Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: What Lies Beneath (By J.G.Hetherton)

Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of What Lies Beneath. This is an honest review.

I’m going to do this review a little differently. For those of you who’ve read a lot of my previous reviews, you’ve probably guessed that that means it wasn’t a great book and there’s a list coming up…

And you would be right!

So, without further ado, let’s get into the review of What Lies Beneath, penned by J.G. Hetherton.

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

320 pages

Blurb:

I have to deviate significantly from the blurb on Goodreads because that one almost seems like it’s for a different book. You can check that one out here.

My blurb goes like this: Journalist, Laura Chambers, gets called in to identify the remains of an accident victim. Except, the body is so broken and damaged that Laura can’t recognize the woman. Then Laura discovers that the woman’s last call had been to her. And so begins Laura’s descent into chaos. Hell-bent on finding answers, she bends rules where required, faces off against a police officer who hates her guts, and discovers that a friendship from her long-forgotten past has ties to her present. Who was the woman who died on the highway? Why had she called Laura? And what did any of it have to do with an old friend that Laura had lost touch with decades ago?

Overall Rating:

3 out of 10

Plot:

6 out of 10

Characterization:

3 out of 10

Primary Element:

6 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

4 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #2 in the Laura Chambers series. However, most people who’ve read it said it stood on its own without much concern. I don’t know if the first one was any better, especially on the characterization, but I did feel like I may have lost out a bit by not having read the first one – especially regarding getting a feel for any of the persons involved.

What Worked and What Didn’t:

  1. What Lies Beneath has an incredible start. It jumps right in and gets you hooked. The first couple of chapters are thrilling as heck!
  2. The rest of the book just plods along. I remember thinking, at one point, “This is moving really slowly. Maybe I should stop.” And then I saw that I was 56% in. At which point I realized that it was not moving slowly, but that was its actual pace – a lot of nothing happening.
  3. I feel like the main reason for that emotion was that the story was so vastly different from the blurb. For instance, there was no mention of Laura thinking that the picture she found was of “someone she had imagined”. There was very little confusion between her fact and fiction – more like questions about why things that happened (and that she remembers happening) had happened.
  4. I have never disliked so many characters in a single book. Okay, maybe I disliked the ones in Win by Harlan Coben more (review here), but this was a close second. Laura, in spite of being a victim, was so selfish and annoying that I could not find myself rooting for her at any point.
  5. That’s not to say that there were no glimpses of her ‘goodness’. They were just so rare that she’s just an unlikeable person. And having a main character you can’t root for makes it that much more difficult to be invested in the book.
  6. There’s also a lot of assumed characterization. Relationships and emotions spill over from the previous book, but none of it is explained. As a result, you feel like you’ve walked into the middle of a conversation where everyone is mad at everyone, irrational, and intentionally obtuse. I’m not saying Hetherton should have given the entire plot away. But some introduction would have been good at specific points to help understand what was happening. I’ve started a lot of series midway and have seen most authors do this, specifically to help with characterization.
  7. Plus, the writing style gets super weird at times. The author seems to get taken in with his own similes, and I often found myself lost in paragraphs that didn’t add anything to anything.
  8. Overall, the book is okay. It moves very slowly, doesn’t really fill you with active interest to know what happens next, and is oftentimes exhausting in both narration and conversation. All in all, worth a pass.

I had a lot of expectations going into What Lies Beneath, but I wouldn’t really recommend the book to anyone. If you love thrillers and mysteries, there are other, much better ones out there. And I’m definitely not going to be reading more from J.G.Hetherton. His style may be great for some, but it just didn’t suit my tastes.

Have you read What Lies Beneath or Last Girl Gone? Tell us what you thought in the comments below. And, as always, thank you for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: The Guilty (By David Baldacci)

I’ve been reading a lot of David Baldacci lately. Part of the reason for that is that he’s another of my “comfort” reads authors. His books are generally engaging with interesting plots. The second reason is that I’m midway on multiple series, including the Will Robie and Jessica Reel, Amos Decker, John Puller, and Atlee Pine series. And I want to wrap them up before moving on to his newer ones. Right now, though, I’m focused on the Will Robie series, mainly because Robie makes an appearance in the next Amos Decker book and I just have to finish the Robie series and get to the Decker one in order. Make of that obsession what you will.

Anyway… let’s get right into the book review of The Guilty.

Genre: 

Thriller, Crime fiction

Length: 

420 pages

Blurb:

When elite government assassin, Will Robie, finds himself unable to pull the trigger on a mission, he finds himself adrift. His entire life has been about the job, and without his skills… he’s almost nothing. To recover his skill, he needs to resolve what’s holding him back – his past. He needs to return to Cantrell, Mississippi, the town he had left behind without another look twenty years ago. He needs to return to his father, because of whom he’d left town in the first place. Dan Robie had been elected town judge in the years since Robie left. But now, he was arrested and charged with murder. With the entire town sure of his guilt, Dan Robie offers no defense. Will’s return to the town is met with suspicion, by strangers and his own father. Yet Will perseveres. Supported by Jessica Reel, he begins his own investigation and soon discovers that Cantrell has a lot to hide. Can Will Robie prove his father’s innocence? Or is Dan Robie truly guilty? And will either live long enough to repair their bond?

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

6 out of 10 for its suspense

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #4 in the Will Robie series. Jessica Reel makes her first appearance in Book #2.

Highlighted Takeaway:

With an unexpected look into the past that makes Will Robie who he is, The Guilty brings a personal perspective into an otherwise inscrutable character.

What I Liked:

The Guilty has an interesting plot that mixes past and present really well. It also brings the multiple layers you expect from a Baldacci book, with the arcs tying together neatly. While it’s not the most unpredictable, the story does pack its share of surprises.

What I Didn’t Like:

This was something I never thought I’d say about David Baldacci, but it really seemed like this was ghostwritten by someone else, with his name just added in at the end. The style was obviously different at the outset. While it still is a good read, it’s just not what you would expect. Whether it’s Baldacci trying something different or a mismatched ghostwriting attempt, it definitely affects the reading experience.

Who Should Read It:

If you’ve come this far in the Will Robie series, give The Guilty a shot. It’s a good addition to the story. Anyone who enjoys crime fiction and mysteries will also like The Guilty – at its core, it is a murder mystery.

Who Should Avoid:

If the recent David Baldacci books haven’t been meeting your expectations, I suspect this one too would do the same. Best to avoid if you’re not a fan of Baldacci, the Robie series, or mysteries in general.

Read It For:

The continuation of Will Robie and Jessica Reel’s story. (Really, at this point, it looks like the series is moving to a conclusion on their characters and storylines, after the event in Book #1, which was the catalyst for the change in the status quo.)

Although The Guilty wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, I’m still going to see the series through. And then move on to completing the Amos Decker series (which I hope to God is maintaining its quality). Share your thoughts on all these series and Baldacci, or any of your favorite books, in the comments below.

And as always, thanks for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: You Were Gone (By Tim Weaver)

If you’ve been reading the last few reviews on this site, you would’ve noticed that Tim Weaver’s name and books have popped up quite often. I’d read a couple of his books a while ago and sort of re-discovered him more recently. And since then, his series has been getting more and more interesting. Which is why his books have become a ‘comfort read’ for me. I know that they’ll move fast and be interesting, but most of all, I love seeing the development of David Raker (the leading character).

There is, of course, always the question, “What if this isn’t as good as the previous ones?” But for the most part, Tim Weaver’s David Raker series has been consistently good.

Now that that explanation for why I’ve been devouring the David Raker series is out of the way, let’s come to You Were Gone – the ninth book in the series. Was this the book that broke the streak of ‘consistently good’? Read on to find out.

Genre: 

Thriller

Length: 

483 pages

Blurb:

When David Raker had to watch his wife slowly be consumed by the cancer that eventually took her life, he felt a part of him die too. He coped by choosing to become a missing persons investigator and helping others find closure. His work soon became an obsession, one that had repercussions on his health, and his doctor warned him that it could push him over the edge.

But years after Raker buries his wife, a woman walks into a police station, and tells them she’s been missing for eight years. She has no ID, no phone – only the name of her husband – David Raker. When Raker is called in by the DI, he finds himself looking at the woman who looks exactly like his dead wife and who knows intimate details of their marriage. She claims that Raker had a breakdown, that she had never died. And Raker is forced to question whether he knows his own truth at all. Did Derryn really die? Or is everything he knows… and lived… a lie created by his own fragile sanity?

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its thrill, 10 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

10 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yep, this is Book #9 in the David Raker series. While I have read reviews on Goodreads that say readers enjoyed this as a standalone, they did state that it took a couple chapters to get into it because of not having read the previous books. I’d definitely recommend starting from the first book, but if you’re just looking for an interesting read, this would work as a standalone too. You can find reviews of the previous book on this site too.

