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Reviews Written by
johnverp "@johnverp1" (Budapest)

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Shot Through the Heart: DI Grace Fisher 2
Shot Through the Heart: DI Grace Fisher 2
by Isabelle Grey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 25 July 2016
This is a very engaging read which keeps the reader invested and wondering what is going on. Put differently, it isn't hard to turn the pages here.

I would like to have seen a twist or two and the writing had some unnecessary detours which slowed things down though. I also thought the ending was a bit of a cop-out which betrayed the fine build-up.

I haven't read the prequel, but there was certainly enough good in this novel to take me back to where it all started.


The Backs (DC Goodhew Book 5)
The Backs (DC Goodhew Book 5)
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 18 July 2016
Bruce writes very well and has good observational skills. This book, however, is not otherwise as strong as Cambridge Blue which, for me, is the best in this series. Still, there is not a bad mystery within as well as some twists and turns. There are two story threads to keep up the interest and have the reader wondering whether they will meet. You need to stay alert though, to avoid becoming confused.

But I had slight trouble with the people side of things. There are no characters to like, our lead possibly excepted, but he doesn't do much to attract the reader's favour - you rather align with him simply because he's the dominant sleuth in the story. And there are some very strange relationships at play, both within the police force and some of the families involved.

In short, this is a good read without being Bruce's best. 7/10

PS. FWIW, I don't think you should try this book without having read others in the series as you may miss back-stories which aren't really summarised here.


The Sea Detective
The Sea Detective
by Mark Douglas-Home
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not finely-tuned enough, 14 July 2016
This review is from: The Sea Detective (Paperback)
There are basically three story threads here, but things just didn't flow for me. It all just appeared a little disjointed with quite a few characters and scenarios to come to terms with. Although there is an obvious single protagonist, I didn't really didn't warm to anybody in the cast either.

There were minor detail problems too, as observed by another reviewer as well - for example, a verbal conversation is held between two people without a common language.

To be fair, there is a meaningful recovery in the last third of the book as things come together, the tension builds and the reader awaits outcomes. So the book does come to life or becomes more interesting. But I couldn't forget the patience I had to carry for far too long, so have popped for a rating of 7/10, or 3 stars using the Amazon scale.


Singing the Sadness (Joe Sixsmith, Book 4)
Singing the Sadness (Joe Sixsmith, Book 4)
by Reginald Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not up with his best, 5 July 2016
The classy writing and customary humour are there, but there is also something missing.

As another reviewer has observed, this book almost put her/him to sleep and I can understand why. It is quite slow and the mystery element is low. We also have a cast of thousands, most with nicknames, so it wasn't always easy to keep up either.

I like this series, and our protagonist, but most of Hill's stuff is better than this.


The Black Echo (Harry Bosch Series)
The Black Echo (Harry Bosch Series)
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not as tight as later efforts, 24 Jun. 2016
I have read most Connelly books and he remains a favourite author. This, as his first published novel, is not up with his best, however.

While the plot is very carefully constructed, as usual, and carries some good twists and turns, the book suffers from some structural issues, in my view.

Firstly, it is about 100 pages too long. At times, therefore, we have a novel which moves too slowly and is bogged down in unnecessary detail. The chapters are way too long too, with each extending to over one hour of reading time.

That said, a Connelly novel beats most others in the crime fiction genre, so if you are prepared to accept that he hadn't quite fine-tuned his style with his first effort, you'll still get immense enjoyment out of this one.


The Only Game
The Only Game
by Reginald Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't reach his later heights, 16 Jun. 2016
This review is from: The Only Game (Paperback)
This is not as riveting and smooth as Hill's later books. It was released in the early nineties (BEWARE the chance of a double-up purchase as it was originally released under a pseudonym).

Some of the usual great insights and rich writing are there and our protagonist is also very easy to align with. Despite being quite engaging with its twists and turns though, the plot is quite over-the-top. Put differently, I wasn't fully comfortable with some of the ingredients used. It also dragged a bit at the end as that one twist too many played out.

I have read most of Hill's books and am loathe to make slightly negative commentary because I know what a wonderful author he was. But I do think it would be fair to say this effort doesn't deliver the standard he was able to consistently produce in his later books. 7/10


The Plea
The Plea
by Steve Cavanagh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Hang on and enjoy, 13 Jun. 2016
This review is from: The Plea (Paperback)
I read and enjoyed the prequel and my views of that book pretty much hold true here too.

Despite some good courtroom scenes, this is more a clever and fast-paced mystery than a legal thriller. The plot is well-constructed and has good twists and turns. The story is well-written and has the reader hooked from the outset.

The core plot is quite far-fetched and there are quite a few over-the-top props. That said, the author delivers one helluva an exciting and interesting ride.

If you are prepared to accept quite a bit of licence, you'll really enjoy this novel, like I did. 9/10


He Made Me (Booker & Cash Book 2)
He Made Me (Booker & Cash Book 2)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Another good and "tidy" effort, 13 Jun. 2016
Well I must say that Oliver Tidy doesn't throw up many disappointments these days. This is another good one in one of his series and it continues to impress me that his imagination allows him to come up with fresh ideas.

The mystery element here is light rather than riveting - the search for more depth in his books is a recurring theme of mine - but the writing and our protagonists make the novel immensely readable. I particularly like the insights the author throws into the mix and his dry sense of humour.

It goes without saying that I'll be going back for more, although having read all of Tidy's books to date, my Kindle cupboard is bare. 7/10


Deity (DI Damen Brook 3)
Deity (DI Damen Brook 3)
by Steven Dunne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but stretched too far, 10 Jun. 2016
I have read two of Dunne's previous novels and do have time for his writing, his protagonist and his plotting. He often injects his stories with interesting insights as well. He goes too far here, however, IMHO.

There was a very mixed-up start with too many character perspectives and scenarios, but two interesting threads did emerge. This had the obvious effect of getting me committed early. And then it really dragged as we reached the most unlikely of conclusions some 500+ pages later. I felt Dunne went overboard with his story ingredients, his props and his twists and turns.

Structurally, I felt the book suffered from a few issues : as mentioned, it was much too long (a comment I also made in respect of the prequels); there were too many characters and most chapters were much too long. Tighter editing could therefore really have helped.

All that said, I will go back for more because I do like the author - this on the happy assumption that he improves, rather than fades, with each outing. 7/10


Nightblind (Dark Iceland)
Nightblind (Dark Iceland)
by Ragnar Jonasson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

3.0 out of 5 stars Ends up being pretty plain, 3 Jun. 2016
This novel was high on atmosphere and mystery early, so I expected quite a good ride. But, gee, did it all fizzle.

There is no sleuthing, as such, with our protagonist having a light-bulb moment late in the piece to wrap things up in a few pages. In the absence of some good police work, the book was full of unnecessary threads or red herrings. I also found it impossible to warm to anybody, so I am not sure what that says about the characterisations.

The book appears to have been well translated, but there were a few typos.

I'm a fan of Nordic writing, but this doesn't sit with the best. Sadly, there is nothing special here, IMHO.


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