Category Archives: Fiction

Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci (Atlee FBI #1)

David Baldacci

New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci introduces a remarkable new character: Atlee Pine, an FBI special agent assigned to the remote wilds of the western United States. Ever since her twin sister was abducted by a notorious serial killer at age five, Atlee has spent her life hunting down those who hurt others. And she’s the best at it. She could be one of the Bureau’s top criminal profilers, if she didn’t prefer catching criminals in the vast wilderness of the West to climbing the career ladder in the D.C. office. Her chosen mission is a lonesome one–but that suits her just fine.

Now, Atlee is called in to investigate the mutilated carcass of a mule found in the Grand Canyon–and hopefully, solve the disappearance of its rider. But this isn’t the only recent disappearance. In fact, it may be just the first clue, the key to unravelling a rash of other similar missing persons cases in the canyon. . .

It was about this time last year that I read David Baldacci’s book The Christmas Train, a real good feeling book about, you’ve guessed it, Christmas! It’s the same old story – travelling at Christmas in inclement weather, and an adventure with plenty of intrigue. I think I was twenty pages in when I suddenly thought this would make a charming film and guess what, they made one! I digress! Halfway through Long Road to Mercy there’s a thrilling scene set on a train travelling across America, it made me think of David’s previous book! Plenty of subject matter and imagination available there then!

Long Road to Mercy – David Baldacci

So this time around we are introduced to Atlee Pine, Baldacci’s first female lead and in a time of #metoo and sexual equality Atlee has arrived just in time, in fact her timing is impeccable. She’s a ballsy character and one who knows what she wants and how to get it. She’s intelligent and clever and can beat most men at hand to hand combat, she also has a soft side but that takes a little coaxing out!

Atlee carries a lot of baggage as we soon discover, attacked at the age of 5 in her own bedroom, the abduction of her twin sister Mercy that same night, helps mould her into the fierce loner we are introduced to. She doesn’t enjoy relationships, a loner as I’ve just said and someone who’s really not interested in climbing the corporate FBI ladder. Give her a beer at the end of the day and she’s happy.

Atlee Pine’s name came to me very swiftly. I wrote it down and then thought about what sort of character I wanted to build from that. As a writer, I think you can tell when you want to stretch your wings and challenge yourself to do something different. Writing a female as the lead protagonist was something different for me, and it was a challenge for me as a male to write a female character. Doing something different with each book is what drives me as a writer and what keeps me excited. I hope this means that readers are excited when they’re reading it too.

Long Road to Mercy moves at a frenetic pace, helped in part by great characterisation – especially Atlee and her secretary Blum – who following a sticky beginning, click and help carry the storyline along. I really enjoyed the story, how Baldacci brought in relevant and current international topics of concern – Russia and North Korea to name but two – and the bad guys you find yourself hating! It always amazes me how authors can get this reaction out of readers but it helps when you have an author at the top of his game.

The length is just about spot on but the final third flies by in the blink of an eye with quick chapters and great adventure. The only question left is who will end on top and will Atlee save the day? I guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out – I know!

Long Road to Mercy will be published on November 15th, 2018 by Pan Macmillan.

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons – My Thoughts

The Hanging Club

A band of vigilante executioners roam London’s hot summer nights, abducting evil men and hanging them by the neck until dead.

SENTENCED TO DEATH
– The gang member who’s abused vulnerable girls.
– The wealthy drunk driver who’s mowed down a child.
– The hate preacher calling for the murder of British soldiers.

As the bodies pile up and riots explode across the sweltering city, DC Max Wolfe hunts a gang of killers who many believe to be heroes.

And discovers that the lust for revenge starts very close to home …

A thoroughly entertaining read, the book flows well from beginning to end, full of intrigue and murder, DC Wolfe returns for another challenging case.

