This is the first Standiford novel I've picked up and from the beginning he drops you into the action and never lets you sit back to fully recover you...moreThis is the first Standiford novel I've picked up and from the beginning he drops you into the action and never lets you sit back to fully recover your breath until the end of the book.
Richard Corrigan, a Transit Authority Officer in the NYC subway, finds himself miles from home trekking through the Wyoming wilderness as part of the governor's expedition. What should be a routine trip for the professional outfitter's leading the group turns into a deadly series of accidents.
Through a maze of forest, mountains, and weather as unpredictable and ruthless as the men scheming the party's demise, Standiford pushes the reader to the edge of the precipice where one discovers the only way left is down.
Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder (2011 St Martin's Press) ARC via goodreads.com giveaway
May 28, 2011
With an introduction quoting Edgar Allan Poe, a m...moreBuried Secrets by Joseph Finder (2011 St Martin's Press) ARC via goodreads.com giveaway
May 28, 2011
With an introduction quoting Edgar Allan Poe, a master of the macabre, Joseph Finder sets the tone for his newest Nick Heller novel, Buried Secrets.
Alexa Marcus and her best friend, Taylor Armstrong set out for a night of partying at the hottest bar in Boston called the Slammer. It doesn't matter that the two young girls are underage, they're out to have a good time, and what could possibly go wrong? They've got each other. Until suave, sophisticated, and slightly older Lorenzo introduces himself to the pair. A few drinks, a little conversation later and Taylor excuses herself to allow Lorenzo and Alexa time alone. Alexa never makes it home.
Nick Heller, owns and operates Heller's Associates, having discovered his investigative research methods were more suited to a broader spectrum then that allowed by previous employers. And still trying to escape the shadow of his father hanging over him when he receives a call for help from Alexa's father, Marshall, an old friend of the family, and one the of nation's wealthiest men.
A live video feed of Alexa is played, via a social networking site, and the only ransom demand is for Mercury. What appears at first to be a simple kidnapping, soon becomes a maze of tangled lies and motives, with plenty of obstacles to thwart and misdirect Nick in his pursuit of finding and freeing Alexa. The FBI states their displeasure at his interference, his home is broken into, her parents lie to him, and he continually runs into dead-ends. Through it all Nick manages to hang on to a few close contacts to aid and assist him. Even an old ex is back in town, working for the Feds.
Nothing is what it seems as Finder deftly twists the thrill dial up a few notches, never quite letting the reader catch their breath before grasping their hand and pulling them along on Nick's race against time.
I started this book thinking it would be easy to put down in an hour or so, and then found myself staying up much too late to finish reading it. But I had to know the ending.
The one word I would use to describe Nick Heller is dogged. He is akin to a pit bull when he gets his teeth into something and only discovering the answer will he possibly be persuaded to let go. Like his employee Dorothy, he refuses to give up and has a deep-seeded sense of family along with strong morals. Nick's a character I can't wait to read more of.(less)
Alex McKnight and Police Chief Roy Maven, have never seen eye to eye, or agreed on anything other than their mutual dislike for each other. So, Alex i...moreAlex McKnight and Police Chief Roy Maven, have never seen eye to eye, or agreed on anything other than their mutual dislike for each other. So, Alex is taken aback when the Sheriff approaches him asking to help out an old partner from early State Trooper days.
It appears the man's son has committed suicide, hanging himself in a desolate location called Misery Bay, and the father is seeking some type of closure or answers as to why his son killed himself. When the father is discovered murdered, both Alex and Roy team up to chase down leads, and find themselves on the opposite side of FBI agents who claim there is no case.
The reader is treated to an increasingly complex weaving of characters and clues while Alex doggedly pursues the case. Foe becomes ally, and there are plenty of twists and turns to leave the audience wondering right up to the ending.
Steve has done a spectacular job showing how the smallest of decisions in one's past can be perceived differently, and even forgotten as life unfolds. On one hand we are treated to a well rehearsed thriller, executed flawlessly by a master storyteller, and on the other a sad tale of human fallacy and lost hope.
I'm hoping we see a lot more of Alex in the future. (less)
Dr. Richard Aldiss, accused of killing two female graduate students during his tenure of teaching at Dumant University, is a current inmate of Rock Mo...moreDr. Richard Aldiss, accused of killing two female graduate students during his tenure of teaching at Dumant University, is a current inmate of Rock Mountain correctional facility and serving consecutive life sentences. He has also been announced as the instructor for a late night class at Jasper College, LIT 424: Unraveling a Literary Mystery. Broadcast via satellite TV and limited to only nine of the top literary undergraduate students. The year is 1994.
