INTO THE WATER – Paula Hawkins

Much expected from the successful author of  highly proclaimed THE GIRL on the TRAIN!

Into the Water - Hawkins 

A small community living on a river bank flanked by a cliff is, and has been, a site for drowning women as far back as the days of the witches. Hence the local name, “The Drowning Pool”.

Fifteen year old Lena’s best friend joins the list, and worse, Lena’s mother, Nel, with a compulsive interest in the history of the pool, is soon also a victim. Nel’s sister Jules, having ignored several calls from her estranged sibling, arrives to try and reconcile her own bitter past relationship with her memory of Nel. It begins to dawn on her that, ill-equipped as she is, she now must also take responsibility for Lena. And Lena doesn’t like or trust her.

The characters are each quite well sketched, but to my mind there are too many of them. I won’t list them as that would require an explanation as to how they all fit together, and that would drown the reader in the pool as well. Ten-plus points-of-view; so that none blossom completely. If I have to pick a hero, it won’t be Jules who seems to be put forward as the main protagonist, but Lena who behaves with a maturity beyond her years.

Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins

It is not a spoiler to assume that the drownings are not all suicides, as is at first supposed, but the police are involved in the investigation, and in the story, in more ways than one.

If I was handing out merit stars, three would be my max.

My thanks to Penguin Random House, South Africa for this review copy.

 www.penguin.co.uk

A Doubleday imprint – ISBN 978-0-857-52443-0

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NIGHTHAWK – Clive Cussler & Graham Brown.

As true to the Cussler tradition of high adventure as any of his best. Another one from the NUMA Files; a gripping ride from one dire situation to the next.

Nighthawk - Cussler.jpg

An American space craft is high-jacked just after re-entry and goes off the radar somewhere near the Galapagos Islands. The Chinese, the Russians and the USA all scramble to find it and secure the craft and its cargo. Kurt Austin of NUMA and his team get on the trail of the underwater debris field with one narrow escape after the other only to find themselves with just enough clues to lead them to a lake in the mountains of Peru where the antagonists find themselves all dancing to the skilful fingers of a master puppeteer as he manipulates a disaster to the world far beyond anyone’s imagining.

 

By now, the ZUMA team are old friends and the reader joins them with a sense of belonging, part of the crew, to save the world. A thoroughly satisfying read with a plausible deadly plot that flows from cliff to precipice to freefall and a nerve-snapping finale.

clive-cussler

Clive Cussler

Graham Brown 2

Graham Brown

A Penguin/Michael Joseph Imprint from Penguin Random House, South Africa for review by Book Postmortem. www.penguin.co.uk

ISBN 978-0-718-18289-2

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DEAD LETTERS – Caite Dolan-Leach

A fairly satisfying mystery, but by no means a thriller, following an electronic and real paper chase amongst a series of multi-hued herrings awash with wine and pills.

Dead Letters - Dolan-Leach.jpg

Summoned home to the news that a fire has destroyed the barn on the family vineyard, Ava is told that her twin sister, Zelda, was sleeping in the loft there and the police and forensic investigators are sifting through the wreckage to establish whether the remains contain her body.

 Twins, yes; but Ava the neat and orderly A, through the alphabet to Zany Zelda. Ava must follow the trail laid by her crazy sister, picking up threads of clues embedded in historic and current relationships, including those of their divorced parents who are temporarily forced back together for the tragic loss of Zelda. Added to the chaos is their mother’s disease which needs constant attention, supervision and drugs, washed down with several glasses of wine.

Phone messages from Zelda days after the fire convince Ava that her sister is leading them all a merry dance, but she dare not divulge her conclusions to the police or her family for fear of raising both hopes and suspicions, because there is a body in the blackened embers, and the doors were chained and locked. Murder is the obvious answer, but where Zelda is concerned, nothing is obvious.

 The nose will quickly define an intriguing blend of characters; quirky, maybe, but real and earthy. Unfortunately not always particularly likeable. Mum, whose money made it possible to keep the vineyard going, despite a continued succession of less than successful years, remains there, her alcoholic cushion both exacerbating her disease and making life bearable for herself if for nobody else. Their dad heads for California for new pastures, and vineyards. And women. Ava flees to Paris and Zelda is left trying to hold the fort.

Caite Dolan-Leach

Caite Dolan-Leach

The writing is like a really good dry red, there is a smooth flow and it is mostly easy to swallow, but with a dictionary nearby. And the next glass promised keeps the palate asking for more. It is not easy to put this bottle away until the last drop. And the denouement cannot be construed as dregs.

Surely, with promise like this, the author can look forward to another year of even better vintage.

 

Thanks to the Penguin Random House marketing team for this review copy.

A Corvus Imprint of Atlantic Books, London.

www.corvusbooks.co.uk

ISBN 978-1-78649-130-5

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The EMPEROR’S REVENGE – Clive Cussler & Boyd Morrison

The Emperor's RevengeAs is usual Cussler, history, treasure and world-threatening events intertwine to give us another exciting read from a master of adventure.

Napoleon Bonaparte, imprisoned on the island of St Helena, dies of arsenic poisoning, as we all know. Well, of course, we don’t really know, do we? Feasibly, his double, so often used to take his place in public occasions that Napoleon wanted to avoid, is brought to the island in secret to once again take his place. Now in debtor’s prison on the verge of disgrace, the double chooses death and money for his family instead.

Retreating from Moscow, Napoleon had secreted his looted treasures and nobody has been able to find it, but the clues lie in the margins of a book once in his possession, and the book is up for auction. Someone, with a ship as superior as the Oregon under the command of Juan Cabrillo, is after not only the treasure but also the ciphers that will cripple the electrical grid of Europe while he empties the bank accounts of the largest banks, and the trail will be erased.

Boyd Morrison

Boyd Morrison

That ship was fitted in the same Russian dockyard as the Oregon itself, but it has some superior firepower which brings the crew of the Oregon to fighting for their very lives as Juan in turn tries to block the attack on Europe.

clive-cussler

Clive Cussler

When you get to #11 in a series, you know the characters pretty well and they are old friends by now. So, wounds are okay, but generally you figure they’ll get through pretty unscathed, which deprives these tales of some of the tension they might otherwise have had. As with some other author factories, which the Cussler novels have become, these latter offerings, as this one is, sometimes don’t match the genuine article of earlier pure Cussler.

 

Thanks to the Penguin Random House marketing team for this ARC copy.

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The THIRST – Harry Hole 11 – Jo Nesbo

The Thirst - Nesbo.jpgHarry Hole has embedded himself solidly into the top of the ranks of detectives; and this offering is no exception. Heart-stoppingly tense, Nesbo not only gives a tight story, his characters are so real, so deep and so subtle that I am totally envious of his ability to coat the atmosphere with apprehension. Harry just has to walk into a bar and I am holding my breath, praying that his alcoholic past does not reach out and grab him by the throat.

The plot involves a maniac who haunts Harry’s dreams: The one that got away. A blood-sucking vampirist. The psychologist who has made it his speciality to define such a beast joins the team headed by Harry who has been asked to leave his job as lecturer at the Police Academy to track down this one maniac who has Oslo in ever increasing terror.

Nesbo_0001

Jo Nesbo

As ever, the characters are living, breathing, flawed and real. Nesbo makes them live and surprises the reader with his compassion for even the cracked vessels.

The flow moves from a trickle to a flood; the grip tightens imperceptibly, sprinkled with warmth, humour, shock, and passion. It is at once a who-dunnit and a thriller with twist after twist.

 

 

 

Thanks to Penguin Random House’s promo team for this ARC of the Harville Secker imprint.

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THE SLEEPWALKER LEGACY – Christopher Hepworth.

The_Sleepwalker_Legacy_pic0001An exciting thriller steeped in historical background starting two hundred years ago on a US battleground where British scientist George Napier witnesses a drug-driven massacre and vows to eradicate the drug called Berserker, but his drug company is taken over by his ruthless partner and we see the development of corporate skulduggery involving the pharmaceutical giants wrestling for worldwide markets.

