Tag Archives: 3star

walk the wire

Walk The Wire (Amos Decker #6, Will Robie #5.5) by David Baldacci.

From Goodreads:

Amos Decker — the FBI consultant with a perfect memory — returns to solve a gruesome murder in a booming North Dakota oil town in the newest thriller in David Baldacci’s #1 New York Times bestselling Memory Man series.

When Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are called to London, North Dakota, they instantly sense that the thriving fracking town is ripe for trouble. The promise of a second gold rush has attracted an onslaught of newcomers all hoping for a windfall, and the community is growing faster than houses can be built. The sudden boom has also brought a slew of problems with it, including drugs, property crimes, prostitution — and now murder.

Decker and Jamison are ordered to investigate the death of a young woman named Irene Cramer, whose body was expertly autopsied and then dumped in the open — which is only the beginning of the oddities surrounding the case. As Decker and Jamison dig into Irene’s life, they are shocked to discover that the woman who walked the streets by night as a prostitute was a teacher for a local religious sect by day — a sect operating on land once owned by a mysterious government facility that looms over the entire community.

London is a town replete with ruthless business owners, shady government officials, and religious outsiders, all determined to keep their secrets from coming out. When other murders occur, Decker will need all of his extraordinary memory and detective skills, and the assistance of a surprising ally, to root out a killer and the forces behind Cramer’s death. . . before the boom town explodes.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

It’s a while since I read any David Baldacci books and I was looking forward to reading another installment in the Amos Decker story but this was a bit disappointing. It felt like the author was just going through the motions and that this is a book written for money rather than a good story.

The biggest problem is that he tries to take three different mysteries that are only loosely connected. It would have been better to drop to one or probably two and keep a tighter storyline.

The author also depends too much on Amos’ perfect memory as a crutch. I lost track of how many times that he sat down, accessed his “cloud” and suddenly had a flash of inspiration that became a significant break in the case.

Will Robie and eventually Jessica Reel are pretty much shoehorned into this book. Again they’re used as a crutch to make storyline moves, they always seem to be in the right place at the right time and it does neither character any great favours.

The overall story is worth reading and I did enjoy the book. The three cases have merit, I just would have liked to see two of them developed better. It was also nice to meet Amos again and see how his personality is changing and developing. The final reveal did surprise me in the end up even if it was all a bit “Scooby Doo” and “those pesky kids”. Now that he’s updated Amos’ story I hope he is considering a return to the Camel Club.

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a darkness at sethanon

A Darkness at Sethanon (Riftwar Saga #3) by Raymond E. Feist

From Goodreads:

A Darkness at Sethanon is the stunning climax to Raymond E. Feist’s brilliant epic fantasy trilogy, the Riftwar Saga.

Here be dragons and sorcery, swordplay, quests, pursuits, intrigues, stratagems, journeys to the darkest realms of the dead and titanic battles between the forces of good and darkest evil.

Here is the final dramatic confrontation between Arutha and Murmandamus – and the perilous quest of Pug the magician and Tomas the warrior for Macros the Black. A Darkness at Sethanon is heroic fantasy of the highest excitement and on the grandest scale, a magnificent conclusion to one of the great fantasy sagas of our time.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

A disappointing end to what I remember being a great series of books. The first two were really well written and well structured stories, this book didn’t seem to know what it wanted to do and wandered from one huge event to the next. I totally understand that it’s a fantasy story but the suspension of belief required to navigate not one but three huge battles was just too much with our major characters repeatedly putting themselves at risk and escaping at the last minute, remarkably unscathed.

I really enjoyed finding out the back story behind the elves, Valheru and especially Macros but the whole concept of the time trap and returning to the beginning of the Universe was baffling and seemed to have no significance apart from a handy way to get stuff done and move characters around. It’s like the author had a great idea he wanted to shoehorn into a story and nobody was able to talk him out of it.

Finally it’s very obvious that George R.R. Martin was a Feist fan at some stage. The immortal Black Slayers, who can only be killed by burning their hearts led by one key magical leader coming in a horde from the North, delayed by a battle at a fortress with giant walls and the use of naphtha to destroy a city. Sound familiar? There’s even dragons!

Feist went on to write many more great stories based on Kelewan and Midkemia and I definitely won’t be stopping here.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

death du jour

Death du Jour (Temperance Brennan #2) by Kathy Reichs.

From Goodreads:

Assaulted by the bitter cold of a Montreal winter, the American-born Dr. Temperance Breman, Forensic Anthropologist for the Province of Quebec, digs for a corpse where Sister Elisabeth Nicolet, dead over a century and now a candidate for sainthood, should lie in her grave. A strange, small coffin, buried in the recesses of a decaying church, holds the first clue to the cloistered nun’s fate. The puzzle surrounding Sister Elisabeth’s life and death provides a welcome contrast to discoveries at a burning chalet, where scorched and twisted bodies await Tempe’s professional expertise. Who were these people? What brought them to this gruesome fate? Homicide Detective Andrew Ryan, with whom Tempe has a combustive history, joins her in the arson investigation. From the fire scene they are drawn into the worlds of an enigmatic and controversial professor, a mysterious commune, and a primate colony on a Carolina island.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Good but not great. It’s a decent story but the first third reminded me far too much of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta. I’m not sure which character came first but I was frustrated that the two were beginning to morph and Tempe was becoming a bitter and depressive character like Kay.

Once she returns to South Carolina the story takes a bit of a shift and definitely for the better. The tone of the story lifts and while still dark it becomes more of a crime investigation thriller which I enjoy a lot more. I find the detailed forensics descriptions very technical, difficult to follow and a bit dull.

There are three storylines working alongside each other. While they are connected I find the connections a bit contrived and it’s stretching coincidence to the maximum to make them believable.

I do think I will read more of this series as it has potential. Hopefully it gets better and doesn’t degrade further. I wasted a lot of time reading Kay Scarpetta and don’t intend to do the same again!

the skull throne

The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle #4) by Peter V. Brett

From Goodreads:

The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.

Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.

But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.

In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing each other and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.

In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.

Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton–rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.

All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

For me this was the least enjoyable of the series so far. I found it really difficult to engage with the story, possibly as there isn’t much of a story for the majority of the book. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of scene setting and politics but I wanted more battles and active politics. I didn’t enjoy the discussions between Arlen and Jardir and found the majority of the early Inevera story to be drawn out and boring. Leesha has become unrecognisable from the strong female character of the first book (until near the end) and Rojer’s story is very badly handled.

⚠️⚠️SPOILER ALERT⚠⚠️

It seems though that the author also got bored as he turned the whole story upside down in the final third and shook out all the crap he no longer needed. There are deaths aplenty, wiping out quite a few major and minor characters and decimating the lives of those that are left. It’s hard to see how the Hollow/Krasian alliance will survive the deaths of Rojer and Thamos with nothing to hold the loyalty of Rojer’s wives now that he is gone.

⚠⚠️END SPOILER⚠️⚠️

I also enjoyed the introduction of Briar as a new and interesting character. I would like to see more of him but I have a feeling he had a plot line to help with and that his usefulness has come to an end. Likewise it was great to see Ashia developed further, filling in her back story and giving further insights into the Krasian way of life, brutal as it is.

This is very obviously a setup book for the series finale. I hope it lives up to its potential and is more like 1-3 and I really hope it’s not like this one.

gone forever

Gone Forever (Get Jack Reacher #1, Jack Widow #1) by Scott Blade

From Goodreads:

Jack Widow is an elite NCIS Agent. He’s the guy sent to hotspots all over the world, undercover as a Navy SEAL to investigate high-level crimes, until he is pulled off assignment after someone has shot his sheriff mother, way back home in Mississippi.

In order to solve the murder of a mother, that he hasn’t seen in years, Jack Widow is forced to return home from an undercover assignment. Taken-to-be a worthless drifter, Widow discovers a distraught husband, a missing wife, and the small town of Black Rock, Mississippi, where the people harbor a horrifying secret that they will die to protect.

Good thing Jack Widow will kill to find out what.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is a difficult book to rate as there are two different versions of the same story.

The first version is based around Cameron Reacher. He is 17 years old and the unknown son of Jack Reacher who is a character created by Lee Childs. His mother dies of cancer at the beginning of the story but on her deathbed she tells him the truth about his father. Cameron leaves his hometown to try and find himself and his father. Along the way he stumbles across and disrupts an organised crime gang that kidnaps and sells young women into sex slavery.

The second version is a rewrite published approximately 1 year later and sees Cameron replaced by Jack Widow who is in his mid 30s and an experienced NCIS undercover agent. He is estranged from his Mother who told him the truth about his father when he was 17. She has been shot while investigating the disappearance of a young woman and Jack returns to his hometown in time to say goodbye to his mother and take up the investigation to find her killer.

I’m a big fan of the Jack Reacher storyline and this fits well with it. This author writes in a similar style to Lee Childs which makes the story feel familiar. I accidentally downloaded the first version initially and read it to completion before realising that there was a second. This first version is full of issues, not least being the improbable experience of Cameron Reacher at only 17. The more mature version of Jack Widow suits the story so much better. I’d struggle to give the original version much more than 2 stars.

Once I realised there was a rewrite I then read it to see the differences. The first third dealing with Jack’s back story, his mother’s death and connection to the investigation are much better and I’d definitely recommend this version. This is the version I’ve based this review on. I can see why the author went with a new name but I do wish he had stuck with Cameron Reacher, it connected better to the original Jack Reacher.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

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!

