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The Disappearing Floor

The Disappearing Floor

, &

28th May 2017

The nineteenth original Hardy Boys book (or at least my UK edition of the 1964 re-write) sees the brothers investigating a series of jewellery thefts, as well as a strange house which appears to be haunted, and not just one but several instances of floors that disappear.

The narrative is the usual, simplistic but engaging - perhaps more so than some of its predecessors, as I read though in just a couple of sittings (maybe just over an hour in total). However the plot is messy - in places not making much sense, and feeling more like a string of coincidences than an actual investigation.

I suspect that this book was heavily butchered in the re-writing process, as its focus is one on technology I think the original plot has been radically ‘updated’ and in the process some of the sense has been lost, leading to a slightly unsatisfying story that doesn’t hold up to too much thinking about.

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Assassin's Fate

Assassin's Fate

28th May 2017

The third and final entry in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy serves not just as a conclusion to this three book arc, but also is a continuation of the ongoing storylines that cross the nine Fitz novels as well as the seven Liveships/Rain Wilds novels that exist in the same fictional universe. As such, I'd strongly recommend reading the whole of the rest of the series before tackling this novel, as it serves as a satisfactory sequel to everything that's gone before, and some aspect are massive spoilers for the earlier stories, and/or won't make sense to readers not familiar with them.

In this book we rejoin Fitz and Fool as they set off on a mission of vengeance against Clerres - home of the White Prophets, the Fool's origin point, and the killers of Fitz's daughter Bee. It truly feels like an epic - 850 pages of quest - and is a surprisingly emotional adventure that explores the world and exposes more and more detail about a realm that I've enjoyed visiting so many times over the past seven years.

The characters remain compelling - two narrators with their own voices whose foibles show through, with whom it's easy to sympathise, and yet who both remain frustrating in their own ways, with their own drawbacks familiar enough that they come across as almost humorous in that the reader knows that the characters aren't going to get their own way.

As with the earlier books in this trilogy, some of the foreshadowing felt a bit more obvious than in the earlier books - whether this is because of the way prophecies are presented, my own familiarity with the style, or a deliberate choice of the author - yet this time that's less frustrating, and more vital. I felt that the foreshadowing this time served well to set up things that came later on and to put the reader into the correct emotional state to embrace the narrative as it unfolded.

Another great adventure, strong, emotional and epic. An excellent conclusion to this trilogy and extension of the series as a whole.

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Want You Gone

Want You Gone

25th May 2017

After a few quite hard crime novels, it feels like Chris Brookmyre has relaxed a little back towards his earlier more comedic style with this book. While it's still a solid crime type novel, it is slightly lighter in tone and focussed on a less horrific type of crime.

This time out, disgraced journalist Jack Parlabane has a new gig, and is telling fascinating stories about hackers, when one of his sources decides it's time to cash in a favour. And it's a complicated one.

The issues dealt with in the story are really contemporary, and I loved how a room YRS has used elements he's slowly been introducing to pull together a story that takes current affairs from a number of different perspectives, and weaves them into a story that is not only action-packed, but also character-driven and that makes you think.

Another really great story that distracted me well from goings-on in the real world and got me back into reading much more regularly than I have recently.

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Control

Control

6th May 2017

Control is possibly the darkest Star Trek novel I've ever read, and I've read quite a lot of them. It continues Doctor Bashir's quest to destroy Section Thirty-One, and also lays out a lot of new information about the organisation, its origins, and the mysterious 'Control', who runs it.

It paints a very different and revealing picture of the Trek universe, spanning the life of the Federation from the pre-Enterprise era and dropping in hints of arcane bits of Trek lore and how they tie in. One that continues the mission of mirroring the 21st Century in which we as readers live.

But as well as that it's a thrilling adventure that pits Bashir and his allies, a cast pulled from both DS9 and TNG, against their nemesis across known space as they try to stay one step ahead of their omnipresent oppressor.

So, dark, revelatory, and fascinating in how it retells some of the familiar Trek story while remaining and entertaining adventure. Slightly scary though.

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Dead Man's Time

Dead Man's Time

4th May 2017

The most disturbing opening chapters to a book I've read for a long time. Everything seems to be going wrong and the world feels a pretty grim place, especially as we see into the minds of villains setting out crazy schemes. Part of it is that there are so many plot threads, and all of them are dark ones.

Fortunately the book moves past that as what is ostensibly the main plot gets moving. An elderly lady has been robbed, and beaten. And it's up to our protagonist, Det Supt Grace, to solve the crime.

However that plot doesn't really feel like it's the main focus of the effort in this novel. Instead it seems like it's just there as a structure to hang the secondary plots, and there are at least four, around - moving characters into the right places for those to unfold. And this novel does make some pretty big changes to those soap-opera sub-plots that have been running through the series.

Overall, an entertaining read once the depressing start has been passed, but not quite on the level of the earlier books in terms of the actual mystery itself.

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Chosen

Chosen

4th May 2017

The fourth book in the Alex Verus series feels like a turning point from the first three books, which established the characters and their world, and what I suspect might become the major arc of the following novels.

As a magical thriller, it's really good, focusing on the chase and the battle between Alex and someone he has wronged in the past. It contains a lot of introspection and a lot of action, and shows a lot of thought that's gone into the backstory of the character, fleshing the world out in new ways and overall feeling like a more cohesive whole.

It takes a lot of what's happened before and brings it to a crescendo. In a way it reminds me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was the fourth book in its series and built up to a dramatic conclusion that changed the direction of the stories dramatically.

I seem to say this a lot as I read series of novels, but I really do think this was the best yet and am looking forward to continuing.

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Buy book: UK
Hallowe'en Party

Hallowe'en Party

4th May 2017

I've lost count of what number this is in Agatha Christie's epic series of Poirot stories, but it's certainly one of the later ones, and yet retains the charm, comedy and mastery of mystery that she wrote throughout.

Although a seemingly simple tale from the outset, it becomes increasingly more complex. I'm not sure whether I was distracted, but the resolution had me baffled right up to the end, and honestly it felt like it may have been a bit over complex towards the conclusion.

Perhaps not one of the best in the series, or one that I would recommend, but definitely a worthy entry in the canon and an entertaining read.

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Buy book: UK
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