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, Science fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: Recursion (By Blake Crouch)

Our lives and we, ourselves, are made of our memories. Does that mean that altering these memories could alter our realities (or the perception of our realities)?

I’d been looking for a good science fiction novel for a long time. I’m a huge fan of Michael Crichton’s work – his books have always had an incredible mix of science fiction and psychological outlook, making for great stories with great characterization. Obscura by Joe Hart was the last ‘really good’ science fiction novel that I’d read (review here). And Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter has been on my list for a while. Before I could read that though, I heard about Recursion, added it to my TBR pile, and managed to get my hands on a copy.

Needless to say, I had high expectations. Read on to know if they were met.

Genre: 

Science fiction

Length: 

329 pages

Blurb:

NYC Cop, Barry Sutton, can do nothing but watch as a woman kills herself – driven mad by painfully vivid memories of a life she hasn’t lived. Sutton is a functioning alcoholic, unable to come to terms with the hit-and-run that killed his teenage daughter eleven years ago and his subsequent divorce. But he’s a good cop, which is why he cannot let the suicide go. Just another in a mounting number of cases of FMS – False Memory Syndrome – it leaves Sutton searching for a truth and opening the doors to a world he didn’t know existed.

Brilliant neuroscientist, Helena Smith, knows the importance of memories. And she wants to create the technology that will help people preserve their most precious ones, so that they can live them again in vivid detail. Driven by the desire to save her mother’s memories before Alzheimer’s claims them all, she cannot refuse an incredible opportunity that promises her everything she needs to achieve her goal.

The paths they set down on bring them together – and against a terrifying force… born from the greed of wealth and fame. Can Barry and Helena defeat this invisible enemy, or will reality as they – and everyone else – know it, change forever in catastrophic ways?

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

7 out of 10 (lower than my initial thought of 8 out of 10 because I found some of the character development toward the last one-third of the book a bit hurried and abrupt).

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its fictional science-y element

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series:

No. 

Highlighted Takeaway:

Beautifully chaotic, Recursion has a (surprising) emotional impact that comes in at the (approximate) 60% mark of the story. Without giving away too much, I can only say that Blake Crouch manages to evoke a lot of feelings in the reader for his main characters.

What I Liked:

The tumult that many of the main characters go through and the different conclusions they reach – all of them make you feel like, if such an event were to really take place, these would be the very human and very humane things that most of us will probably do. It added a realistic element to the characters and the story.

What I Didn’t Like:

I found two things a bit off-putting. The first was the writing style. The tense used was a little difficult to get used to. You do get past it, but it takes a while and, until then, I found it keeping me from getting pulled right in from page one (even though the events that kickstart the book are pretty great). The second was the abrupt and sudden character development jump I mentioned above. It was easy to get past it and say, “Okay, this is happening with this person now,” and you even root for the persons involved, but I felt like it could have had a few more pages dedicated to it.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes science fiction will probably enjoy Blake Crouch’s Recursion, especially if you like Michael Crichton’s work.

Who Should Avoid:

There are elements of thriller and mystery, and even a dystopian feel to Recursion. But its crux is science fiction and a large part of the book is dedicated to explanations. Plus, its very story is based around popular science fiction themes. So unless you have at least a little bit of interest in science fiction, I would recommend avoiding Recursion.

Read It For:

A few excellent insights about us (as humans) and about living life – with all its ups and downs.

I can happily say that Recursion satisfied my craving for a great sci-fi read. And Blake Crouch is definitely an author to follow if you like the genre.

Share your thoughts on Blake Crouch’s work, Recursion, or anything sci-fi related in the comments below (book recommendations are very welcome!).

Coming up next… no idea! I’ve got a few books I’m looking at including Salvation of a Saint (by Keigo Higashino), Antifragile (by Naseem Nicholas Taleb), Hooked (by Nir Eyal), and Broken Heart (by Tim Weaver). Let’s see which one I end up starting with 😀

As always, thank you for stopping by and reading my two-cents’ worth on another book!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Post-apocalyptic, Thrillers

Book Review: Sick (By Brett Battles)

SickSource: Goodreads
              Sick
Source: Goodreads

Length: 296 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Daniel Ash’s world changes in one night. When he is awoken by his daughter’s crying, he has no idea that he is waking to the sound that will throw him and his family into hell. His daughter is very sick… and she’s not the only one. And the people who answer his call for help are not there to help at all. Ash’s life falls apart as his family is separated and he’s left with no knowledge of why they were taken or who took them. But Ash is not like the others that the people responsible have faced. He’s different… in more ways than one. And he’s not going out without a fight in a battle that goes much beyond his family – a battle that includes all humanity as it stands on the brink of eradication, premeditated and implemented by man himself.

My take:

Sick begins absolutely brilliantly – grabs you from the get go. It begins much like any thriller should – chaos, fear, confusion in the minds of characters and death.
However, it doesn’t remain as gripping as it begins. It’s still interesting enough to want you to keep reading, but it doesn’t have the ‘hooked’ nature that it promises in its first few chapters. But everything said and done, you have to admit that Brett Battles knows how to tell a tale and one that will keep you interested if not addicted.
The book moves along at a good pace, slowing down just for a bit that’s not really long enough to leave you bored. All along the book, you have twists and incidents that will make you go, “Oops!”, and not in a blundering sort of way. It’s more of an, “Oops… here comes another mistake by you God complex people!”
Battles knows how to keep the suspense going. But sometimes, you will feel like things would have been a lot easier if people just acted normal instead of all secretive for no apparent reason. That may be the supposed charm of some of the characters and may have to do with the fact that things will probably get clearer in the sequels, but you can’t help but wonder why people don’t ask the most obvious questions.
The book has a lot going on at any point in time and if you keep it aside for too long, you might forget who the character you’re reading about even is. But Battles manages to keep it all well connected and quite easy to follow, since you don’t really want to go long periods without continuing to read anyway.
The only part that had a glaring problem, in my opinion, was the end. It was altogether a little too abrupt. You can argue that, as a first of a trilogy, the book should leave things unanswered. But that could have been done in a much better way, especially given the fact that Battles is an author with great potential. The end made me feel like he just got tired of typing and summed it all up really quickly in the hope that people would chalk it up to the ‘It’s part of a trilogy’ idea.
All in all, Sick is a good read – fast paced, easy and enjoyable. It may not make it to the ‘favorite book’ list for many people; but if you’re a fan of anything to do with the end of the world, suspense or crime, you will like this book.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: 72 Hours (By William Casey Morton)

72 HoursPhoto credit: Goodreads
72 Hours
Photo credit: Goodreads

Length: 299 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thirty seconds on national television – that’s all it took for one insane man to get each and every one of the entire city’s criminal population to chase one woman. Lindsay Hammond had no idea how it happened or why. One minute, everything was normal – a regular day moving along at its regular pace. But the next minute, she and her kids are running for their lives. With no one to trust and nowhere to run to, Lindsay comes close to running out of options to keep her family and herself alive. Until Ryan Archer, ex FBI, ex Army officer and the only man who can take Lindsay and her kids as far as they need to be. It’s a mission that will last for 72 hours and one that will change the lives of everyone involved.

But what is it that the psychopath who sets the course of action truly wants? And why is Lindsay Hammond running for her life? These are the questions that William Casey Morton answers in his thriller, 72 Hours.

My Take:

72 Hours was an extremely fast paced, quick page turning read. I enjoyed the book and always tried to find time to keep returning to it. Although there were some drawbacks to the book, it made a very nice read with the good definitely overshadowing the bad. The good points include an interesting concept, gripping storytelling, action packed sequences and not too many dull moments. My favorite part was the beginning which was unpredictable and instantly gripping. I also loved the action sequences which were many and not far in between. The details were described exceptionally well, giving you a feel of being right there, watching it all unfold from a front row seat.
The bad points, though not too many, do require a brief mention. The first, mildly bothering drawback, was the typos. There were errors that, for some people, may hinder the flow. And given how quick the story moves, that can be a turn off. The second, and more glaring drawback, is the occasional lack of detailed character development. The protagonist seems altogether too ‘normal’. The blurb gives the impression of an experienced, never going wrong kind of protagonist who, in comparison, comes off as a little more normal than expected. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Heroes do not necessarily have to be impossible to fool, cheat or temporarily overcome. That would be unbelievable and maybe even boring because of the lack of conflict. But the knight in shining armor of 72 Hours, in my opinion, seemed too ‘normal’ for someone who comes from his background. Not that that makes him less likeable.
Maybe the small character faults are more glaring because of how well the other characters are developed, especially the antagonist, who really makes readers loathe him.
The end is a little rushed and I, personally, would have liked some more details.
But I can walk away from this book saying that it didn’t leave me with a feeling of hanging in the middle. The loose ends are all neatly tied up, even though it may be more hurried than some would like. Definitely a book that I would recommend for all action, thriller and crime readers.

– Rishika