This first book in the Commandant Verhoeven trilogy has already garnered a lot of advanced praise - including some comparisons to Stieg Larsson’s Mill...moreThis first book in the Commandant Verhoeven trilogy has already garnered a lot of advanced praise - including some comparisons to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. And though I think this is something of a stretch, this is certainly an inventive thriller. Lemaitre sets up the plot meticulously and unravels it in just the same fashion. And though this causes few surprises to the actual storyline, it is a surprisingly well-balanced novel. Grisly violence comes at the heels of dialogue with humour and levity. And with a complete plot, the book feels more like a standalone than the start of a series. Perhaps like some other mystery series, it will not be the crimes that continue between books, but just the characters.
The French setting for this police procedural adds an element that will interest readers who are used to the ins and outs of the American legal system. It adds a certain level of freshness to the procedure. It is a fast-paced novel and a genuinely fascinating read. Though the translation leaves a bit to be desired - inconsistent verb tenses and shifting perspectives somewhat bogs down the pacing in places - I am definitely looking forward to future installments in the series.(less)
The second book in the A-Unit series opens just about a season after Misterioso’s conclusion. Dahl does a nice job of summarizing the previous novel w...moreThe second book in the A-Unit series opens just about a season after Misterioso’s conclusion. Dahl does a nice job of summarizing the previous novel without giving away any plot points, but covers just enough of a re-cap that readers starting with this second novel in the series would not be overly lost. Like its predecessor, this novel falls more into the police-procedural sub-genre of the mystery/thriller. Accordingly, its opening pages are fairly slow paced. But this pacing completely changes by the last hundred or so pages. Dahl begins winnowing down the many perspectives offered, and the A-Unit itself becomes more of the focus than before. Hjelm is still the main character, but other team members are beginning to be more developed.
The added time on character development does slow down the pacing at first, but overall it works to strengthen the series as a whole. I am looking forward to a third novel in the series (though perhaps not another trip to America for the characters). International relations and politics play a larger role in this novel which adds an interesting perspective separate from the plot. The Kentucky Killer is a case that leaves a few major loose ends, which may frustrate some. Any plot strings left dangling tend to really bother me, but in this case, I must admit that I found the conclusion oddly satisfying. The translation feels as smooth as ever and I look forward to seeing where the series will go next. (less)
I don’t quite recall how this book first caught my attention - but I imagine that it was not too long after I finished reading Steig Larssen’s books,...moreI don’t quite recall how this book first caught my attention - but I imagine that it was not too long after I finished reading Steig Larssen’s books, eager to read more Swedish authors. This first book in the A-Unit series involves a string of serial murders but is largely more of a police-procedural type novel than true mystery. Dahl sprinkles in humour along with process (and even insight into the killer’s own mind) in this smoothly translated debut novel. The cast of characters may at first prove a bit difficult to keep straight (especially if you are unaccustomed to Swedish names), but each character is quite distinct by the end of the novel. Hjelm is the hero, though, as the most developed of the characters (and by his own lauded reputation).
The plot unfolds a bit slowly at first, but its exciting conclusion and its insights into Swedish life makes this a promising beginning to a series. The sequel, Bad Blood, is definitely on my to-read list! I hope the characters - as well as the humour - continues to run through the rest of the series. (less)
I think what disappointed me so much about this novel is the disparity between the strength of its first chapter and the steep decline over the follow...moreI think what disappointed me so much about this novel is the disparity between the strength of its first chapter and the steep decline over the following twenty chapters. The first chapter with its sheer terror, gritty violence and nail-biting tension sets the stage for a page-turning title. Unfortunately, no where else does the book live up to this amazing potential displayed. Like its cliched title, the book feels a bit like an immature idea of a serial killer book with trite and overplayed lines, ridiculously bad police-work and an overall melodramatic flair. It lacks all of the energy and authenticity present in its first chapter.
It feels like even television shows have more research behind their so obviously Hollywood-ized police-work than this - where unsolved murder cases have bullets that have never been analyzed, where government-issued state IDs cannot be searched for a photograph, and a woman institutionalized for ten years emerges as a lean, mean kung fu master. Jordan Rivera, the main character, is so far from feeling like a real person that it is laughable. From her potty mouth to her ludicrous physical prowess (she takes down two armed muggers with only her bike chain), Jordan feels more cartoonish than realistic.
