Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Book Review: The Innocent (Lock/Ty Series) by Sean Black

Availability: Soon Released on Amazon click here- Sean Black Amazon Books

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: When college basketball coach Malik Shaw goes missing after a family tragedy it looks like just another retired athlete gone off the rails. But Malik’s childhood friend, private security specialist Ty Johnson, quickly begins to suspect that there is more to it. Chasing the truth, Ty and his business partner, Ryan Lock, begin to uncover a sinister conspiracy of silence in a sleep Minnesota college town.

It’s not the crime that kills you, it’s the cover up.

My Review: I have been eagerly awaiting the next book in the Lock/Ty series and I was fortunate enough to get a review copy. It took me a day to plough through the latest in the series and I am now back to counting the days until the next one. If you haven’t read any books in the series, fear not…there is enough here to read it as a stand alone novel. Although I must say I think this series is fantastic and deserves to be read from the beginning. Sean Black’s writing style over the past few years has proved his talent to create stories that pull you in and keep you well and truly engaged. This latest book is no different. However, with Ryan Lock being the star attraction closely followed by his partner and ex-Marine Ty it seems the roles have been reversed for this latest book.

Malik Shaw is an old school friend of Ty’s and when he goes missing following a tragedy in his life Ty knows that he has to get to him and fast. We don’t see much of Ty or Lock in the first quarter of the book and I have to say it made absolutely no difference to the story at all. Learning about Malik and the opening few chapters have enough drama to keep you turning the pages. The story itself has only one thread, but there are more suspects than you can shake a stick at which kept the plot moving at a decent pace.

Once Ty realises that the situation with Malik is turning sour he ups the ante and heads straight over to the college town in Minnesota. There are, as usual quite a lot of action packed moments, but certainly less tension that some of the previous books. This is by no means a negative, but this story is written slightly differently to previous ones in the series. I actually liked the fact that we see more or Ty in this book as previously he has always taken second place. It makes me feel I know him better, although this may only be because I have followed the series from book 1. Ryan Lock does make his appearance eventually and he is a great character to read about. He and Ty work so well together and this book cemented that with Lock working to help a friend of Ty’s.

Without adding spoilers, it was also nice to see references to how Ryan Lock is getting on with his personal life without too much detail. In a previous book there is a life changing event for him and it’s certainly mentioned here which makes for great continuity. Although I really enjoyed this book it didn’t quite have the same impact on me as say Gridlock or The Devil’s Bounty, but still a solid read and I for one will be eagerly awaiting book 6 in the series (no pressure Sean).

Friday, 11 April 2014

Pointless Thoughts....Cursing & Swearing :-)

Sometimes (like today) my mind goes off on rather bizarre tangents. This morning I was trying to work out what the worst swear word is in terms of the Americans, versus what us Brits think. For example, myself…I swear like a sailor! Some people (actually make that most people) who know me well will ALWAYS expect a profanity or two from me. Now don’t get me wrong, this is nothing to be proud of I know, but is somewhat commonplace, especially in Blighty! I also know that there are some people who find it offensive and completely un-necessary. Now I’m assuming only those who aren’t easily offended will continue reading :-)

Swear words for me work on a sliding scale with the more tame ones being for example calling somebody an arsehole! Calling somebody a ‘See you next Tuesday’ (for those not following just Google this term!) is the height of my temper and is rarely used unless someone has really annoyed me. Now the majority of books I read in this genre feature swearing (or cursing as the US people like to say) but some, in particular British Crime and Thrillers, the swearing is more hardcore! I think this goes hand in hand with the genre of book and the type of characters you read about. 

When you have somebody like a Vinnie Butler (Kimberley Chambers book) calling somebody ‘upfront’ it’s pretty standard. However, would an American character say that? I think not. Considering I have probably read nearly 5,000 books in my lifetime (that’s a guess by the way), I cannot think of an American equivalent. Something that is intended to be as cruel and emphatic as that word is for the Brits. For some reason calling somebody a ‘Son of a Bitch’ doesn't quite have the same ring to it! So, for all those Crime, Thriller & Mystery readers out there, if you can think of the equivalent be sure to let me know!

On another note my second weird and pointless thoughts turned to lead characters in series of books. Not individual characters but collectively…it led me to then ask the question who would win in a fight between characters? You see, I told you my thoughts were pointless. I was weighing up the male options, and the only 2 characters than instantly came to mind that were of the same kind of mould would be Sean Black's character Ryan Lock, and Stephen Leather's character Spider Shepherd. Now I may not know the answer, but how cool would that fight be!!!

Happy Friday peeps….

