Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: A FIRING OFFENSE by George Pelecanos

A Firing OffenseFrom the back of the book:
As advertising director of Nutty Nathan's, Nick Stefanos knows all the tricks of the electronics business. Blow-out sales and shady deals are his life. When a stockroom boy hooked on speed metal and the fast life disappears, Nick has to help find him.

My Review:
Probably my least favourite Pelecanos book - the homage to James Crumley is apparent as being an influence in the early iteration of Pelecanos' own style but I just thought the execution missed the mark - though I can’t quite pinpoint the exact reason for this. Perhaps the inconsequential over descriptive nature of the place-setting, or the volume of music references (which, in his later novels works well to add context) is the cause. Then again, perhaps it was lead character Nick and the jump from being a sales/advertising person to stone cold gun toting PI in the blink of an eye? For me the logical progression of character between personas just didn’t sit right.

Writing this review surprises me at how much I didn’t connect with the book. Other works by Pelecanos (THE NIGHT GARDNER, DC Quartet, Derek Strange novels) are some of my all-time favourite crime fiction reads; my ‘go-to’ books when I need something to get me out of a reading funk. Unfortunately I can’t say that with A FIRING OFFENSE.

Nick appears in many of Pelecanos’s books and I was looking forward to reading more about the character. Perhaps my high expectation had an influence on the outcome?

The poetic noir that subtly flows through the narrative is in its infancy here, a style more prevalent in Pelecanos’s later books.

I’ll still read the two remaining Nick Stefanos novels and do have an interest in where the story progresses from here so all is not lost by any stretch.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Returning to the scene of the crime: NOBODY'S ANGEL by Jack Clark


Nobody's Angel (Hard Case Crime, #65)From the back of the book:
Eddie Miles is one of a dying breed: a Windy City hack who knows every street and back alley of his beloved city and takes its recent descent into violence personally. But what can one driver do about a killer targeting streetwalkers or another terrorizing cabbies? Precious little – until the night he witnesses one of them in action…

My Review:
Keeping in-line with my new years bookish resolution to reread more of my books, I thought I'd take a second look at one of my favourite Hardcase Crime books in NOBODY'S ANGEL by Jack Clark. The book was just as good as I remembered it from 2010.

NOBODY'S ANGEL is an interesting insight into the perils of being a cab driver in the Windy City. A heavily atmospheric character driven story about a middle-aged cabbie, a serial killer, and the streets of Chicago.

Author Jack Clark's novel is the perfect fit for a film noir; the dark often rainy night time setting, the hopelessness attached to the young street workers, the humble protagonist, and dangerous dames, along with some public displays of indecency exemplify the hallmarks of noir.

Interspersed amongst the narrative are excerpts from the City of Chicago, Department of Consumer Services, Public Vehicle Operations Division guidebook to add a sense of realism to the fictional account of murder, violence, and survival in the dangerously unassuming cabbie world. I liked this touch to break-up the story while at the same time contributing to it.

NOBODY'S ANGEL is a great read that held up the second time round.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: MISDIRECTION by Austin Williams

Misdirection (The Rusty Diamond, #1)From the back of the book:
After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty "The Raven" Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord's brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he's been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he's been desperately trying to escape.


My review:
MISDIRECTION is the first book in the Rusty Diamond Trilogy and quickly establishes the unique protagonist as a budding gumshoe to be reckoned with. While not a licenced PI in any traditional sense, Rusty's methods of deduction and colourful tools of the trade make for one interesting ride on the wings of 'The Raven' as he seeks vengeance for the horrific murder of his elderly landlord.

I love books that set the tone early in the piece and MISDIRECTION does just that. Opening with a violently confronting scene; the whodunit aspect aligned with the protagonist's motive for justice thrusts the reader into the criminal underworld of Ocean City.

I was hooked from the opening line:

"The bloodstain was shaped like Florida."

Right off the bat, the reader knows they're in for noir-ish tale with all the blood red trappings.

Rusty is such an interesting character, complimented by a supporting cast that I hope gets more of a look-in in the next book (Biddison - local cop, Carmen - grad student in inorganic chemistry etc.) that the plot almost paled compared to the character. Not a criticism by any means as the pacing and plot threads converged at logical intervals with realistic and entertaining outcomes.
 

