I really enjoyed A THIEF OF TIME, and was glad I'd finally got around to reading a book by Hillerman. He evokes the contemporary Southwestern USA settI really enjoyed A THIEF OF TIME, and was glad I'd finally got around to reading a book by Hillerman. He evokes the contemporary Southwestern USA setting very well; you can see and feel the desert setting, with its rocky buttes jutting from dusty earth. A THIEF OF TIME reads a little bit more like an 'old-fashioned' mystery novel in terms of its pacing; it's not a page-whirring, action-packed tale like many contemporary crime novels. But it was absorbing, and intriguing, and had me wondering throughout.
The duo of Leaphorn and Chee are very interesting protagonists, both in terms of each of their characters and the interaction between the pair. I can easily see why they are some of the favourite detectives of several crime fiction fans I've spoken to. Hillerman creates some depth and intrigue in his characters, as well as the mystery plotline....more
More than a decade after it was first released in the United States, former model and TV weather presenter turned prolific bestselling author Sandra BMore than a decade after it was first released in the United States, former model and TV weather presenter turned prolific bestselling author Sandra Brown’s tale of a New Orleans narcotics cop’s vengeful battle with a corrupt defence attorney, has been published in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for the first time.
Brown, a native Texan, began her award-winning writing career in 1981, and has since penned seventy novels, including fifty-six New York Times bestsellers and several #1 bestsellers, including Fat Tuesday. Over the years her writing has shifted from romance fiction under a variety of pseudonyms to suspense thrillers.
Fat Tuesday opens with the acquittal of the man NOPD detective Burke Basile blames for the shooting death of his partner, before following Basile’s increasingly wild attempts to seek revenge on powerful defence attorney Pinkie Duvall. Basile targets Duvall not only because of the acquittal, but because he suspects Duvall of being an underground drug kingpin and well-connected, protected crime lord.
Feeling betrayed by friends, co-workers and an adulterous wife, Basile eventually kidnaps Duvall’s beautiful wife Remy in the lead-up to Mardi Gras, hiding her at an isolated fishing camp. Brown takes the reader on an often violent rollercoaster ride from sumptuous garden parties to crack-infested backstreets, bordellos to alligator-filled Louisiana swamps, as Basile tries to dodge corruption both outside and inside the NOPD as he aims for Duvall’s jugular. His plan becomes further complicated by his increasing attraction to Remy, an attraction that seems reciprocated.
Fat Tuesday is an enjoyable read. Although it has moments veering towards Brown’s pulp romance past, an exciting story and interesting characters carry the reader along on a fun journey filled with fake priests, shot-gun toting hillbillies, corrupt cops, and betrayal at every turn. It’s the type of book many readers could curl up with for sheer pleasure.
This review was first published in the 3 April 2009 issue of NZLawyer magazine....more
After years of silence, big-money corporate lawyer turned criminal defense attorney A. Scott Fenney receives a devastating phone call from his ex-wifeAfter years of silence, big-money corporate lawyer turned criminal defense attorney A. Scott Fenney receives a devastating phone call from his ex-wife Rebecca; she’s been arrested for the brutal murder of her boyfriend, the club golf pro turned PGA star she abandoned Fenney and their daughter for, years ago.
Can Fenney defend the woman who betrayed him? Can he find a way to put aside his still conflicted feelings, and try to save his ex-wife from life in prison, or worse?
Gimenez builds a solid if somewhat straightforward story that keeps the reader on edge, wondering what will happen as Feeney tries to prove Rebecca’s innocence - a tough task considering she was found covered in her lover’s blood with only her fingerprints on the murder weapon.
Gimenez’s writing shines brightest with his touch for setting a good hook then building tension, and creation of a likeable and layered hero and other intriguing characters that upturn the usual courtroom thriller clichés. Enjoyable. ...more
North Carolina attorney-turned-author John Hart has had a meteoric rise; after two bestselling novels he already had a prestigious Edgar Award on hisNorth Carolina attorney-turned-author John Hart has had a meteoric rise; after two bestselling novels he already had a prestigious Edgar Award on his mantelpiece. Then his third and latest thriller, The Last Child, scooped the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger late last year.
Johnny Merrimon is a thirteen-year-old boy who looks ten but has seen and endured more than most sixty-year-olds. His twin sister disappeared a year ago, his father cracked under the pressure and left, and his mother has given up; turning to drugs and a relationship with a rich but abusive man. A burnt-out cop tries to help but has his own issues, and Johnny finds himself alone on a vigilante mission. Then another young girl goes missing, and a dying man’s last words fuel Johnny’s long-held hope.
Put simply, The Last Child is an exceptional novel; a literary crime thriller that is as much about its rich cast of layered, authentic and damaged characters as its intelligent and engrossing storyline. Hart writes beautifully, evoking aspects of the human condition alongside echoes of the Southern Gothic tradition, building his tale towards a surprising yet most fitting conclusion.
The Last Child is a masterpiece, and Hart deserves all the acclaim he’s received. ...more
Lawyer turned author Hart doesn’t write breezy ‘airport thrillers’; his award-winning ‘southern gothic’ tales are multi-layered examinations of humanLawyer turned author Hart doesn’t write breezy ‘airport thrillers’; his award-winning ‘southern gothic’ tales are multi-layered examinations of human nature, packed with authentic, deeply damaged, characters, throat-grabbing tension, and exquisitely drawn settings. Feared mob enforcer Michael clawed his way up from a traumatic childhood, but is now trying to escape his violence-filled life, for love and his unborn child. Escaping to North Carolina, he finds his long-estranged, mentally disturbed brother is in just as much trouble, and that neither can escape their past. Superior storytelling. ...more
The latest in Kerley’s excellent Carson Ryder series sees the young Alabama detective taking a long-overdue vacation, only to stumble onto a series ofThe latest in Kerley’s excellent Carson Ryder series sees the young Alabama detective taking a long-overdue vacation, only to stumble onto a series of sadistic killings in rural Kentucky. Working both in conjunction and conflict with the local cops, Sheriff and FBI, Ryder tries to stay alive and uncover the truth while also dealing with the (welcome, for readers) reappearance of his brother Jeremy, an escaped killer. Kerley writes with pace and personality; mixing interesting characters, storylines and setting. An enjoyable read. ...more
It can be very tough to keep a long-running series fresh, and avoid slipping into formula. Fortunately, Kathy Reichs shows there is still plenty of liIt can be very tough to keep a long-running series fresh, and avoid slipping into formula. Fortunately, Kathy Reichs shows there is still plenty of life in her Temperance Brennan series, with this latest instalment which finds the forensic anthropologist up to her elbows in murder and intrigue in the lead up to the biggest NASCAR race week of the year.
A hand sticking out of a concrete-filled barrel in a landfill neighbouring the Charlotte speedway is the last thing NASCAR wants, and Brennan finds herself battling on multiple fronts to uncover the truth. When the FBI confiscate and cremate the body, she wonders what everyone is hiding, and embarks on a twisting trail entangled with murder new and old, race cars, and right wing extremists.
Reichs combines her trademark touch for forensic detail, characters and relationships, breezy pacing, and dashes of humour, with a well-evoked setting, giving readers a nice insight into NASCAR – the people, the pageantry, and the passion.
Florida author Jonathon King burst onto the crime writing scene a decade ago with The Blue Edge of Midnight, which introduced an intriguing and multi-Florida author Jonathon King burst onto the crime writing scene a decade ago with The Blue Edge of Midnight, which introduced an intriguing and multi-layered hero, former Philadelphia cop turned private eye Max Freeman, and won the prestigious Edgar Award for best first novel.
In Shadow Men, Freeman, who lives in an isolated shack in the Florida Everglades, is approached via his good friend Billy Manchester, a lawyer, by the descendant of three men who vanished without a trace while working as labourers on a dangerous road building project 80 years ago. The client has discovered old letters from his ancestor detailing all sorts of injustices and horrors faced by those building the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades, horrors that may have lead to a violent end.
