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Reviews Written by
Jonathan Clark "Great Black Hawk" (London, United Kingdom)

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Phantom: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 7)
Phantom: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 7)
by Jo Nesbo
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harry Hole at his enigmatic best, 29 April 2012
I think it helps to have read the series as it gives you an insight into the characters in this especially the relationship Harry has with Oleg and Rakel.
However this is not essential as whilst some Characters return there are enough fresh faces to keep the reader engaged.
Harry Hole returns to Oslo to investigate an open and shut case of the murder of drug addict.
The accused however turns out to be Oleg his surrogate son from his on/off relationship with Rakel.
The Harry who returns however is a reformed character.
He's wearing a designer suit, free from his drug and alcohol addictions but sporting a long scar on his face which was Legcy from his previous adventures.
Whilst this is typical Harry Hole - the unpredictable loner who's mission is to get to truth no matter how goes about it, it also paints a tender picture questioning love and the price of loyalty.
You sense that Jo Nesbo will have surprises in store and he does .
Nesbo describes the seedy underworld of drug addiction and those that profit from its misery.
I found it interesting - and amusing - that a band of traffickers were identified as they wore Arsenal shirts (Nesbo supposedly supports their neighborhood rivals Spurs!!).
This is a great read and takes you to some dark places and covers political manaeouvring, the underbelly of the Olso drug struggles, violence but there is a degree of tenderness which creates an interesting counterbalance.
He goes there without much help from his previous colleagues other than Beate.
It will be interesting to see where Jo Nesbo goes next but that's for another time!!

by A. D. Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed views, 14 April 2012
This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
I picked this up without reading the hype - sorry publicity! - and it is only now that I realise that this was nominated for the Man Booker Prize last year.
It is an interesting debut novel which features Nick Platt a Lawyer from Luton who ends up in Moscow and narrates his experiences there.
Snowdrops is the term used for dead bodies which emerge when the weather becomes warmer, and the snow melts, although this doesn't really have much bearing on the story IMO.
The story seems to be about a guy approaching middle age who gets sucked into the Mosocw way of life, or should I say the Moscow lowlife which, without sounding judgemental, is pretty much what you might expect.
So you are fed a diet of corruption, political shenanigans, prostitution and all that goes with this territory.
It's quite a deprerssing tale, but A.D.Miller uses his experience of Russia well and his descriptive narrative of Russia is extremely good.
It's not a long book so I raced through it but it was like a meal which offers much much but afterwards you feel slightly let down or unsatiated.
I knew what was going to happen well in advance of the final few chapters so it didn't fire my imagination.
Describing this would be a spoiler so I won't!
Oddly, given the above, I did enjoy this book but more from the perspective that it seemed like a "real" story and none of the characters were ridiculous apart maybe from the Cossack.
AD Miller has talent and it will be interesting to see what his next offering provides.

Fallen (Georgia)
Fallen (Georgia)
by Karin Slaughter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atlanta, Georgia and Grant County characters come together, 26 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Fallen (Georgia) (Hardcover)
First off some advice to readers new to Karin Slaughter.

This book can be read and enjoyed as standalone piece but personally I think it helps to have read her previous books in The Grant County, Atlanta and Georgia Series.

The story revolves around Faith Mitchell and her family (in particular her Mother Evelyn).

In terms of the guy assigned to solving this case it's Will Trent with a much bigger role for his boss Amanda Wagner.

Where it gets interesting is the brewing relationship between Will Trent and courtesy of The Grant County Series Sara Linton.

It starts with Agent Faith Mitchell returnimg home late from a training seminar find her four-month-old daughter locked in a lean-to shed, her mother's gun missing from the safe, and a trail of blood leading into her house.

Instinctively Faith goes into the house without radio-ing in what she's up to. Everything seems to happen in double quick time as Faith interrupts criminal proceedings and increases the bodycount by two.

Not suprisingly the shootings alert the Police and by the time they arrive, apart from dead bodies and the house is completely turned over Faith's mother has been kidnapped.

Clearly Faith needs to account for her actions which perhaps seem somewhat premature and makes her a suspect in the eyes of the Police.

Faith's partner Will Trent is brought in to try and unravel a seemingly haphazzard crime scene with no real pattern other than the suspicion that something in Evelyn Mitchell's past has caused this situation.

What ensues reveals the broad canvass of Slaughter's characters many of which are flawed in some way.

Faith is a diabetic who became pregnant as a teenager and is as stubborn as a Mule.

Will is dsylexic, is married to an a spiteful female called Angie, who treats Will like dirt but given their relationship together in a number of Children's Homes seem to have an unbreakable bond.

Amanda Wagner is a real ball-buster who does not have a feminine side and is equally tough (again sometimes spiteful) on Will Trent for what seems to be no good reason.

Dr Sara Linton is a highly intellignet woman who is also beset with some personal tragedy.

These are the main protagonists and she weaves them into this book perfectly.

The book is fast paced, tense and takes you to some dark places which include some no holds barred violence but always done in a way which is in character.

The climax of the book is well handled with Faith, and the abductor of her Mother, in an epiphanic moment.

It only fails a full 5 star as it, at times, twists and turns for no good reason but this does not take away the immense enjoyment I derived reading this book.

Brabantia WallFix Retractable Washing Line with Fabric Cover, 24 m
Brabantia WallFix Retractable Washing Line with Fabric Cover, 24 m
Price: £69.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Guarantee, 19 Mar. 2012
This is a terrific product.
It's a simple and idea, original in design and from a good brand.
It's pretty easy to install however please ensure that the rawplugs, or equivalent, are a very tight fit as the pressure exerted when opening this product out requires it to be anchored extremely securely.
I'll get back to this in a minute.
I've had this a couple of years and it does the job very well and the supplied cover (when product retracted) is quite attractive and protects it against rain, wind and sunshine!
Overall very happy and it really does cope with a considerable amount (volume) of washing i.e. it's remarkably strong and there's plenty of "line space".
It's premium priced, for what it is, but there are deals to be had and Amazon pricing is very competitive.
Getting back to its fixing, and its operating mechanics, I did experience some issues and recently trying to opening the product proved quite difficult so much so that the whole thing came off the wall and I couldn't open it!
There was a minor glitch in the opening and closing mechanism which caused this problem which had got progressively worse over a period of time.
To be fair to Brabantia they honoured their 5 Year Guarantee without much hassle.
Overall a great product and more importantly a brand that backs up its Guarantee promises!

Catch Me (Detective D.D. Warren 6)
Catch Me (Detective D.D. Warren 6)
by Lisa Gardner
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Lisa Gardner just gets better, 11 Mar. 2012
I've read a broad selection of books in this genre and I am highly impressed with Lisa Gardner.

She seems to get better the more she writes.

LG sets out the story early on and immediately draws you into what follows.

Charlie Grant searches out Sergeant D.D. Warren and tells her that she has only 4 days to live.

In telling her this she hopes that D.D. Warren, forewarned, will be able to prevent this happening and also help solve the cases of her two closest friends murdered on the same day January 21st a year apart.

Intuitively she knows she's next and she knows it will happen on January 21st.

But how does D.D. Warren handle someone who thinks they are going to be murdered with little hard evidence to go on.

For example the murders of her two friends have been fully investigated and no-one has joined any dots together - end of story as far as The Police are concerned.

The lengths Charlie has gone to prepare for this day include leaving no paper trails on her whatsoever, painstakingly getting herself super fit, mainly by taking boxing lessons (to be in the best possible shape to defend herself) and also shooting lessons to help her survive this day.

In parallel to this there is also someone on the loose shooting child predators and D.D. Warren joins forces with a Sex Crimes Officer Ellen Ohlenbusch (referred to simply as Officer O).

So D.D. Warren has a lot to deal with in this story.

LG has clearly researched how Sex Predators operate which is a chilling tale and one which demonstrates how devious people like this are, especially when it comes to the tricks they deploy on-line.

Lisa Gardner's writing style often alternates between the central characters which in this story belong to D.D. Warren and Charlie.

She writes intelligently and takes you down certain paths where you think you know what's going to happen next only to be blindsided but something else.

There are characters from other books that appear in Catch Me (most notably Quincy and his daughter from the FBI Profiler Series) which LG talks about in her Author's Acknowledgements.

For those who've read earlier books involving D.D. Warren's life has progressed and is now a mother and happily settled with Alex.

In summary another exciting thriller by Lisa Gardner which keeps going at a tremendous pace.

If you've liked her other books then this won't disappoint and if this is for first time then you're in for a real treat.

Rough Justice: The 7th Spider Shepherd Thriller
Rough Justice: The 7th Spider Shepherd Thriller
by Stephen Leather
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive issues managed well, 6 Mar. 2012
The Vigilante path is well trod and there is some pretty mediocre output.

However Stephen Leather, in Rough Justice, was able to paint both sides of the picture in a contemporary London Centric environment (although it did stretch beyond to cover Ulster and even Hereford!).

Dan "Spider" Shepherd is a well characterised individual and having read others in this Series am getting to know him quite well!!

In this book (his 7th in the Series) Dan "Spider" Shepherd is working undercover for the SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency) a wannabe UK version of the FBI.

The book covers three parralel stories.

1. Spider is drafted in to try and discover a cadre of corrupt cops in a special unit - The TSG (Territorial Support Group) which is attached to the Met.
The suspicion is that these alleged Vigilantes are taking the law into their own hands as they feel the British Justice System is failing the Victims in a bad way.

2. The second revolves around Major Gannon who was in the SAS regiment with Shepherd and features in other Spider books.
This involves the shooting of innocent Soldiers in a restaurant in N.I. by the real IRA and one of the party is related to Gannon.
As Gannon believes that justice will not be met to the The Foxes (the perpetrators of this killing) he sets out to correct this situation in his own way eliciting the help of Dan "Spider" Shepherd.

3. The third component of the book rlates to his son Liam. Spider accidentally discovers on Liam's Mobile phone a video of a boy being beaten up at his School. These things happen when Shepherd is working undercover at a TSG. Spider tries to do the right thing; reports this to the Shool who in turn involve the Police. It then turns nasty as an aggrieved parent of the boy "accussed" of making the Video starts to threaten Shepehrd's Son and live-in housekeeper.

The book raises - in an intelligent way - the frustrations that innocent Victims and Officers of the Law have as a consequence of miscarriages of Justice.

However it also points out the attendant dangers of a Society which would allow or encourage Vigilante forces.

It makes you think.

My only real critisism is that the book is too long in ways that don't enhance the story.

I got the point about the bad guys and after two examples I understood where this was heading (I didn't need several more examples)!!

Live Wire
Live Wire
by Harlan Coben
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Crossed Wires, 8 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Live Wire (Hardcover)
Having read all HC's output, other than his recently released first two books, which were given poor reviews this looks like it could the end of the line for me.
This wasn't a bad book but was not one of his best and the story seemed to chronicle the end of Bolitar, Win et al.
HC created a terrific set of characters who integrated well so it will be a shame if this is the last we hear of Myron and his colleagues.
But maybe my assessment of their demise is a mistaken assumption.
The low key Chandler-like one-liners are always good value and in this book HC was on form.
However like it's the economy stupid saying if the story isn't strong enough you're always going to struggle to engage the reader.
This was just not a strong enough story and tried to mesh together too many extraneous threads which ended up in writing cul-de-sacs.
HC also spent a lot of time dwelling on family related challenges which, up to a point, chimed with the narrative but became somewhat self indulgent.
It also seemed to want to sweep up and finalise the Bolitar Series, Ache Brothers and all.
However he did allow Mickey Bolitar to emerge as a potential character who is now the central player in his latest book - Shelter.
To be honest Mickey seemed like a bit of a pain and reviews I've read bear this out.
However and in summary Live Wire us a good read with an interesting story.
The problem is HC has written much better books in this series so anything short if the mark is bound to disappoint.

Tango One (Stephen Leather Thrillers)
Tango One (Stephen Leather Thrillers)
by Stephen Leather
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea which loses some steam towards the end, 5 Feb. 2012
I've become fan of Stephen Leather and this book was centred on an interesting idea and raised some compelling questions about drugs, morlaity and many associated issues.
The story, this is not a spoiler as it's covered on the book cover, is convincing in sending "virgin" cop recruits to infiltrate the drug world under deep cover with a mission to take down Tango One I.e. the most wanted dealer on the UK scene.
The way this is manged makes sense and how Stephen Leather paints a picture of the Drugs World suggests that he has done considerable research.
in fact, for most of the book I was with Stephen Leather every inch of the way.
The challenge any good author faces is how to give the ending a wow factor.
Bluntly this didn't.
In fact after 400 plus pages of build-up the ending was, at best, quite ordinary.
A shame as I hoped for more.
However it won't deter me from reading more from this author unless the endings follow a similiar pattern.

by John Grisham
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Out of Character, 2 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Bleachers (Paperback)
This book was given to me because a friend thought I liked John Grisham.
I do, but not all of his output but this was very poor indeed.
Whilst I can understand the sentiments I found the characters wooden, the story quite dull and the concept behind the story, whilst laudable, clumsily expressed.
At one point I went on-line to check that I wasn't being spoofed!!
JG should stick to the knitting and do what he does best which, when on top of his game, is first rate.
But not this!!

by Amy MacKinnon
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 25 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Tethered (Paperback)
This was a stretch from my normal reading fayre and I wasn't sure, having read the cover notes, what to expect.

However, with very few misgivings, I found this an excellent book.

The story centres on Clara Marsh who works in a Funeral Parlour and prepares the dead for their final voyage in "life".

Important to the story is that she has a love of flowers (which is carried on throught the book in a very inaginative way).

Her childhood was deeply distressing which has moulded her life into a very insular existence and, as a consequence, she decides to spend her self-imposed solitary life working in a Funeral Parlour (Mortician).

She shares her sheltered life with the ageing owners of the Funeral Parlour who emotionally "adopt" Clara as their own having lost their son at an early age.

In terms of her socialising that's about it!!

However her well ordered life life is disrupted when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the Funeral Parlour searching friendship.

This sets off a chain of events when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl - Precious Doe - found murdered in nearby woods.

Further investigaions prove that that there is a child predator on the loose which bonds Clara and Mike closer together in trying to solve this crime.

This book works on a number of levels; a crime thriller, love story and asks questions about faith.

In summary this was a very well written book (a bit laboured to start) which delivered to the reader a great deal more than the unravelling of a murder mystery.

It's certainly different the the norm which is too Amy MacKinnon's credit.

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