Hallelujah. And now let's skip straight to the spoilers.
(view spoiler)[ First things first, I've never really cared for Jack. I've never really caredHallelujah. And now let's skip straight to the spoilers.
(view spoiler)[ First things first, I've never really cared for Jack. I've never really cared for any of the men in Kate Shugak's life - they're all a bunch of hairy, roaring, over-sexed, bellowing oafs that she'd probably be better off without - so I'm not going to shed any tears over Stabenow's decision to off Jack in this one (although she's moved straight onto Kate/Jim which is a bit of an arse - enough with the J names, already!)
The book is basically one long set up for the pay-off in the latter third. Jack's demise is so signposted he might as well have donned a red shirt for the duration. To whit: he declares his love for Kate via means of poetry, the sex quotient is noticeably upped, he's planning to RETIRE and move to her homestead with his son (dear lord, no!) and it's all looking like a happy ever after for everyone but this reader. And maybe Kate; who's sort of muscled into a corner and left to wonder where the hell her life's heading. Meanwhile, the case is pretty ludicrous. A bunch of trigger-happy, ultra-suspect German hunters head out into the wilderness where the bodies suddenly start to pile up. The hunt should've been called off after body number one, but Stabenow manufactures an excuse to keep everyone out there until things really go to hell.
The final section of the book just about manages to save what's gone before. The violence is shocking, the chase genuinely thrilling, and Jack's death (and Kate's reaction to it) doesn't pull its punches. I won't miss Jack one iota - he was never developed into a fully rounded character, to the point where I regularly got him mixed up with Jim - and if Kate never again gets involved with a bloke who calls her "woman" it'll be too soon. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm not sure the politics of salmon fishing in Alaska are as interesting as Stabenow thinks they are, and there's an awful lot of salmon fishing politI'm not sure the politics of salmon fishing in Alaska are as interesting as Stabenow thinks they are, and there's an awful lot of salmon fishing politics in this one. Somewhere hidden in the middle is a not very interesting Who Dunnit? mystery which gives Kate the opportunity to play sleuth and get bopped on the head again. I do like this series - fun characters, good strong female lead, lovely and original setting - but I don't think that reading them in quick succession does them a lot of favours, and this one was a pretty weak instalment. ...more
Quite a long-winded, politically twisted entrant into the Kate Shugak series, where a lot of pontificating goes on, multiple characters (all with simiQuite a long-winded, politically twisted entrant into the Kate Shugak series, where a lot of pontificating goes on, multiple characters (all with similar names) drift through, the reader is repeatedly smacked over the head with historical land agreements, Kate appears to be on some kind of vigilante kick, and the adverbs are sprinkled about with their now traditional abandon. On occasion, trying to untangle Stabenow's prose is a challenge in of itself, and this instalment needed an editor with a far defter hand. Names switch mid-page and - in my version at least - Kate is eating a cheeseburger with a cop in one sentence and then chatting to her grandma in the next.
I know Kate likes to live things a little dangerously (there's a character somewhere out there with half a tongue who will attest to that) but her actions in this one bordered on the downright criminal and it was difficult to see their funny side. I toyed with ** for all of the above reasons, but the scene in Nordstrom's was ludicrous enough, and funny enough to buck it up a point. ...more
This was less of a novel, more of a perverse 693 page-long endurance test in which I scraped a pass. Barely.
I liked Into the Woods, I didn't love it,This was less of a novel, more of a perverse 693 page-long endurance test in which I scraped a pass. Barely.
I liked Into the Woods, I didn't love it, but I sort of enjoyed it, and Cassie's character was a large part of that enjoyment - she was sparky, bright, sympathetic, and fun. In this one, the chance to swap Rob's pretentious naval-gazing narration for Cassie's voice, seemed like a massive bonus. So much so, that I could just about overlook the ludicrous premise and the 100 wasted pages of "Will she? Won't she?" set up (of course she will, there's another 593 bloody pages left, just get on with it already!)
