Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fifty fifty by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Fifty fifty is the third book in the Detective Harriet Blue series which started with Black & Blue (Bookshots) and Never Never.  To avoid ***SPOILERS***, and for greatest enjoyment, I highly recommend reading the other books in the series before reading this review.

Detective Harry Blue has been living life in a weird limbo ever since she got back from her last assignment.  To everyone else she is the volatile and temperamental detective who can go off at any moment, a trait that everyone think she shares with her brother.  Harry is focused on proving that her brother is innocent and getting him out of jail - not easy when her fellow detectives are convinced they have their man, and that trial by media has convinced the public that he is guilty before the trial even begins.  When her temper gets the better of her and she lashes out, Harry finds herself bundled up and shipped off to the middle of nowhere to get her out of the way and prevent her from making a life changing mistake.

The sleepy little town of Last Chance Valley almost seems too small to have any real problems, there are only 75 people living in the town and everyone seems content to live in the small town for their entire lives.  There are a few teenagers that take the chance as soon as they can and leave for the 'big smoke' as soon as they can, but the single police officer based in the town has been mostly able to cope - until now.  Someone has big plans for Last Chance Valley, a detailed manifesto has been found that is full of notes about spree killers - what drove them to kill, how they planned their attacks, and what made them succesful.  

When Harry is welcomed to the town with a rather spectacular explosion and a first victim it becomes clear that the killer is real, and when the town decides that they already know who the killer is Harry has her work cut out for her as she tries to prevent small town justice.  Saddled with a partner who thinks that he knows everything and who is determined to see terrorists around every corner, Harry is in a race against time to prevent not just another death - but the death of the entire town. Everyone has their secrets in a small town, and sometimes those secrets turn deadly - especially for outsiders.

This is the third book in the Detective Blue series and the second full length novel and I love this series even more now that I have read Fifty fifty.  My favourite Patterson series is the Detective Michael Bennett series, and the Detective Harriet Blue series is now a firm second favourite - not only because of the character, but also because Patterson and Fox have found a seamless writing style that drags you into the story and keeps you rooting for Harry even when you know you really shouldn't!  If you enjoy reading this series then I highly recommend trying Crimson Lake by Candice Fox, which was released between Never Never and Fifty fifty - it is highly readable and sucks you into the story in much the same way as a James Patterson thriller does.

It was a long, slow, agonising wait for Fifty fifty when I heard it was coming, and then it was almost over too quickly because I couldn't put it down once I started.  This is a highly readable series, and it was nice to read a book set in our part of the world, even if it was across the ditch in Australia.  All we need now to make this series perfect is for Harry to be sent on a joint task force assignment to New Zealand!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, August 11, 2017

The night stalker by Robert Bryndza

The night stalker is the second book in the Detective Foster series and while you can read it alone I highly recommend reading the series in order for best enjoyment and to avoid **SPOILERS*** - so start with The girl in the ice if you can.

It starts with the death of a doctor in a quite suburban neighbourhood, his body discovered naked and displayed on his bed.  It looks like a sexual encounter gone wrong, or at least that is what it is supposed to look like - but DCI Erika Foster is not convinced. especially when a date rape drug is found in his system.  All signs point to an accident at first, but when it becomes clear the easy conclusion is that it was a hate crime against a gay man.  DCI Erika Foster never goes for the easy option, she wants to actually solve the case, and when a second body is found with the same signature she is the first to reach the conclusion that they are dealing with a serial killer - and she soon discovers that her opinion is not a popular one.

With an oppressive heatwave beating down on London tempers are short and her superiors have little patience for her insistence that a serial killer is on the loose - especially when her opinion differs from that of the pet forensic psychologist.  Erika is used to following her gut and it is telling her that  the killer not finished with their task, and it is a bitter victory when a third victim is found and the police arrest a suspect.  With her personal and professional lives colliding, and with the Night Stalker just out of reach Erika may have no choice but to go rogue to get the job done - a tough choice at the best of times for a police officer, but this time a promotion is on the line too.

