Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

Last week was a slow reading week as I wasn't able to devote as much time to reading as I would've liked. However I was able to finish a couple of books (click on the link to read my review):

- QUICK by Steve Worland

- MR MERCEDES by Stephen King

Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:

THE FALL by Amy Dale (non-fiction, copy provided by Random House)

On July 30, 2011 a terrified woman ran for the door of the 15th storey, inner Sydney apartment she shared with her cruel and controlling fiance, desperately trying to escape. She wasn't quick enough. A hidden camera captured him covering her mouth to suppress her screams and dragging her back inside. Sixty-nine seconds later, Lisa Harnum was dead.

This is the case that captured the attention of a nation.

Amy Dale, Chief Court Reporter for The Daily Telegraph covered the case from the very beginning. Speaking to numerous sources including Lisa's counsellor, THE FALL goes behind the headlines of Australia's most captivating court case to tell the suffocating story of how Lisa fell in love but then grew to fear her overbearing fiance. Amy reveals information that wasn't publicly known leading up to and throughout the trial, including the fears for the star witness, Josh Rathemell, how close the trial came to not even happening, and the picture painted by what was found on Lisa's iPhone.

Go Go GatoGO GO GATO by Max Everhart
 
When Almario "Go Go" Gato, a handsome young Cuban baseball player, goes missing mid-season, his agent Veronica Craven hires a private investigator to track down her best client. No police. No press. Enter Eli Sharpe, an Asheville, North Carolina-based ex-ballplayer turned private detective who specializes in investigating professional athletes.
 
Eli begins by questioning Maria Gato, Almario's roommate and fraternal twin. Maria watched while both her parents drowned on the boat ride from Cuba to America, so she is naturally desperate to get her only brother back. She tells Eli a secret: Almario may have a problem with drugs and alcohol.
 
Eli tracks down Almario's supposed girlfriend, a rich sorority girl, but is soon led to another woman in his life, Sheri Stuckey, his cocaine supplier and fiancée who works in tandem with a gay bartender named Dantonio Rushing. Stuckey, a drug abuser and single mother, claims Almario split because she wanted the two of them to check into rehab. But Rushing, dazzled by Almario's boyish good looks, tells a different tale: Almario has taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on himself and named Stuckey as the primary beneficiary.
 
With the help of his a mentor--a former homicide detective--and five ex fiancées who still care about him, Eli follows Go Go's trail, determined to locate the elusive ballplayer before one of the nasty people in his life--or his own bad habits--do him in.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: MR MERCEDES by Stephen King

Mr. MercedesA retired detective is brought back into the criminal fold when he receives a disturbing letter from someone claiming to be responsible for the hit and run murder of 8 people whilst driving a stolen mercedes. Billy Hodges is the stock standard ex cop who drinks too much, lives an uneventful life and on occasion thinks about eating his gun. Using the tried and true formula, King gives his protagonist meaning through his antagonist. Not only does the letter confess to the crime, it goads Hodges into action,  re kindling a long extinguished flame for life.
 
I enjoyed King's venture into mainstream crime fiction yet felt it would've been better had the story been condensed and the identity of the killer hidden rather than given to the reader early on, essentially eradicating any element of mystery.
 
A staple in King novels is the emotionally complex and disturbing characters that bleed over the pages and here it's no different. Hodges has blood on hands, his sidekick a target on his back, and his partner's cousin madness on the mind. As for the serial killer his motives are without reason and his relationships unhealthy.  If nothing else MR MERCEDES is worth reading for these diverse and intrinsically linked characters.
 
Hardboiled MR MERCEDES isn't but reading it did conjure subtle images of Bosch for some reason. Not necessarily in the description but more in Hodge's voice and dedication to justice, even if it meant turning 'uncle'.
 
Overall I thought this was an ok venture into mainstream crime fiction that, with a couple tweaks could've been great.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Finds (29 Aug 2014)



Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores online, or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.

This weeks entry is a day late but worth the wait as I've found some great titles this past week!

THE FALL by Amy Dale (non-fiction, copy provided by Random House)

On July 30, 2011 a terrified woman ran for the door of the 15th storey, inner Sydney apartment she shared with her cruel and controlling fiance, desperately trying to escape. She wasn't quick enough. A hidden camera captured him covering her mouth to suppress her screams and dragging her back inside. Sixty-nine seconds later, Lisa Harnum was dead.

This is the case that captured the attention of a nation.

Amy Dale, Chief Court Reporter for The Daily Telegraph covered the case from the very beginning. Speaking to numerous sources including Lisa's counsellor, THE FALL goes behind the headlines of Australia's most captivating court case to tell the suffocating story of how Lisa fell in love but then grew to fear her overbearing fiance. Amy reveals information that wasn't publicly known leading up to and throughout the trial, including the fears for the star witness, Josh Rathemell, how close the trial came to not even happening, and the picture painted by what was found on Lisa's iPhone.

THE KILLING KIND by Chris F Holm (coming soon from Mulholland)

THE KILLING KIND is the story of Michael Hendricks. Once a covert operative for a false-flag unit of the US military, Hendricks was presumed dead after a mission in Afghanistan went sideways. Now he makes his living as a hitman entrepreneur of sorts who only hits other hitmen. For ten times the price on your head, he'll make sure whoever's coming to kill you winds up in the ground instead. Not a bad way for a guy with his skill-set to make a living – but an even better way to make himself a target.

HustleHUSTLE by Tom Pitts (review copy provided by the author)

Two young hustlers, caught in an endless cycle of addiction and prostitution, decide to blackmail an elderly client of theirs. Donny and Big Rich want to film Gabriel Thaxton with their cell phones during a sexual act and put the video up on YouTube. Little do they know, the man they’ve chosen, a high-profile San Francisco defense attorney, is already being blackmailed by someone more sinister: an ex-client of the lawyer’s. A murderous speed freak named Dustin has already permeated the attorney’s life and Dustin has plans for the old man. The lawyer calls upon an old biker for help and they begin a violent race to suppress his deadly secret


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview: Chris F Holm (author of THE COLLECTOR series)

Chris F. Holm was born in Syracuse, New York to a mother from a cop family and a father from a long line of fantasy and sci-fi geeks. He wrote his first story at the age of six. It got him sent to the principal's office.

Since then, his work has fared better, appearing in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. Chris has been longlisted for a Stoker Award and nominated for a pair each of Anthony, Derringer, and Spinetingler Awards, as well as Killer Nashville's Silver Falchion Award and a few House of Crime and Mystery Readers' Choice Awards. He's even racked up a couple wins along the way.

Chris'
Collector trilogy recasts the battle between heaven and hell as old-fashioned crime pulp. His forthcoming thriller THE KILLING KIND is about a man who makes his living hitting hitmen, only to wind up a target himself. He and his wife, writer/reviewer Katrina Niidas Holm, live in Portland, Maine. No, she hasn't reviewed his books.

*Bio and pic from Chris's website

I love The Collector books and was wrapped to be able to interview Chris on the blog after having some contact with Angry Robot (publisher of The Collector series). You can read my reviews of the books below:

- DEAD HARVEST [GR]

- THE WRONG GOODBYE

- THE BIG REAP

The interview:

(Josh) First up – are there any plans to expand upon the three books in the Collector series?

(Chris) This question's a difficult one to answer, because publishing is a strange and untamed beast, residing at the intersection of art and commerce. Which is to say that, at present, there are no new Collector books in the works, but I can't rule out the idea of revisiting the series in the future. To my mind, Sam still has plenty of story left to tell.

Noir and supernatural tones are rife throughout your books with a touch of horror added to spice things up a little – is this something you wanted to incorporate into the series from day one?

Yes and no. When I conceived of the Collector series, my goal was to tell a story that was equal parts fantasy and crime-fic, and I knew the brand of fantasy I wanted to include would be derived from folklore, myth, and religion. What I didn't anticipate is expanding the universe book by book until it included Lovecraftian horror, Shane Black buddy-comedy, Powers-ian secret history, and Universal movie monster homages, to name but a few of the geeky obsessions I folded in.