From the opening chapter, King brings the Everglades vividly to life on the page – the atmosphere, setting, and history of an area filled with murky water and murkier deeds. As we follow Freeman on his chase for the truth, themes of corporate greed, family ties, sense of self, and more are all woven into a well-written and gripping tale.
Packed with excitement, colour, and memorable, fascinating characters; highly recommended.
Review originally written for Good Reading magazine in Australia. ...more
Debutant Heaberlin brings her award-winning journalism skills to bear in this intriguing mystery about a prodigal daughter returning home to rural TexDebutant Heaberlin brings her award-winning journalism skills to bear in this intriguing mystery about a prodigal daughter returning home to rural Texas for her father’s funeral, only to have all her beliefs about her family shattered. A letter from someone claiming that rodeo rider-turned-child counselor Tommie was kidnapped from her real Mom as a child sends her along a dangerous rollercoaster of discovery.
Heaberlin has a knack for pithy, memorable description, and really brings the Texas setting to life, in terms of people and place. Packed with fascinating, at times larger-than-life, characters, Playing Dead is a good read about family secrets and what makes us who we really are.
Kerley’s fourth Carson Ryder thriller finds the young Alabama detective temporarily leaving behind the sweltering South. A mysterious video found at aKerley’s fourth Carson Ryder thriller finds the young Alabama detective temporarily leaving behind the sweltering South. A mysterious video found at an appalling mutilation-murder quite literally calls Ryder to the bright lights and shadowed streets of New York City, where he battles hayseed prejudices held by city cops barely tolerant of his presence.
For three novels Ryder has solved despicable murders alongside nattily-dressed veteran partner Harry Nautilus, while occasionally consulting the imprisoned brother he’s long kept secret - notorious murderer Jeremy Ridgecliffe. Now Jeremy has escaped and Ryder finds himself trying to outrun an NYPD manhunt in order to keep his secret safe and his brother alive.
Once again Kerley spins a suspenseful tale peppered with vicious murders and exciting twists, although this time the twists not only upturn readers’ beliefs and expectations about this novel’s rapidly-evolving events, but also deliver surprising revelations about the throughline of the entire series thusfar.
However, Kerley outperforms plot-driven twist-masters with the texture of his crime fiction; he also engages the reader with interesting characters, settings and themes. Any twists and turns seem organic, realistically evolving from such elements rather than being author-imposed to distract from deficiencies in the storytelling. ...more
Septuagenarian investigator Dave Robicheaux finds himself battling an old enemy, addiction, as he recovers from a brutal shootout. Did Tee Jolie MeltoSeptuagenarian investigator Dave Robicheaux finds himself battling an old enemy, addiction, as he recovers from a brutal shootout. Did Tee Jolie Melton, a troubled young woman now missing, really visit him, or was it a morphine-induced dream? Meanwhile, a Gulf oil spill threatens the bayou environs, and Dave’s pal Clete Purcel discovers an illegitimate daughter who might be a contract killer. The ‘heavy weight champ’ of crime writing pens a complex, layered Louisiana tale as only he can. Themes abound. A tasty gumbo: lush, lyrical, and intoxicating, Creole Belle is crime writing of the highest order. ...more
An absorbing novel centred on the civil rights era in the American South, and the impacts of that violent and troubled time on people involved in theAn absorbing novel centred on the civil rights era in the American South, and the impacts of that violent and troubled time on people involved in the half century since. Canadian Shreve writes in an assured fashion, bringing to life both the 1960s and modern times as we follow the story of young black activist Graden Williams and his older brother Warren.
As Warren searches for answers to why a horrific atrocity occurred back in the 1960s, Shreve gives us a confronting look at what life was like behind what we see in the history books. ONE NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI is reminiscent of excellent films like Ghosts of Mississippi and Mississippi Burning, while still being a unique, thought-provoking story in its own right. Shreve does a great job at unpicking some of the layers beneath the headlines and historical footnotes, and makes us care about characters that are very human, and full of shades of grey.