The DCI Erika Foster has been a great find, and while the writing is not as polished as some of the more established authors, Bryndza has a knack for creating real characters that are well rounded and feel genuine.  Foster is something of an anti-hero, she is flawed and likes to go against the rules, but she is also damaged after the deaths of her husband and team which makes it more understandable.  The team around her have personalities and their own little quirks that make them distinct personalities - some are a little on the clichéd side, but you get that with all genres.  One of the parts that makes this series seem so real is the politics in the office, you can see the scheming and manoeuvring happening around Erika as things move forward, and it is very clear that at least one of the senior staff doesn't like her - which makes it more realistic when things go wrong.

This has been an interesting series so far and I am currently waiting for book three to arrive so I can find out what is going to happen next.  Erika's world has expanded between book one and book two, and from blurbs about the next book it looks as though her personal life is going to expand as well.  A very readable series that has short punchy chapters that sucker you in and keep you hooked.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Missing by Kelley Armstrong

Reeve's End is a small town that is content to be a small town, but every year teenagers leave in search of an education, a job, or a new life - and a good number of them never return.  Winter Crane is one of those planning to leave, she has her sights set firmly on medical school and works hard to get where she needs to be.  Getting good grades, working for the local doctor, and earning money tutoring are all part of the plan - finding a young man in the woods is definitely not part of the plan.  Lennon got himself in a spot of bother in the woods, and thanks to Winters quick thinking and medical skills he is on the mend - at least until he vanishes on her, leaving her with the knowledge that her friend is missing. 

Determined to find out what is happening in sleepy little Reeve's End, Winter starts investigating the kids that have left and never returned and makes a startling discovery along the way.  When Lennon's brother Jude arrives in town things get even more complicated - he is keeping secrets from Winter, and despite wanting her to share everything she knows, he is keeping secrets close to his chest.  When it appears that her sister may be one of the missing kids it gets really personal for Winter, and she is determined to discover what happened to her friend and to Lennon because it may lead her to what happened to Cady.  It won't be easy though, because someone is playing a deadly game with Winter and they are not afraid to make her permanently disappear to keep their secrets.  

I have read a lot of teen thrillers over the years and it takes a very skilled author to keep you hooked on the story while challenging you to figure out what is really happening - and Armstrong was a very skilled author indeed with Missing.  There are hints and clues through the story that point to different ideas and different suspects, and when you finally reach the very satisfying ending the clues all make sense and reward you for paying attention throughout the story.  That well crafted story is matched with characters that you really care about - Winter and Jude are a perfect balance for each other, and the other characters that come in and out of the story add their own parts without distracting or straying too far into the path of being a walking cliché.  

If you are looking for a solid thriller to read that is well crafted and well written then you pretty much can't go wrong with Missing.  I read this as an adult reader and thoroughly enjoyed it, so this is not one that only teens get to read and enjoy!  

If you like this book then try:
Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey

Jinx high is the third book in the Diana Tregarde series, but like the first two books Children of the night and Burning water, it can be read independently as the stories are quite separate.  

Something strange is happening in the small town of Jenks - apart from the alarmingly high number of students from the local high school who turn up dead in tragic circumstances.  So many have died, and there have been so many weird things happening that some people have taken to calling it Jinx High.  One of the students is Derek "Deke" Kestrel, who has found himself in the rather surprising position of being the boyfriend of the most popular girl in school.  Fay Harper is brave, bold, rich and not afraid to go after what she wants, and Deke is pretty content to go along for the ride - but when they are involved in a car accident that just doesn't make sense he starts to have the weird feeling that something isn't quire right.  Deke isn't the only one who feels that something isn't right, his dad Larry feels it too - but he knows just who to call on for help. 

When Larry reaches out to her Diana Tregarde is just wrapping up an author tour and is more than happy to spend time in Jenks checking out what has Larry worried - the fact she can go incognito as a visiting author for the honours English class is a bonus.  Diana doesn't know what to expect, but the last thing she would have expected was a powerful magic user who knows how to use Blood and Sex magic.  Someone has their hooks into Deke and the other students, and it is a real puzzle trying to figure out who.  Deke is blissfully unaware of the danger he is in, and he has no idea just how close the danger really is.  Finding a magic wielder is hard enough when they are covering their tracks - but through in teenage hormones, drugs, sex and rock and roll and you have a recipe for potential disaster.