Book Review: The Accident by C.L Taylor

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Kobo and Nook (entitled Before I Wake)

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

Sue will do anything to protect her daughter. But what if she is the reason that Charlotte is in danger?

My Review: Cally Taylor is certainly not new to the writing scene and has written two romantic comedy books under that name; however The Accident is her first in the suspense/thriller genre. The synopsis sounded pretty good and I was looking forward to getting stuck in. The story opens up with Sue Jackson visiting her daughter as she lies helplessly in a coma. Sue and her husband Brian have no idea why their teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately stepped in front of a bus resulting in her current state.

The writing was great from the very beginning and I found myself very drawn into the story. Sue is convinced that her daughter would not have deliberately stepped in front of a bus and is determined to get to the bottom of it. What follows is a woman’s determination to get to the truth no matter what the cost. The tension was pretty high especially as the book progresses. In addition to this storyline we get to read chapters of Sue’s past which goes a long was to explaining her current state of mind. Cally Taylor has gone all out to put you in the shoes of a Mother who is distraught and has to find the truth, and I think she has done that magnificently.

The past stories involving Sue and her ex James made you question the current situation even more. At times I even questioned Sue’s mental state wondering if her imagination was going into overdrive or if the things she had seen and heard were real. In just under a day and a half I had got to the last part of the book, but must admit the final few chapters left me feeling a little disappointed. I think the ending smacked of convenience too much for my liking and I was a little annoyed by that. With that to one side there is no way I could have rated it less than 4 as the writing and suspense was certainly up where it should have been. I for one will be looking out for future works by Cally in this genre and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Book Review: Betrayed by Jacqui Rose

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Kobo and Nook

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: She trusted the man she loved. It was the most dangerous things she had ever done …

No one can touch Del Williams – the hardest gangster in Soho. He’s got the monopoly on the drugs, the clubs and the girls – it’d be a mistake to underestimate him. The one person he’d take a bullet for is tough, beautiful Bunny Barker, mother of their daughter Star.
Bunny is determined to shield Star from ‘life’ but Del has a lot of enemies. When a familiar face appears from their past, their family is put into terrible danger. Can Bunny protect Star from the demons of her own past, and her very worst nightmare?

My Review: I have read all of Jacqui Rose books and as a relative newcomer to the crime genre she seems to be climbing in both the charts and popularity very quickly. This latest book proves why she has managed to do that in a short space of time. This latest offering gives us a prostitute Bunny Barker living her life along with her daughter Star by her own rules. She is a pretty likeable character but there is a dark and twisted underlying problem within Bunny’s past which is evident pretty quickly.

Star’s father happens to be a gangster who pretty much runs Soho and although he is besotted with Bunny and Star, his lifestyle is not one Bunny is prepared to take on full time. Del was a great character and I liked him from the off. In addition to this Bunny and Del’s daughter Star was fabulous. Although she is only a young girl she plays a pivotal part in the story and is written so that you can just imagine this bright and bubbly girl being at the centre of everybody’s world.

Sadly, past figures emerge and between that and Del’s current business dealings with the Russians everybody seems to suddenly be in danger. I started this yesterday morning and absolutely refused to put it down until I had finished. There were a couple of things that didn’t quite flow as well as they could have, but it was still a brilliant book and one that will be loved by fans of Kimberley Chambers and Mandasue Heller. I for one will be eagerly waiting for her next book which is due out in August 2014…yay!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Book Review: Want You Dead by Peter James

Availability: Hardback and Kindle 5 June 2014, Paperback (23 Oct 14)

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: IF HE CAN'T HAVE HER, THEN NOBODY CAN...Virtual romance becomes a terrifying obsession in Want You Dead...Single girl, 29, smouldering redhead, love life that's crashed and burned. Seeks new flame to rekindle her fire. Fun, friendship and - who knows - maybe more? When Red Westwood meets handsome, charming and rich Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction. But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past, and his dark side, begins to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be a tissue of lies, and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror. Within a year, and under police protection, she evicts him from her flat and her life. But Red's nightmare is only just beginning. For Bryce is obsessed with her, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known and loved - and then her too...

My Review: What is going on with this series? I need to clarify that I have read every one of the Roy Grace series and have loved them all (Dead Simple book 1 being my all time favourite). However a few things have been going on that have narked me, one of them being the ongoing saga of Roy Grace’s missing/presumed dead wife Sandy. More of that later, but in the meantime I was brimming with excitement at having this latest release nearly 2 months early. I immediately got stuck in and as usual the story took me away to that dark and murky corner of my mind which enjoys reading about other people’s misery. For those of you that maybe haven’t read any of these books I suggest you stop reading my review as it will inevitably contain spoilers if you are not up to date with the series. We are up to book 10 in the series and Roy Grace is on the verge of getting married to Cleo and they have a young baby son. In addition to Roy we see the other characters that us readers have grown to love such as Glenn Branson and Norman Potting return.