Before we even get to meet the students we jump to the present day and meet Dr. Alexander Shipley, now a professor and former student of the class. She's come to question a gentleman about a recent murder and it isn't until the end of the scene we learn it is Aldiss.
From the get go, Lavender doesn't enjoy revealing anything in an easy manner, rather he teases and then pulls the curtain back with a flourish. I understand he is trying to build tension and create a heightened sense of pacing, but I found it off-putting in his liberal use of 'aha' moments.
Jumping back and forth from 1994 to the present it is fairly easy to follow the main story. The previous night class students are being killed, similar in fashion to the Dumant deaths, of which Aldiss had been cleared.
There are a lot of unanswered questions which dangle like a torn spiderweb fluttering in the breeze as the story progresses, one of which wasn't answered until halfway through the book but gets a lot of references: what is the Procedure?
Once that is explained the book takes on a more menacing feel in that you don't know if those around you are playing a scripted game, or following a maniac's deceitful plan. As the reader you're left to follow Alex in her search for the truth, both in the past and present, as she searches for clues and a missing manuscript from a reclusive author, Paul Fallows.
Fallows is a literary iconic hero after publishing only two books and remaining far from public scrutiny in his personal life. Students have turned his books into a sort of cult and his work is continually examined, argued about, and discussed as to its symbolic meanings.
Not something I would recommend as I was never really clear as to why there was such a hold over the students in the beginning, except for their need to win. Arbitrary prizes that only a select few may ever recognize or acknowledge wasn't a high enough motive in my mind, but then again I'm not a graduate literature student either.
Although I did manage to figure out the who-dunnit, and wasn't at all surprised about the mystery author, by the end I was just ready to go read something else. Quite possibly the big puzzle promised on the flap wasn't as puzzling as I had hoped.(less)
Vince McNulty is a man with no other purpose than to patronize massage parlors and reminisce about the days when he was an undercover policeman.
Rathe...moreVince McNulty is a man with no other purpose than to patronize massage parlors and reminisce about the days when he was an undercover policeman.
Rather than participating in raids on such places he now finds a kind of solace and escape in the final act, all the while allowing himself to blur fantasy and reality into a somewhat wakeful dream. The act ends too soon, and he finds himself once more roaming and seeking another diversion.
Kicked off the police force due to politics and a hot temper, Vince hasn't quite come to terms with unemployment. Through a series of flashbacks that portray his short-fused anger, we watch as Vince all but goes through the motions of living until he becomes a murder suspect, tied in with the same massage parlors he has been frequenting.
For a short while there is a fairly solid case building against him and he soon finds himself dodging not only the police but the real killer. Through a series of harrowing near-misses on his own life, Vince turns the tables and becomes the hunter leading to an explosive ending.
I was a little put off at first at the seemingly slow pace of the book, until I realized that I wasn't rereading passages, but catching glimpses of an ever enlarging flashback that haunts Vince. I'm glad I stuck with the book because once the bodies began to pile up, the action took a rollercoaster pause at the top of the track before edging downwards into a dizzying spiral of events.
Colin gives us real people with larger than life expectations. You feel their struggle to meld into a society that requires people to fit into ready made molds, and yet living in a gritty, dark and sometimes grisly world where rules are made to be broken. Definitely not for the faint of heart as there are some graphic scenes involved.
I only wish it wasn't so difficult to find copies of his books. (less)
A woman, brutally murdered, becomes the first story covered by crime-reporter Henning Juul upon his return to 123new...moreI would actually score this a 3.5.
A woman, brutally murdered, becomes the first story covered by crime-reporter Henning Juul upon his return to 123news following a two year hiatus. What first appears as a possible honor killing involving the murdered woman's boyfriend Mahmoud Marhoni eventually becomes a much more bizarre tale of revenge.
Henning Juul is too complex of a character to discover in one book. Enger paints a brief picture of his protagonist throughout the story, yet there is another depth he only touches upon.
We learn he's recovering from both emotional and physical scarring after losing his son in an apartment fire, his mother's an alcoholic and emotionally cold, his sister wants nothing to do with him, and he's partnered with his ex-wife's new boyfriend. From a recurring obsession with replacing the batteries in his smoke alarms daily, to observing extinguishers and exits in unfamiliar locations, we are given some insight into a man who is attempting to control his environment while fighting the fear demon.
