Sunday, July 23, 2017

Review: THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson

Publisher Quercus
Length 569 pages
Format softcover
Published 2009
Series Millennium #2
My Copy I bought it


My Review
The Girl Who Played With Fire (an apt title if ever there was one, Lisbeth certainly plays with fire in this one, albeit retrospectively) reads more like a traditional crime novel, as apposed to its predecessor, this isn't a bad thing but it does make for repetitive reading at times as a result of the three pronged approach to a triple homicide investigation. 

A couple writing a thesis and book respectively which exposes powerful people across political and police professions of their involvement in illegal sex trafficking and using/abusing underage prostitutes are found dead, the murder weapon seemingly discarded nearby with Lisbeth's prints all over it. Shortly after the macabre discovery, there's another murder, Lisbeth's guardian and former abuser is found gunned down. Three murders all linked to Lisbeth; the police have their chief suspect. However, head of Millennium, Mikael Blomkvist knows Lisbeth is innocent and sets out to complete the work of the murdered couple, hoping to find evidence along the way which will clear Lisbeth's name and bring her out from hiding. 

Author Stieg Larsson explores Lisbeth's childhood and teen years prior to the earlier novel which provided a greater insight into a very unique and interesting character. The past events link to the current day setting beautifully, giving the story more depth than it had on face value. The book also takes into account what transpired in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for added plot devises and context to the murder investigations - this was well written and provided a nice sense of continuity to the Millennium series. 

My rating: 4/5 stars. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Review: A MAN OF SHADOWS by Jeff Noon

Publisher Angry Robot
Length 384 pages
Format ebook
Published 2017
Series John Nyquist #1
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
A Man of Shadows is a surreal detective book which blends popular elements of the fantastical and private-eye genres to form a uniquely stylized story about a missing woman and the contrasting cityscapes of Dayzone and Nocturna of which she ventures. There's a lot of imagination infused in the dime-store detective facade that brings complexities conceived through clever concepts and well thought-out plot devices which make A Man of Shadows a joy to read.

Rather than go into full 'review mode' I thought I'd highlight the pros and cons of this book. This is something I'll likely do with other surreal detective books, given I love the genre and generally dig the added fantastically elements.

Pros:
- Nocturna and Dayzone are atmospheric cityscapes which add another dimension to the story.
- The characters are well defined and, as a commonly used term on my blog 'read real' 
- Nyquist is an interesting protagonist who conforms to all the lone wolf stereotypes commonly associated with a private detective. 
- The idea that people can purchase a timezone that best suits them and that they can change this when they please is great. 
- High reread value. 

Cons:
- The story got a little weird and off track in the 'dusk' (the mysterious landscape between Nocturna and Dayzone). 
-  The family drama aspect detracted from Nyquist and changed the feel of the book.

My rating: 3.5 / 5, could be a 4 and might end up that way as time passes. This is a book full of interesting concepts that will resonate with the reader long after the last page is turned. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pick Up A Pulp [20]: DON'T CRY FOR ME by William Campbell Gault

Originally published in 1952 and later by Prologue Books in 2012 (I'm sure there's a bunch of editions in between) Don't Cry for Me by William Campbell Gault is a murder mystery that doesn't really feel like a murder mystery. 

The story focuses on Pete Worden, a former high school (or maybe college - it's not overly clear which) football star who spends his time doing a whole lot of nothing. Being a bum for a living makes being respectable a challenge, and there's only so long you can bask in the glory days of semi-pro football. It's only when Ellen, Pete's steady girlfriend, starts probing him about his plans for the future, specially plans for getting a job, that Pete peaks out from the curtain of long time unemployment and childish apprehension and squints at the real world laid bare before him. What does Pete see? An underworld heavy with an eye for 'talent' and a desire to bring Pete and the lovely Ellen under his wing.

A chance encounter with a rough type at one of Nicks parties results in Pete slugging the guy and making out with a pocket full of gambled-earned cash. Suddenly his long term prospects look on the up, until the rough guy ends up in Pete's apartment with a knife in his neck.     

Don't Cry for Me didn't start well, got better in the middle and then drifted into delirium in the later stages before finishing up ok. That's really all there is to this book - it's not bad, nor is it particularly good - it's an ok, average pulp that has a couple of nice scenes and well written characters marred by a plot that felt like is lost its way a little at times. 

There are better pulps out there but if you've got this one sitting around it's worth a read.

