First there was static and the whole world freaked out. Then came a voice that said “My Children, Do not be afraid”. People said it was God, others saFirst there was static and the whole world freaked out. Then came a voice that said “My Children, Do not be afraid”. People said it was God, others said it was the government and still others believed it was aliens. The whole world was brought to a halt but no one had the answers. The Testimony details the apocalypse from the perspective of twenty six people around the world. James Smythe is a master at writing science fiction that will really make you ponder life and The Testimony is no different.
I was curious to check out James Smythe’s debut novel ever since I discovered his novels. The Machine was my first Smythe and still remains my favourite although many do prefer The Explorer. For me, while The Testimony was a thrilling read, it just was not on the same level as the other books I have read. Dealing with so many different perspectives was a great way to capture the different opinions and question the events. However this novel was not overly impressive, still a great book but if I compare if to James Smythe’s other novels, it falls short. This is proof on just how far Smythe has improved and makes me excited to read something new by this great author.
Every day Rachel takes the train into London and at a particular stop she likes to look out to the street and observe the row of back gardens. One houEvery day Rachel takes the train into London and at a particular stop she likes to look out to the street and observe the row of back gardens. One house in particular is of particular interest to Rachel; she likes to imagine the lives of the couple living there, in which she has named ‘Jess and Jason’. They seem so happy, compared to her on life, she views them as a perfect couple. Until one day the minute stop allowed her to see something shocking, which leads Rachel to become a part of their lives. Rachel becomes more than The Girl on the Train.
I have to admit that I was a little hesitant going into this book; I thought it was going to try and replicate what Gone Girl did. While in the same vain with the multiple perspectives between Rachel and ‘Jess’, whose real name is Megan, The Girl on the Train stands on its own. While this book is already being compared to Gone Girl, I would just like to say that The Girl on the Train shares more similarities to The Silent Wife than anything else.
This novel plays a lot with the ideas of relationships and perspective; what may seem like a perfect couple on the surface can be a deceiving. Without going too much into the plot, I want to look at the way ‘Jess and Jason’ are perceived by Rachel. Obviously Rachel is an unreliable narrator, she only sees the couple’s house for a minute or two a day and not always the couple. To pass the time on her commute, she makes up this whole idea of what is happening in their lives.
The Girl on the Train does go a little deeper with exploring ideas of relationship, with a focus on abuse. Emotional abuse becomes a key component in the book and Paula Hawkins dives into the previous marriage of Rachel and even adding a couple of chapters from her ex-husband’s new wife. This thriller mainly happens on a psychological level and the reader gets an insight into the effects of emotional abuse.
There is a lot to be said about The Girl on the Train and I think this would make an excellent pick for a book club. Unfortunately reviewing a book like this makes it difficult, I am too worried about giving out spoilers and this restricts me from diving deeper into the themes within the novel. This debut by Paula Hawkins is not without its flaws; I think there was a missed opportunity to dive deeper into the major themes, however I did enjoy my time with this novel.
A smile and a rant about books and Dan Brown from a beautiful woman is all it took. Joe Goldberg has a new obsession. Guinevere Beck is everything heA smile and a rant about books and Dan Brown from a beautiful woman is all it took. Joe Goldberg has a new obsession. Guinevere Beck is everything he ever wanted; she is smart, witty, and sexy but there is only one problem, she is not his. Beck doesn’t know it yet but Joe is going to do whatever it takes to make this relationship work.
You is a chilling psychological thriller about obsession and relationships. You starts off with a second person perceptive but it becomes apparent that the reader in never intended to be the ‘you’ Joe obsesses over. This unique viewpoint offers a weird and creepy insight into Joe’s obsession and slowly the novel morphs back into a more comfortable first person perspective. This really worked for me; I thought it was a great way to kick off the novel but I suspect this may cause real problems for other readers.
I am hesitant in reviewing this book because I really don’t want to give too much away. For me, this is much more than a thriller, this is much more than a book about obsession. This was a novel about relationships; the way we treat and try to possess others, manipulate others, as well as how much we really reveal to our partners. Sure, this is cranked up to eleven but the concepts are there, just explored in an extreme way.
What I loved about You was the way Caroline Kepnes takes normal relationship behaviours and just push them to their extremes. This allows the reader to look at relationships in a whole new way and explore how we treat others. Joe isn’t the only problem, every person in this novel explores a different behavioural trait and they all work together. While the overall feel for this novel is a psychological thriller, this relationship element is what made it work. The synopsis on the back of You calls it a “perversely romantic thriller” and that is the perfect way to describe this novel.
I know this book won’t be for everyone, there is a lot here that could put people off, however for me it was a perfect combination of thriller and relationship critique. The psychological element worked effectively to drive home some themes throughout the novel. You is one of the best thrillers I have read in a long time, it did something different with the genre and it was executed well. Caroline Kepnes pulled off a difficult task, I am looking forward to see what she comes up with next.
Set in Paris just after World War I, The Ways of the World takes a look at the battle for peace. James ‘Max’ Maxted was a Royal Flying Corps ace durinSet in Paris just after World War I, The Ways of the World takes a look at the battle for peace. James ‘Max’ Maxted was a Royal Flying Corps ace during the war but now finds himself in a completely new situation. While the world looks to Paris as diplomats and politicians try to negotiate peace, Max is trying to work out what happened to his father. Sir Henry Maxted was a British diplomatic who mysteriously died from a fall off the roof of his mistress’s apartment building. The authorities rule the death as a suicide but Max suspects there is something far more suspicious going on.
The Ways of the World is everything I expect from an espionage novel; nothing like the popular spy thrillers. I view the intelligence game as one of diplomacy and manipulation, not high tech weapons and action. Robert Goddard uses the murder mystery as a device to manipulate the story and keep up the pace. This is a successful tactic as the majority of the novel is told in conversations and the novel could have easily fallen into the realm of boring and tedious.
The Paris Peace Conference allowed the game of espionage to play out. France, Britain, America and Italy all have representatives there and inter-country politics feature heavily here. Each country has their own agenda and I really enjoyed watching this play out. As the host country, France also wanted to quash any notion of a diplomat being murdered and keep their image. This perfectly sets up the story that Robert Goddard wanted to tell.
However there is something terribly wrong with this book. There are three words that took me from loving this book to throwing it across the room. I actually didn’t physically throw this book across the room because it was a library book but I was very tempted. Those three words at the end of the novel that ruined everything were ‘To be continued’.
I am normally ok with a story continuing into a series, but when you end a book without a sense of closure, it really doesn’t work. When I was getting close to the end of the book, I wondered to myself how to possibly conclude the novel that quickly, and then I found out. This works well in a television show when people only have to wait a week for the next episode but in a book there is normally a year between them. This situation makes me so mad that I don’t think I can continue the series.
When I picked up Stephen King’s new novel Mr Mercedes, I felt anxious and nervous. This novel has been billed as King’s first hard-boiled detective noWhen I picked up Stephen King’s new novel Mr Mercedes, I felt anxious and nervous. This novel has been billed as King’s first hard-boiled detective novel and it reminded me of his past attempts at pulp fiction. Joyland was billed as a pulp novel and by all accounts it had the makings of a good dime-store novel but the end result felt like King stuck to what he does best and only paying homage to the genre. Mr Mercedes has all the hallmarks of a hard-boiled novel, a brooding and jaded detective, a femme fatale and mysterious villain but this read more like a cat and mouse suspense thriller. Don’t get me wrong, this novel is a homage to detective fiction; Philip Marlow gets a mention and a fedora even makes an appearance. Though the third person narrative and chapters focusing solely on the killer meant we are in a thriller and I had to adjust my expectations.
Bill Hodges is a retired cop with not much to do; when he was on the force he was highly decorated but now he is left alone with the thoughts of all his unsolved cases. One of those cases was the psycho-loner who ploughed down a crowd of people in a stolen Mercedes. One day Hodges receives a letter from this killer taunting him into a little game of cat and mouse. This is a high-stakes race against time; can Hodges catch the Mercedes Killer before he strikes again?
I found it interesting that Stephen King picked the fundamental character archetypes found in hard-boiled fiction, in particular to Bill Hodges, and made it his own. On the other hand the plot felt into the typical tropes found in suspense thrillers. So we have a book that is walking a fine line between homage and cliché. When it comes to hard-boiled detectives, there has been a great evolution in the genre and character archetype; it was felt a little dated to see an old white guy again. I felt it to be unnecessary, in fact I am struggling to think of any ethnicity within the book that didn’t come across as stereotypical. It was a shame because you can do so much with a hard-boiled detective and still keep him as a homage to 1940’s crime novels.
