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Cat Among the Pigeons

Cat Among the Pigeons

11th February 2015

As I reach the final stretch in my trawl through the Poirot back catalogue, I reached Cat Among the Pigeons, a fantastically different type of mystery set in a girls' boarding school yet with a fascinating series of exotic twists.

Like a couple of earlier books, Poirot himself doesn't appear until some way through the narrative, yet in this instance that's not a disappointment at all. The new characters are all compelling and Christie paints a wonderful picture of the settings and lives that build towards an excellent conclusion. If anything I'd say (perhaps with some cynicism) that Poirot could have just been added to get his name on the cover, as the story could have worked just as well without him.

A great mystery from an absolutely fantastic author. Certainly one of her best.

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Buy book: UK
The Mystery of the Screaming Clock

The Mystery of the Screaming Clock

11th February 2015

I had abandoned my Three Investigators re-read over a year ago when relocating, and in the interim started re-reading my original Hardy Boys series, so it was a pleasant treat to dive back into this world of hidden junkyard bases and unusual props - this time of course in the form of a screaming clock that carries an initial clue.

What I like about T3I is that they really do investigate and solve mysteries with more than the power of coincidence. There are real clues which they solve with real legwork and a strong set of supporting characters.

Although I have read this before, I had completely forgotten the entire plot and so very much enjoyed revisiting it. There was even one complete surprise that I hope turns into something in the future of the series.

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Buy book: UKi
Scorpia Rising

Scorpia Rising

11th February 2015

The 'final' book in the Alex Rider series is quite an explosive finale. It seems like everyone whose plans he's ever destroyed has come back for one big surprise revenge party

It feels like the writing style has come on in the ten years between the first book and this, and that while the character has only aged an implausibly small amount, the target audience has aged and the level of violence has upped.

It is a thrilling story, and reads much less like a James Bond parody than ever before. The bad guys plan is actually plausible and really well thought out, there are some really nice moments with some familiar characters, and at no point was I sure how the drama was going to unfold.

Actually a really good, shocking, final bow for the series that I really enjoyed. However I notice that there is now another book in the series, and I'm concerned that it will spoil the great ending here.

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Buy book: UK
The Missing

The Missing

11th February 2015

Finally! A new DS9 novel! But is it? We're well into the second DS9 relaunch by now, and there's a big continuity gap sitting in the wings waiting to be filled in between the two. This story really focuses on three known characters, all of them based in or around DS9, but really Ro, Crusher and Pulaski are all Next Generation characters.

The story is about separation from family, a theme which fits really nicely with the selection of characters that McCormack has pulled together, and the numerous plot strands that weave together here. It's also about strong female characters, though I only realised that a few days after is finished reading it. I'm not sure if that says more about the author's subtlety or my own blindness to such factors, and if the latter whether that's a positive thing or a negative.

So I must admit that I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a bit more DS9 focused, and that the plot was really a gathering of multiple parallel strands rather than a single main narrative. However Isis enjoy the visit to the station and find McCormack to be one of the best writers of real character in Trek.

I look forward to more from the series, from the author, and more Cardassians please!

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Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
Summer Knight

Summer Knight

11th February 2015

Book four: Faeries. Jim Butcher's series about. Chicago-based wizard detective Harry Dresden feels by this point to be cycling through the list of available magical creatures to put the protagonist against.

It's an enjoyable trip into this world again and it's nice to see that the characters are living with the repercussions of the previous story rather than being like toys taken back out of the box for a new day.

A good chunk of back story is also revealed for the main character, although I couldn't tell if all of it was a sudden surprise revelation or something that I'd read before in the earlier books.

There were elements though that didn't grip me as much. I'm not sure if it's just that the genre doesn't quite excite me enough, or whether it was that there are a few similarities to other books that I've read from other series. I think that the naming of some of the characters didn't help - there are a set of six new characters here that all seemed to have similar names and I kept getting lost as to which the narrator was talking about.

Overall, I thought that this was okay. I'm not sure I've got enough invested in the series to make it really gripping, and perhaps I need to ensure I don't leave such a long gap between episodes in future.

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Buy book: UK
Dead Girl Walking

Dead Girl Walking

11th February 2015

Following on from 2014's ebook short, investigative reporter Jack Parlabane is finally back on the page and in the centre of a new story. Down on his luck after the real life events that have affected the British press, he's invited to take on a unique secret investigation by an old friend.

The events of the short story ([On] The Last Day of Christmas) are surprisingly important backstory for some of the events here and I certainly felt that if I hadn't read it first I'd be at least a little confused, if not frustrated, by the constant references back to it.

This book is actually surprisingly serious is tone and content. The days of the early Parlabane comedies, and the following eras of satire and even fantasy and gone and replaced with the more hard crime focus of Brookmyre's other recent novels. Despite this, it remains a thoroughly engaging read and has moments of levity throughout.

One common aspect of the author's other books does remain however - a good chunk of the story is told in flashback, this time through the journal of one of the new characters, which alternates through the chapters with Parlabane's viewpoint. This distribution makes for a plot that moves at a good pace and reveals things to the reader with perfect timing, and avoids the issue that some of his earlier books have with a sudden change of pace and focus halfway through.

I really liked this book and once again will recommend it widely. I especially loved a moment about two thirds through where the opening line of a chapter really surprised and indeed delighted me. As always I look forward to many more adventures for the author and his characters.

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Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
The Black Ice

The Black Ice

11th February 2015

The second book in the Harry Bosch series follows the detective as he investigates several crimes that he's not really meant to - including the death of one of his colleagues.

It's an interesting plot that keep moving at a good pace and hid the twists from me up to the minute, yet once they arrived they seemed obvious. However I didn't find the narrative gripping, and the character felt somewhat bland compared to some of the detectives in other ongoing series I read.

I felt quite disengaged from the setting. Perhaps it's because of my UK background but the cultural aspects of being a cop in the US just come across as unbelievable. Time and time again I found myself thinking 'but that wouldn't happen in the real world', and that's not something you want interrupting a novel, especially one that is supposed to be in the real world.

Overall, a little disappointed, though I'll keep at the series as it's still quite young at this point and there are a lot of books for it to grow into itself (which I got cheap in bulk).

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Buy book: UK
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Reading soon

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  3. Seventy-Seven Clocks
  4. The Desert Spear
  5. The Truth
  6. The Ghost Brigades
  7. The High Lord
  8. A is for Alibi
  9. Live Wire
  10. Tricked
  11. Warbreaker
  12. The Gunslinger
  13. Dèjá Dead
  14. The Name of the Wind
  15. Fearless
  16. Dissolution
  17. Postmortem
  18. Brokenclaw
  19. Headhunters
  20. Dangerous Women part one
  21. Girl Missing
  22. The Last Don