My rating: 2.5/5 stars 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: PURGATORY by Ken Bruen

Publisher Transworld Books
Length 348 pages
Format paperback
Published 2013
Series Jack Taylor #10
My Copy I bought it


My Review
I usually read the Jack Taylor books as soon as they are published but for some reason Purgatory slipped through. Now I'm finally getting around to it as part of rereading the series and it was well worth the wait.

Purgatory feels like a tipping point in the Jack Taylor series, one which looks set to transition the tainted yet endearing protagonist from one phase of his life to another darker phase - which is saying something given Jack sure hasn't had it easy to this point.

The focus is on a mysterious vigilante working under the name C33 who tries court Jack and Stewart into joining their murderous past time to rid criminals and underworld types from the street.

Then there's Jack's interesting love/hate working relationship with a sly billionaire named Reardon who hires Jack to find out who's leaking trade secrets to his competitors. Jack not only gets handed a bundle of cash for his troubles but is also introduced to a femme fatale in Kelly, a take-charge character who has Jack falling for her in jig time; she's Reardon's assistant and plays a large part in Purgatory; one of the freshest new characters to enter the series in a while. 

Purgatory has a number of jaw dropping scenes adding fuel to a series full of jaw dropping moments. Long time readers of Jack Taylor won't forget this book in a long time.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pick of the Month [June 2017]

A little late but here's my pick of month for June 2017 blog post - and what an awesome reading month it was! I read 17 books (my most since January, in which I also read 17 books) but it's not all about getting notches under my belt, I'd rather read quality over quantity any day, luckily I read (or listened to) a heap of good books making this month the toughest month to pick. 

It was very hard to separate a number of books so I'm rolling with both Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which I listened to, and Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente. Both of these books got me at just the right time and I enjoyed the hell out of them. 

I read Ten Dead Comedians after finishing a disturbing (and very well written) true crime The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe and was in need of something more lighthearted and fun. Fred Van Lente did a great job with this book and I highly recommend it for readers who are in need of something a little different and less macabre in their crime fiction (don't worry, there's still a decent amount of murder and mystery going on here). You can read my review HERE on Goodreads.


I was late to party in reading (listening to) Ready Player One but had heard so many good things about it, thankfully the book lived up to, and then surpassed my expectations. A great read that will no doubt end up in my 'top 10 list' at years' end. You can read the review HERE.

Other books I rated 5 stars in June in no particular order:

A couple of rereads also featured
  • Headstone by Ken Bruen - the 9th book in the Jack Taylor series, gets better with each read
  • Welcome to the Bayou by Victor Gischler (graphic novel) - I love what Gischler does here when given the keys to the Punisher castle. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Review: OCTOBER IS THE COLDEST MONTH by Christoffer Carlsson

Publisher Scribe
Length 192 pages
Format paperback
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
I've got a feeling this book could be one of the sleeper hits of the year, particularly for those readers who enjoy dark rural settings and tainted yet endearing characters. 

October is the Coldest Month has a rural noir feel akin to Daniel Woodrell; it's not quite Winter's Bone or Tomato Red in terms of plotting but it is deep in character and atmosphere.

The focus is on 16 year old Vega, a school kid street smart in a country way who unwillingly becomes an accessory to murder. When the police come knocking on her mother's door in search of Vega's older brother Jakob, she knows her secret is out and it's only a matter of time before her family is torn apart for a second time; the first being the death of her father. 

October is the Coldest Month is a quick read that will resonate with the reader long after the last page is turned. Vega is a character I just want to read more of, along with backstory snippets of past conflict over land and the illegal making of moonshine, these's a whole lot more to this book that begs for a second volume. 

My rating: 5/5 stars 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Review: READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

Publisher Random House Audiobooks
Length 15hrs 40mins
Format audiobook
Published 2012
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review
Ready Player One envelopes the reader in a warm and comfy haze of 1980’s nostalgia, complete with pop culture references through a detailed exploration of early generation home gaming consoles, TV shows, movies and fashion. 

Set some 60 years after the 80’s, Ready Player One focuses on a lonesome young man named Wade Watts - an avid gamer who lives inside the Oasis (a massive multi-player online game) more than he does the real world, as he embarks on a hunt for an elusive egg hidden by the games developer before he died. 

This isn't some simple side-mission to kill time, finding the egg will bring fame and fortune to the lucky treasure hunter - in both the real world as well as online. Hindering Wade's chances of being the first to discover the egg is an evil corporation of cookie-cutter gamers known as the Sixers; a conglomerate of generic gamers with no personality or unique avatar - they are the public minions of corporate evil. 

Ready Player One is a nerd boy (or girls) dream. Even readers who don't 'get' all the nerdy references will still get a sense of time and place, and how these 80's relics play a huge part in the overall story and Wade's race to be top of the leader-board. 

I loved everything about it - the plotting, characters, pacing, narration - all of it. 


My rating: 5/5 stars 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Midyear Best of Crime Fiction [Published 2017]


2017 has already provided some memorable crime fiction reads. This year, more than others, I've been reading a lot of the newer books (this despite my TBR continuing to overflow) which feels refreshing; I can talk about the hot new book just on or about to be on the shelves with fellow readers rather than playing catch-up (though there's a fair amount of this going on still - such is the life of an avid reader). In no particular order below is my list of the best of a very good bunch with some honorable mentions thrown in:

Little Deaths by Emma Flint (published January) - review HERE

The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea (published April) - review HERE

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love (published March) - review HERE

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox (published January) - review HERE

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (published June) - review HERE

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham (to be published in July)  - review HERE

Honorable mentions:



Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith (published Feb) - review HERE

The Girl in Kellers Way by Megan Goldin (published May) - review HERE

Something For Nothing by Andy Muir (published Feb) - review HERE

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS by Michael Robotham

Publisher Hachette Australia
Length 448 pages
Format ebook
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
The Secrets She Keeps is a departure from the traditional psychological crime novels Michael Robotham is better known for (the Joseph O’Loughlin series). There’s no real investigative angle into a crime as such – this book is all about the characters (not to say his other books aren’t by the way but there seems to be a considerable effort here to make the main characters shine); two in particular; Meg, a soon to be mother of three expecting her ‘oops baby’ and Agatha, a 30-something single who works at a supermarket. 

Meg and Agatha are from different walks of life, seemingly worlds apart; Meg is well-off, has a happy family with all the trimmings, Agatha is lonesome and just making ends meet. While the distance between the two is easily distinguishable, there's a layer of grime beneath the glossy veneer which inevitably brings the two women together.

The pacing is deliberately slow, steadily drip feeding the reader subtle and at times not so subtle hints that something isn't quite right in the Meg and Agatha dynamic, before too long there's a twist or two and that's when things really start to get interesting.

The Secrets She Keeps is a great read that that me hooked all the way through. By the end of the book I really felt like I knew these characters and felt for their respective situations. Michael Robotham also does a fantastic job at writing from the female perspective - that mother-child bond is omnipresent throughout the novel and highlighted by some terrific writing.

My rating: 5 / 5 stars - I can't recommend this book enough.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: NEW POMPEII by Daniel Godfrey

Publisher Titan
Length 459 pages
Format paperback
Published 2016
Series New Pompeii #1
My Copy provided by the published


My Review
Set sometime in the near future, man has conquered time travel – though with some limitations. An evil corporation has monopolised the technology and is using if for their own nefarious purposes; purposes that become clear as the novel progresses. Somehow they have managed to recreate New Pompeii, along with the actual residents of the city. On the surface, this looks to be the perfect set-up for study and exploitation in a theme-park/zoo kind of way, until people start going missing and then appearing in different timelines.

New Pompeii is a great idea that serves as an introduction to a broader tapestry of storytelling which is both a good and a bad thing. Good, as it means there’s at least another book on the way (Empire of Time), but bad because it comes off as merely setting the stage; the book didn’t read as a complete story, or even a complete story arc for that matter, ending in a quasi-cliff hanger that left me scratching my head. 

The book sucks you in and delivers a story vastly different to what I was expecting. Despite my grumblings I’ll be picking up Empire of Time.


My rating: 4 / 5 stars. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: THE SEVEN BLADES OF MASTER DARQUE by Matt Kindt

Publisher Valiant
Length 160 pages
Format trade
Published 2017
Series Savage (collects issues #22-27)
My Copy I bought it (individual issues)


My Review
The sixth volume of Ninjak from Valiant comics brings together the core group of characters introduced in the beginning of the series; the Shadow Seven, and pits them against a well known foe within the Valiant Comics Universe - Master Darque. Book-ending the title arc is a silent standalone issue in which Ninjak fights through a nameless and disposable contingent of ninja monks, cleaving a path to Roku, and the final issue of the current run, which gives readers a glimpse of the future direction of the Ninjak series as Ninjak is once again hired by MI6 to undertake a covert mission - this time, to retrieve a scientist responsible for manufacturing breakthrough technology which blends humans and animals - making near perfect weapons; its a story well suited to this title and really hypes the new series starting late 2017, Ninja-K. 

Readers not familiar with the current iteration of Ninjak are advised to read up on the previous volumes before delving in here as The Seven Blades of Master Darque relies heavily (#27 aside) on the reader being familiar with the events which have led Ninjak, Roku and co. down this path.

The Seven Blades of Master Darque is a fanboy's dream. Not only does it take into account continuity elements from the title but contributes to the broader Valiant comics tapestry by referencing the Book of Death and the earlier Shadowman run. This felt like a well rounded conclusion to the series while also ensuring the sustainability of some key characters moving forward. 

The artwork is what I've come to expect from Valiant; exceptional and complimentary to Kindt's writing. The silent issue alone is worth the price of admission while the inks and colors of the splash pages for Master Darque are perfect; crossing that line of fantastical and reality without missing a beat. 

As a longtime reader of this series, I enjoyed the hell out of this book, be it reading the issues individually or as a collection; it provides closure to the current series while transitioning towards the next iteration; a must have for readers of Valiant and fans of good graphic novels. 

My rating: 4.5 / 5 stars.    

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pick Up A Pulp [19]: DOLLS AND DUES by Orrie Hitt

Dolls and Dues is somewhat of an oddity for these posts. Sure, Orrie Hitt wrote a number of sleaze pulps but this one sits outside of that genre, more a general fiction novel than a traditional pulp (despite the gorgeous original cover). 

The story follows Paul Jackson, an insurance salesman turned union boss. His rise through the ranks is a quick one, his fall equally so. Throughout the novel we see Paul gradually grate on the nerves of his women and that of the businessmen he's trying to extort perks from on behalf of his members. We see his trials and tribulations and the all expectant crash landing.

That's really all there is to it. There's a not a lot of depth here and that's ok; the story ticks along at a nice pace and Paul isn't quite a cardboard cutout character (though close)  with just enough surface value to swing a sense for his character; self absorbed and ambitious. 

The cover blurb is misleading, making Dolls and Dues read like an oversexed romp;
...everywhere in his vicious world of the fast buck and faster dames he sought the love his wife denied him. He picked it up from tramps and debutramps, from trollops, even from nice girls.
While there is an element of this in the book, its by no means the be all end all of the story. 

Overall, I liked the change of pace. Not what I was expecting but its a quick and easy read that allows you to switch off and not take books too seriously for a while.

My rating: 3 / 5 stars. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review: SAVAGE by B. Clay Moore

Publisher Valiant
Length 128 pages
Format trade
Published 2017
Series Savage (collects issues #1-4)
My Copy I bought it


My Review
Savage takes readers of Valiant comics back to the Far, Far Away in a new story that brings back fond memories for long time readers of a certain dinosaur hunter called Turok. That said, dinosaur hunting aside, Savage is its own book and is no way related to Turok - in fact, Savage provides the third largest shared comic book superhero universe with a whole new corner to tell stories - linked and alongside the broader continuity. 

Savage Volume 1 is more than an origin story. It's a new direction for a little known and less explored corner of the Valiant universe; the Far, Far Away, and the world of dinosaur hunting. While that brief description might in itself not seem all that interesting, the publisher has a way of getting the right creative team on the right book, which results in intelligent, far-fetched yet 'real readable' stories. This could be a world outside your window book such is the ease of plausibility in the way Savage is written. 

The Sauvage family, minus a son and daughter left home, crash land on a remote and isolated island. Before too the family realize they are not alone and that things on this strange picturesque piece of paradise aren't what they seem. 

The action is plentiful, complimented by some great visuals courtesy of Clayton Henry and Lewis Larosa (Larosa's work is simply mind blowing) which really captures the dangerous day to day struggle a young Savage endures. There's also a healthy dose of mystery; things that don't add up - like why is there a tribe of humans on the island and how did they form given their immediate distrust of strangers, how does this link in with the broader Valiant universe, and what is going to happen after that last page (spoiler not included).

There's so much potential for this character, I just hope we don't have to wait too long to see where the story goes. 

My rating: 3/5

My rationale: I would've loved to have given this book 5 and it could've been but it was a super quick read that didn't have a lot of depth, sure the story ticked along nicely but if it were an issue two or longer, the extra padding would've bumped up the rating. Still enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: DESPERATION ROAD by Michael Farris Smith

Publisher No Exit Press
Length 285 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
A character study set among a backdrop of rural noir well worthy of comparisons to renowned genre writer Daniel Woodrell. A cruel twist of fate unites two wayward souls long gone their separate ways; Russell fresh out of prison for murder, and Maben, a homeless and downtrodden woman with a young child walking a path to nowhere. The two meet at gunpoint, and strangely enough, things get better for the both of them. 

Desperation Road has an impressive amount of character depth which could've easily eclipsed the need for a plot, yet author Michael Farris Smith manages to juggle the core plot and side threads perfectly, making each end loop with the next to form a cohesive narrative that reads so well you'll think you're part of the story. 

The shocking murder of a police officer on a lonesome dirt road in the middle of nowhere is the catalyst which brings the characters together, Maben, trying to escape a threat worse than death, and Russell, out driving enjoying the freedom that being a civilian rewards. The ways these two gel is a pleasure to read as is the twist linking their fates.

Moody and thought provoking, Desperation Road is a must read for fans of the rural noir. 

4 / 5 stars. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: SNOTGIRL: GREEN HAIR DON'T CARE by Bryan Lee O'Malley & Leslie Hung

Publisher Image
Length 144 pages
Format trade
Published 2017
Series Snot Girl (collects issues #1-5)
My Copy I bought it


My Review
Lottie is a twenty-something fashion blogger who suffers from severe allergies which, more often than not, leaves her with a runny nose and cold sweats. Whilst this is normal to the inflicted, her sufferance isn't a simple case of the sniffles; it's a disaster, especially in the eyes of the vain. Looking perfect all the time isn't just something Lottie likes to do, it's something she needs to do. Overtly narcissistic and self-centered, Lottie is the perfect picture her instagram projects to her followers. A runny nose makes for a smeared image that she can't and wont tolerate. When the opportunity arises to be part of a drug trial to cure what ales her, Lottie (surprisingly) reluctantly joins up, what she didn't expect was the side effects which, is where the fun beings for the reader.

Snotgirl is a hell of a fun read. The writing is fantastic and the inks and colors match the tone perfectly to project a fun, snappy read that, on the surface feels like it should read shallow - it's anything but. Lottie is likable despite her self centered ways and the support cast does what it needs to do; support Lottie's story.

There are a number of plot threads left unfinished which comes with the territory in the comic medium yet I think the creatures could've done more to bring closure to this arc. Caroline's (aka Coolgirl) story-line is the most intriguing and the most frustrating as it's largely left unresolved. I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out what's going on with her. 

Despite some unfinished business, Snotgirl is great. The first 4 issues bring a lot of joy, while the last feels incomplete. I think if there were an extra issue or two in this arc the story would've felt whole and been worthy of a 5 star rating. 

I'm looking forward to reading more of this allergy suffering fashion blogger (who would've thought?), volume two can't come quick enough.

My rating: 4 / 5 stars. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pick of the Month [May 2017]

I read 15 books in May in what was another great reading month for me. So far 2017 has produced some memorable books which is going to make my end of year list very hard - a good problem to have! 

The pick of the month was Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love. I stumbled upon this book by accident one day web surfing some of my favorite crime fiction blogs. The cover looked great and the story interesting; an inner city urban gang tale with a strong female protagonist. I was sold. 

Read the review of Lola HERE

Coming in a very close second was Malborough Man by Alan Carter; a crime fiction novel set in picturesque New Zealand. This is newly published by Fremantle Press and comes highly recommended from yours truly. 

Read the review of Malborough Man HERE

Other highlights for the month include the following in no particular order:


Review: THE SPIDER AND THE FLY by Claudia Rowe

Publisher Allen & Unwin
Length 273 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review
I've read true crime books that stray into the world of the author themselves, often detracting from the primary course of the narrative to resemble self centered memoirs rather than the content promised in the blurb. The Spider and the Fly bucks this trend; it's a book about a serial killer AND a journalist whose steady infatuation is as addictive to read as the heinous plight undertaken Kendall Francois. 

A killing spree spanning some four years and change in which 8 Poughkeepsie prostitutes were raped and murdered, for reasons withheld by the murderer provide a glimpse into the macabre madness that rots the heart of the books subject matter. The content is confronting, and disturbing to the uninitiated and the uninhabited alike, I suspect. The depiction of the final resting place of Kendall's victims, his family home (which he shared with a his mother and sister) is the stuff nightmares are made of; walls alive with maggots, a stench of actual death, and an uneasy ignorance by inhabitants that's hard to digest. As the book progresses from investigative journalism to something more I kept hoping to find reason, perhaps it's there, perhaps there is no method to the madness - do yourself a favor and read the book to find out. 

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review: THE DARK NET by Benjamin Percy

Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Length 272 pages
Format ebook
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
The Dark Net is a mixture of tech-fi and horror that reads like a thriller. The premise; an undercurrent of evil existing in the bowels of the internet (the ‘dark net’) controlled by ancient demons who have long plagued mankind through manipulation and corruption has risen to the surface to watch the world burn. Separately these elements work very well, together – not so much. The book reads as if the author had a bunch of cool ideas he wanted to incorporate into a novel but didn’t have the heart to edit out any. Adding to this soupy mix of horror, gore, and the internet is a piece of cutting edge technology which essentially cures blindness, opening new visual and spiritual worlds for the users – the Mirage. This element in itself, coupled with the tech-fi components would’ve laid the foundation for a solid story.

*SPOILER WARNING*

Oddly it was the ending of the book which saved it for me. Lela, the journalist technophobe evolves into this kick-butt character who in the epilogue, along with her niece Hannah, hunts down demons across the globe in human form with the help of the dark net – albeit a lighter shade of darkness used for good. This kind of story has legs for a sequel; more action orientated with a splash of tech-fi.

The Dark Net is an ‘ok’ read which could’ve been much better had it not come across as suffering an identity crisis.

My rating: 3/5 stars.     

Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: SUNGRAZER by Jay Posey

Publisher Angry Robot
Length 448 pages
Format ebook
Published 2017
Series Outriders #2
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
In the future, mankind has colonized Mars and conquered the stars. Artificial intelligence is at its highest point of evolution and death is a mere concept rather than a certainty.

A secret black ops unit known as the Outriders is put into action to recover a gone-rogue autonomous weaponize spaceship. Last known coordinates place it in the vicinity of Mars - with tension already on high between Mars and Earth, having the autonomous ship in control of the wrong hands could spark a war between the two planets. The stakes are high for this crack team of specialists. 

This is the second book in the Outriders series by Jay Posey yet it's new reader friendly. The only thing I really missed out on having not read book one was the group dynamics but that's easy enough to pick up. There are a couple of scenes that reference earlier assignments and one in particular which looks to have a big influence on the teams command yet the author packs enough backstory to make it work. 

Sungrazer has a semi military science fiction feel to it, however, the espionage angle is what worked best for me. I love the cloak and dagger and there's a healthy dose of it here, particularly on Mars which fits into the plot nicely. 

Overall Sungrazer is an enjoyable read that suffers from long sequences of seemingly inconsequential dialogue and chapters that pay too much attention to the teams downtime which made it feel like the book was treading water in patches. Despite the pitfalls, fans of series like The Expanse should eat this up, as well as those already familiar with the series. 

3/5 stars.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: THE GIRL IN KELLERS WAY by Megan Goldin

Publisher Michael Joseph
Length 218 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
Megan Goldin's debut novel The Girl In Kellers Way reads like she's been publishing crime fiction for years. The plot is tightly woven around well developed characters as interesting as the hidden motives and dangerous liaisons they pursue. Short, punchy chapters alternating between key characters keeps the story fresh and provides a nice yin/yang dynamic between the thin blue line of policing, and the everyday civilian. 

This slice of domestic noir with a physiological suspense twist is written from two perspectives; Mel, a homicide detective, and Julie, a stay at home mum married to a man still grieving for his first wife who was tragically murdered. The ties that bind them is the discovery of a body in Kellers Way along a stretch of forest where Julie takes her regular morning run. 

On the surface, the facade of normalcy cracks with each passing chapter as Julie's perfect life slowly resembles anything but. While Mel's diligence and knack for good old fashioned policing (aided by an unusual plus one tag along throughout the later stages of the investigation) leads the reader down a dark and often glossed over part of suburbia where violence and murder reign supreme. I devoured The Girl In Killers Way in two sittings and hope to read more of these characters sometime soon.