I ran out of library books to read while I was on leave so decided to browse my own shelves for something to read and realised that I haven't read the Diana Tregarde series in a while - so I read the series from start to finish over the course of three days.  Like the other books in the series Jinx High can be read by itself, and it is a blend of urban fantasy and horror.  It is not my favourite in the series, but it is a solid read and has the added bonus of introducing us to one of the characters from her other series (the first time the SERRAted Edge books cross over with the world of the Guardians.  It is a shame there aren't more books in this series because it has a great grounding in the real world and has solid mythology that makes the world of the Guardians very believable.  One touch I love too is that all the books in the series have touches of other cultures which makes them more interesting than your standard "white man" magic story.

It may be tricky getting hold of the books in this series these days, but if you can get your hands on them and like authors like Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison and Tanya Huff then you are bound to enjoy them.

If you like this book then try:
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Burning water by Mercedes Lackey
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
  • Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Angel's blood by Nalini Singh
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
  • Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Cry wolf by Patricia Briggs

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The girl in the ice by Robert Bryndza

Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster is still recovering, physically and emotionally, from a raid gone wrong when she is called in to be the lead on the case of a missing London socialite.  The missing person is young, beautiful, and rich, the daughter of a Lord who is not afraid to use his connections to get what he wants.  The case takes an immediate turn for the worse when the missing girls body is discovered, submerged in a frozen lake, on the same morning that Erika joins the team.  With the intense media interest, and pressure from the family to find the killer quickly it is all Erika can do to try and put the brakes on the investigation so that they investigate thoroughly without rushing to conclusions. 

When she finds herself on the wrong side of the victims family it soon becomes clear that Erika and her team are not looking for the while truth - the family wants a quick and tidy closure to the case that doesn't expose their dirty little secrets.  Determined to do the best job possible Erika continues to dig into the case, despite the mounting personal cost.  Blocked from access to the family she looks for answers to the questions that no one seems to want her to answer, and that puts her squarely in the cross hairs of the killer.  Erika has a reputation for getting the job done, but this time she might be fighting a losing battle.  The stakes have never been higher, because if she can't unravel the case the next victim might be Erika herself.

I have found books in the crime/thriller genres can be very hit and miss, especially when it comes to books set in the United Kingdom.  There are some brilliant authors out there writing British crime drama, and then there are some that I just can't get into - luckily The girl in the ice was one of the better ones.  There are some parts of the book that didn't flow as well as others, or seemed a touch too convenient, but it was a story that kept up the tension from start to finish and kept you guessing about who the killer was and why.  It is unusual for an author to be able to keep the pool of potential suspects so large right up until the end, and Bryndza kept the tension at just the right pace to keep you hooked and caring about what happened to the characters.  Apart from Erika the other characters are not particularly well defined, but that works for me, you discover more about the characters as you read the story which makes it more palatable and believable than if you get their full biographies at the start.

Like a lot of modern crime authors Bryndza has kept his chapters short and to the point, using chapters to move the action along without chopping and changing perspective constantly within the same chapter.  This was not the most polished read, but most authors in this genre take a few books to really polish their style, and there is a lot about the characters to like which means you don't really notice until you start comparing it to other reads.  A twisted and well thought out read that was well worth the time - especially the last 100 pages or so when the action and tension really ramps up as Erika closes in on the killer (and they close in on her).


If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lost girls by Merrie Destefano

When Rachel wakes up in a ditch, half buried in leaves she has no memory of how she got there.  There is more than one day missing though - Rachel has an entire year of memories missing.  The last thing she remembers is falling asleep listening to music in her own bed, she has no memory of cutting and dying her hair, losing weight, or making the bold decision to have a completely black wardrobe.  She has no idea why she has changed so much, or why she has let go of so many of the things she used to love.  Her parents are trying to be understanding, but the strain of her being missing has taken a toll on everyone.  When she returns to school she is in for an even greater shock, because her bestfriend is now her former bestfriend, and her new friends as the popular kids.

