“Breathing Out the Ghost” by Kirk Curnutt is an indescribable novel. The title sounds like a horror novel, but it’s touted as being a mystery thriller“Breathing Out the Ghost” by Kirk Curnutt is an indescribable novel. The title sounds like a horror novel, but it’s touted as being a mystery thriller. It’s neither. There is no mystery. There are no thrills. The action is minimal. “Breathing Out the Ghost” is really a literary study of how people cope or don’t cope with the loss of a child. We’re talking about the kids on milk cartons here; the ones they put out Amber alerts for. This book tells the cold hard story of parents left behind and what they go through. The one stark truth is that everybody reacts differently to the loss of a child.
This novel is told from different points of view. It starts with Colin St. Claire recording a message to his missing son, moves to a detective whose career is destroyed by his reaction to the case, then follows a woman whose 20-year-old daughter was murdered 15 years earlier and whose small town is now looking for a missing boy. There’s even one very disturbing chapter that is told from a pedophile’s point of view. I have to say that I could have done without that chapter. It was too graphic for me and I thought the author captured the pedophile’s thought process too well.
Author Kirk Curnutt does an amazing job of tracing Colin St. Claire’s slide into insanity that begins with the disappearance of his 4-year-old son in a Home Depot parking lot. I never really figured out if Colin expects to find his son alive or dead—it’s all about the search. He throws his life away to pursue a ghost of an idea that is his son.
It is quite obvious from Curnutt’s writing that he is very well-read. His language and allusions show that he has more than a passing acquaintance with great literature. I think “Breathing Out the Ghost” deserves to be ranked with the great literature of this generation. I certainly think it’s superior to something like “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will get the exposure that it needs to draw the attention of literary mavens, the “deciders” of what is and what is not literature. That’s just a shame. ...more
"A Good Day in Hell" is non-stop action thriller that also examines the causes and the motivations behind violent behavior and the effects of violence"A Good Day in Hell" is non-stop action thriller that also examines the causes and the motivations behind violent behavior and the effects of violence on individuals, good guys as well as bad. I blasted through it in two days. I stopped reading only when I had to. I wanted to find out what was going to happen on the next page, but knew the next page would always take me one page closer to the end.
I'm not going to summarize the plot. This is the second book I've read by J.D. Rhoades and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the next book in the series, Safe and Sound. (Yes, I read them out of order.) I will absolutely be keeping my eyes open for more of Rhoades' books. His work has a depth that is rarely found in genre fiction. Action thrillers aren't my favorite genre, I'm mostly a science fiction reader who likes action, but it's a pleasure to step outside my usual favorite genre to read a book by J.D. Rhoades....more
As much as I enjoyed "Trigger City" by Sean Chercover, I suspect I might have gotten more out of it if I had read "Big City, Bad Blood" first.
I was eAs much as I enjoyed "Trigger City" by Sean Chercover, I suspect I might have gotten more out of it if I had read "Big City, Bad Blood" first.
I was expecting "Trigger City" to be a full-on action thriller. Instead, it was a thought-provoking mystery that provided a little action and a lot of surprises. I thought the character of Ray Dudgeon, the detective hired by a murdered woman's father to find out more about her life and death, to be very likable and realistic. Even though he sees himself as a tortured loner, he has a lot of friends who really care about him.
I do recommend "Trigger City" for anyone who prefers suspense to thrills, but doesn't mind a little violence....more
I have a lot of books to read. As a result, it is not unusual for me to have 2 or 3 books going at once. I’ll usually have one that I read at lunch, bI have a lot of books to read. As a result, it is not unusual for me to have 2 or 3 books going at once. I’ll usually have one that I read at lunch, break and when I have to wait around for something. I’ll also have one on my nightstand to read before I go to sleep. “Web of Deceit” by Anthony Toro landed in my mailbox while I was in the middle of “Water for Elephants” and “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier”. I actually finished “Water for Elephants” before starting “Web of Deceit”, but “A Long Way Gone” ended up languishing as I got caught up in the tale of a teenage girl who attracts the attention of an internet stalker.
“Web of Deceit” starts off with a bang. Annette, a fifteen year old whose family has just moved from San Diego to Tucson, is sitting at her computer when she gets a creepy instant message. It becomes clear from the message that she is being watched. She even hears typing from her parents’ computer in another room. Days later, after a couple of creepy incidents and some paranoiac false alarms, she is kidnapped at gunpoint by her stalker. He’s a bit delusional and thinks he can have a relationship with her. The scenes that take place while she is being held captive are gripping and convincing. However, the deus ex machina ending is a bit rushed and not very believable. That said, I think it is an ending that young adult readers would like and expect.
I believe that “Web of Deceit” is best suited to a teen audience. Unfortunately, I don’t think many boys will be interested in it because of the female protagonist and all the relationship stuff. I think it would be terrific for parents to read it along with their teens to use as a jumping off point for discussing internet safety. In fact, I think it would have been really good to include an appendix that discussed internet safety, how to protect privacy and what to do when you think you’re being stalked online and/or in real life. Resources would be a big plus.