Despite being the first book in a planned trilogy, author Austin Williams does a great job at writing a self contained story that allows for easy expansion on the continuity of Rusty Diamond's ad-hoc profession; masquerading as a crime solving vigilante.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing where Williams takes 'The Raven' next.

Monday, July 28, 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. Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:

Misdirection (The Rusty Diamond, #1) MISDIRECTION by Austin Williams (copy provided by the author)
 
A street magician needs more than sleight-of-hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.


Nobody's Angel (Hard Case Crime, #65)NOBODY'S ANGEL by Jack Clark (This is one of my favourite Hardcase Crime books. I first read it in 2010 and the timing is right for a reread)
TWO KILLERS STALK THE STREETS OF CHICAGO – CAN ONE TAXI DRIVER CORNER THEM BOTH?

Eddie Miles is one of a dying breed: a Windy City hack who knows every street and back alley of his beloved city and takes its recent descent into violence personally. But what can one driver do about a killer targeting streetwalkers or another terrorizing cabbies? Precious little – until the night he witnesses one of them in action… 

A Firing Offense
A FIRING OFFENSE by George Pelecanos (The first book in the Nick Stefanos trilogy – been sitting in my tbr for far too long)

As the advertising director of Nutty Nathan's, Nick Stefanos knows all the tricks of the electronics business. Blow-out sales and shady deals were his life. When one of the stockboys disappears, it's not news: just another metalhead who went off chasing some dream of big money and easy living. But the kid reminded Nick of himself twelve years ago: an angry punk hooked on speed metal and the fast life. So when the boy's grandfather begs Nick to find the kid, Nick says he'll try.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE by Andrez Bergen

One Hundred Years of VicissitudeOur chief protagonist Wolram E Deaps, first seen in the scifi noir TOBACCO STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT, has passed away and now resides in the hereafter; a strange halfway home between life and death - a place where memories are relived in all their gore and glory.
 
Accompanying him is a geisha, Kohana, having also past away following an innings of 100 (or there abouts). Despite the triple figure, Kohana resembles a teenager - one of many mysteries that enthralls Deaps. Initially there seems to be little to link these two vastly different characters,  however as the story unfolds their lives become intertwined in more ways than one.
 
I've not read a book like ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE before. It has no distinct genre, rather borrowing elements from many to form a literary tale that transports the reader through a sticky strange web of nostalgia ingrained in the lives and deaths of Deaps and Kohana.
 
Rich with fact and equally engaging fiction, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE is an imaginative beast that is nothing short of all consuming.
 
Author Andrez Bergen has got to be one of the most diverse authors I've read, each of his novels is unique and top shelf and ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE is no different.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Years Best Crime Fiction - So Far

2014 has seen some great crime fiction releases, below are the best and bloodiest of what I've read from the newly or soon to be published books in the genre. In no particular order:

Origin (Wolf Creek, #1)Cold in July   Salaryman Unbound

ORIGIN (Wolf Creek) by Greg McLean - the ultimate outback noir. This is the kind of book I've been wanting to read for as long as I can remember. More crime than horror, the first of the Wolf Creek prequels is a must for readers of dark and bloody crime fiction. 

- Review: ORIGIN by Greg McLean

COLD IN JULY by Joe R Lansdale - not really a new release, however the latest edition coincides with the new feature film. Hands down the best crime novel I've read by Lansdale.

- Review: COLD IN JULY by Joe R Lansdale

SALARYMAN UNBOUND by Erza Kyrill Erker - my 'dark horse' for the end of year 'best of' lists. White collar noir that channels Jason Starr and Ryu Murakami. One of the absolute best independent crime releases I've read.

- Review: SALARYMAN UNBOUND by Erza Kyrill Erker

A Swollen Red Sun   Stalk Me   The Wrong Quarry (Quarry #11 - Hard Case Crime #114)
 
A SWOLLEN RED SUN by Matthew McBride - raw and unforgiving, Matthew McBride's new book is the pure embodiment of noir versed in a kind of hick/back water literature akin to Daniel Woodrell. Though we're only midway through 2014, it'll be hard to top this book as sitting top of the heap at years end.

- Review: A SWOLLEN RED SUN by Matthew McBride

STALK ME by Richard Parker - I've not read a crime thriller as intense and cleverly complex as this. Muck like last year's SCARE ME, Richard Parker hits this one right out the park.

- Review: STALK ME by Richard Parker

THE WRONG QUARRY by Max Allan Collins - pure popcorn pulp in all its overtly sexual and violent ways.  I don't know how Max Allan Collins continues to keep his perennial hitman fresh in new and engrossing novels but I'm sure glad he does. I haven't have this much fun with a Quarry book since THE LAST QUARRY.

- Review: THE WRONG QUARRY by Max Allan Collins

Cop TownCOP TOWN by Karin Slaughter - this standalone crime novel set in 1970's Atlanta has the makings a being a great new series (while not marketed as such, I hope we see further instalments). Think George Pelecanos.

- Review: COP TOWN by Karen Slaughter

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: STINKING RICH by Rob Brunet

Stinking RichFrom the back of the book:
Danny Grant figures he's hit the big time when he lands a job growing pot for a backwoods biker gang. The Libidos are picky about their hires and prone to radical pruning when members go rogue. Members like Perko Ratwick, the aspiring Road Captain who stretched club rules to hire young Danny, putting his own patch-never mind his life-on the line if the punk screws up. What could possibly go wrong with a high school dropout left unattended in a barn full of high-grade marijuana? Plenty, it turns out. In a world where indoor plumbing's optional and each local wacko is more twisted than the last, drug money draws reprobates like moths to a lantern. From loveable losers to gnarly thugs and law-and-order wannabes, every last one of them has an angle-their best shot at being stinking rich. But Perko's got warped ideas about right, wrong, and retribution, and the gang's not far behind.
My Review:
I had a lot of fun reading STINKING RICH. Author Rob Brunet’s style can be likened to Carl Hiaasen (author of SKINNY DIP) and Marc Lecard (author VINNIES HEAD) in that STINKING RICH deftly trapeses the genre defying tight rope swaying either side of black humour and serious crime – well, at least in the minds of the biker gangsters.

For lead character Danny Grant, crime paves the way for some easy cash – and as for a murder rap? Well, that was an accident – the baseball bat, the dog, and the deceased, all in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Brunet has a gift to making a mockery of murder while still making the event plausible and within context; the aforementioned baseball bat incident a near perfect example. There’s also a laugh out loud near miss involving throwing knives and a mensroom door – I’ll leave that to the reader to discover.

While this is clearly Danny Grants’ story – a story of dreams, pot, and family amidst dodging bullets and dog bites, I thought it was Buzz and Skeritt, two peripheral characters that anchored the plot to the point of almost demanding further exploration. It’s always a good sign when an author is able to craft multi-dimensional characters that leap off the page and STINKING RICH is full of them.

STINKING RICH is due out in September from Down & Out Books – read more on the Rob Brunet’s website: http://www.robbrunet.com/

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: MOTHERS WHO MURDER by Dr Xanthe Mallett

Mothers Who MurderFrom the back of the book:
All of these women are notorious, but are all of them deadly? Child murder: A social taboo and one of the most abhorrent acts most of us can imagine. Meet the women found guilty of murdering their own children. They represent some of the most hated women in Australia. The infamous list includes psychologically damaged, sometimes deranged, women on the edge. But, as we will see, accused doesn't always mean guilty. Among the cases covered is that of Kathleen Folbigg, accused and found guilty of killing four of her children, even with a lack of any forensic evidence proving her guilt; Rachel Pfitzner, who strangled her 2-year-old son and dumped his body in a duck pond; as well as Keli Lane, found guilty of child murder though no body has ever been found.Dr Mallett goes back to the beginning of each case; death's ground zero. That might be the accused's childhood, were they abused? Or was their motivation greed, or fear of losing a partner? Were they just simply evil? Or did the media paint them as such, against the evidence and leading to a travesty of justice.Each case will be re-opened, the alternative suspects assessed, the possible motives reviewed. Informed by her background as a forensic scientist, Xanthe offers insight into aspects of the cases that may not have been explored previously. Taking you on her journey through the facts, and reaching her own conclusion as to whether she believe the evidence points to the women's guilt. Hear their stories.
 
