Tuesday 26 February 2013

Ray Kingfisher

Ray is a new author to me but was recommended by Joo of the Kindle Users Forum.  She picked a good one to steer me towards!

Slow Burning Lies

Amazon.com  Slow Burning Lies

My review

I’ve just finished this book and I’m still getting my breath back!  It’s a story about dreams, about identity, about childhood influences and fractured relationships.  It’s rather amazing.  For most of the book, the narrator is a man telling his own incredible story and we are largely unaware of who he is.  We, and his listener, suspect he is the man called Patrick, the subject of the story.  As the book progresses, it becomes very dark, rather unsettling and a bit frightening in its intensity.  What’s happening to Patrick?  Is he dreaming the future?  Are his dreams real?  He confides in his boss at work, in spite of his misgivings.

This is a tense and tightly woven story told by one character to another.  We only realise why he has chosen to tell his tale to this particular person in the last few pages of the story and at that point I felt my own pulse racing.  As the book progressed I found myself wondering what was going on, beginning to get the picture and finally wondering if it really could happen.  Ray Kingfisher is a new writer to me but he has a very readable style and I enjoyed his imagination.  I’m certainly going to look at more of his work in the near future.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Beverley Carter

Another great little story from Beverley Carter.  She never lets me down!

Murder at Tremawney Heights

Amazon.com Murder at Tremawney Heights

My review -

I’m an unashamed fan of Beverley Carter’s novellas.  You don’t always want to be reading War and Peace and it’s great to have something lighter you can read in an evening.  If you’ve read The House on Tremawney Hill, you’ll have met some of these characters.  Alison owns the estate agency where Laura, main character for the earlier novella, and Denise, Alison’s step daughter, also work.  Denise and Alison have a lovely, bantering and believable relationship and these characters are nicely drawn.

When you tell your kids not to get mixed up with the wrong sort, you don’t usually mean the well-to-do!  Denise’s new boyfriend introduces her to his rich but unpleasantly dysfunctional family.  She is later asked by his mother to sell one of their properties and finds a body there.  Within the limits of a novella it’s hard to give minor characters much depth but still, the bland Mallowry, the waspish Victoria and the drunken, lecherous Toby made an impression on me and on the story.  I didn’t predict the ending, which had another layer of surprise too. From the fact that there is an unresolved sub-plot, I assume there’s a possible further visit to Tremawney in store.  I look forward to it!

Saturday 23 February 2013

Andrew Barrett

Andrew's fantastic trilogy The Third Rule is now available as a single volume at the remarkable price of £2.99.

The Third Rule: The Complete Story

Amazon.com The Third Rule: The Complete Story

My review -

Now it’s possible to have this very long story all in one book.  Despite the fact that I have all three on my kindle and have read them several times, I have bought the complete volume so I don’t have to shuffle about through my kindle (it never gets shoved into archives!) in order to continue reading.

Eddie Collins, Scenes of Crime officer, has hit rock bottom.  Thanks to an act of sacrificial heroism, he is haunted by nightmares and has taken to drinking.  His wife Jilly has thrown him out and he spends time with his alcoholic friend and old fashioned journalist, Mick.  That’s bad enough.  It gets worse.  There’s a new Justice Act and it brings the death penalty back for those who transgress The Rules three times.  If you’re the son of the justice minister though, you can get away, literally, with murder.  Eddie, through his search for justice for his own son, becomes a Third Rule criminal.  He and Mick take it upon themselves to bring this corruption to an end.

The story is tightly written and packed with strong characters who will bring out your emotions, both good and bad!  The author’s writing style is wonderful and he can take you from laughter to a lump in the throat in a very short space.  There’s a lot of black humour here, there’s despair but there’s a strong sense of natural justice and Andrew Barrett’s deep understanding of human nature.  A wonderful book.  

Saturday 16 February 2013

Carl Ashmore

The problem with long anticipation of another book from a favourite author is that as soon as it's published, you read it... and the long anticipation starts again!

Time Hunters # 3 the Spear of Fate

Amazon.com Time Hunters #3 The Spear of Fate

My review - 

In this third outing in Uncle Percy’s Time Machines, the wonderfully observed Becky and Joe take a trip to Egypt. They find that the evil Time Traveller Emerson Drake has been working with a doctor from wartime Germany. Evil piles upon evil, and just a few good people stand in its way. They search for the Spear of Fate with the help of Will and Edgar the Minotaur and have to solve a couple of puzzles on the way. This story is darker and includes the presence of a truly evil man. One might almost say, you couldn’t make him up. Sadly, you needn’t. 

Carl Ashmore doesn’t duck the hard events in history and his stories are all the more real for that. The children, too, are a delight; even, perhaps especially, when they act as typical teenagers and strop at one another. As always, there are some very funny moments in this book, partly consisting of the banter between the children and partly the comments of their long-suffering Uncle Percy. There’s plenty of action, one or two unexpected meetings and for Becky, a real ‘Ahh’ moment towards the end. I won’t spoil it for you, but you’ll know it when you read it. It’s great to discover at last, the cause of ‘the Sphinx’s inscrutable smile!’ Altogether, this is another brilliant Ashmore Special. 

Monday 11 February 2013

David Haynes

David Haynes is fairly new on the Indie scene and this little quartet of linked short stories is a Victorian 'Penny Dreadful' style offering.  I enjoyed it very much.

Mask of the Macabre

Amazon .com Mask of the Macabre

My review -

This quartet of inter-related short stories is written in the Penny Dreadful style of Victorian melodrama and it pulls the style off very well. The language is measured and portentous; the dark alley-ways of Victorian London with their swirling mists are conjured up very evocatively. The stories are engaging but gruesome. They aren’t the slasher, bloodfest style of horror, although there’s blood in there aplenty. They are more the creepy, unpleasant and subtle kind of old fashioned horror which I very much enjoy.

There’s some lovely writing here; good descriptions of the night time scenes, the buildings, the people. David Haynes’ writing is showing great fluency and his characters become three dimensional because of it. There’s the theatre performer whose show is more than it seems, a lunatic asylum patient, a photographer of the dead, producing the Memento Mori beloved of those times and almost, a return to the beginning.... One character in the book stood out for me and aroused my compassion but I can’t say more without spoiling the story. You’ll have to read it to find out! This is a little gem of its genre.

Friday 8 February 2013

D M Andrews

This story, from Darren Andrews, is to be published as episodes.  I love fantasy and enjoyed this a great deal.  I wonder how long he'll keep us waiting for Part 2?

Dreamwalkers (Part One)

Amazon.com  Dreamwalkers (Part One)

My review -

Cal is a seventeen year old loner, often bullied at school, who takes refuge in his dream life, which over the years he has learnt to control. He can consciously build dream settings and enjoys a world where he feels happy and empowered. He begins to see a girl in these dreams, more often than he thinks can be coincidental, and then she joins his class at school. He realises he is not in control of his dreams any more.

This story is the first episode in a longer tale which we see unfolding as a virus begins to take hold in the younger generation. Cal and the girl, Ash, meet up in the Dreamframe to try to find out what is going on. The story is intriguing, often stunningly described, and the characters are easy to empathise with. There's a climactic finish but it's evidently not the end. I love D M Andrews' writing and I eagerly await the next installment of this story.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Sam Kates

A few days ago I read Sam's short stories and knew it wouldn't be long before I read his first full novel.  It's wonderful!

The Village of Lost Souls

Amazon.com  The Village of Lost Souls

My review -

This book is marketed as horror but it is so much more. The elderly John Andrews is relating his life story, and the first part of the book tells of his childhood, partly during the Second World War and its effect on his small family in Newcastle. In its way, that is horror enough. After the war and his father’s death from cancer, he and his mother leave to join her sister in a small Cornish village and that’s when the strangeness begins. He meets a girl and falls in love and he finds that his aunt has secrets in her past which still haunt her.

Sam Kates is an articulate and gifted writer. His prose is eloquent and beautiful and, as the story progresses, we and John begin to feel that all is not right in the small village. The horror here is subtle and mounts inexorably. We read on in awe as the past catches up with the present and we fear that John will not be able to cope. I read this book in a day – admittedly staying up past my bedtime to finish it. How could I not? I only discovered Sam Kates’ work a few days ago. It’s wonderful and he has got himself another fan here!

Sunday 3 February 2013

AK Dawson

Andrew is a favourite author of mine; I've never read a duffer by him!  This is his darkest work yet.  It's a deep psychological thriller.

Into Pieces

Amazon.com  Into Pieces

My review -

This book starts off like any dark thriller, with a crime committed and a family in turmoil.  However, this happens in a society where the police take bribes and the family don’t look like achieving closure.  The story becomes a tightly written, tense chiller/thriller and starts to feel very claustrophobic.  Melanie’s sister Claudia and husband Guy decide that the only justice must come from them.  We watch two people spiral downwards, watch psyches under strain begin to crumble.

This is a beautifully written story.  AK Dawson takes the despair and outrage of losing a lovely young woman in a brutal manner and pushes his characters to the extreme.  I was on the edge of my seat with this story and even at the end, when all appeared to be resolved, he brought a shiver to my spine.  A really good five star read.