If able to look aside the book’s general absurdities, the plot itself is entertaining enough. It holds a few surprises (though certainly not the identity of the killer). Cleveland residents, however, will most likely take offense to the manner in which their city is portrayed - the police force is a joke, and apparently in a city with nearly 400,000 residents, there is only one support group for victims of violent crimes. And that fact means that coincidence isn’t the driving force in this plot... With hackneyed dialogue and shallow characters, this serial killer novel hardly stands out - it may not be the worst thriller out there, but it is far from the top of the list, either. Except maybe for most ridiculous. The book ends with some pretty serious holes, but to be honest, even if those holes were filled, it wouldn’t change my opinion of the book.(less)
After the cliffhanger-ish ending of the tenth volume in the Maggie O’Dell series, not to mention the amount of time spent in Fireproof setting up this...moreAfter the cliffhanger-ish ending of the tenth volume in the Maggie O’Dell series, not to mention the amount of time spent in Fireproof setting up this plot, this eleventh book certainly holds a lot of potential to be even great. Unfortunately, it falls a bit short of reaching that promise. It opens just a month after the conclusion of Fireproof, but somehow it feels like a lot more time has passed. It’s missing some continuity between the two books (for example, the last book features persistent headaches of Maggie’s - leftovers from the events of the ninth book, Hotwire - which have miraculously disappeared here). Even more strange, the lilacs (my favorite flower!) in Iowa are blooming - in March!! In the Chicagoland area, at least, that never happens that early in the year! But, perhaps most disappointing of all is the ease in which the killer is identifiable.
Kaval also provides yet another romantic possibility for her heroine. Creed, a dog trainer and owner of a successful independent team of dogs used for searching for people (both alive and dead) as well as drugs, certainly seems like a bit of catch (though he, of course, has some baggage), but it will be interesting to see if he too joins the growing cast of characters. There are some more hints of personal life changes ahead for Maggie, but otherwise no set up for the twelfth volume in the series. More and more, dogs play a role in these mysteries - which I think is just wonderful! And though this one didn’t live up to my expectation, I am still looking forward to the continuation of the series. (less)
It’s been almost two years since I have read one of Kava’s Maggie O’Dell mysteries - though the last one, Hotwire, set in Nebraska, is one of my very...moreIt’s been almost two years since I have read one of Kava’s Maggie O’Dell mysteries - though the last one, Hotwire, set in Nebraska, is one of my very favorites of the entire series. This tenth book in the series, also, ranks highly in the series. It maintains a consistently fast pace. Kava inserts subtle reminders on the events of previous novels (without giving too much away), which never slows down the pacing or seems overly redundant. And I ecstatic that Kava has taken my favorite character, Jake, from the last book and included him in the recurring cast. I just love him - and his heroism! This book, dedicated to Kava’s own dog, continues on in the tradition of highlighting dogs alongside the humans.
A large portion of this novel sets up the next volume in the series, Stranded. The ending definitely is something of a cliffhanger - and I can’t wait to find out more about this mysterious (and prolific) serial killer! As far as the plot for just this novel - well, coincidence plays a strong role, and the identity of the arsonist is pretty obvious. Still, it is exciting and definitely a fast read. Kava has also really focused on researching real crime facts to sprinkle in to authenticate both the professionalism of the heroes as well as the villains. (less)
I have read both of Haynes’ previous novels - I particularly enjoyed her first book, Into the Darkest Corner, and though I found her second book, Dark...moreI have read both of Haynes’ previous novels - I particularly enjoyed her first book, Into the Darkest Corner, and though I found her second book, Dark Tide, disappointing, the premise of this third novel is simply too intriguing to pass up! The book opens with Annabel and her cat, Lucy, making a grisly discovery of decomposing remains in the home next door. The book switches to Colin’s perspective. At first, Colin seems like a socially awkward, loner-type man - perhaps afflicted with a hint of Asperger's. But Haynes slowly reveals Colin’s inner, much more sinister nature. And though his descent into more of a, swirling mix of socio- and psychopathic states is slow, the overall character arc is absolutely stunning. Annabel, at times, is not as sympathetic as Colin - that is the skill in which Haynes uses in creating this villain! Balancing out these two perspectives are vignettes of all the lonely (and decomposing) people of Briarstone. And while this isn’t an edge-of-your-seat thriller, it is highly original and utterly intriguing! I think this is Haynes’ finest work yet! It’s an impressive read (and a subtle commercial to adopt a dog...). Haynes balances horror, psychosis, and a pervading and unsettling sense of unease throughout the entire novel. Even more satisfying, she has dropped the overt romantic element that so spoiled her second book. The ominous conclusion is one that lingers within you - and has me quite excited for the upcoming release of her fourth novel, Under a Silent Moon. (less)
I’ve been hearing great things about Nesbo’s books for years now. But when I heard that the first book in the Harry Hole series had not yet been trans...moreI’ve been hearing great things about Nesbo’s books for years now. But when I heard that the first book in the Harry Hole series had not yet been translated into English, I paused, genuinely disappointed. I really prefer to read series novels in order. I hate that overshadowing feeling that details or context is missing because it was covered in a previous novel. And based on conversation with friends of mine who went ahead and started the series with the third novel, The Redbreast (the first to be translated into English), it makes a lot more sense to read them in order! But when this first novel in the series finally appeared in English, I jumped at the chance to read it!
This is an immediately engaging series, and like the shadowy opera house on the cover suggests, the entire novel takes place in Sydney (and its surrounds). It makes for an enjoyable backdrop - especially when the city is viewed through Hole’s Norwegian eyes. The inclusion of Aboriginal folk tales really adds to the novel and the overall sense of scene. It feels well-researched and quite authentic. And though the novel originally appeared in 1997, it really does not feel terribly dated (though that could be in part my own bias - by coincidence I traveled to Sydney that same year!). The translation feels quite smooth - even with grasping some of the Australian lingo, too.
The book has a very distinct style to it, but it is such an interesting read, that it quickly becomes difficult to set aside. Harry, with his dark past and his inner struggles, becomes a flawed, but sympathetic hero - even through his missteps. The romance fits nicely in with the overall story and does not feel forced or overly emphasized. The plot takes some surprising turns, but none of them feel unjustified and all the clues truly add up. And the climatic finale in the aquarium certainly has a dramatic flair. It certainly is an action-packed debut - full of both internal and external conflict. It makes for a terrifically thrilling and well-executed begin to a series.
I can’t wait to read the rest of the series! But I am definitely going to wait for the second novel, The Cockroaches, to be published in English (rumour has it this will be just a few months away!). (less)
The fourth book in the Logan MacRae series definitely stands out amongst the other novels in the series. It has a flashier style with its newspaper cl...moreThe fourth book in the Logan MacRae series definitely stands out amongst the other novels in the series. It has a flashier style with its newspaper clippings serving as chapter breaks. Even images are included! And the camera crew following DI Insch allows for screenplay like snippets to be added as well. This very multimedia angle adds to the overall excitement. When combined with the central plot - a gruesome, cannibalistic serial killer (nicknamed “The Flesher”) makes a return to murder after a twenty year hiatus, the book quickly becomes impossible to set aside. So much so, that despite its relative heft (nearly five hundred pages), I read it one sitting until the very early hours of the following day!
It is definitely the darkest book in the series - even more horrific than Cold Granite. MacBride offers the killer’s perspective in places, which adds to the tension and terror. The book includes a nice summary of the characters and some highlights from previous novels, so it would be possible to start the series here (though not recommended - the first three books in the series are great - though this one is my favorite). This is the fastest-paced, strongest and most exciting installment of the series. And though it is the darkest as well, MacBride breaks up the grim gore with the bantering dialogue of the police force as well as the ups and downs of those relationships.
MacBride throws in some huge twists and turns to the plot, too. It is genuinely frightening and some beloved characters really suffer here. It’s gruesome (with a cannibalistic serial killer could you expect anything else?) and includes plenty of untimely death. And the ending is downright chilling... This is certainly the strongest book in the series and MacBride’s most unpredictable plot yet! I can’t wait to see what he follows this up with next in this terrific series! (less)
The second book in MacBride’s Logan McRae series opens up about a year after the events in the first novel, Cold Granite. Again, this police procedura...moreThe second book in MacBride’s Logan McRae series opens up about a year after the events in the first novel, Cold Granite. Again, this police procedural involves more than one crime, but the major case at the heart of the novel involves a serial murderer beating the prostitutes of Aberdeen to death. Meanwhile, an arsonist has taken to closing all the exits to the buildings burned and a suitcase with remains in it turns up in the woods. And on top of all of that, more tendrils of Edinburgh’s crimeworld start creeping into the Granite City. Like in the previous book, MacBride ties up all these loose ends, but without the plot feeling overly manufactured or false. The book has a very authentic quality to it.
