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on 22 August 2013
A very good read. Once you get into it is difficult to put it down. wpuld recommend it to anyone who likes a good story.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I discovered the Nicholas Colt detective series a few months ago, and have really enjoyed them all. This is the fifth (I think) and it has more in common with the earlier books than Snuff Tag 9 (A Nicholas Colt Thriller), which was more of an out-and-out all-action romp.
Key Death is instead a procedural investigation, sprinkled with the author's typically quirky moments of offbeat humour (killer zombies haunt Colt's dreams); a far-fetched plot contrivance or two which Hardin carries off with aplomb (wait until you get to the deep sea rescue, you'll see what I mean), and some genuinely edge-of-the-seat scenes where Colt looks to have really bitten off more than he can chew. He bounces from one dire situation to the next and frequently finds himself looking down the wrong end of a gun barrel. This time around, there's even a toe-curling episode where the violence gets mixed with sex in the worst possible way - and Colt's on the receiving end...
In the great traditional of American gumshoes, Colt hits the booze too hard, passes out in cheap motels and barely keeps his story straight when he falls foul of the law. He takes on the wrong cases for the right reasons and meets his personal demons head on. In Key Death there's a much bigger mystery wrapped around the investigation he's pursuing, and if you pay attention then it's possible to pick up most of the clues as the action rips along. The frantic finale had me wincing in sympathy as Colt literally rips himself apart to save his skin...

Key Death is an easy read; fast-paced but with a enough plot and character development that it's a satisfying read. The chapters are short and you don't get bogged down with background on the incidental characters -- although that does mean they feel a little like film extras, there to move the plot along but entirely dispensible.
It kinda reminds me of the Travis McGee series (The Deep Blue Goodbye: Introduction by Lee Child: Travis McGee, No. 1), or the earlier adventures of Matt Scudder (Sins of the Fathers (A Matt Scudder Mystery)), although Colt is never as darkly depressive or out of control as Scudder.
Loved the tip of the hat to JLB, too, when Colt uses 'Clete Purcel' as a nom de plume. Thinking about it, Colt's drinking habits are starting to resemble Clete's...
A refreshingly entertaining chunk of up-to-date, hard-boiled crime fiction.
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a reader who generally pecks away leisurely at a book before bedtime, I can usually make a book last at least a few weeks. Once in a while though I'll come across one that's so much fun I'll rip through it in a few days. More so if the sun allows for some garden reading time.
These books I like to refer to as "fast reads" and Key Death, the first Jude Hardin book I've encountered is certainly firmly within this category.
I was drawn in by the synopsis and a few glowing comments from various crime writing alumini and, gladly, my instincts were reliable.

The novel revolves around the colourful, if not entirely believable, private investigator (although, having had his license revoked, is now working off the books) and retired world class rock guitarist (well, it's original!) with a partially crippled left hand, Nicholas Colt. Oh, he's also an ex-heroin addict and, seemingly, borderline alcoholic. Unusally, given all this, he seems to have a relatively happy family life which, again, is quite unusual in the detective genre.

Colt is hired by a terminally ill client to investigate the unsolved death of her wayward father for the sake of closure and, needing the money, he heads off to Miami to look into it. Of course, nothing is ever simple, and within hours he's up to his neck (in one particularly outrageous plot contrivance, quite literally) in trouble encountering a whole host of shady characters including murderers, pornographers, fanboy lounge singers and, always lurking in the background "The Zombie", a serial killer whose modus operadi is to remove the top of his victims skulls, scoop out the brains and them glue them back together for the police to find.

What he does with the brains...well, you'll have to read it to find out.

It's a relatively short book and so packed with incident that it never gives you the slightest chance to get bored or read anything else until it's all over and done. As I mentioned above, some of it skids towards the line of credibility and then rolls and flips its way right over it but, sometimes, its fun to just suspend your disbelief and roll with these things. While gritty realism is all good and well, it's also nice to have some pure escapism in colourful locations with larger than life characters from time to time too.

Key Death's main purpose is to entertain and it does so magnificently. It's not great art but it is a great slice of pulp thriller fun and, if that's what you're after then you won't be disappointed!

Having looked up his other works it appears there are another five in the series and they all sound rather exciting so I predict a small Kindle spree coming on!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 1 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
.........and the author certainly does weave a tangled web. It all starts off shaping up to be a fairly standard crime story. We have the private investigator, Nicholas Colt. He is a damaged character - aren't they all? In this case he is a former musician who has had to give up due to a crippled hand and who has had a brush with heroin addiction which has resulted in him having his PI license suspended.