I get the impression that maybe Stephen King is the kind of writer that sticks to the tried and true methods of writing within a genre. As prolific author, I’m beginning to question if he ever takes a risk in his writing. I am not one to judge King’s work, I’ve only read a few of his books (I think five) but they all seem to follow the typical tropes found within their genres. Does he take risks?
It is starting to bug me this whole ‘old white guy’ category of novels all feature non-multicultural characters and if we do have some ethnicity, they all feel a little too stereotypical. It isn’t necessary in today’s novels; there is room to explore some diversity within a book. I won’t go into anything about feminism because I fear I would give spoilers with what I want to say but we need more strong/independent women in novels like this.
Having had a bit of a rant, I found that I’ve managed to talk about the novel and not give any spoilers. I did in fact enjoy the ride this took me on, it was predictable and typical of the genre but sometimes it is fun to go on that journey again. In fact (with the exception of On Writing) I think this is the first Stephen King novel that I have actually enjoyed. I find some parts of his other books entertaining but on a whole they do not work for me. Maybe I’ve just read the wrong King novels. Bill Hodges is returning in another two more novels and I will be picking them up and using the books as a little entertaining read when I need them.
Bruce McCabe joins a growing list of authors finding success from self-publishing his novel. I know I take a very cynical view on self-published booksBruce McCabe joins a growing list of authors finding success from self-publishing his novel. I know I take a very cynical view on self-published books; I tend to treat a publishing house as the filter to sift through the slush piles and pulling out the best it has to offer. That isn’t to say there isn’t anything good coming from the self-publishing world but in my experience the pimping of books and desperation makes it hard to find the ones I’d like to read. My policy is to ignore the world of self-publishing, this probably isn’t the best way to go about it but it works for me.
Every now and then a self-published novel gets picked up by a publishing house; I’m thinking Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, and dare I say it, E.L. James. Bruce McCabe is the next self-published author to enjoy similar success, his debut novel Skinjob has been published by a Random House imprint Bantam Press. In the not-so-distant future sexdolls (or if you prefer, sexbots) will become a reality, allowing and even encouraging people to act out their dark and disturbing sexual fantasies; this is the world of Skinjob.
I want to diverse from the story line of Skinjob for a moment to look at the theme McCabe is trying to explore. The sex industry is often depicted as a dark and shady place and the invention of sexdolls is obviously going to be a difficult concept; the politics and ethical challenges are explored within the novel. What I find problematic about the use of sexdolls is this idea that using a doll to live out a dark, disturbing or violent fantasy isn’t going to be healthy. I would be concerned with the psychological damage they could cause of themselves and others around them, to assume the use of a sexdoll isn’t hurting others would be a naïve approach to the issue. There is also a very ethical issue to consider; making sexdolls in all shapes and sizes seems indicates the very real possibility of childlike sex dolls.
I enjoy how Bruce McCabe takes a crack at the thriller genre, using the tropes you expect from a novel like this to explore these ideas. While looking at the growing sex industry I was most impressed with how McCabe allowed the thriller genre to work with him in this exploration. I was interested in the approach he took by allowing militant religious and feminist groups blow up dollhouses (an obvious nod to Joss Whedon) full of sexdolls. This approach meant we have a violent act where real people are not the target. This allows the reader to explore all sides of the issue without forcing them to show unwanted sympathy. The reader can then look at issue of sexual politics within the book and society. The only thing that will get in the way of exploring the issue will come down to the readers and their preconceived notions.
Skinjob is a very issue heavy novel, if you want a straight thriller then this book is not for you. In fact I was less interested in the plot and characters than I was the issues being explored. All the characters felt very two dimensional and unmemorable, even the plot could have used a lot more work but I think this works in the books favour. In the end I was left not really remembering much of the plot and people with the novel but I was still thinking about the themes.
Sexual politics is a complicated and difficult subject; Bruce McCabe’s Skinjob did a great job exploring the topic. While it doesn’t cover everything, it will leave the reader pondering the issues; I’m very glad I picked up this book and hope it has as much of an impact on other readers as it did for me. This is a debut novel and I can’t help but feel excited at what McCabe does next; I hope he continues to explore hard-hitting themes in unique and interesting ways.
It seems that when Gone Girl had huge success there were plenty of novels being released that were marketed as the next big psychological thriller. OnIt seems that when Gone Girl had huge success there were plenty of novels being released that were marketed as the next big psychological thriller. One that seemed to get closer than all the others to duplicating the same style as Gone Girl was The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison. While this novel does come close to being like Gone Girl, almost to the point of suspecting plagiarism, there is something different to this novel.
The Silent Wife follows the story of Jodi and Todd who are in a bad place in their marriage. Told in the same style as Gone Girl where you get Jodi and Todd’s story in alternating chapters, the story follows the familiar plot but not really. Without giving too much away I’ll just disclose what has been mentioned on the back of the book. Todd is an unfaithful husband planning to leave Jodi for his mistress. Jodi’s life is at stake, she is about to lose her marriage and even her beautiful water front condo.
I’m going to stop comparing The Silent Wife to Gone Girl; there are similarities but it is a different novel. This novel is very much focused on Jodi more than Todd. His chapters are there to fill in the story but the readers get to watch Jodi as she slowly falls apart. This really is a look at the psychology of a woman that did everything to be the perfect wife (the silent wife that doesn’t complain or causes waves) slowly take control of her life for the first time in her life. Interestingly she is a psychologist, who should have noticed her life was as bad as it was and take control.
This would make an interesting novel for a book club, you have the psychological you can investigate, but then you have the whole concept of marriage and what makes a marriage to explore. As a reader we can see this is a bad marriage and Jodi should get out but she is blind to this fact. This is an all too common issue in the modern world and I think The Silent Wife does a good job at exploring it.
I really don’t want to say much more about this book; everything needs to be experienced by the reader. It isn’t the best novel and there are a lot of flaws but it is a quick read and won’t take much effort to read. I recommend borrowing it from the library, that way you don’t have to invest in an average book. A.S.A. Harrison had the making to be a great psychological thriller author but sadly she died soon after finishing The Silent Wife and this makes this the only novel by her. I’m sure there are plenty more psychological thrillers to be released about marriage but this had an interesting approach.
Nick Harkaway is fast becoming a favourite author of mine; Angelmaker was his take on the espionage novel while The Gone-Away World (I hate to admitNick Harkaway is fast becoming a favourite author of mine; Angelmaker was his take on the espionage novel while The Gone-Away World (I hate to admit this but still haven’t read this one) saw him take on the post-apocalyptic. His third novel Tigerman is his take on the superhero genre. While you might be surprised to see me speaking so highly on genre fiction, it is Harkaway’s approach that needs to be admired. His novels have a real focus on the genre but still manage to blend a high amount of literary fiction into the book and this is done so masterfully that you can read it without looking at the themes if you are so inclined (I don’t know why).
Lester Ferris is a sergeant in the British Army, serving in Afghanistan. That was until he was reassigned to the island of Mancreu, where he can serve out his remaining time before retirement without burning out. Mancreu is a former British colony on the verge of destruction. The island is described as the most toxic place on the planet; this is all thanks to the years of pollution and chemical dumping. The United Nations and the World Health Organisation has sent representatives to turn Mancreu into an "Interventional Sacrifice Zone", which basically means everyone leaves so we can obliterate the island.
This island gives the novel an interesting background; on one hand it is home to a range of ethnicities, from Arabs, Africans, Asians and of course Europeans. Since this is a former British colony you can look at this novel through the lens of post-colonialism and get some great value out of it. Also, as the island is scheduled for destruction there is a typical side effect; the lack of laws being enforced has led to a hotbed of unwanted criminals. Using the island to support their smuggling operations, a ring of illicit ships known as ‘the black fleet’ lurk in the bay.
Now you have a protagonist in Lester Ferris who is on the verge of burning out. He is nearly forty and has no family to speak of, his life seems to be the army and the horrors he would have seen serving in Afghanistan may have ruined him. His job is to try and keep the peace without stirring anything up; his position as a sergeant in the British Army on this former colony is purely decorative and he has been sent there to keep him out of the way.
On the island, he friends a street smart, comic obsessed kid which sparks a pseudo-paternal instinct within him. He doesn’t know how to look after a kid but the desire is there. He turns to a masked hero known as Tigerman in the effort to make the island a little better without causing a diplomatic incident. The concepts of being a vigilante and paternal instincts play a big part of Tigerman.
I find that Nick Harkaway often uses a great deal of wit, ambition and irony within his novels and I find Tigerman to be a much more mature offering. Harkaway has already proved his skills in the world of genre fiction but now his is flexing some serious literary muscle. Tigerman is proof that he should be taken seriously as a literary author for this emotionally touching and intellectually satisfying novel. For a fan of literary theories there is plenty to explore in Tigerman; I personally would put on my feminist, post-colonial or psycho-analytical hat if I was to approach this novel as a literary theorist, but I can see many different ways to go about analysing this novel. That is before considering all the intertextuality that runs wild within the novel.
This may be the fanboy within me speaking but I was yet again very impressed with Tigerman. I still hold a special place in my heart for Angelmaker and I think that will always remain my favourite but I have to wonder why I have not read The Gone-Away World yet. I have The Gone-Away World on my shelf and will make sure that I visit it in the not too distant future. What can I say, I’m impressed with Nick Harkaway and I love his unique and well balanced blend of wonderfully energetic genre fiction and smart, witty literary fiction.
The year is 1969 and special agent James Bond has just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday when he is directed by M to undertake an unusual assignmentThe year is 1969 and special agent James Bond has just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday when he is directed by M to undertake an unusual assignment. The western African nation of Zanzarim is in the middle of a civil war and his mission is to eliminate the rebel threat. When Bond gets to West Africa he soon finds out this isn’t as straightforward as it appeared. Soon he finds himself going solo to seek revenge.
I love the James Bond movies but haven’t had much experience with the 007 books; I have only read Carte Blanche and Casino Royale. So if I’m comparing this book to those two, then Solo is amazing. But if I compare it to everything I know about Bond then there is something missing. William Boyd has modelled his Bond after You Only Live Twice so I can’t help but picture Sean Connery.
Solo’s 007 seems to be a heavy smoker but his drinking and womanising is lacking. I know that might seem weird but Bond and misogyny go hand in hand. It is like having a Bond without any wacky gadgets…oh wait, that is a bit of problem here too. One of the things that got me out Boyd’s Bond was that whenever he beds a woman he is making love to her. This just bothered me, I can’t imagine Bond being in love with all those women so the term ‘making love’ doesn’t seem right, also couldn’t we mix it up a little and use a few different teams; ‘slept with’, ‘took to bed’ and so on?
Apart from my issues with this novel, Boyd has a decent knowledge of James Bond and it was nice to see references in the book to a younger 007. For example when he tried to get a Walther PPK in a gun store, they didn’t have any so he went with a Beretta and made references to this being his weapon of choice when he was younger. Little things like that really pulled the book together.
Aside from his knowledge on Bond, William Boyd also has a decent knowledge of that classic spy thriller formula. Nothing too complicated but the light reading of a Bond or Thriller novel. Blending the nuances of the Bond and spy thriller genre, Boyd really seemed to make this his own. While die-hard fans may be annoyed and some people will be bothered with the changes, this was a lot of fun to read.
A suspected murder in a farm outside a small English village, a young woman was found dead with blood all over the cottage. At the same time the policA suspected murder in a farm outside a small English village, a young woman was found dead with blood all over the cottage. At the same time the police are called in to investigate what looks like a suicide by driving into a quarry. DCI Louisa Smith and her team are assigned this case, they discover a link between the two deaths, a link that sealed the fate of these two woman. It all happened one dreadful cold night under a silent moon.
Elizabeth Haynes’s novel Into the Darkest Corner was one of the best books I read in 2011. I still have both Revenge of the Tide and Human Remains sitting on my shelf and I probably should read them soon. I decided to read Under a Silent Moon first because it is her latest offer and I was interested to read her take on the police procedural genre. This is a new direction for this author and I really wanted to see how her style translated.
What I loved about Into the Darkest Corner was how dark and disturbing that psychological thriller was. It was the type of book that I loved but couldn’t recommend to everyone because it might have contained triggers; it felt too realistic and unsettling. Some of her dark psychological style is definitely in this novel but there is something so different about Under a Silent Moon.
The novel felt like a very technical police procedural, I have no idea how a detective investigates crimes, my knowledge comes from men like Philip Marlowe who are hard-boiled and so smart that you often miss the clues (sometimes I think the clues never existed in the novel). I’m not sure how accurate or researched this novel was, but I think it worked well; she got that balance between technical and plot right. I liked how this book had police reports, notes and other documents to help drive the plot and give the reader a deeper insight into the crimes.
The major problem I had was that I wanted something darker; this felt too much like a generic crime thriller but Elizabeth Haynes style was evident and I like how detailed the book was. It was a slightly different take on the police procedurals I’ve read but it also felt the same. I also didn’t think much of the characters, there could have been more to them and I know this is the start of a series so I suspect that will come in future books.
In turn, I want to like all the uniqueness of Under a Silent Moon; I definitely like Hayne’s style but I just think there are too many crime novels that are similar. Sure, they all sell well, I just like when I book stands above the rest. There are so many things that were great about this novel, and I will be reading the next chapter in the series when it gets released. I think I prefer the dark psychological thriller style found in Into the Darkest Corner and was secretly hoping for something like that. I probably should try Revenge of the Tide and Human Remains first but if you haven’t read Elizabeth Haynes before and are not afraid of something that will disturb you, then I recommend Into the Darkest Corner instead.
Leila spends most of her life on the Internet, one day she finds a forum called Red Pill, which discusses philosophical ideas. She feels at home on thLeila spends most of her life on the Internet, one day she finds a forum called Red Pill, which discusses philosophical ideas. She feels at home on this site and becomes a regular contributor. One day the creator of the site approaches her with a secret project. Tess is looking for a way to end her life without hurting her friends and family. She asks Leila to continue her online life for her so she can slip away from the world unnoticed.
This will be a hard book to review and I will try not to give away any spoilers that aren’t in the book blurb. Written in the style of an online journal, the reader will slowly explore the motivations behind Tess wanting to kill herself, why Leila decides to help and the aftermath that follows. This was a real page-turner and it made me miss forums, but not online journals (I never was good at that) because I have a book blog and it is pretty much an online journal of my reading life.
I love the concept of this book, in a world where we spend most of the time communicating online, what is to say that we are truly communicating with the intended person. Their identity could have been stolen, it could be someone pretending to be someone they are not or someone has taken over their life after they completed suicide. There is no real way to tell that is really happening in the online world.
The Internet is a tricky thing to portray in a novel, with changing technology and new trends, how do you stay relevant. Also do you write the book in text/IM language and use memes and current trends to tell the story? Kiss Me First is not trying to say the Internet and social networking is bad but just using it as a tool to tell this mystery.
I’m always interested in how the Internet is portrayed in a novel and Kiss Me First has managed to get the balance right. A mixture of nostalgia towards dying sites like the online journal or forums, relevance when talking about social networking, and tongue in cheek when talking about never understanding what text/IM language is all about. For some, the narrative might not be the easiest to read but if you have spent time reading online journals at any point of time, you will pick it up pretty easily.
I really enjoyed this novel, the mystery was pretty ordinary but there were some surprises. I preferred the philosophical questions and the way Lottie Moggach explored the online life with such ease. I was surprised to learn that this was a debut novel; it was executed well and offered some interesting thoughts on social networking. Also credit where credit is due, the approach to the internet was handled well; I think it will stand the test of time for a while and not age as fast as some novels. Kiss Me First has been getting a lot of attention lately and it really was a thrilling novel and is sure to entertain the readers, especially if you spend most of your day online.
American western writer Rollo Martins arrives in Post-World War II Vienna at the request of his childhood friend, Harry Lime. Lime has a job for him bAmerican western writer Rollo Martins arrives in Post-World War II Vienna at the request of his childhood friend, Harry Lime. Lime has a job for him but when Martins arrives, he soon finds out that his friend has died. Convinced that Harry Lime’s death was no accident, Martins starts his own investigation, which leads him on a hunt to find the other witness, The Third Man.
If you are a loyal listener of The Readers or follow Simon Savidge’s blog or twitter you may know he recently lost his grandmother. To pay tribute to the memory of Dorothy Savidge he has asked people to read something by Graham Greene, as he was her favourite author. Greene for Gran (or on twitter #GreeneForGran) was born and I took this as an opportunity to try my first Graham Greene book, as well as join in this beautiful memorial to a fellow book lover.
Now The Third Man is an interesting book; it is actually written in preparation to writing the screenplay to what will become a film noir classic. Graham Greene wrote this novella and then converted it into the screenplay. I’m not sure how or why the original novella ended up being published but I suspect that the huge success of the movie may have had something to do with it. So when reading The Third Man you are basically reading the novelisation of the movie; everything is exactly the same.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, the movie was fantastic but then again I’m a fan of Orson Welles (Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time) so I might be biased. Who am I kidding, it’s not bias; The Third Man is a classic film noir movie and if you haven’t seen it then you are missing out. It’s hard to review a novella that is exactly the same as the movie, there may not be any point to reading the book if you can watch the movie but I wanted to see how Graham Greene wrote and I think I’m a fan.