Trying to deal with the memory loss is bad enough, but an FBI agent is also sniffing around, trying to get Rachel to tell him what happened - asking her about missing girls around her age, missing girls names and photos that stir some deeply buried memories.  When she discovers a box hidden in her wardrobe that implies she has gotten involved with the clubbing scene Rachel is even more confused, especially when her friends freak out when she tries to ask questions.  As Rachel tries to dig into her recent past she gets more and more confused, especially when she discovers that she can fight - really fight, and that some people seem afraid of her.  Rachel is running out of time to unravel the mystery of what happened to her, because she may have forgotten what happened, but the people who did it to her know exactly what happened and can make it happen again.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Lost girls as the description was quite vague and it could have gone several different ways - from the weird to the gruesome, what it did was strike the perfect balance between thriller / crime / science fiction / coming of age genres to create a unique and intriguing read that is best enjoyed in one sitting.  Because of the way Lost girls unfolds it is challenging to review it without giving away some of the best secret plot points and twists that make this a truly unique and outstanding novel. 

There are a lot of elements here that make it perfect for high school reading assignments with themes of friendship, drug taking, social control, peer pressure, self discovery, and making mistakes.  Beyond the themes it is also a well written and absorbing work of fiction that is screaming out to be made into a movie or mini series as it would translate well to the screen.  While it is aimed at teenagers, it also makes a great read for adults.  Because of the themes in Lost girls this book is best suited to older teens or younger teens who can handle mature themes (or younger teens who have an older person they can talk to if the book raises any issues for them).  A great read from a new voice in young adult fiction.

If you like this book then try:
  • What waits in the woods by Kieran Scott
  • Killer instinct by S. E. Green
  • Bang by Barry Lyga
  • Holding smoke by Elle Cosimano
  • Nearly gone by Elle Cosimano
  • The stranger game by Cylin Busby
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Burning blue by Paul Griffin
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  •  by Laura WiessSuch a pretty girl
  • Hate list by Jennifer Brown
  • Dead to you by Lisa McMann
  • Living dead girl by Elizabeth Scott

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pretty fierce by Kieran Scott

Eighteen months ago Kaia's life changed forever - both her parents died while they were on a family holiday and Kaia returned to the United States to live with her grandparents.  The only bright spark in her life is her boyfriend, otherwise she lives a completely ordinary life ... and if you believe that then you have bought her cover story.  Kaia'a parents didn't die while on holiday, they died while they were on a mission.  Kaia and her parents have traveled the world, which sounds glamorous but the life of a professional assassins is both challenging and dangerous.  

The last year and a half have been painful and lonely, but they have also been quiet and uneventful.  All that is about to change because someone has just painted a big target on Kaia's back, forcing her to go on the run (with her completely unprepared boyfriend in tow).  Kaia has been keeping her real identity a secret, and it is something of a shock for Oliver to discover that Kaia is more than she appears - but to be fair so is he.  Life on the run is dangerous and exciting, but if Kaia can't solve the mystery of who is after them then she and Oliver may not live long enough to see who wants Kaia - and for what purpose.

Pretty fierce has been one of my favourite discoveries of 2017 for any age group and in any genre.  Kieran Scott has created two characters that you instantly click with, and a scenario that is just this side of too far-fetched.  It is not often that I find a book that sucks you in to the point that you resent interruptions, but Pretty fierce was one of those books.  This is a fast paced book with rapidly switching points of view which means Scott has been able to give Kaia and Oliver clear voices, and gives you a clear understanding of their thoughts / feelings / motivations without having to resort to the 'voice of God' third person narrative.  There are little moments and little secrets that feel very real and honest, and it isn't until you get near the end that you realise what is actually happening.  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Scott's other book, What waits in the woods, and was a little worried that Pretty fierce would not be as good - but I was worried about nothing!  This is one of my top picks for young adult readers for 2017, it has the perfect blend of relatable characters and a storyline that keeps you hooked from start to finish.  Hopefully there are more great things to come from Scott as finding a niche in the increasingly crowded young adult novel market is getting harder and harder - an author that deserves to be discovered and shared because you don't know what a treat you are missing.  


If you like this book then try:
  • What waits in the woods by Kieran Scott
  • The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Killer instinct by S. E. Green
  • Lost girls by Merrie Destefano
  • Bang by Barry Lyga
  • Holding smoke by Elle Cosimano
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • Nearly gone by Elle Cosimano
  • NEED by Joelle Charbonneau
  • The naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • The stranger game by Cylin Busby
  • The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen
  • Remember by Eileen Cook
  • Burning blue by Paul Griffin

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, June 30, 2017

The pretender (ebook) by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle

Logan is a thief who has worked his last job - the only thing he has left to do is split the loot with his partner Marco, and then he can go on his merry way.  It appears that Marco has other plans because he wants to meet in the middle of nowhere, and it soon becomes clear that Logan was right to be worried because Marco doesn't want to share the diamonds with his former partner.  Stuck at a stalemate Marco and Logan go their separate ways. 

Two years later Logan is living a simple life near the beautiful Lake Aloha, keeping a low profile while living off the profits of his last job.  It is a quiet life, and he stays under the radar to avoid unwanted attention.  When he meets Hannah he has no idea that she is about to make him big news - local and national.  His simple life is about to be anything but simple, and Logan is about to discover that there really is no honour among thieves.

I really enjoyed reading The pretender, it is a great little addition to the Bookshots series and was the perfect blend of action and suspense.  There is a nice little interpersonal relationship story that winds through the story, and it is a challenge to guess what could possibly be coming next.  Lots of fun to read and hopefully there are more Bookshots from Patterson and Bourelle as this was one of the better Bookshots I have read and deserves to be discovered!

If you like this book then try:
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Let's play make-believe by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • French kiss by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
  • The Christmas mystery by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
  • French twist by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
  • Kidnapped by James Patterson and Robert Gold
  • The hostage by James Patterson and Robert Gold

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The witnesses (ebook) by James Patterson and Brendan Dubois

Retired police man and 9/11 survivor Ronald Temple knows that there is something suspicious about the family that has moved into the house next door.  They didn't arrive with a moving truck full of furniture and their old life - they arrived in hurry with only a few personal possessions.  Suspicious enough, but when you take their hulking (not to mention armed) companion into account it makes Ronald even more suspicious about what is happening the little house next door where neither of the children play outside and everyone stays away from the windows.

Things are just as tense inside the little house as the Sanderson family would rather be anywhere else than crammed together in a small house in nowhere New York.  Lance and Teresa are keeping secrets from their children Sam and Sandy - but that's okay because the kids are keeping secrets too!  What is going on with the Sanderson family, and who are the killers targeting?

This is one of the stranger Bookshots I have read because in a lot of ways it doesn't feel like your typical Bookshot, being a little more twisted and clever than most - but I did enjoy reading it and finished it in one sitting.  One of the best things about the Bookshot in ebook form is that I can download them and read them on my smartphone when I am on the bus or eating lunch - times when a full sized book would just get in the way.  An interesting read, and one that has a very satisfying ending if you manage to figure it out before the 'big reveal'.

If you like this book then try:
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Let's play make-believe by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Love me not by M. J. Arlidge

Love me not is the seventh book in the DI Helen Grace thrillers series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.  While you can read this book independently you will get the most enjoyment out of reading the series in order.

Helen's name has been cleared and she is back on the force, but her time in prison has left a mark - on her and her team.  With her boss gone, Helen is covering her own job and trying to manage the team.  Trying to return to normal doesn't seem like it is on the cards, she has trouble sleeping and her apartment feels claustrophobic.  Her only real release is riding her new bike, purchased with compensation money after her wrongful arrest, conviction, and incarceration.  While riding her bike early one morning she is nearly run down by a speeding car on a country rode, and after saving herself from a nasty crash she discovers a body lying in the middle of the road - a victim of foul play.

Helen has no way of knowing that the woman lying in the road is just the first, that the body count will grow in a matter of hours.  What seemed to be a random attack is the first move on the part of a killer with a plan and their accomplice.  Helen and her team are used to dealing with grisly cases of murder, and they know the darker side of human nature, but the killers are working at an accelerated pace and the team is playing a desperate game of catch up to try and figure out who the killer is and what their endgame is.  The clock is ticking and the stakes are high, and before the day is out more victims will fall.

The DI Helen Grace novels are well written and extremely addictive - pulling together the best elements of the crime and thriller genres, while maintaining a brisk pace with short and snappy chapters that seem to read themselves.  I have been a huge fan of the series since the first book was released and await each offering with an eagerness that would be highly embarrassing if my mother wasn't also reading the series and was just as eager to get her hands on the series as I am! 

I have said this before, but in many ways Arlidge is an English James Patterson, writing books that are fast paced, kept lean, and keep you glued to the pages.  Both Arlidge and Patterson pare back on the dense details and let the story drive you forward rather than bogging you down with details that are usually there as set dressing rather than helping the story - in many ways the stories unfold like a television series which is no doubt from Arlidge's background in television. 

Somewhat surprisingly this book was originally advertised as being called Follow my leader, but somewhere along the line it changed to Love me not.  Having read the book I think I have an inkling of why, and Love me not feels like a better fit for the story.  Now comes the wait for the next book in the series!


If you like this book then try:



Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, June 16, 2017

The verdict (ebook) by James Patterson and Robert Gold

Working as the Global Head of Security for Tribeca Luxury Hotels means that Jon Roscoe has a mandate to ensure the absolute privacy and security of the guests at the chains luxury hotels all around the world.  Sometimes it's easier said than done, especially when one of the guests residing in the hotel is attending London's Old Bailey every day, charged with the attempted murder of his lover. 

It's all Roscoe can do to keep the press off the hotel grounds, especially one particularly aggressive member of the press who keeps testing his patience at every turn - and it doesn't help that Harvey Rylands is used to getting what he wants, and has no concern for the people who have to clean up after his messes.  With all the stress at work the last thing Roscoe needs is stress at home, but his teenage son Martin seems to have other plans.

The verdict was an exciting read, is a great addition to the Bookshots series, and an excellent companion to Kidnapped which also features Jon Roscoe.  This is the first Bookshots I have read as an ebook, and in some ways it was more exciting and tense than reading the tree book version because it was harder to tell how close to the end I was which naturally helped ramp up the tension!

I haven't read all the Bookshots because some of them have not appealed that much, or because I have started reading them and didn't like them that much - but Patterson and Gold seem to have struck gold (no pun intended) with this writing partnership.  I have read all of their Bookshots and thoroughly enjoyed them, and I look forward to each new one in the way that I look forward to the Patterson/Ledwidge outing.  There is a lot to like here and this series is a great way to start your Bookshots journey if you haven't tried one yet!
 
If you like this book then try:
  • Kidnapped by James Patterson and Robert Gold
  • The hostage by James Patterson and Robert Gold
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Murder games by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Once again a serial killer is stalking the good citizens of New York, and this one is playing a twisted game with a deck of cards.  Each victim has a different method of death and could be mistaken for simple murders or accidental deaths, except for the playing cards that are left on their bodies.  Detective Elizabeth Needham is determined to solve the case and stop the killer - even if that means roping in a civilian to help her solve the case.  Professor Dylan Reinhart is teaching yet another psychology course when Detective Needham crashes his lecture with an offer he can't refuse.

Someone is playing a very deadly game, and they hold all the cards - leaving the cops scratching their heads and wondering what is coming next.  The Mayor is determined to stop the killer in their tracks because his re-election is on the line, but his heavy handed approach and political manipulations aren't going to help catch a disciplined and clever killer.  As Detective Needham digs deeper into the case, Professor Reinhart goes along for the ride, offering advice and insight where he can - but helping the police could put everything he cares about at risk.  As the case heats up the secrets start bubbling to the surface as they race against the clock to stop a cunning and well organised killer who doesn't worried about MOs and sticking to the rules of the police handbook - or the rules of abnormal psychology as lectured by Professor Reinhart.

