Click a logo below for more information...
 
 

Reviews

July 2006

Peter Temple - The Broken Shore

"....a fascinating read..."

Synopsis:
Joe Cashin is an Australian homicide detective now running a police station in Port Monro. He leads the investigation into a local millionaire, Charles Burgoyne, who is found murdered with his expensive watch stolen.

Suspicion falls on the local aboriginal community but a stake-out results in the accidental death of two aboriginal youths, possibly with the complicity of the racist Detective Hopgood. The pressure is on Joe Cashin to solve the case and diffuse the tension in the small town.

Review:
This is an excellent novel by Peter Temple. He is not a writer I have heard of before but seems to be well known in Australia. The book is a fascinating read because it sets out a taut and well-constructed murder investigation and contains vivid descriptions of the small Australian town with its racial tensions.

There were a few references in the book to previous inquiries, and I presume there have been previous novels featuring Joe Cashin. However, this in no way detracted from the excellent plot.

I look forward to the next Peter Temple book to be published in the UK.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Dean Koontz - The Husband

"As ever, Koontz goes straight for the kill."

Synopsis:
We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash.

Landscape gardener Mitchell Refferty thinks it must be some kind of joke. He was busy planting flowerbeds for one of his clients when his phone rang. Now he's standing in a normal suburban neighbourhood on a bright summer day having a phone conversation out of his darkest nightmares. Whoever is on the other end of the line is deadly serious. 'See that guy across the street'. Rifle fire shatters the stillness as the man goes down, shot in the head.

The caller doesn't care much that Mitch has no way of raising such a vast sum. He's confident that if Mitch loves his wife enough, he will find a way.

Mitch does love her enough – and he's got sixty hours to prove it. He'll pay anything. He'll pay a lot more than two million dollars.

Review:
As ever, Koontz goes straight for the kill. Never one to preamble, his book starts with action and continues in this vein to the very last page.

Mitch is your typical 'good guy'. He is a hard working, law abiding good husband who is well liked. Unfortunately, he is in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, pushed into a corner, he comes out fighting.

The story is extremely fast paced, and the body count goes up with the pages. Koontz is an expert in writing dramatic, exciting thrillers, and fans will not be disappointed with his latest bestseller.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Kathy Reichs - Break No Bones

"...another excellent read from Kathy Reichs"

Synopsis:
In the latest tale of Temperance Brennan she is in South Carolina on an archaeological field school looking at pre Colombian remains. On the second to last day a body is discovered which turns out to be considerably newer than expected on that site. The Coroner is an old friend of Tempe and asks her to help out because the resident forensic anthropologist is away in Iraq. The dead body turns out to have belonged to a private investigator and former cop who was on the trail of several missing persons.

Tempe's private life becomes complicated when ex husband Pete turns up at the house where she is staying, as he too has been offered a place to stay by their mutual friend, Anna. Pete is working on the accounts of a charitable organisation after doubts have been raised by the daughter of his client, a local businessman. This daughter is now also missing. The two investigations turn out to have much in common.

Ryan, Tempe's close friend and lover, also turns up and the relationship between the three of them is tense. Events focus in on a health clinic run for destitute people and the identity of the person who is threatening Tempe and injures Pete remains in doubt until the very last minute.

Review:
As always, Kathy Reichs brings her wealth of knowledge on forensic anthropology to bear, giving authenticity to the story. This has to provide a solid base on which to construct the plot.

The story moves along at a really good pace and keeps the reader's interest right up to the very last moment. Tempe Brennan's emotional life is complicated but continues to be believable and it certainly provides another strand of interest.

I think the style of writing has changed a little over the years and is now more terse and colloquial, but this does reflect the development of the character of Tempe. This is another excellent read from Kathy Reichs and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Janet Evanovich - Twelve Sharp

"As ever, Evanovich excels herself."

Synopsis:
Whilst chasing down the usual cast of miscreant and weirdos, Stephanie discovers that a crazed woman is stalking her. The woman, dresses in black, carries a 9mm Glock. She has a bad attitude and a mysterious connection to Carlos Manoso, street name Ranger.

The action turns deadly serious and Stephanie goes from hunting skips to hunting a murderer.

Ranger needs Stephanie for more reasons than he can say. And now the two are working together to find the killer, rescue a missing a child and stop a lunatic from raising the body count. When Stephanie Plum and Ranger get too close for comfort, vice cop, Joe Morelli (her on-again, off-again boyfriend) steps in.

Will the ticking clock stop at the stroke of twelve, or will a stranger in the wind find a way to stop Stephanie Plum... forever?

Review:
Despite keeping to the same characters and being on her twelfth book, Evanovich has lost none of her steam with the Stephanie Plum novels and they still retain the same humour and originality they did from the start.

The main characters are larger than life, the plots unbelievable and completely implausible, which just adds to the enjoyment of the books. Even the incidental characters have been given much thought and I especially liked the interviewee with the Magic Marker pen!

Twelve Sharp continues with Stephanie trying to carve a living as an incompetent bounty hunter, with the help of ex-hooker, Lula. These two characters work really well together and the dialogue they share is priceless. Grandma Mazur is still alive and kicking and her fondness for funeral home viewings is still strong. In fact, the whole family is hilarious.

The book, of course, contains the usual Stephanie-Ranger-Morelli-Triangle. In fact, the only things absent from Twelve Sharp were exploding cars.

As ever, Evanovich excels herself. And my only disappointment is having to wait for the next instalment.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Lindsay Ashford - Death Studies

"This is an intensely readable book…"

Synopsis:
This story is set in Wales, near the cottage once owned by Megan Rhys' grandmother. Megan is to speak at a Police Conference on sex offenders in West Wales and is spending a few days relaxing by the sea at the cottage, which now belongs to Megan and her sister Ceri.

The period of relaxation is rudely interrupted by the discovery of a body in marshland near to the golf club. Because of the preservative qualities of the peat it is not immediately obvious how long the body has been there. It may be an example of an ancient body, well preserved, and this possibility excites a local archaeologist whose speciality is the preservation of bodies in the marsh.

Megan uses her skills in forensic psychology to unravel the secrets of the body in the bog, whilst her sister falls for another disastrous man and this time manages to rescue herself from the situation.

Review:
Death Studies is the third in the series. The second, Strange Blood, is currently short-listed for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.

Death Studies is an intensely readable book, with characters that continue to develop as the series runs, strongly attracting the reader's interest. The plot is intriguing and moves along at a cracking pace. It is well up to the standard of the last two and definitely worth a read.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Susanna Gregory - The Tarnished Chalice

"continues in the enjoyable tradition of the series"

Synopsis:
This is the twelfth story about Matthew Bartholomew, a fourteenth century physician. In this tale he continues to search for Mathilde who has left Oxford before he has the courage to ask her to marry him. He and his Bookbearer, Cynric, accompany his friend Brother Michael to Lincoln where Michael is to be installed as a Canon.

Lincoln is found to be an unruly and dangerous city. The Bishop has a group of clergy who behave in an extremely unclerical fashion, the Sheriff is openly accepting bribes and the leading citizen that Matthew has come to question about Mathilde is less than co-operative.

Inevitably but reluctantly Matthew and his friends are drawn into investigating a series of mysterious deaths, related in some way to a chalice purporting to have belonged to the venerated saint, St Hugh of Lincoln.

Review:
The atmosphere of Lincoln at this time is clearly depicted - and a very gloomy and depressing place it is.

Matthew and Michael continue to be believable and sympathetic heroes who manoeuvre their way through the pitfalls set for them in this strange city.

The story moves on quickly and the descriptions are extremely vivid. This book brilliantly continues in the enjoyable tradition of the series.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Michael Robotham - The Drowning Man

"The story involves a masterly sleight of hand…"

Synopsis:
Found clinging to a life buoy in the River Thames, Vincent Ruiz is a very lucky man. However, he simply cannot remember how he got to be there with a gun shot wound and losing pints of blood. No matter how lucky he feels, the police department want answers.

Ruiz cannot answer their questions. What was he doing on the Thames in the middle of the night? Who had shot him and why was he covered in different people's blood? A boat is found up river, and it looks as though a bloodbath had taken place. Did the boat have something to do with Ruiz and his shattered memory?

All Ruiz does know is that it involves the disappearance of Mickey Carlyle three years ago. Her body was never found and a man is in prison for her abduction and murder. So why does Ruiz feel Mickey is still alive? Ruiz, with the help of his doctor friend, Joe, replays those lost days and tries to find out what really happened to that seven year old girl who literally vanished into thin air.

Review:
I have to confess that I picked up this paperback whilst eating my cornflakes with the intention of reading just a few pages. The next thing I knew I had read 50 pages, and withing days I had finished the book after not being able to put it down! The writing is fluid and moves easily from chapter to chapter. Cleverly, there always seemed to be a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter - so you just had to keep reading on…

Ruiz is a bit of a sad cop who has outlasted his days according to his superiors. It is his tenacity in the face of their criticism that drives him to find out the truth behind what happened to him. The story involves a masterly sleight of hand and takes you from the mansions of the upper classes to the sewers of London. This really is a wonderful read and one I highly recommend to take with you to the beach this summer. Before reading, I suggest you top up with plenty of suntan lotion, because once you get into this book, believe me, nothing else will matter!

To read the opening chapter online visit www.michaelrobotham.com/uk/lost.htm

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sue Grafton - S is for Silence

"…her novels just get better and better!"

Synopsis:
Kinsey Millhone is asked by a friend to investigate the disappearance of flirtatious Violet Sullivan in 1953. She embarks on this cold case with some trepidation but soon realises that by querying people's accounts of the days around Violet's disappearance, she is beginning to ruffle a few feathers.

Kinsey is convinced that Violet has been murdered and is determined to bring the person responsible to justice.

Review:
I am a real fan of Sue Grafton and I think her novels just get better and better!

This is well plotted and the narrative flits between the events of 1953 and the late 1980s (where all the Kinsey Millhone novels are set) with ease.

Despite being set in Serena Station in Southern California the investigation is classic Kinsey territory and fans will only be slightly disappointed by the brief references to Henry and the other usual characters. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jeff Abbott - Panic

"Full of unforgettable characters..."

Synopsis:
Things are going well for 24 year-old Evan Casher: his career as a documentary filmmaker is booming and his relationship with his new girlfriend, Carrie, couldn't be better. After an urgent phone call from his mother, he makes an unexpected trip home to Austin, Texas. Then, the unthinkable happens. He arrives to find his mother brutally murdered, and narrowly escapes an attempt on his own life. Spirited away from the scene by an enigmatic mercenary with an agenda of his own, Evan is confronted with a shocking fact: his entire life has been little more than a carefully constructed lie.

Evan's only hope for survival is to uncover the truth about his family's past...and to confront a powerful, ruthless organization of killers who will stop at nothing to keep old secrets buried. With his mother's attackers fast on his heels and with no one to trust - not the authorities, his father, nor the woman he loves - it's a perilous search that takes him from the Texas Hill Country to New Orleans, to London, and to Miami. Full of unforgettable characters and jolting plot twists, Panic is an emotionally charged, heart-stopping thriller about one man's determination to take back his stolen life.

Review:
This was my first introduction to Jeff Abott and this book was a thoroughly exciting read - a real page turner and literally impossible to put down.

The intricately drawn plot was full of twists and turns and contained a real mix of characters. I'm now really ooking forward to reading his next book.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Michael Jecks - A Friar’s Bloodfeud

"...this highly accomplished novel."

Synopsis:
The story is set in March 1324 in the West Country. Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and his friend the bailiff, Simon Puttock, hurry to Iddesleigh when they hear of the attack on the home and family of Hugh Shepherd, Simon's servant.

Sir Baldwin is Keeper of the King's Peace and is anxious to find out who is responsible for the attack on Hugh's cottage. He becomes involved in the conflict between two local landowners when he learns of more violent deaths and disappearances. He brings along with him his much loved wife and her much less liked servant. Developments on that front prove to be satisfactory.

Review:
Long time readers of Michael Jeck's Templar series will know exactly what to expect. Expert knowledge of place and of medieval times, together with intricate plotting and excellent characterisation. All this is here again in this highly accomplished novel.

As well as appreciating the fast moving story line and the insights on life in villages in the fourteenth century, I really enjoyed reading the development in the family affairs of Sir Baldwin - and cringed whilst observing the behaviour of Emma, his wife's maid.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating: