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Jonathan Clark "Great Black Hawk" (London, United Kingdom)
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Roadside Crosses: Book 2
Roadside Crosses: Book 2
by Jeffery Deaver
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea bogged down with too many spurious distractions, 5 Jun 2011
Many reviewers have covered the story which, at face value, is very interesting.
The use of Roadside Crosses evokes chilling images at the best of times, but to be placed before something nasty happens is a scary idea.
So full marks for a this.
However the main tract of the writing is about the significance of these roadside crosses and the tragic events which mark their being there but Deaver seems to get blown off course during his writing.
He introuduces other sub-plots and twists which are not really helpful nor meangingful to the plot.
For example, the case brought against her mother (Edie) does not help neither does some sloppy investigating which lead nowhere.
I also found Deaver's use of kinesics, within Kathyrn Dance's character a little overcooked, and ultimatley (IMO) it didn't really help her solve anything!!
The focus on the the cyber world was also a bit dumbed down.
Most of us know how BLOGS work and have basic computer literacy so some of his explanations were a bit patronising.
However I did find that the corollaries he used between the real world and the cyber world in Dimension Quest were well made and food for thought.
The book also contained the usual love interest with two characters bidding for Kathryn's affection.
In summary I was disappointed with this book.
The main event i.e. the discovery of who was responsible was cleared up (IMO) opinion well before the end and I found the last few chapters a bit tedious as if someone had popped my balloon!
In great books you think back to some really interesting characters and plot development but in this book these are both thin.
I've read other Deaver books and he's clearly a talent - maybe this was part of the sausage factory output demanded by his publishers?


The Quiet Game
The Quiet Game
by Greg Iles
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A Quiet Masterpiece, 30 May 2011
This review is from: The Quiet Game (Paperback)
This is a fantatsic book with all the ingredients to keep you hooked from start to finish.
The book centres on a Delano Payton who was a black factory worker who was blown up in his car outside the Triton Battery Plant in 1968.
It was considered race murder at the time only the case was never solved, in spite of FBI involvement.
Given the climate of that era this was probably not a suprise and is salutory reminder of how much we have moved on since those dark days.
However Payton's family never felt that justice was served and there are too many loose ends which create further suspicion that other motives might be at play.
Having read Greg Iles's Penn Cage books out of sequence it is this book that Penn and Caitlin meet for the first time where we see Penn Cage as a recent widower along with his daughter.
To alleviate his grief and give his daughter some respite he brings her back to Natchez to spend time in his home town and with his parents.
Inevitably he is swept up in the Payton case which leads to a range od scenarios which keep the story rattling on at a great pace.
For example he finds that his father was blackmailed in the past by a dirty cop which possibly involves the father of Penn's high school flame Olivia.
Leo Marston (Olivia's father) a wealthy, influential and powerful man, is a poweful figure in the city of Natchez and seems to be a law unto himself.
The story ebbs and flows and covers a wide range of subjects from dealing with personal grief through to the immortality of the way some things were in the 60's, particularly regarding racial prejudice, through to the corruption that existed within the FBI under Hoover's administration.
However it's all about Penn Cage and how he feels compelled to solve this cold case and bring justice and closure to the family of the murdered man and closure and justice to his own family.
The Penn Cage series of books from Greg Iles is (IMO) his best work and I highly recommend these books to anyone with an interest in this genre.


Mortal Remains
Mortal Remains
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing and laboured, 22 May 2011
This review is from: Mortal Remains (Hardcover)
I've now read all Kathy Reichs output to date and what great enjoyment she has provided and I love Tempe Brennan.
However with Mortal Remains (aka Spider Bones in USA) I think I've come to the end of the road for now.
This is her 13th Tempe Brennan book and it might be lucky for some, but not me!!
The story was very confusing which is OK as you can pick the bones (pardon the pun!) from any good book and still get real satisfaction from it.
However the level of detail she got into, and with more acroynms you can shake a stick at it, made it unhelpul and unecessary for the reader.
The mix of characters she chose to include in this book was also OK however there have been some more interesting characters in previous books which have added greater depth.
The constant bickering and highly fraactious relationship between Katy (Tempe's daughter) and Lucy (Ryan's daughter) was irritating to say the least.
The on/off situation with Ryan (after 13 books!) has started to pale.
In summary I was underwhelmed by the story, which although intriguing on reflection there didn't seem that much to it either plot or character-wise.
She did try and spice it up with a few twists and some action-packed moments but they didn't ingite the fire.
As someone has previously and correctly stated (IMO) it feels like Kathy Reichs had settled into cruise mode, much like Patricia Cornwell.
If you're new to Kathy Reichs start at the begining with either Deja Dead or Death du Jour - you won't be disaapointed.


