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  

Sunday, 4 November 2018

WALLACE STROBY - SOME DIE NAMELESS (2018)


Synopsis/blurb.....

'A story so muscular and breakneck we can barely catch our breath . . . lingers with us long after we reach the final page' Megan Abbott

Ex-mercenary Ray Devlin is living a simple life off the grid in Florida, when a visit from an old colleague stirs some bad memories - and ends with a gunshot. Soon Devlin is forced to face a past he'd hoped to leave behind, as a member of a private military force that helped put a brutal South American dictator in power.

Tracy Quinn is an investigative journalist at a struggling Philadelphia newspaper. What appears at first to be a straightforward homicide draws her and Devlin together, ultimately entangling them in a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the US government.

Before long, they become the targets of a ruthless assassin haunted by his own wartime memories. For Devlin, it could mean a last shot at redemption. For Tracy, the biggest story of her career might just cost her her life.

My kind of book and my kind of author if Some Die Nameless is typical of Wallace Stroby's work.

We have an explosive start when an old friend drops in on Ray Devlin and tries to kill him. Devlin then sets out to discover why a former friend and colleague wanted him dead and if someone else is going to come gunning for him. Quelle surprise - there is!

A mercenary past, reconnecting with an old friend, a barroom massacre, an unsolved murder, an investigative journalist, an ultra-ambitious politician with a less than squeaky clean past and a take no prisoners clean the house operation to eliminate a threat to his potential multi-billion dollar defence contracts, threats to family, the newspaper business, politics, shady operations abroad, a boat trip to a secluded island and lots more.

Compelling, thrilling, exciting, dangerous - plenty of action with Devlin in the cross hairs of some capable adversaries. I particularly liked his poke the bear response and his fightback. I loved how the plot unfolded and others were sucked into the maelstrom, especially the newspaper journalist, Tracy Quinn. Quinn and Devlin collaborate. There's more than one way to skin a cat, the pen being mightier than the sword. Sometimes you need both.

Pace, story, topicality, likable characters, heart, action, outcome. What more do I want from my reading? Nothing.

It's kind of hard to do the book justice without rambling on for ages and narrating lots of events. You'd do far better just reading the thing yourself. At a clip under 300 pages, it won't take long, I guarantee.

4.5 from 5

Some Die Nameless is Wallace Stroby's eighth novel, but my first taste of his work. Most of the others including four in his Crissa Stone series sit on the shelf waiting. 

Read in October, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 295
Source - Net Galley review copy courtesy of Mulholland Books
Format - ePub file read on laptop


Saturday, 3 November 2018

EVA HUDSON - RUN GIRL (2014)


Synopsis/blurb.....

"If you love thrillers, don’t miss this action-packed novella!"

Enjoy the ride in this fast-paced FBI thriller as one of the toughest Special Agents ever to come out of Quantico buckles up for her first adventure. Resourceful and tenacious, Ingrid Skyberg is virtually indestructible: she can take whatever her adversaries throw at her and still get up for more.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In Europe to help broker a peace deal, Secretary of State Jayne Whitticker is in the middle of delicate negotiations when her wayward granddaughter goes missing in London.

Special Agent Ingrid Skyberg is hauled out of her FBI training session at Scotland Yard to lead the hunt for the 18-year-old. The problem is, Ingrid has only one lead, just a few hours and can't call in the local cops for back-up.

Will Ingrid find the girl in time? Or will her failure lead to the collapse of crucial peace talks?

Run Girl sets the scene for Ingrid’s future adventures working out of the US embassy in London. If an American citizen lands in trouble… or winds up dead… or gets accused of a crime they didn’t commit, Special Agent Ingrid Skyberg is on their case.

The first instalment in an up-all-night crime thriller series—perfect for fans of strong female protagonists, thrillers with a twist and who like a little romantic intrigue on the side.

First book of a new reading month and an okay start - nothing too amazing and not too objectionable about Run Girl. No major pulse raising scenes and conversely I never felt the urge to doze off reading it either.

There are three strong females central to the book - the US Secretary of State who is involved in delicate peace negotiations, her strong-willed granddaughter who has done a runner to London and Ingrid Skyberg who is an FBI agent tasked with tracking down the missing teenager before anyone - especially the grandmother twigs she is missing.

The girl is clever and resourceful and the agent is always one step behind, pretty much throughout. We have a London setting mostly and bit of a blast chasing the teenager around the capital, with a helicopter jaunt out to the sticks, for a bit of questioning-cum-intimidation on a possible boyfriend and a return to the capital for a gown fitting and a date at a fundraising ball - information advising Ingrid that the missing girl will be in attendance.

Ingrid is partnered with an independent male intelligence operative - not FBI, not official, and there's a bit of banter between the two. Along the way we encounter a bit of misogyny and sexism at the hands of an MP and our borderline black ops style questioning is done by the male help, something Ingrid isn't too enamoured by. We also learn more about Skyberg during the course of the case. She has a fiance back in the US, one she doesn't seem to be too close to, she hates shopping, can't dance, is a nightmare in heels and is uber-smart and competent - a proper tomboy with brains.

We get a successful resolution to the investigation. The girl is returned to her grandmother, the peace talks are fruitful. Everyone lives happily ever after. A new career opportunity opens up for Ingrid where she gets to remain in London and Hudson can write more books about her.

An okay read, nothing to elevate it above the ordinary though. Hudson's strength is strong female characters and there's nothing wrong with that, though maybe she ought to dial back a bit with the girl power theme to win herself a few more male readers. Not every male character is depicted negatively here, just a couple.

3 from 5

Run Girl is the first in Hudson's Ingrid Skyberg series of which there are six in total. She has a few other books to her name, including The Last Ride which I read a few years ago. She died in 2015.

Read in November, 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 176
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle

Friday, 2 November 2018

OCTOBER 2018 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

Accumulations last month included these six little beauties.....

A couple of purchases, one on spec., one after reading the first in a two book series, an Amazon freebie from an author I've been tempted by but never committed to before, my monthly Patreon reward book from Fahrenheit Press and two down to a bit of author generosity - hats off to Dave Putnam and Tom Pitts.....

Tony Spinosa - The Fourth Victim (2008) - purchased

Tony Spinosa aka Reed Farrel Coleman penned a couple of books with Joe Serpe and Bob Healy. I loved the first after waiting over ten years to read it - Hose Monkey

Several home heating oil delivery drivers have been robbed and murdered. Joe Serpe and Bob Healy, now partners in an oil company of their own, make sure their drivers are safe. But when Rusty Monaco, another ex-NYPD detective, becomes the killer's fourth victim, Serpe and Healy take matters into their own hands. In the course of their unofficial investigation they stumble upon a completely different set of crimes that lead both Serpe and Healy back onto the streets they protected as cops.



Ben Lieberman - Odd Jobs (2010) - purchased


Not an author I had previously heard of nor a book either. I think one of my Goodreads friends added it and I was intrigued.

Hauling cow carcasses through a freezing warehouse isn't Kevin Davenport's idea of summer fun. But it's not his first crappy job. And with tuition due and his widowed mom strapped for cash, he's in no position to turn down good pay. But there's more than meatpacking happening at Kosher World Meat Factory. And the truth isn't quite so - well - kosher. Turns out the business is a front for a criminal syndicate. While working at the corrupt meat factory, Kevin discovers who killed his father, and now all bets are off. Kevin finally has the chance to settle the score, and he'll tackle any job - club fighting, bookmaking, even drug dealing - to earn his revenge. But can he do it without becoming the very thing he's trying to destroy? Or, God forbid, flunking out of school? The Sopranos meets Animal House in this darkly comic coming-of-age novel about the price of vengeance - and the burden of truth.


Pete Brassett - Terminus (2017) - Amazon FREEBIE

A seven book long Scottish detective series that I've had an eye on, but never took the plunge. I'm usually a bit OCD with series books, preferring to go from first to wherever but I don't think I've time to read all seven.


Detective Munro is on the back foot when a dangerous killer always seems to be one step ahead.

Having been the victim of a hit and run accident, and despite being black and blue, DI Munro wastes no time in trying to find out the identity of the perpetrator.

In the meantime, a junior detective receives a call from a concerned member of the public, worried that a recently deceased friend's will had been unlawfully changed.

What connects these two events will be crucial to the detective's investigation. But when prime witnesses turn up dead, they'll discover they have a more serious case on their hands. With attempted murder upgraded to a full-scale murder investigation, can the police close in on a mysterious killer or will Munro be finally outwitted?

