Wednesday, 14 November 2018

TESS GERRITSEN - WHISTLEBLOWER (1992)


Synopsis/blurb....

The man emerged from the mist, right in front of Cathy Weaver's car--running from killers who were closing in on him. Victor Holland's story sounded like the ravings of a man on the brink of madness, but his claim to be a fugitive was confirmed by the haunted look in his eyes--and the bullet hole in his shoulder. As each hour brings pursuers ever closer, Cathy has to wonder, is she giving her trust to a man in danger or trusting her life to a dangerous man?

My wife is a big fan of Tess Gerritsen's books, in particular her Rizzoli and Isles series. Whistleblower is a standalone I bought for her and pre-dates R+I by nearly 10 years. I've read a few from Gerritsen over the years, but couldn't claim her as a favourite of mine. I did enjoy this one though, probably more thriller than outright crime fiction, which - as the book progresses - develops into borderline romantic fiction.

It starts at a pace. Victor Holland is being pursued and Cathy Weaver after bumping him with her car, takes him to hospital, bullet wound and all. He has temporarily escaped from danger. Later that night, Cathy's pregnant friend is mistaken for her and murdered. Cathy is bereft and puzzled, not realising she herself was the target - the killer mistakenly believing Victor passed something onto her. Something he initially believes he has recovered from her car. Victor after recovering from surgery and fleeing the hospital knows better.

I quite like the lone man against THE MAN type thriller. In this case we have two strangers thrust together, forced to trust each other while their stop at nothing pursuers come ever closer to them. The raison d'etre for the whole episode? Victor Holland's employer has been developing a biological weapon illegally for a deniable US Government adviser. Holland's colleague was killed when he baulked at the project, getting some evidence to Victor before his death. Victor has the baton now and is the whistleblower and Cathy the innocent caught up in events because of the accidental RTA at the opening of our book.

I liked this one more than I expected to. It's an interesting premise which has characters trying to do the right thing, barely holding it together and ever increasingly paranoid in that they can't trust anyone, with big brother manipulating media and law enforcement to conspire in their capture with the propagation of fake news about Holland - Gerritsen about 25 years ahead of her time!

Great pace, very tense, chilling in places as the pursuit of Cathy Weaver (almost on a par now with Holland as an enemy of the people) has severe consequences for others of her name, decent characters, plenty of friendship and loyalty on display as well as dogged determination.

If I had one criticism it would probably be churlish, but the two main characters are drawn closer together and not unnaturally develop feelings for each other during the course of the book. We don't hear wedding bells at the outcome, but I'm guessing they aren't a million miles away. It's not one of my preferred reading traits, a burgeoning love story but here it was credible, just not something I go mad about personally.

Overall not too bad.

4 from 5

Read in November, 2018
Published - 1992
Page count - 256
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

2 BY ALISON BRUCE

Two this week from Alison Bruce, another author I have yet to try.

The Times like her - 'As always, Bruce produces a rewarding read.'

Sophie Hannah likes her - 'Alison Bruce is fascinating. Her imagination is always unpredictable and her writing is challenging and compelling.'

Hopefully I do too.























Bruce has written seven books in total in her DC Gary Goodhew series, of which these are the first and second. She also has a couple of non-fiction titles to her name as well as a standalone novel - I Did it For Us, which was published earlier this year.

I'm quite looking forward to these. I used to spend the odd weekend in Cambridge years ago, when my sister was training to be a nurse at Addenbrookes. Additionally I don't read enough police procedurals.

Her website is here.
She's on Twitter - @Alison_Bruce


Cambridge Blue (2008)

DC Gary Goodhew is intelligent and intuitive, the youngest detective at Cambridge's Parkside Station. When he discovers the body of a young woman on Midsummer Common, he is given the chance to work on a murder investigation for the first time in his career.

Soon the victim is identified as Lorna Spence. Richard Moran, her boyfriend and employer, has reported her missing and is distraught to discover that she has been killed. He claims that she was loved by his staff, and that she had no enemies. But it isn't long before Goodhew discovers many who wouldn't have minded seeing her dead, including Spence's high maintenance colleague, Victoria ,and Goodhew's reckless former classmate, Bryn.

They both swear that they have nothing to do with Lorna's death, but someone is lying. After another brutal murder, Goodhew knows it is time to use his own initiative to flush out the killer, even though it means risking his job and discovering the truth about the one person he hopes will be innocent.

The Siren (2009)

All it took was one small item on the regional news for Kimberly Guyver and Rachel Golinski to know that their old life was catching up with them. They wondered how they'd been naive enough to think it wouldn't. They hoped they still had a chance to leave it behind, but within hours, Rachel's home is burning and Kimberly's son, Riley, is missing.

WENDY CARTMELL - NO MERCY (2014)


Synopsis/blurb...

Love Strike and Stone? Banks and Bosch? Read Crane!
Sgt Major Crane, a detective prepared to do anything it takes in the pursuit of justice. 

A collection of short stories including:

No Mercy - prequel to the bestselling Steps to Heaven #1 in the Sgt Major Crane crime series. Is crime ever justified? Would you be merciful if it came to it? Or would you take your revenge? Crane investigates a fire in which a man dies. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Crane won't stop until he finds the truth.

Who's Afraid Now is the prequel to Hijack the 6th Sgt Major Crane crime thriller. When Sgt Billy Williams finds local youths treating his parents with disrespect, well he just can't resist giving them a taste of their own medicine. Afterwards he boards a train home, only to find it's not the end, just the beginning...

"Excellent read from a slick pacey writer - leaves you wanting more!" Andrew Butler

Cartmell Rocks! This collection of short stories showcases Wendy Cartmell's fresh style and engaging prose. She presents a variety of situations of people caught in intriguing circumstances. The author delivers a twist to many of her stories in this collection.
Ed Benjamin Author

A short book offering a couple of hours of entertainment and a taste of Wendy Cartmell's work, with a couple of short stories and an intro to one of her longer books.

We have....

No Mercy ..... a case of arson with the death of a soldier to be investigated by one of Cartmell's series characters - Sergeant Major Tom Crane of the Military Police - well written, tight, a case of domestic noir, after a previous line of inquiry was eliminated

Who’s Afraid Now ...... Crane's assistant Sgt Billy Williams goes home for the weekend to find his parents and others on their estate suffering at the hands of some local scrotes. Enjoyable, but a bit too convenient with the outcome. If Williams can resolve this so easily, better get him onto Brexit, before sorting out the Arabs and Israelis. I liked Williams and I enjoyed the tale, but wasn't totally convinced by the believability of our outcome.

What If….? ...... an unhappy marriage, at least for one of the two, but things have a way of working themselves out, accidentally or otherwise - probably my favourite of the bunch.

Another Satisfactory Day ..... a smug, slimy, unscrupulous salesman gets his comeuppance

The Telephone Call ..... another tale of domestic strife, blackmail, kidnap and an unexpected  pay out

Steps to Heaven .... the first three chapters and an interesting start .......blurb below

A murdered family. A merciless serial killer. Can Crane stop the killings?
When a soldier is found to have killed his family in a brutal attack, Crane and his team of Military Police detectives are called in. As more deaths are uncovered, Crane is convinced there is a serial killer at work. But no one else is.
Can Crane uncover the connections between the deaths, in this riveting and gritty mystery?

Meet the Author ..... a bit about Wendy

I enjoyed this short offering, probably a fraction more than I expected to. Definitely an author I'd be interested in reading more from in the future, which I'm guessing was the author's hope when serving this one up.

Steps to Heaven and another of hers - Mortal Judgement sit on the pile.

4 from 5

Read in November, 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 89
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle

Thursday, 8 November 2018

OCTOBER 2018 - READING LIST AND PICK OF THE MONTH

October was a top banana reading month with 17 books enjoyed, even if there was no 5 STAR read in the bunch.

7 of the 17 read came close at 4.5 stars, on the rather random arbitrary score chart, but nothing totally blew my socks off.



Book of the month is Tony Spinosa (aka Reed Farrell Coleman) with Hose Monkey, on the basis that after reading it I felt immediately compelled to buy the next one in the series - The Fourth Victim.


The other close run things at 4.5 STARS were Deon Meyer and Cobra, Nick Kolakowski with Boise Longpig Hunting Club, Paul Heatley and An Eye For An Eye, James Schaffer's Back to the World, Wallace Stroby's Some Die Nameless and Sara Gran's The Infinite Blacktop

8 out of 17 were 4 STAR reads - Owen Mullen - In Harm's Way, Robert B. Parker - Sudden Mischief, Jeffrey A. Cooper - Burn One Down, Susan Koefod - Broken Down, Joel Dicker and the snappily titled The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Eryk Pruitt's shorty - Further South, Simon Maltman's The Sidewinder and Christa Faust with Choke Hold

1 x 3.5 STAR read - When You Can't Stop by James W. Hall - suffered a bit by not having read the first in the series

1 x 3 STAR read - Harlan Coben's Home - enjoyable but with an irritating character

I spent time in the company of …….

a bounty hunter and his family caught up in some sick, rich man’s sadistic fun and games;
a couple of herberts looking for some missing boys;
a widow who has lost nearly everything on a revenge mission and crosses paths with a psychopathic former Olympian;
an alcoholic police detective trying to stop a hit squad of assassins and resolve a kidnapping;
a fractured Scottish family dealing with a difficult spouse and sibling;
an ex-cop and the IA detective who cost him his job teaming up to solve a murder and thwart some Russian mobsters;
a Vietnam Veteran on the run with his gamble-aholic pa;
a PI trying to keep his difficult girlfriend sweet by helping out her ex;
the best detective in the world flip-flopping and time-hopping through three cases including the important one of who is currently trying to kill her;
a tale of revenge in Geordieland;
an unusual Californian heist which goes pear-shaped;
a small town murder investigation involving some big time corruption;
an ex-mercenary and a journalist fighting for their lives when an ambitious politician embarks on some clean-up;
a famous author, his protégée and a 30 year old missing person case which turns to murder and a book about a book (or two);
some revenge sex turning sour when the boyfriend’s drug-stash gets pinched;
some Belfast musicians having a falling out
and an ex-porn star in witness protection fighting for her life.


Settings – Boise in Idaho; London and New Jersey; Spain, Italy and Florida; Cape Town - South Africa; Glasgow and beyond; Long Island – NY; Texas; Boston – MA; New York, Las Vegas and more; North East England – Newcastle and beyond; California; Somerset Hills – Minnesota; Florida and the Caribbean; New Hampshire and New York again, Nacogdoches in Texas heading to Louisiana; Belfast, Antrim and in between and Vegas, the Arizona desert and some Mexican border towns ….. lots of travelling without ever straying further than 15 miles from my door!


The full list of 17 with links below.....

Nick Kolakowski - Boise Longpig Hunting Club (2018) (4.5)

Harlan Coben - Home (2016) (3)

James W. Hall - When You Can't Stop (2018) (3.5)

Deon Meyer - Cobra (2012) (4.5)

Owen Mullen  - In Harm's Way (2018) (4)

Tony Spinosa - Hose Monkey (2006) (4.5)

James Shaffer - Back to the World (2016) (4.5)

Robert B. Parker - Sudden Mischief (1998) (4)

Sara Gran - The Infinite Blacktop (2018) (4.5)

Paul Heatley - An Eye For An Eye (2016) (4.5)

Jeffrey A. Cooper - Burn One Down (2018) (4)

Susan Koefod - Broken Down (2012) (4)

Joel Dicker - The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (2014) (4)

Wallace Stroby - Some Die Nameless (2018) (4.5)

Eryk Pruitt - Further South (2014) (4)

Simon Maltman - The Sidewinder (2018) (4)

Christa Faust - Choke Hold (2011) (4)

Anal analysis for my own amusement - read on if you're an insomniac ......

New to me authors in the month - Owen Mullen, Sara Gran, Christa Faust, Joel Dicker, Wallace Stroby, Jeffrey A. Cooper and James Schaffer.

I have more on the pile to read from all of them except James Schaffer - probably because Back to the World is his only offering to date.

Enjoyed before - Susan Koefod, Paul Heatley, Harlan Coben, Robert B. Parker, Simon Maltman, Tony Spinosa/Reed Farrel Coleman, Deon Meyer, James W. Hall, Nick Kolakowski and Eryk Pruitt

More on the TBR pile from Heatley, Coben, Parker, Maltman, Spinosa/Coleman, Meyer, Hall and Pruitt. 

Odd men out  - Susan Koefod - her third Arvo Thorson book is hard to find and expensive and I'm up to to speed on Nick Kolakowski's work with the exception of a collection of short stories.

17 reads from 17 different authors,

9 were series books with a couple of offerings that weren't but could be in the future depending what the author does

Gender analysis - 14 male authors, 3 female – progress on the gender bias in my reading. November is an intended all female authors reading month. Long overdue.

Of the 17 authors read, I think 12 hail from the US, 1 from Scotland, 1 from England, 1 from Switzerland, 1 from South Africa and 1 from Scotland

All 17 reads were fiction - 2 novellas, 14 novels and one familiar 30-odd page long short story from Eryk Pruitt which subsequently formed the opening part of his novel Hashtag. That one was read and enjoyed a year or two back.

15 books were from this decade, 7 from 2018, 3 from 2016, 2 from 2014, 2 from 2012 and 1 from 2011.

1 read was from the noughties, 2006 - Hose Monkey

Only 1 was last century – a Robert B. Parker Spencer book from 1998

5 books were read from the man-cave blue tub stash in my garage.

Publishers - 2 from Close to the Bone (formerly Near to the Knuckle), 1 from each of the following - Arrow, Down and Out Books, Thomas and Mercer, Hodder and Stoughton, Bloodhound Books, Bleak House, No Exit Press, Atria Books, North Star Press, Mulholland, Maclehose Quercus, Severest Inks, Solstice Publishing, Hard Case Crime and 1 self published.

10 of the 17 reads were pre-owned, though 1 had originally been sourced via Net Galley in 2014 and was never read. It’s a 600+ page monster and I struggle with long books on the Kindle, let alone uber-long. If it hadn’t also been airing as a 10-part TV adaptation I would probably still have it in the stash. (Joel Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair)

5 other books were obtained via Net Galley, an additional copy of one was provided by the author because my copy had expired, 1 came from the publisher Bloodhound Books for participation in Owen Mullen’s In Harm’s Way Blog Tour. One came from the author – cheers Simon Maltman!

Favourite cover? Sara Gran’s The Infinite Blacktop – amazeballs!


Second favourite cover – Joel Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. 


Apparently my paperback edition is based on an Edward Hopper painting Portrait of Orleans though in truth it’s somewhat diminished by the rather long book title splashed all over the front



My reads were this long 155 – 416 – 333 – 344 – 210 – 308 – 113 – 304 – 220 – 129 – 276 – 226 – 295 – 640 – 33 – 221 - 260

Total page count = 4481 (1890 in September) ....... an increase of 2591 pages

4 were Kindle reads, 1 was a 12 hour plus Audio Book (still something quite new to me) and 4 were paperbacks, 2 were hardbacks, 2 were PDF kill some tree printouts, 4 were ePub files read on my laptop 

1 < 50,
0 between 51 < 100,
3 between 101 < 200,
6 between 201 < 300,
4 between 301 < 400,
2  > 400 pages

Joel Dicker and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was the longest read at 640 pages

Eryk Pruitt’s Further South was the shortest at 33 pages long.



Wednesday, 7 November 2018

CHRISTA FAUST - CHOKE HOLD (2011)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Angel Dare went into Witness Protection to escape her past -- not as a porn star, but as a killer who took down the sex slavery ring that destroyed her life. But sometimes the past won't stay buried. When a former co-star is gunned down, it's up to Angel to get his son, a hotheaded MMA fighter, safely through the Arizona desert, shady Mexican bordertowns, and the neon mirage of Las Vegas...

Enjoyable while it lasted, but not especially memorable - I finished it just over a week ago and I can't actually recall how it ended without refreshing my memory with the last half dozen pages of the book.

Choke Hold is the first Christa Faust tale I've read, but it's the second Angel Dare book, after Money Shot. Money Shot is somewhere in my stash, but this came to hand first. My entertainment would have been slightly enhanced by reading in order. My OCD tendencies would definitely have been assuaged if I had done so.

We have Angel Dare, a former porn star, previously in witness protection before her cover was blown and she ran, working as a waitress. Sexual favours being traded for the boss, in order to pay for a false passport that will enable her to put a bit more distance between her and her Croatian enemies from Money Shot.

Her ex-lover, Vic has just been killed in a gunfight at her diner and she's been charged with protecting his son, Cody an up and coming fighter. Along the way we hook up with Hank, a befuddled and slightly confused and damaged ex-fighter who is friends with Cody. Cody has a date with destiny - a bright future working in Vegas for a big fight promoter.

The threesome endeavour to stay ahead of Angel's pursuers - the Croatians from the first book, and additionally a crooked businessman and his cohorts. Our businessman is a little bit sore at Cody for refusing to throw a fight he thought he had fixed. Along the way Angel develops a growing attraction for Hank, while simultaneously reducing Cody's testosterone levels. It's an interesting dynamic.

Fast-paced, fun, sexy, populated by interesting characters with a lot of heart, an okay story line, plenty of humour, lots of action and drama, a decent setting, and a violent climax which doesn't end particularly well for any of our threesome, though it isn't terminal for all our combatants. An entertaining read but just kind of missing a bit of fizz to elevate it from a decent read to a truly great one.

Still lots to like with some food for thought with Angel, sometimes reflecting on her previous career in porn and unwilling to see herself the way others saw her, as a victim.

I'm looking forward to reading Money Shot at some point in the future.

4 from 5

Read in October, 2018
Published - 2011
Page count - 260
Source - owned copy
Format - hardback

2 BY MARIETTA MILES

A couple this week from another new to me author - Marietta Miles. I'm a massive fan of her publishers - All Due Respect and Down and Out Books and have yet to read a duff offering from either of them.



Hopefully with November being an all female reading month for me I'll try one of these or with a fair following wind both.

From the website of Down and Out Books...

Marietta Miles

Marietta Miles’s short stories and flash can be found in Thrills, Kills and Chaos, Flash Fiction Offensive, Yellow Mama, Hardboiled Wonderland and Revolt Daily. Her stories have been included in anthologies available through Static Movement Publishing, Out of the Gutter, and Horrified Press. She is rotating host for Noir on the Radio, Dames in the Dark. Her first book, Route 12, was released February of 2016. Born in Alabama, raised in Louisiana, she currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two children.

Find Marietta Miles online …

Blog: http://mariettamiles.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marietta.miles
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariettamiles9
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Marietta-Miles/e/B00HOBLUKM/
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7190465.Marietta_Miles




Route 12 (2016)



Route 12 is two haunting novellas set in Appalachia in the seventies and eighties. These are stories of people down on their luck—a girl crippled by a bad dose of polio vaccine, a young pregnant woman with no one to turn to, a mother desperate for cash who makes a terrible mistake.

In this debut book from Marietta Miles, God's country is as corrupt as any place on earth and trusting anyone is a dangerous proposition.

Praise for ROUTE 12:

“Miles rolls on instinct infused with raw talent, utilizing a palate of emotion to repaint what we thought was Southern noir, turning it into something new, something poignant, something entirely hers.” —Tom Pitts, author of Hustle and Knuckleball



May (2017)

May, lonely caretaker and small-time weed dealer, has spent years trying to hunker down and hide from her damaged past. As a destructive nor'easter takes aim at her sleepy island home of Folly, May tries to hunker down once more after the island is evacuated.

But death is in the air - not just from the storm, but from others on the island driven by darker demons - and May finds that this time, there's nowhere to hide.

Praise for MAY:

"Every page has a lovely line, something to savor, even as the story uneasily slips under your skin. There's beauty in the violence in this novella about loneliness and the lengths people go to free themselves from its grasp. You read May and imagine Marietta Miles sitting at the edge of the abyss, peering into it and scribbling into her notebook." - E.A. Aymar, author of You're As Good As Dead

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

SIMON MALTMAN - THE SIDEWINDER (2018)


Synopsis/blurb.....

There are three sides to every murder- yours, mine and the truth.

The Sidewinder is the new multi narrative mystery thriller from Northern Irish Amazon Bestseller Simon Maltman.

When two members of a former nineties band die in suspicious circumstances, the surviving members are embroiled in a web of murder, revenge, love and deceit. Follow the now politician, journalist, session musician and police officer as they attempt to uncover the truth, through many dark twists and turns. Nothing is as it appears in The Sidewinder.

Recent Press:

“Lean, mean, fast and furious.”

Gerard Brennan

“What Raymond Chandler was to L.A, Maltman is to Belfast, a novelist with an eye for the seedy underbelly of a city.”

Goodreads

Belfast, a suspicious death, and a few unlikable characters from a retired rock band circling each other, some trying to find the truth and one attempting to conceal it.

Dark secrets, slights and grudges held onto, siblings, marital issues, workplace competition, journalism, police work, lying to family, stress leave and days out in the countryside, infidelity, suspicion, a political career, a funeral, an investigation, plenty of bar-hopping and spliff smoking, an almost accidental murder - someone has anger issues, a musical history, almost success, a break-up, shadows from the past - a death in the family and a fall from a window, chickens coming home to roost.

Told in turn from alternate characters, neither of whom was particularly likable, only one of whom was actually detestable, but capable of showing a respectable public face. I really liked it. I do like an Irish setting as well and as I haven't been to Belfast, I was happy to take the tour with Maltman's characters.

Tense in places, a dark turn near the end, darker actually - dark would cover some of the secrets revealed to us earlier during the narration of our character's histories. A brutal and bloody climax. Here's one band that won't be reforming and supporting the Spice Girls on their upcoming tour.   

4 from 5

I've enjoyed Simon Maltman's work before - Bongo Fury and More Faces. I've a couple more on the pile still to get to.

Read in October, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 221
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF file