In an interview on the Simon & Schuster website Sean Slater reveals that Lee Child and James Patterson are some of his favourite authors, and afteIn an interview on the Simon & Schuster website Sean Slater reveals that Lee Child and James Patterson are some of his favourite authors, and after reading The Survivor, this does not surprise me. The book is a gritty, fast-paced thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat from the first page.
This is a book I probably would not have picked up had I not received an ARC of it, but I am glad I got the chance to read it. The setting (Vancouver) was completely new to me, as was the subject matter (Asian underground gangs). According to the cover, Slater is a "real-life Vancouver cop" and it is obvious that he knows his way around both the city and its police force.
Detective Jacob Striker is a nice guy who has been through some tough times. He is trying to come to terms with the death of his wife and being a good father to his 15-year-old daughter Courtney. She, on the other hand, is behaving like any other teenager; skipping school, trying to catch the eye of her crush, and being angry with her father. Their father-daughter relationship rang true, and I also liked Striker's relationship with his partner Felicia, who is a smart and feisty cop. Striker is good at his job and follows his hunches, even if it lands him in trouble with his superiors. We also get a bit of insight into the main antagonist's mind, with some chapters written from his point of view. This worked very well and made him more human to me. I almost felt sorry for him, rather against my will.
At times there were a lot of different plot points and clues to keep track of, but Slater does a good job of connecting all the dots in the end. The book does contain some violence and a couple of torture scenes, but they are not overly graphic. The ending took me by surprise, and felt a little more realistic than in many other books of the same genre.
Best: The authenticity. I'm not a cop nor have I ever been to Vancouver so obviously I don't know what either is really like, but it felt real while reading.
Worst: The rather silly nicknames, like Noodles, Shipwreck and Meathead. And the name Pinkerton Morningstar. I could not take that man seriously.
Bottom line: The Survivor is a fast-paced thriller that will keep you engaged from beginning to end....more
This line can be found on the back cover of my edition, and I think it sums up the book nicely. The SpellThe family that puts the fun in dysfunctional
This line can be found on the back cover of my edition, and I think it sums up the book nicely. The Spellmans are a crazy bunch, always spying on each other, blackmailing each other and bribing each other. But despite the family wars and general snarkiness, it is evident that they all love each other, just like a normal family. In fact, the craziness never feels overdone or over the top.
Isabel Spellman is a great character; strong, smart and sarcastic with a history of juvenile delinquency. She left her criminal days (and her drinking problem) behind when she realised she had become a rolemodel to her 14 year younger sister Rae, and as of late has also come to realise that what her family does isn't always what is considered normal. Rae is a real hoot; a sugar addict, always at war with live-in uncle Ray (whom she's named after) and considers 'recreational surveillance' her favourite past-time. David, their older brother, is a lawyer and quite the snob, and parents Albert and Olivia are just a little bit whacko.
The book is very funny, but not just for the sake of being funny. Nor is it chick-lit cute, even though the cover might suggest otherwise. The main mystery, Isabel's last case, is very interesting when we finally hear about it, with a solution I never predicted. The first half of the book is dedicated to setting up the backstory of the characters, and we get a really good understanding of how Isabel has come to be the person she is today.
The narrative shifts back and forth between the past and the present, between different themes, and there are lists and transcripts scattered throughout the book. This might sound confusing, but it didn't bother me at all. I had no trouble following the story, and the different lists (like the list of Isabel and Petra's unpunished crimes: summer 1993) and transcripts from surveillance tapes (like the transcript of staged dental appointment #1) are absolutely hilarious. The latter is also a clever way of incorporating conversations that the first-person narrator didn't hear.
Bottom line: The Spellman Files is a witty mystery with quirky characters and a unique writing style. 4.5 stars....more
I thought this first book of the Nursery Crimes series was much better than the Thursday Next books. The characters are more likable, the plot is moreI thought this first book of the Nursery Crimes series was much better than the Thursday Next books. The characters are more likable, the plot is more interesting and credible, and the story seemed overall more thought through. It was also very funny, and I loved the references to the Thursday Next books and the rather subtle and ironic references to say, The Da Vinci Code.
I really liked this book, and I'm already looking forward to reading the second book in this series....more