This is the first CJ Box I read. I'm sure I will be picking up more. This was a good thriller. Good, not great, because some plot points just didn't s...moreThis is the first CJ Box I read. I'm sure I will be picking up more. This was a good thriller. Good, not great, because some plot points just didn't satisfy me.
The book started really well and ended in exciting action. It never dragged. There were 2-3 sub-plots as well, and it was great to see all of them moving along.
I liked how Box demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of the characters rather than just mentioning them. I liked Newkirk's character the most, because this was a guy fighting to save himself from the soup he was in and fighting with his conscience. The act he committed in the next-to-last chapter possibly redeemed himself (not his crimes, of course).
Much as it was suspenseful, the last few chapters were disappointing. It looked like Box wanted to finish off his book asap and rushed. It was hardly satiating. The last chapter of all was very poorly written. It was all muddled just like the thoughts of the protagonist of that chapter (it definitely was in sync with the thoughts of that person) but it was confusing overall, because being the last chapter, it had to answer certain questions, but instead ended up puzzling me more.
The dialogue delivery could have been better, plus Monica's character was very badly written. I just didn't like this character, because she hardly seemed mature to me.
The one redeeming feature of this book, in spite of its problems, is that it created good suspense. I truly enjoyed reading this book, and would have given it 5 stars if not for the small weaknesses.(less)
It took me really long time to finish this book and I kept dropping this book to read something else interesting. What kept putting me off is the terr...moreIt took me really long time to finish this book and I kept dropping this book to read something else interesting. What kept putting me off is the terrible language. I can understand the author's intention to write real-life dialogues rather than just dialogues centering around the plot, but Carlene definitely overdoes it here. There is a lot of irrelevant detail in this book, and after painstakingly developing characters and establishing their mannerisms, we see them do something totally out of the character.
I couldn't identify with most characters, but I could least identify with the 5-year old kid in the book, Willow. She sometimes has a vocabulary of a pre-teen and sometimes behave nothing like a child.
Overall, I just wanted to finish the book all the way to the end, simply because I find it hard to stop a book midway and give it up, unless I really cannot digest a book. To me, this book was really not worth my time.(less)
Overall impression: it was entertaining, gripping, and genuinely created a sense of fear in me.
It was not what I expected. When I read the book descri...moreOverall impression: it was entertaining, gripping, and genuinely created a sense of fear in me.
It was not what I expected. When I read the book description, I expected something paranormal. I thought creepers themselves were sub-human. Even the first quarter of the book still made me expect something to that tune. Especially the albino cat, the mutant rats and the skeletons. Come to think of it, there is no clear explanation given for these asides.
I liked the way the story played out. But 3 things didn't quite work for me. One is the use of coincidence in the story. The second is how all other characters became puppets in the matter of death. And finally, but once in a rare while, the writing didn't work out for me. In one or two places, I sensed repetition (almost as if there was no other way to write the sentence), and a few points that were best left out from the book. However, looking from the perspective of the main protagonist, I would say these two jarring points fit in well with his character, so I won't count against it.
On the positive side, the author's description of the place was very very realistic. I still have a lot of photo images in my head of the building and it's interiors. It was very horror-inducing and even gory for a book. Some of the deaths were just candidates for a Final Destination movie. I couldn't put the book down right from page 1. Of course, I had to put the book down sometimes, but that was since I had no choice. Overall, I enjoyed it.(less)
I still remember the thrill I got when I read my first Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. His book was already gracing so many bestseller lists that it wa...moreI still remember the thrill I got when I read my first Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. His book was already gracing so many bestseller lists that it was hard to back down and say no. Besides, I was very curious about this dude and whatever it was that he had written. I read. I enjoyed. I favorited. Then, I read all the articles of how he didn't really get all his history right and how he bungled some of them for maximum impact. Literary license, they said. That fogged my impression of Dan Brown tremendously, but not before I devoured two more of his books - Angels & Demons and Digital Fortress. Later, I also read The Lost Symbol, and was excited by the fact that it was set in a place I had actually visited multiple times (D.C.).
