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 finished reading this book at lunch yesterday, but since then I have been puttering around gathering my thoughts. The truth is, right after finishin...moreI finished reading this book at lunch yesterday, but since then I have been puttering around gathering my thoughts. The truth is, right after finishing it, I was not sure what I felt. I definitely felt relieved, since there was a lot of jargon in it that I didn't care for, but I know I enjoyed it too.
Firstly, this is not an easy book to get into initially. I read the first page of the book many times before I felt comfortable in going ahead. The first page is the most important page for me. I won't give up on a book after starting it, no matter how disillusioned the book makes me feel, but if the first page doesn't grip me, then I may not care for it much. Which is why, when I go to a book store to buy a random book, I read its first page before picking or dropping it. Now, I did give up on Haunted Ground a few times, but some of my friends kept insisting that the book is worth it in spite of the starting trouble. I guess I would say almost the same thing, but I would still prefer not to have to struggle for a few pages to get into the plot.
Haunted Ground has two good mysteries weaving in and out. Both suspenseful. Thrilling. And gripping. Erin Hart laid out the initial buildup pretty well, and switched between the two plots fluently, without letting one get way too ahead of the other.
One thing I enjoyed about Haunted Ground is Erin Hart's writing style. Just ponder this prose: "And with the force of the blow, time seemed to telescope. The spaces between seconds allowed an almost unbearably acute perception of each sensation as it passed through him. He was conscious of the grinding sound of stone and mortar giving away, of sharp pain and snapping tree branches, then falling, falling into darkness, and the earth seeming to meet him too soon, with a shuddering thump. And then silence. A most pure and sublime silence roared in his ears as he struggled to take breath." Such a beautiful paragraph, don't you think? Just to describe a man falling down.
There are many such wonderful passages, which are a delight to read.
I did have some qualms though while reading this book. One thing is the excessive technical jargon that went way over my head. I understand most of it was central and necessary to the story, but some kind of footnote would have been helpful.
As for the characters, I couldn't bond with them well. Although Erin Hart did give plenty of pages to some characters, I still felt something lacking, like an unfinished story. Some actions of the characters just weren't making sense to me.
Overall, I would say I enjoyed the book. I don't think I will pick the next book in the Nora Gavin / Cormac Maguire series right away, but I might get to it someday. One of the unfinished subplots in Haunted Ground concerns Nora Gavin's sister. After reading the blurb on the 3rd book, False Mermaid in this series, I gather that Erin Hart is focusing on this subplot in that book. So I am definitely curious to know where she takes that story.(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)
She smiled darkly and shook her head. "I'm not crazy. I'm not. Of course what else would a crazy person claim? That's the Kafkaesque genius of it all. If you're not crazy but people have told the world you are, then all your protests to the contrary just underscore their point. Do you see what I'm saying?"
My very first introduction to Dennis Lehane was through the movie, Mystic River. At that point, I didn't know the movie was based on a book, but when I did come across the book many years later, I knew I had to read it. Now I have a huge tome of Mystic River staring at me every time I look at my shelf. It's not that I'm not keen on reading it, I'm terrified. One, because it's huge. Second, because I never really understood the movie, Mystic River, and had to read reviews and spoilers to actually know what it was about. I assume the book is the same. So instead, when I saw Shutter Island at an airport bookstore, after browsing through the shelves for 15 minutes (making me almost late for my boarding), I decided to risk it. At best, I'll enjoy it. At worst, I'll sleep.
Luckily, the best happened. I actually devoured it. Here's the first thing I noticed - Dennis Lehane's writing flows easy. There were no heavy-vocab crunching or roundabout phrases, which is the impression Mystic River the movie put into my head. Instead, I got pulled into this thriller right from page one and enjoyed it to the last page.
US Marshall Teddy Daniels arrives in Shutter Island along with his partner Chuck Aule to investigate the disappearance of an inmate from this inescapable fortress. Teddy is convinced that the place reeks of radical brain treatments and experimentation. What Chuck doesn't know is Teddy has his own personal vendetta to carry out and that getting out of the island may be harder than either of them expected. To add to their troubles, there's a vicious storm brewing and communications with the mainland has failed.
Even before I started, I knew there is a major twist in the ending, thanks to my wonderful friends who had to mince the movie ambiguities in my presence, when it first released. They were generous enough not to talk about the ending, but they dropped tantalizing hints about how awesome it was. When the twist came eventually, it still took me by surprise. Whatever I expected, it wasn't that. And when the ending of the ending came? I needed a cup of coffee to sort it out. Well no, I had to read the ending again to decide which side of the the ambiguity I wanted to be in.
I'm not generally a big fan of ambiguous endings, that is, if the ending is wide-open. One book that I read last year, One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni had an ending which could have gone either way. I certainly didn't appreciate that. On the other hand, books like Shutter Island, and movies like Memento and Inception, although having ambiguous endings, have plenty of hints strewn all over, which can be dissected in so many way to come up with plenty of theories. I don't mean to say I do that, but I enjoy reading the theories.
I even enjoyed the movie, which I watched about a week after reading this. This is another one of the book-movie pair I enjoyed. Most often, I prefer the book, but in this case, I can't choose a favorite. I enjoyed both!(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)