Promise Falls Trilogy by Linwood Barclay – Thoughts

I was sitting around thinking what to read a few weeks ago and I came across The Twenty Three – book number three in the Promise Falls Trilogy – for some reason I’d not come across the series before now. The description on the dust jacket certainly caught my attention so I ordered Broken Promise, the first of three books following the inhabitants of Promise Falls.

I really enjoyed the book, very easy to read, interesting characters and a decent plot. I did find it moved around a little in the middle but on the whole it was very enjoyable. Despite an average ending, Broken Promise is one of those books you can’t really put down and the fact that it leaves you wanting more is testament to Barclay’s ability to suck the reader in.

Far From True is an interesting one, I definitely thought this was a stronger story than the first in the trilogy and now that I’m two books in – I’ll definitely read the third because this books leaves you wanting to know what happens to the main characters. Most of the work has been done by this point, you have a vested interested into the lives of the detectives and everyone else in the small community.

The advantage of reading these books after all three have been published is fairly obvious – as long as one has the time to read them back to back there’s no delay in waiting for the next book to be published. You can follow the entire story from start to finish in quick succession!

Far From True isn’t as confusing as the first one. Everything made sense, characters developed well and unlike the first book, I didn’t have to think too hard to establish a connection with the characters. A well thought out and structured story, I can’t wait to see what happens next although one of the characters I wanted to see in the final instalment isn’t in it so that’s slightly disappointing! Excellent read and very enjoyable – quick too!

We’ve reached the end of the Trilogy, and in rather quick time I may add. Not only is the entire story set over one month but I managed to read all three books in a fortnight. Not once did I tire of the characters or location, to be honest I wanted it to continue after I closed the final book – we are never satisfied are we?!

The Twenty Three ties up all the loose ends with a gripping final storyline. People are dying after drinking the local water but no one can figure out what happened. It’s left to Detective Duckworth to try and solve this impossible crime. The urge to drink water is strong!

It’s not all about the water in this final chapter, there are many other relationships to sort out and put to bed. I was slightly disappointed with the way one finished, there was more than enough time to end it well but it just felt rushed. Overall this book – and the previous two titles – were a success. I look forward to reading more about Promise Falls in the future.

Parting Shot – published in November 2017 follows on from this trilogy.

The Silent Room by Mari Hannah – Thoughts

The Silent Room by Mari Hannah

A security van sets off for Durham prison, a disgraced Special Branch officer in the back. It never arrives. On route it is hijacked by armed men, the prisoner sprung. Suspended from duty on suspicion of aiding and abetting the audacious escape of his former boss, Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is locked out of the investigation.

With a manhunt underway, Ryan is warned to stay away. Keen to preserve his career and prove his innocence, he backs off. But when the official investigation falls apart, under surveillance and with his life in danger, he goes dark, enlisting others in his quest to discover the truth. When the trail leads to the suspicious death of a Norwegian national, Ryan uncovers an international conspiracy that has claimed the lives of many.

I’m a little late to The Silent Room party, but then that’s nothing unusual, I’m always last to any party! Published in 2015 this is a stand alone publication, separate to the well known Kate Daniels series but fear not, nothing is missing from this book, it’s an incredible read.

I appear to be on something of a roll at the moment, I’ve been very fortunate to pick up two books this past week and have loved both of them, this one by Mari Hannah and Murder Games by James Patterson.

It’s not much to ask that a book reads well, a decent story and characters you want to believe in – is it? Well in this case you find all of these and more. It’s an incredibly flowing read from the very first page to the last and one that you really want to know what happens to the characters, who they are, their backstory and what happens to them. It doesn’t always happen of course but with The Silent Room I really felt connected to Ryan and O’Neil. I simply had a vested interest in their development. I really hope this isn’t the last we hear from this pair.

Every good book has to have a strong and opinionated protagonist and in Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan we have that. He knows what has to be done and more or less how to achieve it but not afraid to ask for help and challenge anyone who happens to stand in his way. His character is colourful and balanced, to be honest I couldn’t fault him. He’s the kind of guy you’d love to share a drink with down the pub!

The storyline is strong as is the way the author leads the reader through a variety of scenarios and problem solving. I never felt lost, never confused, just confident that I knew that by the end of the book I’d be satisfied and left wanting more – in a good way. And I was!

I really enjoyed The Silent Room and although a couple of years old now, I urge you to read this – you won’t be disappointed! Mari Hannah – please write a follow up, I really want to know what happens next!