Colt is employed by a dying young lady to find her father whom she has never met. When traced it turns out that he has been murdered. The task is then to find the murderer. Meanwhile, and woven into the story is Colt's pathological fear of zombies (what!), and a serial killer on the loose who has been nicknamed The Zombie. His modus operandi is to smother his victims, cut off the tops of their skulls, remove their brains and superglue the top of the head back on. So he is nothing if not original.

Predictably these various elements coincide as the book progresses, and Case gets into various life threatening scrapes. Towards the end things have turned and turned again to such an extent that the author feels obliged to literally spell out line by line what has actually happened, should the reader be in any doubt. Clearly he felt that he may have lost a fair proportion of his readership along the way, and although I did follow it myself, I do see where he is coming from here. Add to this a lottery odds type coincidence which is key to the plot and one has to suspend disbelief and then some.

When the plot is being explained as I mentioned, Colt thinks to himself `this story was certainly more bizarre than any novel I'd ever read or any movie I'd ever seen'. I have to agree and that just about sums it up really. Its a very short book of only about 220 pages - once it lost all credibility, I, for one, would have struggled to read any more than that.
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on 15 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nicolas Colt, a (presently suspended for a drug offence) private investigator, was terrified in childhood by a zombie film and suffers nightmares throughout this story.
Not that he hasn't other things to contend with. An injured hand stopped his career as a guitarist and he does seem prone to injury and accident. Trying to find who shot the father of a dying woman he finds himself deep in an investigation of a 'zombie' killer and more luck than judgement saves his life on several occasions.
Nicolas Colt is an engaging hero and the story is, mostly, great fun; witty and not over-predictable, though I did guess the ultimate villain near the beginning. There are a couple of disturbing scenes, both of which put the hero in grave danger, but he himself conveys a mood of optimism throughout.
The actual killer is evil indeed, much more so than the film zombies, but you can understand Nicolas's nightmares.
First I've read in this series but I'd pursue it for the character.
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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the most unusual crime book I have ever read and yet I really enjoyed it. It is a PI Mystery crossed with a zombie horror. Zombie horror books are definitely not my cup of Rosie Lee but this book manages to blend both in the right way. The main focus is on the mystery. There is a killer wandering around Florida who is cutting off the tops of people's skulls, scooping out the brains, and gluing back the skull. In comes disgraced PI Nicholas Colt who is in Florida on a quite unrelated matter. Needless to say the two cases cross and, before you can say Zombie, Nick is knee deep in trouble, with a healthy dose of blood guts and gore thrown in. The characters in this book are larger than life but still highly believable. This is the second in a series but it can be read as a standalone. There is enough of a back story included that you get a good idea of what went on in book one. However, if you did want to read both books then read book one first. You pretty much know what happens in book one after reading this one. The back story is good in that it enlightens the reader without becoming boring.

There are a surprising amount of twists and turns in this book which kept me reading. It rattles along at a fair pace and never slows down. This is not a book for the faint hearted as there are some moments of quite graphic violence. There is also one instance of quite graphic sex but this fits in well and is there for a very good reason. The ending when it came took me completely by surprise as I hadn't guessed the identity of the killer at all. An excellent book which I would highly recommend.
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on 22 August 2013
A little bit pat and some of the characters were a little bit to take too seriously and the escape with the aid of Dolphins was stupid.
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on 19 August 2013
Really enjoyed this book and read it in just over a day as I couldn't put it down. Each chapter leaves you wanting more. The only downside was a bit of a predictable ending but that is only a minor negative. Definitely recommend reading this if you like crime thrillers.
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2014
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A novel builds around the main character Nicholas Cole a private investigator. It is written in the first person and this is probably why I found the story plodding and very obvious in places. I admit to giving up after page 29 and turning to the last chapter, yes I was correct I did know how it ended and what the links between the ‘brainless bodies’ were. Not one that made me turn the pages.
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on 28 September 2013
I didn't like this book because of continual reference to American consumables which is not available world wide. Subsequently I feel it was written only for the home market and not the www. The storyline was ok. However, these references agitated me also the bug word is "gotten" This always annoys me. It is not in the English language. Got is past and present tense. Get is future.
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