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

robocop (2014)

From IMDb:

RoboCop (2014)

The year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years – and it’s meant billions for OmniCorp’s bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit – is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

It’s hard to watch this reboot and not compare it to the original 1987 movie. In some ways it almost the same but it has been changed. The premise for the creation of a RobCop is different and the corporation involvement has been brought up to date with modern day. Saying that the main storyline of the struggle between man and machine is pretty much the same.

As action movies go it was pretty decent but not outstanding. The special effects are pretty good and the action scenes short but good. The last 20-30min are probably the best of the whole movie.

The two most familiar actors are Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson. They both play baddies. Keaton is the obvious bad guy but Jackson is the subtle manipulating media that’s very relevant in today’s modern world.

If you liked this then make sure you go back and watch the 1987 original at some stage.

I can’t decide if the final theme song played over the credits was tongue in cheek or not but it’s definitely inspired 😊

war of the wolf

War of The Wolf (Last Kingdom #11) by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

While Uhtred might have regained his family’s fortress, it seems that a peaceful life is not to be – as he is under threat from both an old enemy and a new foe. The old enemy comes from Wessex where a dynastic struggle will determine who will be the next king.  And the new foe is Sköll, a Norseman, whose ambition is to be King of Northumbria and who leads a frightening army of wolf-warriors, men who fight half-crazed in the belief that they are indeed wolves. Uhtred, believing he is cursed, must fend off one enemy while he tries to destroy the other. In this new chapter of the Saxon Tales series—a rousing adventure of courage, treachery, duty, devotion, majesty, love and battle, as seen through the eyes of a warrior straddling two worlds—Uhtred returns to fight once again for the destiny of England.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I dithered about this rating. I did really enjoy it and it’s definitely better than 3 stars but not quite good enough to get 4. It could be that the series had now been going so long that it’s hard to do anything different with Uhtred and his story.

There is a lot of good in this book. The writing, as ever, is excellent and the historical connections really interesting to the point that I’d often divert to Google to learn more about the background and surrounding stories. I particularly liked the political machinations of this book. There’s a lot of twisting and turning as the main characters try to use and manipulate each other for their own good and to see both the successes and failures of these plans.

I also really like how the author is allowing the characters to get older. Although this means he is limiting the length of the story it does create a new perspective as the series develops. I particularly liked how he described the changes in battle for Uhtred, how he struggled to accept his limits and how those around him helped and supported but also restricted him when he was getting carried away.

I am disappointed with two aspects of the story. I thought there was much more scope for Sigtrygger and Stiora’s story and the feeling throughout this book is that they are now relegated to very minor characters. At the end of the book I got the feeling that their stories are both pretty much over.

I am also disappointed with the Bebbanburg element. So much has been invested in securing Uhtred’s family home to have it pretty much disregarded in this chapter. Maybe the author has other plans, possibly involving Sigtrygger, but I haven’t read any future synopsis yet so I’m not sure.

Finally I found the culmination of the battle with Sköll very clumsy. It was a real Hollywood ending and just felt very unrealistic. It was as if the author had painted himself into a corner and created such an insurmountable task that he needed this unbelievable stroke of luck to save our hero. It just didn’t sit right with me, especially as Uhtred is a wiley enough warrior by now to have avoided it all.

I am very much looking forward to the next installment. Hopefully back to Bebbanburg but I feel that time is now running short for Uhtred as he gets older and Saxon Englaland grows in power and turns its eyes towards Northumbria which has now become “The Last Kingdom“.

final judgement

Final Judgement (Lou Mason #5) by Joel Goodman

From Amazon:

A little bit of luck is better than a ton of gold. But when Avery Fish found a headless dead man wrapped in plastic in the trunk of his Cadillac, he needed more than a little luck. Much more. He needed Lou Mason.

Fish may be a con man but Mason has to prove he’s not a murderer. To save Fish, he teams up with a woman from his past, now an FBI agent with a hidden agenda of her own.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Best way to describe this book is “forgettable”. In fact I finished it just over a week ago and had to read some reviews and summaries to remind myself what happened!

The author writes well. He has created a couple of good central characters that are interesting and likeable. However, in this book he then throws in a host of other characters and messes with the central characters so that you get a very superficial and confusing mix of people that are difficult to keep a handle on.

The reappearance of Kelly was a bit unexpected but her character has changed considerably and not in a good way. Can’t help but feel that he would have been better with a completely new character instead.

I also didn’t like how the author handled Lou’s relationship with Abby. I don’t know why I didn’t like it but I think it just didn’t feel believable. The way it played out didn’t really suit either of their personalities.

I kept at this book as it was good enough to keep going and I did want to see how it ended. I’ve seen others criticise the ending but it couldn’t really go any other way to be fair. Overall I’ve liked the Lou Mason character and the author’s style of writing. I think I’ll give some of his other series a go too.