Highlighted Takeaway:

You Were Gone will make you question everything you believe about David Raker, leaving you in the same conundrum as the main character, and wondering if you’ve trusted the wrong (fictional) person all these years.

What I Liked:

Raker’s vulnerability and fragility, mentally and emotionally, is depicted really well, making it really easy to associate with him. At the same time, you find yourself questioning what you’ve known so far while also wondering about the truth. The mystery unfolds well, keeping the suspense going even as things get resolved along the way. Overall, the book moves fast, hits hard (emotionally), and keeps you turning the pages late into the night.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing I can point out as having disliked. Like its preceding books, You Were Gone was an incredibly interesting and absorbing read.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who loves thrillers and mysteries will like Tim Weaver’s work, including You Were Gone and its prequels. The David Raker series remains one of my favorites, book after book.

Who Should Avoid:

If you’re not a fan of mysteries, cold case books, or thrillers, or hate picking up books mid-series, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

The most personal case David Raker has ever found himself in.

As you may have realized by now, I’m definitely going to be finishing the David Raker series soon, finally catching up to the latest releases. I’ve got The Shadow at my Door bought and ready, but will buy and read No One Home prior to starting that (as I would like to go through this series in order).

In the meanwhile, I’m reading other authors (of course!). So stay tuned for more reviews coming up very soon. And as always, thanks for stopping by and checking out the posts on The Book Review Station!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: The Chase (By Candice Fox)

A big thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of The Chase by Candice Fox. The blurb of the book was really interesting and I got into it as soon as I received the book. So, without further ado, let’s get into what it’s about, what works, what doesn’t, and why you should (or shouldn’t) read this book.

Genre: 

Mystery/Thriller

Length:

432 pages 

Blurb:

John Kradle is on death row for the murder of his wife, son, and sister-in-law. The Supervisor in charge of the row, Celine Osbourne, has always had a special hatred for him. And when a hostage situation leads to all 600 of the Pronghorn Correctional Facility inmates going free, Celine is determined to capture Kradle on priority. But Kradle is determined to stay one step ahead – because this is his last and only chance to prove his innocence. While other departments swoop in to help with one of the biggest manhunts in US history and chase down some of the most dangerous criminals ever captured, Celine and Kradle become entrenched in a game of cat-and-mouse. Is Kradle really innocent? Will Celine’s past keep her from seeing the truth, whatever that may be? And how many innocents will die before the manhunt comes to a successful end?

Overall Rating:

6.5 out of 10

Plot:

7 out of 10

Characterization:

5 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its mystery; 7 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No. Although, it could become the first of a series.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Candice Fox weaves an engaging tale of how personal demons and traumas can both make and break people, influencing everything big and small that they do.

What I Liked:

The main story – that of John Kradle, Celine Osbourne, and their interactions – was the most interesting part of The Chase. While the rest of the book covered the other criminals’ storylines, with a large part of the book focusing on non-Kradle stuff, the main pitch remained the strongest.

What I Didn’t Like:

While the characterization of Osbourne and Kradle was good (with Kradle’s being better), I found the rest of the characters to be very limited. Plus, some of the characters were incredibly unlikeable and, in my opinion, probably more so than intended. There were so many story arcs that the book couldn’t really get into too much detail of anyone, but at the same time tried to share a lot of information. The end result was that the story seemed very choppy in quite a few places, being more ‘telling’ than ‘showing’.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes manhunt-style stories will definitely enjoy The Chase. You’ll probably also like it if you like the ‘justice seeking vigilante’ stories. I read The Chase without too many breaks – it moved along briskly, kept me engaged, and definitely kept me wanting to discover the truth. In spite of the few issues it had, it was an interesting read and I’d definitely read more from Candice Fox.

Who Should Avoid:

If you don’t like stories that have numerous arcs, multiple storylines, and a few unstable characters, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

A fast-moving, easy-to-read page-turner that is perfect as a travel-time read or to curl up with while the storm rages on outside.

Got any book recommendations for new or old thrillers that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below. And, as always, thank you for taking the time to stop by the Book Review Station and read my review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Science fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: The Remember Experiment (By Joanne Elder)

Big thanks to Voracious Readers Only for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Remember Experiment brought together two things that I find interesting – the concept of reincarnation and serial killer thrillers. So obviously I went in with quite a few expectations. Did the books meet those expectations? Read on to know!

