Monday 24 November 2014

Limitless (Out of the Box) by Robert J. Crane

Two years have passed since the events in Power ( The Girl in the Box #10) took place.The team has scattered to various different corners of the earth. I say team and that is exactly how I perceived them in the books.

Unfortunately neither Sienna nor the others seem to think of themselves as such. More is the pity, because the thing they all have in common, well nearly all of them, is their particular brand of being different. They should be standing together and supporting each other, especially now certain Meta are being tortured and murdered again.

Sienna seems a little tired of being the go to person for every non-Meta authority when it comes to Meta crimes, murders and problems. Why? Because those same authorities and governments have created a very intense layer of laws, rules and regulations against the Meta community. Now those laws are becoming even more restrictive, because there is a new nasty in town.

Interesting that the Meta have gone from being a or the controlling factor in the world, to persona non grata and a minority group. It makes for a whole different ball game, despite their strength and multitude of abilities.

The new villain in town is a person with an axe to grind, skin to flay (literally) and with a long list of potential victims he intends to dispose of. Yes, that does include Sienna. Does it ever not include her?

Meanwhile Sienna is trying to find out exactly who she is dealing with in order to halt their reign of murder and mayhem. She has been partnered with a human, and I think the two of them have a few sparks going off between them. Not sure what Webster was thinking when he decided to put the main target of a psycho torture gang up in his mother's house. Haven't thought that through completely mate, have ya?

I think Crane created that particular scenario so Sienna would be confronted with her internal need for some kind of maternal comfort, which in turn makes her think about the loss of her mother and how much Sienna misunderstood her intentions.

So, after the intense ending and closure to the The Girl in the Box series Crane has made a fierce start with this new series featuring Sienna, but this time she is well and truly Out of the Box.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

To find out more about Robert J. Crane and his books, go have a nosy at

Thursday 20 November 2014

The G File by Håkan Nesser

Nesser has his detective Van Veeteren hang up his badge in this edition of the series, not that it deters him from chasing criminals and solving crimes.

The police procedure, during the 80's part of the story, is typical for that era. Less about the rights of the perpetrator and more about the police getting their man.

In fact Van Veeteeren is 100% convinced of Hennan's guilt, regardless of the air-tight alibi.

So the interviews become a cat and mouse game between the two of them, a power play of detective and possible murderer.

Nesser brings an interesting aspect to the table, whether a person can be inherently evil. Veeteren has prior experience with Hennan and his cruel criminal mind-set, which is why he is convinced of his guilt. Regardless of the fact there is no way Hennan was anywhere near this particular crime scene at the time of the murder, Veeteren knows that he is guilty.

It took me till about three-quarter way through the book to figure out the solution. Yay, me. It sort of came to me like an epiphany.

In the second half of the book it was interesting to see how everyone still deferred to Van Veeteren with the same respect and authority, despite the fact he is retired by then and owns a bookshop. The police think nothing of including him in the investigation into the disappearance of Verlangen.

Verlangen is actually the reason the initial crime is brought back to the table after so many years. The perfect crime, which has haunted Veeteren for many years. He knows who and why, he just can't figure out how. It is such superb irony that the failed ex-policeman Verlangen is the one who stumbles on the solution and leads Veeteren to the how of it all.

This story has the subtle, slightly dark and smooth quality, which Nesser is known for. His characters are rough around the edges, acerbic and brutally honest. It was a treat, as always.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood

Robert Thorogood is the creator of the BBC1 TV series Death in Paradise, an immensely popular series featuring the prim and proper Brit DI Poole on the paradise island of Saint-Marie. The fourth series is due to be broadcast in early 2015.

For the first time ever Thorogood is bringing the popular characters to the world of bookworms in A Meditation on Murder.

I have to say I was quite looking forward to reading this because I really enjoy Death in Paradise. In the TV series it is the combination of the cast, the dry humour, the scenery and the classic Agatha Christie like murder mysteries that bring me back for more.

Does Thorogood achieve the same element of bait and catch with his book? Absolutely. It features one of the most interesting fixtures in a classic mystery. The murder in a locked room conundrum.

One murder victim, five suspects and room no person entered or left, which means one of the five must be the murderer. Colonel Mustard in the library with a machete.

I'm not quite sure what is the most amusing thing about Richard Poole, his odd habits, his intolerance to the heat, his whiteboard fetish or his cat and mouse game with Harry the lizard. His apparent dislike of his beautiful and exotic surroundings, despite somehow being secretly pleased at being there.

His grumpy attitude and behaviour is offset by his fellow islanders and police officers. The laid back attitude of his colleagues is the perfect balance to the straight-laced and often tactless detective.

I really enjoyed the read and look forward to more by Thorogood.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mira UK.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

An exceptional thriller, one that keeps you on your toes till the very last chapter.

Watson has created a smooth balance between medical details and fictional story.

Neither one over-weighs the other or bamboozles the reader with boring facts.

The author has managed to create a fascinating insight into the type of amnesia Christine is suffering from, whilst building an intense yet subtle thriller around that particular condition.

Each day Christine wakes up to find herself in a strange bedroom with a complete stranger beside her. She can't retain any memories from her previous day.Difficult and demanding until circumstances and a persistent doctor help her to find a way forward.

Then Christine starts to notice discrepancies in her loving husbands story. Is Ben trying to make things less painful by hiding people and things from her or is she paranoid?

One of the saddest things I took from this book was the abandonment of Christine. Left to her own devices and fighting the label of mental illness. Given up for a lost cause and because of that she became easy pickings for the events that unfold within this story.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

Does it steer close to the kind of macabre horror Poe is known for? Well, it starts off with good intentions but flounders towards the end. Gregory seems to be trying to lead with two story-lines at once.

First the creepy Poe cursed tooth one, and then the family dynamic of the main character and his guilt.

Pick one and go with it. You want to mess the borders between good, bad, evil and downright creepy as hell? Then do so with abandon and a little less of the dilly dallying.

There were some other issues that distracted from the Poe-esqueness of it all. Yes, I totally made that word up. The first being the strange meanderings of paedophilia both in thoughts and accusations. Sentences like 'a cherub with baby tits' leave an uncomfortable after-taste.

What was the point? Unless the guilt inside him has come from that core issue or the evil he is experiencing is his own lack of acceptance, hence the disgust at his hidden desires. Then perhaps it would have made more sense, as it is it just seemed to be a touch one too many times in the wrong direction. Pardon the pun.

The second issue was the constant need for the main character to be utterly and completely naked in the majority of scenes. Who wanders round in sooty, dusty attics and book-stores with their crown jewels dangling in the wind? Who thinks it is appropriate to be completely naked with their also completely naked young daughter in the middle of the night?

Again, if the idea was to have the main character fight an internal yet subconscious battle with the idea of his own paedophilia it makes sense. The desire to be unclothed indicating his inappropriate desire for her, for instance. If not then all that nakedness makes no sense and is merely gratuitous.

Gregory appears to have an aptitude for Gothic horror and a love of Poe, however the plot needs to tighter, as does the clarity of the plot.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Friday 14 November 2014

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow

You can't fault the intent of the story, which is to bring attention to the plight of veterans and the psychological damage they incur during wartime.

Trenow also introduces readers to the story, beginnings and history of the Poppy Factory. Also to the origins of how exactly the poppy was picked as a symbol of remembrance.

Nowadays Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a well-known and researched mental health issue. In the aftermath of  First World War it was an unknown concept and sufferers were deemed cowardly, unstable and often accused of 'putting it on' to get out of further combat.

In the 21st century healthcare providers are very aware of the long-term effects caused by war and combat. It is only natural for the human mind to find it difficult to cope with, understand and be at peace with the atrocities they have seen or been a part of during combat.

Nightmares, flashbacks, anger issues and depression are hard enough to deal with without the lack of support which is due to but often not given to men and women who have served their countries.

I liked the way Trenow connected the experiences of Rose and Alfie. The undeniable link being the war and the personal aftermath for them both. How it brings both of them to the brink of destruction and makes their family members or loved ones give up on them.