Logan’s hero status becomes a bit tarnished here - he makes some mistakes, but remains a very sympathetic hero. The relationships between the police force and some other recurring characters grow here and provide respites of humour in their bantering dialogue. Parts of the plot follow some rather familiar turns (the crime novel-reading housewife), but MacBride manages to include a few surprises, too. The pacing in this sequel drags a bit in the middle, unfortunately. The opening, though, is quite strong and the conclusion is downright thrilling, so overall it does feel like a fast read. It’s a every entertaining series and I am really excited to continue reading. It’s just a lot of fun with its terrific, vivid characters, horrific crimes and exciting action. (less)
This is my first foray into MacBride’s mysteries and writing, and I absolutely loved the experience! MacBride writes so vividly - covering not only th...moreThis is my first foray into MacBride’s mysteries and writing, and I absolutely loved the experience! MacBride writes so vividly - covering not only the visuals, the sounds, authentic dialogue (with accents!), but even the smells (many of them quite foul). Every scene really springs to life off the page! It is so easy to become immersed in it, immune to your own surroundings as you become swept up into the characters and the horrific actions of the serial killer with the moniker “Birthday Boy.” The main character, Ash Henderson is something of an anti-hero. Despite his often poor decision making, he is a sympathetic character and even becomes quite likable at times. The plot unfolds here in mostly unpredictable ways (though I must admit that the concluding twists are not completely unexpected). Still, the book’s flaws are easy to overlook. The book exudes authenticity. And the dialogue and relationship between Ash and Alice, the young psychologist add brief respites of humour in the midst of the dark plot. It’s a sad, horrific story, but such a gripping read! MacBride is a talented writer and I can’t wait to read his even more highly acclaimed Logan McRae series. (less)
Though Maynard’s reputation is a well-established one, this is actually the first of her books that I have ever read - and wow, am I ever glad that I...moreThough Maynard’s reputation is a well-established one, this is actually the first of her books that I have ever read - and wow, am I ever glad that I read this! It hooks you immediately with its thrilling premise and strong narration. Set mostly in 1979 Marin County, Rachel and her sister, Patty, cling to one another in the aftermath of their parents’ divorce. As their mother retreats to her room and her library books, the girls run somewhat wild on the expansive mountainside behind their home. When their father, the head homicide detective for the county, heads up a serial murder case - the Sunset Strangler (loosely based on the actual Trailside Killer) - the case not only consumes him, but thirteen year old Rachel as well.
The book falls into an interesting mix of genres - superficially, it is a serial killer story - but it is also a coming of age story as well as a look into the relationships between not only sisters, but fathers and daughters, too. Maynard balances these threads effortlessly in creating this absolutely gripping read. She captures the time period very well (I think I will have the song “My Sharona” stuck in my head now for the next week!). And while the plot takes some expected paths, surprises still lurk amongst its pages. Rachel’s thirteen year old self will feel familiar to those who recall that age. Really, all of the characters, both major and minor feel well developed and genuine. It’s a riveting read and I genuinely can’t wait to go back now and explore Maynard’s other books! (less)
This most recent installment of the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series is quite an entertaining read! It has been over a year since I last encount...moreThis most recent installment of the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series is quite an entertaining read! It has been over a year since I last encountered these characters, but Cain skillfully inserts little reminders to make the events of the previous novels feel freshly experienced. It is quite easy to get swept back into her Portland! The book opens just before Halloween, with the Beauty Killer still on the loose, and heading for Portland just in time for Archie’s birthday. The plot moves quickly, with the excitement amping up as each chapter flies by. The body count is plenty high here - and there are plenty of scenes between Archie and Gretchen.
Though the last novel, Kill You Twice, explores Gretchen’s past, in this one, Cain instead provides a rather gritty look into the early relationship of Archie and Gretchen. Other series regulars appear - Susan, the funky hair-dyed journalist and Henry, Archie’s partner - and play significant roles. It is a solidly exciting addition to the series. And, as always, it leaves you quite eager to see where the series will go next! These characters - even the villains - are always interesting and Cain takes them in some surprising plots! I hope the wait isn’t too long!(less)
This is an entertaining, very summery read. It’s more of a coming-of-age-thriller than a mystery novel, but it moves along at a pretty fast pace and j...moreThis is an entertaining, very summery read. It’s more of a coming-of-age-thriller than a mystery novel, but it moves along at a pretty fast pace and just exudes a sense of summer along with danger. The book opens in 1987 with three young boys in the Michigan woods spy a missing young girl and her kidnapper from the vantage point of their titular fort. The writing style feels a bit odd - an almost overly removed perspective that does take a little time to become accustomed to its cadence. This perhaps will translate better to an audio version of the story. It has an almost movie voice-over feel at times.
And though engaging from the very start, I must confess that I found the character names quite distracting. I am not sure if Davis is a huge Jaws fan, but he uses the name Matt Hooper for his villain and one of the young boys’ last name is Benchley... And the story takes place during the same time of year.... And the chief of police acts a bit like Larry Vaughn in his insistence to just enjoy the fourth of July holiday...
But odd coincidences, or veiled homage attempts aside, this is an overall entertaining story and makes for a lovely book to enjoy reading outside in the summer breeze.(less)
With its flashy premise involving an Alaskan serial killer returned to add to his spree of killings after a five year hiatus, this book starring FBI a...moreWith its flashy premise involving an Alaskan serial killer returned to add to his spree of killings after a five year hiatus, this book starring FBI agent Jessica Harding is certainly attention-grabbing. And with its high body count and gruesome killings, it is a pretty exciting read. It is well-edited and fast-paced. It lacks, however, sufficient depth in its characters. Even the main character feels a bit shallow and certainly is not a dynamic character. The book has a realistic feel with its settings, and perhaps it is this that adds to making the cast of characters feel so stiff, and never as genuine as the described landscapes. The killer, especially, along with his means and motives is never properly explored. All in all, the book has the slight undertone that the rest of the federal government doesn’t care much for Alaska, and that’s just the way they like it, too. The storyline, though, is exciting enough - and these flaws in the characterization would probably go unnoticed in a made-for-TV adaptation of the story. There are aspects of the story, like the Old Believers, that are particularly interesting. It isn’t a terrible book by any means, but it isn’t a wonderful one, either. What makes this all the more disappointing, is that the potential is there for this to be a much more engaging and exciting serial killer story.(less)
Although this fifth volume in the Taylor Jackson series is a little hokey with its witchcraft angle, it remains a fast-paced and exciting read. The su...moreAlthough this fifth volume in the Taylor Jackson series is a little hokey with its witchcraft angle, it remains a fast-paced and exciting read. The supernatural elements just feel particularly false because the previous four novels really do not provide any sort of foundation for the series to take a turn to include the real power of witches. Ellison even provides a shout-out to John Connolly, who has done an excellent job of weaving in a supernatural element to his mystery series starring his private investigator, Charlie Parker. But, the witchery aside, this is still an interesting plot. And as Taylor works to solve this Halloween spree of murders, a significant chunk of Baldwin’s past is revealed both through his testimony at a hearing and in his own sort of flashbacks on the case that brought him together with Charlotte. As more of that side story unfolds, some truly shocking information is introduced - promising challenges for the couple in future novels.
More time is spent here setting up for the Pretender - so it seems that the final showdown will be coming soon! I am really looking forward to it! And at least the cliffhanger for this one is more of an uplifting one than usual! This is a fun series with great characters! I am going to be sad to be completely caught up with it! (less)
This third installment in the Taylor Jackson series opens with quite a hook! The pacing slows a bit, bogged down a bit with an overload of police proc...moreThis third installment in the Taylor Jackson series opens with quite a hook! The pacing slows a bit, bogged down a bit with an overload of police procedural details. But once the pacing picks up - compounded with a rather left-field plot twist - the book quickly becomes impossible to set aside! And, like its predecessor in the series, 14, it too ends on a cliffhanger. This is, overall, a solidly exciting series and definitely a lot of fun to read. And though the main plot is not completely unpredictable, the nature of the side plots certainly adds a lot of excitement and surprise.
I am a bit disappointed that the Pretender did not make more than just a cameo appearance - but I hope that means that he will soon be the focus of a main plot soon. Still, this cliffhanger ending has me quite anxious to see where the fourth book in the series, The Cold Room, will go! (less)
Though I had a rather frustrating time getting my hands on this book, once I did, it was well worth the wait! This follow-up to All The Pretty Girls w...moreThough I had a rather frustrating time getting my hands on this book, once I did, it was well worth the wait! This follow-up to All The Pretty Girls was a very solid sequel. The writing wasn’t quite as polished with a few distracting inconsistencies with the perspective. The plot, however, contained a lot more surprises and moved at an even faster speed than the first volume in the Taylor Jackson series. The romantic relationships played a larger role here - the actions were less implied than before and more frequent. The serial killer angle worked well here - and really set the stage for future novels in the series, really adding to the excitement.
One thing that did bother me throughout the book was a rather obvious solution... One of the big breaks in the case dealt directly with a childhood memory of Taylor’s. This could have been solved so much sooner had she just called her mother in Switzerland - stilted relationship aside, she could have at least tried - there certainly was a great deal of time spent setting up just how readily Kitty would remember the couple because of her dismay over the costume. But, that annoyance aside, this was a fast-paced and fun read, though perhaps a bit less realistic feeling than some other thrillers in the genre.
And with its cliffhanger of an ending - it made me thankful that I already own the third book, Judas Kiss, and am ready to start reading immediately!(less)
This is Ahlborn’s second novel, but actually the third book of hers that I have read. And unfortunately, this is my least favorite of her books. Both...moreThis is Ahlborn’s second novel, but actually the third book of hers that I have read. And unfortunately, this is my least favorite of her books. Both her first, Seed, and her third, The Shuddering, are stronger novels with more relatable characters. The Kansas setting here feels overly stereotypical (a lot of Wizard of Oz references). And though the supernatural element is completely absent from this thriller, because of her other novels, I kept expecting it to be just around the corner. The villain also holds no real surprises. Since it is not as engaging of a story, it is harder to overlook Ahlborn’s consistently inconsistent point of view. But the biggest distractions is the odd use of the protagonist’s name. Andrew, or Drew, or even Andy, is referred to - even in the same sentence! - as more than one version of his name. Strange, and oddly distracting. Still, it is a somewhat entertaining story, though her others are much stronger - and more highly recommended!(less)
This is actually the third book in this series featuring Philly detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. Typically, I have a hard time overcoming m...moreThis is actually the third book in this series featuring Philly detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. Typically, I have a hard time overcoming my obsession with reading books in order, but this book came to my attention because of the serial killer and the link to Hans Christian Andersen. Risking disappointment, I chose to start the series in the middle. And actually, the author does a better job than many series authors in acquainting new readers with his recurring characters without leaving that nagging sense that something major has just occurred previously. It functions surprisingly well as a standalone novel, and though there are tidbits thrown in about the two previous novels, they act more as teasers than spoilers.
I am not sure, though, if I will go back and catch up on the series, though. Though the beginning hooks you in from the very first page, the style and characters are immediately engaging - but the middle really lags. Perhaps the author attains too much realism in his policework - there is a lot of “legwork” shown here, and it is hardly thrilling. The final scenes of the book mount in a lot of tension, but the chaotic climax never really feels satisfying. The action is no longer clearly described and there are a lot of strings left hanging. Perhaps the next novel ties up some of these loose ends, but considering the tight beginning here, I doubt that it will... It is too bad, because I really want to like this book more than I actually do. (less)
Immediately engaging, this book really surpassed my expectations. Masterman’s debut novel was a strong one. Brigid Quinn, 59 and retired from the FBI...moreImmediately engaging, this book really surpassed my expectations. Masterman’s debut novel was a strong one. Brigid Quinn, 59 and retired from the FBI made for an older (but no wiser) narrator for the genre. The case that consumed her for years - a serial killer dubbed the Route 66 Killer - drew to a close and quickly pulled Quinn into a more active role closing the case once and for all. Quinn’s narration, full of hard edges and bad decisions felt surprisingly fresh. It gave the book a very new feeling - which was all the more impressive considering the plot’s serious nod to The Silence of the Lambs. And though Masterman acknowledged the movie-version in the beginning of the book, its influence felt quite evident. Accordingly, some elements of the plot fell into rather predictable lines. And though Quinn’s choices felt rather inauthentic for someone of her background, she somehow maintained an overall vibe with an intriguing and genuine edge. She was an interesting narrator, and despite some plot holes, I had a lot of fun reading this. I look forward to seeing if Masterman will write a follow-up novel as a direct sequel or feature an entirely new cast of characters. (less)
This is my first introduction to Chicago author, Michael Harvey. And I am thoroughly impressed! Harvey nails the setting and gives both Chicago and Ev...moreThis is my first introduction to Chicago author, Michael Harvey. And I am thoroughly impressed! Harvey nails the setting and gives both Chicago and Evanston an authentic edge. And it adds a thrill to this Chicagoan to see places like Tommy Nevin’s, Mustard’s Last Stand and The Spice House make cameo appearances (characters Michael Kelly and Vince Rodriguez from Harvey’s Michael Kelly series also make appearances, though this is a standalone novel). It also adds a certain eeriness to have places so close to home appear in the pages of this dark and quite exciting novel. Expertly plotted, this novel is almost impossible to put down! Its fast pacing compliments the way the plot unfolds in genuinely unexpected ways. And all with its meticulously drawn Chicago and Evanston backdrop. I can’t wait to read more books by this talented author!
The characters, three Medill (Northwestern’s prestigious graduate school of Journalism) students, each have realistic - and sympathetic - qualities. They are intriguing and complete characters - and I hope that Harvey includes them in future books! Though the novel has a relatively short page count (under 250), the complexity and tightness of the plot gives weight to each carefully worded sentence. Harvey is such a talented writer and I am so excited to read his Michael Kelly series next! It is always a treat to discover a new writer that already has books lined up for you to enjoy! I can’t wait! I am even more thankful that he has chosen to capture Chicago - it really adds to the fun!(less)
Translated from Swedish, this police procedural mystery novel is a solidly entertaining one. And though a few of the plot’s turns are quite predictabl...moreTranslated from Swedish, this police procedural mystery novel is a solidly entertaining one. And though a few of the plot’s turns are quite predictable (the commonalities between certain characters, for example), Ohlsson still manages to mix in some genuine surprises. Either way, the plot moves quickly and it’s definitely an entertaining story. The characters - though a bit slow on the uptake at times - are likable and sympathetic. Their personal lives round out the entire story, adding a fuller picture. Adultery plays a surprisingly recurrent, and at times quite casual, role, which may cause some readers to lose sympathy for certain key characters. But even the most unlikable of the police members still have redeeming qualities. It’s an intriguing start to a series, and I am definitely curious to see where the next installment will go. (less)
I have been a fan of McMahon’s for a few years now, and she never ceases impressing me. Her writing talents are unique in that each book she adds to h...moreI have been a fan of McMahon’s for a few years now, and she never ceases impressing me. Her writing talents are unique in that each book she adds to her canon gets better and better. It makes waiting for the latest volume quite frustrating! Her latest is no exception - I read it in one sitting! It is literally impossible to put down!
While some of her other novels tend towards the more literary mystery, this book feels more like a thriller/mystery with a serial killer dubbed Neptune at the heart of the plot. There’s some sensationalism to the plot, and plenty of suspense as McMahon weaves her story in both the past and present (well, 2010, so present-ish). Each chapter alternates between 1985 and 2010, the tension increasing with each chapter. Really, it’s a riveting read with plenty of red herrings, backstories and a very efficient tidying of loose ends in the book’s conclusion.
All of the characters are well developed. Reggie (Regina) is quite likable - as both a thirteen year old and a thirty-eight year old. McMahon really does a wonderful job of realistically portraying these two different (but still similar) perspectives in the structure of the novel. It is masterfully handled and I am already looking forward to seeing what McMahon will publish next! (less)
This fourth installment in the Jan Fabel series is one of the strongest in the series - and definitely a vast improvement over the third entrant, Eter...moreThis fourth installment in the Jan Fabel series is one of the strongest in the series - and definitely a vast improvement over the third entrant, Eternal. The varied elements and strings of the stories mold together to create a riveting - and at times, horrifying - whole. Cannibalism runs rampant throughout the book - both its history, and some more modern, criminal applications - so this novel probably isn’t the best choice for reading while eating anything. Weak-stomached readers most likely will not appreciate the topic, either. Russell manages to maintain a rather nauseating tone to nearly the entire book. But is so well-written and well-crafted that they will be missing out!
The plot is simply handled beautifully. Russell offers a variety of plausible suspects, and still manages to keep rolling out surprises until the very end of the book. This book also fully brings back Vitrenko, from Blood Eagle. Though many of the significant events are covered here, it would still be best to read this series in order for maximum enjoyment. Other main characters, not just the series’ main character, Jan, continue to develop here. Maria Klee, in particularly, plays a prominent role. The setting largely shifts for the majority of this book from Hamburg to Cologne, which gives the book a surprisingly different flavor to it. It’s a fascinating series overall, and this addition is simply one of my favorites in the series. It is so well done! I am looking forward to the fifth book in the series!(less)
Despite my great love for the first two books in the Jan Fabel series, this third installment disappointed me a bit. While in many ways it felt closer...moreDespite my great love for the first two books in the Jan Fabel series, this third installment disappointed me a bit. While in many ways it felt closer to the first book in the series, Blood Eagle (Vitrenko’s name crops up more frequently, the murders also have a more political aspect, the writing style and use of language is stronger), I still felt more disconnected from it than the other books. This was largely due to the reincarnation-driven premise. The other novels in the series centered around plots there were a lot more plausible and realistic than the outlandish one featured here. And while the plot was unpredictable - it bordered on crossing the line into impossibility. Though the pieces did fit together, there were some holes that weren’t really addressed, focusing more on the character side of the plot. Either way, the reincarnation spin felt trite and overused, unlike the fresh and original feelings the first two books left me with.
The characters’ lives and their development did continue here in interesting and believable ways. This progression will undoubtedly continue throughout the series - and some large changes seemed to be looming that would be covered in future novels. It will be very interesting to see just what direction the series will go from here!(less)
What an amazingly strong sequel!! I think I enjoyed this follow-up more even than the first book in the series, Blood Eagle. This may, in part, be due...moreWhat an amazingly strong sequel!! I think I enjoyed this follow-up more even than the first book in the series, Blood Eagle. This may, in part, be due to my own love of fairy tales. Russell impeccably weaves the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales into this murder mystery without adding a hokey or downright silly tone to the novel at all. It’s a riveting story and the plot certainly takes some unpredictable twists. Though there are plenty of clues thrown in to help reveal the killer’s true identity, Russell manages to keep this truly hidden up until the very end. Russell’s villain here, is also impressive - not only in size and scariness, but also in the way that Russell manages to give readers at least a bit of sympathy towards this monstrous character.
I am really looking forward to continuing on with the series. Russell clearly has a gift for plot, and his characters all come to life quite nicely. They have all developed over the course of these first two books in the series, and I am quite curious to see where they will go from here. Still, the focus of these books is most certainly their plots, and the originality and creativity that Russell offers up is fascinating and makes for a very enjoyable read. (less)
What an amazing debut novel! I simply love the way that Russell writes! With his lush use of vocabulary and his turn of phrase he reminds me a bit of...moreWhat an amazing debut novel! I simply love the way that Russell writes! With his lush use of vocabulary and his turn of phrase he reminds me a bit of my very favorite author, John Connolly. It is so refreshing to see so much attention to detail to not only a murder plot, but also to the actual writing style in genre fiction. The plot, intricately laid out, untwists with enough clues to keep readers guessing, but also includes some very genuine surprises. And with that shocker of an ending, I am genuinely thankful that I have the remainder of the series purchased and ready to read - it would be terrible to have to wait to continue on with these wonderfully real characters!
Fabel, the “English Detective” (he is actually half-German and half-Scottish) in the Hamburg Murder Squad is a sympathetic and genuinely likable main character. He just seems like not only a good person, but a good detective as well. The more secondary characters are also completely fleshed out and it will be interesting to see how they all grow and develop throughout the course of the series.
Russell’s Hamburg feels authentic - and definitely allows for some armchair traveling. He presents what seems to be an accurate portrait of the city and its overall vibe. He weaves in both politics and history seamlessly without bogging down the pacing or giving the book an overly preachy tone. His Germany and his Hamburg are complex and dynamic. And I have put Hamburg on my “Cities To Visit” list. I can’t wait to keep reading!! What a great feeling it is to stumble upon a terrific new series!(less)
Last year, I fell in love with Williams' debut novel (and the first in the Keye Street series), The Stranger You Seek, so I've been so excited to read...moreLast year, I fell in love with Williams' debut novel (and the first in the Keye Street series), The Stranger You Seek, so I've been so excited to read this book! And Williams delivers a fast-paced and entertaining sequel here! As far as sequels go, unfortunately, this one wasn't quite as strong as the first. The plot is interesting, but the romantic tension that so charged the first book is absent here. Williams focuses even more on Street's alcoholism and her recovery. The distinct narrative style, so prevalent in the first book, is subdued here, without as much polish, charm and dark humour. I did enjoy it - but parts of the mystery weren't particularly mysterious and bordered on predictable... I am still curious to see where the series goes, but not as anxiously excited as I was after finishing the first book, but hopefully the third book will reclaim the energy of the first book! (less)
In many ways, this sequel is a lot stronger than the opening book in the series, Monkeewrench. It flows a lot better and the cast of characters has be...moreIn many ways, this sequel is a lot stronger than the opening book in the series, Monkeewrench. It flows a lot better and the cast of characters has been pared down to a much more manageable level. Despite it being a very plot-centric book, the plot itself is rather predictable. There are a few surprising turns, but for the most part nothing too shocking occurs. It would have been nice to see the series main characters develop a bit more - it seems like all of the character development is spent on characters new and surrounding just this storyline. Still, the bantering dialogue is a lot of fun and I am definitely interested to see where the series will go next.(less)