Genre: 

Thriller, Sci-fi

Length: 

335 pages

Blurb:

Jake Monroe is a PhD. student working with nanobots. He becomes instrumental in the first experimental treatment on an Alzheimer’s patient. But the results of the treatment are barely in when Jake finds himself being injected by experimental nanobots. Slightly different than the ones used on his patient, the nanobots have an unexpected reaction – Jake begins to have horrifying memories of being murdered in a past life. As he attempts to find out who could have injected him with the experimental tech, his memories continue to grow… until he remembers that the person he used to be, was a serial killer. Framed for theft of nanotech worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, facing terrible effects of the unexpected procedure, and with his past and present clashing together, Jake begins to question reality, and his sanity. Will he find answers to the unending list of questions plaguing him? Or will the strange impulses taking over him, changing him, finally win and turn him into something – or someone – capable of horrific things?

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

7 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10 for most of the characters; 5 out of 10 for one specific character whose arc was more convenient than convincing

Primary Element:

6 out of 10 for its thrill and sci-fi

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series:

Maybe. Although this is currently a standalone and the book does not end on a cliffhanger, it definitely ends with potential for a series.

Highlighted Takeaway:

An interesting and not-too-often-done concept coupled with the much-loved serial killer thriller theme makes for an intriguing premise that is well explored.

What I Liked:

Some of the scenes, especially those that referred to Jake’s nightmares and memories, were done really well – pulling you right in. The story itself is interesting, and the premise is intriguing.

What I Didn’t Like:

The story, although not too long at 335 pages, definitely seemed a lot longer. There were times where it seemed like it just wouldn’t get to the point. The blurb on Voracious Readers Only and Goodreads also point to an aspect of the story that is made to seem a lot more central than it actually is. That set inaccurate expectations from the story, which was possibly why I felt like it moved slow. Also, a couple of the characters were terribly unlikable, and they weren’t actually meant to be unlikable. That is where I felt the characterization wasn’t as good as in other places.

Who Should Read It:

If you enjoy psychological thrillers or thrillers where the main character tries to make sense of not just what’s happening to them, but also what they’re experiencing (emotionally, physically, mentally), you’ll probably enjoy The Remember Experiment. It’s more about that than the actual serial killer theme.

Who Should Avoid:

If you are firmly against the idea of reincarnation, then I would strongly recommend avoiding The Remember Experiment. It definitely assumes the existence of the concept (although, to be very honest, its implementation has been very different than everything I’ve read on the topic).

Read It For:

The odd mix of reincarnation, sci-fi, and a serial killer theme, which manages to make an interesting tale.

If you’re an avid reader and enjoy reviewing books on Goodreads, Amazon, or other portals, check out Voracious Readers Only. And drop a comment below if you’d like to share anything about the site that’s bringing readers and authors together or Joanne Elder’s The Remember Experiment.

And as always, thank you for stopping by The Book Review Station and reading this review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Treachery Times Two (By Robert McCaw)

A big thanks to the author, Robert McCaw, and Oceanview Publishing for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Treachery Times Two brings to the forefront one of the biggest ongoing arcs in the Koa Kāne series – Koa’s one mistake that made him who he is, but the revealing of which could take away everything that he’s earned. Does the book do the arc justice? Read on to find out.

Genre: 

Mystery

Length: 

361 pages

Blurb:

Numerous bodies are unearthed in an old, abandoned cemetery when a volcanic earthquake disrupts Hawai’i island. In them is the mutilated body of a woman, unrecognizable, and clearly buried only days ago. Chief Detective Koa Kāne’s investigation into the woman’s death leads him into the world of a politically connected defense contractor, an incredibly powerful and secret military weapon – Deimos, and an FBI espionage investigation. Forced to defy his Chief of Police in his search for justice for the victim, Kāne faces a new threat – that of his thirty-year-old secret being revealed. Years ago, Kāne had killed his father’s nemesis – the man who’d been responsible for Kāne’s father’s death – and covered up the murder. Now, the grandson of the dead man has arrived, and Koa is forced to investigate the homicide he had committed. Until another man is falsely accused of the murder. Can Koa stand by and watch an innocent man pay for his crime? Or will he accept his guilt before everyone, losing the chance to find justice for the mutilated, forgotten woman, and losing the woman he loves, the respect he’s earned, and everything he has ever held dear?

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

10 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book No. 4 in the Koa Kāne series. The books are connected and are best read in order, but can be enjoyed as standalone-s too. Check out the review for Book No. 1, Death of a Messenger, here, and Book No. 3, Fire and Vengeance, here.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Even better than its prequels, Treachery Times Two brings everything you’ve come to love about the Koa Kāne series – mystery, culture, and characterization – and ups the ante.

What I Liked:

There were three things that I liked the most in Treachery Times Two:

  1. It’s got the perfect mix of culture and story, with neither outshining the other.
  2. It showcases Koa Kāne in his rawest, most human form – flawed yet morally strong.
  3. It has multiple storylines and brings them all together perfectly.

What I Didn’t Like:

There is nothing I can say I actively disliked in the book. I found it to be even better than the earlier books in the series (except for Book No. 2, which I am yet to read), and feel that it’s set the bar higher for the series.

Who Should Read It:

If you like mysteries, especially those that have multi-layered plots, you’ll definitely enjoy Treachery Times Two and other Koa Kāne books.

Who Should Avoid:

I don’t think anyone would really dislike this book, unless you absolutely do not enjoy mysteries.

Read It For:

Koa Kāne’s ultimate test – professional and personal. And the always-enthralling representation of Hawaiian culture.

Treachery Times Two releases in January 2022 – pre-order it from most online bookstores or Amazon.

Got questions or something to share about Robert McCaw’s Koa Kāne series or Treachery Times Two? Drop a comment below! And as always, thanks for stopping by The Book Review Station and reading this review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: Eeny Meeny (By M. J. Alridge)

I came across Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge in the Goodreads Giveaways list. Although I didn’t win a copy, I checked it out from my library as soon as possible because of its very interesting blurb. Read on to know if it met expectations.

Genre: 

Thriller, Crime fiction

Length: 

421 pages

Blurb:

The first victim came out of the woods, starved, barely alive. She had been abducted with her boyfriend. The abductor had left them without food or water, with one gun, one bullet, and one choice – one kills the other, and the murderer survives. Survival, though, may be worse than death. Guilt and horror break the survivor’s mind, leaving her a shell of her former self. And Detective Inspector Helen Grace is forced to accept the girl’s horrifying, almost unbelievable, account when more people get abducted, and more survivors show up… leaving more dead bodies in their wake. DI Grace finds herself in one of the most terrible and challenging cases of her entire career. And the demons in her past, that she’s staunchly fought off in her rise to the top, finally seem to be winning. Will DI Grace find what’s driving the unseen monster before her past catches up to her? Or will a sadistic murderer bring about her downfall?

Overall Rating:

8 out of 10 stars

Plot:

9 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

8 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its thrill and suspense

Writing Style:

7 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is the first novel in the DI Helen Grace series, and is M. J. Arlidge’s debut.

Highlighted Takeaway:

An excellent debut, Eeny Meeny is not for those who get queasy easily. Some very disturbing scenes and themes and a layered, complex plot keep you turning the pages relentlessly. M. J. Arlidge is definitely an author that crime fiction and thriller lovers would want to follow.

What I Liked:

There are three things that made Eeny Meeny super interesting for me:

  • A layered, complex story with multiple arcs that tie in well.
  • Narrative that really pulled you in, making you truly feel for the characters (good and bad).
  • A strong lead character, who is as human as they come.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was only one arc that I didn’t really like too much, primarily because it felt a little out of character for me.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers, crime fiction, and thrillers. Eeny Meeny is definitely hard-hitting.

Who Should Avoid:

If you feel queasy with scenes that show the sheer desperation for survival inherent to human beings then you may want to avoid this one. The realness of the characters’ struggles and actions definitely had me squirming at certain points.

Read It For:

A new author and a new main character, both of which show an incredible amount of potential.

Before signing off on this review, I’d like to share that the revamp of The Book Review Station are underway. Starting with a new look (that we’re still fine-tuning), we’re soon going to be moving to author interviews and other new content. Let us know in the comments below if there’s something you’d like for us to include, and what you think about the new look.

As always, thanks for stopping by and checking out the latest book review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction

Book Review: A Study in Crimson (By Robert J. Harris)

A big thanks to Robert J. Harris and Pegasus Books for a free copy of A Study in Crimson in exchange for an honest review. I’ve always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson; I’ve read most of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels and short stories, and have watched the Robert Downey Jr. movie adaptation and the Benedict Cumberbatch series. I haven’t, however, seen the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce movies (around which this book is primarily based) but those who have say that the tone and vibe of A Study in Crimson perfectly encapsulates their essence.

There a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations out there, in books, movies, and television. So does A Study in Crimson stand out as one of the better ones? Read on to know!

Genre: 

Mystery, Crime

Length: 

256 pages

Blurb:

It’s 1942 and the streets of London are blacked out every night in an effort to avoid devastating bombings. But in the dark, a new danger arises. A man calling himself Crimson Jack is murdering women on the same dates as Jack the Ripper, and Scotland Yard turns to Sherlock Holmes to solve the case. But the killings have a ripple effect and people high up in power have their own reasons for wanting the case solved, and fast. Can Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve this mystery before more women die? Or will the killer disappear into oblivion, never identified, as his predecessor did?

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

9 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No. But it is based around the films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. I felt like there were references to some of those films and characters specific to them (not having seen any of them, I can’t say for sure), but you don’t feel lost at anytime and it doesn’t take anything away from the story.

Highlighted Takeaway:

With all the expected quirkiness of the main characters and the charm of the original author, Robert J. Harris’ A Study in Crimson will be an easy and enjoyable read for fans of Holmes and Watson.

What I Liked:

The story moves steadily and has no lulls, leaving you quite engrossed. The writing style is very reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work; adjusted for the change in period, but not having lost any of its charm. It’s also wonderfully descriptive, allowing you to really imagine what the city and settings look like. I also found that the (possible) references to the related movies were done perfectly so that someone who hasn’t seen them can still enjoy A Study in Crimson, with the right amount of depth to all the additional characters and enough detail to not leave you confused in the least. And if these weren’t references, they still came across as well-detailed, with all characters contributing immensely to the story.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing to really dislike in Harris’ book – it moves along well and is a really good adaptation of some of the most popular characters in literature.

Who Should Read It:

Robert J. Harris’ A Study in Crimson can be enjoyed by readers who like:

  • whodunits
  • classic mysteries
  • anything Sherlock Holmes-related
  • stories based during World War II

Who Should Avoid:

If you prefer your mysteries to be based in modern times, full of forensic evidence, and bad-a** cops or detectives, A Study in Crimson might not be the perfect fit for you. (That is not to say that Sherlock Holmes isn’t bad-a** but that that this book might not be the best fit if you’re looking for more violent or action-filled cop/detective mysteries.)

Read It For:

The classic Sherlock Holmes de-mystifying you would expect (and love)!

I really enjoyed Robert J. Harris’ A Study in Crimson, and I would definitely read more of his work. Share your thoughts on Harris and his books (or any other Sherlock Holmes’ adaptations) in the comments below. And as always, thanks for stopping by and reading my review!

Before you go, I’ve got some news! The Book Review Station is undergoing a bit of a revamp and rebrand. A new look, a new name, and all new categories of content! This move is still in its nascent stage and I will post regular updates as we go on. You will still be able to find all of the old posts on the new platform. Until then, the reading and reviewing will continue right here 🙂

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction

Book Review: Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob (By Paul Haddad)

Thank you to the author and Book Publicity Services for a free copy of Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob in exchange for an honest review.

I didn’t have any specific expectations going into this book, but I was definitely excited about it because it’s one of the few crime noirs I’ve read. I wanted to explore the genre more and Paradise Palms sounded like a good one to start with.

How’d it turn out? Read on to know!

Genre: 

Crime Noir

Length: 

296 pages

Blurb:

When Max Shapiro’s wife succumbs to her long illness, she leaves behind a widower who is barely able to keep his own hotel – the aging Paradise Palms – running. Their eldest son, David Shapiro, takes on a leadership role, trying to keep the hotel, and his brothers, together. But what begins as an attempt to save a near-dying business, which is a reflection of the challenges of the Golden Age of Hollywood, turns into something much more. David, desperate to retain his family’s business and family honor, discovers that his father is not at all who he thought he was. Even as he struggles to keep the business from failing in its fight against changing times, he finds a bigger challenge in mobster, Mickey Cohen, who is attempting to commandeer the hotel. As one fight leads to another, David struggles to do what he’s always tried to do – keep his family intact. Except this time, the price he is forced to pay may be too much even for him to bear.