My Review:
Many readers would hold a macabre curiosity attached to the topical nature of this book if not a passing interest by virtue of the unspeakable act implicit in the title. The very thought of a maternal parent undertaking such a heinous crime in murdering their child is incomprehensible to many (myself included) yet, there are a sinister few who have done this. Dr Xanthe Mallett looks at a number of infamous cases and provides an objective interpretation and overview of the particulars that led to the unfortunate course of events while also examining the core police investigation, witness accounts, forensic evidence, and passing her theory on the presumption of innocence or justifiable conviction. 
MOTHERS WHO MURDER is a hard book to put down; the writing style and chapter layout make it instantly readable and easily consumable in a few sittings. Dr Mallett’s use of layman’s terms integrated within the narrative make this more of a read for casual true crime enthusiasts as opposed to a text book laden with jargon - instantly appealing to a broader audience of reader.
Familiarity with the cases isn’t a prerequisite to comprehend what Dr Mallett is further elaborating on as each chapter detailing a case provides sufficient background and extensive reference points for further reading.
Do I feel any different about some of the cases depicted in MOTHERS WHO MURDER in comparison to what I knew of these crimes prior to reading? Yes. It’s an answer that shocks me but one that I imagine, Dr Mallett had intended throughout the course of writing the book. Presenting detailed factual evidence forensically examined and subsequently explained in layman’s terms allows the reader to make their own judgement without prejudice.  
Dr Mallett at the end of the book favourably leans towards writing more – given how MOTHERS WHO MURDER turned out; I hope this eventuates in more true crime books in the future.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Returning to the scene of the crime: POWER OF THE DOG by Don Winslow

The Power of the DogFrom the back of the book
Drug lord Miguel Angel Barrera is head of the Mexican drug cartel, responsible for millions of dollars worth of cocaine traffic into the US and the torture of those who stand in its way. His nephew, Adan Barrera, is his worthy successor.

Art Keller is a US government operative, so determined to obtain revenge for a murdered colleague that his pursuit of the cartel veers dangerously towards an obsession outside the law. This is a world characterised by its brutality, yet all Winslow's incredibly varied cast - including a high class prostitute, an Irish hitman and a charismatic Catholic priest - are all in their own ways searching for salvation. 
 
My Review
Epic in story and substance, THE POWER OF THE DOG is the crime equivalent of a broad spanning fantasy novel. Told over a thirty year time frame, Winslow's masterful tale of cross border drug running, corrupt cops, and gangsters is much more than a bloody swipe at alphabet agency politicking, with themes comprising vengeance, betrayal, misguided justice, and the illusion of redemption rife.

Through Art Keller, Winslow delivers a rich and deeply satisfying plot driven by a tainted protagonist whose moral compass is as skewed as the fractured blue line that policies the borderline war on drugs.

One of the strengths of THE POWER OF THE DOG is the mutli faceted characters. The reader gets to see them grow with each predicament they face. Be it Nora or Callan, who they start out as is vastly different from the person they grow to be. As a reader it's nice to go on a journey with the characters irrespective of the setting.

From the bowels of the Mexican drug cartel to the sunny blood encrusted sand on US soil, Art wheels and deals in the lives of innocents and gangsters alike in his quest for vengeance. It's a violent ploy that is the catalyst for many plot threads, all culminating in an entertaining and wholly addictive read that truly is unputdownable.

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. Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:
 
Mothers Who MurderMOTHERS WHO MURDER by Dr Xanthe Mallett (featured in last weeks post, however I didn't get a chance to read it as I was rearranging my personal library)

All of these women are notorious, but are all of them deadly? Child murder: A social taboo and one of the most abhorrent acts most of us can imagine. Meet the women found guilty of murdering their own children. They represent some of the most hated women in Australia. The infamous list includes psychologically damaged, sometimes deranged, women on the edge. But, as we will see, accused doesn't always mean guilty. Among the cases covered is that of Kathleen Folbigg, accused and found guilty of killing four of her children, even with a lack of any forensic evidence proving her guilt; Rachel Pfitzner, who strangled her 2-year-old son and dumped his body in a duck pond; as well as Keli Lane, found guilty of child murder though no body has ever been found.Dr Mallett goes back to the beginning of each case; death's ground zero. That might be the accused's childhood, were they abused? Or was their motivation greed, or fear of losing a partner? Were they just simply evil? Or did the media paint them as such, against the evidence and leading to a travesty of justice.Each case will be re-opened, the alternative suspects assessed, the possible motives reviewed. Informed by her background as a forensic scientist, Xanthe offers insight into aspects of the cases that may not have been explored previously. Taking you on her journey through the facts, and reaching her own conclusion as to whether she believe the evidence points to the women's guilt.Hear their stories.
 
Stinking RichSTINKING RICH by Rob Brunet (review copy provided by the author)

Danny Grant figures he's hit the big time when he lands a job growing pot for a backwoods biker gang. The Libidos are picky about their hires and prone to radical pruning when members go rogue. Members like Perko Ratwick, the aspiring Road Captain who stretched club rules to hire young Danny, putting his own patch-never mind his life-on the line if the punk screws up. What could possibly go wrong with a high school dropout left unattended in a barn full of high-grade marijuana? Plenty, it turns out. In a world where indoor plumbing's optional and each local wacko is more twisted than the last, drug money draws reprobates like moths to a lantern. From loveable losers to gnarly thugs and law-and-order wannabes, every last one of them has an angle-their best shot at being stinking rich. But Perko's got warped ideas about right, wrong, and retribution, and the gang's not far behind.
 
 
One Hundred Years of VicissitudeOne Hundred Years of Vicissitude by Andrez Bergen (review copy provided by the author)
 
"First up, a disclaimer. I suspect I am a dead man. I have meagre proof, no framed‐ up certification, nothing to toss in a court of law as evidence of a rapid departure from the mortal coil. I recall a gun was involved, pressed up against my skull, and a loud explosion followed."

Thus begins our narrator in a purgatorial tour through twentieth-century Japanese history, with a ghostly geisha who has seen it all as a guide and a corrupt millionaire as her reluctant companion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: COP TOWN by Karin Slaughter

Cop TownThere is an air of George Pelecanos to Karin Slaughter’s standalone (though I suspect it’ll result in further instalments) crime novel set in 1970’s Atlanta. The mood, setting, and topic all lean towards the darker side of crime fiction of which Pelecanos is renowned. What Karin Slaughter does with this story is make it mainstream and easily accessible to police procedural junkies who may not have a penchant for such themes in crime fiction – which I think is a good thing.

Exploring the seedy, racist, sexist and coiled spring tension filled atmosphere of a white male dominated police department, Karin Slaughter weaves a tale that gives testament to the hard knock life and then some.

The two female leads are flawed yet endearing, each with their own idiosyncrasies and distinct path of self discovery – paths where the cobble stones are bloodied, cracked and uneven – noir-ish without passing that irredeemable point of no return.

The thing that really kept the pages of COP TOWN turning for me was the multifaceted storytelling and plot threads culminating in a broader story of a serial cop killer. The depiction of such a harsh quality of life for women of that time wanting to succeed in a male dominated environment was irresistible and addictive if only for the way they were to overcome the mountainous odds against them.  

While it was refreshing to read a standalone novel, I do hope some of these characters reprise their roles at some stage. I think Karin Slaughter is on to a winner with this 1970’s Atlanta cop story.

Monday, July 14, 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. Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:

Cop TownCOP TOWN by Karin Slaughter (review copy provided by Random House)
Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.


The Power of the DogPOWER OF THE DOG by Don Winslow (a few people I follow on twitter have recently re-read this, I loved it a few years ago and feel the timing is right for a second go-round).
Drug lord Miguel Angel Barrera is head of the Mexican drug cartel, responsible for millions of dollars worth of cocaine traffic into the US and the torture of those who stand in its way. His nephew, Adan Barrera, is his worthy successor.

