Myron screwed up. His job was to protect someone. He fell in love with that someone and then she died. End of story. So he's dropped out, left, run away to the Caribbean to escape his guilt. But now everything that he left behind has come back to haunt him. A friend is in trouble, murder trouble. The victim? One of his own clients. In order to help his friend, Myron must battle for her freedom - against her own wishes...
The dragons and their keepers have discovered Kelsingra but so far only Heeby has succeeded in flying over the river to enter the fabled city. The other dragons, with their deformed wings and feeble muscles, are afraid to risk failure and humiliation.
But wondrous things await in Kelsingra, a city built for dragons and their Elderling keepers. Alise, overwhelmed by the treasures she finds there, records her finds for posterity. Once the rest of the world knows about the riches the city contains, nothing will ever be the same again.
Reviewed on 15th June 2013
The third book in the Rain Wilds Chronicles and twelfth overall in Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings series feels shorter and much more character focussed than most of the earlier books.
Rather than following a quest, as many of the other books in the series have, this book follows the daily lives of the characters from the previous two novels as they continue from the point these books brought them. It makes some interesting points about prejudice, society and childrearing, and the ensemble cast makes the drama feel more real and rounded than ever before.
The plot feels simple despite the array of threads that run through the book, and for the most part each is split into its own chapters, although there are some where the narratives are intertwined, which is a nice variation. I really love the asides between chapters that Hobb uses to expand the world in which her stories are set, and they provide a humorous and interesting companion to the main story.
While it felt a calmer story, I was really hooked by this book and can't believe how quickly I read it compared to some of Hobb's other books. I really enjoy spending time with these characters and hope that Hobb will find more stories to pen once this one is complete.0 Comments
From Cornwall to Cuba, Venice to France, Alex Rider has travelled far and wide as a spy for MI6, facing danger and death at every turn. But in his last mission, fighting the criminal organization, Scorpia, Alex appeared to have finally met his match. In the thrilling sequel to "Scorpia", find out the answer to the question on everyone's lips - "Will Alex Rider live to fight another day?"
Reviewed on 7th June 2013
Following directly on from the end of the previous novel, Alex Rider accidentally interrupts a kidnapping attempt and is once again drawn into the world of secret agents that he longs to escape. It's a great thriller and one of the best in the series, which has improved as it's gone on.
This entry in particular feels a lot like a James Bond movie, almost straying into parody in places, and is a little more brutal and graphic than the earlier books in the series. The action depicts some violence and a considerable amount of threat, that may not be considered suitable for the youngest readers.
Horowitz does well to keep the plot grounded and believable, and even when it seems like the story is going to jump the shark his writing keeps it feeling just authentic enough. It's clear a lot of research has gone into the book and I found it one of his most enjoyable stories.0 Comments
Mrs McGinty died from a brutal blow to the back of her head. Suspicion fell immediately on her shifty lodger, James Bentley, whose clothes revealed traces of the victim's blood and hair. Yet something was amiss: Bentley just didn't look like a murderer.
Reviewed on 6th June 2013
It's been quite a while since I last read an Agatha Christie novel and I'm pleased by what I got on my return to the world of Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver. When the police arrest a man they believe to be innocent, yet to whom all the evidence points, they call on an elderly Poirot to find the truth.
It's a classically complex tale of a rich tapestry of suspects and clues which could point various directions, and which had me fairly baffled almost throughout. At one point I did suspect the truth but only fleetingly amongst a number of other possibilities that I was bombarded with.
This is one of the examples of a novel that Christie has filled with humour, often making herself the butt of the joke, and the amusement it gave nicely balances parts that could come across as brutal (although perhaps not compared to crime novels of the modern day). The comedy absolutely makes the book, and I really loved this aspect, which is often forgotten, of her writing.0 Comments
A serial killer is on the loose. His target? Lone Western women lured to Hong Kong by the promise of easy money. As The Butcher's killing spree escalates, bags of mutilated body parts are found all over the island - and more girls are disappearing.
Taking on his first homicide case, Detective Johnny Mann is determined to stop The Butcher's brutal reign. Haunted by the memory of his father's death by the Triads, he's the only man who can track down a killer who's paralysing the city with fear.
Reviewed on 5th June 2013
The first book in the Johnnie Mann series was passed on to me by my mother-in-law, and I was unimpressed. The story is based in Hong Kong, and follows police officer Mann and a variety of other characters, as he investigates several murders. It's a fairly graphic narrative that didn't draw me in.
The writing style is bland and hard going - the first half of the book moves incredibly slowly, with time passing sporadically and the plot failing to advance. The second half sees the speed ramped up to the max, skipping over detail and charging through the action. The narrative is awkward and the dialogue seems forced and unnatural, particularly where placed into the mouths of certain characters who we are presumably meant to look down on.
The characters are dull and in many cases implausible and/or incompetent. The work of the police force feels unrealistic and incredibly amateurish and Mann himself comes across as something of a super-human. His character is almost too complex, with several aspects that feel thrown into the mix with no real thought, and his lack of growth is frustrating.
I was not impressed nor entertained by this book, and found myself finding other things to do rather than continue reading. If Lee Weeks is the female James Patterson, as the cover claims, then I'm glad I've not bothered to read any of his works.0 Comments
Joel is fascinated by the magical art of Rithmatics, but unfortunately only a chosen few have the necessary gift and Joel is not one of them. Undaunted, Joel persuades Professor Fitch to teach him Rithmatic theory - and soon finds that his knowledge is put to the test when someone starts murdering the top Rithmatic students at his school.
But can Joel work out the identity of the killer and stop them before they realize just what a threat Joel actually is?
Reviewed on 30th May 2013
Brandon Sanderson has done it again. In The Rithmatist he creates yet another rich and detailed fantasy world, in which a segment of society has the power to do battle by drawing chalk patterns around them. Joel is not one of them, but wishes he was. Instead he finds himself drawn into an investigation after a Rithmatist disappears.
The author's skills in world building really shine in this novel - simple enough for any reader to understand everything they need to, but complex enough to be believable and to tease the reader with more detail in every chapter.
The characters are strong and varied, as usual in Sanderson's stories, although one feels very similar to a character from his earlier Alcatraz series. If one were so inclined there could be parallels drawn with the Harry Potter books (although that could be said of any fantasy book set in a school), though the slight similarities fade throughout.
Sanderson's skills continue to enthral me, and this is a book that could appeal to a reader of any age. The illustrations offset the story nicely, and help explain some of the concepts more easily than the words. Absolutely great. 0 Comments
Young Anna Travis has been assigned to her first murder case - a series of killings that has shocked even the most hardened of detectives. They started eight years ago - now the body count is up to six. The method of killing is identical, the backgrounds of the girls identical - all drug-users and prostitutes. Then a seventh body is found. The modus operandi is the same - but the victim is a young student with the 'face of an angel'. The profile of the murderer has changed dramatically. Determined to earn the respect of her male colleagues, Anna stumbles on a vital piece of information which links one man to the killings, a much-loved actor on the brink of international stardom. His arrest would create a media frenzy. But if he were found innocent, his wouldn't be the only career over - Anna's hard fought for reputation would be destroyed once and for all.
Reviewed on 30th May 2013
The first Anna Travis story sees the young detective sergeant assigned to her first murder case, investigating a series of seemingly connected crimes. The novel is gripping though quite graphic in places, and there's perhaps too much flipflopping.
The characters are interesting, although a large quantity of the supporting cast go unexplored, with the focus being on just three characters. While these three are well developed, the reader spends the majority of the story aligned with Anna Travis, whose emotions seem to flicker around from one thing to another with much greater frequency than seems plausible.
The narrative follows an interesting course, and it's certainly not in the form of a whodunnit, being much more psychological. The opening and ending surprised me by being quite graphic compared to the rest of the story, but not too much to put me off.
This was the first of Lynda La Plante's novels that I've read, and while I thought the style was fairly rough I'm certainly planning to return for more.0 Comments
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.
With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
Reviewed on 22nd May 2013
Alan Dean Foster's invitation to pen the novelization of JJ Abrams' second Star Trek film came as something of a surprise to me, as I was very disappointed with his version of the previous film. This book lives up to my recollections of its predecessor.
The novel follows the plot of the film almost exactly (a film which I enjoyed almost as much as the last one), and is a faithful description of what happens, but it is significantly lacking in detail, particularly in the action scenes. The pacing is poor and the writing doesn't grip anywhere near as well as the source material.
It seems as if the publishers have given Foster too much leeway - they've thrown the usual Star Trek novel styleguide out the window and replaced it with narration that feels patronising in how much it wants to explain. There are parts where it's as if it's writing for a small child. Rather than the usual style of aligning the third party narrative with one character at a time and following events from their perspective, we're given a more god-like overview with occasional glances inside the characters' heads. Altogether this makes for a lightweight presentation that removes a lot of the suspense and the relationship with the characters.
There are places where Foster has added missing detail to the plot that helps explain some of the things that puzzled me about the film, but not even to the extent of the scenes he retained/added in the previous book, and this doesn't make up for the book's faults.
There are other established Star Trek and novelization writers that could have added more to what feels like a rushed clone of the script. The book only managed to hold my attention by reminding me of what I saw in the cinema.0 Comments
Stephanie Plum is down on her luck. She's lost her job, her car's on the brink of repossession, and her apartment is fast becoming furniture-free.
Enter Cousin Vinnie, a low-life who runs a bail-bond company. If Stephanie can bring in vice cop turned outlaw Joe Morelli, she stands to pick up $10,000. But tracking down a cop wanted for murder isn't easy.
And when Benito Ramirez, a prize-fighter with more menace than mentality, wants to be her friend Stephanie soon knows what it's like to be pursued. Unfortunately the best person to protect her just happens to be on the run.
Reviewed on 19th May 2013
I was a little nervous about picking up the first novel in the Stephanie Plum series, it's lurid pink cover hinting that the contents might be somewhat more girly that my usual taste in fiction, but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are well-rounded and believable, and the action is well paced and depicted well.
Plum is single, short of cash, and willing to take on almost any job, when she's offered a shot at being a bounty hunter - a local police officer turned murderer has skipped bail, and there's ten grand in it for her if she can get him back. It turns out to be a fascinating look into the world of bounty hunting, and a great story full of twists and turns.
The characters are great, and reminded me of Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Plum is independent and strong, yet retains femininity and enough weaknesses to keep the story believable, and she's surrounded by a cast that brings humour as well as plot devices.
An excellent start to a series that could easily appeal to a reader of any gender - I certainly plan to continue reading.0 Comments
Britain is in the depths of recession. A left-leaning young Oxford academic and his barrister girlfriend take an off-peak holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua. By seeming chance they bump into a Russian millionaire called Dima who owns a peninsula and a diamond encrusted gold watch. He also has a tattoo on his right thumb, and wants a game of tennis.
Reviewed on 12th May 2013
This is the first John le Carré novel I have read since childhood, and it certainly exceeded my expectations based on vague memories of half-read books and from the 1980s or earlier, and the recent film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
The story follows a young British couple whose make-up or break-up holiday in Antigua is interrupted by a demand to play tennis from a suspicious Russian with a mysterious family. The couple are the main focus of the narrative and much is told from their perspective, although there is a random third point of view that appears halfway.
The style is interesting, as a lot of the story is depicted in the present tense, with sections told in past tense as some of the characters relate their adventures to others. This helps build up the tension throughout the opening chapters and introduces the reader into the story in a compelling way.
Towards the latter stages though I felt that the plot lost some of its tension and urgency and it drifts slowly towards the conclusion without sense of direction. Though the plot still felt plausible, it seemed to lose the attachment to the characters and their development had come to an end too early.
Overall though a refreshing and appealing revisit to le Carré's works that has encouraged me to seek out more of his recent output and delve back into his back catalogue.0 Comments
Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is the last detective - computers and spreadsheets and technology are not for him. So when the naked body of an unidentified woman is found in a lake near Bath his sleuthing abilities are tested to the limit. While the 'men in white coats' huddle in their laboratories, Diamond is on the streets, following the real clues hidden amongst Bath's historic buildings and intertwined with its literary past, and exposes a very uncomfortable truth.
Reviewed on 6th May 2013
When a body is found in a lake late one night, Superintendent Diamond is called in to lead the investigation, despite a pending review of his handling of a previous case. The first of Peter Lovesey's novels I've read, this is a really interesting way to present a crime novel.
The plot is well paced and makes for addictive reading. Lovesey's style is unique, in that while most of the narrative is told in the third person aligned with his detective, two significant chunks of witness statement are presented in the first-person, which really shows off a talent for capturing the characters' individual voices.
As an investigation it is far from clear cut and the twists and turns keep coming. I had a slight suspicion of how it might end and actually was not incredibly satisfied by the final conclusion. Similarly there was one twist that I didn't see coming and that seemed a little forced, throwing the narrative into a bit of a time warp throughout the later stages of the story.
Overall I was impressed by this novel despite some trepidation I had felt before about starting on another crime series. I'll definitely be following up by reading the sequel in the near future.0 Comments