It may just be me, but it seems as if John Sandford has got a little more violent with his last few books. Davenport, in the last Prey book dealt withIt may just be me, but it seems as if John Sandford has got a little more violent with his last few books. Davenport, in the last Prey book dealt with Mexican gangs who viciously deal with their problems without blinking an eye. The sad part of that book, with its various torture murders of families, is its basis in reality. But Davenport has always leaned a little violent, enough so I would be fearful of going to Minnesota if I already didn’t live here.
A few years ago Sandford started writing Virgil Flowers books, the happy go lucky BCA agent who works for Davenport. More interested in hunting and the ladies than the grittiness of the Prey world. His cases tended to be a little more Midsomer Murders than Rebus. But with Mad River, you have the case of a group of spree killers wrecking havoc on the smaller farm communities of southwestern Minnesota. The senseless murders begin piling up and then a graphic rape is thrown in to finish it off.
So while I enjoyed the book, the plot and writing was excellent as usual, I was slightly disappointed. Sandford is a master story teller, I just wish he would keep the two approaches separate; the dark and the light. I enjoy both approaches to the Minnesota BCA immensely and would hate to see them bleed together over time. ...more
Burned is a brand new (hopefully a future series) Nordic Noir book coming out of Norway. Our intrepid investigator is a reporter who is coming back frBurned is a brand new (hopefully a future series) Nordic Noir book coming out of Norway. Our intrepid investigator is a reporter who is coming back from a devastating home fire that injured him and claimed the life of his son. While digging into the case it becomes clear the scars he bears are nothing to the scars that are hidden within his mind. The case itself is quite interesting as a Norwegian girl is found murdered in a horrific Sharia manner, buried to the chest and then stoned to death, and her on again off again boyfriend is Muslim. Have honor killings come to Norway? The initial investigation all points to the hapless boyfriend and it appears to be and open and shut case. But yet something doesn’t sit quite right with our protagonist.
Between his troubled past, and his confusing present our reporter slowly works through the facts and pieces together quite a story. And at the end, when the twists have played out, he gives you a few more. This is an excellent example of the genre, and a great first book to boot.
The only flaws are very rare clunky prose, but I am willing to bet the house that is purely due to translation. Exactly the sort of thing that will work itself out as the writer and his translator develop a relationship over many books. If you want a great sampler of Scandinavian crime fiction, this is the book....more
I have been working through C.J. Box’s backlist the last several months, catching up on Joe Pickett and family as he navigates the violent and highlyI have been working through C.J. Box’s backlist the last several months, catching up on Joe Pickett and family as he navigates the violent and highly political world of Wyoming wildlife management. So I was excited to see the author’s latest book, Back of Beyond, was a standalone mystery/thriller that I could read right now without ruining my Pickett timeline.
Now here is the odd thing about this book. Box’s writing is just getting better with every book he writes so this story just flowed beautifully; never a dull moment. It is a good solid read and very enjoyable. Unfortunately the lead character was just to stereotyped and the plot a little to contrived. You have a divorced alcoholic cop who gets in his own way when trying to connect with those that love him; like his son, ex-wife, and coworkers. He is a tenacious and skilled investigator but is a little to willing to go outside the rules to get things done. Not exactly unique.
As to the plot you have got a plane full of drug money crashed out in the wilds of Yellowstone Park. So you have bad guys that just happen to kill our hero’s AA sponsor and want to go after the plane. But hey, coincidences happen all the time. But then the only way to get to the plane is through an annual guided horseback excursion to that part of the park, and our hero’s estranged son just happens to be going on that trip. Then you have another set of bad guys who are also acquainted with our hero who are also willing to kill for the prize. So the coincidences keep building from there, almost as much as the bodies do; and there are a lot of bodies in this book.
It all builds to a Gunfight in the O.K. Coral scenario that plays out like a Hollywood movie ending. At the end of the book all lose ends have been resolved completely, the bad guys are gone and the hero is back on track. Therein lies the problem, Box went with an extremely messy hero but wrote an extremely clean conclusion. Those two just do not match.
Even after all that I like the book. It was well paced and the dialogue was genuine. I guess what I am saying is that while I enjoy complex and developed meals (i.e. the Joe Pickett books), sometimes a well made peanut butter sandwich is just the ticket. Read this book to get a taste of what C.J. Box is capable of, and then go back and read his backlist to savor the delights they contain...more
I am going to be honest. I said I would read this book because I think I need to read more women authors and more foreign writers, just to get out ofI am going to be honest. I said I would read this book because I think I need to read more women authors and more foreign writers, just to get out of my comfort zone. But when I finally got the book in my hands and read the synopsis I was scared because it was hitting a lot of things I tend to avoid. What will I have in common with a pre WWII seamstress as she deals with love and intrigue in Southern Europe. A dressmaker for goodness sake! But being the dutiful guy that I am I took it to work with me to read on break, to at least make a start. That was a mistake, a big mistake, because
BLOODY HELL THIS BOOK ROCKED!!
I was distracted at work for the rest of the day and immediately devoured this book as soon as I got home – all 600 pages of it. People like to talk about the skill of the writing as if that is what made a good book, but in reality it is voice (flow) and story and María Dueñas has this in spades. The story is so compelling and slowly grabs you that you do not notice how tightly it has you trapped. Think of flow as notes in a piano recital; bad flow jars you just like an off note. The time in between just flows beautiful y as the pages go by. Very smooth without any off notes at all.
What really came alive for me was the society that the heroine had to operate in, pre WWII Spain (& Morocco). It was dedicated to seeing who was loyal to the cause, forcing people to choose sides in a no win situation. But as in all unrighteous dominion situations it rapidly degenerated to a he said/she said scenario. You begin to lose all trust in those around you, even those that are closest. When you can’t trust anyone you have no family (in any sense of the word), and that is the beginning of death for any society. Our heroine survived because in even the worst of situations she was always able to find someone, one lifeline to normalcy, someone to trust. It was that connection that got her thorough and it is a good lesson for all of us.
Do not hesitate to get this book as soon as it comes out (November 2011 – though currently available for the Kindle). It should appeal to everyone, from millions of Europeans where this book was originally released to mystery loving guys living in Minnesota. This book has it all and is at the top of my recommend to friends list. ...more