Thursday, 21 August 2014

Book Review: Smile of the Viper by Harry Dunn

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Nook and Kobo

Synopsis:  London private investigator Jack Barclay is on the trail of financier Tom Stanton who has disappeared with £1million of clients’ money, leaving his desperate wife and children behind. 

Stanton’s Parisian mistress, Danielle, is also involved with the boss of a drug smuggling cartel and Stanton is seduced into laundering money for them. When £4million of drugs cash goes missing and Tom is the suspect, he and Danielle go on the run. 

The stakes are raised with the kidnapping of Stanton’s daughter, and Jack finds himself in a race to find Stanton before the mob do. As he hunts him down, he uncovers a nightmare world of torture, betrayal and murder, putting his own life in danger. 

My Review: I have to be honest and say that the cover of this book didn’t appeal to me. Don’t ask me why, I can’t put my finger on it but it just doesn’t sit right with me. What I can tell you is that it does NOT do the book justice and if I had one major criticism to Mr Dunn and his Publishers it would be to look at changing the style of cover for his next book. The synopsis of this sounded good and the opening chapters were enough to reel you in.

Jack Barclay is a Private Investigator and things have been pretty slow recently. When Jill Stanton comes in asking him to try and trace her husband Tom, Jack had no clue what sort of chase he would have on his hands. It seems that Tom Stanton who is a financier has done a runner with a million pounds worth of clients’ money. In addition to this, it seems that Tom has got himself involved with some very nasty people.

I liked the writing style and the character Jack Barclay was a likeable guy. There was also quite a lot going on in terms of plot threads and layers and certainly enough to keep you keen to continue reading. The addition of Tom’s mistress Danielle and her antics involving the Cartel also add another dimension to the story. It was certainly paced well and a pretty good debut novel. However, if I am being really picky there were a couple of things (aside from the cover) that I didn’t like.

Jack was far too ‘familiar’ with the client, and that led me to get that ‘first time author’ feel. There was also too many loose ends for me, I like to know what happens after the fact too (even if it’s just a short epilogue). Having mentioned the negatives, I still really liked this and think I will really look forward to the next book (especially if it features Jack Barclay again). A pretty impressive start from Harry Dunn and I will look forward to the next book.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Book Review: A Life for a Life by Tim Ellis (Parrish & Richards Series)

My Rating: 3/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Nook and Kobo

Synopsis:  What starts as a routine stabbing for Detective Inspector Jed Parish and new recruit Police Constable Mary Richards turns into the hunt for a serial killer who uses an unusual weapon to kill, and leaves numbered tokens in his victim’s mouths? As well as getting to know each other and dealing with the fallout from the Chief’s prostate cancer, the two new partners must discover the dark history behind the tokens and the connection between the victims. To do that, they need to gain access to the abandoned Beech Tree Orphanage where a terrible truth awaits.

My Review: I have seen and read numerous reviews for the Tim Ellis books but have always put them on the back burner. My sister and I had a discussion about this author recently and although he is self-published it seems he has got quite a collection of released books under his belt. My sister was something of a fan and thought I should give them a go. She also told me that because she had read all in this Richards & Parrish series, she knew that I wouldn’t be blown away by the first book; but that I should persevere regardless. With that in mind I got started.

Now one thing to note is this; Tim Ellis is a self-published author and although he has over 25 books written, his first was only released in 2010, this book being one of the earlier ones he had written. To be brutally honest I think some of the reviews left for this authors books are bordering on insulting. Don’t get me wrong this was far from perfect but Tim Ellis shows a real skill in storytelling and it’s clear from the outset he can write well. Sadly, it’s also clear that his skill needed a little more work at this stage. Having read reviews of some of his more recent books it seems like he has done just that.

The characters he introduces to the series are Detective Sergeant Jed Parish and PC Mary Richards, two police officers that eventually become partners. As an honest reviewer and will never lie, however will point out both good and bad in this book. The characters could be really good, and certainly have potential. However, Mary Richards comes across as a very immature, childish and slightly unbelievable character. Jed Parrish is certainly the better character of the two but he too still needs improvement.

The story itself had potential and the writing certainly kept my interest. However there were issues with the characters, and at times the plot lacked a bit of pace. That aside, I read it to the end and still felt like I wanted to know what happens with these two next. Without trying to sound patronising here, I am actually looking forward to continuing this series, as it seems from other readers and reviewers that his latest release (In the Twinkling of an Eye – Book 14!) is brilliant and has subsequently received 35 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. It will be a pleasure to watch an author grow and improve with each book he writes. For the price of his EBooks I think they are well worth the money.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Book Review: Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton (Lacey Flint Series)

My Rating: 5/5

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

Synopsis:  Now face your darkest fears . . .

A spate of suicides.  Each one a female university student. Each one more shocking than the last. The police know it cannot be coincidence. But they can't prove it. The only way to investigate is to send someone undercover.  A young policewoman, as vulnerable as the others.  As unprepared for the nightmare that will greet her. Don't close your eyes, Lacey Flint . . .

My Review: Sharon Bolton only just released the 4th book in this series so luckily I am not that far behind. Having read the first in the series last month I was raring to go with book 2, and what a ride it turned out to be. Lacey Flint is a somewhat damaged character, but not a weepy pathetic one, nor a demonically strong and independent one either. She is bang in the middle and probably the closest to what reality would be I would imagine. She has strengths and weaknesses but I really like her. She has a little bit of attitude and is bright without being portrayed as Miracle Woman!

In this newest case her senior officer Mark Joesbury calls Lacey in on an undercover job. As a somewhat junior copper (albeit experienced, after book 1!) she is pulled in to the job with the minimum amount of information. All she knows is that she is to pose as University student, due to the sudden high levels of suicides happening in and around the college. 

Lacey immerses herself in student life and has to portray herself as vulnerable which it soon appears is not that easy for Lacey. However, from the early stages you get the sense that things aren’t ‘quite right’ at the University . There is an undercurrent to the writing which is very dark and gives you that ominous feeling. I also loved the fact that we are seeing the progression of the relationship between Lacey and her senior Joesbury.

At around the halfway mark I realised that never before has a title been so aptly named. I was Dead Scared! Not on the whole gory, violet and descriptive front. The worse kind…you know when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck type of fear. I raced through this and fluctuated between thinking I knew who was to blame and why and how, to knowing absolutely nothing. It was absolutely fantastic rollercoaster of a read that had me scared, thrilled and desperate to read more. I mean what more could a reader want? By the end I was chomping at the bit to get started on book 3, but resisted and am hoping to get to book 3 VERY soon. A great series that I would highly recommend.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Book Review: One by One by Chris Carter (Robert Hunter Series)

My Rating: 5/5

Availability: Hardback, Paperback, Kindle and Kobo

Synopsis: 'I need your help, Detective. Fire or water?'

Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD's Homicide Special Section receives an anonymous call asking him to go to a specific web address - a private broadcast. Hunter logs on and a show devised for his eyes only immediately begins.

But the caller doesn't want Detective Hunter to just watch, he wants him to participate, and refusal is simply not an option. Forced to make a sickening choice, Hunter must sit and watch as an unidentified victim is tortured and murdered live over the Internet.

The LAPD, together with the FBI, use everything at their disposal to electronically trace the transmission down, but this killer is no amateur, and he has covered his tracks from start to finish. And before Hunter and his partner Garcia are even able to get their investigation going, Hunter receives a new phone call.

A new website address.  A new victim. But this time the killer has upgraded his game into a live murder reality show, where anyone can cast the deciding vote.

My Review: I have to say that after reading the previous books in this series I was pretty sure I knew what was coming in terms of the shock factor and gore. I was wrong! The opening of this book alone was enough to make my skin start crawling and the book only got more graphic and descriptive as time went on. I don’t say this as a negative as in my opinion it adds to the fear factor which always gets my heart racing. That aside, people who aren’t fans of this type of thing may not want to read this series.

Detective Robert Hunter of the Homicide Special Section is back and this time a killer like no other is out on the prowl. He calls Robert Hunter and asks for his help. All Robert has to do is choose Fire or water, a seemingly simple decision. However, when it becomes clear that the killer wants Robert to choose the victims method of death the story takes a serious and nasty turn.

The story starts to unravel and the killer becomes bolder with each victim and pretty soon the kills are being seen live on the internet. Hunters partner Garcia is a favourite of mine too and he becomes more involved than usual in this latest story. The plot is cleverly crafted and the suspense is at the highest I imagine you get with a book like this. The book takes you down a very dark and twisted road that layers plot threads as the story progresses. I found myself feeling every type of emotion possible when reading it. 

In addition to the excellent writing and storyline Carter has created characters I care about. By the end of this book I felt my heart sink as repercussions for the next book could go either way. I am so pleased that I have managed to get up to speed with the series, meaning I can get ready for the next and most recent instalment of the series, An Evil Mind which was released 31st July 2014. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Book Review: The Death Sculptor by Chris Carter (Robert Hunter Series)

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle and Kobo

Synopsis: 'Good job you didn't turn on the lights . . .'

A student nurse has the shock of her life when she discovers her patient, prosecutor Derek Nicholson, brutally murdered in his bed. The act seems senseless - Nicholson was terminally ill with only weeks to live. But what most shocks Detective Robert Hunter of the Los Angeles Robbery Homicide Division is the calling card the killer left behind. 

For Hunter, there is no doubt that the killer is trying to communicate with the police, but the method is unlike anything he's ever seen before. And what could the hidden message be? 
Just as Hunter and his partner Garcia reckon they've found a lead, a new body is found - and a new calling card. But with no apparent link between the first and second victims, all the progress they've made so far goes out of the window. 

Pushed into an uncomfortable alliance with the confident Alice Beaumont, Hunter must race to put together the pieces of the investigation . . . before the Death Sculptor puts the final touches to his masterpiece.

My Review: I am on a roll with the Hunter series by Chris Carter and started this immediately after I finished the previous one. Having said all of that, these books can still be read stand alone, but where’s the fun in that? The latest release starts with (in true Chris Carter style) a particularly gruesome and bloody scene. A student nurse finds her patient brutally murdered. By the time Robert Hunter and his colleague Carlos Garcia get there they realise that the calling card alone singles out this latest psychopath as somebody they need to catch…and quickly.

One thing that makes this series great is both Robert Hunter as well as the recurring characters we see. His partner Garcia is absolutely brilliant, and although he isn’t as clever as Hunter (who is, the guy has a Mensa level IQ) he makes their pair complete. Throw the descriptive and sickening death scenes and you have yourself a classic Carter novel. The killer continues his killing spree and the case quickly becomes more and more complex.

These books have been an absolute pleasure to read and they continue going from strength to strength. This latest book didn’t have quite the oomph that the last one did, but I guess you just tend to set the bar really high when you enjoy a series of books. The book was still a fantastic read and kept me turning the pages well into the night. Another corker from Mr Carter, and as usual I cannot wait so am moving straight onto the next book in the series ‘One by One’.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Book Review: The Night Stalker by Chris Carter (Robert 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.

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