Category Archives: books

book of the dead

Book of the Dead (Kay Scarpetta #15) by Patricia Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Soon after relocating to Charleston, S.C., to launch a private forensics lab, Scarpetta is asked to consult on the murder of U.S. tennis star Drew Martin, whose mutilated body was found in Rome. Contradictory evidence leaves Scarpetta, the Italian carabinieri and Scarpetta’s lover, forensic psychologist Benton Wesley, stumped.

But when she discovers unsettling connections between Martin’s murder, the body of an unidentified South Carolina boy and her old nemesis, the maniacal psychiatrist Dr. Marilyn Self, Scarpetta encounters a killer as deadly as any she’s ever faced.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I kind of downloaded this by mistake and then read it against my own better judgement. However, it ended up being better than I expected. Maybe I had low expectations though?

This book is kind of a return to the style of writing that made Cornwell’s earlier Scarpetta stories interesting but not quite to the same level. Kay is marginally better, Lucy is a lot better and more mature, Benton is unrecognisable from his early days and Marino has become a complete asshole. Dr. Self was the most interesting character as well as Rambo, the killer.

Not the best but certainly not the worst. Hardly a ringing endorsement but it’s the best I have!

the daylight war

The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) by Peter V. Brett

From Goodreads:

On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more—the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead him to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all–those lurking in the human heart.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It took me a while to get into this book but I think that may have been due to the amount of reading I’ve been doing during lockdown and how quickly I’ve been shifting between books making it difficult to switch storylines and characters.

Once I did make the necessary mental shift this book was excellent. Similar to the second book it looks at the story from both the Krasian and Thesan sides with a detailed look at Inevera’s back story this time. The story also switches between the two sides much more often than the second book which makes it much more readable and far more enjoyable. It also gives the pace of the book an extra shot of urgency.

Apart from Inevera’s story the other major storyline is the huge battle at “Waning”. It’s mainly told from the Hollow’s perspective and the action is expertly described with great detail. It’s a very complex section of the book but the writing style prevents confusion making it exciting and tense.

When I started this series I thought it was a trilogy and I was well into this book before I realised the story is told over 5 books. I couldn’t see how the story was to be drawn to a climax and was relieved that it wasn’t.

There was quite a sudden shift close to the end of this book. It should be jarring but it’s very smart and leaves the reader looking for more. Reminded me of the old black and white Saturday morning shows like “Zorro and “The Lone Ranger” that often finished with a classic cliffhanger.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

deja dead

Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan #1) by Kathy Reichs

From Goodreads:

Her life is devoted to justice; for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her, her best friend and her own daughter, in mortal danger…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This was a good book but I found it hard to get into. Nothing much seemed to be happening for the first half/two thirds of the story but it did definitely pick up towards the finish. The story skips around quite a bit which makes it a difficult one to read in small chunks and the style also doesn’t lend itself to reading one chapter at a time. The introduction of a lot of unfamiliar Canadian police and political organisations and acronyms compounded this.

My other issue was the unavoidable comparisons to Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. I had read a few of this Temperance Brennan series a number of years ago and found them quite good and when I went back looking for them found Kay Scarpetta instead. That was unfortunate as Temperance Brennan is a much better series as far as I remember.

Temperance is also a much better character and despite some annoying personality characteristics is very likeable. Then there is the permanently pissed off and dismissive Claudel and the smoldering relationship with Ryan. The development of the murderer and the building of the case against him is well done.

I’m expecting to enjoy the rest of the series and possibly consign Kay Scarpetta to the bin once and for all.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

magician

Magician (Riftwar Saga #1) by Raymond E. Feist

From Goodreads;

At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician – and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever.

Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders swarm the land. Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun.

Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilization. Pug’s destiny is to lead him through a rift in the fabric of space and time to the mastery of the unimaginable powers of a strange new magic.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

While this is undoubtedly a very good book my high rating may be influenced by nostalgia as much as anything else. It was one of the very first fantasy books that I read and one of the small number that got me really interested in the genre. I first read it in my late teens and have come back to it a number of times over the years.

The story itself isn’t that complicated and neither are the characters but it still manages to incorporate a large number of characters, all with an impact on the story and span two worlds with very different cultures.

The style of writing is very much that of the early 80s. This story comes at the very beginning of the emergence of fantasy fiction and is very different to many books being written today. It’s a simpler style of writing and no adult themes. I found it very refreshing to be honest.

The author has written a considerable number of books in the world of Midkemia and Kelewan and this is just the first installment. It’s hard to believe that this was his first published novel. The story of the Magician and the Riftwar Saga is an introduction to two amazing worlds and I’d highly recommend it.

sword of kings

Sword of Kings (The Last Kingdom #12) by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

An oath of loyalty.
Two warring kings.
A destiny he didn’t choose…

England is in turmoil as Vikings and Saxons battle for territory. Rumours build about the fatal sickness of the King, and the country awaits an heir.

A violent clash at sea forces the warrior lord Uhtred to lead his men from his Northumbrian fortress to London and plunge into the eye of the storm. For two kings claim the empty throne, and a new kingdom cannot be born without bloodshed.

Uhtred’s sword will leave one king dead and the other victorious. But sometimes it is hard to know the will of the gods…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

One of the best books in the series and a real return to what I love about Uhtred’s character and the series in general. Although there is one more, final book to come it has a real feeling of a finale and it’s obvious that Uhtred’s story is drawing to an end.

What I liked most about this book is that it is much more contained than previous books. Although Uhtred still gets around geographically the storyline is kept mainly to a small number of locations and the main focus is on Uhtred and his group of warriors.

Overall the story is quite dark. There’s a real sense that Uhtred is coming to the end of his story but also that pagan Britain is also coming to an end as Alfred’s Englaland begins to approach reality. The close relationship between Finan and Uhtred is a poignant theme through the whole story as Finan’s concern for his old friend becomes more real.

As much as I’m looking forward to seeing how Uhtred’s story finishes I would be quite happy if the series ended here. As I said above it leaves the reader with a sense of finale.

ritual

Ritual (Jack Caffrey #3, The Walking Man #1, Flea Marley #1) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

Nine feet under water, police diver Flea Marley closes her gloved fingers around a human hand. The fact that there’s no body attached is disturbing enough—until the discovery of the matching appendage a day later. Both hands have been freshly amputated, and there are indications that the victim was still alive when they were removed.

Newly seconded to the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol, DI Jack Caffery soon establishes that the hands belong to a young man who has recently disappeared. As Caffery and Marley search for the rest of the victim—and for his abductor—they journey into the darkest recesses of Bristol’s underworld, where drug addiction is rife, street kids sell themselves for a hit, and a disturbing occult ritual may be making an unexpected appearance.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

One of the very best books I’ve read in a long time! The author has taken her familiar character and turned him upside down by moving him out of London and into a new city in Bristol. He hasn’t managed to leave all his baggage behind though so he hasn’t changed completely.

Two new characters have been introduced. One is the very complicated Walking Man who has only been touched upon in this story and with this book being sub-titled as the first installment of “The Walking Man” series we will get to know him better in the future.

The second is Flea Marley and she is as important and central a character as Jack. Another complicated character with a messy background story and again someone we will be meeting again. In an interview with the author she described how she had intended to leave Jack Caffrey aside and develop Flea as a character with her own series but was drawn to bring Jack and her together in the one story. It’s a fantastic result.

All that and then you add in gruesome murders, African occult and a host of other really well written minor characters and it was a story I could hardly put down.

the hunt for red october

The Hunt for Red October (Jack Ryan #1) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

Here is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy’s phenomenal career. A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House. Its theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: the chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. Lauded by the Washington Post as “breathlessly exciting.” The Hunt for Red October remains a masterpiece of military fiction by one of the world’s most popular authors, a man whose shockingly realistic scenarios continue to hold us in thrall.

Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on…

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I’m sure I’ve read a few of Tom Clancy’s books before but a long time ago. I decided to come back to them off the back of watching the TV show from Amazon. I couldn’t remember any of the story lines so not sure what it’s based on. I’ve also seen the film version of this book a couple of times so had a pretty good idea of the main characters and the storyline.

Overall I was disappointed. There is a huge amount of military jargon used in the story. Some of it is explained but there is just so much of it and so many acrynoms that I couldn’t keep track. Added to that there are an awful lot of characters, most of them minor, which makes it difficult to follow. The story skips about quite a lot which adds to this. Another reviewer described it like “bring your kid to work day” and being dragged around her Dad’s workplace meeting loads of people she didn’t know and in jobs she didn’t understand. I totally understand where she’s coming from!

What saved the book for me (apart from having loads of isolation induced time to spend reading) was the last 30%. Once the US make contact with the sub commander the story really changes. The boring, technical sub chase and evade story is finished and it becomes much more of a standard thriller type story with a military influence. This last bit of the book was enough to make me want to read more of the author and hopefully find out what makes him so popular.