucky enough yet to dip into these little gems, then you really should rectify that situation as soon as possible.
From the first book featuring Cato Kwong this has been a series to follow closely. A police procedural that's moved him from Coventry (aka the Stock S
From the first book featuring Cato Kwong this has been a series to follow closely. A police procedural that's moved him from Coventry (aka the Stock Squad in remote WA) back to Perth and right into the middle of a shocking murder scene. Made worse by his old friendship with the dead family.
Not that it was a current friendship. Kwong and the Tan family had drifted apart many years ago, but the reason for that separation is part of the problem for this investigation:
"Another strong gust shook the walls. Cato couldn't disagree. He knew the boy, and if anybody was capable of this, he was."
The best thing about this series is the balance between strong, believable and really companionable characters, and the little details of police and forensic procedure that are dotted throughout (as well as the dry and gallows humour):
"Cato left Duncan Goldflam and his mob to continue shifting through the forensic broth in the Tan home and headed back to the office. A team of detectives and uniforms was doorknocking the area. That was expected to take most of the day. The boffins had taken away the array of family PCs, Macs, iPads, smartphones and such, and were picking the bones out of them. The telcos were also doing their bit: logging calls received and made, durations and locations in the preceding week, timeline to be expanded as required. DC Thornton hovered by Cato's desk."
Needless to say the state of the investigation is summed up in a succinct paragraph and we're away. There is much to be said for this clear, to the point style. The reader knows where we are, the procedural aspects aren't brushed under the carpet, and they don't bog the action down into the bargain. Which leaves Carter free to play with his characters, their attitudes and interactions.
"He flicked a finger at the newspaper. 'This race to the bottom. Competing to see how badly we can treat asylum seekers. Tents on Castaway Island for fuck's sake. They'll be promising to spit in their food next. Pathetic.' A Perth gangster with more humanity and political insight than a Federal political leader; it gave you pause for thought."
Yes indeed it does. As does much of this investigation as it digs into the Tan family themselves, their boyfriends and girlfriends, and Francis Tan's business associates. It's a good balance of plot, action and characters, with some standouts in all categories.
"There was a certain inevitability about what happened next. The Red Mist had descended on Deb Hassan but she was horribly calm as she unclipped her taser, marched up and stuck it into Mrs Harvey's shoulder. 'Mind your manners, bitch.'"
Not politically correct, flamboyant and definitely a tad on the grumpy side, Deb Hassan works really well with the calmer, more prosaic Kwong even though there are times when you can visualise them with hands around each others throats.
Kwong doesn't play a lone hand though, there are other things happening in his world. His boss in trouble with a judicial inquiry, and a bad dose of angina, as well as characters from the earlier books with happy events and woes of their own. Carter does not shy away from some dramatic outcomes in the case of his characters. All isn't automatically happy and right in this world. This aspect alone means that the chance to read the books in order is going to make everything work much better for you, but it's not necessary. These are such good books there's enough context here to keep you from being confused, without bogging you down.
It's hard to explain sometimes why cracking, tight, and realistic dialogue is so necessary for this genre. People that work together daily, under pressure and in the most confrontational of circumstances talk in jargon, in short-hand, in pointed and often poignant style. Instead of explaining why it's so important from here on, I'm seriously considering referring questioners to books like BAD SEED.
Combine all of these excellent elements with a great sense of place, time and social context and BAD SEED clearly indicates that this is a series that just keeps getting better.
Set in Wellington New Zealand, Jennifer Mortimer's book TRILEMMA brings her main character - Linnet Mere to a new city in search of lost family connecSet in Wellington New Zealand, Jennifer Mortimer's book TRILEMMA brings her main character - Linnet Mere to a new city in search of lost family connections and love.
Setting this character up with a completely new start gives Mortimer a chance to put her narrator at a loss on a number of levels - no job (at the outset), no connections, no home and no support means Lin is under pressure and out-of-step from the beginning. Although born in New Zealand, she moved away as a young child leaving a fractured family background. The complications of her family are going to require the reader to pay attention, made more difficult in the earlier part of the book where it concentrates on the goings on in the business environment. Obviously this author knows a lot about the demands of project management, and the telecommunications world. Much of that knowledge, unfortunately, has led to a narrative that is too detailed, borderline boring and definitely in the way too much information camp. Interspersed within are Linnet's attempts to rekindle her relationship with Ben, now living in remote NZ, whilst also finding her sisters and reconnecting the shattered family.
Given that we're looking at all the action in TRILEMMA from Lin's point of view, it's hard not to wonder about the veracity of much here. You're going to have to accept accept the motivations for the move, and that the high-powered, highly regarded Project Manager can lob in town, get a job with a new broadband startup, find the old boyfriend, find the sisters, rekindle the familial connection, take over the company and sort out the political machinations of the Board (when she realises they are there). All done, it seems, without breaking a fingernail or even into a sweat, whilst simultaneously failing to notice some of the weirdness going on around her.
Along the way there's some points being made about glass-ceilings, sexism and the none-too-subtle bullying that occurs when the outsider woman steps into the position of power. Of the many aspects of this book, these are the things that were possibly most worthwhile, clouded and somewhat watered down by the narrative form which means that the reader, seeing everything through Lin's eyes, could be finding Lin a difficult character to connect with, or worse still, somebody whose motivations seem a bit dodgy.
Stick with TRILEMMA though, and once you get through the first half of the book, things do pick up. The project management / company management 101 shifts to the background and the mystery and (hefty) romantic elements get more of a run as the pace improves. The resolution, however, might make you think less broadband and more high-rise construction. (It's going to take a big dose of suspension of disbelief for many readers).
Undoubtedly TRILEMMA is trying to build into a thriller, but the lack of menace (probably because it's nearly all over before Lin realises it's there) means it's a bit hard to notice / believe whilst reading. Worth a look though if you're interested in somebody making some points about the problems for women in the corporate world.
GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC is the second in the Mitchell Parker thriller series, so reading them backwards (as I am) is clearing up some unknowns, andGRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC is the second in the Mitchell Parker thriller series, so reading them backwards (as I am) is clearing up some unknowns, and creating a few more. Needless to say MASTERMIND, the first in the series is going to have to be read at some stage as now, if nothing else, this reader wants to know how this group got together in the first place.
Given the proximity of reading the third (THE FOURTH REICH) and now GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC it's possible to really see the way the series has evolved. Whilst the crisp dialogue, and the team interactions are as strong in this book as the third, there's definitely a much more coherent, and threatening plot in the later book. In GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC there is a more hefty suspension of disbelief required, of maybe it's just that the motivations here weren't quite so clear.
The action takes place in Washington and North Caroline, and from a quick check around, it seems that the waters around the second are area well known for the number of wrecks. This choice works for action that relies on a lot of above and below water activities, and some rather surprising spy type activities require diving gear and the occasional fishing rod. The way that the team pairs up into specialities for this action makes a lot of sense, and also gives this author a chance to bounce the relationships around.
As with the next book along, the interactions between these characters, and the way that the whole team works is undoubtedly one of the great strengths. They are fun people to be around, although not perfect by any means and the sniping, and the stuffing up feels real and very believable. In this case, as mentioned, the plot's not as coherent or as convincing however, but that may also be a factor in the nationality of the readership. There's something about Chinese submarines lurking in the waters off popular swimming and fishing locations, and much talk about "the VIP" that kind of makes this Australian reader of a "certain age" leap to a conclusion way before anything much actually gets a chance to get going.
Number 5 in the Rainbow series, and THE CASE OF THE COCK ROBIN KILLER might be blue about lots of things, but it won't make you blue to read it. In faNumber 5 in the Rainbow series, and THE CASE OF THE COCK ROBIN KILLER might be blue about lots of things, but it won't make you blue to read it. In fact you'll probably find yourself snorting with laughter, or at least rolling your eyes as the puns fly left, right and centre.
The reader of any of my earlier reviews of this wonderfully silly, oddball series will know that I'm a bit of a fan. They are the sorts of books that you pick up late on a Sunday afternoon when you just want to be amused, and not think about the ills of the world. Obviously they are meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek, and you must read them in that manner (after all our hero's name is Rainbow!) but there is sufficient hat-tips to the standard noir sensibilities that make you realise it's done with huge affection.
Given those hat-tips, there's a slightly damaged (and now reformed) sidekick; a beautiful woman as a colleague; and there's thugs, photographers and a mildly alarming build up of bodies. There's wisecracks, and a tendency for Rainbow to have been there, done that, lost the t-shirt in a card game. Definitely one to put aside for one of those Sunday reading sessions.
The second of the Jennifer Shot series I've read, SHOT THROUGH THE HEART is Australian crime fiction of the humorous, slightly dippy female protagonisThe second of the Jennifer Shot series I've read, SHOT THROUGH THE HEART is Australian crime fiction of the humorous, slightly dippy female protagonist kind. The sort of girl (and that's appropriate in this case) that lives a quirky alternative lifestyle (this time in an old multi-storied mansion type house in Tasmania - with a view and, I think, a turret or something). She shares that house with a bunch of eccentric types, and they all live one of those slightly breathless, wise-cracking, funny chats, ribbing each other constantly, all good friends together scenarios that's full to the brim of friendship, joking and harmless japes.
On reading an earlier book in this series, THE FIRST SHOT, this reader had some reservations about that whole heavy-handed humour thing, although that book did seem to show some promise, particularly in the set up for the central character, Jennifer Shot.
Whilst SHOT THROUGH THE HEART does continue firmly down the path of the heavy-handed humour, and is still very much from the softer, sillier side of crime fiction, alas the jokes don't seem to work as well. The banter this time out is in the 75kg+ weight-lifting category and seems to have taken over.
To be fair, this sort of style is most definitely not my preferred reading material. Although those that have worked, tend towards a better balance between plot and character and are less caught up in the whole "cleverness" of the chatter between the characters. There is a fundamental element - the crime - that gets a lot more focus. Particularly when you are dealing with killers of the serial variety and a startlingly rapid pile up of bodies.
None of this was helped by the rather predictable elements of an international drug ring, a couple of romantic interests in the persona of an American mercenary and the policeman old flame, with a dollop of handsome millionaire complicating matters for the heroine who, it seems, is the centre of all attention. All of which probably goes to say there's likely to be an audience out there that's a lot more receptive than this one.
LONG WAY HOME was released in 2014 and quickly garnered a lot of very positive comments. At which point it was placed on my reading list and then neveLONG WAY HOME was released in 2014 and quickly garnered a lot of very positive comments. At which point it was placed on my reading list and then never quite nudged it's way to the top. Nothing to do with it at all, rather a propensity to be useless at prioritising books and the sudden explosion in splendid reading opportunities.
But the second book in the series, TELL NO TALES was provided as a review opportunity and it seemed a pity not to sneak in the first as a lead in. Oh what a good decision that turned out to be. Aside from the pressure to read the second one getting so extreme I might have to pull a hamstring or invent something that makes me take to the couch to read non-stop for a week.
If we take it as a given that crime fiction, at its best, looks at the society in which it is written and plucks out things that need looking at, then LONG WAY HOME is a stellar example of that. The question of immigration and integration is one that is taxing a number of communities these days (here no less than others), and the idea of the requirement for a Hate Crimes Unit makes sense, as does the wide-ranging remit they are presented with. Members of that unit being multi-racial and multi-lingual as well also makes sense, as does the odd feeling that investigating acts against members of your own community, or people with a similar background that must ensue.
All of this messaging though is built into a solid plot within a believable and very strong police procedural. The main characters are stand-out, even the victim is given life and vitality as his background is combed over. The writing is crisp, clear, deft and beautifully executed. The dialogue is spot on, the descriptions of place, people, feelings and circumstances assured and very readable. To the point where this reader should be excused for a bit of late night googling as flagging this as a debut novel felt like a typo.
Leaning towards hard-boiled in stylings and subject matter, Dolan has created a team of investigator's and a scenario for them to work in that really feels like it's got legs. Certainly hope so. Now can well understand the very positive comments about this book. The second book in this series is now calling very loudly.