One inconsistency I noted, at the beginning he's very reluctant to meet individuals he works with, but is very outgoing when contacting complete strangers. There are glimpses into his past, which tend to leave more unanswered questions. For instance, who is this all-knowing informant that is Juul's source, and why does a former acquaintance suddenly become his ally on the police force, when their previous encounters show mild antagonism?
The story is methodical, with a few extra twists near the end and enough threads left dangling for a sequel, even after the truth becomes known. It was nice not having everything wrapped up in a tight package. And the author does a good job of touching on the religious aspects without drowning the audience in stereo-typical opinions and lectures.
I did find the narrative somewhat abrupt, as if I was reading over someone's shoulder as the story unfolded, rather than being immersed in it. I'm also baffled about a decision made near the end of the book, but perhaps this will be addressed in the sequel?
It's a promising start to a series, and what should become a very multi-layered protagonist in Henning Juul. I look forward to the next title and the subsequent growth in the characters and writing of Mr. Enger. (less)
This is the first book I've read by Asa Larsson, and the fourth book in a series featuring not one but two, strong, competent female leads: Rebecka Ma...moreThis is the first book I've read by Asa Larsson, and the fourth book in a series featuring not one but two, strong, competent female leads: Rebecka Martinsson, a prosecutor in Karuna, and Anna-Maria Mella, a Police Inspector. Both women are coming to terms with previous traumas, yet the author allows the reader enough information to easily jump into the story without feeling completely lost.
The story begins through the eyes of a drowned girl who visits Rebecka as a ghost in her dreams. When Rebecka discovers the recent victim of a drowning is her ghostly visitor, she teams up with Anna-Maria in a search for answers that leads both women back in time when the world was still at war, and Sweden sided with the Nazis. The shame of secrets long-buried, and the ever-present threat of retaliation to those that speak out, hampers the investigation, not to mention the local thugs, Tore and Hjalmar Krekula who are somehow involved.
The setting is beautiful as are the people throughout the story. Asa delivers a variety of rich characters populating a landscape both harsh and uncompromising, yet filled with everyday wonders. The people have adapted, although one feels the stark loneliness of the elderly creeping over the community as if the earth is waiting to reclaim it as future generations race away.
The whodunit turns into more of a whydunit as the mystery of the drowned girl and her boyfriend unfurls, mainly because there aren't that many bad guys to choose from. That still didn't slow the page-turning, nor lessen my enjoyment of the story.
Good dialogue, engaging story and characters, leads to another highly recommended Swedish author. I'm going to pick up the first three books in this series to sate my curiosity, and look forward to reading any others by Asa Larsson.(less)
Four college friends, disillusioned by the banality of working life after graduation, decide to kidnap and ransom wealthy men. They've planned, studie...moreFour college friends, disillusioned by the banality of working life after graduation, decide to kidnap and ransom wealthy men. They've planned, studied their victim's routines, and only ask for a small portion of what their target is worth. With the implied threat of harm to the wife or children should the authorities be called, the ransom is paid within a short period of time and the kidnappee is returned to his family while the quartet moves on to another city.
Thus begins the introduction to The Professionals. As long as everything follows the five year plan laid out, in another three the four companions will enjoy early retirement on sunny, exotic beaches. But like an intricately laid out domino pattern, one light tap could send the entire floor of tiles tumbling down.
The first tap comes when the latest victim contacts the police, who in turn refer it to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Agent Kirk Stevens. No matter how well the planning, once Stevens begins to follow the trail, the dominoes continue to fall.
The newest target breaks his routine on the morning of his impending kidnapping, and rather than scrubbing their plan, another victim is hurriedly identified and becomes the mark. Donald Beneteau isn't cooperative, and appears to have the last laugh when the companions discover who his wife is.
From here on out there should be a disclaimer about buckling up, as the cat and mouse game intensifies between the different parties. The reader isn't blindsided by the outcome, yet you can't stop turning the pages. Like not being able to pull your eyes away from an impending wreck.
Laukkanen has successfully captured the idiosyncrasies of agencies attempting to work together, and the inability of individuals to give up hope even when facing insurmountable odds.
This isn't a story about good versus evil, but rather one of people caught in events beyond their control, using self-justification to try and shape a better world for themselves. It reads like watching a Die Hard movie. Sit down, strap in, and hang on.(less)