Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Surreal Killer by Jerold Last

We are once again joining Roger Bowman and Suzanne Foster, except this time they are Mr & Mrs Bowman and Suzanne is 3 months pregnant. Someone is brutally killing and mutilating women in South America. The brutality of the kills and the way the killer burns the bodies after has earned him the name 'The Surreal Killer'. Eduardo - the Paraguayan Police Chief from 'The Ambivalent Corpse' has once again asked for Roger and Suzanne's help. Whilst infiltrating a Biochemist Convention, can they find out who the killer is and stop him before it becomes too late?

This was a great follow up to 'The Ambivalent Corpse'. It stands alone very well, but does make references to the previous story so I would advise you read that one first. It was once again an unstoppable page turner. Present again were the dubious puns at the end of the chapters and the now familiar tourist guide approach. (Macchu Picchu is also going on my holiday list!) Alongside that was an utterly absorbing thriller. I was challenged by the author about half way through to guess who the killer was. I was sure I knew but thought it was too obvious and possibly a red herring. To me this is the mark of a good thriller, the author throwing bones and then taking you in an utterly different direction. Of course I was wrong and it was someone totally different! Well done Jerry for successfully keeping on my toes! I am eager to read book 4 now - keep them coming please!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Ambivalent Corpse by Jerold Last

This is the story of a brutal murder and dismemberment. A female body is found in Montevideo, South America - in seven parts, carefully cut up and placed between two significant monuments. The police are tied up in red tape so ask the people who found the body, Roger Bowman (ex cop turned PI) and Suzanne Foster (Botanist Professor), to help them in their investigations. Can they find out who she is and why she was killed?

This was an interesting book. The pace was good and kept me turning the pages. At times it felt like I was reading a tourist guide to the best places to visit in South America and the murder aspect was secondary but it all seemed to come together in the end. Despite having the somewhat dubious subject matter of active nazism, it was handled well and it didn't seem offensive at all. The places were described vividly, particularly the Iguazu Falls, and I now know where I want to go on my next holiday! I also liked the addition of some fairly obtuse jokes and puns at the end of each chapter. It lightened up some pretty heavy subject matter. All in all I enjoyed this and it was a fairly quick read - I read it in about four hours. A good thriller that makes you feel like you are there with them.

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Girl in the Woods by David Jack Bell

This is the story of Diana, haunted by the loss of her sister who went missing 5 years ago. Haunted by visions of a clearing in the woods, and her mother in a nursing home with rapidly declining Alzheimers, she moves away from her home town in an attempt to get some closure. All goes well until she is approached by a woman claiming to have news about her sister. in exchange for Diana looking for her own missing daughter, will she tell Diana all she knows?

This was a riveting read that kept me glued to my Kindle. There were three distinct threads running through this story - Diana and her sick mother, the kidnapper and Kay Todd whose own daughter had also gone missing. Throw in a side story of a University Professor searching for the source of local folklore - a 'haunted' clearing and you have the makings of a chilling at times page turner. The characters were all eminently likeable and I wanted to find out how things turned out. It was seriously creepy in places and the ending was bitter-sweet. I can't say any more than that for fear of spoilers! I totally recommend this if you like your horror on the chilly side rather than all out gore.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Infected Bodies by Ian Woodhead

This is the third book in the Zombie Armageddon series. This time around the action is centred on an apartment building with a gym and a bar underneath and ‘luxury’ flats above. We are introduced to new types of creature as well as the usual chaos and carnage!

Having read the previous two books in this series, I was eager to get my hands on this one. Wow! Was it ever a good’un! It had a much more claustrophobic feel as it was based primarily in the flats. We are introduced to a new sort of ‘Queen Zombie’ who can infiltrate minds and uses her feminine wiles to trap her victims. Making a welcome return are the child zombies who live in the wall cavities and can scuttle up the walls and along the ceilings like spiders! These were briefly touched on in the first book. All these plus the usual odious characters make for a rip roaring stonker. As well as rooting for the few good guys, I was screaming at the bad guys to hurry up and get offed already. There was slightly more gore this time around but it wasn’t in your face and not until about a third of the way through. The horror built up slowly with a couple of early pointers.

I have to say I love Ian’s work and this is no disappointment. Get it of you have read the others, hell just get it and enjoy the ride!!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Only the Strongest Survive by Ian Fox

This is the story of Emely Donnovan. she is kidnapped and then buried alive. She is rescued at the last minute by a man who imprisons her and forces her to play the stock exchange to make money for him. she is imprisoned for many months and over time her feelings for him change.

On the face of it this was a very enjoyable thriller. There was plenty of action and the pace was good. We flipped between Emely's situation and her back story told by members of her staff and her close friends. The trouble was it was just so unbelievable. One minute Emely's captor is intent on raping and abusing her and the next he's so in love with her he can't live without her. And Emely, supposedly a strong and independent business woman, she ends up having similar feelings for him. I know there is a condition called Stockholm Syndrome, where the prisoner ends up falling in love with their captor but it just didn't feel realistic to me. that being said it was a good read but I would hesitate to recommend it for the reasons already mentioned.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Wheezer and the Painted Frog by Kitty Sutton

This is the story of Sasa, a young Cherokee girl and a Jack Russell called Wheezer. Sasa's brother has been murdered and her Cherokee people are not getting the food and provisions they desperately need. Can Sasa and Wheezer get to the bottom of the mystery and solve it?

This was a story steeped in history. Based on the Cherokee 'Trail of Tears', where they were moved from their land and made to settle elsewhere, with many Cherokees dying along the way. While this was at it's heart a murder mystery, you could feel the history seeping out of every word. Having 5 principal characters, Wheezer/Jack the Jack Russell, Sasa, Jackson, Arch and Anna - the story focussed on the dwindling supplies for the Cherokee settlers and the murder of Sasa's brother Usti Yansa. The story went along at a fair clip and the descriptions were so vivid, I felt I was there walking in their shoes. I loved the inclusion of Wheezer as a main character. Who couldn't fail to be drawn to a book with a dog as one of the principal players? I understand this is Kitty's debut novel-well it had me gripped to the end and I even shed a tear at the conclusion. Well done Kitty, I am anxiously waiting for the follow up!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Bad Faith by Mike O'Connor

This is the story of the parish of Ceanngoorley and it's highly irreverent parish priest, Father Fergus O'Hoora. When one of the parishioners wins the Lottery and claims the Statue of our Lady gave him the numbers, he sets off a chain of events that noone could have foreseen. Thwarted by a vengeful bishop, and an American tourist bent on finding his roots, Father O'Hoora has a hilarious riot on his hands.

This was laugh out loud funny from the get go. The cast of characters played on the stereotype of being ever so slightly thick Irishmen and portrayed the clergy to be drunken adulterers. The story itself was loosely based around the Lottery win and the so-called miracle, but even that seemed to play second fiddle to the hilarious goings on in the background. I would advise you not to read this in public unless you like funny looks being shot in your direction. I understand this is the author's debut novel. If this is the standard set, I for one cannot wait until the next one. Good job!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Inspector Zhang and the Perfect Alibi by Stephen Leather

This is another short story in the Inspector Zhang series. In this one the Inspector has to solve the mystery of a woman killed in cold blood. The perpetrators finger prints are on the murder weapon and where he bit the victim, his bite marks match dental records. The only problem is the perpetrator has the perfect alibi, he was in jail at the time of the murder. Can the Inspector solve the mystery?

This is the second Inspector Zhang story I have read and I have to say I think he's great! He is the Inspector they turn to when things don't appear so cut and dried.His hero is Sherlock Holmes, and he approaches his cases in the same methodical manner. This case seemed to be tied up perfectly but Inspector Zhang got to the bottom of it by eliminating the impossible and whatever remained, however improbable had to be the truth! Well done Stephen, another great little mystery. Just right for reading before bedtime or on a lunch break. May there be many more.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Easy Innocence by Libby Fischer Hellmann

This is the story of Georgia Davis. Suspended from the Police Force she has accepted a job as a Private Investigator. Her first job is to investigate the murder of Sara Long. The Police have their man (an educationally-challenged paedophile) and the murder weapon. Seems cut and dried but Georgia is convinced there is more to it than that, as she uncovers bent lawyers, shady businessmen, hazing and teenage prostitution, can she find the real killer before anyone else dies?

This was great. It started off at a good pace and never really let up. On the face of it everything seems simple but what emerged was a well thought out and expertly executed thriller. Georgia was great as the lead - slightly damaged from being suspended and a bitter break up, she is determined to get to the bottom of things. Even to the detriment of a possible new romance. She was utterly believable and I love a book where a woman is the heroine. There were enough twists and turns and red herrings along the way to keep the reader interested until the very last page. I loved this and would be more than happy to read more by this author.

 I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Drive by S. J. Johnson

This is the story of Brian. In trying to reconnect with his family, he suggests they all go on a camping trip. They pile in the car and head off. Before too long they hit a fog bank and the van they are in hits a broken tree and is grounded. That's when things start to get REALLY strange! Somehow they have entered a portal to another dimension and must not only fight to survive but to escape with the help of a native creature they have named 'Spock'.

This started off quite stodgily. I thought I might have to give up but luckily I persevered because it opened up into the most amazing multi-layered story. The title might refer to the original drive out to the campsite or the drive to survive or even the drive to escape wherever they had found themselves with their lives. Brian's slow descent into almost madness at all that is thrown at him is tangible and my heart went out to his suffering. After the initial slowness, the book took off and I found myself devouring page after page. So much so that I read it in two sittings. This is a very cleverly written horror/suspense that gives far more than is initially obvious. It will appeal to anyone.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Furball & Feathers:The Cat Food Caper by Sean Sweeney

This is the story of a bank robbery - not just any bank robbery mind you. The First National Cat Food Bank of Pawston. The police dogs are at a loss as to who is responsible so call in ace Private Investigators Carrie and Leo. Carrie and Leo in turn enlist their alter egos, crime fighting duo, Furball and Feathers. Soon enough the crime is solved.

This is a children's book, aimed at ages 7-11. I enjoyed it immensely but then I am a kid at heart! It's a nice easy read with plenty going on to entertain even the most jaded of youngsters. Come on, what's not to lover about a crime fighting duo of a cat & pigeon? The idea is nice and simple and the author pulls it off with aplomb.

Inspector Zhang Gets his Wish! by Stephen Leather

This is a short story about Inspector Zhang. He is somewhat a connoisseur of 'Locked Room Mysteries'. He finally gets his greatest wish and recieves a call, a man has been killed and noone has been in or out of the room.

Being somewhat of a newcomer to this 'Locked Room Mystery' genre, I had no idea what to expect. I loved it. I loved the intrigue and mystery surrounding the whole conundrum. Inspector Zhang attacked the problem with steadfast logic and came to his conclusion by eliminating all the other possibilities.

A great short read and a great mystery.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Double Agent by Sean Sweeney

This is the third outing for CIA Agent Jaclyn Johnson, codename Snapshot. After being outed as a traitor in the last book, Jaclyn has been in hiding for the last month. Now reinstated and exonerated by the President, she has been hired to save Las Vegas from a group of religious zealots. First the newly-built monorail is destroyed, then a couple of gay clubs. Then word gets to Jaclyn that they have their sights on something much bigger. Can she save the day? With Tom Messingham from MI5 on board as her partner, it's a race against time!

This was great. I have read all the 'Agent' books so far and I have to say they just keep getting better each time! This one set off at a blistering pace and didn't let up until the final, shocking ending. Jaclyn is, as always, excellent as the female James Bond type. This time she is joined (again) by Tom Messingham from MI5, who also played her love interest. This allowed us to see another, softer side to her character. Who knew she was vulnerable after all? In situ as usual were the usual fast cars, gizmos and gadgets commensurate with her job.A fantastic romp and a darn good thriller. Please may we have more?

A great read for fans of Jaclyn, if not give the 'Agent' books a go, they are fabulous!