We meet the lead in this current story Red Westwood (GREAT character name dontcha’ think) as she is recovering from her past disastrous relationship.  Bryce Laurent is the man responsible for ruining her life a year earlier and she had no idea that in the short space of time she knew him he would turn out to be so toxic. In the present time Red is living under police protection and trying to move on without him in her life. I liked Red instantly, but on the down side by a quarter of the way through I was beginning to wonder whether I was actually reading a Peter James book. We don’t even see Roy Grace appear until that point and it was only then that I felt myself feeling much more settled. When a body turns up that is linked to Red Westwood the police aren’t altogether convinced that its anything more than coincidence. However, before too long things continue to get more and more nasty for Red and Roy soon realises that Bryce is a major issue.

Alongside the main storyline (which isn’t necessarily PJs strongest I must say) we see Roy try and prepare for his wedding to Cleo. One of the major pulls with the series in the ongoing drama with his long missing wife (now presumed dead). I was under the impression that this element of the story would be completed by now and was hoping that this book would bring closure to that element as I am tiring of wondering. However, once again we only see the briefest glimpses of what happens, and I was absolutely gutted at how this has once again been left open ended, and maybe open to interpretation by the reader. Although it may seem like it’s all negatives I’m spouting off it really isn’t like that at all. I guess with Peter James you expect perfection every time (so no pressure there Peter), and I tend to be a lot more critical with longer established writers.

Even though there were certain things I didn’t like about this story, there were also some major OMG moments too, and all I can say is “Peter James, how could you have done that”. Major story shocker for one character involved and I thought it was so sad I could have cried (I didn’t though I assure you). Overall the writing style is pure Peter James and flows smoothly, with enough pace to keep you hooked. There were some magical jaw dropping moments proving that Peter James is the King of the Castle when it comes to this genre. I managed to read it in two sittings and although not one of my favourites still a great read. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Book Review: Behind The Closed Door by Charles Prandy

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: In his sophomore novel, Detective Jacob Hayden is back. When Jack Smith doesn’t come home from a business trip, his wife, Erin Smith becomes concerned. Before she has a chance to call police, Detective Jacob Hayden and his new partner, Patricia Jennings, show up at the house and Erin immediately knows that something terrible has happened. Days later a body is found in the woods without its head or fingers and it’s determined that the body is that of Jack Smith. Erin Smith becomes the primary suspect. After her arraignment Erin posts bail and without anyone knowing, flees the city. 

A man named Max leads a group through a string of bank robberies. Each bank robbery leaves the branch manager and their families murdered. FBI Agent Jadyn Davis and Detective Hayden have to find out who’s committing these robberies before more families are murdered. But what they don’t realize is that the bank robberies are only a small part of a larger plot that Max has planned.

My Review: I have to say I really enjoyed the first of Charles Prandy’s books in this series featuring DI Jacob Hayden. I was really looking forward to getting stuck into book 2 to see how he was faring after the trauma in the first book. I mentioned in the first book that there are certain similarities between this series and a certain other Washington DC cop, although I must say that this is a really good contender! Hayden is back and this time he is involved in a complex missing persons/murder case.

The story itself was so easy to fall into, and even if you haven’t read the first book there is enough background and history you don’t feel lost. Jack Smith is the person who goes missing and when Hayden meets the wife Erin Smith, she seems like a typical grieving wife concerned about her husband not returning home. Hayden has a new partner Pat Jennings and they make a good match, although I’m keen to see more of her in the next book. Together they have to revisit Erin Smith upon the discovery of a body and at that point everything changes.

In addition to this storyline we meet a man named Max who is committing bank robberies with particular brutality. Jacob feels like his return to work has now thrown him in at the deep end and I was completely absorbed by the numerous storylines going on. Towards the halfway mark, things ratchet up a notch and we see numerous plot threads begin to interweave making it much more exciting.

Overall I really liked this book, much the same as the first. Numerous people on Amazon have made complaints about the editing, but as I understand it this has now been rectified and I try not to let that affect my opinion on a book too much. I think that people who start reading this series will soon become attached to it and automatically want to read more; I know I do. It may be nothing new in terms of originality but in my opinion a solid book, with likeable characters and a series that I think will definitely improve with time. I’m now really looking forward to the next one.

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