Oscar Mariani is an investigator with the “Barelies”. Let me explain: the Nine-Ten Investigation Unit was created 3 years ago (after Gray Wendesday), and it sounded enough like “nineteen” that it became the Barely Legals, shortened to the “Barelies”. Oscar continually has to endure the indignity of being part of an investigation unit that isn’t taken seriously, and also the ghost of a little boy that’s been haunting him since Gray Wednesday. Gray Wednesday left the world in shambles and in its wake, also left everyone with a ghost of their own.
Oscar and his partner Neve find the body of a young girl in the sewer system, laid open by an enormous industrial auger. The mutilation wasn’t enough to cover a symbol carved into the girl’s stomach. This case should have been passed to the Homicide unit, but Mariani decides to investigate it himself. Neve isn’t so enthusiastic, and isn’t afraid to show it. She soon puts in for a transfer, but it’s clear that she’s conflicted. As Oscar follows the clues, he begins to uncover something that can only be described as pure evil. At continuous risk of losing his job, the case will take him first to a home for disabled children, the Heights, a sparkling walled enclave where the elite dwell, and finally into an occult underground that will take him nearly beyond his emotional and physical endurance.
To say that I loved this book would be an understatement. Oscar Mariani is my favorite kind of protagonist: wounded, deeply moral, and determined to see things put right. When Gray Wednesday hit, his ghost appeared in front of him while driving on a busy street, and in trying to avoid what he thought was a real person in front of him, he swerved to avoid him, and struck a young girl. The pain that he carries with him because of this, and its aftermath, is palpable on nearly every page. The author set his story against a future Australia that is broken, dark, and bereft of hope, to nearly all except for the very wealthy. Power is spotty, government support is very limited, and struggling to get by is an understatement.
“The roads were empty of traffic, but not empty of cars: both sides were lined with vehicles, some of the festooned with faded bouquets of parking tickets. Most had smashed windows, a few were no more than burned shells, all of them had been stripped of wheels, seats, mirrors-anything that could be removed in hasted and peddled. Sump boxes were cracked open and their oil drained for use in lamps. Driving was a luxury few outside of the Heights could afford. Half the cars in the city-half the cars around the world, Oscar supposed-had been dented or crashed on Gray Wednesday. His own car had gained a dent on the front. Oscar drew down another shutter on that memory.”
Amidst the ruin, Oscar is a beacon, whether he wants to be or not. His quest (and it is a quest) to see things right is fraught with danger and figuring out who can be trusted is no small task. A complicated relationship with his adoptive, ex-cop father is a fulcrum on which he swings, and we’re given small glimpses into that relationship throughout the story. The Broken Ones is not for the faint of heart, however. There’s nothing gratuitous here, but the author absolutely does not pull punches, and there were a few times that I had to look away and catch my breath. The language he uses is just beautiful, even when describing the most gruesome scenes:
“This curtain was woven with the bones and skulls of ten thousand people. Femurs and rib bones were the weft, and humeri and ulnae the warp. Skulls were ivory sequins. This awful drapery was the source of the sick, eldritch light-and behind it was a yawning darkness more terrible than the narrow, blind confusion he’d left behind. He knew he had to go. Then the curtain rippled. The bilious light shimmered, and he heard an unmusical tinkle, the discord of a thousand untuned pianos as bone ticked against bone. Something was on the other side. Something huge. It was coming.”
