Review: The Third Wave, by Karla Forbes

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Charles Morgan is a small operator in the vast computer technology industry but he has big ambitions. He borrows heavily from the Mafia to finance his dreams of becoming a big player but when he fails to make the expected profit, they are quick to demand their money back. Desperate to save his own skin, he hatches a plan that will cripple the competition and propel his new product into the ranks of market leader.

Bryony Elliot is a brilliant but naive British student who has the skills he needs to bring his plans to fruition. But she is refusing to cooperate. With time running out and his creditors’ threats becoming increasingly vicious, Morgan gives up on persuasion and employs deceit instead. Unaware of the true situation, Bryony launches a catastrophic virus attack on society. When she discovers that she has been used, she frantically attempts to stop the carnage she has wrought but she is up against violent men who are intent on stopping her.

Bryony must dig deep into her mental reserves to stay alive and reverse the damage but first, she must conquer the fears and demons that rule her life.
For Bryony has dark secrets of her own…

This is the second Nick Sullivan thriller (I reviewed Fallout here), and after having initial misgivings with the narration of that book, I was pleased to hear the familiar voice of Craig Bowles reading again.

Previously on the run, Nick was surviving by his wits and is pretty much doing the same again here. The stakes are just as high (although Nick doesn’t know that for most of the story), and I enjoyed the mystery of trying to work out what was going on.

Two niggles for me. I’m not convinced that Nick’s character would have done what he did on the boat (no spoilers), but maybe that’s just me. That’s minor. The more significant one that annoyed me more is that Nick is a bit too physical with women in this story. I’m not sure how many times he took hold of Bryony and shook her. Not the worst thing for a protagonist to do, but it did knock down his likeability for me.

But that aside, I enjoyed the story and the climax was very good.

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Review: Guarded Prognosis, by Richard L. Mabry MD

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When Dr. Caden Taggart saw the two men sitting in his waiting room, he didn’t think they were patients. He was right, and when they introduced themselves as agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency, things started to get bad.

Then Caden felt as though someone had gut-punched him when his father, Dr. Henry Taggart, told him he probably had carcinoma of the pancreas. When he talked about his son assisting with his suicide, Caden wondered how he could talk him out of that.

When he shared his news with his wife, Beth, she tried to assure Caden that God was in control. But as things progressed, he was unsure that was true. At first, he feared for his freedom. Then for his ability to cope. Eventually, he feared for his life.

This was the first medical thriller I’ve ‘read’ (via Audible) for some time (I think the last one was probably a Michael Crichton, in the 80s!), and this one was written by an actual MD, although I’m pleased that it wasn’t too heavy with medical jargon – although it did stray a little on occasion.

How best to review this book? Mmm…

The positives: The story held enough to interest me, although I found that you do have to suspend belief a little, especially in the supposed exploits of the DEA agents. The author creates a believable medical setting without being too technical. Narration was generally pretty good, and I was keen to find out what would happen to both Doctor Taggarts.

The not so positives: Not the fastest paced thriller out there. I’m normally okay with that if the story and characters can carry you along. The story was okay (with only a few bits that irritated me), but the characters? Wow, annoying. The author, I believe, was in practice from the 1960s, and his characters belong there. Old-fashioned in their outlook, behaviour, and lifestyle, they add a layer of unrealism to the story rather than bring it to life. There’s not much mystery here either. We know who the bad guys are from the off, with the only unknown being the insider. We’re only really introduced to a couple of the people at the practice, so there aren’t many candidates. And I guess like my medical professionals to place a little more reliance on science, and a little less on God.

All in all, mildly entertaining, but not the best out there.

 

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Book Review: A Murder of Crows, by Ian Skewis

 

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I listened to this on audiobook through http://www.audiobook.com, read by the author himself.

Here’s the blurb:

The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the West Coast of Scotland.

A young couple take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again…

DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he agrees to undertake one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine.

But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer…

Russel McLean wrote of this book in 2014: There are shades of Iain Banks’ early works in here, and that is a very good thing.’ He’s dead right.

This is a dark novel with a wide cast of characters, most with their own agendas, and some there just to muddy the waters. A feeling of the preternatural is never far away with this story, and you can’t help but feel that things might just step into the supernatural. But the author manages to prolong both suspense and the sense of foreboding without that happening.

DCI Jack Russell – almost literally a dogged-detective- is our protagonist, but he doesn’t actually play that big a role in the story. He’s there throughout, with a decent secret of his own to spring on the unsuspecting reader, but I think he could have perhaps played a slightly bigger part, maybe by dropping one of the other detectives. That said, everyone has a role to play, and they play it well.

I’ve maybe read a few too many crime novels, as I managed to guess where Alistair was to be found, but I must admit, the killer did catch me by surprise! All in all, I really enjoyed this one. I nearly got annoyed when I thought things weren’t going to be all neatly tied up, but I was saved. Remember: “Nothing ever ends, not really. Everything is a prelude, a prologue, to something else…”

I heard Ian read an extract from A Murder of Crows at Noir at the Bar in Harrogate earlier this year (he’s in the middle, white shirt and tie), and was pleased to be able to listen to the rest on audiobook.

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Review: Don’t Make a Sound, by David Jackson

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You can’t choose your family. Or can you?

Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.

There’s just one problem.

SHE’S NOT THEIRS.

D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .

If ever there was a book that would make you stop and question why an author isn’t yet a household name, Don’t Make a Sound is the one for David Jackson.

