NOT FORGIVEN, Araneya Series #2 – Neven Carr

Not ForgivenThis is one of those series where one really needs to absorb the first one first, but, that (FORGOTTEN) being on special at the moment, grabbing it now would be a worthwhile introduction to this one. Both are well worth a read if you like a well-crafted mystery with fully flavoured characters, both good and evil. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the reader is not always sure which is which…

Claudia Cabriati lost her memory at the age of seven while she was living at the mansion of Araneya. Her father is one of a group of bitter Australian Vietnam War veterans with Italian backgrounds who had formed a gun club. They swear an oath that binds them together in secrecy to protect their nefarious doings from being exposed. Her father tries to claw his way back to some semblance of normality by leaving the group, but their leader, Carlo, now a Senator, views him as a traitor who will reveal their secrets. Secrets that might include the death of a boy shot in a nearby forest, and how Ricky, one of the club, took his own life.

It is mostly Claudia’s story; her attempts to discover what happened to cause the trauma that suspended her memory, and her growing realisation that the truth might have been better forgotten, as men in power move to silence her. At her side, now, is the equally mysterious Saul Reardon, a man with a troubled past of his own.

Neven Carr

Neven Carr – author

The plot is original and the mysteries breed a sometimes almost unbearable tension as we fear for Claudia’s life and even her sanity. Who can she trust? Perhaps not even herself. Who is Lily? Only a return to Araneya may shake loose the recall of the hidden places where the little girls played and saw the secrets they should not.

Colourfully written, this is a gripping mystery thriller with an interwoven love story; well worth the five-star read.

Thank you, Neven Carr. Herewith a completely honest review.

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OUT OF THE DARK – Gregg Hurwitz

ORPHAN X #4.

Out of the Dark.jpgExcellent. One of the best thriller series around today.

 

 

Why is the American President obliterating the agents of the clandestine Orphan Program, especially Orphan X’s very first assassination assignment? Evan Smoak needs to find the answer before the combined forces of Orphan A and the US government catch up with him. Evan needs to assassinate the President himself.

 

 

 

BOOK POSTMORTEM reviewed Gregg Hurwitz’s HELLBENT a year ago. https://bookpostmortem.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/hellbent-orphan-x-3-gregg-hurwitz/

This is another excellent five-star thriller. This is top drawer for entertaining tension and almost, but not quite, over-the-top action. As well as the convincing depiction of a socially inept hero, the plot includes the mission Evan has set himself to answer a call for help from the desperate. The author handles his knowledge and research with convincing assurance, creating a unique un-putdownable tale.

An Asperger’s afflicted replacement-night watchman at a bonded warehouse, Trevon Gaines, in calling Customs, is the cause of a huge drug shipment going missing. His punishment by the dealer? The massacre of his entire family, excluding his sister who is out of the country, but returning soon as a target.

Trevon is given Evan’s help number, and calls.

Gregg Hurwitz

Gregg Hurwitz – author

Now Evan must juggle his primary mission and the evasion of the forces against him, and dealing with Trevon’s enemy before the sister gets home, as well as a rocky personal relationship that totters on the edge of melt-down.

My thanks to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa for this Penguin/Michael Joseph imprint ARC.

ISBN 9780718185497.

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ONE FALSE MOVE – Robert Goddard

One False Move.jpgOne man’s extraordinary ability to out-think a computer game leads to powerful companies and government agencies vying for the entrapment of that man. An innocent in so many other ways, Joe Roberts is ill-prepared for the dark forces prepared to go to any lengths to capture him.

Nicole Nevinson works for a computer-game company. Her task is to employ Joe, but she is an innocent in her own right when it comes to the ruthless moves of the competition in the shape of a money-laundering scheme and government agents who see solutions to cracking algorithmically generated codes.

 

Disappearances become corpses, and Nicole is primed to take the fall. Elderly Duncan Forrester, a man with secrets of his own, might be her only hope of survival as she gets to find out things that need to be kept quiet.

Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard – author

From start to finish, this is a delightfully tense thriller; a fire-star must read in every department. The unexpected becomes the norm, but makes complete sense, all the way to the nail-biting finale. The characters – including the naive, the eccentric, the compassionate, the ruthless, the thuggish, the charming – are convincingly painted. Undoubtedly, ONE FALSE MOVE is one of the best thrillers I’ll read this year.

Thank you to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa, for this ARC of a Bantam Press Imprint.

ISBN 9781787630437.

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SLOW MOTION GHOSTS – Jeff Noon

MarPRHSA_0002.jpgA viciously occult murder.
A curious clue left on the body.
The soundtrack to the murder still playing…

I am a slow reader, but I started this intriguing thriller early and finished it late the same day. If stars were allotted for readability, and believable characters, SLOW MOTION GHOSTS would get a five. If for bowstring tension, an intriguing plot, a four star rating would be more appropriate. An Occult Who-dunnit to the last few pages.

Transferred to a new London station under a cloud after the Brixton race riots and shopping his best friend and fellow officer, who subsequently hangs himself, DI Henry Hobbes is still a marked man treated with disdain, and even hatred from most of his fellows. This attitude does not make for great cooperation when he is tasked with solving the brutal disfigurement and staged death of a glam pop singer.

Jeff Noon

Jeff Noon – author

Through dogged determination, pursued by the demons of his own nightmares engendered by the riots and his betrayal, Hobbes delves into the pop culture of the seventies and eighties, and the links to a group of artistic outcasts who swear an oath of fealty to each other on pain of death. This plot only stretches the imagination overly just a tiny bit, possibly a nod to the author’s Sci-Fi expertise, as the threads get slowly pulled into a discernible pattern. It did not detract from the immense enjoyment, however.

The hardcover cover was an improvement over the one selected for this paperback version, to my mind. I found it messy.

Thank you to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa, for this ARC of a Doubleday Imprint.

ISBN 9780857525628.

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THE NOWHERE CHILD – Christian White

The Nowhere Child

Twenty six years have passed since two-year-old Sammy Went disappeared from her home in Manson, Kentucky, when her brother tracks her down in Melbourne, Australia. DNA seems to confirm that Kim Leamy is indeed Sammy. He persuades Kim to come to the USA to meet her sister and long-since split-up parents to help find out who so successfully kidnapped her.

Kim’s emotional roller-coaster is completely believable as she battles with her identity and the secret so rigidly concealed for so long. The dark involvement of the followers of the fundamental Church of the Light Within, who handle poisonous snakes as part of their worship, colours the Manson inhabitants in such a way as to induce fanatics, or cause them to flee the town.

Christian White

Christian White – author

Christian White breathes life into his characters, and warm blood into their veins. He smoothly moves alternate chapters between the Then and the Now; both tales are un-put-downably tense as they spear towards a finale where the truth finally comes to perch.

Americans might find fault with his Kentuckian dialogues suggesting, perhaps, shades of ´Strine. But I doubt anyone else will be too fussed. I enjoyed this debut novel which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award.

Thank you, Jonathan Ball Publishers, South African distributors, for this Harper Collins imprint ARC.

ISBN: 9780008276546.

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THE ANGRY SEA – James Deegan

(John Carr #2)

The Angry Sea

This is a snappy thriller of great pace. One of those technically baffling military novels in the style of Andy McNab and Chris Ryan, and equally as riveting. James Deegan is another who had been there, done that and got the bullet-proof vest.

Known in his regiment as Mad John, ex-SAS Sergeant Major John Carr, still south of fifty years old, is on holiday in Spain. Trained as he is to be ultra observant, his attention focuses on a man on the beach, who is tracking a group of British tourists, just before all hell breaks out in a multiple terror attack which leaves holiday makers dead and dying. The daughter of the British PM is kidnapped along with two of her female friends, while their male companions are slaughtered.

Carr’s counter attack saves at least a few lives and downs two of the terrorists, drawing the attention of MI6, and the covert nature of the suicidal rescue mission to rescue the girls suggests to them that Carr might be the man to attempt it.

James Deegan

Possibly JAMES DEEGAN – author. Maybe not…

Despite the military technical specifications and sometimes perhaps unnecessarily introduced characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure. I liked the jargon, the craic and camaraderie.

Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers, SA, for this Harper Collins HQ imprint ARC.

ISBN: 9780008229535.

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MASK – Eugene Lloyd Macrae

MaskAn unusual story that skates on the edge of possibility but, nevertheless, loses none of its grip and heart-pounding tension.

What sort of reason lies behind a serial killer who not only kills across countries, but across continents? How long does it take the investigative forces of these countries to finally realise there is a commonality to these deaths, seemingly only in the method of death – a thin-bladed accurate stab so forcefully through the heart that the blade exits through the victims’ backs?

Then, a DNA sample found at a crime scene pinpoints and an arrest is made, despite the conviction of the suspect’s family that she is innocent. Is the evidence planted, and by whom, asks Rory Mack Steele, private investigator employed by the family to find the truth. Why is everyone ignoring her alibi? Like everyone else, Steele is baffled and playing catch-up only as the body-count mounts.

Eugene Lloyd MacCrae

Eugene Lloyd Macrae – author

A thoroughly entertaining who-dunnit. Thank you for the freebie, Eugene Lloyd Macrae. Keep ‘em coming.

BOOK POSTMORTEM does not buy crime fiction, but we do know how important reviews are to authors, and we encourage every reader to give their take on their reads on Amazon, Goodreads and other platforms, especially in recognition of free downloads. Authors featured on BOOK POSTMORTEM are free to send follow-up material to us for review, although we don’t guarantee to review everything.

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FISTFUL OF RAIN – Baron R. Birtcher

A JIM NESBITT REVIEW – GRITTY AND GRACEFUL:

 BIRTCHER’S TRUE WEST NOVEL HAS INSIGHTS FOR TODAY’S TURMOIL.

fistful of rainYou’d be well-advised to never use that creative pejorative — sequel — anywhere near Baron R. Birtcher’s latest modern-day Western thriller, Fistful of Rain, because this vividly-told tale is everything all those flop Hollywood follow-ups are not — a robust success that stands on its own merits.

In Ty Dawson, an Oregon rancher, Korean War vet and reluctant sheriff, Birtcher has created a durable and winning character with the values and virtues of an Old West lawman struggling to deal with the chaos and turmoil of America in 1975 — a nation battered and bitterly divided by the upheaval of the Vietnam War and Watergate and the tarnished myth of the American Dream.

Dawson, who readers first meet in Birtcher’s excellent South California Purples, is a traditionalist, a third-generation cowboy who still saddles up to help his hands work the cattle on his family’s Double Diamond ranch and wants to protect his county and his people from the destructive forces ripping America’s social fabric.

But he’s also an independent thinker with integrity and a deep-seated sense of fairness and an ornery contempt for political hucksterism and demagoguery. He’d prefer to be left alone on his ranch, but his sense of duty and growing awareness of the evil sweeping into fictional Meriwether County won’t let him.

This makes him the perfect protagonist for a crime thriller with social and political overtones that may be set in the post-Vietnam years, but have still have powerful resonance today. The violent mystery Dawson has to solve initially centers on a sheep rancher named Harper Emory, who claims he was beaten by members of a neighboring hippie commune, Rainbow Ranch, when he tried to find some missing sheep that he claims they stole.

The commune is run by a dark and charismatic Svengali type who attracts runaways like Tennessee teenager Mila Kinslow and a sweet-souled L.A. musician named Peter Troy. Many of the good citizens of the county, stirred up by Nolan Brody, a pompous county council chairman Dawson can’t stand but has to deal with, view the commune folk as dangerous outsiders who no doubt deal drugs, practice free love and otherwise threaten their way of life with who-knows-what other acts that decent folks abhor.

Emory, who first makes his claim public at a county council meeting, adds fuel to the fire. He’s a bitter man, angry about the loss of his son, killed in Vietnam but whose body was never found. Backed by Brody, he rails against the hippies, demanding Dawson do something — like drive them out. Dawson refuses, but doesn’t much care for the commune’s leader and some of his hard-ass lieutenants.

Those are the early battle lines, echoing the social and political turmoil of the era. And then the crime wave hits — vandalism of the commune’s sandwich shop, arson of an old building. Then the first of nearly a dozen murders and killings, including the brutal slaughter of an elderly doctor who was the town’s icon — the bloodshed escalating rapidly, spiraling beyond Dawson’s control.

baron bircher

Baron R. Birtcher – author

Birtcher masterfully weaves terse descriptions of hard-boiled violence and tense confrontations with lyric passages about Dawson’s war experiences and his thoughts about the turmoil of the times invading his corner of country heaven.

It is in these passages where the author rises above the back-and-forth of a modern Western whodunit, striking an insightful chord that is, at times, exquisitely elegant. It is also where Birtcher etches a reminder straight from today’s headlines about those who use hate-mongering and demagoguery to point at a scapegoat in order to divert attention from their own evil deeds.

A previous review compares the author’s passages about post-Vietnam America to the writings of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. While there is a cursory and superficial similarity, chiefly because of shared subject matter, Birtcher has a distinctly different voice that offers his own unique view of those turbulent times. This makes Fistful of Rain all the more of a jewel to read.

 

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MURDER by PROXY – Sandra Olson

murder by proxyA highly competent nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit seems to always be on hand to coolly save babies lives when emergencies arise, almost before the doctor in attendance has a chance to give orders, everything is on hand with a competent efficiency that brings admiration from staff and parents alike.

Joyce Lattimer, a new nurse on the staff, thinks she sees an adult dose being administered when an infant’s dose is called for. That causes her to wonder if something weird is going on. When other babies die unexpectedly, she starts to wonder if the nurse is so perfect, after all.

Her investigations just might be the death of her as well.

Enjoyed this very tense first half, and Sandra Olson’d medical expertise is not belaboured. However, then her romantic novelist takes charge and the action slows down to a snail pace with too much detail absolutely not pertinent to the plot except that it describes the wedding of the protagonist. I confess I skipped a lot here to get to the essential dramatic confrontation and conclusion.

sandra olson

Sandra Olson – author

Thanks to Prolific Works for this free-to-download. https://www.prolificworks.com

BOOK POSTMORTEM does not buy crime fiction, but we do know how important reviews are to authors, and we encourage every reader to give their take on their reads on Amazon, Goodreads and other platforms, especially in recognition of free downloads. Authors featured on BOOK POSTMORTEM are free to send follow-up material to us for review, although we don’t guarantee to review everything.

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WHERE THE WICKED DWELL – Michael Parker

where the wicked dwellThe exciting plot is entwined, but plausible if the reader is okay with the validity of the power of Voodoo. As a South African, I have experienced at least the power of the belief in witchcraft; and it seems to be the belief itself that empowers the evil, and sometimes the good, of the spirit world.

Sir Giles Cavendish heads a clandestine unit that metes out terminal deletion of problem people whom the normal pillars of justice let slip through the net due to corruption in high places, or lack of evidence – deliberate or otherwise. Sir Giles, suspecting that a British Cabinet Minister’s suicide is murder, asks Marcus Blake, a private investigator to confirm his evaluation.

Blake gets a glimpse of the plans of the ring of Satanists that include men of vast power and warped taste. Not least is a clinic where a talented doctor is dabbling into genetic engineering. When he visits the clinic with his Caribbean secretary, he all but signs her death warrant. And his own.

This is a gripping tale. Maybe not one that one will make a lasting impression, but is certainly a good few hours of un-put-downable crime fiction pleasure.

Thanks to Prolific Works for this free-to-download. https://www.prolificworks.com

BOOK POSTMORTEM does not buy crime fiction, but we do know how important reviews are to authors, and we encourage every reader to give their take on their reads on Amazon, Goodreads and other platforms, especially in recognition of free downloads. Authors featured on BOOK POSTMORTEM are free to send follow-up material to us for review, although we don’t guarantee to review everything.

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