Friday, March 30, 2018

Red alert by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Red alert is the fifth book in the NYPD Red series and while it can be read as a stand alone book, it is best enjoyed as part of the rest of the series.  If you choose to keep reading this review there are ***SPOILERS*** about what happens in the earlier books.

When you're part of NYPD Red you know that at least part of your day is going to be spent kissing butts and stroking egos - even when there is a crime to solve and not much time to solve it in.  Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald are the core team at NYPD Red and they are at the top of their game, which is both a hindrance and a help when it comes to solving crimes.  When they are roped into joining the security detail for Mayor Sykes it seems like an annoyance rather than a chore, but when a bomb explodes at the charity fundraiser they're attending the find themselves at ground zero for the crime and the start of a challenging case.  The mayor wants the case solved and what the mayor wants she gets.  When a second man dies at the hands of the same bomber it becomes clear that the case is bigger than they thought.

Because life is never simple for the overworked detectives of the NYPD the bomber is not the only case for Jordan and MacDonald to solve - and every case is considered a priority that needs their attention.  It is almost impossible to ignore a death like Aubrey Davenport's though, especially when she has the poor taste to die in a compromising position in a public place, and as the detectives dig deeper into her story they realise that the case may not be cut and dried either.  With pressure from all sides Jordan and MacDonald are going to have to keep their wits about them, especially when a third unofficial case falls in their lap.  

The NYPD Red series has been lots of fun to discover, and the chemistry between the main characters of Jordan and MacDonald is interesting and familiar without drifting too far into cliché and the overly familiar.  The cast is well developed and growing to include more interesting characters, and there are some laugh out loud moments among the more serious storylines.  It was a long wait for this instalment in the NYPD Red series but it was worth the wait and we can only hope the next instalment is not too far away!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The lost ones by Sheena Kamal

Nora Watts is very good at staying under the radar, a recovering alcoholic who is always one temptation away from falling off the wagon.  Avoiding her past, her memories, and a gaping hole in her memory means that Nora lives very much in the now and keeps everyone at arms length.  The only living thing that spends any real time with her is Whisper, a dog that she rescued from the streets and seems to regard Nora with as a source of food an grudging companionship.  Nora lives life on the edge, her only real contact with people is her work as a researcher for a private ye where she uses her natural lie detecting ability to help solve cases.  Her employer knows she has secrets, but as those secrets have never impacted on her work he has left her those secrets - but secrets can't stay buried forever.

When Nora receives an early morning phone call she doesn't know the caller but he knows about her and the child she gave up for adoption fifteen years earlier.  That phone call starts Nora down a path that will force her to confront her past and her present, something she has been avoiding by deliberately trying to forget.  She may have given birth to Bonnie, but apart from a brief moment in hospital she has never had a relationship with her daughter - though from what her adoptive parents have to say there may be something to the nurture versus nature debate.  When another ghost from her past reappears it becomes clear that there is more to Bonnie's disappearance than a teenage girl looking for her birth mother and if Nora can't untangle her memories, along with the secrets and lies, then she may never come back from facing her past.

The lost ones was a harrowing story with a unique voice that will stay with me for some time.  Nora is an almost perfect anti-hero, tortured by her past and battling her tendency to be an alcoholic.  Facing the case of her missing birth daughter forces her to not only face her past, but also face the truths that she doesn't want to see.  Nora is a product of her past and as the novel proceeds each layer of protection she has built is stripped away, and it is no surprise that she makes some very difficult decisions along the way.  I would challenge anyone to read The lost ones and not come away feeling for Nora and all she has faced in her past, and the inner strength she shows in unexpected ways.  A must read, and it will be interesting to see if Kamal continues to write books in this style as it was interesting and engaging and deserves to be read.

This book was also published in the United Kingdom under the title Eyes like mine.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz

Hellbent is the sequel to Orphan X and The Nowhere man, and while you can read the books independently there are ***SPOILERS*** in this review if you have not read the first books in the series.  I highly recommend reading the books in order for the ultimate reading experience.

