Saturday 27 July 2013

Jason Stadtlander

The Steel Van Man is a psychological thriller that turns the genre upside down.  It makes you question your previous thoughts on the subject - never a bad thing!

The Steel Van Man The Steel Van Man

My review - 

This novel turns the crime/thriller genre on its head. We spend just over half of the book trying, with the police and the FBI, to find the identity of ‘the hunter’, the one who slays couples in a bizarre execution ritual. We are carefully mis-directed initially. For much of the second half of the book, we know who that hunter is. Not only are we aware of the identity but we gradually learn of the motives. The question now is, can the hunter’s two separate lives be maintained? This, strangely, had me hoping for the hunter’s success in evading discovery. Although there are scenes depicting the kills, this book is not of the slasher/bloodfest style of horror story. This is a subtle telling of a strange tale.

It’s a cleverly written book which manages to manipulate the reader’s usual instincts and what could have been a devastating ending for this person twists away to allow for possibly further development. I do hope that happens. It’s an intriguing idea, that someone’s early upbringing, complemented by a deep experience a little later in life, could result in the creation of a ‘monster’ who kills – but not indiscriminately. If you are at all interested in the psychology of a killer, this book is a must! I enjoyed it thoroughly. 

Thursday 25 July 2013

Bo Brennan

This is a new author to me and one to watch for the future.  I really got sucked into this book.

Stealing Power

Amazon .com Stealing Power

My Review -

This is a fantastic first novel which is intended as the first of a trilogy.  DCI Colt and Detective India Kane are on the trail of a serial rapist.  The man obviously has some issued with Colt, as he sends him videos of the incidents as they happen.  He also sends them to the drugged women, many of whom don’t know they’ve been violated until they receive a tape.  The story here is unusual, in that it involves not only individuals but families.  The two detectives involved find themselves facing their own pasts and their own darkest fears.

This is a gripping story and nicely told. I found myself twice deducing the identity of the villain and being wrong on both occasions!  Lovers of crime stories, especially dark psychological thrillers, are in for a good read with this one.  I particularly found the opening sequence a real hook.  I couldn’t stop reading after that!  Excellent stuff, and I’m glad there’s more to come.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Jim Webster

Another book from the Land of the Three Seas - and this one's a belter!

Learning a Hard Trade

Amazon .com  Learning a Hard Trade

My review -

In this very engaging story we follow Trulor in his education and coming of age in the Land of the Three Seas. His father owned an apparently magical belt decorated with seven plaques, which was broken up and distributed to several people. He decides to try to reunite these parts and have the belt renovated. Jim Webster writes some excellent fight scenes, action packed but believable. He also writes with a whimsical humour which I very much enjoy.

I have read all the stories of this series and this is by far my favourite. I felt the characters were so well drawn and I really cared about their fate. Fantasy readers - form a queue for the next book - but I'll be first!

Friday 12 July 2013

Philip Whiteland

This is the first of Philip Whiteland's 'nostalgedy' collections that I've read and it took me down memory lane and no mistake.  Light hearted, well observed and funny.  What's not to like?

A Kick at the Pantry Door

Amazon .com A Kick at the Pantry Door

My review - 

This is a series of reminiscences, linked together as though it’s a menu. This relates to the author’s mother’s expression, when asked what was for dinner, ‘A kick at the pantry door.’ The author is a classic raconteur and his observational wit makes these stories both accurate an amusing. We hear about his school days, about his paper-round and his first job. I remember many of the things he talks about and for those much younger, it’s a lesson in what life was like before all the technology we’re now used to.

Throughout the book, the stories come closer to the present day and we find the author and his wife in a notoriously slow restaurant and on a cruise ship holiday. The only beef for me was that there was a chapter of another book at the end, something I never read and find unnecessary. There are already links to the author’s other books and it always smacks of padding.

If you’re old enough (late 50s and 60s should see you nodding and smiling here) you’ll find a lot of memories rekindled. If you’re not, read this and have a laugh finding out how your parents lived! 

Wednesday 10 July 2013

George Hamilton

This is the first of George's books I've read but I doubt it will be the last!  It's a classic of its genre and will stay with you if you read it.

Secrets from the Dust Secrets from the Dust

My review - 

This is the stunning story of Margaret, a mixed race Australian Aboriginal girl, who is captured from her family.  She is brought up initially in a school which trains girls in domestic service but is eventually placed with an adoptive white family who have baggage of their own.  It’s a sensitive telling of a shocking tale, which respects the native Australians and their beliefs.  Margaret chooses to be baptised, seeing it as a way to marry a white person and improve her own children’s lot in life.  We see her gradually change her views and try to emulate those who are successful in society.  The change is a sad one, as she cannot be accepted, society’s views being as they are. 

This is a beautifully written, suspenseful novel and it shocked me in the same way the The Help did.  It reminded me that people of differing race and culture had treated one another this way in my own lifetime.  No doubt in places people still feel like this but thankfully it isn’t considered acceptable by most of us now.  I heartily recommend this novel.  It’s a brilliant read!