TERMINUS is the fifth book by Pete Brassett to feature detectives James Munro and Charlotte West.



Ian Patrick - Stoned Love (2018) - Fahrenheit Press monthly book

I have a copy of Ian Patrick's debut Rubicon on the device for a read sometime.

Detective Sergeant Sam Batford has been lying low at a remote safe house in the highlands of Scotland. He's doing his best not to attract the attention of the enemies he made, on both sides of the law, during his last under-cover operation but Batford knows he's just killing time until he's called to account.

Inevitably the sharks begin to circle and as Batford is called back to front-line action in London he's thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse where it seems everyone is out to get him.

After having to endure a frustrating resolution to their previous undercover operation together DCI Klara Winter from the National Crime Agency is determined to prove that Batford has crossed the line into criminality and finally bring him to face justice.

All Sam Batford wants is to outwit his enemies long enough to stay alive and come out ahead of the game.

Ian Patrick's previous Sam Batford novel, RUBICON has been optioned by the BBC.

Praise from other authors.

'A taut, exciting and utterly authentic thriller with a compelling narrator' - Louise Voss

'A sharp, slick, gripping and compelling novel' - Jane Isaac



Tom Pitts - 101 (2018) - review copy from author

Tom Pitts has been enjoyed before with American Static read last year. A few more from him sit on the pile. This drops in November I believe.


On the cusp of pot legalization in California, Jerry runs afoul of some San Francisco bikers in the marijuana game. He flees straight up Highway 101 to Humboldt County to hide out deep in the hills at Vic's, a reclusive pot farmer and old pal of his tough-as-nails mother. But trouble finds Jerry no matter where he goes and soon the bikers, a pair of stone killers, and a Russian weed tycoon named Vlad the Inhaler are all hot on Jerry's trail.

Fallout from the unfolding chaos piques the interest of SFPD detective, Roland Mackie, when he learns Jerry's host, Vic, is somehow involved. It opens a twenty-year-old wound, an unsolved case called the Fulton Street Massacre, and Mackie is willing to do whatever it takes to get a pair of cuffs on the elusive Vic.

When Jerry and his protectors are chased off the mountain and back down the 101 to an inevitable showdown back in the Bay, he learns Vic is much more than his host, he's a mentor, his mother's hero, and the toughest man he's ever met.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and an action-packed plot, 101 is a wild ride through Northern California's "emerald triangle."

Lou Berney - November Road (2018) - thanks to the kindness of Dave Putnam


I've read Lou Berney before and his latest one is causing a stir over in the US at the minute. Author Dave Putnam (Bruno Johnson series) recommended this to me and kindly sent me his copy when I told him it drops in the UK in 2019. What a very nice man!

Lou Berney's earlier books on the blog - Gutshot Straight and Whiplash River

Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America - a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry's luck has finally run out.

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans' mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it's his turn - he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK's murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he's next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate - a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

Guidry knows that the first rule of running is "don't stop," but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.

For her, it's more than a car - it's an escape. She's on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who's a hopeless drunk.

It's an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope - and find each other on the way.

Charlotte sees that he's strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she's smart and funny. He learns that's she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can't know that he's desperate to leave his old one behind.

Another rule - fugitives shouldn't fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn't just a road, it's a trail, and Guidry's ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn't want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone's expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can't throw away the woman he's come to love.

And it might get them both killed.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

OCTOBER 2018 - FILMS + TV

A trip to the cinema, a BBC 4-part drama, a continuation of a couple of other TV series, the commencement of another two, two films with some hard-hitting social commentary and difficult issues and content, an iconic film from the early 70s and the film of one of the most hyped crime fiction thrillers of recent years.......

The Cry (2018) - BBC Drama series
Took over on Sunday nights where the disappointing Bodyguard left off. We watched this four part drama with the pretty amazing Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) as the young mother with a controlling fiancee and a missing baby. Based on the Helen Fitzgerald book of the same name. I'd heard of the book but didn't know the story so it was all fresh. Very tense, very watchable, decent pay-off at the end. Not especially minded to try the book now.

From IMDB....

The disappearance of a baby from a small coastal town in Australia is the catalyst for a journey into the disintegrating psychology of a young couple as they deal with an unthinkable tragedy under both the white light of public scrutiny and behind closed doors.



The Girl on the Train (2016) - film
An at home movie night with this one that caused a bit of a buzz book-wise a few years ago. Paula Hawkins book was hot stuff in 2015. I have a copy somewhere but haven't rushed to read it. My two girls saw this at the cinema when it came out, but the wife and I hadn't. I was slightly puzzled at the start of the film and it was one where I made them pause it a few times to ask some questions, before being told - shut up and watch. We did enjoy it without it being the best film ever. I'm a bit of an Emily Blunt fan and she is very good as the main character. I think I'll have to re-watch Sunshine Cleaning soon, as that's still my favourite film of hers, not that I've seen too much of her otherwise - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and The Devil Wears Prada is about all I can remember.

From Wikipedia...

The Girl on the Train is a 2016 American mystery thriller drama film directed by Tate Taylor and written by Erin Cressida Wilson, based on Paula Hawkins' 2015 debut novel of the same name. The film stars Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez and Lisa Kudrow. The film follows an alcoholic divorcée who becomes involved in a missing persons investigation.



Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) - film
An early birthday treat from one of my daughter - a double date with her, her boyfriend and my wife. Dinner at Nando's and this at the cinema on a Friday night. My kind of film, I could quite happily have sat through it again when it finished, unfortunately it was the last viewing of the evening and I don't think you can do that anymore. Probably my favourite film of 2018 so far, I'm adding the DVD to my Christmas list! Jeff Bridges is stand-out as the dodgy priest. Chris Hemsworth is amazing as a hypnotic, cult leader and a thoroughly bad egg, but honestly all the cast are brilliant. Reminded me a bit of Tarantino in the way things unfolded. If there's a book I need to read it!


From Google....

The El Royale is run-down hotel that sits on the border between California and Nevada. It soon becomes a seedy battleground when seven strangers -- a cleric, a soul singer, a traveling salesman, two sisters, the manager and the mysterious Billy Lee -- converge on a fateful night for one last shot at redemption before everything goes wrong.


American Horror Story Season 8 - Apocalypse - TV series

My family have watched the first seven series and I've kind sat on the settee dipping in and out and with my head stuck in a book. Maybe I'll pay attention this time around. I do like the theme of the returning cast. Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates are superb, as is Evan Peters. I'm not a massive fan of post-Apocalyptic, dystopian future books, maybe a TV series is the way to get involved then. Not much detail in the online info available about this series other than analysis of individual episodes. Anyway the nuclear bomb or several have dropped and our focus is on some of the survivors. One episode down so far, let's hope I stay tuned!

From Wikipedia.....

American Horror Story: Apocalypse is the eighth season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story. It was announced on January 12, 2017, and premiered on September 12, 2018.

Returning cast members from previous seasons include Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Emma Roberts, Cheyenne Jackson, Billy Eichner, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sidibe, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy, Stevie Nicks, Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Erika Ervin, Wayne Pére, Naomi Grossman, Mena Suvari, Sam Kinsey, and Celia Finkelstein, along with new cast member Cody Fern.



The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (2018) - TV series
I'm trying not to read too far ahead of my viewing, though I've reached a point in the book where I just want to read the bloody thing - 512 pages out of a 640 page book, the last 25 or so which are interviews and all round guff. Who is responsible for Nola's death? I have a few theories, which I've played out on my daughter. She actually looked up who did what to whom on her phone, but she's keeping schtum for now. By the time I post this, I will probably have watched 9 of the 10 episodes with the finale airing first week of November, so I still won't know. I'm liking Patrick Dempsey's portrayal of Harry Quebert, but not particularly his character. What intelligent thirty something year old man involves himself with a fifteen year old girl? I'm familar with a few of the cast Ron Perlman and Damon Wayans Jr. Loving both book and the adaptation, hard to choose a favourite.

*Newsflash - I've finished reading the novel, one of my possible scenarios was correct, though there was another twist of less related to the murder that I didn't see coming. Still keen to watch the TV finale and I don't think I've spoiled things for myself.

From Wikipedia......

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is an upcoming American mystery drama television miniseries, based on the novel of the same name by Joël Dicker, that is set to premiere on Epix. The series was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and stars Patrick Dempsey, Ben Schnetzer, Damon Wayans Jr., and Virginia Madsen.

Premise


The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair follows "a young writer who heads to Harry Quebert’s home for some inspiration. Instead, he finds that Harry’s been accused of murdering 15-year-old Nola Kellergan, who went missing years prior."



Ozark Season 1 (2017) - TV series
Gone slightly off the boil with this one - only one episode watched in the month. My wife thinks it's a bit slow. I think I maybe ought to watch it on my own. I'm happy with slow, I like slow. Slow is sometimes good. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are very watchable.


From Google....

Created by Bill Dubuque ("The Accountant," "The Judge"), this drama series stars Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde, a financial planner who relocates his family from Chicago to a summer resort community in the Ozarks. With wife Wendy and their two kids in tow, Marty is on the move after a money-laundering scheme goes wrong, forcing him to pay off a substantial debt to a Mexican drug lord in order to keep his family safe. While the Byrdes' fate hangs in the balance, the dire circumstances force the fractured family to reconnect.





Deliverance (1972)





I've read the book by James Dickey once and this was probably my third time watching the film, though it's been at least a decade since I last watched it. I enjoyed it again and couldn't recall all the finer details of the second half of the film. I loved Burt Reynolds, I loved Jon Voight and Ned Beatty. It was my first time watching this with my children (adults), it was uncomfortable for them. A lot less easy watching a scene of violence and intimidation and male rape than a horror film with a vampire. Real life can be a hundred times more frightening.

From Google....

Four city-dwelling friends (Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox) decide to get away from their jobs, wives and kids for a week of canoeing in rural Georgia. When the men arrive, they are not welcomed by the backwoods locals, who stalk the vacationers and savagely attack them in the woods. Reeling from the ambush, the friends attempt to return home but are surrounded by dangerous rapids and pursued by a madman. Soon, their canoe trip turns into a fight for survival.



I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Director Ken Loach has a reputation for being a tad to the left of centre to put it mildly. I suppose you can appreciate a film more if you have a similar political outlook, or at worst a shred of humanity about you. Preachy if you like, but very powerful and thought provoking. You would hope it might melt the hardest of hearts, but you'd probably be hoping in vain.

From Google.....

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a 59-year-old widowed carpenter who must rely on welfare after a recent heart attack leaves him unable to work. Despite his doctor's diagnosis, British authorities deny Blake's benefits and tell him to return to his job. As Daniel navigates his way through an agonizing appeal process, he begins to develop a strong bond with a destitute, single mother (Hayley Squires) who's struggling to take care of her two children.



Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Another tough watch, but compelling. Grief, guilt and how you learn to live with them both. Pass the tissues...

From Wikipedia...

Manchester by the Sea is a 2016 American drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan with a story by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges. The plot follows a man after his brother dies and he is entrusted with caring for his teenage nephew. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2016, and was soon picked up by Amazon Studios for distribution. Manchester by the Sea was filmed during March and April of 2015 in the Massachusetts town of the same name as well as Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Swampscott, Lynn, Middleton, Tewksbury, and Salem, Massachusetts. It began a limited release on November 18, 2016, before a wide release on December 16, 2016. It grossed $79 million worldwide against an $8.5 million budget.

The picture received critical praise and was widely counted among the best films of 2016. Critics particularly complimented the performances of Affleck, Williams, and Hedges, as well as Lonergan's screenplay and direction. At the 89th Academy Awards, the film won awards for Best Actor (Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), and Best Supporting Actress (Williams). Affleck also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and the film itself was nominated in four other categories at the Golden Globes. The British Academy Film Awards nominated the picture six times, with Affleck winning Best Actor in a Leading Role and Lonergan winning Best Original Screenplay.




Dark Heart (2018) - ITV 6 part drama
First episode watched last night and an okay start so I'll be tuning in next week. Not too familiar with any of the actors on display, but that's not a problem for me. A detective series and several cases, one a murder, another GBH on a couple of people who were previously accused of sex offences against minors but walked free. Undoubtedly our detective has his own dark past - in this case the unsolved murder of his parents over 15 years ago. Based on a book (or a series of books) by Adam Creed - books I'm not familiar with.

From Google....

Whilst devoting his life to his work, DI Will Wagstaffe is a man haunted by his past. With his team in the City of London police force, the investigate a series of horrifying attacks and murders.