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

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction

(Quick) Book Review: Win (By Harlan Coben)

Before jumping right into this review, I have to highlight three things:

  1. I have not read any of the Harlan Coben Myron Bolitar series, so Windsor Horne Lockwood III is a brand new character for me.
  2. I have always found Harlan Coben’s work good, but not great, so I pick up his books solely on the intrigue in the blurb. Win has a lot of intrigue in the blurb.
  3. This review is going to be different than the usual way my reviews unfold.

On to the review!

I tried hard to like this book – I really, really did. I absolutely hate giving up on books, persevering in the hope that they will improve at some point. But at 60 pages in and struggling to read more than one chapter at a time, I read a few (rare) negative reviews that said that the mystery isn’t so mysterious, and the titular character doesn’t get any better. I was still holding on and was determined to continue reading the next day. But when the time came, I just couldn’t pick it up.

And so, I finally marked it as DNF and moved on. Below are a few reasons I couldn’t get on board with this book or its titular character. You can check out the blurb for Win here.

  1. Win goes on and on and on and on and on and on some more about himself all the time – about how good he is at mixed martial arts, at kicking people’s asses, at sex, and at everything else. He’s a self proclaimed vigilante who enjoys violence. While the vigilante part was what made the blurb interesting, Win ends up coming across as a sociopath who cares about vigilante justice not because he should help others, but because he can. He does not actually care about the people he’s defending or avenging nor about the consequences of his actions on those very people, as long as the perpetrator got a good beating at his hand. Which made me feel like it was more about his ego than his apparent unique brand of justice.
  2. Other characters are interesting but seem to be part of the story more for Win to come across as socially woke and aware rather than anything other reason, inadvertently (and ironically) becoming plot points in the process.
  3. He literally has to “attempt to seem emotional”. It’s really tough to associate with a character who feels nothing except for arrogance and pride about himself.
  4. The book seems to go nowhere – 60 pages in and all I’d read was how awesome Win thought he was and how he thought he was Batman (his comparison, not mine). While the basic mystery was introduced at some point, it did little to generate curiosity because of it being shared through Win’s egotistical outlook. Consequently, for a book that’s meant to have a mystery and some suspense at its core, it took a really, really long time to get going.
  5. And by the time it did get going, I cared about Win so little that I didn’t care at all about what happened to him or his family. Which is why I ended up giving up. And that is the basic problem with Harlan Coben’s Win – the main character is so unlikeable that you simply don’t care about what happens to him. So why would you read any more?

I know I’m in the minority with my thoughts on this book. But the lack of interest I had in Win by this point and the reviews that said that the mystery wasn’t Coben’s best made the decision for me.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 stars (I genuinely did not find anything redeeming, but I didn’t finish the book either, so I can’t give it a 0)

All in all, Win by Harlan Coben was a big no-no for me. And it will be a while before I go back to Coben’s books.

If you’re a big fan of Harlan Coben, you may enjoy Win. But if you’re on the fence about his books (or generally dislike characters who come across as gigantic as**s while trying to be ‘super-cool’ or anti-heroes), I’d recommend passing on this one.

Got some thoughts on Win (the character or the book)? Drop a comment below to share it with us. As always, thank you for stopping by and reading my reviews! Coming up next – a review of The Whisper Man by Alex North.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: Broken Heart (By Tim Weaver)

Continuing with the David Raker series by Tim Weaver, we’re talking about Broken Heart this time. Read on to know if this book fails in comparison to its prequels or if Tim Weaver can keep the momentum going.

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

451 pages

Blurb:

Security footage from one of the headlands overlooking the Devon coast shows a woman enter in the morning. Her car is found in the parking lot days later. The woman is not seen or recorded leaving from the only entrance and feasible path in and out of the area, and yet she’s never found again. Months later, David Raker is hired by her sister, who lives halfway across the world, to find out what happened to her, if she’s even alive, and where she may be. What led the woman, widowed from a reclusive film director, to disappear… and how exactly did she disappear? An already complicated case gets even more so as Raker digs deeper and decades-old secrets begin to emerge. Someone has kept these secrets hidden until now and, as David starts to discover, no cost seems too high to keep them buried. Raker finds himself caught in an intrinsic and dangerous web. And yet, that may not be the cause of Raker’s destruction. Because the demons and memories of his past are slowly catching up.

Overall Rating:

8 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

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

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #7 in the David Raker series. It can, to some extent, be read as a standalone. But the development of David’s character is best read in order, starting at at least Book #4 – Never Coming Back.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Tim Weaver is the master of ‘skeletons in the closet’ tales – and his talent in bringing these to life is undeniably evident in Broken Heart.

What I Liked:

The creepy factor – the narrative in many parts of Broken Heart leaves you feeling unsettled, and with the feeling that someone is around you but just out of sight, providing the perfect ‘thrill’. Another aspect that’s really enjoyable is the depth of information (narrated entertainingly) about the movie industry and its evolution (from technical and cultural aspects). Both these elements manage to pull you in and keep you turning the pages.

What I Didn’t Like:

I did feel like the book could have been a few pages shorter, that some chapters were lengthened without cause. But it didn’t really take too much away from the momentum of the story.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who loves thrillers and mysteries will enjoy Broken Heart, and the entire David Raker series.

Who Should Avoid:

There are a few graphic parts that do make your stomach turn. So if you’re easily put off by violence, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

Unsurprisingly, David Raker. Without giving too much away, I will say that his character development is becoming interesting and even unexpected. But it leaves you wanting to know that much more about what happens next!

Love the David Raker series? Or have recommendations for similar works? Drop a comment below. And as always, thanks for stopping by and reading my book review!

– Rishika

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

Book Review: Every Last Fear (By Alex Finlay)

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay sounded like the perfect book that brought together mystery, thriller, and true-crime documentaries (especially around wrongful convictions). It took me around four days to read the book – which is quite long at 368 pages – because it definitely manages to hold the reader’s interest (and I had a long weekend!). So what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s unputdownable about it? Read on to know.

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

368 pages

Blurb:

Seven years ago, Matt Pine’s elder brother, Danny, had been convicted of the murder of his teenaged girlfriend. Danny swore innocence. His parents and younger sister stood by him and so did the rest of the country as they followed the case – portrayed as one of wrongful conviction – in a viral true-crime documentary. Matt didn’t know what to believe because he saw something the night that made him suspect his brother’s guilt. Now a student at NYU, Matt is trying to pick up the pieces of the life left in the aftermath of the documentary that villainized the town, forced his family out of the city, and drove a wedge between him and his father who had centered his life around proving Danny’s innocence. Until he wakes up after a night of partying to learn that most of his family – his parents, younger sister, and kid brother – were dead, killed in an accidental gas leak when taking a rare holiday in Mexico. Numb and shocked, Matt is forced to face the past as he attempts to bring his family’s bodies back home and give them a proper funeral. But as suspicions surrounding his family’s death arise, the past and present crash… and Matt is left fighting for his own life and facing hidden fears. When the truth behind his family’s deaths, his brother’s conviction, and behind what he saw that night finally surfaces, will Matt, Danny, and the Pine family receive their redemption… or will it destroy them and their memories forever?

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its mystery, 6 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No. (Could be in the future given that one of the main characters has a lot of potential to become a leading protagonist in their own series.)

Highlighted Takeaway:

Emotional, Insightful, and a Page-turner Every Last Fear successfully maintains the mystery and keeps the reader guessing.

What I Liked:

If you’ve read enough mysteries and thrillers, you learn to pick up on the subtle clues. But Every Last Fear doesn’t let that happen. It takes a while before you figure out the primary mystery, and the many other smaller ones unfolding alongside. The main characters really shine in all their glory and all their darkness – their flawed but hopeful outlook making them seem very human and very relatable. There also exists an idealistic outlook – the author normalizes choices, expression, and actions that are otherwise only part of ongoing social issue debates. Seeing these matters as a ‘given’ was just… really nice!

What I Didn’t Like:

The story is told from the point of view of multiple characters and over past and present periods, which takes some getting used to. There are also quite a few references to Linkin Park and other pop culture, which was good, but at times came across as a little forced. These issues are easy enough to get over though, and a few chapters in, you can get easily find yourself engrossed.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers will enjoy Every Last Fear. You’ll also really enjoy it if you like true-crime shows, especially The Staircase or The Innocent Man.

Who Should Avoid:

If you don’t like violence at all, I would recommend avoiding this one. It’s not got a lot of it, but the amount it has is hard-hitting.

Read It For:

A fast-paced, well-layered mystery that definitely manages to surprise.

One of the things that Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay touches upon is the effect of a true-crime documentary on the persons that the documentary covers. The documentaries that are famous on Netflix and other platforms don’t always show the after-effects of their airing on the people concerned, and this take on the matter, although fictional, was definitely interesting. I found the highlighted issues about the justice system easy to believe and accept as fact because of the many true-crime documentaries that have brought to light similar matters. These are problems that need to change, and it’s interesting to see more work – fictional and non-fictional – being dedicated to their awareness.

Love true-crime documentaries or thrillers? Share your thoughts on your favorites in the comments below. And as always, thanks for stopping by and reading my review. Coming up next… a review of either The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman or Broken Heart by Tim Weaver.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Salvation of a Saint (By Keigo Higashino)

The first book of Keigo Higashino that I ever read was The Devotion of Suspect X (the English translation). And I have recommended it to everyone since (review here). So when I picked up Salvation of a Saint (I just couldn’t resist picking this over the other options), I had a lot of expectations. Read on to know how it (finally) went!

Genre:

Mystery

Length:

330 pages 

Blurb:

Yoshitaka Mashida is on the verge of divorcing his wife. But before he can do so, he dies of being posioned by arsenic-laced coffee. His wife, Ayane Mashiba, becomes the prime suspect. Except for one problem – she was hundreds of miles away the day that Yoshitaka was murdered. When Detective Kusanagi begins his investigation, he faces an unexpected challenge – he is smitten with the prime suspect and believes her to be innocent. But Junior Detective Kaoru Utsumi holds onto her belief that Ayane is guilty. Their difference of opinion, however, turns out to be the smallest of their problems in a case that becomes increasingly unsolvable as it unfolds. And so, Utsumi does what her boss has always done in such tough situations – she turns to Kusanagi’s brilliant friend, Professor Manabu Yukawa, known by the Tokyo Police as Detective Galileo. Will Yukawa be able to help Utsumi and his friend solve another seemingly unsolvable case? Or has he finally met his match in Yoshitaka Mashiba’s killer?

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:

10 out of 10

Part of a Series:

Yes. Salvation of a Saint is the second English-translated book in the Detective Galileo books, although it stands at #5 in the original (Japanese) series. It can easily, however, be read as a standalone or even as a starting point of the series.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Salvation of a Saint is unputdownable with twists that keep you guessing and questioning your earlier guesses, before coming to a brilliant and satisfying end – simple, but deadly!

What I Liked:

The cultural aspects were really beautiful. They give you so much insight into a completely different culture than what you may be used to if you usually read crime thrillers and mysteries from North America or the U.K.

The writing style is beautifully simple, and equally impactful. I just could not keep this one down and took every opportunity I got to read a few pages.

The representation of gender equality (in, I am given to assume, a male-dominated culture) while still being able to showcase (and celebrating) the strengths of each gender.

Lastly – the story. Keigo Higashino continuously manages to create complex stories that are simply presented. In fact, in both of his books that I’ve read, I’ve always started with wondering how he can stretch out and add mystery to something that seems obvious. And yet, he repeatedly does just that, leaving you with a sense of deep satisfaction when the mystery is finally solved.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing that I really disliked about Salvation of a Saint, but I did feel like it fell just under The Devotion of Suspect X in my list of preferences. It was great but not as phenomenal as the latter.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who loves a good mystery. You should especially give Keigo Higashino’s books a shot if you like/liked Agatha Christie novels and other whodunits.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good whodunit-style mystery.

Read It For:

A writing style that manages to highlight some of the most terrible aspects of people and humanity with simplicity that seems to be right at odds with the heinousness, and that yet manages to perfectly encapsulate it.

Share your thoughts on Keigo Higashino, Salvation of a Saint, or any of his other works in the comments below. Recommendations for similar books are very welcome! Coming up next… either a review of Tim Weaver’s Broken Heart or Nir Eyal’s Hooked.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my review!

– Rishika