Sam Jardine, his direct descendant, now takes up the fight, but the drug has moved into even more ruthless hands. Without loyal friends, he has no chance of succeeding, but he also isn’t quite sure just who is to be trusted. That is the who-dunnit aspect of the story that keeps one on the edge of one’s seat.

Christopher Hepworth

Christopher Hepworth

A tense yarn that ricochets around the globe from boardroom to battlefield, there is no let-up. There were some moments of not quite convincingly being saved-by-the-bell, but it was good entertainment and certainly not an author I’d hesitate to pick up more of.

Thanks to the author and to Instafreebies for this Kindle copy.

PDF Edition: http://christopherhepworth.com/eBooks/The_Sleepwalker_Legacy.pdf

ePub Edition: http://christopherhepworth.com/eBooks/The_Sleepwalker_Legacy.epub

Kindle Edition: http://christopherhepworth.com/eBooks/The_Sleepwalker_Legacy_Kindle.mobi

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PROTOCOL ONE – Nathan Goodman

Protocol OneThis is our introduction, and that of the FBI, to Jana Baker, a determined young woman who gets the internship of her dreams as PA to Petrolsoft’s billionaire CEO, Runa Dima. Petrolsoft is a software company with fingers in the oil futures pie, going from strength to strength. Dima’s cousin, Jeffrey, is a womaniser that makes the position not as attractive as it might have been, but Jana feels she can handle him. She is followed by a mysterious man who, despite her earlier suspicions, turns out to be an FBI agent.

At first she cannot believe that her employers are being suspected of having links to Al-Qaida, but in time she agrees to try and infiltrate the computers of the company to see if they are indeed up to no good.

And from there an exciting tale of a talented amateur, agents and terrorists unfolds as our first in the Agent Jana Baker Series. Well written, convincing characters, a gripping plot and a tense story keep us glued until the last word.

Nathan Goodman

Nathan Goodman

Thanks to Nathan Goodman and Instafreebies for this copy. This review is in recognition of the sterling work that makes quality stories available to the hungry reading public prepared to take a chance and don’t have to pay a penny. Or dime, or whatever.

Protocol One is the first book in Nathan Goodman’s bestselling Special Agent Jana Baker Spy-Thriller Series.

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The WORDSMITH – Alan Ayer

A horror story really, which, if you have not read the blurb, takes you by surprise. I started off, innocently, liking Walt the author, even though it was clear from the outset that he was a fraud. There was sure to be a good reason, after all…

The Wordsmith

If you accept the supernatural and horror as part of your diet, then the plot is excellent. But not my choice which is feasible crime by reasonable, if twisted and insane, criminals, solved by interesting determined characters.

Alan Ayer

Alan Ayer

Oh, it was a very readable tale up to the point where I realised that it has a supernatural element. It has flow, although I wondered at the over-detailed descriptions. Its continuity was not a problem until I began to doubt that there could be any goodness, any light. I continued with a sense of doom always hanging over the story, hoping I was wrong; that there might be some sort of salvation.

No, I won’t spoil it for you any more than I have already. There is a twist.

Thanks to the author for the Instafreebie copy. Despite not being of the genre I normally like to review, it certainly is a thrilling tale.

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HUNTER’S VENOM – Peter J. Earle

A review by JIM NESBITT of the first in the Detective Sgt. DICE MODISE SERIES.

HV cover front finalOne of the finest features of a Peter J. Earle detective novel is the rich and evocative detail he provides of the landscape of southern Africa, doing what too few novelists do these days, creating such a strong sense of place that it becomes a character unto itself.

In Hunter’s Venom, the first of Earle’s novels featuring Botswana investigator Dice Modise, the reader can almost reach out and touch the exotic flora and sometimes lethal fauna of a place the author knows well. But this isn’t exotica for exotica’s sake — Earle’s Africa becomes as real as a dime. And so do the characters that populate this fine book.

Earle also shows a deft touch describing the culture and folkways of the native-born and the understated tension between them and the white ex-pats who call this place their home. It is an uneasiness that never goes away, even between friends such as Modise and safari hunter Nick Cahill and his brothers.

The story Earle tells is a simple one — Carrie Fells, a young Englishwoman, is told the identity of her father by her dying mother years after the affair. Henry Barton, a tea baron and English country squire, is shocked but thrilled when Carrie shows up at his door and tells him who she is. They form an instant bond and Barton changes his will to include Carrie and promises they will continue learning about each other when he returns from safari in Botswana.

That starts a chain of lethal events as Barton’s jilted relatives start a murderous counter-offensive, including Barton’s death in a hunting accident that the grieving Carrie doesn’t believe was happenstance. She’s right and Earle shows the reader Barton’s grisly murder early on in the book while also revealing his killer, a hunter and distant relative named Bertie Vos, who seems more Boer than English.

Earle’s book is more thriller than whodunit as he masterfully sets up two irresistible forces on a collision course — Vos and his obsequious English cousins who want to kill Carrie after kidnapping her and getting her to waive her claim on Barton’s estate; vs Dice and the Cahill brothers, who include Nick, who falls in love with Carrie.

HV old cover

Peter-Earle1

Peter J. Earle

Along the way, Earle takes us on some gruesome side trails that add texture and complexity to the story, including the rape of a German ex-pat by three Botswanans who have been told by a powerful ngaka, or witch doctor, that having sex with a white woman and cutting her pubic hair afterwards would cleanse them from HIV. Earle shows a deft hand here, touching on the AIDS epidemic that still plagues Africa while describing the strong pull of traditional beliefs without making judgment.

James NESBITT

Jim Nesbitt – author of the Ed Earl Burch Texas thrillers.

Another grim turn: The German woman, Ingi Herder, comes to a singular and painful end at the hand of Vos, who also milks venom from cobras and mambas for researchers and has devised a delivery device for the poison that mimics the fang strike of a snake. Of course, Vos’ intended victim is Carrie.

Will Dice and Cahill find Carrie before Vos and those English fops kill her? Pick up Earle’s book and find out. It’s a crackling read.

 

See more of Jim Nesbitt’s reviews on
https://spottedmule.wordpress.com

 

 

Hunters Venom:

http://www.amazon.com/Hunters-Venom-ebook/dp/B007H06C94

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hunters-Venom-Peter-J-Earle-ebook/dp/B007H06C94

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THE DEEPEST GRAVE – Harry Bingham

DS Fiona Griffiths no.6.

The Deepest GraveYou and I might be hooked on, now Detective Sergeant, Fiona Griffiths, but her new boss, DI Bleddyn Jones, nre head of the Major Crimes Unit in Cardiff, is not. Oh, yes, he is a good dedicated policeman, but he is soon giving Fi written warnings as he just does not get her weird modus operandi. Her previous boss, DCI Jackson, knew to give her just enough rope so that she just stopped short of hanging herself, but he is away giving serious thought to sailing off over the horizon.

Bored out of her tree, with no juicy murders to solve for more than a year, Fiona is relieved when the decapitation and ceremonious stabbing of an archaeologist grabs their undivided attention.

DI Jones is not interested in the ridiculous references to the mythical King Arthur that pop up, but Fiona is, and she befriends a young archaeologist PhD student, Katie, who had been working on the same dig as the woman who lost her head. As usual, the Bingham characters are warmbloodedly real. Fi’s father, Katie, and the minister, George Bowen are no exception.

The plot is jawdroppingly – is that a word? – twisted, but nonetheless logical, in that the baddies get the cops to do their work for them in the authentication of priceless antiquities, which is the score to be made if Fiona can’t solve the puzzle and stop the bodies piling up. Her own included.

HarryB

Harry Bingham

The ongoing mysteries of Fiona’s adoption and her step-dad’s nefarious past continue to float just out of reach with a small segment being added throughout the series, an added incentive (as if we needed one!) to ensure we keep coming up for more crumbs.

Strength to strength, Harry Bingham. Thank you for the ARC.

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