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Reviews Written by
professor "Brian O'hare" (Nth. Ireland)

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The Diabolist (The Dominic Grey Series)
The Diabolist (The Dominic Grey Series)
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4.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent and convincing horror story., 14 Aug 2014
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Having initially discovered that The Diabolist was the third of a series, I purchased the other two and read them first. I'm glad I did. I fully enjoyed them, particularly The Summoner with the beautiful Nya and the mysterious Voodoo priest and his frightening powers. Learning to know and love the principal characters, Victor and Grey, I was truly gasping to read the third book in the series, The Diabolist.

The Diabolist is a great story and I truly enjoyed it. In my youth I was a keen fan of Dennis Wheatley and I found many echoes of Wheatley in this book. All of Wheatley's old terms and concepts are here...magus, ipssissimus,astral projection, satanic rituals...but with a highly scientific, modern overlay. I have to say that in sharing the proceeds of his extensive research with his reader, Green sometimes loses the pace and tension that never flagged in the old Wheatley books but Green's own slant, with its patina of cynicism and disbelief, helps make the story all the more credible.

I might also add that if the reader is one who likes to grapple with philosophical and theological issues, there is an extra layer of interest available to him in this book. I am such a reader and, while Green weaves his theological details seamlessly into the story, I found myself at odds with much of what he was saying (or implying.) Nonetheless, my theological views do not detract from what is a fascinating and exciting tale with a truly nerve-curdling climax.

If you're simply reading this review, I urge you to try all three books. All are exceptionally erudite, well-written and, most of all, darn good yarns.


The Egyptian (The Dominic Grey Series)
The Egyptian (The Dominic Grey Series)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Imaginative Thriller, 25 July 2014
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I had never heard of Layton Green until I came across his first book, The Summoner. If he isn't famous, he should be. All he needs is that elusive break. The Summoner is highly cinematographic and so, too, is The Egyptian. In fact, while the latter contains a great story, with an intelligent and complex plot, I'd suggest that the movie would be even better. I say this for two reasons. First, in this book Green is a little too conscious of his actual writing. He's like a top-level grad student who was encouraged by his literature professor to fill his work with all sorts of creative images, metaphors and similes. They work, obviously, but they must have been a little intrusive because I kept noticing them. Good writing, like good acting, should never draw this kind of attention to itself. My second issue is with the science. Don't get me wrong. It is diligently researched and brilliantly incorporated into the story. But again,there is so much of it, delivered in such complex detail, that one cannot help but wonder if Green is not showing off just a little bit.

These points, however, are merely quibbles. This is a great story, . The Elixir of Life is an unrealistic myth but I must admit, Green's take on this theme for his story, together with the gloriously imaginative and very convincing scientific arguments he offers, really had me going for a while.

This is a superb follow up to The Summoner. Great story, very convincing characters, suitable villains and a heroic but morally conflicted protagonist in Grey. They are driven into dangerous and suspenseful situations and the resulting events make for a highly exciting read. I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait to get started on the next one in the series, The Diabolist.


Murder in the South of France (The Maggie Newberry Mystery Series Book 1)
Murder in the South of France (The Maggie Newberry Mystery Series Book 1)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Stretches credulity!, 18 July 2014
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Murder in the South of France is one of those books in which the inexperienced amateur succeeds where the police fail. It does have its moments and the setting in the sounth and middle of France help the ambience. It is a competent detective story, quite acceptably written (who cares about the odd typo!) but the killer is rather too cartoonish for my tastes.

There are one or two other negatives, not the least of which are the interminable references to the French food eaten by the protagonist and her friends, and the rather execrable French spoken by a man who is supposed to be a native. But the hardest crumb to swallow was Maggie's response to learning the Laurant and Roger had duped her parents out of 33000 euro. Did she send for the police. Did she dump the conman who had so cruelly duped her? No, she sorta said, 'Ah,well! I can't help loking you, Roger; and Laurant, let's go to bed.' Come on, now. How credible is that?

Nonetheless, it is a readable book, certainly for those on holiday. My wife really enjoyed it so it has some merit.


The Woman In Black
The Woman In Black
Price: 3.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously Creepy, 15 July 2014
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Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black’ was written in the 1980s but in style it is much more reminiscent of the 1890s. There are clear influences here from the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, even Bram Stoker. This is not a criticism, nor is it a disadvantage. In fact, this style is eminently suitable to the theme of the story which has a very Victorian feel even though it is set in the 1960s.

This is a story which, unlike modern horror, does not rely upon shock after interminable shock for its effect. Instead we are treated to a slow build-up of tension most of which occurs in the mind and spirit of the main protagonist. A young solicitor is tasked with searching an old and empty house for documents and papers relating to its dead owner’s estate. A couple of sightings of a strange lady in black near the house and some odd sounds late in the evening constitute the totality of ghostly happenings. In Susan Hill’s superbly capable hands, however, the reader in infused with the same sense of shock and dread suffered by the young solicitor. And the horrific climax, while contrasting sharply with the throat-clutching pace of the rest of the book, is somehow seen as inevitable if somewhat contrived.

The Woman in Black is an outstanding ghost story, full of atmosphere and laden with chills. Aficionados of the genre will love it but try to read it before you see the film version (featuring Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe.)


Inferno: (Robert Langdon Book 4)
Inferno: (Robert Langdon Book 4)
Price: 1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The Story's The Thing...Here it Ain't, 12 July 2014
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The Story’s the Thing…but here it ain’t!

People have criticised Dan Brown’s writing in the past but his writing’s fine. It’s not Shakespeare but it is more than adequate for the type of books he writes. I do not believe his writing would have come in for so much criticism had he not been so successful. And I believe that success is deserved. Words alone do not make great stories. There has to be imagination, plot, characterisation, and great story telling talent. Brown’s books have all of these.

But I have to say that reviewing Inferno is throwing me. Do you want a good travel guide…check! It’s here. Do you want a superb analysis of Dante’s great literary work, ‘The Divine Comedy’ (with particular reference to Inferno), Check! You’ve got it here. Are you interested in the historical antecedents of just about every building in Florence and Venice? Check! You’ve got them here in spades. Are you interested in reading an exciting and suspense-filled thriller? Chec…uh…hold on a minute... I need to think about that. Inferno has all the ingredients of a great story. Brown’s wonderful imagination works overtime; his plot is original and filled with all his usual twists and turns; his puzzles, his chases and races are as absorbing as ever. But…and it’s a big ‘but’! Was his editor so afraid of an author who has become rich and famous that he couldn’t face telling him that he leaves ‘story’ at his peril to pursue extravagantly detailed travelogues, complex literary references, historical antecedents? Scene setting is one thing; interminable digression is something else.

In Inferno, Brown’s tendency to display is erudition (which he has aplenty) seriously damages the flow of the story. The stop/start element of unfolding events becomes irritating after a while and, with the action constantly being interrupted by long-winded and irrelevant word-pictures of buildings and streets, it is difficult for the reader to maintain his interest in the story and his empathy for the characters. Thrillers require breathless pace to maintain excitement; Inferno offers lengthy and, dare I say, dull descriptions of every street and every building in Florence and Venice almost to the total exclusion of story. A strangely fatal error for a writer who has been so successful in the past.

Properly edited, with a focus on pace and excitement, Inferno might well have been worth five stars. In its present form, I offer it three…and, while that might be generous, the book is underpinned by a really absorbing plot. I would like to recommend it to Brown’s fans but only those who can tolerate oodles of learned disquisition could properly enjoy it.


The Devil's Star: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 3)
The Devil's Star: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 3)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Complex but Absorbing Murder Mystery, 28 Jun 2014
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Jo Nesbo is one of a rare group of writer’s that a reader can always count upon for a good, and often a great, story. The Devil’s Star doesn’t disappoint although I have misgivings about one or two of its elements. Don’t misunderstand me…it’s a great story, superbly written, brilliantly plotted and full of interesting characters. The problem for me is that this story is almost the second half of a longer novel rather than a stand-alone book. Piecing together the strands of what went before, if the earlier book has not been read, puts pressure on the reader and leaves a lot of half answered questions and some frustration.

The other point may well say as much about me as it does about the writer but I had a hard time in the early part of the book empathising with Harry Hole. His pitiful alcoholism, his raging propensity to destroy himself and those he loves , his cavalier attitude to his boss and his job…none of this is anything I can find sympathy for much less admiration. All that shaking, drinking, smoking, panicking, nightmares, indecisiveness? Does the lead detective in the story need to have so little backbone?

But then he begins to pull himself together and the story takes off. It becomes a real mystery and eventually an enthralling, edge-of-the-seat thriller. It has a great climax and although I have initially planned to give the book three stars, and then maybe four, I got so caught up in the last half of the book that I have to give it five. My earlier misgivings aside, I have to recommend this book to anyone who likes great mysteries with plenty of red herrings and I now know that I will be trying to get my hands on every other book that Jo Nesbo has written.


Miracles Do Happen
Miracles Do Happen
by Briege McKenna
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Important Book, 17 Jun 2014
This review is from: Miracles Do Happen (Paperback)
It was wonderful to read Sr. Briege's story and to see the power of God at work in the world through her prayers and spirituality. It was particularly edifying for me to read this book because I was once prayed over by Sr. Briege. I was dying from a serious liver disease and it was fascinating to hear Sr. Briege calmly negotiating with God to give me back my life. This story is told in A Spiritual Odyssey: Diary of an Ordinary Catholic "I don't mind, Lord," she was saying, "if you want to heal him by miraculous means, or by natural healing or, indeed, by the hands of a skilled surgeon... just so long as you heal him." Well, a liver transplant shortly after that gave me my life back...and a wonderful life it is. I have since been privileged to write the story of a remarkable man whose gifts and story are every bit as amazing as Sr. Briege's The Miracle Ship It is so important that the stories of these two people are read at a time when the Christian faith is diminishing in the modern material world when simple faith in miracles and the supernatural is dying These books remind us of the power of God and his place in our lives and in the world. Sr. Briege, as she says herself, is a sign-post pointing to Jesus Christ, touching many lives not only through her book but by an energetic, world-wide ministry that has allowed her faith and her fame to touch the hearts and souls of many people. All Christians serious about their spirituality should try to get their hands on Miracles do Happen and, indeed, on The Miracle Ship.


Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Price: 109.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such a difference from my old one, 26 May 2014
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I really am delighted with my new kindle paperwhite. It has all the advantages of a kindle reader that I had with my earlier model but this one has so much more. Apart from the self-lighting page (which is brilliant when I want to read in bed at night), I love the many other features it has. Touch turning the pages is really handy and the picture gallery of all the books it contains is impressive. Rather disappointed in the charge intervals...I was under the impression that a charge should last 8 weeks but I get less than a week from my normal charge.


e-Reader Power Adaptor, Kindle UK (Type G) USB charger (for Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Keyboard)
e-Reader Power Adaptor, Kindle UK (Type G) USB charger (for Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Keyboard)

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful but a bit expensive., 26 May 2014
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What can you say about an electric plug? The e-reader Power Adaptor is sturdy, compact and carefully manufactured. I feel safe with it, knowing that it is not going to blow up in my face like some cheaper versions. It seems a bit expensive but what price safety...and longevity? I bought a second one for my daughter so obviously I have faith in it.


Marware Vassen Kindle Cover, Green (fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch)
Marware Vassen Kindle Cover, Green (fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch)
Price: 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fit for Purpose, 26 May 2014
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The Marware Vassen Kindle cover does exactly what it says on the tin...it holds the kindle reader snugly while I'm reading and protects it when I'm not. it is a sturdy cover and I expect that I will not need any kind of replacement in the foreseeable future. I'm very happy with it.


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