The past always has a way of catching up with us and Don’t Tell the Dead by Gary Donnelly epitomise that notion. Lace up those Nikes because you’re gThe past always has a way of catching up with us and Don’t Tell the Dead by Gary Donnelly epitomise that notion. Lace up those Nikes because you’re going to be doing some running!
Writing is such a labour of love and writing a series is doubly true. The commitment, the research, and the psyche to get into the head of your characters time and time again requires a special kind of author. Gary Donnelly has consistently delivered a gritty, raw, and deeply compelling crime series set in the pulsing heart of Ireland. The atmosphere is catastrophically real, you can almost feel the elements battering you where you stand, the characterisation gets stronger each time we meet these much-loved characters. Its like watching evolution before your very eyes.
Donnelly certainly doesn’t take the easy route in Don’t Tell the Dead. You can feel the pressures that the plot is threatening to crush each protagonist, the timeline doesn’t leave an inch to breathe and his deep and dark narrative creates a deadly web of intrigue with past events being the catalyst that threatens to consume.
I was very excited to be reunited with DI Sheen and Aoife McClusker. The book started off on a tense note and never let up until the very end. It opened leaving you questioning the troubles lingering impact and trying to already connect the dots that Donnelly so expertly had left dotted around. Something serious is about to go down and its exactly how I love my Crime Fiction books to start; explosive, exciting, and having me scramble for answers even though the question has yet to be posed. Nothing is so black and white in a Gary Donnelly book.
Belfast’s past is casting an ever-present shadow. Serious Offenses Historic Unit. Multiple different directions lead to a game of cat and mouse. Buckle in you’re in for a hell of a ride.
The one thing I love about Gary Donnelly’s writing and Don’t Tell the Dead in particular, is that he is a dab hand at creating realistic characters. DI Sheen isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. He has many flaws and anxieties, but he knows how to do the right thing. He might be up against the powers that be at times, but he follows his gut and is assertive when needed. He sometimes dwells on past events, but the important thing is that he doesn’t just move in, he gives himself a shake and tackles the case at hand with all his might and expertise.
Don’t Ask the dead is brutally Irish. The inner voice is acerbic and injected with local phrases, humour and most importantly you feel as though you are there. Donnelly knows how to take risks but time and time again it pays off. It’s a story about truth, battling injustice and trusting your gut. This series just keeps getting better and better and I wait on bated breath to see what Gary comes up with next....more
The Good Guy is thrilling, and you can feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins. The anticipation, the fear, it is all a heady mix that bubblesThe Good Guy is thrilling, and you can feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins. The anticipation, the fear, it is all a heady mix that bubbles up to a conclusion. It’s a novel that I’m surprised hasn’t been adapted for the screen – suited to the Jason Stratham type actors. It was a fun read that passed the hours quickly; was it Koontz’s best novel, not by far but it was fun for what it was. A lot of stuff didn’t add up for me and I’ll get into that soon.
The Good Guy centres around the event of a stranger walking into a bar and mistakes our protagonist, Tim Carrier as a for hire killer. He’s given a package with a bucketload of money and the picture of his target, a woman called Linda Pacquette with instructions on how to kill her. Before he can say anything the actual killer walks in and Time hastily tells him he’s changed his mind and offers the money as a “sorry I’ve wasted your time” severance. (Yeah, right.) The killer leaves, Tim follows him out, he gets into a cop car and off he pops. Intriguing premise, right? Well from here in out it gets zany, quickly.
The Good Guy had a storyline that should have blown me away but ended up just being a kind of meh-ish read. From this point forward the intriguing storyline just paled due to substandard narrative and things that just didn’t ring true. Linda Paquette is the targeted woman who says things like she loves action movies but doesn’t own a TV?? After mere hours together they are talking about living with each other?? Although I did really enjoy the wit that they shared together. They seemed to hit it off quickly and they propped each up during a very traumatic situation.
The Good Guy has a villainous villain. The guy has a serious god complex and seems extremely unhinged. Was he always like that? He can’t recall any memories before his eighteenth birthday so assumes that he came from another realm…the mirror realm. I would have thought, considering he was working for some elite, hugely secret government organisation that they would have at least performed a psych evaluation. He kills people left, right and centre and that’s not even the contracted kill, he calls them collateral damage. It all draws to a final confrontation in one of the most underwhelming endings ever.
The back story of Tim Carrier interested me the most and it did have a great payoff. He’s tortured by events in his past and it all makes sense how he could do the things he did as no normal civilian would have the courage to do. Overall, it was an okay read but it definitely wasn’t the best Koontz novel I have read....more
I was a little worried about reading Smoke Screen, not because I believed that it would be a terrible read but because I just loved Death Deserved so I was a little worried about reading Smoke Screen, not because I believed that it would be a terrible read but because I just loved Death Deserved so much and wanted Smoke Screen to have that lasting impact also. This review is the proof that this writing duo know just how to deliver time and time again. An intriguing title, a mysterious cover and a synopsis that promises to deliver a narrative balancing on a tripwire. Enger and Horst have penned another addition that will create a shadow on my soul and leave me hungering to visit the Scandinavian Isles.
Smoke Screen is book two in the Blixx & Ramm series and its New Years Eve in Oslo. The partygoers have gathered at the square at city hall. The annual fireworks display goes horrifically awry with an explosion which ups the terror threat level to extreme. One of the casualties is the mother of Patricia Smeplass, a two-year-old girl that was kidnapped around ten years ago and never found. Is this a coincidence or is it a targeted attack? Blixx and Ramm go about investigating the connection.
Smoke Screen and its narrative was like walking into the eye of the storm. Familiar sights were gone but you were completely powerless to the pulling power that the book had over you. The plot pulled you in every direction, leaving you feeling disorientated, but the narrative had the threat of a knife edge breaking you, but you can’t look away with the thrill of it all. I was rattled and I loved every minute of it.
Two incredibly flawed characters that seem to be an odd pairing but one that works because well, it just does. They feed off each other’s energies and the pressure mounts imperceptibly but it never stops them getting to the bottom of their cases. Smoke Screen surely puts this dream team of authors at the top of their game. Blixx, a police officer that is plagued by traumatic events and Ramm, a journalist and blogger that has her moral compass intact despite previous difficulties. Blixx is more a father figure to her than acquaintance.
Smoke Screen highlighted the fragility of life and I was brought to my knees with its hard hitting and bleak prose, it was genuine and often felt like a punch to the gut. I have only experienced this kind of flow with but a few authors but Enger and Horst nailed the inevitability of life and death.
Smoke Screen is laced with more than a smattering of the dark and disturbing but gives a bird’s eye view of what being human entails and the depths of depravity that some individuals will stoop to....more
25 Gates of Hell is perpetually locked in the darkness. It is a frank and conclusive investigation of how dark humanity can be. 25 stories from 25 wri25 Gates of Hell is perpetually locked in the darkness. It is a frank and conclusive investigation of how dark humanity can be. 25 stories from 25 writers, each one steeping into the fires of hell unsure of whether they could escape again. As the title suggests, each story is focussed on the opening of hells gates and the implications upon mankind. Each one is gritty, dark as hell and it kept my black heart beating for a little while longer.
25 Gates of Hell reminded me just why I love Horror short stories. They are quick to the point, devastating to the point of despair and they can display all branches of emotion, something that other genres just struggle to display effectively. This anthology was so brutal and bloody that I could almost taste the metal in my mouth, hear the fear from all around me and my breath quicken with the anticipation of what would come next. The urgency was palpable, and every author had adept ways of hooking me from the first sentence. If you expect this to be the kind of book that you can pick up over the course of a few days, forget about it…this beast will consume and be consumed within hours.
A Child’s Game by Brandon Scott was the perfect opening to this fear inducing anthology. This tale is enough to permanently instil the cold dread into every reader but the fact that it was centred around a young child committing such atrocities made a dark shadow cross over my heart. The gore and the imagery was so horrifically sublime that I knew it would become a favourite.
The Ecstasy of Gold by Jill Girardi not only blew my socks off, but it took the skin with it too. How many people do you know that have had an undeniably hard start to life, and how many people would fall into the trap of doing anything for vast amounts of riches. A tale that examines humankinds’ affinity for greed and how that impacts everyone around them. A pickpocket that quite possibly has stolen the motherload and gotten more than he bargained for.
I’ll Come Back to You by Brian Keene was probably my favourite. Short, sharp and a blade that happily cut you from ear to ear. You immediately got a correlation to mental health and the human brains consciousness and how it loves to trick you in all lights. Cleverly written but with enough left hanging for you to sit in questioning silence.
Hook, Line and Sinker by Janine Pipe was just perfection. If anyone were to utter the words that women can’t write extreme gore – Pipe would tear them a new one and display it as art! The narrative was snappy, with enough elements of wit and horror to make it personable. It gave me the chills and flashbacks to old 80’s slasher movie vibes. A serial killer with a hook for a hand – winning!
25 Gates of Hell is an anthology that shows that its bark is just as bad as its bite. Each author knows how to get into the readers head and cranks the fear dial to the maximum....more