Broken
Broken
by Karin Slaughter
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, 21 May 2011
This review is from: Broken (Hardcover)
I'm a big fan of Karin Slaughter and IF this was my first venture into her writing I guess I might have been impressed.
However having read all of her books (bar one) this one wasn't up to her usual high standards.
I don't want to spoil the enjoyment for those who haven't read much of Karin's output, but in this offering she tries to shoe-in characters from previous works in a way which seems either somewhat contrived or perhaps she genuinely think will work.
Why is this?

Karin Slaughter books break down into 3 (three) series:

The Georgia series

Genesis, Broken and Fallen (not yet available)

The Grant County series

Blindsighted, Kisscut, A Faint Cold Fear, Indelible, Faithless and Skin Privilege

The Will Trent/Atlanta series

Triptych and Fractured

Arguably this book straddles The Georgia Series and The Will Trent/Atlanta Series using characters from each e.g. Sarah Linton and Lena Adams (Grant County) and Will Trent (Atlanta).
Apart from not being convinced about this I found the story only reasonably engaging but mostly a bit cliche.
The old school cops who have their own rules and old fashioned attitudes to most things!
Dysfuntional characters which should enrich the story but somehow don't.
The raison d'etre for all that happens, whilst interesting, the actual reasons for the actions are a tad implausible and a bit disappointing.
Also the tensions between Sarah and Lena, whilst understandable, do go on!
However it's not bad and for those who want try it the plot goes like this:
The body of a young woman is discovered deep beneath the icy waters of Lake Grant with a note left under a rock saying "I want it Over" by the shore which suggests to suicide.
However it soon becomes clear that this is not a suicide but a brutal, cold-blooded murder.
Enter former Grant County medical examiner Sara Linton - home for Thanksgiving after a long absence who finds herself unwittingly drawn into the case.
The chief suspect is desperate to see her but when she arrives at the local police station she is met with a horrifying sight.
The suspect lies dead in his cell, the words 'Not me' scrawled in blood across the walls.
Something about his confession doesn't add up and deeply suspicious of the detective in charge, Lena Adams, Sara immediately calls the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Shortly afterwards, Special Agent Will Trent is brought in from his holiday to investigate.
But he is immediately confronted with a wall of silence and hostility.
Grant County is a close-knit Southern US community with loyalties and ties that run deep.
In summary an interesting book but if you're new to Karin Slaughter I'd start at the beginning i.e. Blindsighted and work through her works from there.
You won't be disappointed!


Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (King Penguin)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (King Penguin)
by Patrick Suskind
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An infusion of good ideas which doesn't come up smelling of roses, 14 May 2011
I gave this two stars because it was undeniably different.
As an aside the title of the book is called Perfume - The Story of Murder.
However it isn't until you get near the end of the book that murders occur which means the subtitle of the book is a bit misleading!
The book was translated from German into English and I don't know whether there were plot nuances lost in translation, at times it felt as if this was the case.
Although not a long book it took its time to get going and it wasn't until nearly the end did it start to get really interesting.
However as one reads this book you could ask yourself the question whether Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is victimising women or is the victim himself.
The trouble is I found it hard to care.
The story centres to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille born and abandoned in Paris who has no body odour of his own but posseses an incredible sense of smell.
His journey through life is bleak and lonely.
He grows up unloved and unwanted by anyone - his times at a Tannery are well described - although he does develop some relationships along the way although nothing of any depth.
His advanced sense of smell leads to working for an ailing Perfumery in Paris and he impresses with his uncanny knack of developing perfumes which are stunning, turning around a faltering business and making big bucks for the Proprietor.
All of this is buidling up a head of steam which you sense will lead to something nasty happening, which ultimately it does!
But not before Grenouille spends seven years in a Cave leading a Hermitic existence (I really didn't quite get this bit) before emerging for the final denouement.
His obsession for creating the most womderful perfume in the World takes him to craving the scents of young virgin girls and one (girl) in particular.
In essence (pardon the pun!) Grenouille is a complete sociopath who shows no remorse for for his actions.
The ending is quite gruesome but in the context of 24 murdered virgins I guess the author needed some closure for the reader.
This book has glowing reports and in some ways I can see why.
However for me the author could have made more of the central character at the expense of some parts of the book which were frankly quite dull.
In summary I'm glad that I read this book.
It didn't enjoy it but some aspects of it were of value.


The Road
The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The road to nowhere, 10 May 2011
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
This post apocalyptic, dystopian work had the makings of something very interesting.
The father and son relationship, the bleak scenery, the imminent savagery around every corner - I was looking forward to it.
However it was like I went into a room and everyone's laughing and when I'm told the joke I just don't get it.
McCarthy's writing style and lack of chapters and punctuation (at times) is irritating.
However it's repetitiveness was tiresome.
The constant referencing to the good guys and the bad guys and carrying the fire was OTT.
A snapshot of a typical piece of dialogue is as follows:

We're going to be okay, aren't we Papa?
Yes. We are.
And nothing bad is going to happen to us.
That's right.
Because we're carrying the fire.
Yes. Because we're carrying the fire.

I also had the feeling that maybe there was something allegorical going on.
But if there was, it was lost on me.
Far from being a relevationary tale it was deeply depressing.
I have a feeling that this will be viewed as poetic and essential school reading which, if it does, will be at the expense of other more potent works in this genre.


Blood Memory
Blood Memory
by Greg Iles
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Easy to forget, 10 May 2011
This review is from: Blood Memory (Paperback)
I find Greg Iles a very frustrating writer.
I recently read Turning Angel, which I thought was excellent, so went straight to Blood Memory.
It centres on a forensic odontologist called Catherine (Cat) Ferry who has been invited to help with the New Orleans and FBI task force to solve a series of gruesome murders where bite marks are left on the victims who happen to be older men.
We quickly learn that Cat has issues having been the victim of child abuse and is a serial drinker with odd sexual preferences.
She's also having an affair with a cop and is carrying his child so add that to the melting pot and you have pretty much a full house of a troubled person!
In some ways this flawed individual should make for real character engagement but somehow after wading though a very long book I was only mildly concerned by her and her plight.
But back to the plot, Cat is called off the case for a variety of reasons, so she decides to go home near Natchez, Mississippi, to find have some "me" time.
Whilst there and in her bedroom with a portfolio of forensic equipement there's some accidental chemcial spillage which uncovers a pair of bloody footprints.
It then takes a different course with some soul searching about her father who was murdered when Cat was a child but under mysterious circumstances.
Her father was also a Vietnam Vet and part of an elite group who didn't exactly obey the Geneva Convention rules!
Enter stage left Grandapa who's a control freak extraordinaire but has a for soft spot for Cat, and guess what he has big plans for Natchez, he also has a weird "psycho" sidekick to add more fuel to the fire.
So now we have two parallel plots going on.
The serial murders in New Orleans and the unresolved murder of Cat's father.
What Iles builds up to centres on psychological trauma, repressed memories and child abuse are all of which are an integral part of Cat's past and present.
So in Summary
As a few have commented, this book is overlong and very repetitive (the latter a cause for the former!).
The endless reiteration of Cat's dream gets a bit much after the 15th iteration!
The final denouements are also a bit far fetched - particularly the serial killings - and I was left with a slightly empty feeling.
As an aside, Iles has created Penn Cage who is a character I look forward to reading about (obvioulsy not featured in this book) but I can't say that if Cat features again I'll be first in line to try this character out again.
If you're new to Greg Iles try ones which include Penn Cage or others like 24 hours.


Turning Angel
Turning Angel
by Greg Iles
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Cage at his mercurial best, 1 May 2011
This review is from: Turning Angel (Paperback)
After reading Dark Matter which was disappointing this was a real treat.
It addresses some difficult isssues and challenges the reader with some insightful writing.
Whether you agree with his perspective matters not as it stimulates a different way of viewing things.
The central character is Penn Cage who is a semi-retired attorney but now an author who is drawn into helping his best buddy (Dr Drew Elliot) after revelations that an under age girl who he was having an affair with has been murdered.
Drew is a highly respected local doctor and all-round all-American guy living the American Dream with beautiful wife, family etc
Both Penn and Drew are on the board of a top local private school where Kate Townsend, a multi-talented and beautuful student excels.
She also happens to be the girl that Drew was having an affair with and found murdered.
So you can guess who is the #1 suspect!
The action is in the town of Natchez, Mississippi.
The town is a hotbed of Politics where race plays an important part albeit in ways which might surprise.
There are many other things going on which lace the plot.
Penn's long distance realtaionship with his ambitious girlfriend Caitlin, his feelings towards his babysitter who is the same age as Kate and at the same school, the racial tensions that exist, the political climate which see a once prospering Town struggling.
It also portrays the feelings and emotions of teenage school kids in a way might surprise and shock!
Greg Iles claims alot of research into this subject so these observations are well grounded.
So much goes on at such a breakneck speed, which inevitably include a drugs ring, that it really sucks you in to the point where you can't put the book down.
I only have one critisism which is that the Asian drugs ring which feature in the book - who admittedly are somewhat faceless - who pose a serious threat seem to peter out which was a bit disappointing (it left a loose end IMO).
However the portrayal of Marko which highlight his past and darkly shocking experiences in the Balkans, who co-incidentally who attends the same private school as Kate, is interesting although it doesn't justify his subsequent behaviour!
Overall it was a really great book and will read more of the Penn Cage series.


Bones to Ashes
Bones to Ashes
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars I'll make no bones, 27 April 2011
This review is from: Bones to Ashes (Hardcover)
Many have covered the plot plus it's on the dust jacket so I'll leave this aspect of the review alone.

I've read all of Kathy Reichs books now, bar one, and this offering initially engaged me.

I like Tempe and her quirky sense of humour, her relationship with Ryan is volatile but amusing, Harry is a loose cannon but in a nice way and I even like Birdie and Tempe's conversations with the cat!

Her ex husband gets on my nerves a bit and his short involvement in this book was unecessary padding.

The book was quasi educational, as I knew little about Acadenians and their history/culture, so this was very interesting.

So despite many things going for it the plot was too convoluted for its own good.

It was overly laboured and became somewhat confusing. She used misdirection far too much and when I did get to the end I didn't feel the wow factor.

She's written far better but it's not a stinker.


The Third Victim
The Third Victim
by Lisa Gardner
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great writer of this genre, 23 April 2011
This review is from: The Third Victim (Paperback)
This is one of Lisa Gardners' earlier works and and involves FBI profiler Pierce Quincy with local deputy Rainie Conner.
They investigate an unspeakable act at a local junior school which has ripped apart the idyllic town of Bakersville, Oregon.
But athough a young boy - Danny - has confessed to the horrific crime, evidence shows he may not be guilty.
The town is divided and the body of evidence looks like Danny was the perp.
It details the complexity of Raine's character - a former alcoholic, a mother who was also an alcoholic and a loose woman to say the least (!) and reputedly mudered by her daughter.
Pierce Quincy is also a man with some dark secrets so the chemistry between these two characters is explosive!
I was absolutely gripped and didn't spot the person who did it - at all.
Although it's not quite as simple as this!
It's a great book and I'm a big fan of this genre and think that Lisa Gardner is underrated.
She's right up there with Karin Slaughter and Kathy Reichs IMO.
Lisa Gardner has also written under the name of Alicia Scott.
These are romantic novels but these books have a distinctly different feel from Lisa Gardner's core works.
They are kinder, less violent and a conatin a great deal more romance.


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