Monday, 21 July 2014

Book Review: The Night Stalker by Chris Carter (Hunter Series)

My Rating: 5/5

Availability: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Nook and Kobo

Synopsis:  An unidentified female body is brought into the Los Angeles County morgue. The cause of death is still unclear. Her body bares no marks; except for the fact that her most intimate parts have been stitched shut. But what shocks the pathologist the most is that the killer had left something inside her. Something so monstrous Detective Robert Hunter, of the Los Angeles Homicide Special Section, has to be pulled off a different case to take over the investigation.

Within days a new body surfaces. Like the previous victim, she's also been stitched shut and something has been left inside her. Something as ingenious as it is grotesque. And the killer isn't done yet, not by a long shot.

When his inquiry collides with a missing persons' case being investigated by the attractive, razor-sharp Whitney Meyers, Hunter suspects the killer might be keeping several women hostage. Soon Robert finds himself on the hunt for a murderer who is much more monstrous than he ever could have expected; a predator whose past hides a terrible secret, and who won't stop until each of his victims has brought forth the awful truth that lies hidden deep inside them too.

My Review: Well, well, well! Mr Carter has been a treat I have been depriving myself of that’s for sure. It’s been a while since I last read a Chris Carter and I decided with his most recent release that it was high time I caught up. Robert Hunter is the main lead in this series along with his partner Garcia. Having read the two previous books, although Hunter is the clear leader I’m beginning to love his partner Garcia just as much. When this story kicks off it involves a body being brought into the morgue although her cause of death is unclear. It doesn’t take long to realise though that this woman had suffered horrendously as certain parts of her body has been stitched shut. The first thing I must say is that as a reader if you are squeamish then maybe these aren’t the books for you.

Within a few days another body appears and although the stitches are there, her method of death is something else. I have a pretty strong stomach but I must say Mr Carter has an ingenious way with grotesque descriptions that literally have your stomach churning. When Carter’s investigation crosses with a missing persons case an investigator by the name Whitney Myers comes into play. I always kind of hope that Robert may get the chance to have a personal life, but sadly is seems there are too many psychos and not enough time for the man.

The story itself was intriguing and had numerous plot layers going on. The suspense is ratcheted up with each body that is discovered and the pace in turn picks up too. I felt myself experiencing more than one emotion whilst turning the pages from fear to loathing and then back to fear. By the time I had finished my heart was in my mouth and I went straight onto book 4 in the series. I really do feel like Chris Carter is a bit of an unrecognised author. There certainly isn’t enough press about the guy but I am certain that his book deals will continue to get bigger and better until every last reader out there knows about him. A brilliant book that had me gripped and highly recommended.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Book Review: One Kick by Chelsea Cain

My Rating: 5/5

Availability: Released 14th August 2014 Kindle, Paperback

Synopsis: Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight.

Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimised again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick's experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past.

My Review: I have been reading Chelsea Cain’s series featuring Archie and Gretchen and absolutely love it. However, I had a serious issue with the publishers and their release dates for the last in that series. The last book in the Archie/Gretchen series entitled Let Me Go was released late 2013. However as an avid Kindle reader, I didn’t want to get a big bulky book for my commute. I decided to wait for the Kindle version, and believe it or not I’m still waiting!!! I was so annoyed to learn that the Kindle version wouldn’t be released until over a year later?!? Because of that when I got the new Chelsea Cain book featuring a new character, I put it further down the list than usual out of principle! Of course after trying to convince myself that I was right, I relented and got started on the new one. All I can say is thank god I did!!!

The first thing you need to know about this latest release is that the characters are the furthest thing you can get from the ordinary. I don’t say this lightly and I know it’s a bold statement to make but it’s true. Kick Lannigan is the star of this latest book and she is possibly the most damaged, off the wall and disturbing character I have read in a long time. Of course I absolutely loved her and from the very start I knew this book would be different. Kick is actually a survivor, having been abducted at the age of 6 and found alive 6 years later. Now being in her early twenties we get to see a woman who has some serious issues (obviously) but which makes an absolutely compelling character to read about.

Now Kick is older she has spent her teenage years learning how to protect herself. However, her obsessive and compulsive traits mean that when two children go missing it’s like a trigger for her behaviour to turn a little wild and off key. Add to the mix another intriguing character, meet John Bishop. Initially he approaches Kick to ask for her help in locating the missing children. These two meeting is like putting lit matches in a Firework box, you never quite know what the outcome will be.

One thing to note is that this book will definitely not be everybody’s cup of tea. It’s a little like Marmite me thinks, you either love it or hate it. I absolutely loved it and read it in a matter of hours. The characters had my hairs standing on end, the crime scenes had me cringing in horror and the story, plot and pace were pure magic. I’m chomping at the bit to know when the second book will be released, although I may have to sulk (momentarily you understand) regarding the last Kindle release of CC’s which was a bit of a disaster! That aside a class read which I for one will be putting high on my list of reads from 2014!!!

Book Review: Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

15th July 2014

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Released 17th July 2014 in Hardback, Kindle, Nook and Kobo
Paperback Released 6 November 2014

Synopsis: Atlanta, 1974. As a brutal killing and a furious manhunt rock the city, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the police force will also be her last. For life is anything but easy in the male-dominated world of the Atlanta Police Department, where even the other female cops have little mercy for the new girl.

Kate isn't the only woman on the force who is finding things tough. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When Maggie and Kate become partners, and are side-lined in the search for the city's cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach boiling point.

With the killer poised to strike again, will Kate and Maggie have the courage to pursue their own line of investigation? And are they prepared to risk everything as they venture into the city's darkest heart?

My Review: I was surprised to realise that this was a stand-alone novel by Karin Slaughter. I was also quite excited at the synopsis as she has gone for the same geographical setting but in the 1970’s. It features Maggie Lawson and Kate Murphy as our two main characters. It took me a little longer than her usual books to settle in, but I wasn’t surprised as this wasn’t part of a series that I had become familiar with over time. As police officers in the Atlanta are in the seventies things are certainly not easy on them. Karin Slaughter has made the book authentic and believable from the outset. I certainly realised very quickly that working in this line of work back then, was tantamount to being a wanted criminal.

Out of the two characters Kate is introduced as the new girl to the police force. With Maggie having experience as well as having her brother and Uncle on the force, she is naturally the one Kate looks to for advice. Maggie seemed initially like the force to be reckoned with but Kate developed as a character and by the end of the book I found myself hoping that Karin may well continue this theme on featuring both these women.

The main storyline features the Atlanta police force launching a massive manhunt for a killer known simply as The Shooter. There are some absolutely awful characters featuring in this story but I guess for that era they were pretty much the norm! What this latest Slaughter novel does is highlight the serious issues that were around back then such as racism, sexism and homophobia. That aside the story is weaved with intellect and keeps the reader guessing until the later part of the book.

Although I wouldn’t say this was my favourite KS book, it kept me intrigued with its setting, characters, story and pace. As ever she has shown how versatile an author she is and has given her readers another set of characters that they will no doubt want to see more of (I can always hope). A great read which I think many fans will be pleasantly surprised by.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Book Review: Don’t Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz

My Rating: 3/5

Availability: Released on 25th September 2014 in Paperback and Kindle

Synopsis: After the breakup of her marriage, Evie takes the holiday of a lifetime. A few weeks of hiking, rafting and jungle adventure at an eco-lodge in Mexico sound ideal. But what should have been the perfect pick-me-up soon turns into a nightmare.

Nothing is quite what it seems. There are secrets hidden that can't be allowed to leave their jungle hiding place. And which their keeper will kill to protect.

If she is ever to see her son again, Evie will be forced to find reserves of strength, courage and ingenuity she never dreamt existed. Or die trying.

My Review: I am a huge fan of Gregg Hurwitz and always look forward to reading his books. However this latest release proved to be something of a head scratcher for me. I picked it up and started reading about Evie who is struggling with her day to day life and responsibilities following the breakup of her marriage. She decides to give herself a break and take part in a hiking and rafting tour in Mexico.

Evie is determined to do something new and thoroughly enjoy herself before returning home to her son. However, when she discovers a camera belonging to a previous visitor she begins to have her doubts. These doubts rack up in intensity when she discovers the woman is missing. What follows is Evie’s own journey along with the other people attending the same trip. There wasn’t any one thing that I can put my finger on but from the very start this book seemed like a bit of a struggle. Maybe it was the setting that put me off, or maybe it was just the characters I’m really not that sure. I never really cared all that much for Evie, and just felt entirely indifferent towards her as a charcter.

I continued on with the knowledge that sometimes books like these surprise you, however I continued to struggle with this to the very end. For me this latest GH release just didn’t compare with his others. It certainly seemed to have all the right things available, but the end result just didn’t grab me. I found the story sometimes felt like it was being dragged out, and at other times I felt like there was too much about other characters that didn’t seem to hold any value to the main storyline.

Towards the latter half of the book it picked up a bit and I felt more like I was reading a Hurwitz novel, but by the end I just felt a little disappointed. I think I may well be in the minority with my opinion, but for me this novel just lacked something. I think the setting for me just didn’t seem real and it was all a bit pushed together. On the other hand maybe I am being over critical? I’m really not that sure. I think overall it was an average book, however as I am quite a fan maybe I just expect more? I’m hoping that his next book fits the bill a bit more for me.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Book Review: Avenged by Jacqui Rose

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: 14th August 2014 in Paperback, Kindle, Nook and Kobo

Synopsis: You make a deal with the devil; you pay your dues…

Franny Doyle has always known that her father Patrick has been up to no good. After all you don’t become one of London’s number one gangsters without ruffling a few feathers along the way. Still, she adores her dad and she knows that he would lay down his life for her – she is his number one girl and he has taught her everything she knows.

But when something terrible happens to Patrick, Franny realises that he has some very dangerous enemies. Delving into Patrick’s past, Franny becomes involved in a high-stakes game. She’s not afraid. Patrick has taught her to be a fighter and she’s determined to make him proud, even if it means paying the ultimate price – her own life.

 My Review: I think Jacqui Rose has taken a slight step in a new direction by setting the opener of her latest book in Ireland in the late 1970’s. When I started reading I was taken straight back to that time as we met Patrick Doyle as a young boy. I was initially thrown as the synopsis and prologue were set in present day. However a few chapters in and I wasn’t going anywhere. She has done a stellar job of taking the reader back to that time when religion played a huge part in the community and people’s lives were guided by their priests. I don’t want to delve too much into this element of the story (for fear of spoilers) but this was by far my favourite part of the book. Patrick’s childhood and how he came to meet his friend Cabhan Morton take up at least 35% of the book. This section of the book like I said is set in the late seventies in Ireland and in addition to Patrick and Cab, we also meet Father Ryan and Donal O’Sheyenne both whom play an important part in this book.

Just under halfway in and we are fast forwarded to just over 30 years later. 30 years on we get to know Franny Doyle as an adult. Her relationship with her father Patrick and Uncle Cab is the first thing that the reader identifies. Now at this point in the book I felt a crashing disappointment. I really felt like Jacqui Rose had found a new setting in Ireland in the seventies and I really didn’t want to leave that era. I felt like the jump from past to present was too quick and there was something that just didn’t sit right with me.

That aside we then see Franny Doyle start to make dangerous enemies. As we are now in present time the book falls slightly back into the standard ‘gangster’ genre. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (I myself am a fan of that type of book). However, the second half of the book although enjoyable, just didn’t compare to the first half. I think Jacqui Rose just proved how skilled a writer she is, because I literally didn’t put the book down. The realism of the characters and what they would have had to endure was just first class. Obviously she has a knack of taking you back without missing a beat.

Overall by the time I had finished I was (as usual) a little upset I had finished so quickly. This latest book of hers was a cracking read, but to be honest I so wish she would have maybe jumped between the late 70’s and maybe the 90’s rather than present day (everyone does present day). To have the skill as a writer to make the reader be able to imagine themselves alongside these characters is something special, and Jacqui Rose has that skill! I will await the next no doubt brilliant book from her, and would highly recommend this to people.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Book Review: Angel of Death by Ben Cheetham

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Nook and Kobo

Synopsis: Would you break the law to see justice done? 
A former prostitute turns to murder in order to take revenge on the men who abused her. 

Sheffield: a bankrupt businessman has murdered his family. It seems like an open-and-shut case: a desperate man resorting to desperate measures. 

Middlesbrough: a woman named Angel is heading south. She is a woman alone, a prostitute and now a murderer. And she has only one thing on her mind: revenge. 

Two crimes, a hundred miles apart, but a terrible secret connects them. And although the courts may not agree, DI Jim Monahan has all the proof he needs to bring down justice on a group of particularly vicious criminals...

My Review: Ben Cheetham has released a number of books and short stories, however the only one I had read was entitled Blood Guilt. When I heard that he had this new one coming out I was keen to read it and see if it was as good as the last one. Not only was it just as good, it was even better! The covers are pretty appealing too for those that are still reading the paperback or hardcover copies. From Page 1 to the very end my attention was held, and my emotions played with. It seemed that Cheetham was determined to up the ante in terms of plot, characters and sheer pace.

Angel is a young girl with a severely tragic and broken past. She is now a prostitute and she finally snaps leaving her with only revenge in her mind. She was a great character and I empathised with her immediately. The book highlights in graphic detail the horrors she has been subjected to, and as a reader it doesn’t take too long for you to get behind her and almost begin to understand how people cross the line of the law.

Jim Monohan is a DI who has been round the block a few times. I liked Jim although he was a little on the clich├ęd side. He is investigating a crime where a bankrupt business man has murdered his family. Although seemingly a simple case to the police, Jim knows there is more to the case than meets the eye. The first few chapters alone were incredibly interesting and I was drawn in from the get go. I read this in a day and a half and was gutted to finally finish it.

The story and pace alone deserves a fantastic rating, but adding in the characters and plot threads it made for an absolutely fantastic read. I dithered over what rating to give it and was going to give it 5/5 but because the copper character just didn’t cut the mustard I had to drop it down to a 4/5. However, the book had everything else I would want from a book like this and more.  This was an outstanding read and one that I think deserves a bit more exposure. If you haven’t read Ben Cheetham, I would highly recommend both the books I have read. Another great book and I will definitely look forward to the next one!

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