There is one particular scene in The Broken Ones that absolutely terrified me. I’m talking about “watching-the-scariest-movie” muscle clenching horror. I held my breath for two whole pages. It’s been a long time since a book has had that effect on me, and frankly, it was awesome. To pigeonhole The Broken Ones into one genre would be very inaccurate. It’s a combination of supernatural thriller, police procedural, horror, and dystopian…and it works. Oh boy, does it work! Stephen M. Irwin puts his characters through the emotional and physical ringers, and doesn’t spare his reader either. I felt wrung out when I finished this novel, but in the best way, the way you feel like when you’ve finished a wonderful book, and discovered a new to you author that has just blown you away. I can’t help but hope there will be more of Oscar Mariani in future books, but if not, that’ s ok too, because The Broken Ones is a gem and stands perfectly on its own. Very, very highly recommended. (less)
When a young girl comes into Adam Austin’s bail bonds office, he has no concept of how young she really is. He thinks she’s college age, but she’s actually a high school girl that claims to have been in touch with her incarcerated father, and now he’s out, and she wants to visit him. The only problem is, she says, is that he won’t tell her exactly where he’s staying. In his letters, however, he mentions he’s staying in a rental home and names the property owner. All the girl wants is an address. Adam pushes back all of his misgivings about giving her the information, thinking she would be better off not making contact, and finds the address for her. When he hears she has been murdered, Adam takes it upon himself to find her killer, giving him the name of his sister”s killer so many years ago. See, Adam blames himself for his sister’s death, and he’s not going to let this guy get away. Not even if he has to make sure of that himself.
When The Prophet started, I thought I knew where it was going. As it peels back the layers of Kent and Adam’s lives and motivations, I really, really thought I knew what was going to happen. As it turns out, I didn’t. Seems pretty straightforward at first. Adam sends this girl to that house, where instead of reuniting with her father, she is killed. Adam feels responsible for her death, much like he still feels responsible for his sister’s death, when he was still in high school. Adam is the big brother, and he takes everything, and I mean everything, on his broad shoulders. He’s not about to let this one get away. Adam still lives in the house that they grew up in and has preserved their sister’s room down to every detail. He also talks to her on a regular basis as he sits in her room, watching the sun bounce off of the stain glass figures she so painstakingly created. Adam is most thoroughly haunted by his sister, and when details start coming to light about Kent, and his possible connection to the killer, Adam realizes there’s much more to this story, and Kent is equally determined to put things right.
On the surface, The Prophet is a thriller, but at its heart, it’s a story about revenge, redemption, and the power of love and family. The twists and turns will keep you turning the pages, but the love between these brothers will break your heart. Also, if you’re a football fan, you’re in for a treat, because there are plenty of passages detailing the exploits of the high school team that Kent coaches, and even if you don’t give a wit about football, you’ll find yourself sucked in to the drama, because it’s that drama that drives Kent, and the urgency of the writing during these passages is addicting and impossible to ignore. The Prophet is a barnburner of a novel, cutting a swath through families and lives with a razor sharp quickness. It will suck you in, chew you up, and spit you out, and you’ll love every minute of it. Michael Koryta is hugely talented writer, and The Prophet is not to be missed!(less)
The economy is bad, and prospects aren’t looking good for new college grads with “useless” degrees, so four friends decide crime is the way to go. What starts out as light banter, a joke, even, ends up anything but a joke when they decide to perform their first kidnapping. They figure they have the perfect plan: pick targets that have money to spare, but don’t get too greedy, go for the more modest score. What could possibly go wrong, right? For a while, things go swimmingly. The marks are cooperative, and their plan of demanding modest ransoms seems to be working, but when they kidnap a man connected to the mob, things get out of hand very quickly, and they go from kidnapping to something much, much worse, and deadly. Meanwhile, state investigator Kirk Stevens has teamed up with FBI agent Carla Windermere and they’ve begun gathering evidence against the gang.
What a debut! The Professionals starts off with a bang and rarely does it stop and let you catch your breath. You get to know the criminal gang pretty well and although their motives are explained, it was very, very hard for me to sympathize with them. These aren’t kids from terrible backgrounds, with no hope of making successes of themselves. They have it all, but because of some misguided sense of entitlement, think that pulling kidnapping jobs, instead of paying their dues, is the way to go. They seem to think that kidnapping is a “victimless” crime, and even though they treat their marks fairly well, what about the families that are terrorized by the fact that their father or husband may not come home unless they pay a ransom, and even then there are no guarantees. Boredom is not a reason to commit crimes, and unfortunately, that seems to be their biggest motivation. They’re not evil people, but of course there’s a snowball effect to what they’ve done. When it starts to get worse, it gets downright terrible.
As for Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere, they’ve got a chemistry that lights up the pages, and since Stevens is happily married (with a very understanding wife), there’s no romance to be had, but their chemistry makes for a great investigative team. Stevens wants to find these kids, hopefully alive, and put to rest this case, and Carla is equally eager to get it done, but more than a few roadblocks will trip them up along the way. The inevitability of the criminals’ plight is obvious all too soon, but that doesn’t mean you won’t revel in the chase, like I did. Unfortunately, there’s some collateral damage along the way. If you love cinematic crime, you’ll want to let The Professionals take you for a ride.(less)
I was never a cheerleader in high school. In fact, I was never really part of any clique. But as far as I knew, all of our cheerleaders were smart, talented girls that worked hard at just about everything they did, and yeah, in a lot of ways, probably ruled the school. Either way, I don’t remember them being like the girls in Dare Me, although knowing them that well would have required much more familiarity. Let’s just say I hope they weren’t anything like these girls. Tall, beautiful Addy is a cheerleader, along with her best friend Beth Cassidy, and they absolutely rule the school. Tearing down teachers, tormenting coaches and fellow classmates is all in a day’s work for these girls, until Coach French comes along. Until now, the squad was soft and undisciplined. No more butt shaking and hip thrusting for these girls, no sir. Coach French is gonna whip them into shape, you’d better believe it. Colette French is tiny, commanding, and beautiful, and Addy’s fascination with her is evident from the start. Soon, Coach French invites the girls over to her perfect house, which contains her perfect daughter, and doting husband. Things aren’t quite as perfect as they seem at Casa French though, and that soon becomes evident, when an explosive event introduces the first cracks in the fragile veneer built around Coach French and her girls.
Ohhhh, Megan Abbott. How dare you suck me into this diabolical narrative about cheerleaders and their mean, brittle little hearts, causing loss of sleep and possibly heart palpitations! Dare Me is, at first blush, Addy’s story. After all, she’s the one telling it, and for a while, at least, she keeps the reader at arm’s length. We learn quite a bit about Beth, the little Napolean, with her narrowed eyes, casual cruelty, and fondness for games of the psychological sort. We think we get know Coach, but of course, things are never quite as they seem. There’s a quiet desperation about Addy, and she’s always been Beth’s lieutenant and, seemingly, at her beck and call. Beth is presented (very effectively) as a bitchy, bored, innately cruel teenager with a chip on her shoulder, and she’s pretty easy to hate. Her calculation is startling and hurting others seems like sport, so the author’s ability to slowly morph her into a tragic figure (and she is), is pretty impressive. There’s a mystery here, to be sure, but Dare Me is, at its core, a study of the bonds of friendship, obsessive love, and the lengths some will go to in order to hold onto that love and possess a person fully. Dare Me is described as a sort of Fight Club for cheerleaders, and it is. These girls wear their physical bruises like badges, with their “cherried smiles and spray-tanned legs”, and drive their bodies to exhaustion and beyond, striving for constant perfection, admiration, and of course, acceptance. When the final revelations come, about Beth, Addy, Coach French, and the death that wraps them so tightly together, you’ll be a bit exhausted, but in the best way, in the way only a good mystery can do. And Megan Abbott is good, folks. Her staccato, spitfire prose grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go until the very last page. I dare you not to finish it in one sitting. Highly recommended.(less)
Ridley Pearson was given the chance to spend a year in Shanghai with his family, and his experience with, and appreciation for, China and its people is evident in The Risk Agent, the first book in a new series. When a Chinese citizen, Lu Hao, is kidnapped, along with his American security detail, Clete Danner, John Knox is called in to help by Rutherford Risk. At first, he’s dubious and hesitant to take the job, but has a disabled brother, Tommy, that needs constant care and attention, and the money from this job is much needed. They have a good import/export business running, but cash is always scarce, so he takes the job, but with reservations. Rutherford Risk has been hired by the American Construction firm that Lu Hao worked for in order to facilitate the ransom drop or an extraction of the captives. John has had experience with this kind of thing, and his plans lean heavily toward extraction. Also, for John, it’s personal, since Clete Danner is a close friend. He’s soon paired up with Grace Chu, a forensic accountant with ties to the kidnapped Chinese national, and an agenda of her own, and the game is afoot.
