One of Rankin's first books, and to be honest, it reads like it's from a young author. But there's something so electric and headlong about it, I love...moreOne of Rankin's first books, and to be honest, it reads like it's from a young author. But there's something so electric and headlong about it, I loved it. The edition I read was published in conjunction with the book's 20th anniversary, with a foreword by Rankin talking about who he was at the time, and the inspiration for/circumstances around the writing and publication of the book, which was great to get the background. (I don't always love things like that, but in this instance it was really good.)
Some indelible phrases in there as well, like, "She smelt good, like a baby on a fireside towel." What the hell does that even mean? but yet, there it is, stuck in my head.
Thought the identification of the culprit and the mystery's resolution were a little too pat, but hey, it's a book of under 300 pages, it wasn't like there was a ton of time to drag it all out. And given that Rankin (according to the foreword) never foresaw this as book 1 of a series (now something like 20 books, seriously) and actually planned not to have Rebus even survive the book, it was probably as much a matter of style as anything else.
Worth checking out, I think, even if you don't plan to go any further with the series.(less)
I... just don't even know where to begin with this one. Initially reads as a fairly straightforward historical mystery, when a series of gruesome and...moreI... just don't even know where to begin with this one. Initially reads as a fairly straightforward historical mystery, when a series of gruesome and bestial murders hits 1880s Edinburgh. Self-absorbed police Inspector Groves, who often seems more interested in how a case will be presented to future readers of his memoir-in-progress, suspects that the crimes are tied together through an odd young woman, Evelyn Todd, but resistance to his questioning by Evelyn herself, as well as the associates of the murdered men, stymies his investigation.
Meanwhile, Professor McKnight and Mr. Canavan, whose unexpected friendship has developed around a shared love of books and philosophy, take up their own investigation into Miss Todd's background and experiences, hoping to discover what links her to the deaths of such a varied cast of characters, the mighty and the seedy.
(view spoiler)[Evelyn's vast imagination, it ensues, is capable of somehow manifesting her desires as she sleeps. Better still, it seems that it unleashes a silent "lodger" who occupies her mind and is freed only when she is unconscious. What and who is that "lodger"? how did it come to share her mind, and why are these particular people its targets? (hide spoiler)] The last quarter of the book becomes increasingly phantasmical, requiring the reader to set aside any requirements for a tidy wrap-up.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was one of those desperation buys that turned out well - stopped in a thrift store to grab something that looked interesting, just to have someth...moreThis was one of those desperation buys that turned out well - stopped in a thrift store to grab something that looked interesting, just to have something to read over dinner. I'm not much a fan of political-type thrillers, and the reference to Ludlum on the cover almost put me off, but something about the description convinced me it was worth at least spending a few hours with.
Hugo Fitzduane is a former member of an Irish elite military force-turned-war photographer, and when he's not traipsing the globe taking pictures he lives in a remote island off the coast of Ireland, in a castle that has been in his family for hundreds of years. Not a cushy, plushly-appointed castle - a place designed for military defense and not all that updated for modern convenience. Oh, and chock-full of weaponry of all sorts, both antique and modern. Seems the Fitzduanes are fond of collecting things that go boom. Also sharing the island is a sort of finishing school for children of wealthy parents, who for one reason or another feel their kids need the place's odd mix of traditional education, physical challenge, and obscure location.
When Fitzduane happens on the body of a student who has hanged himself and is compelled to investigate what led to the young man's death, he is drawn into a mystery that will tax every skill he has learned just to keep up with his quarry, a sadistic international terrorist whose inexplicable game warps everyone he encounters.
The good parts: What kept me engaged was the characters and their interaction - the mature, loving relationship of Hugo and his long-time girlfriend Etan; the insubordinate but highly capable Swiss police officer, Bear; Hugo's former superior, Kilmara, who is very good at his job as head of Ireland's national anti-terrorist group when not obstructed by politicians. And the book is FUNNY in places - often the sort of gallows humor you find among compatriots working at a difficult task or in a stressful field. I also enjoyed the depiction of life in Bern, Switzerland, where murder is extremely uncommon, and a series of violent deaths upsets not just those directly affected, but the order of the whole city. I also appreciated the inclusion of women amid the fighting - not just as non-participants needing to be protected, but as tough and wily fighters themselves.
The bad parts: over-the-top, gloatingly evil, sadistic bad guy, and accompanying gore galore. Gratuitous sex. I like a good sex scene, but really? Hugo goes around getting boners as readily as a kid half his age, and virtually every woman he meets wants to have sex with him. (Being a one-woman-man, though, he resists, managing even to avoid offending the rejected women. A paragon among men!)
Too much dwelling on military hardware for me, but I'm sure devotees of the genre would delight in the details.(less)
Interesting setting (California, mainly in the first half of the 20th century), interesting time frame (covering from the end of the gunfighter era to...moreInteresting setting (California, mainly in the first half of the 20th century), interesting time frame (covering from the end of the gunfighter era to the end of WWII), somewhat interesting characters, if rather too perfect (this is an issue I have with Diehl in other books too - see, Martin Vail in Primal Fear/Show of Evil/Reign in Hell.) Everyone is heroic, or fantastically attractive, or dazzlingly good at what they do. (Except the bad guys, who drop before the heroes' hail of bullets just like they'd read the script in advance.)(less)
Tough call on rating - really a 3.5, but on the high side. ;) Thomas Perry has a twisty brain, and I like that.
Strong and *believable* female charact...moreTough call on rating - really a 3.5, but on the high side. ;) Thomas Perry has a twisty brain, and I like that.
Strong and *believable* female characters. Charlene/Tanya/Nancy/Judith is a sociopath, but you grow to understand why she's wired that way. Detective Sergeant Catherine Hobbes is good at her job, but still finds her instincts second-guessed by her co-workers, superiors, and Joe Pitt, the private investigator hired to look into a murder Hobbes is working on, and to whom Hobbes is growing increasingly attracted, despite her best intentions. Their relationship is mature and realistic, a repeated theme of Perry's books that I appreciate.
Like most of Perry's work, Nightlife is not about bigger, better guns or faster cars; it's a battle of wills, a contest between killer and officer of the law to see which can out-think the other. (less)
I previously read one of the later John Cardinal books (Blackfly Season, I think) and remembered liking it, so when I ran across a copy of Forty Words...moreI previously read one of the later John Cardinal books (Blackfly Season, I think) and remembered liking it, so when I ran across a copy of Forty Words I grabbed it.
Rather gruesome, so those who are easily squicked out should avoid. This is not a cozy mystery. John Cardinal is a detective with the Algonquin Bay police department; he is newly partnered with Lise Delorme, who has just transferred from "Special" (I think the equivalent of Internal Affairs?) and may or may not be investigating Cardinal's possible involvement in leaking advance information to a criminal about planned raids. Cardinal is in disgrace, having insisted to his superiors that a series of teen disappearances is connected and gotten booted out of the homicide division as a result. The discovery of the body of one of those missing teens gets him back in their good graces, though, and he and Delorme try to connect the cases and track down a murderer in their midst.(less)
I still can't figure out what this book was trying to be - murder mystery, psychological study, political thriller, "erotic" thriller... Whatever Thay...moreI still can't figure out what this book was trying to be - murder mystery, psychological study, political thriller, "erotic" thriller... Whatever Thayer was trying to do with it, I don't think it succeeded at any of it. A very odd book.(less)
Don't know what it was exactly about this one, but it didn't really rivet me the way some of George's books have. My main issue was (as is frequently...moreDon't know what it was exactly about this one, but it didn't really rivet me the way some of George's books have. My main issue was (as is frequently the case) Havers' obstinate refusal to perform the assignment she is given. I have to wonder if a real DC would not have been given her walking papers by now, given how many times she has screwed up. Results, yes, but a police force lives and dies by its hierarchical structure, and I don't know that her behavior would continue to be tolerated despite the results.(less)
Meh. I found this in a stack of to-read books and assumed it was one I hadn't gotten around to, but about 5 pages in I realized I'd read it before. St...moreMeh. I found this in a stack of to-read books and assumed it was one I hadn't gotten around to, but about 5 pages in I realized I'd read it before. Still, it was what I had in my hand so I read it again. The cover blurb is so vague it was impossible to tell what it was about. And I guess that's reasonable, since the book itself is apparently terribly torn as to what it wants to be - takes place over three different periods, in which beautiful/lucky people have amazing success, awful things happen to the innocent, and I learned more than I ever cared to about after-hours entertainment. Fine for reading if you're stuck in the airport or somewhere else boring, otherwise - skip it.(less)
**spoiler alert** Awful, terrible, wretched book. How bad is it? Let me count the ways.
First off, a charming, handsome man shows up saying he is with...more**spoiler alert** Awful, terrible, wretched book. How bad is it? Let me count the ways.
First off, a charming, handsome man shows up saying he is with the law firm for a rich guy who just was murdered, although he had never had the opportunity to meet the deceased himself (very convenient to explain his lack of direct knowledge about the dead guy. Also a handy, if clumsy, way for the author to reveal his bad-guy-ness when he later mentions some supposed personal interaction, which the heroine totally misses. The moron.) So of course the heroine is instantly attracted to him and accepts his story at face value, revealing pretty much all her secret inside information about what might have precipitated the murder, which she keeps hidden even from the police. Even when things start happening to her in places where only he knew she was going, she doesn't seem to question his involvement. Apparently this woman has never seen a thriller movie or read a mystery.
Secondly, a mysterious caller gives her a warning, and when she meets the guy and realizes he is also the person who previously broke into her apartment and lurked around there waiting for her, she goes ahead and makes plans to take a little road trip and investigate a historical site with him. And when someone takes several shots at her, she initially assumes it's coincidental, because no one could possibly be trying to kill her, even though she's already been warned that her life is in danger. The woman is portrayed as MONUMENTALLY dense. No 21st century woman with any sense would get in a car alone with a complete stranger, let alone one who she already knows is shady.
Big surprise, the one person she trusts turns out to be the bad guy, people she distrusts turn out to be her strongest allies. Along the way Mr. Hartley churns out plot complication after plot complication, until I just couldn't wait for it to be all over. I have to confess that at one point I was hoping the main character would get killed off. She was an embarrassment to modern women everywhere.
Oh, and the set-ups were ridiculously telegraphed. "She cleaned up her nails and slipped the file into her back pocket..." so she can fortuitously recall its presence a little while later and use it to escape from the bad guys. Yeah, it was really that transparent. Blergh.
A tiny picky detail - I mean, there are so many BIG reasons to hate this one - Hartley uses a phrase THREE TIMES that instantly told me he was a Brit: "finish up", meaning not "complete" but more like "arrive" -- the phrase an American would use in the same context would be either "end up" or "wind up." No clue why he would put this story in an American setting. Dude, write what you know. Like, not about women, for one thing. I also could really have done without the repeated flogging of the platitude about "handsome men don't go for marginally-attractive women like [Deborah Miller]." (less)
Special Agent Mike Yeager is on a sort of self-imposed leave of absence from his career, in the wake of the investigation into a child abduction case...moreSpecial Agent Mike Yeager is on a sort of self-imposed leave of absence from his career, in the wake of the investigation into a child abduction case that went badly wrong. Prompted by some internal compass to intervene on behalf of a boy he thinks is being abused, he finds himself caught up in another case with a missing child: one in which everyone seems to know more than they're telling, and which appears to be rooted in events going back more than 30 years.
I don't like the 20+ year trend of making serial killer-related "entertainment", and I dislike even more using child abuse to frame it. But I'm still going to recommend this one, nonetheless. (less)