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Nick Devonald (Alva, Scotland)

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A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 14
A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 14
by John Connolly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.49

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Masterpiece, 11 April 2016
John Connolly gets better with each progressive book, this series is easily one of the best I've ever read.

Watching Parkers progress throughout has been a real joy. The trio of Parker, Louis and Angel are truly a force to be reckoned with now, more so than ever, and the intro section where they take down a bad guy named Roger Ormsby is great. I loved Parkers confrontation with the collector and the direction their complicated relationship has now taken. This section of the novel highlights how truly badass Parker has become.

I love how it builds on from the events in previous novels, Parkers new working arrangement with Ross and the FBI, his recovery after the events of "A wolf in winter", the progress with the list from "The wrath of angels"

Reading the new John Connolly book is always such a bitter sweet pleasure, I can't help but hungrily devour my way through, but it's always over far too soon, not that this is a short novel, far from it. And as always I can't wait for the next installment. Each successive novel furthers the mysteries surrounding Parkers daughters, both alive and dead, but I can't help but feel we're now building up to the conclusion of this series, which will be a sad day in my book.

I can't recommend this book enough, and if this is your first entry I'd suggest going back and reading "Every Dead Thing", then the rest of the stores in order, you won't regret it.

The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 12
The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 12
by John Connolly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Real threat to Parkers Mortality, 21 April 2014
The Wolf in Winter carries on immediately from where the previous novel left off, with Parker, Louis and Angel embarking on a vengeance filled vendetta after the tragic events at the end of The Wrath of Angels. Meanwhile John Connolly switches to third person in between these scenes to paint us the horrific town of Prosperous, Maine. Slowly we begin to get a picture of what is going on, as events begin to unfold, and we see where Parker is going to find himself involved in this, the twelfth Charlie Parker novel, will be about.

Connolly's prose is on top form, yet again, and one of the strengths of the series has been the villains of the piece. They always ooze a sense of menace, and especially in the last two novels I love the way that he brings inanimate objects to life. The last novel the landscape itself became an ominous threat, with the woods of Maine posing a threat. This time it's the town of Prosperous itself, which has become a twisted town where the residents make terrible sacrifices in their worship to a pagan type god.

The mythology of the series is explored in a bit more depth here. We learn yet more about what is ultimately going to be big showdown in the series, and begin to learn more about the mysterious Backers who have been acting in the shadows since Every Dead Thing. I get the impression we are building up towards the end of the series, which will be a shame, but at least it will be going out on a high.

In this instalment we learn more about other threats, and see how other religions factor into the series. There is a line in the novel which states "It doesn't matter what I believe. What matters are the beliefs of those who are looking for it, and the havoc they've created, and will continue to create, until they're stopped." I love the ambiguity this series has, and that line leapt out at me as a perfect way of summing it all up. Are the supernatural elements real? Or is Parker himself, and those he encounters, just seriously deluded? I think by this point, twelve books in, that most readers are embracing the supernatural, I just love the fact that there is still an element of doubt as to what is real.

There is also a sense as the novels go on that the characters are aging. There is a real threat to Parkers mortality, after the events in the end of the previous novel we realise that characters can die, no-one is safe, and here it is our main protagonist that we are worried about. And what is clear is that nothing will be quite the same again after events in this novel. It is unclear what this will mean for Parker and Co, but rest assured there are consequences, which I suspect will lead us in some quite unexpected directions.

Some complaints have been made that the last part of the novel is wrapped up quickly. Yes, the ending is quite brief, and without giving any spoilers away here the reason for that should be obvious to anyone who's read it. There is a change in the nature of the narration, which will always affect pacing. And more to the point, there is no real threat to Louis and Angel in their quest at the end. These are two very dangerous individuals, and in all honesty what they do at the end of the novel will be a piece of cake to them. There is no terrible villain to defeat. No real challenge after some of the other villians we have met in the series. So yes, it is over quickly, but not inappropriately so.