Speaking of agendas, there are a ton of folks that have agendas in The Risk Agent, including officers with the People’s Armed Police and possibly the CIA. Grace Chu is not only savvy with her mind, but with her fists, and proves an invaluable asset to John Knox. Foreigners don’t get behind the scenes easily in China, so her expertise is absolutely necessary to their mission. Lu Hao’s job for the construction company was paying out bribes to facilitate the building of luxury properties, so unsavory types are a plenty, and big money is involved. It took a bit of time for things to get going for me, but once they did, it was like a runaway train…in China. Time is of the essence to ensure the captives’ survival, but of course, this isn’t just a simple kidnapping, and navigating the ins and outs of rampant bribery, corporate espionage, and the Chinese underworld makes for a pretty fun ride. It’s hard not to like John Knox, but I especially liked Grace Chu. She’s like the proverbial onion: lots and lots of layers; it was fun getting to know her, and she shows infinite patience in showing partner Knox (a waiguoren, or foreigner) the intricacies of Chinese culture. There were a couple of clunky bits in the narrative in the form of some slightly awkward (but not detailed) love scenes, and some repetition of some lines, however, I read an uncorrected proof, so these things might have been fixed in the final draft. Either way, I quite enjoy a cinema-ready thriller every now and then, with lots of twists, turns, double crosses, and action, and this one more than fit the bill. Also, I’ve long been fascinated with China, and bustling, dynamic Shanghai is an undeniably exciting locale for a thriller. It will be fun to see where he takes Knox and Grace next!(less)
Joe Ledger is back in the 4th thriller from Jonathan Maberry! I’m a huge fan of this series, and have loved every one, so I was eager to dive back into Joe’s world. The day after Joe and Echo Team rescue a group of college students held hostage in Iran, Joe is sitting in a coffee shop with a laser sight trained on his groin. He gets a call and a mysterious female voice gives him very specific instructions to meet a man in the coffee shop. It’s not like he has much choice. I mean, there are laser sights trained on his, er, man parts! Just a day in the life of our man Joe, yes? Trouble tends to follow Joe around, and he’s about to discover just what kind of trouble has found him, and it’s the worst yet…
Poor Joe. The author really puts him through the ringer in this one, physically and emotionally. A particularly nasty blast from Joe’s past is on the loose, vampires are running amok, an ancient order is bent on destruction, nuclear bombs are in the hands of mad men, and Joe can’t catch a break. Seriously, Joe is constantly fighting in this one, and it seems no place is safe. His loyal dog Ghost is always at his side, and even Ghost is run ragged. I think one thing I really love about Joe is that he’s willing to do what needs to be done, even if things get a bit unpleasant, and yet, all the while, he fights with himself, with the Warrior within who craves the fight. This struggle just makes an almost superhuman man seem more human and never fails to make me like him more. Of course Joe has the support of the DMS, and his boss, Mr. Church on his side, but he also acquires some unlikely allies, my favorite being in the form of a lethal assassin that calls herself Violin. I’m sincerely hoping we’ll see more of her in future books.
Assassin’s Code is mainly told in Joe’s voice, but there are Interludes and passages where the narrative takes us back to the 9th century, and the history behind an ancient, terrifying pact. Also, we get a bit of insight into the other players in the book. I’ll admit, while I enjoyed these passages, I was always eager to get back to Joe, Ghost, and Echo Team as they race to find the nukes and get the baddies. And the baddies in this one are really, really bad, and nearly take Joe down for the count, more than once. Maberry’s fight scenes are action packed, exciting, and written so well, I never had trouble picturing what was going on; Joe’s trademark snark is on full blast here (it will make you laugh, even when the bullets-stakes, holy water, garlic, etc-are flying), and the core of humanity that is ever present in these books is always just beneath the surface, even when you think things have gotten that bad. Things do get bad in this one, very bad, but have faith in Joe. When has he ever let us (or the world) down? The series just gets better and better, and I read Assassin’s Code in big gulps, frequently losing track of time. Highly recommended!(less)
Portrait of a Spy is my first book by Daniel Silva and is the 11th in the Gabriel Allon series. That really wasn’t a problem for me, though, since the author is very good at getting you up to speed without infodump, inserting little background snippets throughout the story. Speaking of story… The story begins with the determined retirement of Israeli intelligence operative Gabriel Allon with his lovely wife Chiara, which is thwarted with three suicide bombings in very public places throughout Europe. Our hero, Gabriel, happens to notice the third bomber and tries to take him down, but is thwarted, resulting in the deaths of 18 people. Other than the obvious horror of this, there’s another reason that Gabriel takes this kind of thing very personally, and he finds himself sucked into the search for the terrorist behind these attacks.
As a fan of the Bourne movies, and also of Nelson DeMille’s novels, I was pretty sure I’d like this book, but I couldn’t have predicted just how much I’d like it. Gabriel is the strong, man of few words type, and although I would have liked to see more of his wife, Chiara, you get the sense she’s always on his mind, and she’s also a formidable asset to the Israeli intelligence community. The race to find this terrorist mastermind is full of twists and turns, and the manipulations of the CIA and various other agencies, will keep you riveted, as will the various personalities of Gabriel’s team.
Like I said, this is #11 in a series, so I know there’s lots of history I’ve missed, but the author does his best to immerse you in the events at hand, and let you in on enough that you really don’t feel left out, although you’ll want to go back and start from book 1 if this is your first one as well (I know I do.) My favorite character, aside from the enigmatic Gabriel, is the lovely Nadia, who’s Saudi Arabian father had the blood of many on his hands, and is the head of his vast fortune since his murder when she was a child. She’s been covertly trying to right his wrongs since that very day, using said vast fortune to that advantage, and is recruited by Gabriel’s team to take down the terrorist responsible for the bombings. She’s a fascinating woman, and reading about what women in that part of the world have to endure will endear her to you, in spite of her vast wealth. If you love this kind of stuff (and I do), and you enjoy just plain good writing, with lots of subtle, nuanced characterizations, you’ll really enjoy Portrait of a Spy, and you’ll be turning the pages late into the night to find out what happens. The author juggles multiple players without tangling threads and manages a lot of detail without confusing the reader. This one’s not to be missed for thriller fans!(less)
The Games, Ted Kosmatka’s first full length novel, has already garnered comparisons to some heavy hitters like Jurassic Park and The Relic. I like both of those books, so was certainly anxious to give it a try. The Games is similar to those titles, but only in general theme (how much should we be tampering with DNA), but otherwise, it’s an entirely unique creature (at least to me.) Silas Williams is our go-to guy here, and even though he’s a brilliant scientist, the author paints a picture of a rather haunted man. One who is beginning to have second thoughts about the career that’s buoyed him most of his adult life. Divorced and childless, creating the genetic mishmash creatures for The Games has so far fulfilled him, even if they are inevitably destroyed. The Games is a disturbing event coinciding with the Olympics that pits genetically altered creations against each other in brutal gladiatorial combat. The only hard and fast rule is “no human DNA”. I like to think that anyone with an ounce of compassion wouldn’t go near something like this, but the truth of the matter is that people would probably be buying tickets in droves. *Shudder* Silas is gearing up for a year pretty much like any other when his newest creation is “born”, and it’s like nothing he’s ever seen before. This creature not only looks unlike anything in the animal kingdom, it soon begins showing an alarming amount of strength and intelligence, so Silas begins digging deeper into its creation, since this time, things went just a little bit differently…
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering how you could possibly like a character that creates creatures just to fight to the death, a la dog and chicken fighting on a grand scale, yes? I admit, I was skeptical, but like Silas you will. There’s something very vulnerable in his need to create and fill his own emotional voids, and he’s just plain…likable. When he brings in a xenobiologist, Vidonia Joao, to hopefully categorize The Beast into something they can understand, they start a rather sweet romance, one that doesn’t seem forced and adds quite a bit of depth to the story. The Beast is terrifying, and the scenes with this creature will