“Fast paced, action packed and page-turning. Patterson knows how to keep you hooked from page one right the way through.” -The Founding Fields
I´m going to start by saying that I haven´t read all of the Alex Cross novels by James Patterson – in fact, I haven´t even read half of them. However, this is a series that you don´t really need to read in order, in my opinion at least. I´ve read Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, Jack and Jill, Pop Goes the Weasel, Cat and Mouse, Cross Country, Alex Cross´s Trial and I, Alex Cross, and have been kept entertained by all of them. Sure, some may be better than others, but Patterson can often keep me entertained. Despite being the most prolific author that I know (With what seems like an endless list of titles to his name), the Alex Cross series for me at least remains the best of his work.
Kill Alex Cross is faster, more exciting, and more tightly wound than any Alex Cross thriller James Patterson has ever written!
The President’s son and daughter are abducted, and Detective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene. But someone very high up is using the FBI, Secret Service, and CIA to keep him off the case and in the dark.
A deadly contagion in the water supply cripples half of the capital, and Cross discovers that someone may be about to unleash the most devastating attack the United States has ever experienced. As his window for solving both crimes narrows, Alex makes a desperate decision that goes against everything he believes – one that may alter the fate of the entire country.
The novel itself starts strong, and we´re thrown into the thick of things right after the President´s children are kidnapped. We learn how the United States would react to a situation like this, and Patterson manages to make this not only realistic but also manages to keep the pages flicking by, with his really short chapters that kept me reading even after I promised myself “just one more chapter.” Pretty much every Patterson novel that I´ve read has been able to achieve this, no matter whether they´re his young-adult Maximum Ride novels or the Alex Cross series themselves.
I haven´t read that many crime novels (In fact I believe outisde of James Patterson, I´ve only read David Baldacci´s Split Second, most of the Sherlock Homes stories and a couple of other indivudal titles, and if I had to pick a genre that I would love to explore more about well, it would either be this one or Steampunk, as I’m way behind on my Steampunk reading as well. However, Kill Alex Cross was a nice return to the genre, as I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy/sci-fi novels lately. But as much as I wanted to say it was a perfect read, Kill Alex Cross did ultimatley suffer from a few flaws.
The title itself is pretty much misleading, for one. The novel isn’t wholly about Killing Alex Cross, it’s about terrorists plotting to destroy America, which although is just a minor flaw, is still noteworthy. Don’t go in expecting a novel about people chasing after our main character, or you will be dissapointed.
What Kill Alex Cross is though, is an entertaining read. Patterson is once again proving that he hasn’t lost his touch yet, and manages to still keep the Alex Cross series fresh even after having this many books released in this novel, and the pace is fast all the way through, with no dull moment. You won’t want to skip a few pages in this novel to find out what happens next, and although the ending is a bit anti-climatic with a few plot threads left hanging, you’ll want to stick it out to the end.
You don’t feel as though Cross is at risk anywhere in this novel though, and I think that’s true for at least the latter books in the series. You know the main character and his family isn’t going to fall, despite the many times that they’ve flirted with death. The author seems to care about his characters too much, and this is where the novel lets us down a bit. In the earlier novels there were some cases where I thought, hang on, Cross might not make it out alive here, but… even though I haven’t read every novel in this series, I can tell that Cross has gained the status of being practically invincible.
There’s even a possible reference to the BBC/Starz series Torchwood in here, which left me smiling, as well as the use of “The Family” as one of the antonagists. Well done, Mr. Patterson, well done.
Although Kill Alex Cross may not be perfect, I believe because it kept me entertained, enthralled, and hooked right the way through, and among other reasons – this novel, in my opinion – deserves the rating that I’m about to give it:
“Anthony Horowitz has managed to match the classics of Conan-Doyle whilst presenting a brilliantly fresh, fun and entertaining Sherlock Holmes tale th...more“Anthony Horowitz has managed to match the classics of Conan-Doyle whilst presenting a brilliantly fresh, fun and entertaining Sherlock Holmes tale that stays true to the originals and proves a delight to read for Holmes fans.” ~The Founding Fields
Okay, I’ll have to admit before going into this review that I’m a fan of Anthony Horowitz. I’ve read every one of his Alex Rider young adult series, and why they may be formulaic at times, they’re a lot of fun. I’ve read all of his Power of Five young adult novels as well, and enjoyed them as much as Alex Rider. (Although I haven’t read the new one yet). And I’m also a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and I believe that The Hound of the Baskervilles is the best crime/mystery novel ever written. So it was a bit of a no-brainer that I would like this novel, I was just glad that I liked it as much as I did.
"GAME’S AFOOT … It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.
Intrigued by the man’s tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston. As the pair delve deeper into the case, they stumble across a whispered phrase ‘the House of Silk’: a mysterious entity and foe more deadly than any Holmes has encountered, and a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society itself…"
So, what are the strong points of The House of Silk then? Well, it has several, but let’s start with the first question, and the most important one for all fans of Sherlock Holmes – Does it stay true to the originals? Well, I’ve answered that question in the quote at the top of the review – with a yes. We don’t see any action-packed, jumping-out-of-the-Houses-of-Parliament adventures that we did in Guy Ritche’s 2009 blockbuster Sherlock Holmes. The House of Silk also doesn’t bring Holmes and Watson forward to the modern-day setting that we saw in BBC’s Sherlock, either. It sticks firmly in the nineteen hundreds and this is where Horowitz excels.
Most Holmes stories out there have Watson as the narrator, and Horowitz sticks true to this among other things and delivers a strong, core narrative from Watson’s perspective and never once strays from his viewpoint, allowing the author to create several twists and turns that we might not have been given were it a third person-perspective. Thus Horowitz keeps the reader enthralled and is able to keep the novel engaging and the reader hooked.
The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits is the first novel by Dan Johnson that I’ve read, and is a self-published one. Although I’m not a huge fan of self-published novels, the two that I’ve read (The Legend of Adam Caine and The Perplexing Problem…) have proven to be quite enjoyable so far. Hopefully this trend continues.
The novel itself is told entirely in the first person point of view of Adam Baker, your average Joe who is underemployed and under motivated. However, this changes when a Cop shows up at his door, with strange news about Brent, his mysterious former housemate, and we are soon thrust on a story that includes everything from Baseball Cards, the Chinese Mafia, and several conversations over drinks.
Alex Baker is of course, the main character of this novel, and is likeable, and won’t put you off from reading Johnson’s novel, for you will be rooting for him in this book. He’s easy to get behind, a believable character – and isn’t perfect. And, alongside Alex, there’s also his roommates, each of whom act and sound like real characters. In fact, most of the people in The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits are well-thought out, and are all pretty realistic.
Alex himself is a pretty unique main character. He’s normal, for a change. He’s not a Super-Cop, he’s not a wizard, and he’s certainly no ‘Chosen One’. But then this isn’t fantasy that we’re talking about. The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits is as close to reality as you’re likely to get in a novel, and that is partly why I enjoyed it, after all – it was a refreshing break from all the fantasy/science fiction that I had been reading recently.
Although you will find that the pacing is a bit slow, the novel itself is not designed to be a page-turner. It’s a slow-burning novel that leads you on a adventure through San Francisco, which has been fleshed out pretty damned well, I must say – as I learnt a lot about this American city despite actually being neither American, nor a resident of San Francisco. In fact, I’ve never visited the States in my life. But you don’t have to be a resident of San Francisco to enjoy this novel, although for those of you who are, I believe it is as close to an accurate description as you are probably going to get, so another plus for Johnson there. However, whilst Johnson revels in taking a reader on a guided tour of San Francisco, the pace may seem to slow down and become almost too slow for my liking, making it a real chore to get through the book no matter how much you enjoy the tour of the city.
If there’s another issue that I had with The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits, and only a minor one, is that there are a few threads left hanging at the end of the book, a few unanswered questions that could perhaps lead to a sequel.
From what you’ve just read, you may be put off from reading this novel altogether. However, don’t be. There are several things that I liked about Johnson’s book despite the issues that it has above. Those, and the long title, which I felt could have been shortened a bit, although that’s just my opinion.
The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits doesn’t contain any spelling mistakes or grammar errors that I spotted in my review copy, provided to me by Johnson – which is good as the novel itself is self-published.
Ian Fox is one of the many self-published authors out there, and one of the few of those that I’ve read. The other authors that I’ve read who have had their work self-published would be Dan Johnson, and John Charles Scott, whose work I enjoyed, but both had their flaws – and although Promise Me Eternity is, I believe it’s safe to say, somewhat enjoyable, it still has flaws. However, despite that, I managed to plough through Ian Fox’s novel, and get it read as an e-copy over several bus journeys.
Below is the plot for this novel, taken from the Goodreads page, that If I’m honest, gives away quite a lot of the plot:
"Dr. Simon Patterson is a successful and well-respected neurosurgeon at Central Hospital in the town of Medford. Married, though without children, he keeps himself so busy that one day is not much different from another. Until, that is, he saves the life of the powerful mobster Carlo Vucci. At a dinner in honor of Dr. Patterson, Carlo Vucci introduces him to his alluring wife Christine. Simon is entranced by her beauty. Three weeks later, Christine shows up at the hospital, complaining of terrible headaches. Dr. Patterson offers to help her, but Christine did not come to see him just because of her headaches. A series of shocking events follow that turn Dr. Patterson’s life into a nightmare. Among other things, he finds himself in court being accused of murder in the first degree …"
I haven’t read many psychological thrillers before, especially with a medical edge to it, in fact – I believe that Promise Me Eternity might just be the first one that I’ve read that falls into that category. Sure, I’ve read a fair bit of thrillers before (James Patterson’s Alex Cross series and David Baldacci’s Split Second spring to mind here), but defiantly I haven’t read anything quite like Promise Me Eternity. It’s unpredictable, filled with suspense and contains a good mystery within its pages as well.
Promise Me Eternity however struggles to keep the reader hooked, and there were times that I felt like shoving aside the novel completely, or at the very least, skipping forward a few pages – but it’s worth the read. Although the novel may not look like much, it should be pretty enjoyable.
There were many twists and turns within Promise Me Eternity, and you didn’t quite know what was going to happen next, and Ian Fox isn’t afraid about putting his main characters through hard times, and on top of that – nobody is safe. You get this feeling that somebody is seemingly too important to die, and then, right when you’re least expecting it… they die. The suspense is there, all the way throughout the novel. Anybody could die next, especially with the way that many characters develop, and by the end of the novel, some are very different to what they started out with.
There is a whole host of characters inside the pages of Promise Me Eternity, with Dr. Patterson at the centre of them all. Although they’re not particularly memorable characters, and neither are they particularly likeable, Ian Fox manages to make up for that by the way that they all tie into the plot, and it doesn’t feel like there is a character that is a waste of space.
The pace of Promise Me Eternity is pretty uneven. Some moments it’ll be fast, whilst others will feel like slow, to the point of where you want to skip on a few pages, which is a bit disappointing for me, and I believe that Fox could have created a novel that kept the same pace throughout the entire novel, and he probably should have. Thrillers are meant to be fast and action packed. This one wasn’t, in my opinion at least.
I reckon I probably would have enjoyed Promise Me Eternity more if I had been more into the particular genre of psychological/medical thrillers, so maybe it was not the best book for me. However, I’m glad that I stuck with it, and if Fox improves with his next novel, I’ll be willing to give that a try as well.
“An unputdownable, page-turning thriller that is much more entertaining than Child’s first Jack Reacher novel.” ~The Founding Fields
Die Trying is the second in a long running series that follows the adventures of ex-military, current badass Jack Reacher who has been described as one of the strongest characters in thriller novels. He’s certainly entertaining to read about, that’s for sure. Having read the previous novel, Killing Floor, I have no desire to give up my reading on Jack Reacher yet, especially as Die Trying was better than its predecessor. However, it still suffered from a few flaws though, despite its ability to hook you in right from the start.
A Chicago Street in bright sunshine. Jack Reacher, strolling nowhere, meets an attractive young woman, limping, struggling with her crutches, alone. Naturally he stops to offer her a steadying arm and then they turn together—to face twin handguns held level and motionless and aimed straight at their stomachs.
Chained to the woman, locked in a dark, stifling van racing 2,000 miles across America, Reacher needs to know who he’s dealing with. The kidnappers are saying nothing and his companion claims to be Holly Johnson, FBI agent. She’s fierce enough and tough enough, but he knows there must be more to her than that. And at their remote, hostile destination, they will need to act as a team and trust each other, pitting raw courage and cunning against insane violence and seemingly hopeless odds, with their own lives and hundreds more at stake.
The second novel in the Jack Reacher series manages to be as page-turning and action packed as the first one, possibly even more so. Die Trying also increases the tension from the last book, which we knew that Reacher would survive from. However, in Die Trying, the tension increases, and the only thing that makes us believe that Reacher will survive is the fact that there are sequels with the main character in, which is one of the main reasons why I hate coming into a series late. It doesn’t stop me though, for I’ll keep reading if I enjoy them, as was the case with The Dresden Files, and as is the case with Die Trying. I’ll be picking up Tripwire for sure.
The main characters in Die Trying are Jack Reacher, and the FBI agent Holly Johnson, who is predictably Reacher’s love interest in the novel, as I’ve come to understand now that as soon as a main female character is introduced in a Jack Reacher novel, she will inevitability fall in love with Jack Reacher at some point. He’s like a James Bond of sorts, except without the British accent, the gadgets and whole ‘for king and country’ idea. However, Johnson is a strong character, almost as strong as Reacher, and why she is kidnapped introduces a whole new plot aspect in Die Trying. Reacher’s back, although unfortunately, he’s still pretty much the same protagonist as he was at the beginning of the first book. There’s been no developing of Reacher’s character over the course of the two books that I’ve read, and I can only hope that this changes in the novels to come.
The pace, like the first novel, is action packed, explosive and full of entertaining fight scenes which are well written as Child continues to turn up the heat as the novel keeps going, with the stakes getting bigger as the novel goes on. I loved the way that Child wrote the portrayal of the FBI, which is an organization that I have only read about fiction-wise before in Split Second by David Baldacci, which was whilst entertaining, had some flaws, much like Die Trying did. The story jumps back and forth between Johnson and Reacher’s third-person POV, which gives us a great view on how their characters build their relationship from complete strangers to eventual lovers. Although, due to my experience in the previous novel and my knowledge of the rest of the books to come, I wouldn’t expect Johnson to feature in anymore upcoming novels that I’m aware of, as Reacher is a Lone Wolf-type character, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her again. She’s an interesting character and I preferred her, at least in my opinion, to Roscoe, Reacher’s love interest in Killing Floor.
The novel doesn’t expand on anything developed in Killing Floor, as it merely takes Reacher to a different part of the United States. There wasn’t any stuff like arc words that appeared in this book (or the last, for that matter), to set up for a later addition to the series, making it perfectly okay for a new reader to leap in at Die Trying, or – I think, at any point in the Jack Reacher series, if they are yet to read Killing Floor. However, as it’s the first novel in the series, it was a great place to start.