Like a songwriter who writes his chorus before he discovers his verse, I rarely ever start a mystery/thriller series at the beginning. ALL THE PRETTY...moreLike a songwriter who writes his chorus before he discovers his verse, I rarely ever start a mystery/thriller series at the beginning. ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS is no exception to this rule; however, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed J.T. Ellison’s debut novel. Sure, it’s easy to make the argument that this book was a bit formulaic at times, but unless you write literary fiction, what book isn’t? With only 20 plots (or 3 or 7 or 36, depending on whom you ask) to work with, it’s not like authors have an abundance of choices out there. What it really boils down to is character and storytelling ability. And I’d say Ms. Ellison has both in spades.
Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and Dr. John Baldwin made the story interesting for me, even if they weren’t quite fully-formed, and I gathered pages the way a squirrel might gather nuts. I was suspended and dangling, although I still had a firm grip on reality.
Even as I reached the end, I found myself wanting more, of these characters and of this city. But I didn’t find myself craving more dead bodies. All-in-all I’ll be interested to see where this series goes next.(less)
The setting—the bayous of Louisiana—proved rather perfect for the voodoo and curses prevalent throughout this tale. The characters proved as real as t...moreThe setting—the bayous of Louisiana—proved rather perfect for the voodoo and curses prevalent throughout this tale. The characters proved as real as the setting, not an easy task considering the array of personalities reflected.
Plotting a suspense/thriller novel is no easy task, and it requires a certain amount of finesse, especially when a large number of characters are involved. This novel seemed a bit jarring the way it bounced around, and the storyline proved a bit difficult to follow. When this happens, it becomes a challenge to become truly invested in the story. Errors and editing mistakes stood out to the point that it detracts a bit from the story.
If you can look past the errors in the prose and the plotting, this story certainly has an interesting take on the supernatural.
I received this book for free from the author.(less)
INTO THE DARKEST CORNER reminded me of a slow burn, of holding my marshmallow an inch or two above the campfire, the flames licking and dancing but ne...moreINTO THE DARKEST CORNER reminded me of a slow burn, of holding my marshmallow an inch or two above the campfire, the flames licking and dancing but never quite touching that puffy goodness. But minus the gooey center and the warm, fuzzy feeling that a sugar rush gives you. Instead, this novel has a bitter aftertaste that leaves you wanting to down shots of Jose Cuervo to take away the burn. To be honest, it kind of creeped me out, like a whisper just behind my left ear with nary a hint of a mouth or an individual to explain the voice I heard.
I understood Cathy’s character, but I couldn’t really identify with her. Rather than seeking out help or even fully recognizing her emotional disorder, she chooses to bury it and attempt to move on with her life, but she seems to fail somewhat miserably in her effort. I wrote those two sentences about a quarter of the way through the novel and before I completely understood her character. Needless to say, I’m willing to admit how wrong I was. She’s a freaking trooper, and four years later she’s lucky to be walking the Earth, all trust issues, anxiety, and OCD aside.
She may have to check a lock six times but it’s what helps her push through, to make it from one moment to the next, even if those moments turn into hours, and she has to repeat the process three or four times to help her feel truly safe. Catherine Bailey may have been a twenty-four year old carefree, fun-loving individual, but Cathy Bailey is one tough, yet emotionally damaged woman, and she’s not going down without a fight.
I had a hard time understanding that woman. You know, the one that stays in a relationship even when it starts going horribly wrong, and the boyfriend/husband/lover suddenly turns into a wife beating, knife yielding maniac who carves up his beloved like she’s some kind of Christmas ham. After reading this novel, I understand the dynamics of that particular relationship a bit better. And it kind of freaks me out.
Monday is my new favorite day of the week. If you consolidated all the good luck in the world and placed it in a warehouse the size of California, a c...moreMonday is my new favorite day of the week. If you consolidated all the good luck in the world and placed it in a warehouse the size of California, a chunk the size of Connecticut would be relegated for this novel. While these references may not mean as much to you now, they’ll certainly hold more meaning when you purchase your own copy of this novel. And if you want to get lost in the world of Nick Monday, who has nearly as much wit, charm, and charisma as the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, then it’s exactly what you should do.
Finding the perfect book is like connecting with the right lover. It doesn’t happen very often, and you don’t always know what you’re looking for, but when it does, you feel like one lucky bastard, like the universe opened up just for you and swallowed you whole. And no matter how many good, or not so good, books you read in-between, you keep seeking out the one connection that brings meaning and fulfillment to your life. For me, this was one of those books.
Why? It all started with the main character, the heart and soul of this novel. Nick Monday might as well be my alter ego. Sure, he’s a man that poaches luck for a living, and other than some good luck and good fortune in my life, I haven’t been able to poach so much as a four leaf clover. But S.G. Browne is too good of an author to focus solely on Nick and let the other characters waltz on top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. And instead of creating yet another PI, he adds an interesting twist to the genre by having his PI poach luck for a living and work as a PI on the side.
All in all, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and by being handed this book, I felt like I had my own four leaf clover placed in my palm. I do hope S.G. Browne considers a sequel, because Nick is a character I’d like to revisit.
I was lucky enough to receive this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.(less)
Starting near the end proved to be a clever way to begin the fifth book in the Cork O’Connor series (and my first introduction to the Minnesota sherif...moreStarting near the end proved to be a clever way to begin the fifth book in the Cork O’Connor series (and my first introduction to the Minnesota sheriff). Surrounded by beautiful prose, the reader becomes engrossed in the story, and the pace doesn’t disappoint either. There’re more than enough sub-plots to keep the reader entertained and guessing about what might happen next.
Cork isn’t perfect; he has just enough flaws to keep him human, instead of being larger than life. Like Cork, the other characters are fleshed out well, and the story moves at a steady pace toward the ending. William Kent Krueger makes Minnesota sound both beautiful and enchanting, with rich history to fill every page.
While the ending may not satisfy all readers, it certainly worked for me: I want to pick up book six, as well as go back to the beginning, and read all the books in this two-time Anthony Award-winning series. Despite the author growing his audience over the years, and deservedly reaching the New York Times Bestseller’s List, he deserves an even bigger reach. If you enjoy beautiful descriptions and well-drawn characters, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better read than MERCY FALLS.(less)
This review isn’t an easy one to write, since I wanted to really like this book, instead of just liking it. The author has a handle on the spy thrille...moreThis review isn’t an easy one to write, since I wanted to really like this book, instead of just liking it. The author has a handle on the spy thriller, and he more than proves his capabilities as a writer. But in order for me to really like a story, I have to become fully invested in the novel in some form or fashion, either through one or more characters, a hair-raising plot, or dialogue that projects louder than an Italian opera singer. And I didn’t get any of those feelings from this story.
Charles Cumming and his publisher have done all that they can do for this novel, but A FOREIGN COUNTRY lacks a bleeding, beating heart. From the first page to the last, the author appeared to be going through the motions of what it takes to write a great spy novel. The multiple characters were developed thoughtfully and meticulously, but none of the characters really grabbed me around the leg and yanked me into the story. The pages turned easily, and the short chapters helped me to race effortlessly to the end, but neither the story itself, nor the characters, will resonate with me much after the conclusion.
Unlike other reviewers, I appreciate the risk the author took by going against the typical formula for a mainstream thriller and writing the story using multiple first person points of view. While it did take away a bit of the suspense, it provided a rather unique perspective and taking chances is what writing is all about.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.(less)
I’d never read Lisa Kleypas, but I’m certainly intrigued by her handle of the romance genre. Her sense of place and sense of character had me captured...moreI’d never read Lisa Kleypas, but I’m certainly intrigued by her handle of the romance genre. Her sense of place and sense of character had me captured from the very beginning. She injects her characters with stunning beauty and masculinity, yet she fills her characters with more than just unwanted stereotypes. Lucy Marinn is a stunning glass artist with a solid head on her shoulders, and she knows exactly what she wants. Sam Nolan is haunted by his past, but his love for his niece Holly and his adopted dog Renfield shows there’s more to him than his surface good looks. Alice Marinn, though, proves every bit the spoiled younger child, so it’s hard to find the good in her, but it is buried way beneath the surface.
