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col2910 (Bedfordshire,UK)

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Price: £3.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal and brilliant!, 8 Nov 2013
This review is from: Corrosion (Kindle Edition)
Well if you like your crime fiction on the dark-side of the street, populated by the damaged, the ruined and the damned this offering will probably tick more than a few boxes for you. No happy souls, happy families or happy endings. Bleak and brutal.
Family, death, war, injury, obsession, love, ruin, betrayal, sex and mental disintegration......with a sprinkling of rodents and religion.

There probably isn't an awful lot more to say. Another debut novel, opened with a little trepidation after reading some of the hype about it. (I've culled half of the plaudits I found praising it to the hilt.) I even had a random e-mail in advance of reading it, telling me to buckle up and enjoy the ride. This was from Jack Reher who has already adapted it into a screenplay.

Superb, but Jon Bassoff has given himself a problem trying to top this with his second book! Roll on book 2 and hopefully a film to follow at some point......oh happy days, oh happy days!

5 from 5

Acquired from Net Galley, a site that is rapidly turning into one of my favourite go to places.

Tractor Girl: A Texas Crime Novel
Tractor Girl: A Texas Crime Novel
Price: £1.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Great 50's style pulp!, 8 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was another short blast from Reasoner at approximately 112 pages long, with similar themes to Dust Devils.........crime, robbery, secrets and deception. Some secrets are kept better than others, but all is revealed at the brutal climax.

Satisfying and entertaining, without ever threatening to make me abandon my pledge to rush out and buy the 297-odd Reasoner books I don't have in my library. It definitely had the feel of a 50's style Pulp. An enjoyable way of spending 3 hours on a Saturday evening, interrupting my otherwise hard-core rock and roll lifestyle.

4 from 5

Another book acquired recently on Amazon for kindle.

Death by Surprise (Carolyn Hart Classics)
Death by Surprise (Carolyn Hart Classics)
Price: £6.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Great mystery from a previously unread author., 8 Nov 2013
Call me a caveman if you like, but prior to having an unexpected envelope drop on my desk containing an unsolicited advance copy of this re-issued novel, I had never heard of this author. It would be fair to say, I certainly know who she is now after quickly devouring this short-ish book.

Hart has authored over 50 books, in a writing career that launched in 1964 with the publication of her first novel, The Secret of the Cellars. She has several popular series to her name including the 23-book long, Death on Demand books which show no sign of abating.

Back to Death By Surpise......

Rich moneyed folk and lawyers to boot, some with political aspirations don't tend to figure highly on my reading schedule. Coming from the mean streets of Dublin/Luton/Leighton Buzzard, where the dogs usually walk around in pairs............ok I'm joking......the point I'm trying to make is that generally my attitude is akin to rich people - who cares?

Putting aside my immature prejudices and cracking the spine, I was soon engrossed in this satisfying tale of blackmail and murder. K.C. Carlisle probably passes for the most normal in her family and when her siblings and cousins seek to dismantle a trust for access to instant money she's curious as to the motivations behind such a move. When Francine Boutelle arrives on her doorstep, the rationale becomes instantly clear. Even the straight-laced, up-standing K.C. has secrets she wouldn't like aired in public.

Fast forward to the pre-ordained family conference and the strategy the family seeks to adopt is set. An option of murder isn't on the cards, but with the blackmailer subsequently strangled with her cousin's scarf and all of the family possible suspects in regards to motivation, K.C. - already suffering the body-blow of another close bereavement - tries to clear her cousin; albeit at the risk of swapping one family member for another in a prison cell.

Overall, I found Death By Surprise to be clever, interesting, enjoyable and satisfying. It's doubtful I would have been tempted by this book if I hadn't been the recipient of a review copy, but hey I'm happy to be surprised.

4 stars from 5

My thanks go to Meghan (doubly so) at Prometheus Books for my copy and another book by Carolyn Hart which I hope to be getting to shortly - Brave Hearts.

Washed Up (Arvo Thorenson Saga)
Washed Up (Arvo Thorenson Saga)
Price: £6.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut mystery!, 5 Nov 2013
A great end to October and start to November seeing as this book straddled month end for me. Another new author, another great female writer and another debut novel in the form of Washed Up.

We start with the distressing discovery of a newborn infant on the banks of the Mississippi. Arvo Thorson, the star investigator is off on another drunk and AWOL. Abatha, the young girl who raised the alarm is nearly catatonic with shock. Eleven years old, orphaned and living with her grandmother, she already cuts a fragile and solitary figure with barely a friend to her name. Her well-being is entrusted to the care of the competent and sympathetic Christine Ivory; a social worker far better adept at managing her patient's needs than her own relationships.

The discovery of the body attracts the attention of a ravenous media. With that and political pressure descending on the police force from an opportunist Senator; Arvo soon loses control of the investigation. Our right-wing politician has an agenda and a readymade scapegoat in the form of a young un-wed immigrant. When Arvo gets bundled off the case, despite information that may link the crime to a similar occurrence 20 years previously, his head comes out of the bottle long enough to get things back on track.

Washed Up is an interesting small town mystery. It tackles a difficult, uneasy subject with great skill and care. The dynamics and development of the relationships between Arvo and Christine and Christine and the girl Abatha made the book for me. Tangential relationships with ex-wives, mothers, grandmothers, bosses, colleagues helped add depth to the flawed characters, putting flesh on the bones.

The setting and background is superb, a small river town in decline; its industry spewing pollution out over the local school. The town ignored and forgotten by the politicians until tragedy strikes and some capital can be made in an election year. The Mississippi river probably shades the town in its character.

I was engaged right up until the end and was fairly well satisfied with the resolution and the climax of the novel. Not quite the perfect book, but fantastic nonetheless.

I hope to read more in the future from the author and her likeable cast of characters.

4 from 5

Susan Koefod was kind enough to respond positively to my cheeky request for a copy of this - thank you!

Dust Devils
Dust Devils
Price: £1.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Texas thrills, 5 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dust Devils (Kindle Edition)
James Reasoner has apparently authored over 300 novels in a variety of genres. This was my first taste of his stuff and whilst it was enjoyable and passed away a few hours in a pleasant fashion, I'm probably going to stop at the 3 already in my possession. (Texas Wind and Tractor Girl are the other 2 that I own.)

Dust Devils is a short sharp crime novel blowing in at just over 150 pages long. Slightly disturbing in some of the characters motivations, we are jollied along with a tale of an abandoned son, Toby seeking resolution with his mother. His arrival at Grace Halligan's farm seeking work masks his true intentions. Grace, herself may be harbouring a few secrets also.

Guns, death, cops, robbers, bank jobs, incest and secrets all figure as some of Grace's former friends from her old life come calling. Double crosses meet triple crosses in a bloody finale.

Enjoyable, unsettling in places, great action with the outcome in doubt until the end, and best of all I didn't have to wade through 400 pages to reach the resolution. Satisfying enough, so I carried on with Tractor Girl straight afterwards.

4 from 5

Recently purchased new for Kindle on Amazon.

Purgatory (Jack Taylor 10)
Purgatory (Jack Taylor 10)
Price: £3.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great!, 5 Nov 2013
Purgatory is Bruen's 10th and latest Jack Taylor novel and unusually for the completist in me I skipped forward to this one, after having only read the first two or three.

An interesting enough read, but a little less enjoyable than I had been hoping for. Perhaps skipping the seven in-between left me feeling more as a fairly impartial observer to events concerning Taylor and his friends Stewart and Ridge, as opposed to having an emotional connection to them and caring - assuming the friendships have developed over the course of the series.

Bad things happen during the course of the book. A vigilante seems to be cleaning up Galway and the Gardai aren't joining up the dots and acknowledging the connection. Jack ignores notes from the killer, until the murderer makes things personal. Taylor oscillates between manic action with a mad urge to locate someone one minute, to calmly having a drink the next day; said person still unfound. Maybe that's how damaged alcoholic investigators function?

The usual cultural references and hat-tips towards other novelists and books abound throughout, though they seemed a bit forced and stale to me this time. Perhaps, I'm turning into an old grouch?

Best bit of the book - the slow motion analysis of Ibrahimovic's spectacular goal for Sweden against England......go figure.

3 from 5

At some point I will read the Taylor books that I have skipped. For now at least Brant rules.

Another book courtesy of Net Galle

He Who Kills the Dragon: Bäckström 2
He Who Kills the Dragon: Bäckström 2
Price: £9.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Scandi crime I've read this year, 27 Oct 2013
5 from 5

I try not to give too much away when discussing books I have read and this time I will be briefer than usual.

One of my challenges this year was to get stuck into some Scandinavian crime fiction and to that end; this was my fourth Persson book. During the other three, my attention and interest has wandered at times as the author has a tendency to go off page with some of his characters and their musings. This time around Persson stays firmly on track. The result is leaner, meaner and more satisfying for this reader at least. 370-odd pages and I was done in a day and a half!

Decent storyline, decent support characters - some of whom I'm familiar with from previous books, an unforgettable lead in Backstrom and an intriguing murder case to resolve. Backstrom on his own in an empty room would be interesting and funny, when he interacts with his underlings and crosses paths with his frustrated superiors, multiply that x 100.

Probably the best Scandi Crime Fiction I have read all year.

I obtained access to this via the Net Galley website.

My previous reviews on Persson's books are as follows:
Between Summer's Longing And Winter's End
Another Time, Another Life
Linda, As In The Linda Murder

Dark City Blue: A Tom Bishop Rampage
Dark City Blue: A Tom Bishop Rampage
Price: £3.67

3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but less would have been more....., 25 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This type of fast-paced crime fiction is usually right up my street ...... death, violence, guns, shooting, murder and mayhem; with bent cops and other criminals colliding with a lone good guy or team struggling to impose some level of sanity on the proceedings, by bringing the rogues to heel.

I say usually and to be fair I did enjoy this trip on the dark-side of one of Australia’s mean cities, but by the end, the level of violence inflicted on and by our hero cop, Tom Bishop had assumed comedic proportions. In my opinion the story suffered because of it. All that was lacking was Bishop and an adversary, going toe to toe with each other – one with a frying pan.....BISH!....the other with a trusty saucepan.......CLUNK! they shook their lumpen heads and carried on swinging as beads of sweat and teeth flew through the air.