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (19 Nov. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447291042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447291046

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2017 – is here! Moz the Monster

So it’s here, finally! For me, the greatest John Lewis  advert wasn’t actually an official John Lewis commercial – it was the Geordie Penguin Spoof that proclaimed “I’m blind Dec, I’m blind!”

Is it really 12 months since the last John Lewis advert? It’s hard to believe, a little like monsters under the bed. Moz the Monster plays a starring role this time around and it could be worse – you might find Trump under the bed – no one would want that.

The advert features a cover of The Beatles song Golden Slumbers by Elbow.

So without further ado I give you the John Lewis Christmas advert – oh and get read to feel a tad emotional!!

The new advert will no doubt start a huge rush for cuddly toys and ear muffs but overall I do think they have a winner this year. I prefer it to last year’s offering which was lost on me!

Murder Games by James Patterson & Howard Roughan

I have to say I really enjoyed this read. Murder Games is light, fluid and an incredibly quick and effortless read. The opening chapters are among the most entertaining I’ve read, certainly in the last year or so, introducing us to characters and plotlines so fast that if you blink you’d miss it!

Murder Games by James Patterson

I’ve read a few of James Patterson’s books, not all of them I hasten to add but more than enough to know what I like and what I don’t and the overriding feeling I get when reading his books is enjoyment. I really enjoy how he writes the books and how entertained I am with each turn of the page. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the very beginning of the book, the middle or the end. If you’re lucky, as I feel you are in Murder Games, you’ll be thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.

There aren’t too many shocks here but the couple that were, they were so well done it was pure magic. One of the earlier surprises, and I won’t spoil it here, was delivered so subtly it really shocked me. I’m talking about two of the characters at this point, something I really hadn’t expected.

As the book ends and the authors – James is joined by Howard Roughan this time around – do not fall into the trap that so many authors do, they do not get sucked in and change relationships because it is the “done” thing. I loved how they kept certain relationships as they were meant to be. This paragraph will probably make little sense to anyone who hasn’t read the book, hopefully it will once you’ve read it!

Great characterisation, a thrill a minute read with short, sharp chapters – very much inkeeping with the Patterson tradition – that keep the story and sub plots moving at a frenetic pace. Not sure if we’ll see more of these characters in the future but I really do hope we will. Great job.

 

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Century (1 Jun. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780895380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780895383

 

Phantom by Jo Nesbo – Thoughts

Phantom by Jo Nesbø

THE MURDER HAS BEEN SOLVED. BUT HAS JUSTICE BEEN DONE?

Harry Hole is back in Oslo. He’s been away for some time, but his ghosts have a way of catching up with him. The case that brings him back is already closed. There is no room for doubt: the young junkie was shot dead by a fellow addict.

THE POLICE DON’T WANT HIM BACK…

Denied permission to reopen the investigation, Harry strikes out on his own. Beneath the city’s eerie tranquillity, he discovers a trail of violence and mysterious disappearances seemingly unnoticed by the police. At every turn Harry is faced with a conspiracy of silence.

THE CRIMINALS DON’T WANT HIM BACK…

Harry is not the only one who is interested in the case. From the moment he steps off the plane, someone is watching his every move and tracing his every call.

SOMEONE WANTS HIM SILENCED.

I’ve recently re-read Phantom by Jo Nesbø following the release of The Snowman Film and thought I’d share a few of my thoughts about the book. Phantom is a terrific novel, one that will keep you turning the pages and on the edge of your seat from the very first moment you pick up the book right up until the powerful ending, the author placing you smack bang in the middle of a city torn by drug addiction, murder and corruption – politicians and policemen alike. Trust is at a premium and betrayal the key word of the day, believe me, you don’t want to miss this novel, it will shock and surprise. I certainly didn’t see the twist coming and I’m still reeling!

Very few authors write better than Nesbø in my eyes – aided once again by a superb translation by Don Bartlett – and I am so glad I’ve had the chance to read so many of his books, Phantom is the latest in a mesmerising series featuring the damaged Harry Hole. Alcoholic. Drug Addict. Policeman. Husband. Father.

I really have to make time to read some of his earlier titles that have somehow alluded me.

Phantom isn’t your typical Jo Nesbø novel; this is all about drugs and the devastation they cause both directly and indirectly. Everyone is affected in one way or another but Nesbø pulls no punches as he paints a different kind of Oslo from the one politicians and the tourist boards would like to promote. The streets are full of pushers and gangs hell-bent on cornering the market no matter the cost or who gets in the way; they certainly don’t take kindly to Harry Hole’s interference.

You won’t find an unhinged serial killer in Phantom but you will find murder most fowl and an ex-policeman in Hole struggling to secure the release of Oleg – his son – who has been arrested for the murder of a drug addict, a supplier and someone who just happens to be his best friend. Things are never clear cut and the way Nesbø weaves his magic is incredible. Take it as read, Nesbo mentions a character for a reason, there is no dead wood in this novel.

I’m not even going to mention the narrative there really is no point – you know what you’re going to get and you certainly won’t be disappointed! Suffice to say it’s both powerful and gripping and although this is a steady read without too much gore – certainly compared to The Snowman – for the first two thirds of the book, you’ll find with 120 pages to go the pace moves up a number of gears and you’ll struggle to put the book down. The way he hooks you in is sublime to say the least. This is Nesbø at his very best.

Harry is back in Oslo after a three year exile living in Hong Kong. No longer a policeman, he returns wearing the only suit he owns and has cleaned up his act and as a recovering alcoholic he faces temptation on every corner. This is personal and only Harry has the determination to see it through but is he ready to meet the truth. Can he handle the truth? Only time will tell.

A compelling read, Phantom is a taut and multi-layered thriller that simply deserves to be read and although a rather sombre read it will most definitely entertain. Rush out and get this one, it’s a cracker!

Published by Harvill Secker.

464 Pages ·  ISBN-10: 1846555213 ·  ISBN-13: 978-1846555213

Excellent reviews also available on Crimepieces & Crime Fiction Lover

Excellent reviews also available on Crimepieces & Crime Fiction Lover

Doctor Who: First look at Jodie Whittaker in character

Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor

Way back in July, the BBC announced that Jodie Whittaker – in a 60 second special trailer – would be the 13th Time Lord following Peter Capaldi’s four year reign as Doctor Who came to an end. Well technically we still have Christmas 2017 before he leaves our screen forever but where has the last four months gone?

Today, the first pictures of Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who were released and boy is it an interesting look. In a throwback to previous incarnations of the Doctor and an obvious nod to Robin Williams’s Mork & Mindy Jodie Whittaker wears the new clothes well.

As the picture shows Jodie can be seen in cropped teal culottes with yellow braces, as well as a striped jumper and long trench coat.

Her look is completed with brown boots, blue and turquoise striped socks and some unusual earrings, at the top and bottom of her left ear.

I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey — with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honor to play the Doctor.
Braces – Not the first Doctor to wear braces – who can forget Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor smarting the clothing attire?

Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor

Stripes – They could well be a nod to Tom Baker’s (The 4th Doctor) iconic scarf, Osgood or it could just as easily be an homage to Mork and Mindy.

Earrings – Only Donna Noble as a main character has sported earrings, that is until now!

Not long to wait now, Christmas is only a few weeks away when we witness the regeneration.

 

Night School by Lee Child – Jack Reacher #21 – Thoughts

Night School by Lee Child

In the morning, they gave Reacher a medal. And in the afternoon, they sent him back to school.

It’s just a voice plucked from the air: ‘The American wants a hundred million dollars’.

For what? Who from? It’s 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there’s a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big.

Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission and a big win. The Army pats him on the back and gives him a medal. And then they send him back to school. It’s a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he’s selling. And to whom. There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad.

Night School takes Reacher back to his army days, but this time he’s not in uniform. With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders, in a wired, fiendishly clever new adventure that will make the cold sweat trickle down your spine.

Jack Reacher’s back for his 21st adventure, this time he does things a little differently, this time he’s going back to school – Night School, army style!

I’ve always enjoyed reading the Jack Reacher books and I guess I’d class myself as a fan, the Reacher series is a series I can’t wait to read. It’s not only the character that draws you in with this series; it’s the humour, literary subtlety, action and the storytelling. Who needs Bond or Bourne when you have Reacher to fight your corner?!

On the face of it there’s very little to the books. Reacher gets caught up in a situation at the beginning of the book and you know there’s really only one outcome – he has to put things right by the end. Simples. A, B, C. 1, 2, 3.

But here’s the hook, these aren’t simple books. From scene setting, character development, plotting and enough action to satisfy the most critical fan, these are complex stories written in such a way that make them easy to read and follow. You could say they’re infectious! I just adore the way the author adds complications as he goes along, it’s as if – half way through writing – he decides to make it even tougher for Reacher. Let’s face it Reacher has it easy! Just when you think things are reaching an explosive dénouement the author cranks it up and another sub plot is introduced, destined to make Reacher’s life a little more complicated.