make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. There’s a subplot involving Evan Chandler, creator of the supercomputer responsible for The Beast’s genetic coding, that’s unexpectedly complex and heartbreaking, and really makes you think about just what it is that makes us human, and the very nature of good and evil. Combine all these elements with polished prose and a breakneck speed, and you’re looking at some serious late night reading. I stayed up very late just to finish this, and The Games certainly lives up to its buzz. Ted is the author of quite a few award winning sci-fi/speculative fiction short stories, and his talent is on full display in this full length work. The Games is a sci-fi/thriller with unexpected depth and humanity, and a few twists that I didn’t see coming. Very highly recommended!(less)
Arctic Rising begins with somewhat of a bang when Anika Duncan is shot down in her airship after she and her partner attempt to investigate a ship that may be smuggling dangerous material. Anika survives the attack, but her partner, Tom, is injured, and after visiting him in the hospital, she returns home to recuperate. Relaxation is short-lived, however, when she receives a call bearing more bad news, plus she’s asked to identify the men that supposedly attempted to shoot her down. Something else is in the works, though, something much worse than the dumping of hazardous materials. After taking a tour of the ship that attacked her, she finds a mysterious floating orb and smuggles it out, only to have to turn it over to higher officials. It turns out these orbs are part of a plan by the Gaia Corp. to stop warming and halt the melting of the Arctic ice. But, is this the best thing for the earth? Someone doesn’t think so, and plans to use a nuclear weapon to stop Gaia. Anika Duncan, bent on revenge, will have to use every one of her resources to get justice, but will it cost her her life?
In a future world where global warming is no longer just a warning, and where the polar ice is melting at alarming rates, things have certainly changed, and the author wastes no time mining this scenario to create a fascinating setting for Arctic Rising. Anika, still young and a bit idealistic, wastes no time making the decision to go after the bad guys, especially after attempts on her life. She’s no innocent though, and her background gave her plenty of backbone and bravery. After teaming up with a former mercenary,and a beautiful drug dealer, Anika pretty much stops at nothing to do the right thing, and this is what I really liked about her. The author has plenty of fascinating ideas on the environment, eco-terrorism, consumerism, and the possible future of our world, which are on prominent display here, but he also focuses on the humanity of his characters, even the “bad guys”. You might want to cuddle up with a warm blanket while reading this one though, because even though the Arctic is warming, it’ll still make you shiver, for more reasons than one. Fast-paced, exciting, and sometimes brutal, fans of sci-fi and ecologically focused thrillers will love this one. Definitely not to be missed!(less)
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Acquainted With the Night. Piper Maitland is a new author for me,and I’m certainly always up for discovering new authors,plus,it’s blurbed by Diana Gabaldon,which is a win. I had a feeling I’d like it,but had no idea I’d enjoy it quite as much as I did. I’ll be honest,I have a ton of books on the TBR pile,so I readily admit to checking a books length,and if it exceeds the 300 page mark,you might see me wince a little bit. Acquainted weighs in at a healthy and robust 500+ pages,but I swear,they go by fast! Caroline Clifford (Caro),is a former doctorate candidate turned London tour guide. Not really her dream job,but it’s a living,and she has a roommate she gets along with,so things aren’t too bad. When she gets word that her Uncle was killed in a horrible way while on a Bulgarian archeological dig,it’s a tragic blow for Caro,and it’s at that point that things begin moving very fast for our heroine.
When handsome Jude Barrett comes into her life,claiming to have a connection to her uncle,Caro doesn’t know what to think,but clues left behind with her uncle’s things will set them on a globe hopping adventure to find what may be the key to immortality. See,Jude is a biochemist,and had been researching vampiric properties in mice when things took a bad turn for him he had to run for his life. Turns out Caro’s uncle may have known a little something about the existence of vampires,and it could also have a connection to Caro’s parents and her past. What follows for Caro and Jude is an adventure filled with mysterious monks,religious idols,illuminated texts (one book in particular will prove very important),and the phrase “trust no one” will certainly prove true. Expect some sizzling hot romance with Caro and Jude,and while the twists are fairly easy to predict,I didn’t mind,because the ride was so much fun. A fascinating,historical story,some truly evil vamps (and a nasty human villain),brisk pacing and tight prose make Acquainted With the Night a worthwhile,rollicking read! The author certainly left things open for further novels with Jude and Caro,so I’ll definitely be on the lookout!(less)
John Henderson is waiting tables at a small restaurant in the Pacific Northwest,and house sitting for a friend in the area. It’s been three years since his young son died on Lake Murdo in Black Ridge,Washington,and he’s doing his best to live life and forget,when one day he receives an email that says simply “I know what happened.” Soon,John is pulled back to Black Ridge and meets a mysterious woman who claims the same thing happened to her husband. John is skeptical,but soon,events begin to lead him in only one direction:something extremely strange is going on,and more people are going to die.
I’m a longtime fan of Michael Marshall’s. I started with his trilogy,which consists of The Straw Men,The Upright Man,and Blood of Angels,which put him on my autobuy right away. His books remind me quite a bit of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series,in that he’s able to mix thriller with a dash of the supernatural to wonderful effect. As a parent,I can’t imagine having to go through the death of a child,and John Henderson is a man haunted by this,and becomes determined to find the real reason it happened. He’s more than just a former lawyer,and has more than a few tricks up his sleeves. He is not without resources,and in spite of his pain,is a strong and capable protagonist,who will stop at nothing to protect those he loves. Michael Marshall knows how to turn up the creep and also use his character’s surroundings to enhance the mood of the story. Wet,loamy woods surround the lake in which his son dies,and there always appears to be something at the peripheral,lingering in the shadows of the trees. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up more than once,and I couldn’t read fast enough to find out just what was causing the death and mayhem in Black Ridge. Michael Marshall’s novels are a perfect example of the slow burn. There is action,but the pleasure in these books is the build to the climax. The endings are always satisfying,and sometimes shocking,but the journey is what you will relish,peeling back the layers of each character and soaking in the atmosphere of a town steeped in secrets. Bad Things is a standalone novel,but I urge you to check out his trilogy,and also The Intruders. Heck,you really can’t go wrong with anything by this talented writer! If you like thrillers with a supernatural twist,taut writing,and lots of atmosphere,you’ll love Bad Things!(less)
My favorite enigmatic FBI agent,Aloysius Pendergast,is back,and he’s determined to find out what really happened to his wife,Helen,in Africa,where she supposedly died at the jaws of a vicious lion. Cold Vengeance starts off with a bang,with Pendergast on a hunting expedition in Scotland with his brother in law,Judson Esterhazy. Esterhazy tries to do away with Pendergast,but,if you’re familiar with this series,then you know Pendergast is tough to kill,very tough,and it’s going to take more than a silly murder attempt to stop him. When D’Agosta,cop and dear friend to Pendergast,learns of the attempt on his life,he insists on traveling to Scotland to help,and Corrie Swanson (Still Life With Crows),also lends a hand back in New York. Constance Green plays a significant part in this book as well,and there will be revelations about her and her past. Esterhazy isn’t exactly a walk in the park,but we also meet a villain that puts him to shame. Pendergast is single minded in his mission to find out the truth,and he’ll employ all of his cunning and genius to do so. He’s also not afraid to resort to a bit of blackmail to get his way.
The authors put Pendergast through the physical ringer in this one,but he bounces back in typical Pendergast fashion,and he’ll stop at nothing to root out the truth. Cold Vengeance is like a big onion,and I had a hell of a time peeling back the layers! The action never stops,and I had a really hard time putting this one down. Most of the Pendergast novels can be read individually,however,you really need to have read Fever Dream to get the most out of Cold Vengeance. There are more twists and turns than you can count,a sadistic villain,secret Nazi groups with shadowy agendas,action galore,and of course,a cast of characters that we’ve grown to love. I’ll drop everything to pick up a Pendergast book,and Cold Vengeance was no exception! I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book in this wonderful series!(less)