The author of COLD DECEPTION has had many years experience in the Criminal Justice system, and that knowledge shines through in this debut crime fictiThe author of COLD DECEPTION has had many years experience in the Criminal Justice system, and that knowledge shines through in this debut crime fiction offering.
Julia Taylor's release from prison, her struggles to re-establish life and normality, and the way that she balances that struggle with parole responsibilities, the problems with finding a job and the problems in inserting herself back into her family and her community have a strong sense of reality about them.
Julia's crime provides the author with a chance to explore a number of aspects - how will people react to the murder of a peodophile priest? Will the community divide into those nervous and unhappy to have a convicted murderer back in their midst, and those that feel that the victim got what he deserved? Their reactions, Julia's own families acceptance of events, everything is complicated by the way that she had instantly pleaded guilty. The lack of a detailed investigation, of explanations and qualifications means that there is somehow a lack of finalisation, a question mark always hanging over her conviction. Over her.
These aspects of COLD DECEPTION are really fascinating. Julia Taylor is prickly, standoffish, defensive and quite a difficult character for everyone to relate to. There's also something harder, more determined about her since her time in jail (as you'd kind of expect). Her character is really cleverly done. Believable, sympathetic, questionable. She is, although, not best supported by a plot that has some clever twists, but suffers from a few too many predictable elements. Of course, this reader is notoriously twitchy about romance, but this time around, it just felt all too convenient, as did a number of elements. It was just too easy to have the cop that believes in her also be the hunky, gorgeous love interest. The ex-cop who is out to get her is the sleasy, abusive, difficult bloke. The hooker / drug addict with the heart of gold, the "alternative" parental relationship. The drugs. The priest. The sister. And all. Whilst there are a few twists towards the end of this book overall the plot is pretty transparent.
Definitely one for fans of the more romantic, there's nothing overtly wrong with COLD DECEPTION. It's an engaging enough read, that powers along at a great rate. If you are a fan of books where the the bad boy gets it in the neck, the girl is redeemed and there's all that will they / won't they / of course they do between her and the gorgeous bloke (why are they never just nice blokes who look okay?), then COLD DECEPTION is definitely a book that you should be reading.
If you've not read the earlier Ihaka books then you really need to address that as a matter of some urgency - full review at Reviewing the Evidence: hIf you've not read the earlier Ihaka books then you really need to address that as a matter of some urgency - full review at Reviewing the Evidence: http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/r......more
Every now and again you come across an author who writes fabulous books, and yet, sadly seems to stay too far below the radar. New Zealander Paddy RicEvery now and again you come across an author who writes fabulous books, and yet, sadly seems to stay too far below the radar. New Zealander Paddy Richardson is one of the best thriller writers around these days, one who undoubtedly deserves a much bigger readership than she seems to have garnered. Full Review at Reviewing the Evidence: http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/r......more
The second book in the Superintendent Le Fanu series set in 1920's India, THE PALLAMPUR PREDICAMENT follows on closely from THE MADRAS MIASMA. So closThe second book in the Superintendent Le Fanu series set in 1920's India, THE PALLAMPUR PREDICAMENT follows on closely from THE MADRAS MIASMA. So closely it would be worthwhile reading both books in order, although not absolutely necessary.
In the reasons why column, in true police procedural style, Le Fanu is hampered by a difficult boss who hates him and his methodologies. At the end of the first book this boss is promoted even further up the chain, and the results of that are played out in this second story. Without the background many of the twists and turns in that relationship won't be as revealing as they could be.
There is also a relationship building between Le Fanu and his assistant Habi which grows throughout the two books, as does the unlikely friendship, which is greatly informed by the colonial society in which they both live.
Understanding that societal group, it's petty politics and prejudices, and the tensions with the Congress, Ghandi and a local population resenting their Colonial overlords also benefits from the full story in both books.
As does the difficulties of Le Fanu's romance with his once was live in housekeeper who moves away and then returns in the second novel.
Having said that, the strength of these novels is in the way that all of that background is balanced against an ongoing police investigation, with each book pursuing unconnected crimes. The details of the tensions in post-independence India are fascinating, and weaving them into the life of a Superintendent of Police who is sympathetic to the local cause, supportive of the local people, and a fan of local food and culture works really well. THE PALLAMPUR PREDICAMENT takes Le Fanu from the heights of society - in the household of the Rajah of Pallampur who has been brutally murdered, through to the backstreets of Madras and out into the country. These locations and the people living and working there, along with some tendrils into the Secret Service provide many potential motivations, complications and suspects. All of this gives the author a chance to draw a really clear picture of the time and place.
This series is good, old-fashioned, crime / mystery fiction in the best sense of the style. There's a light touch to the humour, a genuine puzzle to be solved with sufficient red herrings to keep a reader's attention. Along the way there is a bit of a history lesson, particularly about Colonial society, and to be fair, it's not all black and white. Add to that a love affair which is risky simply because of the petty prejudices of others, and this is a series that works for fans of gentler, more puzzle based mysteries, as well as those that like the historical aspects.
TRINITY is Book 1 of the Kuldun Code Trilogy, the second book being not far away if memory serves correct. Set in modern Russia, Sophie Masson has cerTRINITY is Book 1 of the Kuldun Code Trilogy, the second book being not far away if memory serves correct. Set in modern Russia, Sophie Masson has certainly involved a wonderful sense of place and culture in this book:
"They'd left a mild gray London spring morning and emerged into a Moscow afternoon so bright blue that it seemed painted on with a lavish brush. Everything had culture-shocked her, from the sublime to the ordinary: the candy-striped domes of St Basil's cathedral flaunted against the intense sky, Red Square vast as a rolling stone plain, wide streets strung with garlands of lights, weird little railway kiosks like tiny general stores, impassive people whose faces she didn't know how to read. And most of all, the barbed wire look of Cyrillic script fencing her off from any real understanding of what was going on."
The sense of the place, and the look and feel of a stranger in that unknown, untranslated difference is really well done through-out this book. Helen has never been here before, and knows little of the place and the people, although her mother speaks fluent Russian and is used to the culture and the people. The idea that the mythical weaves its way through the people and the place is also believable and contributes overall to the sense of "other" that TRINITY is obviously looking to build.
But within that, and even allowing for a certain leeriness for anything magical, paranormal or fantastical on this reader's part, there are too many holes in other elements in this book to allow the good elements to override the less convincing. Particularly the set up of Helen and Alexey as outsiders, and the building of this supposed intrigue that they solve together, which feels contrived and lacking veritas.
On the one hand Helen, she of the lovelorn, "he done me wrong" sad and lost girl; and on the other Alexey, the young Russian heir to the dark and mysterious business founded by his father. She's sad, withdrawn, docile - he's ethereal, idealistic and somewhat naive. And stinking rich. Of course these two will set eyes on each other, declare their undying love so quickly it's a wonder they've worked out how to spell each other's names, let alone be drawn together in love, business, mystery and the whole darn thing. That's not to say that's never going to happen anywhere, but everything - every single bit of character trait, behaviour, background is screaming "this is what will happen" from the second the mysterious sunglass wearing boy appears.
Once they do pair up however, the reason for Helen's existence in the whole book becomes increasingly vague. Given her tendency to mope about you can't help but wonder what she's doing there at all, especially as her role as soppy outsider means she's not really empowered to actually get involved or do a lot. Not helped by her spending a lot of time hanging around waiting whilst Alexey's off doing secret men's business of some kind. But then both of them are strangely passive, as is the whole "sudden love of their lives thing". It's all a bit syrupy, soppy gazing and mooning and generally being all... well bleagghhh. Which was not particularly realistic or convincing given the speed of the attraction and the supposed tense times in which they exist.
Having said all of that, if you stick with it, the later part of the book does improve. The pace picks up, there's less hanging around waiting, and the central characters seem to be slightly less wishy washy. Even the magical / folkloric aspects take a higher profile, providing more context and sense to the entire thing. TRINITY is probably a book for fans of paranormal / magic and romance with a bit of intrigue, rather than crime fiction fans alone. It's definitely going to be one of those books that really works for some readers, and does not at all for others.