3.5 Best selling author David Baldacci has an innate ability to create interesting characters, there’s even something different about his bad guys… i3.5 ☆ Best selling author David Baldacci has an innate ability to create interesting characters, there’s even something different about his bad guys… it isn’t that they are more evil or that his books contain more graphic violence – quite the opposite. Baldacci’s writing is classy. It is easy to identify with his characters, to feel for them, to be invested in what happens and Amos Decker is no exception. That said, this book is unlike any of Baldacci’s earlier works, it’s a breath of fresh air in an often stagnant genre.
Amos Decker suffered a crushing helmet to helmet blow ending his pro football career the first time he suited up. How his brain receives and interprets information was forever changed. He was diagnosed with rare cognitive phenomenons known as syynethesia and hyperthymesia. He can’t forget anything. Which for the first two decades of his career in law enforcement was a gift. Then came that horrific night, when Detective Decker, returning home from a stakeout walked into a nightmare from which he has yet to awaken. His family had been murdered – his beautiful wife Cassie shot in the head, 9 year old daughter, Molly strangled and his brother-in-law’s throat had been slashed. Why? Who had done this? Despite their best efforts the case remained unsolved. His life spun out of control…he lost his home, his job, and nearly his mind.
That was 15 months ago. Now working here and there as a private investigator, Decker is trying to find his way out the darkness when his former partner, Mary Lancaster tells him a man named Sebastian Leopold has confessed to killing his family. While trying to talk to this confessed killer, there’s a school shooting as his alma mater, Mansfield High. From this point forward everything speeds toward the resolution.
I have always loved David Baldacci’s writing style – he takes risks…thinks outside the box. And Memory Man is definitely outside the box, I had never heard of these cognitive conditions and after much reading on the subject, I still don’t understand it. But that’s ok. This was an interesting read that sparked my imagination and while it did seem to go flat in few chapters, for the most part everything was tied together and resolved by the last page. I can’t say exactly what made this novel fall short for me, except that it just didn’t have the “fire” I have come to expect when reading a Baldacci book.
Wow, I’m sorry to say this is the first book I’ve read by Richard Montanari, but it certainly won’t be the last, I have already reserved Rosary GirlsWow, I’m sorry to say this is the first book I’ve read by Richard Montanari, but it certainly won’t be the last, I have already reserved Rosary Girls at my local library. Honestly, I really missed the boat with this author – but now that I have secured a quiet listening corner, I’m in for the long ride.
Although this is the eighth book in the series, it works as a standalone. There’s enough information about the characters to carry the reader through. And these are well drawn, three dimensional, and easily relateable. Philadelphia Homicide Detectives Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne are interesting, work well as a team, and have a palpable respect for one another. Byrne is more experienced, kind hearted and determined. While Balzano is opinionated and shrewd, with an equally warm heart. I particularly liked the absence of romantic entanglement.
Richard Montanari weaves multiple angles together into a disturbing tapestry of missing children, murdered children extravagantly posed on painted surfaces, and a convicted child killer weeks away from her final walk. Are they connected? Time is running out for Balzano and Byrne to find out. Throughout the reader discovers information only moments before the detectives. Montanari gives the reader credit and doesn’t spell everything out letter for letter. The Doll Maker is more about motives and concepts, than actual brutality and violence. The latter being the tools used to create his ‘art.’ The creepy tea dance invitations he leaves at each scene add yet another layer to an already colorful piece.
This is disturbing on so many levels – there were entire chapters that gave me goose-bumps (and I don’t frighten easy). Montanari has a gift – the ability to write realistically, believable stories that are the stuff nightmares are made of, but sadly could be the lead story on the news tonight. The Doll Maker is an outstanding book. Period. No matter what opinion you read, good or bad..if you enjoy suspense/thrillers – read this one for yourself.
*DO NOT form your opinion based on the prologue. Yes it is graphic, gruesome and extremely disturbing, but this does not fairly represent the rest of the story.
Open to a San Fernando Valley, California high school where there’s been yet another school shooting. Special Prosecutor Rachel Knight and LAPD DetectOpen to a San Fernando Valley, California high school where there’s been yet another school shooting. Special Prosecutor Rachel Knight and LAPD Detective Bailey Keller enter a horrific crime scene, knowing one thing … the heartbroken parents expect answers…and they deserved answers. But with each student interview the picture grows blurrier not clearer. The clues simply didn’t add up to the scene set before them. Survivors describe a Columbine copycat crime… two masked killers interrupted the pep rally and began shooting. Pandemonium erupted, terrified kids scattered, literally running for their lives, as the killers made their way out of the gymnasium, into the hallways, methodically murdering their fellow classmates. The gunfire ended in the library, with two final blasts, as the merciless killers apparently died from self inflicted gunshot wounds. However, when two masks, believed to be those worn by the shooters are discovered in the dumpster this case deviates from its predecessor.
From this point forward hang on to your nightcap, its’ gonna be a long night. Wow, what an incredible reading experience…Clark covered very sensitive and controversial subject matter respectfully, without ever holding back the hard truths that those investigating these crimes must deal with. It’s a chance to look behind the curtain and see the inner workings of these difficult cases. Especially thought provoking was the dialogue with the forensic experts regarding the personality of a psychopathic killer. There are so many layers within The Competition it could’ve easily gone awry. However, Clark weaves the various elements together and Clark has woven them together brilliantly. The plot driven style can be tedious and boring, which Clark danced on the edge of in her previous books. However, not this time..the extensive interviews are interesting and insightful, serving not only to move the story forward but to develop the characters as well. Bottom line, this is a good book!
Marcia Clark's series:
Guilt By Association #1 Guilt By Degrees #2 Killer Ambition #3...more
The foundation for this incredible book was laid some 17 years ago when Jeffery Deaver unleashed his instant thriller classic…The Bone Collector…now,The foundation for this incredible book was laid some 17 years ago when Jeffery Deaver unleashed his instant thriller classic…The Bone Collector…now, the serial killer that held NYC hostage more than a decade ago has returned and in so doing, has Rhymes, Sachs and the NYPD trying to outwit a killer with a message and nothing to lose.
In Skin Collector, supercop, Lincoln Rhymes must utilize all the weapons in his impressive forensic brain, while Amanda Sachs puts her boots on the ground, as his eyes and ears in the field. But knowledge alone will not be enough to stop this madman with a tattoo gun loaded with poison. Not as complex as we are used too from Deaver. The story often felt rushed or incomplete. Also the last few chapters are pure enticement for book 12…while I understand the writers’ thinking here, it’s simply a waste of good usable space in THIS book and it will be repeated in the beginning chapters of the next book. Because I love Jeffery Deaver’s writing style and Lincoln Rhymes is one of my favorite characters, I will read the next book and the next, etc. And maybe I’m in the minority here..but I will forget what was written here. I would prefer this practice become a thing of the past and fill this book up with the twists, turns, and U-Turns that give us chills, make us shake our heads and I guarantee when the book is closed for the final time, the first thought in the readers mind will be..”Gosh, I can’t wait for the next book!” Even though I was “mildly” disappointed with Skin Collector, it’s only because Deaver has set the bar so very high with previous titles. This is a good book, if you haven’t read the other 10 books there’s enough information you’ll enjoy the book. But it will wet your appetite for more and there’s plenty to keep you busy til number 12 in the series blazes a trail to your nearest bookstore’s best seller shelf....more
I’ll not waste time repeating the dust jacket or give away spoilers, this is simply my thoughts about Blue Labyrinth. The suspense/thriller genre is crI’ll not waste time repeating the dust jacket or give away spoilers, this is simply my thoughts about Blue Labyrinth. The suspense/thriller genre is crowded with interesting, exciting protagonists, but Agent Aloysius Pendergast, is in a class of his own. A Chongg Ran practitioner, with an extensive knowledge of food and wine, and unparalleled verbal skills. His appreciation of finer things always on display – designer suits, handmade shoes, a grand mansion on Riverside Drive, a lovely apartment in the Dakota, and his chauffeur driven 59 Rolls Royce.
Blue Labyrinth is the 14th novel in this series and while all of them have been “good”, some definitely shine brighter than others, as I’m sure is true of any long running series. The story weaves together the murder of Pendergast’s son, (Alban), and that of a Museum of Natural History technician. It was great to see P&C return to the roots of the series. But I still expected Agent Pendergast to be the star of Blue Labyrinth. He is not. Fighting for his life on the sideline, the spot light shifts to long time friend, Detective Vincent D’Agosta (NYPD), Dr. Margo Green (Curator, MSH) and Constance Greene (Pendergast’s ward). These three beloved characters take center stage as they try to assemble a puzzle with seeming unrelated pieces in time to save Pendergast. It was an entertaining read that revealed more about the characters than it did about the villains. Blue Labyrinth is a solid read, with vivid depictions, three dimensional characters and plenty of the eccentricities I’ve come to expect from Preston and Child. Rene Aberjonois has one the most distinctive voices in narration. His ability to breathe life into fictional characters takes the listener inside the book from cover to cover. He uses tone, tempo, accents and pitch to make each character an individual and every setting a beautifully drawn scene. Blue Labyrinth is a good book and even better audio experience. There are flaws, but none so flagrant as to turn me away from the series. At times it felt like the authors were preparing for the demise of Aloysius Pendergast and maybe that was their intention. I’m just glad it didn’t happen in Blue Labyrinth, so there’ll be a #15.
The audio version takes the story to a whole new dimension, Holter Graham’s vocal range is incredible. From the nasal sounds of a teen boy, to the heaThe audio version takes the story to a whole new dimension, Holter Graham’s vocal range is incredible. From the nasal sounds of a teen boy, to the heartbroken cries of a wife, the dramatic emotional entanglements are brought to life and will leave you nearly breathless at times. I found myself rewinding and listening a second or even a third time, just to make sure I had taken it all in. . .
Vanished is a thriller and it most certainly does…and beyond that, it is entertaining! Don’t miss this introduction to a brand new leading man that will surely be around for a long time – I look forward to the next Nick Heller novel – I am anxious to get to know more about this intriguing character – what makes him tick, is there a lady in his future? Or maybe one returning from his past? There are so many possibilities and Joseph Finder will do his research, take the publics pulse and then deliver to us another exciting novel. I can’t wait!
Vanished… is an exceptional novel – Don’t Miss it! ...more
Breathing Water is an exceptional novel – showcasing Hallinan’s appreciation and understanding of Thai culture which is masterfully translated throughBreathing Water is an exceptional novel – showcasing Hallinan’s appreciation and understanding of Thai culture which is masterfully translated through the narrative, allowing readers a front row seat on a 300 page journey through Bangkok. (For many, like me, this is as close to Bangkok as we will ever get.) His portrayal of Bangkok brings the city right into your living room, which is no simple task as this is a city of fluid contradictions, where you can visit a message parlor type of establishment and pray on your way out at one of the many beautiful statues. For years Thailand has been teetering on the brink of civil war or total collapse, awash in every conceivable type of corruption, as organized crime bosses maneuver, manipulate and control all aspects of Thai life, from the street vendor to the political arena, but because of its dependence on tourism and this underworld control we are not likely to see such reports on CNN. Hallinan delivers the story with an unbridled passion that is intoxicating, addictive and incredibly entertaining. If you are looking for a genuinely good book, written with heart and doesn’t assume the reader lacks intelligence, look no further…Breathing Water is a rock solid selection you will not regret! (And pick up the first two installments while you’re at it! You won’t get much sleep for the next several days, but it is so worth it!)...more
In Deadlock, we are given a glimpse, (that will hopefully remain fictional), into the chilling possibilities and consequences that go hand in hand witIn Deadlock, we are given a glimpse, (that will hopefully remain fictional), into the chilling possibilities and consequences that go hand in hand with advancing technology, especially when money, status and greed replace integrity, morality and accountability. The futuristic element is just beyond the setting sun of tomorrow, but not so much so that it becomes unforeseeable. The situations that play out are frighteningly similar to those we have seen on the news in recent months. The combination of fantasy and reality, creative imagination and good research have yielded an interesting, provocative novel, that moves quickly and keeps the reader involved....more
The characters, although experiencing extraordinary events, are quite ordinary and easy to relate too. You can’t help but be emotionally invested in tThe characters, although experiencing extraordinary events, are quite ordinary and easy to relate too. You can’t help but be emotionally invested in this family, saddened by their struggles, cheering for their success, concerned for their safety and angered by evil Taksidian. All of which are the result of an exceptionally well written story by a talented writer that understands his target audience and believes in his characters. Interesting historical scenes and heart pounding action combine to make it quite difficult to find a place to stop for the night. So if you are reading this with your children, be prepared to hear “just one more page, please!”
This may be a youth series, however, adults will find themselves wrapped up in the smooth narrative, creative use of time travel and vivid imagery. ...more
With several well known and beloved characters reprising their roles in Cemetery Dance fans are in for a real treat – however, as with their other novWith several well known and beloved characters reprising their roles in Cemetery Dance fans are in for a real treat – however, as with their other novels, this one stands alone. So, there’s no reason to hold back – if you have never read a Preston/Child novel before, you can pick this one up and dive right in. Their writing is so spot on, detailed and character driven there’s nothing missing accept you! And with Rene Auberjonois’ providing the narration even those who have read the print version will be intrigued by his incredible presentation. His portrayal of Agent Pendergast breathes life into the fictional character, pulling him off the pages of the book and presenting him in living color. I was amazed by the depth and range Auberjonois employed throughout, going so far as to incorporate gutteral, zombie noises into the narrative. Which I must admit gave me a shudder and added a bit of “oh my” to the vibe. The audio version of Cemetery Dance (from Hachette Book Group) is exceptional and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys an exciting novel that doesn’t fit into any of the pre-determined, cookie-cutter classifications. Preston and Child do an extraordinary job delivering highly unusual material in an intelligent manner that enlightens the reader and engages your senses on a variety of levels. The information revealed in the novel was so provocative, it peeked my curiosity, prompting me to dig deeper into the topics. This is entertainment at its finest, from two of today’s most popular authors. Knowing this and accepting the story for what it was intended allows you to sit back, relax and thoroughly enjoy this unique work. ...more
Mesmerism, magnetism, opium dens, dissolving corpses in lime, feral children and distinctly 19th century language swirl together like the smoke of a fMesmerism, magnetism, opium dens, dissolving corpses in lime, feral children and distinctly 19th century language swirl together like the smoke of a fine cigar…intoxicating the reader, making the unbelievable absolutely real, if only in the mind of the character and if only for a moment or two. Simmons teases the reader throughout the story – with each successive event you are at first convinced it is Collins that’s delusional and in the very next breathe sure it is Dickens’. All of which works well together, making the lengthy text hurl as quickly towards the conclusion as the train cars did off the edge at Staplehurst. Simmons delivers this fictionalized version of Dickens’ incomplete novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” smoking hot and on a classic silver platter. ...more