Art Keller is a US government operative, so determined to obtain revenge for a murdered colleague that his pursuit of the cartel veers dangerously towards an obsession outside the law. This is a world characterised by its brutality, yet all Winslow's incredibly varied cast - including a high class prostitute, an Irish hitman and a charismatic Catholic priest - are all in their own ways searching for salvation.
Mothers Who MurderMOTHERS WHO MURDER by Dr. Xanthe Mallett (review copy provided by Random House)
All of these women are notorious, but are all of them deadly?Child murder: A social taboo and one of the most abhorrent acts most of us can imagine. Meet the women found guilty of murdering their own children. They represent some of the most hated women in Australia. The infamous list includes psychologically damaged, sometimes deranged, women on the edge. But, as we will see, accused doesn't always mean guilty. Among the cases covered is that of Kathleen Folbigg, accused and found guilty of killing four of her children, even with a lack of any forensic evidence proving her guilt; Rachel Pfitzner, who strangled her 2-year-old son and dumped his body in a duck pond; as well as Keli Lane, found guilty of child murder though no body has ever been found.Dr Mallett goes back to the beginning of each case; death's ground zero. That might be the accused's childhood, were they abused? Or was their motivation greed, or fear of losing a partner? Were they just simply evil? Or did the media paint them as such, against the evidence and leading to a travesty of justice.Each case will be re-opened, the alternative suspects assessed, the possible motives reviewed. Informed by her background as a forensic scientist, Xanthe offers insight into aspects of the cases that may not have been explored previously. Taking you on her journey through the facts, and reaching her own conclusion as to whether she believe the evidence points to the women's guilt.Hear their stories.

Review: MULTIVERSUM by Leonardo Patrignani

Multiversum (Multiversum, #1)From the back of the book: 
Alex and Jenny are sixteen. He lives in Milan; she, in Melbourne. For the past four years, they have glimpsed each other at random moments, while they are both unconscious — a telepathic communication that occurs without warning.

During one of these episodes, they manage to arrange a meeting. But on the day, though they are standing in the same place at the same time, each of them cannot see the other. This leads them to a startling discovery: they live in different dimensions. In Jenny’s world, Alex is someone else. And in Alex’s world, Jenny died at the age of six.

As they try to find each other, the Multiverse threatens to implode and disappear, but Jenny and Alex must meet — the future of the Earth depends on it.

My Review:
MULTIVERSUM is an entertaining and thought provoking novel that transports the reader through a limitless stream of possibility and uncertainty, invoking a kind of paralysis of reality by which time and place are defined by no traditional boundary or scale.

With pre and post-apocalyptic elements embodying the plot, the omnipresent sense of doom is ever looming over the heads of the young characters at the forefront of MULTIVERSUM. The dynamic is such that each interaction between Alex and Jenny is heightened to a point that the star crossed lovers undergo an almost painful yearning for one another as they battle not only their sanity but humanity as a whole.

Conceptually, MULTIVERSUM is brilliant, borrowing a little from the Butterfly Effect and taking it to the extreme by virtue of alternate dimensions and a delicately poised interwoven cataclysmic event.

The conclusion is awe inspiriting and a fitting end to the story as a whole while clearly paving the way for the next instalment. It takes a smart writer to pull off a satisfying ending while also plotting the beginnings of future stories, here, author Leonardo Patrignani ever so deftly delivers.

This edition from Scribe was translated by Antony Shugaar. No word yet if MEMORIA, the next instalment in the MULTIVERSUM saga will appear in English.

View more on the publishers website: http://scribepublications.com.au/books-authors/title/multiversum/

Other posts you may like:

- Review: THE ALMOST GIRL by Amalie Howard

- Books 2014: Surreal Picks & What To Look Forward To

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: SABRIEL by Garth Nix

Sabriel (The Old Kingdom Trilogy, #1)With the fourth full length novel, CLARIEL, due to be published later this year, I thought I'd get reacquainted with the Old Kingdom trilogy beginning with SABRIEL. The first book in this unique and spellbinding series follows Sabriel, a teenager who learns of her fathers impending doom from across the wall in the Old Kingdom; a place rife with magic and dead things. As she travels this dangerous landscape the quest conforms to the formulaic trappings of adventure fantasy; accumulating loyal followers and battling well defined antagonists along the way to locate her father and save the world from a dark danger.
 
SABRIEL isn't high fantasy. It isn't epic fantasy.  What it is, is an entertaining character driven story that borrows from all the core elements of the genre and infuses it with a touch of horror and a dash of the supernatural.
 
While not explicitly defined as YA, SABRIEL could fall within that definition by virtue of the introspective narrative and innocence of the protagonist coupled with the easy romanticism that seeps into the story.
 
The Old Kingdom books are a great form of escapism, and having re-read SABRIEL, I'm now even more excited for the new book.
 
Related Posts:
 
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Comic Review: ROBOCOP #1

"Dead or alive, you're coming with me."
 
"I'd buy that for a dollar!"
 
Two nostalgic lines that take the reader back to Old Detroit and the human cyborg cop that is Alex Murphy, aka Robocop. Boom Studios and the creative team of writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carlos Magno transport the reader straight back to the 1987 feature film picking up the comic right where the iconic film left off.
 
Writer Joshua Williamson takes an interesting approach in his rendition of Murphy and one that I feel really works for the book. Robocop is just that, a robotic police officer driven by the pure pursuit of justice irrespective of personal harm and human emotion. Luckily, Murphy's original partner Lewis is there to provide the human element to this brand of law enforcement; though how long she's teamed with Murphy remains to be seen.
 
What I really like about Robocop #1 is how true to the source material it is. That essence of the 80's splatter gore crime flick is captured to perfection via some dark and moody artwork from Carlos Magno. Not only is the central character/element well articulated in each panel/splash page, the background inks are realistic and give context to the world and place setting of Old Detroit; derelict, dangerous, and down trodden. The second page spread is worth the price of purchase alone.
 
Robocop #1 is a quick read even by comic standards due to the emphasis on art to drive a number of panels over dialog, yet that doesn't damper the story in any way. As a first issue, the creative team have done everything possible to get this new series off to a great start. I'm interested to see where a couple of these plot threads end up; notably the ones involving Killian and Lewis' aspiration for career advancement.
 
Related Posts:
 
- Weekly Pull List Feature [4]

- Pull List Preview: Forthcoming Comics
 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: THE MIRROR EMPIRE by Kameron Hurley

The Mirror EmpireTHE MIRROR EMPIRE is a complex,  conceptually brilliant, epic fantasy that builds worlds upon worlds and stretches the thin fabric of reality opening doors to endless possibilities. The theory of alternate realities is explored and executed in an imaginative and captivating fashion.
 
Using mirrors as a method of transporting people between these realms has its consequences as these realities aren't simply new places with new people,  rather the same kind of land with the same people in duplicate, and triplicate. In order to live in a world other than the one a character originates in, the doppelganger must be killed, this violent element adds a little something to the cross world transference the characters of THE MIRROR EMPIRE experience.  
 
Whilst I enjoyed some of the high end fantasy concepts author Kameron Hurley transposes to print in THE MIRROR EMPIRE,  the breadth and scope of cast became confusing as the novel progressed with the the plot taking form through multiple points of view. I also found the unique names of places and people difficult to pinpoint who was who and what was what at times - though not often.
 
There is a lot to take in and after finishing THE MIRROR EMPIRE,  I get the feeling Kameron Hurley is just getting started with this world and group of characters.
 
I read this as an ebook from NetGalley and, as a result,  found it difficult to flick back through the book to reread and familiarize myself with some of the key characters which I tend to do with physical epic fantasy novels (more a fault of my habit than the book). I think THE MIRROR EMPIRE would also benefit by having a map and character listing defining their allegiance and place setting.

Weekly Pull List Feature [4]

This week sees one of my favourite series come to an end of an E.R.A (yep, that there is a pun) in Valiant Comics' QUANTUM AND WOODY! #12 while another series (and one I'm very excited about) gets off to a fresh and bloody new start in ROBOCOP #1 from Boom Studios. ROBOCOP #1 is a direct continuation of the 1987's feature film, while readers can jump straight in, I re-watched the movie before reading the comic and found it to add to the overall feel of the book. Lastly, I picked up a copy of OUTCAST #1 by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman (I know, a week late).

Quantum and Woody #12 (of 12???) written by James Asmus, art by Wilfredo Torres



Quantum and Woody took the battle straight to the enemy – the mad-science cabal called Edison’s Radical Acquisitions and their mysterious, monstrous new leader – and the enemy kicked their ass! When these rogue biologists (and roboticists) get their hands (and robo-claws) on their new lab subjects, Quantum and Woody are as good as vivisected! (And, by vivisected, we mean dead.) 

Robocop #1 written by Joshua Williamson, art by Carlos Magno



If you’ve ever wondered what happens to RoboCop and his partner, Anne Lewis, after the first film, wonder no more. A deadly and charismatic criminal, Killian, is released from jail. He went into the slammer before RoboCop hit the streets. Now he wants to take out the biggest cop in the city. When OCP wants to take guns off the street, Killian sees it as his opportunity to take on the former Alex Murphy!

Outcast #1 written by Robet Kirkman, art by Paul Azaceta



Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it.