Don’t let the subject matter put you off. This is well-written and skilfully handled, but don’t think that you’re in for an easy ride. Jackson keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, showing us the peril Daisy is facing on a daily basis, and also putting Nathan Cody in a situation that is perhaps the worse position a man with his past can find himself in.

I was less than half-way through the book when I tweeted this:

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That was what I was thinking by Chapter 15, and the book just got better and better. And just when I thought it was all over, the twist came, kicking my feet out from under me and stomping me where it hurts. Boy, I didn’t see that coming! Fantastic. And just a little bit disturbing, making you question everything you thought.

The future of crime fiction is bright, with David Jackson shining very brightly indeed!

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Review: Exit Strategy, by Colleen Cross

 

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Diamonds, Danger, and Disappearance

A Katerina Carter Legal Thriller

Out of work and running out of money, private investigator and fraud expert Katerina Carter desperately needs more clients or she’ll be forced to go crawling back to a cubicle at her previous firm, a fate worse than debt.

So when Liberty Diamond Mines CEO Susan Sullivan hires Kat to find Liberty’s missing CFO and a large sum of embezzled money, she’s eager to accept the job. But her excitement soon turns to terror when two company employees are brutally murdered.

Kat realizes that this investigation is much more dangerous than she had ever imagined when she uncovers a sinister connection between blood diamonds and organized crime. She races against time to prove it—and stay alive long enough to expose the real criminals…or her first case might just be her last.

I listened to this book via Audible, and really enjoyed it! The forensic accountant angle for a protagonist is a new and unusual one for me, but one that worked well. Katerina (Kat) Carter is struggling to keep her Practice – and her life – afloat, when she’s hired by Liberty Diamonds following a $5 billion dollar embezzlement. But the prologue showing a daughter trying to betray her arms-dealing gangster of a father gives us a steer that there’s much more going on here.

Kat is hired by the CEO to try and track down the missing funds, but soon uncovers clues to something much bigger going on. With her foolish uncle having invested much more than he can afford into Liberty Diamonds, and her own livelihood hanging in the balance, there’s a lot at stake.

Kat Carter is an interesting choice of protagonist, smart, yet vulnerable, but with a dogged determination that drives her to uncover the truth, even as the bodies start mounting up, and it’s clear that her own life is in grave danger.

Great characters, great story and great narration (even though I struggled not to liken Uncle Harry’s voice to that of Marge Simpson!)

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Review: Seek and Destroy, by Alan McDermott

 

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She got away once. They can’t let it happen again.

Eva Driscoll is on the run. She has a new identity, and the best part of $20m liberated from the CIA. Henry Langton is dead but his sinister allies are circling, and not even a presidential pardon can help Eva against an organization that operates above the White House.

With agents around the globe and no tactic off limits, Langton’s men are calling the shots. When they track down ex-CIA computer expert Farooq Naser and threaten Andrew Harvey and Tom Gray, Eva knows they will come for her next. She needs to run—and fast—but what chance does one woman have against the most powerful group in the United States, with just a few ex-spooks and a couple of mercenaries on her side?
But her pursuers should know that, even backed into a corner, Eva Driscoll is not the kind of prey to give up without a fight. But will it mean hurting those she cares for the most?

Seek and Destroy, due to be published on 14 November 2018, comes hot on the heels of the first Eva Driscoll novel, Run and Hide, which I reviewed over the summer. Eva’s story follows on from where the last book left off, and once again we are plunged into a shadowy world of espionage, where governments are not the most powerful organisations on the planet.

Eva’s world crossed with Tom Gray‘s (McDermott’s debut novel series character) in her first outing, and does so even more so in this story. In fact, I’d probably have to go back to check, but I’m not sure that Tom Gray doesn’t get more page time than Eva. But that’s not to the detriment of the story when you have two such great protagonists. And deadly too. And with that combination who or what can stand in their way?  But the stakes are high, with young children’s lives hanging in the balance, so nothing is guaranteed.

Seek and Destroy is another excellent, fast-paced thriller from Alan McDermott, who reminds us that in a world as dangerous as Eva Driscoll’s, nobody is safe. Or guaranteed to make it home.

 

 

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Review: Lost and Found, by JL Simpson

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Hot on the success of her first case, British female sleuth Daisy Dunlop can count the offers of work on one finger. An empty bank account and the need to prove to her business partner, private investigator Solomon Liffey, that she is an asset, not a liability, calls for drastic measures. Terror has to be overcome as she answers a plea to find the one thing that gives her night sweats and flashbacks. A dog! A missing stud poodle to be exact.

Solomon’s amusement at Daisy’s new case is short lived when the arrest of his former girlfriend, Lisa, leaves him with the full-time care of his young daughter, Molly. A dead man is discovered in Lisa’s bed. Now he needs to help find the killer before Molly’s safety is compromised.

When Daisy realizes the dead man is linked to her current case, Solomon and Daisy are forced to work together to rescue the dog and uncover the killer’s motives. Would the sexual prowess of a poodle really incite someone to murder, or is the real motive hidden somewhere in Solomon’s secret past?

I’m going to start off by saying this isn’t my usual fare, and I think I probably enjoyed it all the more because of that. I listened to the story via Audible (lasting 9 hrs and 36 mins, and brilliantly read by Diana Croft), and found it very entertaining. The characters work their way through the story with a gentle humour that isn’t supposed to be ‘laugh-out-loud’ funny, but which will keep a smile on your face for the majority of the mystery.

And yes, we do have a mystery here. A stolen poodle.  Oh, and murder. But the main joy here is watching the interaction between Daisy and Soloman as they get themselves into all sorts of trouble and strife. Great characters, and perfect for this humorous private investigator murder mystery.

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