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Adam Bird (Kent, UK)
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The Second Coming
The Second Coming
by John Niven
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 6 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Second Coming (Paperback)
For a long time I had One Big Damn Puzzler down as the funniest book I have ever read, but this novel has since blown that one out of the water!

As many other reviewers have already said, if God were as depicted in this novel then I'd have no issue believing in Him!

This novel will not appeal to all, and will likely offend many even if it is not written to be offensive. It simply highlights some of the lunacy of the Christian faith and gives a more modern context into the story and basis of the original 'First Coming'.

There is nothing profound to be gained from reading this book, nothing theoretical or anything slightly factual. The ultimate message is simple. 'Be nice' - something we should all try whatever our belief.


A Dark and Broken Heart
A Dark and Broken Heart
by R.J. Ellory
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.31

6 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Novel with an Unbroken Formula, 14 Jun 2012
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On the inside cover of the book is the usual synopsis, which is repeated on this site as the book description. It is deliberately vague, gives nothing away, but a small taster of what we eventually learn through the first few fast-paced chapters about the main protagonist Vincent Madigan and his debt to the local drug king, Sandiá who rules the roost in East Harlem and Madigan's plan to finally get his life back on track.

Vincent Madigan has a simple idea, take four hundred grand from the thieves who stole it in the first place. But this is literature and so things go inevitably wrong - spectacularly so. Madigan is forced to kill his co-conspirators and a child is shot amidst the carnage that ensues. Now not only is Sandiá after him, but the might of NYPD are too.

Just like the book cover and just like Amazon, that's all I am going to give you. Because what happens next is a thrilling rollercoaster of shock and surprise, twists that hook you in from the off and doesn't let you go until literally the last word of the book.

As a crime thriller, that is all you ask for, all you need, the reason why the genre is so universally popular.

But as with any of Ellory's previous novels, there are bigger questions buried within the plot. About man, about human nature, about the nature of evil and what drives people towards unspeakable deeds.

Last time around, in the novel Bad Signs, we had Elliot Danziger, a man that was just plain evil and questions were left asked; are people naturally born bad, or does something break inside, like a switch? Whereas this time, the issue is not quite so black and white, more of a deep expanse of grey.

We are as readers, when the back cover has shut, are left in conflict. Just like we were in A Quiet Vendetta with our dear old friend Ernesto Perez.

Is Vincent Madigan an evil man or a victim himself, of life, of the system, of decisions that were made at the time that with the benefit of hindsight were later proved wrong? Deep and searching questions which will divide opinion in each one who reads it, but another set of questions that are left on purpose by an author whose intricate weaving of brutal realism vs the very nature of what drives human behaviour has become something of a trademark.

Another reviewer commented on A Dark and Broken Heart, called it "classic noir" and it is. A Dark and Broken Heart is a deeply dark and penetrative view into the underworld. The action is violent in places with dialogue as gritty and harsh as the New York environs descriptively brought to life by the author - which is a tribute by Ellory to all of the things that interest him; American history, American literature, music, film and television with subtle references throughout the novel in homage to those very things that inspire him to write.

How that inspiration can manifest itself in people and what they achieve just by taking the lead from something or someone they have enjoyed or listened to is incredible. After ten novels, ten very different stories and an vast array of memorable characters that live long in the memory, Ellory continues to be a master of his craft.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 7, 2012 9:52 AM BST


Things that go Bump in the Night
Things that go Bump in the Night
Price: £2.83

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What e-publishing is all about, 1 Nov 2011
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I use my Kindle app to find new and interesting things that perhaps I wouldn't spend money on in a bookstore - this way I'm able to find other genres and work out whether I like them or not (I'm an unashamed Crime Fiction fan by day).

The Write Place should be commended for their work that they have done here, namely championing local talent and giving them a platform in which to shine. All twenty-one in fact! I don't think that there is anywhere else in the Kindle store at the moment with a publication of this type, which was my main reason for purchasing this anthology - plus is was Halloween and I was looking for something spooky (hides behind chair).