It's a voice from his past that sets Evan Smoak, currently known as The Nowhere man and formerly known as Orphan X on his latest race against the clock.  With a target painted on his back it is only a matter of time until he caught by the head of the Orphan Program, and is the wrong time to pick up complications - but that is exactly what happens when Jack Johns asks Evan to go to an address and look after the package.  It turns out the package is a teenage girl with a complicated story that fits perfectly with the rest of the Orphan Program and the damage it leaves in it's wake.

Used to working on his own, Evan struggles to cope with suddenly having someone else to care for - especially as Joey doesn't want his help, and resents his assumptions that she can't take care of herself.  With a hit squad and two Orphans hunting him down on Van Sciver's orders it seems like its only a matter of time before the noose tightens and Evan and Joey fall.  But Evan is not that easy to kill, he may be up against superior numbers but he is also an Orphan and with someone to protect he is more determined than ever.  With a new person to help, Joey in tow and operatives actively targeting him Evan is in for one hell of a ride.

Hellbent is the third gripping installment in the Orphan X series and while I would have enjoyed reading it on it's own, having the back story from the previous two books made it an even more thrilling and enjoyable ride.  Hurwitz has a knack for creating characters that you care about, and putting them in situations that are both adrenaline fueled and realistic.  Thanks to a healthy dose of thrillers, action and crime novels (not to mention a healthier dose of watching action movies and TV series) it is easy to get jaded and feel like you've seen everything before - but Evan Smoak and his world of Orphans is at the same time familiar and refreshingly new.  

This is a series that deserves to be discovered and the things Evan uncovers in Hellbent make it clear that we have not see the last of the Orphans programme.  I highly, highly recommend that you try and read Hellbent in one sitting because having to put it down was very frustrating when all I wanted to do was know what was coming next!

If you like this book then try:
  • Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
  • The killing kind by Chris Holm
  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
  • The Postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • The basement: A novel  by Stephen Leather
  • City of the lost by Kelley Armstrong
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Truth or die by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
  • Dead secret by Ava McCarthy
  • Never never by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeffry P. Lindsay
  • Kiss the girls by James Patterson
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Kamp

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Honor among thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Zara Cole lives in The Lower Eight, far from the bright and shiny of Paradise, living the life she chose and following the laws of the streets.  Her life is a challenging but simple one - steal enough to survive the streets, don't rat out her fellow residents, and escape if she is sent to a rehabilitation facility.  It isn't an easy life, but it's the one she chose, staying on Earth while her mother and sister moved to Mars.  When Zara steals from the wrong mark she discovers that her life in The Lower Eight isn't as secure as she thought.  Running from a powerful player who wants what she took, Zara runs to the only place she thinks she will be safe - but safety is an illusion when money and power can get you anything you want.  

Her salvation is a complete surprise  - Zara is chosen as one of the Honors, the people chosen to travel the stars for one year in the company of a Leviathan.  For many on Earth the Leviathan are saviours, swooping in to save the Earth when it was on the brink of collapse, sharing their knowledge and asking for very little in return.  Accepting the offer to join the Honors programme is a no brainer for Zara, if she doesn't accept then she won't last long, but the programme is not without it's own risks. 

Zara and one of her fellow Honors,  Beatriz, are partnered with Nadim, a Leviathan who is facing his own challenges, and from the start it appears that they are a good match - although in the eyes of the elder Leviatthan that would be debatable.  As Zara and Beatriz learn more about each other and Nadim Zara starts to relax and feel at home, an unsettling feeling for someone who distrusts everyone.  This journey will test Zara, Beatriz and Nadim and push them all to their limits, and when they discover the truth about the Honors programme it will change their lives forever.

Honor among thieves is a deftly written and thoroughly engrossing science fiction novel that may be aimed at teenagers, but has a much wider appeal.  Zara is a strong character, pushing against the "establishment" but it isn't a mindless rebellion, and as we learn more about her across the course of the story we come to realise why she is the way she is - and it feels "right".  Balancing the story of Zara is the story of Nadim, a story that runs parallel and equally - he may be a ship, but he is also a fully developed character in his own right which makes the story more engaging and more real.  The other characters who make up the cast of the story has their own voices that weave together to make a completely believable whole.  The only real drawback for me is that now I have to wait for the next book in the series to see what happens next because the ending was ... wow.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, March 9, 2018

Murder beyond the grave by James Patterson

Murder beyond the grave is one of a series of books written to tie-in with the Murder is forever television series.  Each book in the series includes two stories based on actual events that have been slightly fictionalised, but that doesn't take away from the stories covered.

Stephen Small has everything he wants in life - a loving wife, three sons, and enough money to live comfortably.  For one man Stephen is a source of resentment and jealously, a man who has everything he could want and more - more than enough to cover a ransom demand.  Danny Edwards has lost it all, he squandered his chances growing up, and then lost it all when he was busted for drug dealing and had to earn an honest living.  Chafing at the new restrictions on his life Danny hatches a plan to get the money he needs to live the life he thinks he deserves, and Stephen Small is the key to his plan.  Things don't go as planned however, and he destroys the lives of everyone involved in the case.

Bonnie Hood is the proud new owner of Camp Nelson Lodge, a property she visited as a young girl and that she hopes to bring back to its former glory.  Her husband Jim is also an owner, but her dedication to the project means he only gets to see her in the weekends when he visits with the children.  The redevelopment takes time, and as she makes changes Bonnie ruffles the feathers of the locals, who have come to see the Camp tavern as theirs.  As she continues the development Bonnie receives death threats - and then the unthinkable happens and she is gunned down in the night.  The crime may not be as simple as it seems, but the Police are determined to catch the killer.

These two compelling stories are intriguing and disturbing in turn - what drives a person to commit crimes like these?  While I am not usually a fan of fictionalised real life stories, Patterson has done an excellent job of remaining sensitive to the victims.  In many ways these stories are scarier than anything he could have dreamed up in one of his own stories because these are real murders with real motivations, and people that you can realise despise for what they have done.  This has been an engaging series to read (not to mention somewhat disturbing) and it will be interesting to see if there are more books in the series.

If you are interested in reading more real life reads and true crime stories then try some of the these books:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Mister Tender's girl by Carter Wilson

When she was just fourteen years old Alice Hill was brutally stabbed by two of her so called friends, twin girls who claimed that Mister Tender told them to do it.  The crime was shocking and sensational, not only because the victim and perpetrators were all teenagers, but also because Mister Tender was the fictional creation of Alice's own father.  The Mister Tender graphic novels had a cult following, including people willing and eager to believe that the demonic seeming bar tender who can make your wishes come true for a cost might be real.  The crime nearly killed Alice, but it succeeded in killing her family - driving her mother to move them from England to America, leaving her father behind apart from the occasional visit.  

More than a decade later Alice Hill is now Alice Gray, living a quiet life as the owner of a small coffee shop in small town.  No one knows who she really is and she likes it that way, it's one of the few ways she can leave the past behind.  Having lived in the shadow of the attack and the fallout of the breakdown of her parents relationship, living a seemingly normal life is bliss.  It helps her forget the crippling panic attacks that leave her gasping for breath and rung out on the floor, and it helps her forget that her brother is sick and depends on their controlling mother.  When a stranger comes to town and reaches out to her about her past Alice slowly comes to realise that she has not escaped from Mister Tender at all, and as her delicate grip on reality slow starts to slip away she comes face to face with what is truly means to be Mister Tender's girl.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Mister Tender's girl, but what I got was a solid session of reading the book from cover to cover without a break.  Carter Wilson has crafted a story that leaves you wondering where the story could possibly go next, a gentle dance through several different genre before settling into an ending that is gripping and ultimately satisfying without feeling too pat or clichéd.  Alice is a real person to the reader, well rounded and well developed, and while I have never suffered from panic attacks the description matches and gels with accounts from friends who have and nonfiction accounts of how they come on and how they make you feel.  Alice may have been a victim when she was first attacked, but she is a fighter and that comes through loud and clear through her actions and words. 

This book was a real treat and I have already requested another book from Wilson to see if it was the magic of this one story - or if he can keep me this hooked across multiple books.

If you like this book then try:
  • Mercy killings by Lisa Cutts
  • Cut short by Leigh Russell
  • Good me bad me by Ali Land
  • The slaughter man by Tony Parsons
  • Still waters by Nigel McCrery
  • Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
  • What was mine by Helen Klein Ross
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • One step too far by Tina Seskis

Reviewed by Brilla