Murder games is another one of those books that is difficult to review because you constantly risk straying into spoilers - even when you don't mean to!  This is the third book full length novel I have read from Patterson and Roughan and I have come to love their combined style which seems to layer stories within stories, and secrets within secrets to keep you thoroughly hooked to the end and wondering if you have actually solved it before you have solved it.  When you meet Professor Reinhart you think you have him all figured out, but then you discover X, Y, and Z and it makes you realise you don't really know what you think you know.  And then there are the other cliche characters that don't turn out to be such a cliche after all!

Murder games has elements of the classic crime novel, but like their previous outings Patterson and Roughan have delivered a tensely written thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat as the action ramps up and you can't help but wonder if the good guys will win the day or whether they will be too slow and the body count will grow.  This does feel like it could be the start of a new series and I have to say that I would love to see these characters again as they break quite a few stereotypes, and there is a really good chemistry between the characters - not to mention the authors.  There is a lot to like here, and as it is either the start of a new series or a stand alone you don't have to worry about spoilers by reading things out of order!  Best enjoyed when devoured in one sitting (just saying).

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Twelve angry librarians by Miranda James

Twelve angry librarians is the eight book in the Cat in the stack mysteries so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first seven books in the series.  While you can read this series as standalone books it is best enjoyed read in series order so if you have not read the first books - then you may want to read them first before reading anymore of this review.

The Southern Academic Libraries Association, otherwise known as the SALA, is holding their annual meeting at Athena College.  As Charlie is the interim library director he has to play nicely with the other librarians and welcome them to the college - not an easy ask when one of the visiting librarians is his nemesis from library school.  It is something of a relief to know that Gavin Fong is pretty much universally disliked by his peers, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with the arrogant man and his petty behaviour.  When one of their first interactions ends in a physical altercation Charlie is both embarrassed and angry, but it also leads to him being a potential suspect when Gavin Fong is murdered.

Charlie is no stranger to murder mysteries, and has even been a suspect before, but never have there been so many viable suspects before.  It seems as though Gavin Fong made enemies in every library he worked in, and over his career he has worked in many many libraries.  It seems that even Charlie's friends and colleagues are not above suspicion as they have all had problems with Gavin.  When a second body is found the tension rises - who could be behind the double murder?  With his reputation on the line Charlie can't help but dig into the mystery, which might just be putting his life in danger.  If all the excitement of the murders wasn't enough, Charlie has some tough decisions to make at home - especially when his daughter announces that she and her husband might be moving out of state after the birth of Charlie's first grandchild.  All this excitement is a lot for Charlie to handle, but luckily he has Diesel by his side!

I love the Cat in the stack mysteries - partly because I am a librarian myself and there is some wonderful in jokes, but also because I love cats and have had the pleasure of owning a Maine Coon myself and Diesel reminds me a lot of her (not to mention the everyday cat antics that he gets up to).  The in jokes step up a notch in this addition to the series because of the references to the librarians meeting (we have conferences like this in New Zealand) and because you just don't expect librarians to be so political and troublesome - unless you happen to be one!  Charlie has continued to grow on me as a character, and with each novel the legend of Charlie, his family, his boarders, his friends, and his town continues to grow.  I know that Miranda James is a pseudonym and that 'she' writes other series, but there is a very selfish part of me that wishes all 'her' time was devoted to the town of Athena, Mississippi! 

A very enjoyable read, and a good addition to the series.  We are obviously heading towards some changes for Charlie and I look forward to the continued character development as Charlie is starting to feel like a colleague I have worked with for years.  I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves a good murder mystery, or for anyone who likes a good read about libraries, or anyone who enjoys stories about the human animal bond that have strong character development.  A fine addition to the Cat in the stacks mysteries (fondly known as Charlie and Diesel in our house).

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Reviewed by Brilla