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

7 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its noir feel; 5 out of 10 for its crime angle

Writing Style:

7 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Reminiscent of some of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books and even (slightly) of The Godfather, Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob follows a family saga at the heights of one of LA’s most tumultuous, yet glorious, times.

What I Liked:

There is a general goodness in Paul Haddad’s characters that is refreshing and keeps you rooting for them. There are also complicated emotions, between people and within oneself, that are explored really well and with an appreciable, raw honesty. The story itself takes some surprising turns that add to the intrigue of, “How is this going to turn out at the end?”

What I Didn’t Like:

Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob has a lot less crime than its blurb may lead you to believe. It is more of a linear story, touching upon the relationships within the members of a family and the challenges a son faces as he attempts to come to terms with what is expected of him (this is where I found the similarity to The Godfather). Given its format, it’s not a very exciting read – but it is definitely consistent and manages to keep you engaged to know how it turns out.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys family saga-style stories as well as stories based around the 1950s world – you’d definitely like the world that Paul Haddad builds.

Who Should Avoid:

If you’re not fond of family sagas or slow burn books, I’d recommend skipping this one.

Read It For:

David Shapiro’s story – the character gains more and more prominence as the story goes on (he’s not too central to start with), and you can truly associate with each one of his wins and losses.

All in all, I’d say that Paul Haddad’s Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob was a good read. It keeps you invested, although not rushing to turn the pages, and is definitely an emotional ride due to its excellent characterization.

Leave us a comment below if you’d like to share any recommendations, thoughts, and/or rants! And as always, thank you for stopping by and reading my review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: A Minute to Midnight (By David Baldacci)

I’d read the first book of the Atlee Pine series, Long Road to Mercy, a while ago. It was good, but not great, and set the stage for Baldacci’s (sort-of) first female lead protagonist. The characterization of Atlee Pine was the best part of the book, which made me want to read more about her. And so, I picked up the second book in the series – A Minute to Midnight. Read on to know more about how and why this was so much better than its prequel, and where its shortcomings were.

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

434 pages

Blurb:

Atlee Pine’s past is catching up. When she was six years old, someone snuck into her bedroom, kidnapped her twin sister, and left her for dead. Their parents were passed out downstairs after a night of partying. Pine suspects Daniel James Tor, a serial killer who fits the bill and is now locked away in a maximum security prison in Colorado. Now an FBI agent, Pine has put a lot of bad people away. But when an incident at work makes her realize that she’s letting her demons take control, she does the only thing she can to set things right – returns to the town where she lost her sister with the goal of finding answers. But when a body turns up indicating a ritualistic killing, Pine is pulled into the investigation. Working on both cases, she soon begins to realize that nothing is as she believes – not the present… and definitely not the past.

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

10 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

10 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book No. 2 in the Atlee Pine series. You could read it as a standalone, but you would definitely miss out on some background and context.

Highlighted Takeaway:

A super-smooth read, A Minute to Midnight has everything you’d want in a page-turner – mystery, action, and well fleshed out characterization.

What I Liked:

Atlee Pine makes for an interesting character – easy to associate with, impressive, emotional, and intrinsically genuine. The story has really good suspense, leaving you guessing until the end. Even where things seem predictable, there are aspects that retain their mystery until the very end. And, as always with Baldacci’s work, there are numerous story arcs unfolding at the same time and they do come together well.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing that I specifically disliked – the book reads really well through and through.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys murder mysteries, crime thrillers, and crime fiction. A Minute to Midnight is, for the most part, about the murders, with a smaller chunk dedicated to Pine’s past.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who doesn’t like multi-layered stories (there is a lot going on in the book) and crime fiction.

Read It For:

The evolution of Pine’s character – she is much easier to associate with in the second book of the series and you will find yourself rooting for her.

I’ve always enjoyed Baldacci’s work, and am now planning to finish reading the remaining books in the series of Atlee Pine, Will Robie, and John Puller, before returning to my favorite Baldacci character – Amos Decker. That seems like a lot of books, but the best part of them is that each character works in very different settings, and Baldacci definitely uses slightly different styles for each. Which makes it that much easier, and that much more fun!

Coming up next, a review of The Hit, the second book in Baldacci’s Will Robie series. If you’d like to share your thoughts on David Baldacci or any of his books and characters (or any books in general), drop us a line in the comments below. And as always, thanks for making a stop at The Book Review Station!

– Rishika