Tag Archives: thriller

storm front

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

From Goodreads:

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.

So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.

Magic – it can get a guy killed.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book has been around for 11 years now but I only heard about it recently. I came across the series when mentioned by Anthony on his blog Today’s Perfect Moment and so glad he did! I really, really enjoyed it.

This is a completely unique character and setting for me and despite my initial misgivings it works really well. The character of Harry Dresden is a quite cynical character and with a modern setting he’s very different from the traditional depiction of a wizard, about as far from Gandalf and Dumbledore as possible! The supporting characters are also very interesting and especially Harry’s relationship with Murphy. My favourite character by far though was Bob.

Bob typifies the disregard the author has for traditional magic, wizards and fantasy in general. The creation of the two potions was a fabulous comedic and well written scene that was one of my favourite, closely followed by Bob’s blackmail of Harry (trying not to give spoilers). This somehow reminded me of Terry Pratchett and his Witch characters.

There are a number of proper fantasy scenes that are also really well done. The best by far was Harry’s meeting with Madame Bianca but the appearances of the Toad Demon were also really well written.

The author seems to be quite prolific with 17 titles in the series so far. I hope he manages to keep the quality high as they go along as I hope to read them all.

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poppet

Poppet (Jack Caffrey #6, Flea Marley #4) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

In this chilling, seamlessly-plotted thriller, British detective Jack Caffery must find a dangerous mental patient on the loose—before he can kill again . . .
 
The Beechway High Secure Unit in Bristol, England, has a storied past—first as a nineteenth-century workhouse, then a poorhouse for the homeless, and now as a psychiatric hospital. With that troubled history come superstitions like the Maude, believed to be the ghost of a sadistic workhouse matron.
 
But while some of the patients and staff think the Maude is behind a series of unexplained episodes of self-harm amongst the ward’s patients, nursing coordinator AJ LeGrande thinks they might be the work of an all too human horror—a homicidal patient who was released back into the public in error.
 
Calling on Det. Jack Caffery, LeGrande hopes his investigation will reveal what’s truly been going on inside and outside the hospital’s walls. But what Caffery discovers about former patient Isaac Handel is beyond anyone’s imagining.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. I’m a big fan of Jack Caffrey and Mo Hayder in general but I absolutely devoured this book, reading it in less than 3 days. It’s written in a really good way that draws you on and on at a frenetic pace that does not allow you an easy opportunity to stop reading.

It’s both a complicated and very simple story with twists and turns all along the way. It’s focused mostly on Jack but introduces two new central characters from the mental hospital that are just for this story. That was a nice change but it also allowed Jack to be a police man in the main.

There was no sign of The Walking Man this time but there were enough eccentric characters here without him. I kept expecting him to pop up at some stage but he didn’t appear.

Finally and with some relief it appears that Jack and Flea are beginning to solve their personal problems and bring Misty Kitson’s death to an end. That’s been dragging on for a while now and it will be good to move on.

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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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fatal voyage

Fatal Voyage (Temperance Brennan #4) by Kathy Reichs

From Goodreads:

Investigating a plane crash in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan discovers in a most disturbing way that the evidence doesn’t add up. Tripping over a coyote-chewed leg at the crash scene, she performs a little mental arithmetic and realizes that this victim wasn’t on the plane. Once again, Brennan’s high-tech DMORT snaps into action faster than you can say “Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team.” The author of <a href="http://cart2.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?isbn=0671011375
“>Death du Jour
serves up another exquisite meal.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was really good. The story switched from being based mostly in Montreal to North Carolina which broke the story nicely from the previous books. It also took in two different investigations that were nicely connected by Tempe’s involvement.

Both storylines were pretty unusual and I enjoyed them both but it was the detail provided on the air crash investigation that I found most interesting. The author provides details that I’ve never seen in a novel before that gave great insight without bogging the reader down with technical jargon or information overload.

I also enjoyed the character of the female Sheriff Crowe. A no-nonsense yet helpful and strong female character, she provided a nice counterpart to Tempe’s impulsiveness and sometimes flighty nature. I’d like to see more of her.

The only downside for me was the adolescent nature of the relationship between Tempe and Ryan. It jarred with the rest of the story and does nothing for Tempe’s character development. It makes her look weak especially alongside Crowe’s character. I hope the author can change that in later books or it could end up going the way of the Scarpetta books!

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winter territory

Winter Territory (Get Jack Reacher #2) by Scott Blade

From Goodreads:

CARRYING REACHER DNA, CAMERON IS ON THE ROAD TO GET JACK REACHER.

Orphaned and alone, Cameron follows in his father’s footsteps until he is pitched neck-deep into a conspiracy that spans from Washington’s most secretive agency to the mountains of Wyoming.

Deep in Northern Wyoming, in the dead of winter, CIA Agent Alex Shepard is desperate. A few days ago, he sent an undercover agent to the Red Rain Indian Reservation. When his man was supposed to check-in, Shepard heard nothing. No report. No communication.

With a major snowstorm fast-approaching, Shepard’s secret mission is in peril. He thinks that his agent is dead. He has no time left. And lives are on the line.

Enter Cameron Reacher–Shepard’s one hope to recover his agent and stop an unthinkable terrorist plot.

Now Cameron will face the harsh, winter elements; a reluctant and beautiful tribal deputy; and a hidden enemy.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

This was a refreshing change for me as the last few books I’ve read have been quite complex in terms of both character and storyline. This certainly isn’t.

Saying that it’s quite poorly written with a weak and implausible storyline full of repetition and great leaps based on intuition more suited to an experienced adult than an 18 year old explained away as genetic memory from a father he never knew.

As with the first book in the series this was reissued a few years later with the adult Jack Widow character. I haven’t been able to get a download of that version but if my previous experience is carried through that may be a better read.

This is an easy read and reminds me of a cross between the 80s versions of The A Team and Magyver. Just forget about believability and quality and go with the flow and you will get the most out of it.

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gone

Gone (Jack Caffrey #5, Flea Marley #3, The Walking Man #3) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

November in the West Country.

Evening is closing in as murder detective Jack Caffery arrives to interview the victim of a car-jacking.

He’s dealt with routine car-thefts before, but this one is different. This car was taken by force. And on the back seat was a passenger. An eleven-year-old girl. Who is still missing.

Before long the jacker starts to communicate with the police: ‘It’s started,’ he tells them. ‘And it ain’t going to stop just sudden, is it?

And Caffery knows that he’s going to do it again. Soon the jacker will choose another car with another child on the back seat.

Caffery’s a good and instinctive cop; the best in the business, some say. But this time he knows something’s badly wrong. Because the jacker seems to be ahead of the police – every step of the way…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this book. If you read professional reviews and critic reports I’m sure there will be lots of comments about the lack of writing quality, how the story skips around a lot and how some plot lines appear out of nowhere or are discarded without a thought. I don’t care! This book is all about the story and all of the above creates a frenetic pace that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you along whether you want to go or not. I found it difficult to break away from reading this during the first 40% but the remainder was read virtually in one sitting this morning. I was so engrossed I even gave up on my planned 100km cycle and gave myself over to the story.

There is some development in the relationship between Flea and Jack and they both have starring roles in this book. The Walking Man also plays a more prominent role and we get to know some more of his back story. However, the story mostly focuses on “the jacker” and the search for the missing girls. It’s almost a standalone story but much more enjoyable if you have read the preceding books.

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scarpetta

Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta #16) by Patricia Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric prison ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talk—and the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard.

The injuries, he says, were sustained in the course of a murder . . . that he did not commit. Is Bane a criminally insane stalker who has fixed on Scarpetta? Or is his paranoid tale true, and it is he who is being spied on, followed and stalked by the actual killer? The one thing Scarpetta knows for certain is that a woman has been tortured and murdered—and more violent deaths will follow. Gradually, an inexplicable and horrifying truth emerges: Whoever is committing the crimes knows where his prey is at all times. Is it a person, a government? And what is the connection between the victims?

In the days that follow, Scarpetta; her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley; and her niece, Lucy, who has recently formed her own forensic computer investigation firm in New York, will undertake a harrowing chase through cyberspace and the all-too-real streets of the city—an odyssey that will take them at once to places they never knew, and much, much too close to home.

Throughout, Cornwell delivers shocking twists and turns, and the kind of cutting-edge technology that only she can provide. Once again, she proves her exceptional ability to entertain and enthrall.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I ended up reading this almost by accident and against my better judgement after the really poor experience with the last few books in the series. I don’t know why I downloaded it but it somehow ended up being the last book on my Kindle and it was easier to give it a go than start the process of looking for new books.

I was very surprised to find myself enjoying it! It’s a great return to the characters that I enjoyed in earlier books. Benton is still disappointing but Lucy is more engaging. There are a number of interesting characters specific to the story as well as a reintroduction of Jaime Berger from an earlier book. The tension of the relationship between Marino and Kay is handled really well and I hope it can be resolved completely in later books.

The actual story is also very good and quite compelling to read. The handling of Oscar’s story in particular was very good. Pacing is excellent once you get past the initial Oscar/Kay meeting and the unfortunately standard angst between Benton and Kay in the first quarter of the book. Once past this I found the story pretty gripping and flew through the second half in particular.

This book has finally restored my faith in the series and with another eight left I think I’ll give the next one a go as well – ever the optimist!

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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!

patriot games

Patriot Games (Jack Ryan #1) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

It is fall. Years before the defection of a Soviet submarine will send him hurtling into confrontation with the Soviets, historian, ex-Marine and CIA analyst Jack Ryan is vacationing in London with his wife and young daughter, when a terrorist attack takes place before his eyes. Instinctively, he dives forward to break it up, and is shot. It is not until he wakes up in the hospital that he learns whose lives he has saved — the Prince and Princess of Wales and their new young son — and which enemies he has made — the Ulster Liberation Army, an ultra-left-wing splinter of the IRA.

By his impulsive act, he has gained both the gratitude of a nation and then enmity of hits most dangerous men — men who do not sit on their hate. And in the weeks and months to come, it is Jack Ryan, and his family, who will become the targets of that hate.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the second Jack Ryan novel published by Tom Clancy but it’s the first chronologically and prior to “The Hunt for Red October” which was published first. This was confusing at first as Ryan is still a teacher and only starts working with the CIA during the story.

This is quite a long book. It’s split into three connected storylines that chronicle Jack Ryan’s interaction with a fictitious extremist Irish terrorist organisation that is trying to destroy and supplant the IRA who they feel is too moderate. It initially starts in London when Ryan prevents an attack on the Royal Family. It then moves to the USA when Ryan and his family return home and the main terrorist antagonist looks for revenge.

Overall it was a very enjoyable book. There is still quite a lot of military and intelligence terminology but nothing like Red October and much more readable. He also manages not to fall into the “Oirish” trap with the Irish characters. It’s written and set in the mid 80s so the technology and politics are definitely of its time.

Like Red October this book was also made into a very successful film starring Harrison Ford.

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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.

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