The magical element proved an unexpectedly nice touch for me, and Ms. Kleypas interweaved it effortlessly in RAINSHADOW ROAD. Sure, the magical element bends the rules a bit from contemporary romance, but I like it when authors break the bonds of the genre. Like her characters, there’s more here if you’re willing to look for it.(less)
While IRON LAKE isn’t the first Cork O’Connor novel I read, it certainly made me feel as though I was reliving the characters all over again. A lot mu...moreWhile IRON LAKE isn’t the first Cork O’Connor novel I read, it certainly made me feel as though I was reliving the characters all over again. A lot must happen in the first four books of this series, as Cork felt like an entirely different character to me with more flaws than smooth skin. But it was his flaws, and his troubled relationship with his wife Jo, that kept me turning the pages like tree branches blowing in the middle of a tropical storm.
I found myself constantly asking the question: What will happen next? And more often than not, I was both surprised and thrilled by the latest turn of events. The description flowed like water from a calm river, all of the characters proved just as flawed as Cork, and the town of Aurora was filled with enough distrust to start a political election.
All in all this made for a read that was well worth my time, and possibly yours as well.(less)
Living in New Mexico and being a mystery lover and not reading Tony Hillerman is probably some sort of sin. Possibly even multiple sins. So I plan to...moreLiving in New Mexico and being a mystery lover and not reading Tony Hillerman is probably some sort of sin. Possibly even multiple sins. So I plan to work on rectifying that travesty. THE DARK WIND is my initiation into the mystery series revolving around Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.
The setting made this book for me. Sure, Jim Chee proved to be a likeable enough character with well-meaning intentions and motivations, and the bad guys eased off the page like green goo with simple, yet concrete nefarious objectives, covering the world in sticky greenness. But it was the New Mexico setting filled with rich descriptions that blanketed nearly every page, cloaking the world in a warm afghan that filled my world with richness and color.
The Indian tribes were described in detail and nearly became characters of their own, and this was done with a careful hand. This added another dimension to the novel, and certainly left me wanting even more.
The plot certainly enticed me, but it wasn’t filled with tricky slipups and red herrings and dangling cliffhangers, and it wasn’t what kept me turning the pages. This was a novel overflowing with richness and created with love, and that was evident on nearly every page.(less)
IN THE WOODS proved a tough read for me, but now that I’ve finished, and enjoyed, BROKEN HARBOR I’ll add the novel that started it all back into my to...moreIN THE WOODS proved a tough read for me, but now that I’ve finished, and enjoyed, BROKEN HARBOR I’ll add the novel that started it all back into my to-read pile. True to form, the fourth novel in the series has a different spin than other mysteries I’ve read, with a flawed main character who views the world in black and white. Not your typical whodunit, this novel focuses more on why, and why certainly keeps you reading until the end.
The dialogue proves strong and compelling, sense of place plays at the heart of this tale, and the characters practically popped from the page. It’s a heavier read than I was looking for at the time I started this tale, which is why it took me longer to finish, but that’s not the author’s fault, I’ll take the full brunt of the blame for that one.
What kept me reading, more than anything else, was Mick Kennedy. He brings justice to an unjust world, and he doesn’t stop until he has all the answers. He has baggage, and plenty of it, but that doesn’t stop him from having the highest solve rate on the force. If you like darker mysteries with a psychological thriller angle, then you’ll want to race to the bookstores on July 24th, or you might want to go ahead and pre-order your copy from your favorite bookstore.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.(less)
Eleanor Kuhns certainly knows how to write and research a story, with both the setting and the time period integral to the tale. Will Rees is a flawed...moreEleanor Kuhns certainly knows how to write and research a story, with both the setting and the time period integral to the tale. Will Rees is a flawed hero readers can enjoy, and he has enough sense of purpose to get the job done when obstacles begin to build around him.
The details and description proved plentiful throughout the novel, and the characters were by no means one-dimensional, but something was missing throughout most of the first half of this novel. It might have to do with the slow start, and the details that sometimes took the reader a bit too far away from the story. The second half moved a little quicker, and the ending provided a good summary, but it felt rushed.
While not a complete surprise at the end, this book had a decent plot and a few suspects to keep the reader’s interest. It was a unique read focused on a unique time period, but as the winner of the First Crime Novel Competition the bar should have been set a little higher.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.(less)
Walter Mosley may be a phenomenon, according to the Houston Press, but I can safely admit that Leonid McGill, the main character in Known To Evil, is...moreWalter Mosley may be a phenomenon, according to the Houston Press, but I can safely admit that Leonid McGill, the main character in Known To Evil, is a phenomenon in his own right. He’s a man with his own demons, multiple love interests, and an anvil for a fist. Leonid’s demons make him a character that practically bleeds off the page and into your living room, even though he’s a man that isn’t prone to do so. Much like the author, he gives everything he has, and then he adds a bit more. He puts others ahead of himself, and he takes to the streets with reckless abandon.
The dialogue proved snappy and witty, and it practically popped of the page. Different characters stuttered in their speech, with commas in place to provide an added emphasis, which often gave the dialogue an added sense of realism, and it’s a writing technique not used by many writers, or at least ones that I’ve read. As a lover of noir crime fiction, books overflowing with action, and strong, male protagonists that can tie words into knots, I’ll be sure to add this author to my ever-growing list of treasured writers and seek out another Walter Moley novel in the not-so-distant future.
This is a macho read from the first page to the last, but there’s a heart to it that would intrigue the opposite sex, further proving that Walter Mosley, as well as his relatively new protagonist, are forces not easily ignored. If you avoid this book and what could be a MANfiction label, you’ll do so at your own peril.(less)
Like James Lee Burke, Karin Slaughter delivers novels where the separation between good and bad involves a fine line, and it’s not always easy to see,...moreLike James Lee Burke, Karin Slaughter delivers novels where the separation between good and bad involves a fine line, and it’s not always easy to see, even if it’s drawn on the pavement in red crayon. The relationship between Sara Linton and Jeffrey Tolliver makes FAITHLESS an entertaining read, and the deft, clever plotting makes it even better. This novel proved a hard one to put down, and despite reading several other novels at the time, I just had to keep reading. Reaching the end, though, with a novel you really enjoy is a bittersweet moment.
Having visited Georgia on multiple occasions, I was right at home with the rural Georgia setting, and Karin provides enough details to paint a picture as real as your favorite travel destination. Like any good crime novelist, she has clearly done her homework on both setting and investigative details.
If you like your crime novels hovering on the edges of darkness and despair, then this is one novel, and possibly even author, you’ll want to get to know a little better.(less)
It was harder than I expected to get past those first sixty pages. And I’d been all set to give DON’T LOOK DOWN three stars, but then something change...moreIt was harder than I expected to get past those first sixty pages. And I’d been all set to give DON’T LOOK DOWN three stars, but then something changed for me. Enough that I found myself flipping through the pages, rather amused by the storyline, and engaged with the characters to the point that I wanted to know what happened next. I hadn’t expected this turn of events, and I found myself increasing my rating to a solid 3.5 stars.
Another aspect that helped me enjoy this read was a behind-the-scenes look at the movie business. I love movies, probably a bit too much, to the point that I consume movies the way writers consume words and electronic pages on a computer screen. Like the rest of the book, the behind-the-scenes look was all in good fun, but even that brief glimpse was enough to peak my curiosity and keep the pages turning in front of me.
Sure, the movie experience may have been a bit outlandish, and the characters may have been a bit larger than life for me at times, but I found myself thoroughly immersed in the worlds of Lucy Armstrong, J.T. Wilder, and Pepper. Good beach reads are notorious for somewhat zany plotlines and off-the-wall characters, and this book was no different. And for me, that certainly added to my enjoyment. Because the bottom-line was I needed to be in the right frame of mind to finish this story, and once I was, I jumped out of the helicopter and onto the movie set with the ease of an experienced paratrooper.(less)