Bishop was interesting and generally likeable with a troubled back story, which fleshed out the book and offered a few moments of respite from the shootings and fights. To say he has a dark side would be an under-statement. The support cast were for the most part uninteresting, though there were a couple of exceptions – Bishop’s daughter and another cop Ellison, being the best of a shallow bunch.

The story was okay, not too original (in fairness are there any untold stories anymore?) .....dirty cops engaged in crime – a hero cop trying to stop them. Enjoyable enough, but I was a bit jaded by the end. At no point during reading it, did I long to be doing something else and at a touch over 200 pages it was relatively short. In terms of the action - less would have been more.

Overall I’ll give it a 3 from 5

Dark City Blue was another debut novel. (There have been a few of them lately.) Preston has followed this with Out Of Exile, his second novel; which also features Tom Bishop. I will read the second book, but I’m hoping for a bit more next time around.
I got this from Amazon UK when it was offered as free for kindle a week or two ago.

Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery
Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery
Price: £7.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut, interesting mystery., 24 Oct 2013
Another new author, another debut book and another interesting mystery set in 60's New York; this time in the world of academia - which was another first for me. Who would have thought that university politics and the petty back-biting and jostling would have proved such an interesting back-drop for this satisfying read?

I will be honest; it started brightly for me, then dipped a wee bit for maybe a chapter or two, then kicked back in with the introduction of a character whose story was incredibly sad. This turn of events seemed to offer the reader and Ellie answers as to the identity of our attacker/murderer, but with a chunk of the book still to read.....maybe yes/maybe no.

Ellie, herself was interesting - liberated, intelligent, impulsive, smart, independent and lonely. Some of the supporting cast of university scholars were by turns....loathsome, irritating, self-centred, aloof, condescending, cold, bitter, angry and devious, whilst others exhibited more compassionate characteristics. (The same as any work-place anywhere, I imagine.) Our policeman was kind, helpful and sympathetic, though I feared his soft exterior might have been a handicap in his role as a detective in 60's New York.

Would I like to read more by the author? Yes

Would I like to read more about Ellie Stone? Yes, though in a different setting.

Would I recommend this to others? Yes, though in truth I don't feel it would appeal to everyone. The events unfold over a period of just over a week and there's a natural logical progression towards the conclusion. No hard pace, no fast action - just an interesting well-written and satisfying mystery, with an atmospheric setting.

A little bit different to my usual reading fare, but I'll give it a 4 from 5.

Thanks again to Meghan at Prometheus/Seventh Street Books for my copy.

Devil in a Blue Dress (Serpent's Tail Classics)
Devil in a Blue Dress (Serpent's Tail Classics)
by Walter Mosley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut, great start to a series!, 22 Oct 2013
This was October's monthly Pulp Fiction Group read over on Goodreads site. I can't honestly recall whether I voted for this or one of the three alternatives, but having read this debut novel many years ago, I wasn't too unhappy to re-visit it.
Mosley's Devil In A Blue Dress was originally published back around 1990 and introduces us to one of the author's enduring characters - Easy Rawlins. To date, there have been twelve books in the series. Ten of the titles have colours in them; red, white, black, yellow etc - and two titles, curiously in my opinion don't - Gone Fishin' and Six Easy Pieces. (Anyone know why? Just curious.)

Easy Rawlins is a black man getting by in LA after the war. A veteran of the conflict, Rawlins has seen and participated in his share of killing. Until recently he's been working as a mechanic at an aviation plant. Rawlins has pride, which for a black man can be an expensive commodity in post-war LA. You can hate him for his colour, but you better respect him. After losing his job at the plant, an acquaintance points mighty whitey De Witt Allbright in Easy's direction. Allbright want to engage Easy to find Daphne Monet. Easy with his home to protect and his mortgage coming due accepts the job.

Rawlins starts asking questions around Monet's haunts. After a late night drinking session and then more intimate discussion with Coretta James, after her man passes out drunk, Easy gets pumped himself for detail. A day or so later he's arrested and beaten by the police for reasons then unknown. When our man finds out that Coretta is dead and certain other parties seem interested in locating Daphne, LA becomes a dangerous place for a black man who can either be a patsy for the police and framed for the death of Coretta or a casualty at the hands of Allbright if Easy doesn't come through for him.

Verdict.......short at 220 pages long, detailed with a great depiction of LA shortly after the war. Mosley shows us life within the black community and the problems encountered when crossing over the racial boundary geographically and also when interacting with white authority. There's a reasonable amount of carnage and death along the way, as Easy with the assistance of an old friend, Mouse eventually survives the fall out to breathe another day. (Having previously mentioned that this is the start of a long-ish series, I hardly think I've gone and spoilt it for you!)

I'm looking forward to reading more from the series in the next year or two - only 11 to catch up on!

4 from 5

I acquired my copy recently second hand and cheap after being unable to locate my original

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