Still, none of the books, barring Angels and Demons really reached the caliber and awesomeness level of The Da Vinci Code, Inferno included. By now, everyone can write a template of a Dan Brown book in their sleep and they just need Brown to fill in the blanks with some essentials such as location and lead female character's name. They all involve his protagonist, Robert Langdon, racing across a huge landscape within a humanly impossible timeframe. He also seems to have a knack for knowing exactly what mystery to solve to get the next piece of a puzzle, plus, he seems to have a different lady companion each time (whatever happened to Vittoria Vetra (Angels and Demons), Sophie Neveu (The Da Vinci Code) and Katherine Solomon (The Lost Symbol)? For a supposedly unadventurous professor, he sure seems to go through women too fast.
Inferno has pretty much everything you would expect from a Dan Brown novel - there's a puzzle, there's a race against time, there's a woman (ha!), there's a life-and-death matter, and there's a bad guy. The puzzle is constructed almost with the intention that someone should solve it and stop the Bad Deed. Surprisingly, Inferno does deviate from the regular path considerably. For once, there is not much Symbology in here - there's just enough to warrant Langdon's presence. The prime art theme in Inferno is Dante and his The Divine Comedy. Halfway through the book, Dante plays second fiddle to the Malthusian theory, which is actually the main crux of the book.
Dan Brown spends a good chunk of the book exploring the population problem in the world as of today. The various characters give different perspectives on dealing with the problem. While it made me better appreciate the enormity of the problem we really have, I didn't quite enjoy Brown's repeated attempts to dance the issue in front of my eyes - the preaches honestly got tiring. Besides, a lot of elements came showing up repeatedly once in a while, almost as if Brown forgot that he had already mentioned them. A pretty good aspect of the book is the introduction into Transhumanism. I can't say that I've ever come across that term and the idea of it frightens and repulses me but it was fascinating to know that something like that exists.
Besides the few new elements, everything else about Inferno is standard Dan Brown fare. It wouldn't be a Dan Brown book if Robert Langdon could get shot in the head and not wake up from it without any repercussions. Plus spend the next 5-6 hours racing across the world and solving a mystery that would in reality take days, or at least more than a day. But this is Robert Langdon, why am I being so hard on the superman?(less)
This is my first Andrea Kane book, and I was really impressed with her writing. For me, one of the most important criteria in books is the writing sty...moreThis is my first Andrea Kane book, and I was really impressed with her writing. For me, one of the most important criteria in books is the writing style, which really scores here. The suspense, the characters, their relationships, the actual events all were truly remarkable. I should say the killer in this book is one of the most horrific minds I have read about. I was actually shuddering at one point and wondering how can a man get this bad. I liked the whys and the whats of this murder thriller. It was different not from the usual mill. I absolutely loved the amount of research Andrea has put into this book. I thought it was stellar. She has done a good job writing about Krav Maga, Greek mythology, the FBI, even about data structures at one point (I was impressed by that, since I work in that area).
I thought the book started really well, and liked how the action starts and builds up right from page one. Though I predicted who the murderer was, after about 1/3rd of the book, it was still done nicely, not too predictable, not too unpredictable. I truly liked Derek and Sloane, and their personal relationship was amazing to read about. :)
All in all, I'd recommend it to anyone who needs a good mystery.(less)
Ian Hunt is working a regular day at the dispatch office, receiving more prank calls than genuine ones at the job, when a call comes through from a pa...moreIan Hunt is working a regular day at the dispatch office, receiving more prank calls than genuine ones at the job, when a call comes through from a payphone. The distressed caller is a girl who introduces herself as Maggie Hunt, Ian's own daughter who has been missing for the past seven years, and whose funeral was arranged four months earlier to give her mother closure. She had just managed to escape and is hoping for help, but her abductor manages to get her in time. Ian, now convinced that his daughter is very much alive, will stop at nothing to get her back, even if it means punching a few noses, chopping a few fingers or killing someone.
This book is not really my usual fare, but I only chose it because Ryan David Jahn wrote it. After loving the ingenuity of Good Neighbors, I was looking for more magic when I opted to read this one. Unfortunately, this one just didn't do it for me. I know it is my elevated expectations that spoiled my enjoyment because otherwise, The Dispatcher was a pretty good crime novel.
One of the main strengths of this book is its characters. There are quite a few narrators, from Ian to his daughter, from her abductor to Ian's friend. Except for Maggie, the daughter, all the other narrators were very well-etched. Maggie felt quite weak to me, and I guess it's because of the minimal information I got about how she has been managing for seven years - her education, her mental condition, her emotional maturity, etc. She didn't appear too affected by the abduction - there is a lot of anger but not any of the emotional effects I would expect to see.
The Dispatcher was pretty fast paced and a bit gruesome. There are some really stomach churning moments and a lot of bloodshed in the book. I didn't feel all that uncomfortable reading the book, but it should be stated that there are quite a few kidnappings and child killings in the book, in case that's something that gives you a headache. The gruesomeness was pretty vivid in Good Neighbors as well, but I think The Dispatcher will take the cake in that department.
The plot itself was pretty well setup. My usual problems with crime novels are how much the writer teases the reader - the good guy will be thiscloseto catching the bad guy before something happens, he escapes and I roll my eyes. I didn't feel manipulated in this case - the expected things happen, and then some unexpected things happen, but nothing that involves the police coming in at the last minute after all the gunshots are fired. The setting being in Texas, there is a lot of landscape descriptions that are not really my cup of tea but will be delicious to anyone who loves a good setting.
One of my issues with this book has to do with my ebook copy itself. I read it via Kindle, sent directly from NetGalley, and the copy was pretty badly organized. The paragraphs weren't properly split up between perspectives. The transition from one narrator to another is not so obvious that sometimes I am a couple of paragraphs into the next person's story before I realize it. This was my first time reading NetGalley copies on the Kindle app - I usually read on my Nook. Not a big issue, but a jarring note, nevertheless.
Despite all the wonderful things I wrote about this book, it didn't really intrigue me much. The middle portion of the book slowed down quite a bit and there wasn't much happening either to move the story along. There are many other characters who come and go through the book. I was disappointed that some of them aren't explored more considering the strategic placement of quite a few subplots. I also felt that Maggie's abductor was occasionally acting out of character - of course, what's out of character for a kidnapper is debatable. His wife was quite frustrating most of the time that I wasn't sure what her ailment was. It was these weak characterizations that eventually took away my enjoyment. I did however like how the author left the ending ambiguous, and although I would love to know how Ian manages after it all ends, I do see how I will be dissatisfied with whichever ending the author chooses.(less)
I should say at the outset, that I really enjoyed this book. I liked the buildup of the mystery, the well-etched characters and the whole ride through...moreI should say at the outset, that I really enjoyed this book. I liked the buildup of the mystery, the well-etched characters and the whole ride through the book. While I enjoyed Twisted better, this book was great as well.
Sloane's and Derek's relationship was pleasant to read. I was really rooting for them to get over their issues, and was pleased by the maturity with which it was handled. The whole concept of art theft ring was engrossing, especially with the amount of research that Andrea Kane put in.
Also, while initially it appears as a set of independent crimes, I really liked how it was all tied in together, without leaving the reader crying 'coincidence'!
Overall, a great suspense! A definite recommendation.(less)
What the Dead Know has some very vivid characters. I could almost love or hate some of the characters strongly. The woman-in-accident was a vibrant ch...moreWhat the Dead Know has some very vivid characters. I could almost love or hate some of the characters strongly. The woman-in-accident was a vibrant character, who I hated from page one. That's saying something since a major chunk of the book is from her perspective or focuses heavily on her. I do believe that Laura Lippman dressed the woman-in-accident in a persona that will be disliked by the reader, for reasons you will understand on reading the book. That was a clever ploy and served to both giving a convincing touch to the woman-in-accident's claims and also building an initial bias within the reader (Something to be careful about!).
Dave, the father of the two sisters, was a person who insisted on openness and sharing within families. His grief when the girls disappear is so palpable you could feel it through the pages. Till the day he died, he kept hoping for them to turn up. Miriam, his ex-wife and the two girls' mother, gave up on hope instead, so that she could grieve. It was interesting following her life, but for the most part, I was unimpressed. She always struck me as a mild woman. Probably the girls' disappearance changed her, but the hardening of her character didn't really convince me.
Also, am I being bad if I said that I totally disliked the eleven-year old child Heather for her "manipulative"ness?
The prose switches between the present and the past (from the day of the girl's disappearance to the day the father died). The narration of the past introduces way too many details, which I didn't appreciate initially. But once the mystery was solved, what I was especially fascinated by was how many countless chips came together to bring about the disappearance. Now I wouldn't call that coincidence at all, because it wasn't. But there were several ordinary everyday events that one day led to something extra-ordinary. I applaud how these seemingly irrelevant matters were suddenly made significant in the light of the girls' disappearance, without feeling contrived.
When the revelations started coming out, I can't say that I totally bought what happened during the sisters' disappearance. From that point on, it didn't really strike me as convincing. Nevertheless, it was a well-thought out and intricate plot that had me wanting for answers.
That said, I didn't love the book. I found it too wordy and rambling, so much so that at one point I stopped caring about what happened to the characters and just wanted to get to the end of things. That's never a good thing. I usually appreciate the verbose kind of writing, anything that lets me understand the characters and their situations better is always welcome. Somehow, I felt that there was an excessive amount of that in What the Dead Know.
Title Demystified: Till the end of the book or rather near-end, I was in the dark with regards to what this title meant. When someone comes up saying she personally knows something about a thirty-year old case, the biggest challenge is finding eye-witnesses, ALIVE, to corroborate. In this case, they are dead or mentally ill. The eye-witnesses need not be directly connected to the disappearance, they can be witnesses along the thirty-year journey as well. But when all the leads turn to dead-ends, it almost becomes a case where only the dead know what happened. (Luckily for you and me, there was one never-considered witness who saves things for us.)
Cover Art Demystified I liked this cover, though I can't say I really felt a connection between it and the plot. Going in alive and coming back dead is quite the antithesis of what really happens.(less)
Brash, sassy John Corey is on the Anti-Terrorist Task Force team, waiting to meet Asad Khalil - a terrorist suspect who had defected. He waits with fo...moreBrash, sassy John Corey is on the Anti-Terrorist Task Force team, waiting to meet Asad Khalil - a terrorist suspect who had defected. He waits with four others in the Conquistador Club, for the flight to land at the NY airport. Asad however has other plans, which do not include surrender. Although he was handcuffed and escorted by two armed officers, he manages to escape after committing a puzzling, almost impossible crime. Worse, no one knows what he is up to.
I have deliberately left out some things from the summary, because there is so much to this book than the plain escape of a terrorist. I have to admit, reading about terrorism is so not my cup of tea. So I was definitely pensive about what I will find, going into this book. I worried needlessly. The suspense in this book was simply awesome! Crimes that seem so impossible being pulled off with panache, making you wonder 'How did that happen?' I'm not big into thrillers, and usually pace them out but The Lion's Game reminded me of all the good books in this genre. It's not a 'whodunit' at all. We know the good guys and the bad guys right from page one. Instead, we have an old grudge simmering in a man bent on getting his revenge. And the methods he use! Much as I despised Asad for many reasons, I found myself understanding (not sympathizing) him better too.
The narration switches between John and Asad. Initially I waited for John's chapters for the laughs he provides, but I soon found Asad a compelling person as well. Compelling and psychologically interesting. It's not easy writing from the point of a person hell-bent on terrorism or murder. It's not easy reading either. You don't want to like the guy or feel sympathetic or understanding or even plain interested. So many things Asad did made my skin crawl. At times, I wondered what would have happened to me had I met him in the streets and recognized him, since he believes in erasing his tracks. His character became that alive for me - not in a creepy way but in a more in-this-world feel. And authors who create characters like that ought to be commended.
John Corey, on the other hand, is one heck of a guy. Hilarious sarcasm oozes off him. I was first introduced to him in Plum Island, and he is just as sassy as I remember him. I've saved some of his quotes for you.
Kate was wearing black slacks, by the way, and a sort of Heinz Ketchup-colored blazer over a white blouse. I was wearing what I wore yesterday.
She asked me, "What kind of clearance do you have?" "About six foot, one inch. Sorry, old joke." She wasn't smiling. I said, "Only confidential. Working on secret."
The Lion's Game is however 670+ pages long. It took me quite a long time to get through. While I didn't exactly mind it, I thought it was longer than needed by at least a 100-200 pages. Some of the dialogue could have been reduced even though they contributed to the story as a whole. But since John Corey contributed to quite a bit of those pages, I enjoyed them. Besides, it is fast-paced so I was barely aware of turning the page. If you haven't read a DeMille book, I strongly recommend him. This is my third book by him, and I can't seem to be getting enough of his books. The next book in the John Corey series and sequel to The Lion's Game - The Lion - has been released, and I sure can't wait to pick it up.(less)