This is really awkward, because I am a die-hard Troubleshooters fan and I like and admire many things about Brockmann's writing. I also understand thaThis is really awkward, because I am a die-hard Troubleshooters fan and I like and admire many things about Brockmann's writing. I also understand that she's been writing TS for a long time and she needed to get away from it, although I will confess that I hope she eventually goes back because there are still a few of Izzy's team mates who are solo, and I would really like to see how those relationships develop.
But Born to Darkness: ok. I meant to like this. I hoped to love it. Part of the problem is that paranormal is just not my thing. It's very rare that I can get into a paranormal novel. I hoped this might be one of those rare cases, but no. My honest take on this is that she was so excited about getting away from TS that she went overboard. There's just too much going on in this novel, and she had some trouble juggling it all. New characters, new genre, new back story x about twenty, of course it is going to be hard to pull off.
So I can only recommend this if you love paranormals and love Brockmann's style, too. Otherwise go re-read Breaking the Rules. ...more
I've read all of Karin Slaughter's books now (and listened to a few in unabridged audio) and I have to say that I'm really impressed and completely adI've read all of Karin Slaughter's books now (and listened to a few in unabridged audio) and I have to say that I'm really impressed and completely addicted. She's a master of characterization and plot, both and she knows how to tell a story that puts hooks into you.
Some of the reviews have complained about the dual nature of this novel, set both in the mid 1970s and in the present day. To really appreciate the reason this was done you would have to have read Fallen (the previous full length novel in the series) first, and I'm proceeding on that basis.
In Fallen you see a lot of two women in their sixties: Amanda Wagner, who is Will's superior, and Evelyn Mitchell, who is his partner's mother, a retired police detective. Both these women are tough, but Amanda is pretty unlikeable. Imperious, demanding, inflexible. There's a third woman, older than these two, who lives next to Evelyn and is a retired crime scene photographer. You get to really know these three women in the course of Fallen, in all their complexity. Except you don't.
You have to read Criminal to really understand them, because Slaughter takes us back to watch Amanda and Evelyn handle their first murder investigation very early in their careers. These two characters are maybe five years older than I am, but I remember the mid 70s really well, and this novel brought it all back. Amanda and Evelyn are not welcome in Atlanta's police force, where good-old-boy is pretty much everybody except them (and the black police officers, of course). They are forced to kowtow to the men in every possible way, until they simply stop doing that. They stop because the male detectives aren't interested in two dead prostitutes, and they are interested in both the dead women and how they got that way. They stick with it against tremendous pressure to let go.
Amanda is nothing like her older self. She's conservative, awkward, unwilling to put herself forward. This is not the Amanda we know in the present day. Neither is Evelyn. In 1975 she is the opposite of Amanda, and she has a wicked and bawdy sense of humor. To appreciate this fully you need to listen to the audiobook and especially to the pig-tush conversation. By the end of Criminal you understand Amanda and I, personally, got to the point where I wanted her as my best friend. Starting in 1975.
The murders from 1974-75 are directly related to what's going on in the present day with Will Trent. Will is seriously dyslexic, the product of orphanages and the street, with physical and psychological scars from abuse that would send most people over the brink. A young woman goes missing in a way that parallels the 1974-75 murders, and this fact is tied to him personally in ways that are nightmare-inducing. Will Trent is probably my favorite male character of the year. Maybe the decade. This is a complicated guy who has been through hell, done some terrifically self-destructive things, and managed to hold on to his compassionate nature and sense of right and wrong. The fact that he makes a connection to Sarah Linton -- a pediatrician and some-time medical examiner we've known since Slaughter's first novel -- is so perfectly right that it almost hums on the page. The love story is as tough as the rest of the novel, but the results are tender.
So in part I really loved these two novels because I see my generation of women evolving in them, but mostly I love them because they are damn good stories. With Will Trent in them. And Sarah Linton. I hope she writes ten more in the series. At least.
Note: these are very gritty novels that don't pull punches. There is graphic violence. ...more
Here's a truism: crime thrillers are only as good as the primary character. Lisbeth Salander, Jack Reacher, Elvis Cole, Dave Robichoux, these characteHere's a truism: crime thrillers are only as good as the primary character. Lisbeth Salander, Jack Reacher, Elvis Cole, Dave Robichoux, these characters are all bigger than the authors who created them. I would bet that many avid readers of these series might forget the author's name, but they will buy the newest Jack Reacher or Elvis Cole without hesitation.
So a strong primary character -- important in any genre -- is doubly important for thrillers. This novel is set in Wales, and revolves around Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, opening when she's been on the force for about five years. She came into the police force under somewhat odd circumstances and has worked hard to establish herself as contrary, contentious, and too independent for her (and the department's) own good. But her instincts are excellent and her unwillingness to walk away from her hunches play out. Such characteristics are fairly standard for thriller so Fi (as she's called) has to distinguish herself in some way to get established.
There is in fact an underlying history which makes her very unique, but the author keeps us in the dark about this until the end of the novel. The result is a story that is uneven and at times, irritating. I hasten to add: there is nothing supernatural here, but it can be compared to The Sixth Sense in this way: At the end of the Sixth Sense I remember thinking: okay, now I have to watch it again to see what hints I missed and in fact, the movie stands up to another viewing. Talking to the Dead gets the same reaction: I did not anticipate what it is that sets Fi apart, but the story wasn't strong enough to make me want to go back and read it again. I will, however, look for the next book in the series and give it a chance, now that the groundwork is in place. ...more
Last to Die is a complex story with multiple plot lines -- a couple that reach back into older books in the series, and a few more than introduce newLast to Die is a complex story with multiple plot lines -- a couple that reach back into older books in the series, and a few more than introduce new characters. This is a challenge that would defeat many novelists, but Gerritsen handles it all deftly.
So you've got the friendship between Rizzoli and Isles, which has matured somewhat -- and a good thing, too, Rizzoli's family which provides a counterpoint to the dark and grizzly plot, and a very evocative setting: a school called Evensong in Maine which has a particular and unusual job to do. It's kind of a perverted Hogwarts, except the kids who end up here need to learn how to protect themselves in a far grimmer world. And without witchcraft.
The prose was a little unsteady in places, which is why four stars rather than five -- but I do think it's a very good read, and should not be passed by for anybody who appreciates the skill that goes into pulling a complex story like this together.
Two little boys murder their father with a knife, which would be shocking at any other time -- but all over the world, very young children are killingTwo little boys murder their father with a knife, which would be shocking at any other time -- but all over the world, very young children are killing the people they love best, and remember nothing afterward. Odder still, they show no emotion about the death. Also on a global scale, established, successful, loyal business people commit senseless acts of sabotage at their companies and then commit suicide raving about being harassed by small creatures -- djinn, or elves, or similar.
Sometimes the witnesses actually see the child who hounds the adult to suicide, but they won't admit it and they can't prove it: no sign of the small being, anywhere.
Into all this comes a corporate consultant, anthropologist Hesketh Lock who is sent out to fix things that go wrong. Part of the reason he's so good at his job is that he has a genius for spotting patterns which is especially striking in someone like Hesketh, who has Asperger's Syndrome. He sees what's happening, but he can't participate because he's never been able to insert himself into group dynamics.
The global disaster does become unavoidably personal when his stepson Freddy -- the one human being he can and does connect to -- starts to change in not-so-subtle ways.
Hesketh finds that the rational world view he has always depended on is simply gone, but he is determined to save Freddy, at whatever cost.
This is a tremendously unsettling and -- I don't use this world lightly -- creepy novel, unrelentingly dark and very sad. It's not easy watching as Hesketh's life-long strategies for dealing with social anxiety begin to fail him, and it's harder still to watch him watching Freddy as the little boy is drawn into the new world order.
But this novel is very much worth reading, if you've got the gumption for it. ...more
With Parlor Games Biaggio has followed in Daniel Defoe's footprints by giving us her own version of Moll Flanders. Her May Dugas, however, also comesWith Parlor Games Biaggio has followed in Daniel Defoe's footprints by giving us her own version of Moll Flanders. Her May Dugas, however, also comes with a liberal dose of Thackeray's Becky Sharp.
May leaves her small hometown to travel to Chicago. Supposedly to help support her family, but May is the epitome of an unreliable narrator. She really goes to Chicago to find the bright lights, big city glamor and adoration she craves. And the money. And jewels. Sex seems to be unimportant to her, a niggling responsibility she must get out of the way to get to the things she wants.
And so her adventures go. She moves from bordello to an apartment set up for her by a lover; when she's bored or the money isn't enough anymore or a Pinkerton detective (Reed Doherty) shows up promising to ruin her fun, she moves to a new city and finds another sugar daddy. Along the way she marries a short lived Dutch Baron and then takes off again, Reed Doherty still in pursuit.
The complications along the way have to do with the bad company she chooses, or her basically felonious nature, or both. That's for the reader to figure out. Because May's story is told while she's on trial for fraud and theft, there is a lot of evidence to consider, and all of it is well put together, entertaining, and inherently interesting as Meg herself.
Advance reader's copy from the publisher by way of netgalley.com ...more
Nora Hamilton restores old houses for a living in a small town in the Adirondacks. She has a job and a husband she loves and life is just about what sNora Hamilton restores old houses for a living in a small town in the Adirondacks. She has a job and a husband she loves and life is just about what she had hoped for. The one morning she gets up to discover that her husband, a respected police officer, has committed suicide by hanging. There's no note and no explanation, and the mystery together with the loss is more than Nora can live with. So she sets out to find answers.
Brendan's best friend and fellow cop provides very little insight, and his mother only makes things more confusing once Nora finds a basement filled with an elaborate altar to the memory of Brendan's younger brother.
The only real help comes from a newspaper journalist who had been in the process of hiring her to renovate a much loved Victorian. And then there's Dugger, a mechanic at a local garage whose autism gives him a perspective that helps Nora recognize patterns she wouldn't otherwise have seen.
This is a very solid first novel in terms of plot and story, with some strong characters. The pacing is often a little uneven and the switching between Nora's point of view and a more general one is sometimes clumsy, but otherwise a very good first effort. ...more