A very simple but clever concept – no idea why this hasn’t been done before – it doesn’t take long for this this book to scream into life. Videos suddenly begin appearing online, not your average youtube video mind you, there’s no Michael Buble or cover artist in site. Someone’s hanging people and posting them for others to enjoy what turns out to be a gratifying revenge kill. One hanging follows another and it becomes apparent very quickly that the victims who turn up in Tyburn aren’t that nice.

The victims have a dark and unsavoury past and once this becomes apparent to a public hypnotised by the killings the police are fighting a loosing battle, especially with the press corp who appear to be supporting the group of vigilantes responsible. DC Max Wolf certainly has his work cut out for himself and only time will tell if he can get through to the end safely and find those responsible.

With each kill comes additional information and subtle clues. The police can’t find the kill zone and have no idea where these hangings are occurring. What they do discover rather quickly is roughly where the bodies will pop up – but that really doesn’t help their cause initially.

This is the first Max Wolfe book I’ve read and although it would be better for continuity purposes if I’d read the previous adventures I didn’t feel as if this fact hindered my enjoyment at all. Max is a great character and a determined one at that. He has his fair share of scrapes in The Hanging club, that’s what protagonists are fore aren’t they?!

The pace is good and the introduction of numerous supporting characters is well thought out, not once did I feel that a character was introduced just for the sake of it. I can’t wait to read the next DC Max Wolfe, he’s found a new fan in this reader that’s for sure.

Hardcover: 416 pages

  • Publisher: Century (19 May 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780892373
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780892375

End of Watch by Stephen King – My Thoughts

The cell rings twice, and then his old partner in his ear… ‘I’m at the scene of what appears to be a murder-suicide. I’d like you to come and take a look. Bring your sidekick with you, if she’s available…’

Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the ‘Mercedes Massacre’ when a queue of people was run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield.

End of Watch

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways …

Both a stand-alone novel of heart-pounding suspense and a sublimely terrifying final episode in the Hodges trilogy, End of Watch takes the series into a powerful new dimension.

Stephen King is back in his safe haven of terror writing, no one frankly does it better and this genre, although plentiful, there’s always room for one of writings most creative and elegant writers. End of Watch marks the third and final novel in the trilogy featuring retired detective Bill Hodges, or Kermit as he is affectionately called.

Rumours, Suspicions and evidence – or lack thereof – play into the hands of Bill Hodges who has always suspected that Brady Hartsfield’s catatonic state is a sham, suffering from a brain injury there’s no possible way the killer can continue to impart his will on others is there?. Not one to quit Hodges begins to wonder if the rumours circulating from Brady’s hospital wing about his powers of telekinesis are true. Can he really have a hold on people from a distance using his mind? Only time will tell and it looks as if it’s up to Hodges to provide the answers.

Although not my favourite of King’s writing, that honour lies with the imperious The Stand, Pet Cemetery and 11.22.63, the book serves as a sumptuous finale to the trilogy for the narrative is luxurious and impressive. King clearly knows his stuff and he knows how to write, engaging both characters and readers at the same time, allowing said reader to escape into a world of literary fiction and imagination.

End of Watch serves as both a conclusion and a standalone, so if you haven’t read Mr. Mercedes or Finders Keepers do not fear all will be revealed – although as I’ve always said read the series in order if you can, it adds a great deal of depth and back story. What I love about King is his storytelling and ability to bring the history of the two earlier books together in a natural and unforced way. He doesn’t delve too deeply, the balance between the past and present is spot on but what you do get is a sense of history, Brady’s history. A killer at a very young age he really hasn’t stopped but when you’re the offspring of a drunk mother and a father who died early in his childhood his upbringing was less than perfect. However, Brady might well feel a little different to you and me – he is after all a sociopathic killer.

Mind control, suicide, technology and a liberal helping of horror and the supernatural End of Watch has just about everything a Stephen King fan could desire. A desire for revenge and control, Brady Hartsfield is incredible as Kermit’s nemesis. Dark, brooding and manipulative I just loved his darkness, maybe I’m the one who should be afraid!

  • Hardcover: 368 Pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (7 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1473634008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1473634008

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

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