Who are the authors that influenced your writing style?

I think authors are all unreliable narrators when it comes to answering this question. The best I can do is list the people I hope influenced me. For this series, which has roots in the masculine pulp of the '30s-'60s, Chandler and Hammett loom large, as do Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake. On the fantastical/sf side of the fence, Tim Powers and William Gibson are huge influences on this series. (I keep specifying "this series" because these guys -- and it hasn't escaped my attention that they're all guys -- are but a small subset of writers I claim as influences. But these books don't owe as much a debt to Donna Tartt, Patricia Highsmith, or Susanna Clarke as some other things I've written, and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous.)

I love the covers – the noir/pulpy-feel really compliments the books, did you have much input into the design?

Thanks! I love them as well. Angry Robot is rare in including their authors in the design process, so I did get some say in how they looked. But ultimately, credit for my covers is largely due to Marc Gascoigne, who came up with the concept, and Amazing 15 Design, who knocked said concept out of the park.

If you could sell The Collector books to prospective readers unfamiliar with your work, what would the tag line be?

My go-to line is this: "The Collector series recasts the battle between heaven and hell as old-fashioned crime pulp." If that sounds like your cup of tea, you'll probably dig my books. If not... uh... buy them anyway -- their covers sure are pretty.

***

View The Angry Robot author page for The Collector books. 

Dead Harvest (The Collector, #1)  The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector, #2)  The Big Reap (The Collector, #3)

Reiew: QUICK by Steve Worland

QuickFrom the back of the book:
Melbourne, Australia: Round one of the Formula One World Championship. Billy Hotchkiss no longer races a V8 Supercar, but that doesn't mean he's lost the need for speed. When the young cop uncovers a diamond heist in progress he leaps into action and almost captures the thieves single-handedly.

Lyon, France: Interpol are convinced the criminals are somehow connected to Formula One. And they think this Australian ex-race driver is just the guy to stop them.

Sent undercover with an unwilling French partner, Billy is thrust into the glamorous world of international motor racing. But as the duo closes in on the thieves they soon expose a far more sinister threat.

With the fate of a city and the lives of one hundred thousand people in the balance, Billy must drive like never before to stop the worst act of terror since 9/11.


My Review:
QUICK is high octane action delivered at breakneck speed; at no time does protagonist, Aussie cop and former V8 driver Billy Hotchkiss, get a moments reprieve as he tracks down a crafty gang of thieves responsible pulling jewellery heists from Melbourne to Monaco. 

Accompanied by a reluctant Interpol Agent, Billy forms an unlikely partnership that at once complements the plot while also providing a dose of humour. Billy’s dry Aussie wit is lost on his French counterpart, making their exchanges all the more enjoyable. The lighter perspective of Billy’s banter is refreshing and contributed to the cheeky nature of the Aussie.

I haven’t read a book set in the high money, high speed world of F1 racing and quickly found myself immersed in the place-setting. I like the fact that the reader gets to see Billy as a driver as well as a cop (of which he’s both highly competent). Additionally, there is a lot of technical elements to racing which provided further insight into the spot – the good thing is it was well within context of the story and rather than distract from the plot, it enhanced the action (some of the racing scenes are excellent to read and made me feel like I was there on the track with Billy).

It is evident author Steve Worland went to great lengths to research QUICK and the reader gets all the benefit as it adds considerable atmosphere and believability to the book. 

Readers should note that QUICK is a new book that doesn’t directly link into Steve Worland’s previous action novels in COMBUSTION and VELOCITY, yet, like those two, it is one action junkies shouldn’t miss.
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Monday, August 25, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

Last week I got through more books than I had intended (see my last Friday Finds post). My two latest reviews are:

- THE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman

- SEE YOU TOMORROW by Tore Renberg

I've just about finished QUICK by Steve Worland and will post a review soon.

Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:

Broken MonstersBROKEN MONSTERS by Lauren Beukes

In the city that’s become a symbol for the death of the American dream, a nightmare killer is unravelling reality. The new thriller from Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls.

Broken city, broken dreams.

In Detroit, violent death – along with foreclosure and despair – is a regular occurrence. But the part-human, part-animal corpses that have started appearing are more disturbing than anything Detective Gabriella Versado has ever seen.

As Gabriella works the case, her teenage daughter Layla embarks on a secret crime-fighting project of her own – hunting down online paedophiles – but it all goes horribly wrong…

TK has learned how to make being homeless work for him and his friends, but something evil is threatening the fragile world he’s constructed on the streets…

Ambitious blogger Jonno is getting desperate. The big four-oh isn’t that far away, and he’s still struggling to make his mark. But then he stumbles across some unusual and macabre art, which might just be the break he needs to go viral…

Mr. MercedesMR. MERCEDES by Stephen King (I've read mixed reviews about this but am looking forward to reading it and forming my own opinion)

A retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies race against time to stop a psycho-loner intent on blowing up thousands...

Stephen King is on a roll, this time with the heart-pounding suspense that he does best. A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who's haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular - the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out.

Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. The plot is kicked into gear when Bill Hodges receives a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he's preparing to kill again.

Only Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, can apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.

 

The WraithTHE WRAITH by Joe Hill (graphic novel prequel to NOS4A2 - couldn't resist getting hold of this during a recent sale on Comixology)

Collects Welcome to Chirstmasland #1- 7 comics published by IDW.

Joe Hill's New York Times Bestselling novel, NOS4A2, introduced readers to the terrifying funhouse world of Christmasland, and the mad man who rules there: Charlie Talent Manx III. Now, in an original new comic mini-series, Hill throws wide the candy cane gates to tell a standalone story that is at once both accessible to new readers, and sure to delight fans of the book.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: THE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman

The Brooklyn RulesFrom the back of the book:
Reed Farrel Coleman’s The Brooklyn Rules collects 6 hard to find short stories originally published in 2006 and 2007. Killing O’Malley, Requiem for Jack, Requiem for Moe, Pearls, King Fixer and Bathead Speed are included as well as a new introduction from Reed.

My Review:
I love the writing in this short story collection. As evidenced by lines like "some men are just bitter borne" from Killing O'Malley and "life is burden enough without the added weight of imagined sorrows" from Requiem For Moe.

THE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman, while not introducing long time readers of Coleman's work to anything new, does provide some nice Easter eggs for fans - notably, a couple of cameos by Bruen's penultimate ad-hoc PI, Jack Taylor in Requiem For Moe and Requiem For Jack.

The six short stories that comprise this collection act as an introduction to Reed's writing, providing bite size chunks of noir/hardboild while also serving as a taste of what to expect in his longer forms of fiction featuring his most renowned character in Moe Prager.  

"Hey, at least she's alive, right?"

My favourite is Pearl, which tells the story of an escort who watched her father rape her sister, only for the sister to then commit suicide. Following this (years later), the escort is shot by the partner of one of her clients. It's noir from begining to end and left me with a craving for more.

"I was the king fixter, the sultan of solutions...I knew I had been dethroned."

Another favourite of my mine was King Fixer; A jaded mistress, a cheater with a way out, an unavoidable murder. Double cross condensed in a bite size chunk of noir. It's a great short story that reads longer.

"No sound like it, breaking a man's shins"

The other standout is Bathead Speed, in which a hitman gets hit by the daughter of one of his former targets. It serves as the perfect way to conclude the collection while providing depth to Coleman's cast of characters outside of the Moe Prager series.

THE BROOKLYN RULES, despite it's length (most readers will get through it in well under an hour) is well worth checking out. Of the six stories, I was only familiar with one (Requiem For Moe) from the DAMN NEAR DEAD collection and enjoyed reading more of Moe and the other stories in this noir enriched collection.