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While the Clock Ticked

While the Clock Ticked

, &

10th December 2014

Hardy Boys original number eleven (as revised in 1962) sees the teen detectives take on a new investigation when their father is unavailable. A range of coincidences come together as usual to tie several different mysteries together into a closed room mystery that the boys struggle to solve, including some of their biggest peril so far in the series.

While some elements of the series seem to be becoming quite repetitive - the number of criminal gangs in the same line of business in one little town is quite surprising - this is a good example of the Hardy Boys, and belies the claim the first ten books were the best, as this is certainly better than some of them.

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What Happened At Midnight

What Happened At Midnight

6th December 2014

So many things happened at midnight that it almost feels like this started life as a title looking for a plot (which is actually quite plausible given that my copy was of the rewritten 1967 text). The tenth book in the original (rewritten) Hardy Boys series finds the two characters given a mission by their father to break into a house and steal a new invention - this at least makes for an interesting twist as we end what are apparently considered the best of Hardy Boys fiction.

There are some nice moments in this story - particularly for Frank - which I enjoyed, and a trip to New York which added some colour and helps to stop the series becoming too samey. On the other hand though we revisit a number of tropes of the series already - boats, planes, cars, fights - all things that the series started without and has already picked up like bad habits.

This is an average story in the series and probably not one that stands out - I can't imagine the title will remind me of what happened in this one in a few days, let alone months or years like some of the other stories.

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Mr Dixon Disappears

Mr Dixon Disappears

6th December 2014

In book two of the Mobile Library series the reader rejoins Israel Armstrong - reluctant mobile librarian in a Northern Irish town who is surprised to be arrested on suspicion of robbery and kidnapping. I paid far too much for this novel for what it was worth, having accidentally given myself permission to go on a minor book-buying spree.

I had thought the first book was okay and commented at the time that I felt it ended too abruptly, so I was keen to find out what happened next. The chief problem with this book is that not a lot happens next, and what little does fails to really make sense. I wonder if this is meant to be part of the charm of this story - that we see everything from the point of view of the main character who isn't up to understanding what's going on around him - but I think that if that were the case it would be funnier if the reader could see him being a bit naive and understanding things better themselves. It actually comes across as the people of Northern Ireland being weird, which is probably a bit offensive.

Ultimately a disappointment, and after two chances I'm ready to give up on this series. The crime aspect of the story was weak, predictable, and straightforwardly implemented, and the character was weak and uninspiring. Oh well.

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Police

Police

6th December 2014

The tenth book in the Harry Hole series - surprising because it doesn't feel like I've read ten books or spent that long with the characters - picks up not long after the conclusion of Phantom and takes forward some of the plot threads that were left hanging. As can be expected for this series, there's a serial killer wandering Oslo - and all the police characters from the series to date come together in a massive investigation.

Nesbo crafts the story well, leading me into making assumptions, then leading me to doubt my assumptions - a great way to keep me interested and constantly mulling over the story in my mind between reading sessions. I really liked how this felt much more of an ensemble piece than some of the earlier works and we got to spend some quality point-of-view time with lots of the recurring characters - they now feel much more real to me than in previous books.

This is by far the most emotional of all the Hole stories - Nesbo really managed to hook me in to the plot and characters and make me feel truly scared for them. This was surprising in itself as I rarely become that involved with fictional characters, and I really liked how the author managed to get under my skin.

Quite possibly the best book in the series - though you probably have to have read the others to be into it as much as I was. I'm ambivalently hoping that this isn't the final book so that I can visit the characters again, and that this was the final book so that they (and I) aren't put through such gut-wrenching experiences again.

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Mitosis

Mitosis

2nd December 2014

This is a very short sequel to Brandon Sanderson's earlier novel Steelheart, and serves as part one and a half, leading up to the second full-length novel Firefight which is coming in 2015. It's very short. Very short. As long as you know that going in, you won't be disappointed.

The story re-introduces the characters from the first book, and serves to update the reader on what happened after the end of that story, setting the stage for the full sequel to come. I found it really enjoyable to dip into a Sanderson world again and revisit this story - even for something so short it tells a nicely rounded story that expands the world.

It is short, and this may put some people off the volume I read - the hardback. For many readers a 75 page hardback book might be something they haven't had since their age was in single digits, but I'm a Sanderson fan and love to have his books on paper.

Short. But great.

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Hammered

Hammered

2nd December 2014

The third volume in the Iron Druid chronicles is a direct sequel to the second, and rounds off a number of story threads serving as an end to the opening trilogy. There are a lot of battle scenes which actually I find a bit of a turn off compared to the more talky bits, and the humour seemed to be taken a little too far in places.

The plot also felt a little more absurd than the earlier novels, despite being perfectly in keeping with the world and style established. It felt a bit 'epic' in scale and I think that detracted from the simplicity of the set up that had charmed me earlier.

There is a nice opportunity to get to know some of the characters a bit better, which I really enjoyed. As that part of the book began I was concerned that it might turn out to be filler just to space out the action, but actually it was very interesting and probably my favourite sequence from the book.

Overall, a nice action/fantasy/comedy romp that I enjoyed - but perhaps not quite as much as Hexed or Hounded. I'm still looking forward to finding out where Hearne takes the story in the next few books which are sitting waiting on my shelf.

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Shoot to Kill

Shoot to Kill

2nd December 2014

A new Young Bond novel that I didn't even find out about until the day after publication - not sure if that's a black mark for the marketing department (not sure I'm target audience) or Amazon's recommendations (which should definitely know I'm a Bond fan).

The story takes place following the end of the series written by Charlie Higson (which covered Bond's time at Eton) but before he starts at his next school, Fettes - which allows the author to have some fun and take Bond away from home much in the style of many of the original Fleming novels.

Despite the setting in the earlier half of the twentieth century, Coles has managed to craft a really exciting story that doesn't feel dated to a (admittedly slightly old) reader in the twenty-first. It's full of the technology, peril, adventure, glamour and action that's expected of James Bond, and while there are tiny hints of things to come, it skips some of the aspects of the original character that might not work in a book aimed at younger readers.

An exciting, superbly paced, richly detailed story about one of my favourite characters that really hints, perhaps more so than Higson even, at the man Bond will become.

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A Dance with Dragons (2: After the Feast)

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  22. Postmortem
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