There’s more than enough dry humour to satisfy everyone, the passages really made me smile! And of course Reacher has a dalliance or two – he deserves it, after all he is saving the world! Overall the book has a different feel about in from some of his previous books, I can’t put my finger on it but perhaps it’s the fact that Reacher goes back in time to his army days that has something to do with it. One this is certain, this is another great example of action and thriller writing at its best.

Outstanding.

  • Hardcover:400 pages
  • Publisher:Bantam Press (7 Nov. 2016)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0593073908
  • ISBN-13:978-0593073902

Gunpowder BBC One – History, Episodes 2 & 3 – Thoughts

The Gunpowder Plot is the name given to the conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th November 1605 during the State Opening, when the King, Lords and Commons would all be present in the Lords Chamber. The plot itself was foiled at midnight on the 4th November during a search of the cellar by Sir Thomas Knyvett and his friend Edmund Doubleday.

Contrary to popular belief and folklore Guy Fawkes (or Guido) played but a minor role even though he is the name widely associated with the annual firework celebrations. He was a solitary figure guarding the gunpowder when the cellar was searched on the 4th November. No one knows why he was involved but it is widely believed that his inclusion was down to his particular set of skills and the fact he was not known in London at the time.

The plot centred around four main conspirators namely Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, Thomas Winter, John Wright and the aforementioned Mr Fawkes. They were later joined by a number of other conspirators.

No one knows how the plot was discovered but history suggests an anonymous letter sent to Lord Monteagle, a catholic, warning the Lord not to attend the State Opening. A search was conducted and the rest as they say is history. Although we have a fair idea of what happened I’ll refrain from spoiling the Gunpowder series until the end of this article. Scroll down to find out what happens!

Gunpowder Episodes 2 and 3

After recovering from a brutal first episode last week, episode two aired on BBC One and episode three quickly followed via BBC’s iPlayer. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened! Episode two includes an early torture scene where two Spanish Jews are burned at the stake by the Constable of Castile. It left very little to the imagination with the screams of terror slowly falling silent to the crackles of twin fires.

Kit Harington as Robert Catesby

Production values for all three episodes was amazing with the production painting quite the dreary picture. London is hemmed in and the majority of scenes were played out in dingy alleyways or candlelit rooms, it all added to a sense of fear and claustrophobia. You could almost smell the sewage with each step.

Of the three episodes I found episode two the weakest and I felt it reverted to torture to rescue any sense of drama, not even Kit Harington could rescue the episode. While Robert Emms (Father Gerard) is being stretched and pulled to all corners (the sound effects were gruesome!) Catesby played by Harington tries to rescue him from the Tower of London. In a combination of aromatic television and gloomy lit scenes it did allow the episode to end on a high – even if it was a little far fetched!

Robert Emms as Father Gerard

The final episode ties everything together quite nicely and as it hasn’t aired on BBC yet, I wont go into too much detail. It does leave a little to be desired with artistic license but this is after all a television drama not a documentary. They follow history very well and the dramatic pauses do serve a purpose.

The acting throughout is splendid and the BBC have once again delivered a classy three part series that is well worth watching again, once the dust settles. The one major gripe I had with the series was Mark Gatiss’ portrayal of Robert Cecil. He was far too one dimensional for me and his portrayal was what we’ve come to expect from the actor in past performances. On the flip side however, Shaun Dooley who plays Sir William Wade was incredible.

One has to remember not to feel sorry for these characters when they get their comeuppance, they were after all guilty of treason and plotting to kill not only the King, James I, but members of parliament. It’s easier said than done however because we all like the romantic ideal of our heroes beating the perceived baddies in film and tv!

Gunpowder is available to buy on Blu-Ray and DVD

So what happened in the end?

The conspirators were interrogated at the Tower of London for three months. Guy Fawkes was tortured on the command of King James, the document sits in the National Archives.

‘If he will not other wayes confesse, the gentler tortours are to be the first usid unto him…God speed youre goode worke. James.’

The following is taken from the parliament website:

Francis Tresham died of natural causes in the Tower of London on 23 December 1605. The eight surviving conspirators were tried in Westminster Hall on 27 January 1606. All were condemned to death for treason.

Four men – Sir Everard Digby, Robert Winter, John Grant and Thomas Bates – were executed on 30 January 1606 in St Paul’s Churchyard.

The other four – Guy Fawkes, Thomas Winter, Ambrose Rookwood and Robert Keyes – were executed just outside Westminster Hall, in Old Palace Yard, the following day.

The heads of the two ringleaders, Percy and Catesby, who had been killed earlier at Holbeach House in Staffordshire, were set up on the ‘Parliament House’.

Gunpowder is available to buy on Blu-Ray and DVD