But French never really does get on with it. Instead, Cassie finds herself inexplicably enamoured of a group of 4 tedious wankers whose delusions of social separatism, intelligence (they sit around discussing philosophy and fancy music and stuff!) and creepy communal living would make any sensible person run for the hills. The aptitude Cass initially showed for intuitive police work is eschewed in favour of getting drunk and mucking about with her shiny new friends, and the amount of basic errors she subsequently makes would have a rookie hanging her head in shame.
When it comes to pretentious naval-gazing, it seems that French just can't help herself, and Cass as a narrator is as bad if not worse than Rob (only without the schooling to explain her awesome vocabulary and attention to poetic detail.) Pages and pages of purple prose and meandering, deep-and-meaningful discussions stretch on and on. Reading this novel is akin to slogging your way across a muddy field in a pair of ill-fitting wellies - you make it so far, you're weary and quite fed up, but then you realise you're over half way through so you might as well just keep plodding to the end.
As a crime thriller it's not very thrilling, there's little to no sense of peril and absolutely no sense of pacing. As a police procedural it's laughable, and as a character study the "no pasts" rule rules out any depth to the character development. I'm not sure a decent edit would be able to save this one - chop out the waffle and all you'd be left with is a threadbare premise, a single red herring, and an unsatisfying conclusion where Cass makes the most head-scratching decision of the entire book. Which really is saying something.
It's hard to know where to start with this one. I thought I was on the verge of kicking off a new, smart female-centric series that I could get my teeIt's hard to know where to start with this one. I thought I was on the verge of kicking off a new, smart female-centric series that I could get my teeth into. What I ended up with was a sub-par, not very thrilling thriller with a ridiculous Mills & Boon-esque romance simmering, panting, and almost but never quite cavorting in the background.
I was surprised to find alleged series lead Maggie O'Dell relegated to one of many POVs, with the bulk of the initial plot being driven by blander-than-bland good ol' boy Sheriff Nick who finds himself flailing incompetently when someone starts dumping dead kids in his patch. Enter Maggie and all her emotional baggage stage-left, and let the inappropriate thoughts of romance and jumping each others' bones begin. Seriously, that's all they do. Maggie conjures up a profile that everyone ignores (and no wonder really; for a crack-hot profiler, she comes up with a load of bloody rubbish you could get off the TV,) has occasionally traumatic thoughts about her traumatic past, and spends the rest of the time wondering why she's so incapable of keeping her mind off Nick's pert backside, or his piercing eyes, or his boyish good looks, or his...oh you get the idea. There's little to no forensic or technical detail, nothing to suggest that Kava did a hint of research, and hey, why use one adverb when you can use two? By the time the dog's breakfast ending of false tension and day-old-stupid police work rolled around, my despair was complete. Recommended for masochists only. ...more
I almost gave up on this one in the first 100 or so pages and, by the time I limped around to the ridiculous conclusion, I was wishing I'd gone with mI almost gave up on this one in the first 100 or so pages and, by the time I limped around to the ridiculous conclusion, I was wishing I'd gone with my gut instinct.
I can't put my finger on what exactly is wrong with this book - the choppy narrative structure that throws you back to the boring details just as the potentially interesting stuff is getting slightly interesting, the "yeah, I'm a tough-talking chick, deal with it," tone of the narrator, or the blah blah, read it all before (and in the case of Room, read it a hell of a lot better) pop-psychology bullshit that peppers the flashbacks. So, I'll just go with All of the Above, and throw in the ludicrous "twist" to the last 100 pages that had me wide-eyed with disbelief. Seriously, was there a word limit that needed to be hit or something? Because that crap came straight out of left field.
The only part that really held my interest and eked out any sympathy was the middle section with the baby, but that immediately got thrown away by flashing forward, backwards, any which way. A linear narrative might have served the novel better but really, with writing this average, I don't think much would've saved it....more
I wasn't mad keen on the third book in this series and - having got this one out of the library - I was happy not to have paid any money for it.
A wafeI wasn't mad keen on the third book in this series and - having got this one out of the library - I was happy not to have paid any money for it.
A wafer-thin plot stretches out across what felt like a pretty short novel - light on characterisation and heavy on repetition of descriptions, explanations and an overview of what everyone was wearing. I suspect the Amish hook to these novels might be limiting things slightly, at first it provided an original and interesting setting, now it's merely tiresome and another excuse for the lead character to Take Things Personally. None of the red herrings in terms of the suspects felt like anything but red herrings (to the point where even Kate couldn't be arsed following up on them) and the case is solved accidentally in a laughably convenient manner.
If I were Castillo, I'd be looking for an editor who could spot repetition of phrases, annoying stylistic tics (shock is always punching Burkholder somewhere upon her anatomy), and in some cases the repetition of entire paragraphs. Yes, we know what Rumspringa is, already! It's a shame, because the first couple of this series were decent thrillers. On the basis of the latter two, I don't think I'll be rushing to pick up the fifth.
A few days ago, I'd never heard of Code Name Verity (I followed a random rec back to this page...) Now I feel like standing up on a plinth somewhere nA few days ago, I'd never heard of Code Name Verity (I followed a random rec back to this page...) Now I feel like standing up on a plinth somewhere nice and public and telling everyone who passes by that they have to read it, because it really is that good.
It's been a long time since I've had such a visceral reaction to a novel. I laughed out loud, clung onto every word, fell completely and utterly in love with both lead characters, felt my palms sweat, and my heart race, and then finally, I simply gave in and bawled like a baby. I could cry now, writing this, and I finished the book yesterday. But this story, these characters stick with you, which is probably the best thing you can ever hope for in a novel.
Perhaps on a reread, without the shock of the new, flaws will come to light, but right now I don't care. I just want people to read it for that first time. ...more
I tried so hard to love this book. In the end, I only kind of liked it. Despite a realistically slow and steady build up for the central relationship,I tried so hard to love this book. In the end, I only kind of liked it. Despite a realistically slow and steady build up for the central relationship, and excellent attention to the period detail and setting, I never found myself falling for either of the lead characters and even after 400+ pages felt little emotional pull or attachment.
Several other reviewers have mentioned issues with grammar and style and, for me, these were pretty insurmountable problems. The book desperately needed an editor, not only to pick out the typos but to take a look at the writing in general - untangle some of the sentences, chop out the repetitive descriptions, and give an ear to the dialogue.
(view spoiler)[In terms of the plot, two things nagged me. The manufactured tension towards the end of the novel - Bernice's reaction to Luke's secret, and Luke's determination to out herself to Bernice's husband - fell flat and would probably have been better left out altogether.
The other was more problematic and part of my inability to really empathise with Luke: she never actually outs herself to Nora. She never even intends to. Despite telling Nora "I trusted you with my biggest secret," she didn't, she'd been found out purely because she'd gone and got herself shot. After that wholly accidental revelation, they had to sort themselves and their relationship out, but if it hadn't been for that bullet, Luke seemed content to continue living her lie and let Nora find herself a real man upon reaching Oregon. This took something quite major away from the characters and the foundation of their relationship. They might have found true love afterwards, but it still troubled me that that trust hadn't been established properly beforehand (implying that it probably never would have.)
I like a nice epic romance, full of obstacles, and adventure, and derring-do, but while there was plenty of epic here, I really didn't get the romance. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Of the three novels in the Garnethill trilogy, Resolution is probably the weakest link, but that still leaves it high and above many crime thrillers oOf the three novels in the Garnethill trilogy, Resolution is probably the weakest link, but that still leaves it high and above many crime thrillers out there on the shelves. Strangely, given that this is the third in the series, Mina seems to spend an awful lot of time summarising past events and reintroducing characters, something she was less inclined to do in book two. This unnecessarily drags the pacing of the plot into the doldrums and sharper editing would have done the novel a big favour.
Having said that, Maureen and pals are still a whole lot of fun to spend time with. Much of the pleasure from reading Mina comes from the details, the idiosyncrasies of her characters, and Maureen's new job selling imported fags on a market stall gives Mina plenty of opportunity to shine on this front. Unlike previous instalments, there are several main plot strands all fighting uneasily for dominance - Angus' trial for murdering Douglas, Maureen's plans for dealing with her father, and a case involving a knocking shop importing women from Poland. There's almost too much going on, and the latter case is somewhat lost and confused in the scrum.
As for the ending. I liked it. The novel is called Resolution, after all. ...more
Denise Mina continues her fine work for the Glaswegian tourist board with this follow-up to Garnethill. I didn't think it would be possible but ExileDenise Mina continues her fine work for the Glaswegian tourist board with this follow-up to Garnethill. I didn't think it would be possible but Exile is perhaps even murkier, darker and more troubled than its predecessor, following reluctant heroine Maureen O'Donnell as she attempts to unravel the mystery behind a battered woman's death. The mystery really does take some unravelling and the book loses its way slightly in the central section, but it hurtles toward a totally believable and liberating conclusion whilst neatly managing to set up a sequel. If you're looking for sweetness and light, avoid this novel - pretty much every incidental character is a festering cesspit of boils verged on the point of erupting, scabby skin, bad teeth, bad hair, bad habits - but for the strong of stomach, it really is worth your time....more
The second novel to feature Alex Morrow, The End of the Wasp Season was a little too choppy to be fully engaging. Despite starting with a brutal murdeThe second novel to feature Alex Morrow, The End of the Wasp Season was a little too choppy to be fully engaging. Despite starting with a brutal murder, the novel kicks off slowly with an onslaught of names, new faces, new characters and POVs. The women (Alex, now heavily pregnant and new character Kay Murray) come off best in the sympathy stakes and it is their stories you really want to stick with. As it is, Mina tends to sideline both characters in favour of the unpleasant little oik at the centre of the investigation, which makes for a rather rocky read. When Kay pretty much disappears altogether in the latter sections of the novel and the crime pretty much solves itself, all the momentum from the more entertaining middle section dissipates. Where Still Midnight had humour to offset its darker moments, TEOTWS is stone-faced throughout and the short, fractured sentence structure employed towards its conclusion does it no favours at all. By no means a bad novel, you just get the sense that it could have, should have been better....more
Terrific thriller set in Glasgow. The grimness of the tale is lightened by Mina's no-bullshit heroine, Maureen O'Donnell. Maureen finds herself caughtTerrific thriller set in Glasgow. The grimness of the tale is lightened by Mina's no-bullshit heroine, Maureen O'Donnell. Maureen finds herself caught up in a murder investigation and - as the main suspect - decides to figure out the culprit before he makes her a target. Maureen drinks like a fish, swears like a trooper, and generally just does things her own way. She's a fabulous creation, and well worth spending a few hours with....more
Grubby little thriller written in sparse prose which at least makes it mercifully short. The characters are no more than ciphers; faceless, forgettablGrubby little thriller written in sparse prose which at least makes it mercifully short. The characters are no more than ciphers; faceless, forgettable, and entirely unsympathetic. Their motives remain pretty much unexplored throughout with only the most basic (and clichéd) of reasoning provided by the author. The book is deeply unpleasant right up to its ridiculous conclusion which leaves you both unenlightened and sorely in need of a thorough scrub-down. Avoid this and read Emma Donoghue's Room instead....more
It's quite a while since I read this. Thanks to the TV show, I was ploughing my way through Gerritsen's novels, hoping against hope that she might atIt's quite a while since I read this. Thanks to the TV show, I was ploughing my way through Gerritsen's novels, hoping against hope that she might at some point turn out to be a decent writer. This one stands out of the pack as being so awful it's hilarious. Through several novels, I had grown to love Maura's inner dialogue (a trope which is horribly overused by Gerritsen, amazingly trite and completely lacking in any kind of irony) and this novel (being Maura-centric) has fabulous examples by the bucket-load. By the time I got to "you called me mommy once" (I'm paraphrasing here, like I said, it's been a while) tears were in my eyes for all the wrong reasons. As a thriller, it's sorely lacking in thrills, but it did make me giggle. A lot. ...more