Thursday, August 31, 2017

The end (ebook) by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

Owen Taylor and his team are about to embark on their last mission together. Like all their missions it is a black op on foreign soil - if they are caught they are on their own, disavowed by the nation they serve.  It should be a relatively straight forward mission, get in, take out the bad guy, and then get out - but things take a sideway twist right from the start and Taylor soon realises that they may not make it out of this op alive. 

When Taylor beats the odds and survives the mission it seems like a small victory, especially when he finds himself facing challenges in his new life in small town America.  His State mandated shrink tells him that settling in will take time, but it is pretty clear that his new neighbours don't like him much and would be happier if he moved on sooner rather than later.  Too bad they don't know they have a highly trained killer living in their little town, maybe if they did they wouldn't push him quite so hard.

This is another great book from Patterson and DuBois, and knowing that there is a sequel just around the corner made it even more enjoyable.  Owen Taylor is a great character and the story moves along at a great clip, although there was a patch in the middle where it feels like I missed something, but otherwise it was a great read devoured in one sitting.

If you like this book then try:
  • The witnesses (ebook) by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Let's play make-believe by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, August 21, 2017

Dark water by Robert Bryndza

Dark water is the third book in the Detective Foster series and while you can read it alone I highly recommend reading the series in order for best enjoyment and to avoid **SPOILERS*** - so start with The girl in the ice and then The night stalker.

DCI Erika Foster and her team are looking for drugs that were hastily dumped in a quarry lake when they stumble across something unexpected - the skeletal remains of a child.  It is an unexpected discovery that quickly escalates when Erika learns that the remains belong to Jessica Collins, who disappeared over twenty years ago on her way to a birthday party.  The discovery of the remains means Jessica's disappearance has gone from a cold case to a red hot one, and even though she is now deals with drug cases Erika is determined to be part of the case, and uses her connections to elbow her way into the lead investigator role for the team. 

It is a daunting task, especially after all this time, and the case has been tainted by the failure of the lead detective at the time who has now slunk away into obscurity.  Erika is determined to solve the case and prove herself as missing out on promotion has stung in more ways than one.  Bringing in some of her trusted former colleagues will help with the case, but Erika doesn't realise that her team is facing not only a mountain of evidence that may lead nowhere - there is also someone who will stop at nothing to prevent them from learning the truth.  Untangling the web of secrets, half truths and outright lies will take time, and while the case was cold, Erika is now in a race against time to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance and death of little Jessica Collins.

This is an enjoyable series, and the author has continued to develop and grow his characters while also growing in his skills as an author.  This has been my favourite book of the series so far because for the first time we get to connect with Erika outside of the office because of her relationship with her family, and her new relationships with her colleagues.  The first two books were an introduction and to keep the story moving the details of her life were a little sketchy and roughly outlined, but here it feels more like we are really getting to know the real Erika (which was something of a treat).  I wasn't expecting to like this series quite so much, but I am now waiting for book four to arrive so I can see what happens next.

If Bryndza continues to hone his skills as a writer, and continues to write psychological thrillers that you can sink your teeth into then he has a bright future as an author because his books are readable but also challenge you to think about what you are reading, and challenge you to guess how things are going to end.  A very good read, and I recommend trying to read it in a single sitting so you don't miss any of the clues along the way!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Store by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Jacob and Megan Brandeis are a dying breed, authors of books that you can find in a brick and mortar store - something that is quickly dying out thanks to the convenience of the Store.  It might have started small, but the Store has grown into a massive super company that not only conveniently supplies everything you need, but based on your data can recommend things you didn't even know you wanted or needed.  When their publisher tells them that the book they have been working on for the past two years is no longer going to be published because of changes in the market they reach out in desperation to the Store to see if it can be published and after a promising start their hopes are dashed and they come up with a new plan - write a book about the Store instead.

It seems like a simple plan, even though it means moving their two children Alex and Lindsay to small town Nebraska where the Store has their massive distribution centre.  It is a huge change in lifestyle and comes with some strangely lavish perks - including a house that seems too good to be true, a school with all the high tech gadgets you could wish for, and the convenience of drone deliveries from their local stores.  It all seems too good to be true, and the Barndeis family quickly discovers that being part of the Store family also means something darker, with hidden surveillance and claws in the velvet glove the Store extends to the family.  It soon becomes clear that Jacob is struggling to tow the company line, and standing out from the crowd at the Store is not necessarily a good thing.  As his family is sucked into the 'cult' of the Store, Jacob finds himself slowly but surely on the edge - and once he tips over their may be no coming back.  Surely Jacob is overreacting, surely the Store is just a convenient and savvy way to shop - or is it?

I was eagerly looking forward to The Store, mainly because Patterson writes some amazing speculative fiction about what might be just around the corner - fiction that makes you think about what is happening in a fresh light.  While the Store doesn't have a name other than the Store, it does seem to be based around the idea of a company similar to Amazon, and I have to confess that it was hard not to compare the Store to Amazon as I was reading (sorry Amazon!).  One of the most interesting, not to mention scary, aspects of The Store is that all the freedoms people have lost in the book are freedoms they gave away - they weren't stolen - and it makes me wonder how many people think about the information they give away every day, and the special treatment companies get each day.  For younger generations it is perfectly natural to post a lot of personal information online, and it was interesting to see the divide between young and old clearly expressed in the book - but in a way that makes the older generation seem out of touch and 'dated' rather than in the right.

The Store was devoured in a single sitting and when I reached the end it was a very satisfying feeling to have reached the end - especially with the way the book ended.  Patterson is an expert at making you wonder what is happening right to the end, and The Store is no exception.  This book may not appeal to all of Patterson's fans because it is more speculative fiction than thriller or crime fiction, but I found it well crafted and expertly drawn out to give you maximum enjoyment and maximum time to figure out what is going on.  This is the kind of book that would make an amazing movie because it is a tense psychological thriller that makes you question what you know, and makes you wonder what you would do in the same situation.  If the Store really existed would you be content to let them rule your lives completely, or would you fight to keep your personal freedoms and choices?

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fifty fifty by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Fifty fifty is the third book in the Detective Harriet Blue series which started with Black & Blue (Bookshots) and Never Never.  To avoid ***SPOILERS***, and for greatest enjoyment, I highly recommend reading the other books in the series before reading this review.

Detective Harry Blue has been living life in a weird limbo ever since she got back from her last assignment.  To everyone else she is the volatile and temperamental detective who can go off at any moment, a trait that everyone think she shares with her brother.  Harry is focused on proving that her brother is innocent and getting him out of jail - not easy when her fellow detectives are convinced they have their man, and that trial by media has convinced the public that he is guilty before the trial even begins.  When her temper gets the better of her and she lashes out, Harry finds herself bundled up and shipped off to the middle of nowhere to get her out of the way and prevent her from making a life changing mistake.

The sleepy little town of Last Chance Valley almost seems too small to have any real problems, there are only 75 people living in the town and everyone seems content to live in the small town for their entire lives.  There are a few teenagers that take the chance as soon as they can and leave for the 'big smoke' as soon as they can, but the single police officer based in the town has been mostly able to cope - until now.  Someone has big plans for Last Chance Valley, a detailed manifesto has been found that is full of notes about spree killers - what drove them to kill, how they planned their attacks, and what made them succesful.  

When Harry is welcomed to the town with a rather spectacular explosion and a first victim it becomes clear that the killer is real, and when the town decides that they already know who the killer is Harry has her work cut out for her as she tries to prevent small town justice.  Saddled with a partner who thinks that he knows everything and who is determined to see terrorists around every corner, Harry is in a race against time to prevent not just another death - but the death of the entire town. Everyone has their secrets in a small town, and sometimes those secrets turn deadly - especially for outsiders.

This is the third book in the Detective Blue series and the second full length novel and I love this series even more now that I have read Fifty fifty.  My favourite Patterson series is the Detective Michael Bennett series, and the Detective Harriet Blue series is now a firm second favourite - not only because of the character, but also because Patterson and Fox have found a seamless writing style that drags you into the story and keeps you rooting for Harry even when you know you really shouldn't!  If you enjoy reading this series then I highly recommend trying Crimson Lake by Candice Fox, which was released between Never Never and Fifty fifty - it is highly readable and sucks you into the story in much the same way as a James Patterson thriller does.

It was a long, slow, agonising wait for Fifty fifty when I heard it was coming, and then it was almost over too quickly because I couldn't put it down once I started.  This is a highly readable series, and it was nice to read a book set in our part of the world, even if it was across the ditch in Australia.  All we need now to make this series perfect is for Harry to be sent on a joint task force assignment to New Zealand!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, August 11, 2017

The night stalker by Robert Bryndza

The night stalker is the second book in the Detective Foster series and while you can read it alone I highly recommend reading the series in order for best enjoyment and to avoid **SPOILERS*** - so start with The girl in the ice if you can.

It starts with the death of a doctor in a quite suburban neighbourhood, his body discovered naked and displayed on his bed.  It looks like a sexual encounter gone wrong, or at least that is what it is supposed to look like - but DCI Erika Foster is not convinced. especially when a date rape drug is found in his system.  All signs point to an accident at first, but when it becomes clear the easy conclusion is that it was a hate crime against a gay man.  DCI Erika Foster never goes for the easy option, she wants to actually solve the case, and when a second body is found with the same signature she is the first to reach the conclusion that they are dealing with a serial killer - and she soon discovers that her opinion is not a popular one.

With an oppressive heatwave beating down on London tempers are short and her superiors have little patience for her insistence that a serial killer is on the loose - especially when her opinion differs from that of the pet forensic psychologist.  Erika is used to following her gut and it is telling her that  the killer not finished with their task, and it is a bitter victory when a third victim is found and the police arrest a suspect.  With her personal and professional lives colliding, and with the Night Stalker just out of reach Erika may have no choice but to go rogue to get the job done - a tough choice at the best of times for a police officer, but this time a promotion is on the line too.

The DCI Erika Foster has been a great find, and while the writing is not as polished as some of the more established authors, Bryndza has a knack for creating real characters that are well rounded and feel genuine.  Foster is something of an anti-hero, she is flawed and likes to go against the rules, but she is also damaged after the deaths of her husband and team which makes it more understandable.  The team around her have personalities and their own little quirks that make them distinct personalities - some are a little on the clich├ęd side, but you get that with all genres.  One of the parts that makes this series seem so real is the politics in the office, you can see the scheming and manoeuvring happening around Erika as things move forward, and it is very clear that at least one of the senior staff doesn't like her - which makes it more realistic when things go wrong.

This has been an interesting series so far and I am currently waiting for book three to arrive so I can find out what is going to happen next.  Erika's world has expanded between book one and book two, and from blurbs about the next book it looks as though her personal life is going to expand as well.  A very readable series that has short punchy chapters that sucker you in and keep you hooked.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla