Monday, January 27, 2020

The spider heist by Jason Kasper

Blair is minding her own business, desperately trying to hold onto her third waitressing job, when a mysterious man offers her a job.  When she is unceremoniously fired from her job, Blair is left with little choice but to discover what he wants.  Her mystery man, with the mysterious job offer, turns out to be Sterling - and his offer really is too good to be true.  He has a buddy who needs some help to get his dating mojo back, and all Blair has to do is hang out with him at the bar and get him to loosen up - though she will get a bonus if she can get him to take her home.  It seems like a sweet deal, but when Blair manages to wrangle an invite back to his place she finds herself dragged into a very messy situation - messy for her, but also for the group of men who take her and her 'date' hostage.

Blair is not an ordinary waitress, she is a former FBI agent who left the Bureau under a cloud and after several months in prison.  Her skill set and training make her a terrible hostage for her would-be captors find that out the hard way, but they are determined to carry out their plan even with a trouble making Blair in tow.  When Blair is identified from footage taken at the bank, it causes a massive headache for the heist crew and for Blair, because now their carefully laid plans are slowly unravelling.  Blair knows that something isn't right with the heist crew and the way they are working, but can she figure out what is happening before her world implodes?  And will the heist crew be able to pull off their great escape, or will Blair and the intense FBI scrutiny about her being their lead to the downfall of the entire mission?

I picked up The spider heist because it was on a new books list and couldn't resist giving it a try after reading the blurb.  I read a lot of crime, thriller, and action books and I have a definite preference for books that are punchy and fast paced, without a lot of excess description to drag the story down.  Picking up the book to read the first few chapters and see what it was like turned into sitting still for a few hours and reading the book in one session because I didn't want to put it down.  Told from the different perspectives of (mainly) Blair and Sterling, the story unfolds with neither side being fully aware of what is happening with the other person, which adds some nice tension and a chance to understand the characters and story rather than having information rammed down your throat.  The other main characters add depth to the story, as well as providing opportunities for the story to grow and be more than a two dimensional cliché (which so many action/crime/thrillers can so easily become).  

A great read, and hopefully the next book in the series - The sky thieves - will be just as good!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, January 24, 2020

Lost by James Patterson and James O. Born

Detective Tom Moon is part of an FBI task force in the city of Miami, tasked with tackling international crime and people smuggling.  When the task force gets a tip off about a human trafficker bringing a group of children and teens into the States, they act on the tip and manage to capture him - saving the group from who knows what fate in the process.  Saving them from an uncertain fate should be the end of their involvement for Tom and the rest of the task force, but Tom can't help but stay involved in the process, especially when the authorities plan on sticking the children in a detention centre until they can be flown back to Europe.  Connecting with the kids gives Tom and greater understanding of how they ended up being trafficked, but also makes him more determined to bring down the smugglers - especially when he discovers that there might be a connection to a local Russian gangster.

Wrangling his way into the role of guardian angel taking the kids back to the Netherlands, Tom soon finds that he has set himself on a path that will see his case collide with that of national police detective Marie Meijer.  Marie is tough as nails and determined to stop people smugglers in their tracks, even if that means crossing paths with her own Russian gangster.  She knows who's to blame for the people smuggling, but it will take hard evidence to bring down Hanna Greete and her brother Albert.  For their part, Hanna and Albert have been caught between impossible choices, because they are now thoroughly in debt to the Russians, who want payment in blood or diamonds if they can't get cold hard cash.  It is a race against time, and with the Russians involved there is a strong chance that it will become a bloody mess.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I like reading (most) James Patterson books (there are some librarians who don't like him that much), and Lost was definitely one of the good ones.  You know what to expect with a good James Patterson book - strong lead character, a story that jumps into the action straight away, a supporting cast of characters that are more realistic than perfect, a conundrum or villain that has a high cost if you fail, and at characters on 'both sides' of the story.  For me personally I think I enjoyed this a little more because of the connection to the Netherlands, though not so enjoyable that the Dutch characters were not usually the 'good guys'.  

I have seen some reviews that have panned the book, saying it takes over 100 pages to get into the story, but I didn't see it that way - it feels like the start of a new series and with any new series their is always a certain amount of world building and character building that has to take place so you can settle in and enjoy the ride with an understanding of who-is-who and what-is-what.  This was a great read, and I really hope there are more books in the series because I liked Detective Moon and the fact he kind of reminds me of Detective Michael Bennett, but also has his own voice and story.

If you like this book then try:
  • The end by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • The witnesses by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • Private by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  • The nowhere child by Christian White
  • Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarratano
  • Spare me the truth by C.J. Carver
  • Orpahn X by Greg Hurwitz
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge 
  • Crimson lake by Candice Fox
  • The better sister by Alafair Burke
  • The killing kind by Chris Holm
  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The case of the spellbound child by Mercedes Lackey

The case of the spellbound child is the latest book in the Elemental Masters series, and while you can read it as a standalone novel you will get the best out of it by reading the books in the series that also feature Nan and Sarah.  This review contains ***SPOILERS*** for the rest of the series, so I highly recommend that you read these books in the series first: The Wizard of London, Home from the sea, A study in sable, A scandal in Battersea, and The bartered brides.

Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White have proven themselves to be shrewd and tenacious investigators for their patron Lord Alderscroft, combining their psychic and medium talents with good old fashioned detective skills learnt through their association with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.  Their reputation of being skilled investigators has spread beyond their own social circle, and with the general public believing that the great Sherlock Holmes is dead, people are coming to Watson to solve their cases.  

Their association with Holmes leads them to Dartmoor, where a mother and father are desperate to find their missing children.  The children were sent out onto the moor to forage for food after they spilled the limited food the family had to share for dinner, but they never returned.  Searching for the children in the close knit communities of Dartmoor will be a challenge, because not only is magic involved but also because everyone knows one another and looks out for their neighbours.  As the team from London tries to untangle the mystery of what has happened to the children, they don't realise that they are in a race against time because the children are in danger, and their very lives are at stake.

The case of the spellbound child was a much anticipated treat after I started reading the series in December and read from start to finish in publication order - and it was much easier reading with the rest of the series so fresh in my mind.  This is another book in the series that features Sherlock Holmes and John and Mary Watson, and it is interesting how the series has split into two very distinct styles - the ones that are very much fractured fairytales with elementals and elemental magic as the focus, and these books in the series which are more about mysteries and untangling the mysteries with ghosts and mind reading as the main skills.  

The relationships between Nan and Sarah, their ward Suki, and their friends is interesting, but I can't help but think about the original books in the series a little wistfully as they were closer to traditional fairytales and just seemed to be about Lackey's imaghination and her world rather than borrowing from the world of Sherlock Holmes.  I have to say this was also another book where it was a struggle at times to figure out what was being said at times because of the 'accents' the people were speaking in and how they were written - this has bugged me with other series but seemed worse in this one.  A good addition to the series, especially after having read them all in the weeks leading up to reading it, but I hope we get a few more of the other half of the series again soon.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla