Monday 30 May 2016

Mark L Fowler

The second book I've read from this author and they are so different - but equally good.

Coffin Maker

My review -

When Coffin Maker strikes the last nail home and the coffin is completed, that's when the intended recipient dies. He has been doing his job as long as life has existed. In effect, he is Death, Life's antithesis. Father Henry has written a story about him and given it to his little nephew. This book is almost a fable or dark fantasy, dealing as it does with Coffin Maker and his two recent companions; his apprentices. Something, some evil being, has entered the world while Coffin was distracted and that's never happened before.

How do I categorise this book? It’s got elements of fantasy, mythology, philosophy and metaphysics. The story is both full of action and somewhat introspective and I very much enjoyed Coffin's internal dialogues, his insistence upon being The Poet of Death and keeping a journal, and his conversation with the apprentices. I can imagine this story not appealing to some people but I found it very compelling indeed. I couldn't imagine how it would end, and I loved the way it did. 

Friday 20 May 2016

Angela Marsons

Fourth in a series which keeps getting better.

My review -

This is the fourth DI Kim Stone book and the series continues to soar. There’s a secret ‘body farm’ and Kim is sent there by her superior to learn what happens to a decaying corpse. While there, they stumble upon a fresh one – newly killed and not part of the experiment. Things get weirder. Kim becomes involved with her old adversary, ruthless crime reporter Tracy Frost. They each learn something about the other (and about themselves) in the course of the book. The end of the story is heart-racing and exciting and right up to the end I suspected the wrong person. It’s great to be wrong-footed like that. If it’s easy to tell who’s the culprit it’s not much of a story – this IS much of a story!

I began, in the first of the series, by finding the lead character, Kim, a little stereotyped in terms of the modern police/detective novel but as the series has grown, so has the character of DI Stone. As much as you can say this of a fictional character, I like and respect her. I’m rooting for her when she’s in trouble; I want Bryant to turn up in the nick of time; I want Stacey to get to the core of the problem through her brilliant data-mining. I’m on the team, just cheering. This is a moving and exciting book. You must read it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

John Bowen

This is a thriller with a supernatural element. It draws you in!

Where the Dead Walk

My review -

‘Where The Dead Walk’ is the name of a television show which takes viewers on tours of allegedly haunted buildings. The presenter, Kate, and a medium named Charles take a tour of a building trying to ascertain if there's a restless spirit there. Kate and her producer, Henry, are sceptical and by series two haven't found much to convince them. They fear losing the series. Then they are invited to a house in a bleak spot. This time, there genuinely seems to be something present and it takes a personal interest in Kate.

In this story the evidence for something supernatural unfolds gradually.  We share Henry and Kate's scepticism until Sebastian, the owner of the property, takes a hand to convince Kate. We discover links from Kate's past which make the story feel possible, maybe inevitable. I found this story completely engrossing. A great read.

Friday 13 May 2016

Sean Campbell, Daniel Campbell

A writing duo who turn out an engrossing story.

Cleaver Square

My review -

DCI Morton and his team are investigating the murder of a child whose body was found in ice at Hackney Marshes. They can't get a handle on the investigation and for a long time the identity of the body remains a mystery. Meanwhile, some hacker has emptied Morton's bank accounts and his wife, blaming him, has thrown him out. And that's just the start!

I really enjoyed this story in which a number of villains get their comeuppance but a lot of difficult questions are asked. Catch the bad people and lock them up? That can allow even worse people to get away with murder, literally. Sometimes what seems the obvious answer simply throws up more problems. I enjoyed the mystery, the characters and fact that, although it was satisfying, the ending left a few threads. Life isn’t always black and white. I was engrossed in this story all the way through.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Robert Bryndza

Robert Bryndza has made quite a name for comedy writing but I have so far only read his crime fiction. I resolved to remedy this and I'm glad I did.

My review - 

Natalie, aged nineteen and still unsure of herself, leaves Jamie at the altar on her wedding day. Only her Hungarian-born gran supports her. Fifteen years later, they meet again. Natalie is running a theatre and has high hopes for a production of MacBeth with the starring role taken by an American TV heartthrob. Jamie opens a pop-up venue opposite with his girlfriend, Tuppence Halfpenny, a burlesque beauty with a tongue of acid.

This is only superficially the classic love story. There’s so much more going on here. Thanks to the sharp tongues of Natalie, Tuppence and the wonderful gran – a brilliant creation – I wasn’t left licking residual sugar from the inside of my mouth. Nat’s best friend Sharon seems to have everything Natalie has left behind – a husband, family, job outside the home. Is it too late for Nat? Does she even want that? Will she die alone…? This is a feel-good story with three dimensions. There’s sadness, anger, a lot of humour and wit, and some really memorable characters. I enjoyed it very much.

Monday 9 May 2016

Mark L Fowler

Here's a thriller that I really enjoyed. Dark, tense but enlivened with a little humour.

My review -

A couple of authors have died in suspicious circumstances, each done to death in the same manner as their last protagonist. Joy Haversham dies, leaving an unfinished manuscript very different from her previous best-selling romances. Author Nick Slater wants to get his hands on it. He’s met the man accused of killing her. This man, Gil Ray, is due to be released from prison and the Haversham family, determined not to publish the book, are in for a difficult time.

There’s something strange going on here and the reader is aware of it early on, but we don’t know quite what it is. Gil Ray is a mysterious character, grandson of a stage hypnotist, and he has a powerful effect on those who meet him, even in jail. The author cranks up the tension which is occasionally relieved by the humorous character of Nick’s agent, and by the brittle beginnings of Nick and Grace Haversham’s relationship. I haven’t read a book quite like this before. It’s most definitely a thriller but it has overtones of the supernatural. You decide if it’s really there. I love this sort of thing – being led to think rather than spoon-fed the answers. Gil Ray is a powerful creation and Silver is very enjoyable book.