So this novel is yet another success for John Connolly, which is impressive when you think this is the twelfth in the series. No mean feat. If you've read the others, buy this now. If not, start at the beginning and work up to this one. It will be worth it. And at the time of posting the first four books in the series are available in an omnibus on Amazon for only £2.99 on Kindle, an absolute bargain.

Cannot recommend it enough.

The Charlie Parker Collection 1-4: Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind, The White Road (Charlie Parker Box Set)
The Charlie Parker Collection 1-4: Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind, The White Road (Charlie Parker Box Set)
Price: £1.49

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Good Mysteries, 19 April 2013
The Charlie Parker series by John Connolly is one of the finest series I have ever read. For people new to John Connolly this collection is an absolute bargain, containing the first four books of the series.

The series follows Charlie Parker, ex-NYPD, now a private detective. This is a subtle fusion of different genres, principally crime, with a little horror, and then discretely introducing supernatural elements. The horror and supernatural aspects are never thrust into your face, they lurk in the shadows, making this perfect for fans of crime novels looking for something that little bit different. But don't be put off if you're not a fan of otherworldly tales, because the world that Connolly writes about could easily be mistaken for our own.

It is the protagonist, Charlie Parker, who really sets this series apart from other novels. From his introduction, in 'Every Dead Thing', as a grief consumed and broken man, Connolly doesn't hold back as he shows us the brutal events which have led to Parker being the man he is today. Throughout the series Parker is haunted, both figuratively and literally, by his past. This is a world where nothing is black and white, every one of the 'good guys' is a definite shade of grey. The only thing that justifies some of the actions they take is that the bad guys can't be described as anything but evil.

Parker has two allies who accompany him through his exploits, gay hitmen named Louis and Angel, who add a little dash of humour to an otherwise dark series. And of course there is the romantic interest, a woman named Rachel, and as the series progresses Parkers relationship with these three change and take unexpected directions.

I was hooked from the first page of 'Every Dead Thing', and quickly read my way through all the other books in the series.

Another one of Connolly's great talents as a writer is excellent villains. The 'Travelling Man' in the first book is menacing, but its not until 'The Killing Kind' that I found myself deeply unsettled by one of the main antagonists, Elias Pudd. 'The White Road' is an excellent continuation from 'The Killing Kind', and the ending takes the characters to a very dark place, and makes their already cloudy morals even murkier.

Connolly's prose is fantastic to read, and it is far too easy to lose yourself in his writing for hours at a time. I cannot recommend this series enough, and as I said before this collection is such a bargain. Buy it. You won't be disappointed. Then buy the next collection. And then the rest of the books in the series. I'm convinced after reading the last few pages in each book you will find yourself desperate to read the next. And quite rightly so.

Don't Be a Hero: A Superhero Novel
Don't Be a Hero: A Superhero Novel
Price: £2.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing to see a superhero story in a different format, 22 Nov. 2012
This is the first superhero story I have read in the novel form (although I am currently listening to the audio book of Ex-Heroes: 1) and I absolutely loved it. I am a big fan of superheroes in any medium, and it was refreshing seeing it done like this.

I think I should mention that there isn't a lot of originality in some of the bigger stories, e.g. the origins of superheroes, and the whole people don't like superheroes so they have to become registered etc. HOWEVER, the story revels in the fact that these stories have been done before. The writing throughout is fantastic, and it really is fun to read. The powers vary greatly, many of them have been done a million times already, however I did like the two main characters superpowers. I would say that while both are takes on other powers that have been done before, they still stood out as being fairly unique.

I never felt that this story took itself too seriously, to read it your sense of realism had to be stretched. But that's what superhero stories are all about. I was hooked throughout reading it. Despite the cliched story lines there were plenty of surprises, and I never found myself bored as I read it.

At the start of each chapter was a small paragraph, detailing superheroes, their powers, and their current whereabouts (many of whom are now dead, mostly of cancer). I can almost picture the author, Chris Strange, sitting down and coming up with hundreds of hero's and villains and their powers. And having great fun as he did so.

I loved this story, and will be looking out for more from Chris Strange. Highly recommended to comic book fans, or superhero movie fans.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A modern take on the classic 1984, 22 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Darklandia (Kindle Edition)
I was really looking forward to reading this book. The blurb made it sound fantastic, and it sounded like it would be right up my street. However as I read it I was just reminded of 1984 the whole way through it, albeit it with a more modern take. It didn't feel particularly original, and while I enjoyed reading it I wouldn't rate it too highly.

The twist at the end I did not see coming, and I doubt anyone could have. For me that stood out more than the rest of it, but not enough to warrant more than the three stars I have given it. I have a sneaky suspicion that if I was to read it again I would appreciate it more knowing the twist, in a similar fashion to the sixth sense. However, I didn't enjoy it enough to bring myself to read it again.

However, I would like to add it wasn't all bad. Despite feeling like it was a totaly rip off of 1984 I suspect that the author has a lot of potential, and I will almost certainly be reading more from T.S. Welti.

Long Eyes and Other Stories
Long Eyes and Other Stories
Price: £2.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Varied collection of unique stories, 22 Nov. 2012
This is the second e-book I have read by Jeff Carlson, the other being The Frozen Sky. I absolutely loved "The Frozen Sky" and it was with some excitement I read this book. Now, short stories I always find are a bit hit or miss, in every good collection (even from my favourites like Neil Gaiman) there are some dud stories. Not so in this collection.

I'll admit, after reading the first story 'Long Eyes', which this collection is named after, I did have some reservations. There were similar idea's and themes to Frozen Sky, with finding a new race on a different planet, and I was concerned that this was going to be more of the same. Luckily however this was the only similarity that Jeff Carlson has managed to make. The stories themselves are very varied, with Sci-fi tales mixed in with a little bit of fantasy, and stories that are just about people with no influence from sci-fi or fantasy.

Personal favourites included 'Caninus', a very different take on an old legend, which did something that is very rare thing for me in horror stories, it actually scared me at times. Another stand out story was 'Monsters'. This was a VERY dark tale, and it was interesting watching the transformation in the main characters personality, and makes you wonder just how many other people would react in a similar way if they found themselves in that situation.

One thing that really made this collection work was the afterword with each story. Each one is unique, and offers insight into the authors mind. It also makes sense of what the author was attempting to do with the short stories, which I find isn't always clear with short stories.

I cannot recommend this collection enough, along with The Frozen Sky, there is so much variety in the collection that there will be something in there for everyone.

The Frozen Sky (the Europa Series Book 1)
The Frozen Sky (the Europa Series Book 1)
Price: £1.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi as it's meant to be, 31 Oct. 2012
This is excellent Sci-Fi, a real page turner from start to finish. Jeff Carlson has constructed a believable world set a hundred years or so in the future. It deals with first contact with an alien race, sunfish, on the frozen landscape of Jupiters moon, Europa. The setting works brilliantly, creating a sense of isolation from civilisation, and later on in the story meaning the politics back on Earth don't become overwhelming.

The Sunfish are a beautifully realised creation, alien in their way of thinking unlike most typical sci-fi creations. There has clearly been a lot of thought put into them, and they are definitly one of the highlights of the novel. Without wanting to give too much away the theories behind their evolution, and how they have progressed to their current point, is brilliant. Decisions they make that would seem cold hearted to most people make sense giving the hostile enviroment they grew up in. And Europa is definitly a hostile enviroment.

The technology, whilst clearly far in advance of our own, is still relatable so at no point did I find myself wondering just what was going on, or feel the need for a big infodump to explain it all to me.

Some of the basic themes behind the story aren't particularly original, such as first contact, and it takes a rather negative view of humanity as a whole. But then I would say it's fairly true with that assessment, and there are more than enough original ideas in there to stop this being an issue. The stories absolutely cracking and any little niggles like this don't matter.

And I loved the idea of trying to figure out whether or not the Sunfish were intelligent, and it made me question what it is that makes humans intelligent, as opposed to animals. See, there's even a bit of philosophy in there.

It's when reading novels like this which have been self-published I am absolutely blown away by the level of talent that is out there.

Highly recommend this one to fans of science fiction novels.

The Dead Man Vol 1: Face of Evil, Ring of Knives, and Hell in Heaven
The Dead Man Vol 1: Face of Evil, Ring of Knives, and Hell in Heaven
Price: £3.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 24 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really like the premise of this series of novella's. An ongoing series dealing with Matthew Cahill, recently deceased then brought back to life, and his exploits with the evil Mr. Dark, along with attempting to find out why he has been brought back. But I found there was just a certain something lacking. I don't really know if I would class this as horror either, more an action series with really high levels of gore thrown in for good measure. A good horror story leaves me feeling scared, and this didn't.

However I found myself suitably intrigued that I read all three, and have every intention of carrying on reading more books in this series. But for those people out there who are looking for horror novels, this probably isn't for you. And anyone who doesn't like lots of gore? What I want to know is what are you doing looking in the horror section on Amazon?

I like the idea of different authors pitching in with their stories, and the idea of these short novellas carrying on in an ongoing series. I love the concept of that, but don't feel too many authors succeed with it.

I enjoyed it, but felt because it lacked that certain something, and certainly wasn't what I expected as a something classed as horror, I struggled to give it more than 3 stars. But like I said earlier, I am intending to carry on reading them, so it can't be all that bad. Intrigued by what I've said? Give it a try, and if you go in with low expectations you can only be pleasantly surprised.

Deathwish: Cal Leandros Book 4 (A Cal Leandros Novel)
Deathwish: Cal Leandros Book 4 (A Cal Leandros Novel)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Addition to the Series yet, 24 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It will come as no surprise to anyone who's read any of my previous reviews of the Cal Leandros books that I really like this series. Deathwish was no different, in fact I would go as far as to say it was my favourite installment yet.

After the massive cliffhanger at the end of the previous novel, when the Auphe come back in force, I was dying to get my hands on this book. And it doesn't disappoint. The Auphe are one of my favourite villians, and there return can only be a good thing (unless you're a character in this novel, of course, in which case it's most definitely NOT a good thing)

In the previous book in the series we learnt all about Robin's background, as a bit of a subplot. This time around it is Promise's past that gets slowly revealed to us through several of the subplots. And speaking of subplots in this novel there is so much going on, two main plotlines with so many other minor plots going on, it was really good. Seamus, the Vigil, Oshossi, so much.

There is a bit of a change from previous books in that the narration is no longer just from Cal, but regularly switches between Cal and Niko. This was a bit distracting, and detracted a little from my overall enjoyment. Not enough to give it four stars, but nearly.

One of the great things about this series is the way the characters progress as the series goes on. Robin is still suffering from the events in the last book. Promise and Niko's relationship is examined and put to the test in this novel. Events actually have an impact on the characters in the future. It's rewarding for the reader to be able to watch the characters grow as the series goes on.

Read this series in order, you won't regret it.

P.S. A word of caution, at the end of the book there is a preview of Doubletake (Cal Leandros 7) at the end of the kindle edition (not sure about the paperback edition) which I wrongly assumed would be the next book in the series, it's not, it's the 7th book. I started reading this to get a taster of what was coming next and read a couple of spoilers. I would advise against reading this.

Mean: A Psychological Thriller Novelette
Mean: A Psychological Thriller Novelette
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Interesting Narration Style, 24 Oct. 2012
I have never before come across a narration quite like the one in this novel, which made for a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is set over a course of nine therapy sessions, and consists solely of the main protaganists dialogue to the therapist. There is absolutely nothing else. Occasionally she responds to questions the therapists asked, but we never hear the therapists questions, we only assume from the context of the reply.

This made for an extremely unique story telling. The length of this novelette was perfect, as much as I loved the style of the narration I think it would have began to get old if it had carried on for much longer, as it was I didn't find myself losing interest but there was still time for plenty of background information to be filled in.

It was obvious from quite early on that there was going to be a bit of a twist towards the end, and I had a pretty accurate idea just what this was going to be from about half way through, but as the protaganist herself says at the end she left plenty of clues throughout the narration, so this was not unexpected.

I'd recommend this for anyone looking for something a little bit different, very enjoyable distraction.

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