What comes across throughout the book, across twenty-one stories of which you'll have your favourites, (Better Late than Never, by Catherine Burrows) each of them have the same things in common, a love for writing, imagination and no fair amount of skill to put it altogether in something that will entertain, amuse and of course chill the bones on a cold November evening.


Bad Signs
Bad Signs
by R.J. Ellory
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.61

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Signs, 30 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Bad Signs (Hardcover)
Bad Signs tells the story of two boys, two half-brothers and their journey growing up together, the loss of their mother at a young age to an act of senseless violence and being put in juvenile detention for nothing other than what else to do with them. The younger brother Clarence Luckman, the thinker, the boy so very unlike his violent father attributed his life to growing up under a bad star, a bad sign that follows him around like an impenetrable shadow. Clarence, along with his half-brother Elliot Danziger, known as as "Digger" are heading out of juvenile detention and up into the big house, two wasted lives destined for institutionalisation until they are broken out and taken hostage by Earl Sheridan, a degenerate of the highest order, who drags both brothers along whilst committing a string of violent crimes that inspire and terrify the two brothers to an extend that neither of their lives are the same ever again.

As with all of Ellory's books, they are based upon a core, fundamental principal, this time around he looks at man and his ability to commit the most heinous deeds. What are the reasons, the motivations and the trigger that sets these events in motion? Bad Signs, attempts to answer these questions and once again leaves the reader thinking long afterwards, in my case, is an evil man naturally born evil, or does a switch to a dark side exist is all of us?

Just as these bigger questions and answers that are found deep inside the novel, there are many themes that appear in Bad Signs that will feel familiar to those, who like me are fans of Ellory's work and plenty for the newcomer to appreciate and enjoy. As with all eight previous novels, we find ourselves again set in an American setting, as Texas plays host. This time however, we travel back in time to the 1960's which helps the author with his story and the investigation technique which runs as a secondary viewpoint as the carnage unfolds. This story would not have worked had it been in a contemporary time-frame, the sixties being a time when several high profile killing sprees shocked and horrified Americans and changed the way that police investigated crimes of this sort, which is explored slightly as one of several sub-plots within the novel, the psychology and genetic make up of a psychopathic mind.

The very nature then of criminality and taking an investigative look into the minds of those who perpetrate grave acts, means that there is a level of violence in the book that might be uncomfortable reading for some. A measure of the authors skill therefore is making those deeds come across almost as a matter of fact and not gratuitously, as can be the case from time to time with authors elsewhere. But it's not all blood and hiding behind the duvet reading the book with the light turned on, one of the things that I have celebrated and championed the author for in the past has been his ability to transcend the crime-fiction genre, which he has done once again - to a lesser degree perhaps than in A Quiet Belief In Angels and Candlemoth. Elements of romance and coming of age adds colour and vitality to the darkness and brutality of crime, offers the reader hope and once again adds weight and argument to the question I found myself asking above.


The Glass Rainbow
The Glass Rainbow
by James Lee Burke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Literary & Literally Perfection, 26 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Glass Rainbow (Paperback)
I read my first Robicheaux novel three years ago. I started with Pegasus Descending which is the 15th novel of the series. I knew right there and then that I was reading something special.

I picked up Crusader's Cross and went back, started at the beginning with The Neon Rain. Yesterday I finished The Glass Rainbow. Today I ask myself just how I'm feeling at the moment and the answer is simple. Lost.

When as a reader you invest so much time in a series, you come to love a character like you would an old friend, or in the case of this series, a couple of old friends. Everything has an ending, each of the 18 books comes to a fitting conclusion in their own right, except perhaps this time around we know that might just be it.

If it is, then what a way to end it.

Which is why I believe James Lee Burke is the best at what he does, quite possibly the finest crime writer in the world. His novels, or at least this series are not just about crime. They are about life and death, history and conflict, humanity and the demons that people fight, cause and effect - played out against a scenic backdrop that is painted in glorious high definition by an author at the very top of his game.

I urge you to read this book, then go back and read the whole series. Then read this book again. If it doesn't want to make you bow down to a true literary great - I don't know what will.


Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, but left with "so what?", 14 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
Whilst this book was beautifully written, I finished with, I wouldn't say disappointment, just a feeling of "so what?".

Not sure whether this gives me a heart of stone or a brain made of cheese, but in theory the premise for this book had everything going for it. Not wanting to give too much away, the narrator, looks back at her life and retells her story - what she thought she knew and how as children together with her friends would create and analyse their reasons for existence, which lasts until early adulthood and the damning alternative reality of their inevitable conclusion.

I never once felt moved, or shocked, or thought about the story in the context in which it was set and as I say, it was written well, the amount of detail was overly sufficient, however I think my main issue was that the secrecy of their situation was too drawn out and I was expecting a bombshell that would explain it all and piece all the components together. This wasn't the case and I feel left with a sense that I have maybe missed something with this book being so highly acclaimed by other readers that I'm wondering just what that was.

Maybe with the film just around the corner, I'll be better placed to answer that question then.


Billy Brown, I'll Tell Your Mother
Billy Brown, I'll Tell Your Mother
by Bill Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, and Billy, make sure your mother reads this!, 18 Feb 2011
I didn't buy this book, I was given it. Won it in a competition for writing a book review, ironically. Out of the 5 books I won, this was the stand out gem - by some considerable distance.

Billy Brown, the original cheeky chappy, a school kid growing up in post-war Brixton, has the gift of the gab. He learns quickly how to turn a penny into a pound, and this book is a collection of stories about his escapades, the characters he meets and the tight knots he gets himself into.

In places this book is absolute hilarious, you'll most likely have a grin on your face all the way through it and several times you'll laugh out quite loudly.

Sometimes a piece of literature gets labelled as "a social commentary", this is one of those peices. At a time when neighbours no longer speak to each other, or children spend time indoors watching television. This is a look back at a different era, more innocent times. When children were revered and the word community meant something - values that society have long since forgotten.

Long live Billy Brown!


One Day
One Day
by David Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes, just sometimes..., 4 Feb 2011
This review is from: One Day (Paperback)
A book comes along and has the most amazing and unexpected effect upon you.

I had read David Nicholls "Starter for 10", had enjoyed it, made me laugh in places but for some reason didn't purchase this particular novel for nearly twelve months. Until One Day (coughs), I finally gave into the screaming "Buy Me" voices I could hear calling from the high street bookshelf.

After nearly 500 odd reviews I won't bore you with the finer details, but suffice to say, this novel is easily readable, highly engaging, the story passes as quickly as the years go by and just as your sitting merrily on a commuter packed train. BOOM. A hammer claw rips your heart out and those anonymous people sharing your carriage are all staring at you, thinking goodness knows what as you discretely attempt to restore your masculinity and wipe the tears away, blaming instead the pungent smell of a nearby packet of cheese and onion crisps.

Whether or not the characters are "real" or "believable" or whether the author has successfully captured the authenticity of time is irrelevant. There are 100's of reviews here by people who simply love Em and Dexter, miss them now that they have shut the back cover for the final time, and that is the true measure of this novels success.

It doesn't matter if you are male or female, this book contains an equal amount of entertainment for either sex, but if you are a bloke, albeit one with a sentimental nature. Make sure you read this somewhere a bit more private than the 18.20 from Charing Cross.


The Confession
The Confession
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong in subject, weak in substance, 20 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Confession (Hardcover)
I've read all of John Grisham's books and he is an author that I shall continue to enjoy. His writing technique allows a reader to become quickly immersed into a given story whilst managing to simplify legal jargon that the average reader wouldn't ordinarily understand.

The Confession, tells the story of Travis Boyette, a serial offender whose actions have severe implications on the life of Donte Drumm, the man ultimately arrested and sentenced to death for the murder and rape of a popular high school cheerleader.

Whilst emotive the subject of the death penalty may be, The Confession doesn't manage to capture it in it's entirety. There are instances of sadness of course, but in the main, it seems clinical, a set of circumstance and character moulded to suit the authors needs, specifically constructed to highlight the shortcomings and the authors personal views of the death penalty.

Ultimately, in a novel of this nature the success lies in the readers contrast in views from when they started the book to when they finished. I challenge anyone pro death penalty to read this and not at least waver in their standpoint.

Grisham has proved time and time again that he can write thrilling legal novels. Yes, they are enjoyable to read, but over the twenty years he has been writing, have his books developed as much as his readership?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2011 3:28 PM BST


Saints of New York
Saints of New York
by R.J. Ellory
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.42

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saints of New York, 15 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Saints of New York (Paperback)
What makes us us? What drives us? What guides our reactions to spontaneous decisions in the heat of the moment when there isn't time for thought? Three very tough questions, which there are no real answers, but they are answers in which Roger Ellory tries to discover in his latest book, the Saints of New York.

Having written reviews of his previous two novels, and even earlier about my first Ellory discovery, the wonderful "Quiet Belief in Angels", it appears to have become somewhat of an annual tradition!

We are introduced to Ellory's latest protagonist, homicide detective Frank Parrish amidst a literal blood bath as he attempts to save the life of a girl who has been attacked by her boyfriend, but things, as always don't go according to plan. Parrish, down on his luck, it seems things aren't going his way. As the novel unfolds and we are introduced to the main story line we learn more about him, more importantly, his past and the ghost of his father, New York police legend, John Parrish, one of the original "Saints of New York".

What people don't know, but what Frank does, is the truth. He knows the real John Parrish and the seemingly sinister motivation behind his actions. Once again, as is the case with all of Ellory's books, we learn the back story at the same time that the main narrative races forward at a relentless pace. This time told in gripping dialogue with Parrish's counsellor, who was assigned to him after Internal Affairs called him to book for a transgression too many.

All the while, a homicide investigation is going on, a drug dealer turns up dead, but so too does his sister. She's not the only one, there are more and we follow Frank's journey to unravel the pieces and follow the clues. Detective work doesn't strike me as a pleasant occupation, you see the lowest, and the lowest of the low. Frank has seen it all, but this really gets under his skin.

As a reader, it's not pleasant. Ellory digs into some dark places and you are reminded that this is real, it's happening on a day by day basis. Fictitious accounts of non-fictional events. Some readers may not like it, nothing here is glamorised or dressed up. Vermin are vermin and as soon as we acknowledge their existence the sooner we can do something about it.

In context, you take the sum of this novels parts and you'd be thinking it reads as slightly clichéd, particularly as a "crime thriller". You take a New York homicide detective, hard drinker, broken marriage, married to the job, a typical "who-dunnit", but as with all of his previous works Ellory takes a token formulae and adds some of his magical fairy dust and takes what has been written time and time again into another direction.

I can't think of many other crime thrillers that would have left me thinking about the three answers to the three questions I asked earlier, but once again, my whole enjoyment of these books that continue to be released on a yearly basis is that they transcend the genre. Gritty, realistic dialogue, characters that are believable and fully dimensional, the crime aspect is merely a distraction as we try and understand the person and what drives them.

Although, ultimately another wonderful piece of literature by Ellory, my main reason for it's success was what makes reading a book so special, the right one always seems to come at the right time. It may just be me, maybe it's entirely coincidental, but certain events in my own life and having to learn for myself about "where we come from" and the "meaning of life", it seems that I'm being thrown different answers of varying importance about this topic wherever I turn!

I'll always hold A Quiet Belief in Angels, and A Quiet Vendetta in such high regard, so there is a little bit of pressure from me onto the author to surpass that, I'm not expecting a Magnum Opus once every twelve months and would be incredibly rude (and impossible) of me to request that! Each of his readers will have their own personal favourites, and they are what his future work will be measured by. But he has a fan here, and if one more fan comes as a result of these annual reviews then all the better for it, as it will hopefully mean more books for me to read!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2011 11:12 PM GMT


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