I think there were a couple of things that could have made “Web of Deceit” stronger. First, I think the e-mails and chat would have been better if they had been written the way teens actually write them. There is a whole online language that young people use and it doesn’t involve proper spelling and good grammar. Also, the teenage characters talked the way I talked as a teenager. I used “neat” and “cool” a lot as a teenager, and I still do. I’m middle-aged. Using just a little twenty-first century slang would have made the dialogue a bit more realistic. Other than that, I think “Web of Deceit” is a terrific first novel and I look forward to seeing what Anthony Toro does next.
I absolutely loved "In the Woods". It started a bit slow, but the tension and suspense built steadily until the floodgates of discovery opened. The chI absolutely loved "In the Woods". It started a bit slow, but the tension and suspense built steadily until the floodgates of discovery opened. The characters were so well written and the plot was fantastic. The psychological aspect was intriguing. I had to force myself to put it down in the last 1/3. The ending surprised me, but it fit. ...more
Like Tana French's first novel, In the Woods, The Likeness A Novel is a mystery that focuses on the psychology of the detective more than the mysteryLike Tana French's first novel, In the Woods, The Likeness A Novel is a mystery that focuses on the psychology of the detective more than the mystery itself. It's about the way the detective's personal history can influence how he or she approaches a case. In this particular book, it's about how one person can come close to losing herself to another, more appealing identity.
As much as I enjoyed this book, it seemed more than improbable. A professional would never have done some of the things Cassie did in her undercover investigation. In fact, she never would have been able to go undercover anyway.
One of the complaints that people had about In the Woods was that one of the mysteries was never solved. I liked that about it. In The Likeness A Novel, French ties up the ends almost too neatly. One aspect of it should have remained a mystery and it didn't. I probably should have given the book 3 stars, but it did keep me turning the pages....more
Let me just start off by saying that I don't read a lot of mystery/thrillers. However, it seems to me that one of the conventions of the genre requireLet me just start off by saying that I don't read a lot of mystery/thrillers. However, it seems to me that one of the conventions of the genre requires have some sort of cop/detective in a series of books that all stand-alone. (Unlike the fantasy genre in which all the books in a series need to be read in order.) When I'm browsing in the genre, I sometimes get confused as to who the writer is and who the detective is. In the case of "Vanish" by Tess Gerritsen, I think the story would have been better served to not have the series protagonists. The parts of the story told by Mila were horrific and compelling. The could have seriously stood alone in a novel or been told in juxtaposition to the story of one of the hostages at the hospital.
I found the series leads of Maura and Jane to be boring and cliched. They moved around the story in improbable ways and I never got a real sense of motivation from them. Despite my dislike of the lead characters, I did find the story very engaging and finished it in about a day. It kept me up late last night. I read the blurbs on some of Gerritsen's other books when I was in the bookstore and the premises sound interesting. I will probably read The Mephisto Club A Novel because it sounds like a particularly interesting story and I really liked the excerpt that was printed at the end of this one. For a good story, I can overlook the weakness of the generic leads....more
I just hate the term "a real page-turner". However, that's what Sworn to Silence was. I kept sneaking reading time to find out what would happen next.I just hate the term "a real page-turner". However, that's what Sworn to Silence was. I kept sneaking reading time to find out what would happen next. It really deserves 3 to 3.5 stars, but I gave it a boost for how involved I got in it. I do have to say that I really did roll my eyes around page 250 and rolled them even more at page 260. Let's just say that something is brought into the story that is totally unnecessary and detracts from the overall realism of this mystery thriller.
I was really surprised at who the murderer was in this book. It made total sense once it was revealed, but I was very surprise. The only thing I was certain of was that the murderer was not the person the police chief thought it was. I really liked Chief Katie Burkholder. She was an interesting, although somewhat cliched, protagonist. The ending was very dramatic and suspenseful, but pretty predictable.
In many ways, Sworn to Silence reminded me of In the Woods by Tana French. It was almost as good, but a bit more cliched and predictable. I can forgive the flaws though because I did get sucked in and that counts for something.
Now, I do feel compelled to offer a caveat here. Sworn to Silence is not for those with weak stomachs or who can't handle graphic descriptions of mutilated corpse and sexual assault. I was cringing at some of the descriptions of the murder victims in this book and the scenes that were from the killer's or victims' point of view were really hard to take. I suspect that Ms. Castillo did a lot of research because her descriptions struck me as horrifyingly realistic. I definitely would not be able to handle this if it were a movie, it would just be too hard to see. ...more
I really like Michael Koryta's recent novels. So Cold the River, The Ridge, and The Cypress House were all really good mysteries with a supernatural tI really like Michael Koryta's recent novels. So Cold the River, The Ridge, and The Cypress House were all really good mysteries with a supernatural twist. They were suspenseful without really being gory enough or scary enough to fall into the horror category. I also really liked the first of the Lincoln Perry mystery series, Tonight I Said Goodbye. It was a tightly crafted detective novel that kept me guessing.
Because his last three novels were supernatural suspense, I was expecting this novel to fall into that same category. It didn't. The Prophet is a straight-up mystery/thriller. It's also a very masculine book that delves into brotherly relationships and football. In fact, it had way too much football for my tastes. I can say that I never figured out who the perpetrator was and was very surprised by the ending. However, there was way too much football.
I listened to the audio version of this book and the production was very good. Robert Petkoff is a very good narrator. However, I kind of wish I had purchased it in hardback so I could pass it on to my husband. I think he's like it. It's got brothers and football. It's got a lot of football....more
I've read two other books by Laura Lippman and really enjoyed them. I was really looking forward to her latest stand-alone novel, but ended up disappoI've read two other books by Laura Lippman and really enjoyed them. I was really looking forward to her latest stand-alone novel, but ended up disappointed. It's supposed to be a suspense/mystery/thriller, but it offered little of any of those things. It starts off well enough. A madam in a suburban neighborhood is murdered. Heloise Lewis debates a woman in a store who thinks the madam was asking to be murdered. We find out fairly quickly that the reason Heloise jumps to the dead woman's defense is because she herself is a suburban, soccer-mom madam. Sounds promising, doesn't it? Instead of a story in which Heloise is fearing for her life/being stalked by a murderer/figuring out whodunit, we get a story detailing how Heloise keeps her profession separate from her personal life, the terrible childhood she had, and how her earlier life was generally effed up. Nothing happens until the very end and by that time, I just didn't care.
For what it's worth, Linda Edmond did a fabulous job of narrating and was probably the only reason I made it through this snoozefest of a novel. I'm not ready to give up on Laura Lippman. I just picked up one of her earlier novels on sale as an ebook. ...more
When I won this book through FirstReads, I thought it could be good or it could be cheesy. It's a bit of both. For a smart woman, Troy Chance makes soWhen I won this book through FirstReads, I thought it could be good or it could be cheesy. It's a bit of both. For a smart woman, Troy Chance makes some really stupid choices. While it was really brave of her to jump off a ferry to save a child she sees fall into Lake Champlain from another ferry, it was really stupid of her to take the child home rather than calling 911. From there, the story gets more and more implausible. Yet...I couldn't put it down. I've been in kind of a reading slump lately, jumping from book to book and having a hard time finishing any. Learning to Swim only took a few days to read and gave me a respite I needed from the heavy science fiction and fantasy I've been reading lately.
I will give credit where credit is due. The story was quite suspenseful and had some twists that I never saw coming. I really appreciated that (view spoiler)[the author didn't take the easy route with the romantic aspect. Troy doesn't get a happily ever after ending with the boy's father. Rather, she learns something about herself and about what she really wants out of life. I would really like to see her end up with Detective Jameson instead of Phillipe, and that is an open possibility. (hide spoiler)] (Aren't these spoiler tags great?)
I recommend this for anyone looking for a quick, escapist read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've been having trouble with my FirstReads wins lately. I've received some great looking books, but I just haven't been able to focus enough to finisI've been having trouble with my FirstReads wins lately. I've received some great looking books, but I just haven't been able to focus enough to finish one. However, Don't Breathe a Word turned out to be just the ticket for my inattentiveness. There is no way I can describe this book without giving chunks of it away. It really defies genre classification. It's a bit gothic, a bit thriller, a bit fantasy, and a bit horror. One of the best things about it is the ambiguity, especially with the ending. While it may have had some gaping plot holes and some major flaws, it was a real page-turner that held my interesting. I may have to check out more books by this author....more
As the parent of a teenage boy, this book made me really, really uncomfortable.
(view spoiler)[If you've ever seen the movie "The Bad Seed", you know eAs the parent of a teenage boy, this book made me really, really uncomfortable.
(view spoiler)[If you've ever seen the movie "The Bad Seed", you know exactly what this book is about. It has exactly the same theme. (hide spoiler)] While the story seemed fairly predictable, it was told in an interesting way. Andy Barber, father of the titular Jacob, is on the witness stand testifying about his son. From his testimony, it's quickly apparent that he's discussing something that's in the past, but he's not letting us know what the trial is about. (view spoiler)[I thought Andy was on trial for something, or that he was being forced to testify about Jacob at some time after the original trial, but I was wrong. In fact, I was quite surprised to find out why he was giving testimony. (hide spoiler)] This framing device was quite interesting, but it was also frustrating. There are tantalizing clues about what has happened, but it's not spelled out. He lets you think one thing when the truth is really something else.
I really liked Grover Gardner's narration. He did the various characters really well and actually made it sound like he was someone testifying in a trial.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more