I wasn't overly impressed by the overall feel, flow and style of the story. I thought it could have been much better.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Monday 10 November 2014

Derek's Revenge by Mac Black

This is book 3 in the Derek series by Mac Black. I think to understand the process of 'becoming Derek' it may be better for readers to read Please...Call Me Derek and Derek's in Trouble first. Not that the books in the series can't be read as stand-alone novels, it  does give a wee bit more insight into character oddities and exploits from previous books.

In this book Derek has hit his thirties and the tone of the book takes a more personal turn. He starts to look for his roots and answers to questions about the past.

In a way that is exactly how he finally stumbles on the idea for his book. His own past is connected to a local band that enjoyed fame and popularity quite a few decades ago.

The relationship between Derek and Sally appears to be going through a few bumps. Sally seems a little fed up with Derek's constant searching to find answers. Towards the end of the book the penny drops and Sally understands that Derek has to come full circle, get closure and answers, to be able to rest easily again.

Black hits upon an interesting topic in this book, and I know it is one that tends to divide opinions. Far from being the unhappy abandoned child, Derek has had a good childhood and has been brought up in a loving secure family environment.

So why the need to search for the mother who left him right after his birth? I don't think people who know who they are and who they stem from can understand what it is like to have zero knowledge about those important facts. Adopted and abandoned children have a huge need to get closure, to get answers and to understand the past in a way that explains the choices that were made in relation to them.

Your parents are the people who raised you, regardless of blood relation. Knowing who your birth parents are just helps to fill in the empty blanks of those children/adults who need to know where they get their height, hair colour and to understand why they were given up in the first place.

I don't think Derek receives all of those answers, but he does seem at peace with the discoveries he makes. I wonder what discoveries he will make in Derek's Good Relations.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Severed Streets by Paul Cornell

This is the second in the James Quill series.

I wasn't really keen on the beginning of the book, the few pages before the murder of the politician.

I found them a wee bit confusing and lacking clarity, which isn't always a good way to draw potential readers in.

Fortunately Cornell gets to the nitty-gritty darkness fairly quickly.

His Sci-Fi plot weaving is mixed with police procedural story-lines, which makes sense when you consider his background as a Dr. Who scribe. He also uses the historical backdrop and urban myths associated with London.

Cornell seems to enjoy the quagmire of despair, suffering and pain when it comes to his characters, especially the good guys. Lots of bleak moments for them unfortunately. Hopefully, as the series progresses some of them will get some lucky mojo come their way.

I know the fact he has Neil Gaiman play a role in his story is a bit of topic in reviewing circles, however I think it was more of a nudge nudge wink wink move,  perhaps because elements of the first James Quill book London Falling was compared to Gaiman's work.

It will be interesting to see where Cornell takes this series and his eclectic combination of genres.
I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Monday 3 November 2014

Entry Island by Peter May

What I enjoy most about Peter May's writing is the way he manages to move the reader right into the landscape he is describing. He also knows exactly how to portray the mindset of an islander.

There is a flair of melodrama to the genealogy side of the story. Perhaps a tad too much.

The love story is sweet and gives the author liberty to bring an important part of history into the book.

The evacuation of Scottish tenants by their landlords, from quite a few of the Isles. Many of them ended up on ships sailing for Canada, and having to go via Entry Island before entering the country.

Entry Island was used to quarantine the sick and contagious immigrants arriving via ship. Many thousands didn't survive and were buried in mass graves on the island.

May also references the potato famine, pointing out the important fact that not only the Irish, also the Scottish fell foul of this particular period in history. It is little wonder there was a mass exodus from both Ireland and Scotland to other continents.

I thought the mixture of police procedure, genealogy, romance and fate didn't gel as well as it could have in the story. The ill-fated love connecting in the future via descendants was a little overdone, as were some of the aspects of the first Sime's tales.

The despair, darkness and marital woes of the 21st century Sime makes up for the imbalance between the two story-lines. Despite these hiccups, May is certainly an author worth reading.

I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss.