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Profile for Ron McMillan > Reviews

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Ron McMillan

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Oz
Oz
Price: £5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars One to savour and remember - for all the right reasons, 2 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Oz (Kindle Edition)
I read 100+ new books a year, and I am often struck by how quickly a finished book recedes into a collective mush of ill-formed recollection, little or nothing in it to create anything distinctively long-lasting in the memory banks. Not so with Bobbie Darbyshire's 'Oz', which is beautifully crafted from page one, its storyline powerful yet unpredictable and its characters vividly three-dimensional (even that of the young daughter with ADHD, whose searing depiction made me SOOO glad I was only sharing a book, and not a life - or even a room - with her).

I don't do reviews that summarise plots, which are for finding out by embarking on the adventure that is reading a new book. But this is a tale of a family thrown into chaos by the death of a mother and grandmother, a tragedy that affects the ever-changing dynamics of relationships old and new. It is written in spare prose that paints vivid pictures, and with dialogue so expertly crafted that never does any spoken phrase jar or clang with clumsiness - a rare event in my reading experience. Darbyshire also takes literary risks in the layout of the book, with jumps in time and even between first- and third-person narrative that can sometimes occur within the same paragraph; this would usually be a recipe for failure, but she pulls this off beautifully (in doing so adding to the narrative) and holds the reader with work that is put together with real professional craftsmanship.

This one will stick with you for a very long time, and for all the right reasons.


Deadly Code (Rhona MacLeod #3)
Deadly Code (Rhona MacLeod #3)
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the first book in the three-book a lot, 22 Mar. 2015
I enjoyed the first book in the three-book a lot, and the second one not so much. But I opted to push on and finish the trilogy. It was a big disappointment. The plot is totally dependent upon coincidences, plural - which is unforgivable - and is also far-fetched and, at times, simply beyond the bounds of credibility.


CSI Glasgow (Driftnet,Torch,Deadly Code)
CSI Glasgow (Driftnet,Torch,Deadly Code)
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A new discovery for me, and I'm delighted, 9 Feb. 2015
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Last week I tried a new (to me) English crime author and was seriously disappointed. This week I opted for a Scottish author whose work I wasn't familiar with, and I am delighted that I did. I grew up in the west of Scotland and know the areas depicted well, and Anderson captures them beautifully. Although I am only at present in the midst of the first of the trilogy, the central character is appealing and believable, and the story strong. I will look out for more books by Lin. One memo to the author: get your publisher to throw away that gawd-awful amateur-hour cover that looks like something a wannabe author of self-published rubbish put together in five minutes in Photoshop.


Under the Dixie Moon (An Adel Destin Crime Novel)
Under the Dixie Moon (An Adel Destin Crime Novel)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars but this being good crime fiction, 23 Sept. 2014
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Ro Cuzon does a first rate job of introducing a gritty new central character to the well-trodden crime milieu of post-Katrina New Orleans. Bar owner Adel Destin is a troubled man with a history of drug addiction and burdened by the recent deaths of people close to him. When a woman who knew him when he was an addict asks him to look for her missing sister, Destin doesn't want to get involved, but this being good crime fiction, he does - setting off a slick story involving New Orleans crime mafioso, local drug dealers and pimps, corrupt cops and even a serial killer. Sometimes it's hard to see the good guys, and although Destin wanders across the line between good and evil, in the end he comes through. Almost in one piece. Atmospheric, New Orleans noir crime fiction with tough-as-boots but believable characters. Highly recommended.


Trust
Trust
Price: £2.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The work of a writer at the top of her game, 26 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Trust (Kindle Edition)
I have been a fan of Ajay Close since I read Official and Doubtful more than fifteen years ago. Trust is a very very different kind of book, but none the worse for it. Readers who insist on putting books in pigeon holes will insist on calling it 'literary fiction', and it certainly qualifies for that lofty slot, but it has far more widespread appeal than most examples of literary fiction I have read. The story is historically revealing, the characterisations are excellent, the dialogue - in dialects that sweep convincingly from educated upper-class English to banker-class English, to working class Yorkshire, to rough-as-guts Scottish - is compelling, and conveyed in a style that is Close's own. The one-word title is perfect. This is a story about trust. Trust between friends that is earned - sometimes against the odds and in the face of hostility; trust that is lost, regained amidst adversity and rediscovered for reasons previously unimaginable that emerge as a very cleverly constructed plot narrative unfolds, complete with surprises right up until the last page. A wonderful read, highly recommended.


Deadly Election (Asian Intrigue Book 1)
Deadly Election (Asian Intrigue Book 1)
Price: £3.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Set in the Philippines, written by someone who knows the nation's foibles well, 7 Feb. 2014
Arthur Crandon portrays the Philippines in a way that matches what I remember of a most unusual nation. The Philippines is one of the most friendly places I ever visited, yet at the same time, in over 35 years of travel, it is the only country where I ever saw a gun pulled in anger. And that happened within my line of sight twice, on different visits. On the surface the Philippinos are romantic in the extreme, but when things go awry - and it happens distressingly often - the romance goes out the window, to be replaced by seething violence.

Deadly Election captures the romance and the violence and the corruption and the hunger for power in a way that shows the author knows his subject intimately. This is the tale of a politician with his eyes on the nation's highest seat of power (and the untold wealth he will be able to command as soon as the Presidency is his), and is neatly interconnected with the discovery of a fortune in gold that has lain hidden since World War II. The two unconnected elements are quickly entwined, and off we go on a rapid-fire adventure that has all the elements of a good Philippines drama. Romance, infidelity, greed, corruption, bravery in the face of the worst violence imaginable - and even a foreign hero whose flaws almost outweigh his virtues.

Any fan of Asian-based thriller fiction will enjoy Deadly Election.


Gray Justice (Tom Gray #1)
Gray Justice (Tom Gray #1)

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars one star is WAY too much for this crap, 5 Nov. 2013
I got the book as a free download, and boy am I glad I didn't pay even 77p for this rubbish.

It starts out not TOO badly, but then quickly falls away to become a piece of vigilante junk seemingly devised to attract people with all the literary sense and political insensitivity of Daily Mail readers. I gave up after about 20% of the book.

I only give it one star because there is no provision for alloting zero or a minus number of stars


The Expats
The Expats
by Chris Pavone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars started out very well..., 20 July 2013
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This review is from: The Expats (Paperback)
Unfortunately it didn't live up to the standard set in the early chapters. At the outset I thought this was going to be a cracker. The initial set-up was good, the two main characters intriguing, their situation engaging. Then the narrative started jumping back and forward in time and in a very disjointed and irritating fashion. Then I found myself forty percent of the way through the book (reading on a Kindle, so don't know the page numbers) and it occurred to me that basically nothing had happened yet. It's all very well building in lots of mystery and intrigue, but we really need something to happen in order for us to stay on track towards the end. Right now I'm not certain I'll ever get to the end, which is a shame, because the man writes well. He just doesn't plot things in a very captivating manner.


Neon Panic
Neon Panic

5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic setting, gripping writing, 19 July 2012
This review is from: Neon Panic (Kindle Edition)
I lived in Hongkong for ten years, and despair of books that cannot see past the lazy, blinkered cliches so often attached to narratives set in this amazingly complex city.

This book is not one of those disappointments - not by a long shot.

The author's insight into the setting is first rate, providing even those who think they know Hongkong well with a fascinating supply of insider knowledge, delivered with razor-sharp wit and superbly polished phrasing.

Characterisation of the players - even the bit-part players whose appearances are measured in lines rather than pages or chapters - is beautifully crafted, and the plot that holds them all together is of the highest calibre.

I am a big reader of crime fiction, and put this one in the same quality bracket as the works of authors like Robert B. Parker, Peter Temple, James Lee Burke, Robert Crais, George Pelecanos and John Harvey. Esteemed company, indeed. I look forward to Mr Martin's next book, and sincerely hope it is a direct follow-up, because I want to spend more time in the company of some of the wonderful characters he has introduced in Neon Panic.


Love, Revenge & Buttered Scones (Fiction)
Love, Revenge & Buttered Scones (Fiction)
by Bobbie Darbyshire
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a magic mix, 1 Mar. 2010
This is such a sweet book, and a laugh-out-loud treat, a magic mix of comedy and wry observation put together by a writer who is really on her game. It came recommended to me by a friend, and I have to admit the advice was right on the money. This is a beautifully crafted tale that will find its audience among readers of intelligent yet comic fiction and lovers of real-world situational narrative. Bring on the next one, Ms Darbyshire.

RM


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