What I found fascinating about the novella was the fact that the entire story is told from the perspective of Major Calloway and not the Rollo Martins. Just a quick side note here Rollo Martins name was changed to Holly Martins in the movie just in case you thought I made a mistake there. So I look back at the movie and try to imagine The Third Man from the perspective of Calloway and it just doesn’t seem right, but it works really well for the book. Just another example of what a novel can do that film can’t and gives the novella something unique that you wouldn’t get from the movie.
This only took me about an hour to read (I read slow) and while it is pretty much the exact same thing as the movie, I’m glad I read it. It gave me a sense of Graham Greene’s style and I know what to expect when I try another book (any suggestions). I loved the movie and I think the book is a great companion for fans of The Third Man. Now I want to rewatch the movie, sounds like a good idea right?
Sarah and Jennifer kept a “Never List”; this is a list of things to avoid, to keep safe. Rule number one “Never get into a strangers car” but this isSarah and Jennifer kept a “Never List”; this is a list of things to avoid, to keep safe. Rule number one “Never get into a strangers car” but this is what happened and they were abducted. Ten years later Sarah still struggles to get over the torturous event that took plays in that dungeon-like cellar. Now that her abductor is up for parole Sarah decides this is her last chance to find Jennifer’s body and keep this sadist in prison.
I want to compare Koethi Zan’s debut The Never List to thriller authors like S.J. Watson but maybe Gillian Flynn is a better choice. Much like Flynn’s Gone Girl, The Never List does something different to the thriller genre that I don’t think I’ve seen before. Rest assured the standard psychological thriller tropes are there but this novel focuses more on the psychological rather than the thriller elements.
The Never List focuses on the aftermath of the abduction and sadistic torture and focuses on Sarah as she tries to recover from these traumatic events. Though this wasn’t done to a full extent and I end up feeling like this was a missed opportunity to really explore the psychology and the road to recovery (if you can truly come back from that), rather it went to the thriller clichés instead.
I really enjoyed the focus on the aftermaths but Koethi Zan had other ideas for this novel. I did end up enjoying the thrilling journey it ended up taking but I felt like the twists were too visible and never unexpected. I choice to see the lack of character development as an attempt for Sarah and the others to protect themselves from being hurt again, this seemed to work well for the enjoyment of this novel.
I don’t want to give too much away, just in case people want to read this novel and it is well worth checking out. I did enjoy the book, I had questions and upon reflection when I tried to get these answers I noticed most of the major problems. For me the novel had the opportunity to do something different but took the safe path and followed a cliché thriller path. The ending felt anti climatic as a result of the safety in plotting.
Thriller fans will enjoy this book; I just think there was a missed opportunity to do something far more complex and interesting. As a debut novel, I can understand why Koethi Zan didn’t risk it but I would have liked the book a whole lot more. As I said before I would compare it to S.J. Watson and Gillian Flynn, so if you like their books you may enjoy this one. I’m interested to see what Zan does in the future; she has a promising career ahead of her.
They are an ancient secret society known only as the Poets; words are their weapons and the art of manipulation is their game. When one young woman brThey are an ancient secret society known only as the Poets; words are their weapons and the art of manipulation is their game. When one young woman breaks the rules for love, things start to unravel. Street-wise runaway Emily Ruff finds herself as a new recruit, training in a facility disguised as an exclusive school outside of Arlington, Virginia. She learns to use language to manipulate minds. While an innocent man is ambushed in an airport bathroom; they claim he is the key to winning a secret war that rages on. Lexicon is a fast paced thriller that explores the power of language and coercion.
I’ve been meaning to read a Max Barry novel for a while now; they all seem to be corporate or in the case of Jennifer Government marketing satires but never got around to trying them. Then Lexicon was released and it seems to tick a few of my boxes to make me sit up and take notice of it. While this has been getting a bit of buzz in America (well done fellow Australian, Max Barry) I just knew I had to read this one. I wasn’t trying to jump on the bandwagon it just seemed like my type of book and I had an opportunity to read it, so I took it.
While this is obviously a fast paced thriller (as I think most of Barry’s books) I can see where the idea a satire comes into play with his works. In Lexicon we look at modern ideas on privacy, identity and information and using an old idea that language is power we can see how Max Barry is toying with the idea that all those things we hold sacred can be manipulated and lost. This is where the corporate satire comes into play; even in Lexicon, privacy, identity and data-collection are all important and need to be protected and Barry plays with the readers fears to suck them into his thrilling world.
Not only is this a thrilling and addictive read, I really enjoy the way the two different stories are weaved together. You get the story of Emily as she discovers this secret society and learns to coerce through the power of language and then you get the other plot thread and discover what happened in Broken Hill. I love the way this was done and it’s nothing new but it worked really well for a book like this one.
The problem with reviewing a book like Lexicon is there are so many things I want to say about the book but I think anything I do say will possibly be a spoiler. Max Barry really knows how to mix satire into a thriller and produce an altogether addictive read. I hate to do this normally but in an effort to give people an idea what this novel is like; Rebecca Schinsky (from Bookriot) says this about the Lexicon;
“Imagine X-Men plus The Magicians with a side of Nick Harkaway”
Which is a good way to describe the book; the X-Men idea really works as a way to describe the training facility disguised as an exclusive school that Emily is training at. I’ve not read The Magicians but it’s been on my TBR for a while but I tend to avoid fantasy that but I love the Nick Harkaway shout out. Angelmaker was my favourite book of 2012, it is also an addictive thriller with some literary merit and I think this is definitely the case with Lexicon. I know this seems like a glowing review, I did really enjoy it and highly recommend it but it does have flaws but honestly I didn’t care, I was immersed and wanted to know what happens next.
Makedde Vanderwall is a Canadian model on assignment in Australia. The advantage with some work down under is the fact that she will get to see her goMakedde Vanderwall is a Canadian model on assignment in Australia. The advantage with some work down under is the fact that she will get to see her good friend Cassandra again. But when Cassandra is found dead by Mak she finds herself in a cat and mouse game to catch the killer before he gets her. Who can she trust and where can she turn when she’s a stranger in a land without any friends?
Makadde is a beautiful, tall and curvy international model who is studying psychology; she’s basically Tara Moss. Model turned author Tara Moss gets to live out all the thrilling adventures she wants through Makedde, not that I can say this is semi-autobiographical but I’m sure Moss wishes it was to some extent. These similarities really give this novel an authentic voice, about modelling as well as the creepy stalker (in which I suspect Moss has had) that ends up being the serial killer known as the Stiletto killer.
Not that I have anything against this book, in fact it is off to a good start for a thriller series, I just never really get into this bestseller formula. All those bestselling crime thriller writers enjoy great success with their books but I tend to think they all feel the too similar. I’m glad Tara Moss broke into the market with such success. It opened up to more in this series and then eventually trying something a little different with her Pandora English series.
Makadde is a tough intelligent woman in the wrong place at the wrong time but I would have liked to see her be more of a bad ass and really kick butt. There are times where this side of her comes out but for the rest of the time everything feels very convenient. Moss has a lot of great ideas for Mak and I did think maybe too many of them were pushed into this novel. It’s a case of first novel, too many ideas. I’m not sure what to expect from the rest of the series but I suspect now she has dealt with a similar situation she can now kick ass and take names. I hope to see her become more of a Phillip Marlowe type character, but with a model turned PI it may be wishful thinking and too much to expect.
There are six books in the series but I have to wait till book four for Mak to become forensic psychologist and PI, so I’m not sure if I want to wait that long. Fetish was an entertaining read and maybe the series is just off to a slow start. Part of me wants to continue and watch Moss grow as a crime writer but part of me thinks there are too many books in the world to read already. I feel conflicted and I’m not sure what to do, I think I will keep Split close by for when I need something light and entertaining. When I say Fetish was just a light read, this doesn’t mean it’s predictable; I found myself surprised with some of the twists this book takes and I never did work out who the killer was till Moss was ready to reveal it.
There are good and bad parts of this book, I was not fully satisfied with the novel but as this is the first novel, I’m willing to forgive far more. I will let you know how I go if I ever pick up Split but for now I would like people to tell me what they thought of Fetish, Makedde Vanderwall and the rest of the series. I need to know if I should continue and what people think of the novels. Tara Moss’s influences include Thomas Harris and Patricia Cornwell and I can see these influences coming through. I would like to see more of Thomas Harris in her books; I like the dark and psychological elements of the Hannibal series.
When someone is kidnapped, the first few hours are critical; the chances of finding the victim alive drastically decrease after that. The beautiful anWhen someone is kidnapped, the first few hours are critical; the chances of finding the victim alive drastically decrease after that. The beautiful and tough Alex Prévost is no ordinary victim but can she escape? Her time is running out. Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on, no suspects, no leads and no hope. All they know is the girl was snatched off the streets of Paris and shoved into a van. The mystery of the fate of Alex will keep Verhoeven guessing until the bitter end.
This is the second book in the Verhoeven trilogy but the only one that has been translated into English so far. While it is very much a standalone novel, I got a feeling that some critical information about Commandant Camille Verhoeven was missing in the development of this character. This could be the simple fact that this is the standard and over done thriller formula. I picked up this book because I’ve heard it being compared to Gone Girl a few times and thought it was a good excuse to read some translated crime.
Alex does have an unreliable victim, like Gone Girl but comparing this book to that one is a big stretch. The whole style and feel to Alex was nothing like the psychological thriller that is Gone Girl. This novel does try to be psychological but comparing the two is pointless, this novel takes a whole different route and the only real similarities are the genre and the unreliable victim. I tend to think marketing people look for connections between books as a way to promote books and this can be destructive.
Alex is a thriller told from a third person narrative that follows both the victim, Alex and Commandant Camille Verhoeven as he tries to piece together this enigma of a case. While this tends to work well in exploring the two sides of this case as victim and investigator, I sometimes wished I could get into the mindset of both characters. Without spoiling any of this novel, there are parts of the book that could have been interesting to explore the psychology of the characters. I think Alex was a complex character that could have been used better within the book to improve both plot and the overall novel.
Now, there are so many plot holes within this novel that really got to me, from the very first few chapters I got that feeling everyone was attractive, despite their age. It seems like Pierre Lemaitre knew of no other way to describe someone. I don’t want to spoil anything for people that want to read this book so I won’t mention the biggest plot hole I found (if you have read this book I’d love to discuss it with you). There is also a lot of repetitiveness within this novel, I don’t know how many times Lamaitre can mention she wasn’t average and when she was a teen Alex blossomed into a bombshell with large breasts but it was too many. Then you mix the generic thriller formula to the mix and you are left with a novel that could have done great things but took the safe road.
I think the unreliable victim narrative could have been executed a whole lot better and we could have had a decent novel with twists and turns. I’m a little disappointed that the author decided to play it safe and go with the cliché plot that is known to sell books. Books like Gone Girl that take risks and surprise the reader are the ones that are remembered and respected by readers. Sure sometimes we want something that we know will be enjoyable and doesn’t require much effort for a cosy winter (or summer read) but when you set up a book like Pierre Lemaitre did in Alex and chose not to take full advantage of the situation I feel let down and disappointed.
When another girl disappears, suspicion falls on the suspect of a twenty year old missing persons case. Larry has been living a solitary life never beWhen another girl disappears, suspicion falls on the suspect of a twenty year old missing persons case. Larry has been living a solitary life never being able to escape the whispers of suspicion, now another girl disappears, it is starting all over again. Old boyhood friend Salas is now in law enforcement and this new case forces both men to confront the past that they have buried for so long.
Tom Franklin lived in a small southern town in Alabama, and while struggling to make it as an author he went through multiple manual labour jobs and once worked for the city morgue. In 1997 he got his first break when his short story collection, Poachers was named Best First Book of Fiction by Esquire. Since then he has been having great success with southern crime novels, winning a few awards, including the Edgar Award (for Poachers, a short story found in the book of the same name) and The Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger (awarded for best crime novel of the year) for Crooked Letter Crooked Letter.
This novel has been compared to the works of Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard and Cormac McCarthy, so I went in to this novel expecting a good southern crime novel and this is what I got. Except there was a little more in this novel, while you have the elements you expect, I never expected the book to explore the idea of being misunderstood and isolation. From the beginning of the novel Larry is shot and yet he is sympathetic towards his mystery attacker. He even forgave him because “all monsters were misunderstood”.
The idea that Larry thinks of himself as a monster brings up some interesting concepts, which I really want to explore but that would lead to some spoilers. He even owns an old monster mask which is hugely symbolic when it comes to the concept of being a monster living within society. This mask plays a big role throughout the novel and what it represents within each scene it shows up in only served to increase my enjoyment in exploring Crooked Letter Crooked Letter.
The relationship between Larry and Salas is an interesting one; they were childhood friends living in Mississippi in 1970. Larry comes from a working class family while Salas is an African American, I was expecting a lot to do with racism around their friendship, being a southern novel but Franklin went a whole different route. Instead he explored their changing relationship from kids to adults, with the pressure of the world and the suspicion placed on Larry. This was unexpected and it added a really interesting look into the two characters relationship.
The title of this novel references an old American children’s song used to learn how to spell Mississippi and I’ve never heard of it. Being an Australian, it is odd that we were taught how to spell Mississippi as children as well; we were never expected to spell other American states so it seems weird. Though I was taught differently and I’ve found out my wife learnt it a different way to that too. Not really important to the novel except knowing where the book is set but it a interesting thought to have about the ways we learnt to spell this word.
This is a relatively morbid novel but I honestly was hoping for something as dark as The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (seriously I need more like this novel) but as far as melancholic books, this one is worth check out. Not only does it have some interesting themes that I think are worth exploring, I found the prose lyrical and in parts stunning. It is not without its flaws and I don’t want to go into those, for fear of spoilers but I still think highly of Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin; he seems to draw a lot from Cormac McCarthy’s style, so check it out.
Audere, agere, auferre. To dare, to strive, to conquer
For generations, privileged young men attended private schools like St. Oswald’s Grammar School fAudere, agere, auferre. To dare, to strive, to conquer
For generations, privileged young men attended private schools like St. Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys, groomed for greatness and success. But this year the winds have turned, not only are suits, paperwork, and information technology threating to overwhelm the school and break the traditions of this elite school but someone is trying to corrupt and destroy St. Oswalds once and for all; this is a game for Gentlemen and Players.
Nothing like a gentlemen’s game of revenue and murder, Joanne Harris’ novel is astonishing and surprising. I normally associate Joanne Harris with the likes of Chocolat, but when I heard she had written this dark psychological thriller, I had to read it right away. This is a game of idealism verses cynicism, equality verses privilege and principle verses corruption; this is a game of chess. I love how Harris wrote this whole sociopathic revenge novel using the themes of Chess. You have the black pawn moving silently trying to take down the white king.
Roy Straitley is one of the narrators of this story, an unmarried classics master that tells us about life at St. Oswald’s, focusing on the day to day events, with the students and his work colleagues. Most importantly are The New Head (the king and only referred to as the new head even though he has been doing the job for 15 years), Pat Bishop (second master), Jeff Light (games Master), Chris Keane (new English Teacher) and Dianne Dare (also a new teacher in the French department). Straitley doesn’t know it yet but he is considered to be the white knight of this novel and the second narrative; the black pawn keeps their identity hidden till the very end (although if you are a keen chess player you might work it out in this review) and tells the story of early life at St Oswalds and their plans to destroy this school.
I love how Joanne Harris wrote this book with the chess metaphor, but she used a couple of tricks to throw off who might be the sociopath. Not that I really have a problem with it, I had my suspicions of who it might have been and her cheap tricks really threw me off at times. There is some interesting name choices used in the book; like Bishop, and Light sounds a little like Knight, and these were just ways to help build this metaphor.
While the reader will largely focus on working out just who is the person seeking revenge on St. Oswalds, this book also deals with entitlement and elitism. We know from near the start that the black pawn was poor and their father was the janitor so we know that the pawn holds so much hostility towards the rich and elite. So we know that we are dealing with the problem of not fitting in and being excluded. There are also elements of adolescent sexuality, gossip and tradition verse progress that are very clear throughout this book.
This is a wickedly dark thriller that had me gripped from the very start, it had a real serial killer vibe to it when the black pawn took moves to strategically destroy this school and then you have this very proper and traditional account of life in an elite school. Naturally this narrative changes as the white knight slowly starts to understand there is imminent danger at his beloved school.
While really entertaining and tricky, Joanne Harris also reminds us just how much lives depend on trust. This unsettling strategy to slowly plant seeds of doubt and suspicion could be futile. I found Gentlemen and Players to be a smart and witty psychological thriller; I never expected something so bleak to come from someone that wrote something as sweet as Chocolat. I’m reminded a little of The Talented Mr. Ripley when I read through this novel, sometimes I was surprised that Harris was able to outclass and fool me.
“When did you last Google yourself?” That was what wealthy businessman, Will Frost was asked by an anonymous late night caller. When Will got online,“When did you last Google yourself?” That was what wealthy businessman, Will Frost was asked by an anonymous late night caller. When Will got online, he found a website with photographs of his home along with six other houses he’s never seen before. Within the first house a gruesome murder has already taken place. His family is in danger and the only way to save them is to visit all seven houses, discover their connection before the police discovers him.
First of all, I decided to google Richard Parker just to get an idea of who he was. If you were wondering, Richard Parker is not the sailor and president of the Floating Republic, Peter Parker’s (Spiderman) dad, a Bengal tiger or from Weekend at Bernie’s. Richard Parker is in fact an English writer who spent over twenty years writing for TV (nothing I’ve heard of). He was nominated for the Crime Writers Associations John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award in 2010 for is dark thriller Stop Me.
Scare Me is his second book (and if you were wondering they are both standalone novels) and Will Frost’s struggle to save his daughter’s life from a twisted and sadistic psychopath. This novel has all the typical thriller tropes and you can pretty much match this against your expectations and come up with the exact plot in your head. This is something I found rather frustrating; I was never surprised, everything seemed obvious and expected.
This wasn’t the major problem I had with this novel; my issue was with the characters. Will Frost is so two dimensional and inherently good there was nothing interesting or complex about him, I found this boring. I like characters that are complex and flawed; I didn’t even find this in the killer either. Their motivation came a little too late into the novel, there was no hints (although you can guess easily) and when you find out, it was too late to save the novel.
You also have major plot problems, which is a shame since the idea of scavenger hunt of dead bodies is a great one. An example, all phones work in every country, no need for international roaming (this isn’t a big problem but when you make a deal of buying a new phone you could mention something). Also there is the fact Will’s old phone was amazing; He hides it on the killer to track it and the phone never goes flat. I struggle to last a day with my phone, so I’m keen to get my hands on a phone that lasts so long.
You add all these up, with the basic writing style and you have a novel that didn’t work for me. I liked the premise and had high hopes but I was let down. I wish I abandoned this novel and moved on to something different but unfortunately I pushed myself. I know of a few people that have read and enjoyed this novel, I’m happy for them, I wish I was one of them but there was too much I couldn’t let go.
When a casino heist goes bad, there are a lot of loose ends to tidy up. Loose ends like a million dollars and only 48 hours to find it. The Ghostman iWhen a casino heist goes bad, there are a lot of loose ends to tidy up. Loose ends like a million dollars and only 48 hours to find it. The Ghostman is sent into find the money and make sure the crime isn’t connected back to his employer. Only problem is he is in the Wolf’s territory now and he wants the Ghostman’s head in a bag; if they can find him.
First of all, this is a pretty stereotypical heist novel, with all the normal thriller elements that you expect, the double crosses, the cops, the clearly laid out plan, it is all there in this book. So why did I enjoy this book more than I should have? The Ghostman, let’s just call him Jack Delton as that is the name he uses the most in the novel, is nothing really special. There isn’t much character development; he continues to remain an enigma the entire time. Yet there is something about him that I liked; he has the ability to hide in plain sight, to blend in and he is pretty much a grifter sent in to clean up the mess. He is also a pretentious book worm; he admits to reading a lot in the book and has a soft spot for Homer and epic Greek poetry. These elements of his character, and the fact he knows how to handle himself when things get rough, really come together to make a character I enjoyed reading about.
All other characters in the book were completely underdeveloped and just felt like backdrops that got in the way of Jack Delton’s tasks. But then again, you do need conflict and twists and turns to drive a story like this; there was nothing too shocking about the plot, I would have loved a good twist or maybe a darker narrative but all in all, Ghostman was a lot of fun to read.
This is Roger Hobbs’s debut novel and he is only 24 years old which makes you wonder; where did he learn all the skills to pull off a casino heist and cover it up? The detail put into the different ways of doing things was incredibly detailed, so much so that you can’t help but think this is the voice of experience. My main problem was that I felt like sometimes the author was dumbing down the information too much; I think he wanted to make sure every reader knew what was happening but the information felt over done.
Delton spends all this time tying up all the loose ends from the heist, that at times I thought things were going to end up incredibly neat and, to an extent, it did, but I was glad to see not everything goes to plan. I thought maybe Delton had a complex plan to get himself out of mess but instead he decided to live by the motto “Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo” If I cannot move Heaven, I will raise Hell. Simple but effective, but then again that’s the book in a nutshell.
I still don’t have no idea what really made this book so enjoyable; there really isn’t much in the novel that was special, it all felt like it was done before. In the end I was just sucked into the story and enjoyed the ride; it is a good heist novel and I think it will give most thriller writers a run for their money. Sure it was predictable and nonsensical but sometimes you just need some light entertaining junk to read. It is still worth checking out, even if it is just to see what Roger Hobb can do and then spend some time trying to work out how he researched this book.
Retired NYPD Detective Joe Leland visits his daughter in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to spend the holiday period with her. He meets her at her placeRetired NYPD Detective Joe Leland visits his daughter in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to spend the holiday period with her. He meets her at her place of work, the 40-story office that houses the headquarters of the Klaxon Oil Corporation. Only to find the building been taken by a group of Cold War-era German terrorists. Lead by Anton “Little Tony” Gruber, their plans are to steal documents that will publicly expose the Klaxon Corporation. With the help of LAPD Sergeant Al Powell, Leland must fight the terrorist one by one to save the hostages, and more importantly his daughter and grandchildren.
Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp was re-released in December 2012 after being out of print for 20 years and if you haven’t guessed it by now, this is the novel Die Hard is based on. My biggest issue with the book was it was very similar to the classic movie (which I’ve seen so many times), yet it was missing all the one liners and humour. Most of the most iconic scenes do come from the book, including crawling around the elevator shafts, C4 down the elevator shaft, jumping off the roof with a fire hose and the gun tapped to his back. I’m surprised just how faithful to the book the movie does seem but then when you expect him to say “Now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho Ho” or something similar Leland says something similar but different and it just doesn’t feel right.
The similarities seem to be so numerous that it is almost pointless to read the book, especially if you know the movie back to front. The major differences between the book and the movie (not including names and slight character changes) include that Terrorist were really out to expose the company rather than robbing them and the ending was less Hollywood in the end. I feel this is one of the rare cases where the movie outshines the book, even if it is similar overall the movie was amazing and the book was fading away into obscurity (up till the rerelease). McClane is a far better character than Leland but interesting enough the book seems to focus a lot more on the complexity of the protagonist’s mind in regards to family, guilt and his alcoholism but I felt it didn’t work too well.
The book does feel like it’s aged too much, the political views on terrorism seem so dated, but if you read this book as just an action novel you probably can overlook this and even forgive it. I never was able to do this, I just felt like their responses to the hostile takeover felt wrong and somewhat amateurish. This is obviously to make sure Leland had to remain the single man that can save the 72 hostages but part of me was a little annoyed by that. One man taking on the world makes for a great story but I’m always bothered by that and while it’s entertaining in a book I feel like I question it more than I would with a movie.
Nothing Lasts Forever is a little darker than Die Hard but there is no real competition when comparing the two. Die Hard is a classic action film and spawned some great (and terrible) sequels. The book was interesting to explore but really there are more books out there that deserve the time; stick to the film. Interestingly enough, Nothing Lasts Forever was intended as a sequel to the 1966 film The Detective starring Frank Sinatra, then as a follow up to Commando (1985) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both actors declined the role; after being rewritten, the script turned into a standalone film which has become one of the greatest Action movies of all time.
Post World War II Los Angeles, the place you go to find the great American dream, but a stranger is preying on young women. Ex-airman, Dix Steele offePost World War II Los Angeles, the place you go to find the great American dream, but a stranger is preying on young women. Ex-airman, Dix Steele offers to help his detective friend solve the case and catch the serial killer in the hopes it will help him with the crime novel he is writing. Along the way he meets the luscious Laurel Gray—the femme fatale. The queen of noir, Dorothy B. Hughes blends psychological suspense with conventional Hard-boiled and Noir styles to give us In a Lonely Place.
Dorothy B. Hughes is known for her crime novels, 14 books primarily in the Hard-Boiled and Noir genre and In a Lonely Place would be her most recognisable. This could be because of the Nicholas Ray adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame or because of the psychological elements she brings to the genre. A lot of people will compare this novel with Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley and while they are very similar I can’t help but thinking of the works of Jim Thompson as well. This might be because they all share the same influences Kafka, but more importantly Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
In a Lonely Place starts off like a typical noir novel and immediately the reader suspects there is something not quite right with Dix Steele. Could it be the fact that he is pretending to write a crime novel to sponge off his friends and family? Or the fact that he is a cynical misogynist? Maybe, but if you look a little closer at the writing you will find the answer. This is told in the first person but not by Dix Steele himself, like this person is with him at all times and sees everything Dix does. This sets up the psychological portrait of a woman-hating serial killer that really makes this novel work.
Towards the end of the book when Laurel Grey and the detective’s wife discover that Steele himself is the murderer, it comes as no great surprise. The book builds up like this big great reveal but there are so many elements throughout the book that give it away. I don’t think it was ever meant as a twist, just a way for Dix to find out himself. But through the whole book I was waiting and waiting for it to happen, I never really thought it would happen so late in the story.
The movie In a Lonely Place is vastly different to the book; for one thing Dix Steele is a successful screenwriter not a conman pretending to be a crime writer. Also true to Hollywood form, during the whole film everyone suspects Steele to be the killer but he turns out innocent. He still was a cynical vet but he never really had a chip on his shoulder towards the opposite sex, it felt like it was towards everyone. Also femme fatale Laurel Gray really wasn’t sassy or strong minded in the movie which was the biggest disappointment of them all.
Dorothy B. Hughes wanted to expose the misogyny of American society at that time with this book and she did a great job. The end result is this dark psychological tale that the movie adaptation butchered. Problem is I’ve seen the movie many times before finally reading the book, so it took me a long time to really get going. Both stories are worth checking out but trying to connect the film to the book doesn’t really do either of them any justice.
In a Lonely Place is worth reading; it’s nice to read a woman’s take on the noir genre. This really is a male dominated genre but women like Dorothy B. Hughes, Patricia Highsmith and Megan Abbott prove they can write noir just as well. The thing I loved most about this novel was that the influences of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment were written all over this and yet Hughes made it her own. Make sure you check this novel out if you are a fan of Hard-Boiled, Noir or even psychological thrillers.
Ian Fleming introduced the world to James Bond; British Secret Service agent and womaniser out to keep the world safe, time after time. Casino RoyaleIan Fleming introduced the world to James Bond; British Secret Service agent and womaniser out to keep the world safe, time after time. Casino Royale is the first in the huge 007 franchise where Bond’s adventures lead to a card game to bring down SMERSH agent Le Chiffre. But there is more at stake than just money.
This isn’t my first Bond book, I read Jeffery Deaver’s 007 novel Carte Blanche but this is my first Fleming book. So Fleming’s Bond is very different to the movies or Deaver’s secret agent. All the main elements are the same, the womanising and the witty comments but in Casino Royale it’s a lot different to the movie of the same name. There is less action adventure and more attempts at the espionage genre.
The first half of the book is set in the casino playing high-stakes baccarat; a game I know nothing about but was interested to learn. In the end the game is supposedly easy but I still have no idea how to play it. James Bond is trying to bankrupt Le Chiffre; the treasurer of a French union and a member of the Russian secret service. The idea is pretty simple; bankrupt Le Chiffre and prevent him funding any Russian missions. Which is well and good but once this part of the book ended, that’s when this book started going downhill.
The second half of the book was pretty weak, especially when it came to Vesper. The suspense and tension end abruptly and falls flat on its face. There are a few incidences of adventure but it almost tries to turn into this romance but Fleming and the character are such huge misogynists that it doesn’t work at all. Bond is supposed to be very much in love with this woman but he knows there is something she is hiding; but it doesn’t get explored very well in the book.
Now let’s talk about that one phrase in the book that really sets people off; “sweet tang of rape”. I get what Ian Fleming is trying to say and do there, but really that phrase is not the best way to put it. All it does is just prove that Fleming is a sexist and that never really helps the book. I want to say that the idea of wanting to have sex with this woman even though it’s not the right move for Bond is a great idea but it could have been explore and worded differently.
After reading this book, I’m not sure whether I should read more of the series or just stick to the movies. I wanted to read this book to get a sense of what the book was about and also it’s on the ‘1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die’ list, but I really struggle to see how this book turned into a successful series let alone movie franchise. This is a simple case of ‘the movie is better than the book’ and it’s rare but it happens. Casino Royale may be very different, but it managed to keep the tension and explored the basic concept a whole lot better than this book ever did.
Skinner is in the ‘asset protection’ game and he was really good at it. His method was fear, he believed the only way to truly protect someone is to mSkinner is in the ‘asset protection’ game and he was really good at it. His method was fear, he believed the only way to truly protect someone is to make the cost of acquiring an asset far greater than the asset themselves. His employees were uncomfortable with his methods and eventually burnt him; now he is needed again and Skinner needs to re-establish his reputation once again.
I’ve not read Charlie Huston before; I knew he wrote the noir novels featuring Hank Thompson and the supernatural vampiric private eye Joe Pitt series. Both series sound right up my avenue, so why did I start with Skinner? Availability. I went into this novel not really knowing what to expect but hoping for a dark spy thriller; what I got was so much more.
While Skinner is written as a modern day spy thriller the complexity behind the espionage reminds me of the hey days of John le Carré. Skinner has been asked to come back, working for Kestrel which is a private offshoot of the CIA. The whole concept of a corporate owned intelligence agency is no new concept but it leaves Huston with the ability to blur the lines and keep the reader wondering if what is happening is on the level. Skinner’s asset, Jae, is a robotics expert and data analyst which gives us the predictable romantic interest, something that worried me the most within the book.
What I like most about this novel, apart from the complexity, is the way Charlie Huston throws the reader into the story, slowly revealing backstory and small clues into what is happening. This technique leaves the reader guessing about the missions and the characters involved. While this reads as a spy thriller, the way Huston works the characters is masterfully executed and left me wondering, and often not seeing a twist until it is happening.
Skinner is a cutting edge thriller; a novel I had so much fun reading and couldn’t recommend enough for anyone interested in books about espionage. The novel will keep you guessing, leave you thinking and the characters are great, I hope this is the start of a new series because I want Skinner to return. Exploring the terrors of modern warfare and cyber terrorism, you will fly through Skinner but then you won’t stop thinking about it.
Skin as white as snow, hair as black as ebony and lips as red as blood… Snow White Must Die is far from a fairy Tale. In a small German town, after seSkin as white as snow, hair as black as ebony and lips as red as blood… Snow White Must Die is far from a fairy Tale. In a small German town, after serving 10 years for the murder of two 17 year old girls, Tobias Sartorius is released. The town is not happy with his return and when another pretty girl goes missing the suspicion obviously is put on him. As the police race to find the missing girl they start to discover things are not as black and white and maybe Tobias isn’t the killer they all thought he was.
Snow White Must Die is my first German crime novel and I was very impressed with the way this book played out. You start off with a suspicion and slowly through the complex twists you discover that this is just a huge web of lies. The book starts off with Tobias return and the whole town angry toward him, it reminded me a little of We Need to Talk about Kevin with the author exploring the psychology of trying to live in a town where everyone hates you.
Then you discover all the evidence that convicted Tobias was circumstantial and that’s when the questions start. I spent a lot of time trying to understand the motivations of each of the characters, always suspecting they are hiding something. Nele Neuhaus plays with the reader really well, always hinting but never showing her hand too early. The complexity of this case grows but Neuhaus beautifully handles it all without going overboard.
I love the way Nele Neuhaus starts off the story with Tobias as the lead and then when things start getting more centred around the crime it shifts focus toward the detectives working the case. I think this was masterfully done and left it open to kill off lead characters if she wished without throwing the story out. As the corruption and the conspiracy within this town begins to be uncovered, no one is safe and this leaves the reader with an anxiety when they put the book down.
I don’t remember the last time I’ve read a police procedural that I’ve enjoyed this much, I’ve noticed this is book four in a series but it reads like a standalone book. I really hope they translate more of Nele Neuhaus novels because I’m really impressed with her style and would love the chance to enjoy more of her books.
Snow White Must Die is a well crafted thriller that while brutal and violent, it still remains accessible. I would have liked this book to be a little darker but it was still a brilliant book of lies, greed and corruption. I would love to read some more German novels, crime ones in particular if anyone has some good recommendations. Nele Neuhaus showed real skill when she wrote Snow White Must Die and it was a real pleasure to experience it. I wish I could read German to enjoy this book in its original text.
Spike Sanguinetti arrives home to Gibraltar only to find Solomon Hassan waiting from him. Solomon is on the run, a Spanish girl was found with her thrSpike Sanguinetti arrives home to Gibraltar only to find Solomon Hassan waiting from him. Solomon is on the run, a Spanish girl was found with her throat cut on the beach in Tangiers and he is being accused of the murder. Spike travels to Morocco to try and delay the extradition, where he meets a woman investigating the disappearance of her father, which is also is leading back to Solomon being involved.
Shadow of the Rock seems to be book one of a newly planned series by Thomas Mogfold. Not only is there a real sense of mystery, but also the protagonist finds himself questioning just how much he knows his friend. Two different situations has put Solomon in a world of suspicion. Spike Sanguinetti is a tax lawyer, a job that for me seem very boring, and now he is thrown into this huge adventure, really putting him out of his comfort zone. With all the excitement, I did feel like the book lacked any real character development; sure I learned about the protagonist and support cast, but it felt like very broad strokes of development. This might be the plan, as a series the writer needs to save some development for the other books. But for me the character development was underdone and too sloppy.
For me the highlight of this book was Gibraltar and Morocco as the backdrops for the danger Spike surely finds himself in. I’ve not been to either places but I have very fond memories of Spain and imagine the atmosphere and the culture would be similar. It was so great to read a book set in an unusual location. As far as the mystery of this book, it was very generic; it ticks all the right boxes for a formulaic best seller thriller series and I truly hope Thomas Mogfold has a huge success with Spike Sanguinetti.
I just feel this series has a lot of great potential and I’m curious to see if book two turns out to be something more developed. I can see myself either loving this series or really hating it depending on which path the author takes; the formulaic thriller route in the hope to become a best selling crime writer or the well-developed character route. I will be checking out book two but if it fails to show any improvement I plan to abandon this series. Spike has so much to offer so we will wait to see what happens next.
On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 14 March 2003 and in a time of uncertainty and financial crisis, a wave of energy has fallen over America. TheOn the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 14 March 2003 and in a time of uncertainty and financial crisis, a wave of energy has fallen over America. The United States as we know it is gone. The soldiers are left to fight a war without command, the line of succession go so far back that it falls to the governments in Pearl Harbor, Guantánamo Bay, and a very isolated corner of the north east. What will the world be like now the last superpower has disappeared?
Without Warning is the first book in the disappearance series by John Birmingham and is an alternate history/political thriller/action novel that tries to look at what the world would be like if America just disappears. But does it work? For me, I think the book just follows all the clichés found in a thriller and while it tries to do something completely different. The blending of Alternative history just never seemed to work.
Don’t get me wrong; I think John Birmingham is a great writer with some interesting ideas, but I guess mainstream novels don’t work for me. While I do try, and have, enjoyed novels like this. I tend to think there is something missing. The book felt very Americanised, even trying to imitate people like Tom Clancy and if you are into that type of book, I’m sure you would enjoy Without Warning.
I tried really hard to get into this novel, but with so main false starts and the forcing myself to finish this novel, I just never enjoyed it. I was tempted not to review this novel because I’m not sure if I have anything constructive to say, but in the interest of showing my full reading journey I forced myself.
Without Warning did have a lot of pop culture references which I do enjoy and the idea of losing the last super power was well thought out, but in the end this just wasn’t a book for me. I remember reading Tom Clancy when I was a young and enjoying it but I don’t think I would now. Maybe this is a book for a younger me and for people that just want pure escapism into a world of action....more
Don Winslow’s Savages starts off with one of the most memorable opening chapters I’ve read; which simply said “F**k you”. These two words set up the fDon Winslow’s Savages starts off with one of the most memorable opening chapters I’ve read; which simply said “F**k you”. These two words set up the feel of this novel really well. Chon and Ben are weed growers in Laguna Beach, California; their product is top of the range. Ben is the botanist that looks after their marijuana and business; Chon looks after the problems. Then there is O; their girlfriend. When the Baja Cartel takes interest in their product, things are bound to get Savage.
I’ve had this book on my radar for a while but since the Oliver Stone adaptation has been released I made sure I read the book before seeing the movie. This is savage noir, full of quick chapters and in the words of Don Winslow; baditude. Snappy dialogue, noirish themes and the dark gritty plot is what makes this novel such a thrill to read. But when you mix the quick, straight to the point chapters; you are practically flying through this book at an outrageous speed.
This book doesn’t pull any punches; it’s gruesome and disturbing so makes sense that Oliver Stone wanted to adapt it. While Stone was pretty faithful to the book, I’m a little disappointed in the lack of O’s mother PAQU (Passive Aggressive Queen of the Universe). I really wanted to see what they would do with this character but unfortunately she wasn’t in the movie at all. It’s like Stone has cut most of the first half of the book and went straight for the point; the kidnapping of O. Also the DEA turncoat seems to have a much larger role in the movie which turned out rather well (simply because this role was played by John Travolta). Finally don’t get me started with the less than tragic ending; typical Hollywood.
The book works well because of the angst and mental back and forth that was conveyed; particularly with Ben. But the movie just goes for the savage violent point and it is gruesome to watch. Personally I much prefer the book, the wit and insight of Winslow just didn’t translate and the movie just felt more like violence for the sake of violence.
In the end, read the book; experience the style and wit of Don Winslow, because this was the best part. If you want to see the movie, maybe do it as a way to see what Hollywood does to a movie adaptation; while less tragic, it was more sardonic. I enjoyed the book but when it came to the movie I think they took it a little too far. But maybe that is just caused by the visual aspects of watching the violence.
Cloud Atlas is a really hard book to review; it starts off as a Journal circa 1850 documenting a voyage home from the Chatham Islands, then it’s a serCloud Atlas is a really hard book to review; it starts off as a Journal circa 1850 documenting a voyage home from the Chatham Islands, then it’s a series of letters from a 1930’s English musician to a Belgium composer, then a journalist from 1975 investigating for a novel that will blow the whistle on a new nuclear power plant , a 21st century publisher is fleeing from gangsters in a movie dramatization, a dystopian future story told from genetically-engineered clone’s perspective and finally the post-apocalyptic future where technology is all whipped out. Confusing? Well this book does all come together in to make Cloud Atlas a truly interesting book to read but I don’t think it worked as intended.
I think author David Mitchell is too clever for his own good in this book. The stories do all come together and he really shows off by writing each section in the best genre style to suit what is happening but he is just doing too much in this book. I feel like I’m just starting to get invested in the story of one protagonist and then Mitchell jumps to the next one without any sense of resolution. Sure he does return to each story a second time around but by then I feel like it’s too late for me.
David Mitchell really flexes his literary muscles in the book and he is a wonderful write but there is so much happening in this book and I never felt like he achieve what he was hoping for. I’m not sure cutting from six to three or four story arcs would have helped the book but it might have helped the reader become more invested. I particularly liked the thriller style of the investigative journalist and that gangster story line of the publisher but when their story is just getting exciting it’s all over and we have to move on to the next one.
Cloud Atlas is an interesting, clever book but this doesn’t make it a good book; I enjoyed parts of it and other parts infuriated me. I will say I’m glad to have read it before the movie adaptation is released but it’s not something I ever want to revisit again. I get that he is trying to do a novel about evolution or reincarnation; as each protagonist bares the same birth mark but that element of the book never really went anywhere. I know some people really love this book but I felt like it was too much of a show off. I’d like to read a David Mitchell book where he sticks to one genre instead of all of them. ...more
I often get worried when I pick up this Scandinavian crime novel but I recently read The Dinner and I thought I might try another Dutch author; turnsI often get worried when I pick up this Scandinavian crime novel but I recently read The Dinner and I thought I might try another Dutch author; turns out this was a Danish novel. Mercy is the first book in the series by Jussi Adler-Olsen which has been marketed for people that enjoy the show The Killing as well as Scandinavian Crime. I love this show so I wanted to give this book ago; well actually I picked up Disgrace and realised it was book two in the series so I thought I better read them in order. Mercy is the story of detective Mørck who has been put in charge of new department dedicated to trying to solve cold cases; one final attempt before they give up on the case completely. His first case is a missing person’s case; Merete Lynggaard vanished five years ago and everyone assumes she’s dead but will Mørck be able to solve this case?
It’s interesting to note that this book is also called The Keeper of Lost Causes in most countries, which is a subtle attempt at humour, to reflect what type of book you are getting into here. I’m not sure why Australia are marketing this book as Mercy but it works better for their marketing campaign to get draw on the success of the TV show The Killing. You have you usual elements of you’d find in a Scandinavian crime in this book; cold climate, dark disturbing themes but I think Adler-Olsen’s attempt at adding some light heartedness in to the mix really worked in his favour. It’s almost like a cross between a Scandinavian crime and a buddy copy movie; because Mørck assistant Assad really stole the show.
Department Q is a mixture of a hard-boiled style detective in Mørck and the light hearted, care free assistant that over steps his role and does whatever he things would be the most fun; Assad. Not only do the two characters have personality differences but the cultural differences as well lead to some entertaining reading. While Mørck is an interesting character without Assad this book would just be another boring, generic Scandinavian crime novel (no offense to those who like these novels, they are just not for me).
The crime and police procedural elements of this book are pretty standard, you have the typical hard-boiled character and the dark and twisted crime they are solving but it really was refreshing to read a book that takes the same style and puts a new spin on it. It really worked well for Jussi Adler-Olsen and I truly can’t wait to read the next in the series. If it wasn’t for these characters this book would be a two star read; luckily I was really entertained with this one....more