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Review: Drained (By E.H.Reinhard)

 

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 157 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Hank Rawlings has just made Agent in the homicide division of the FBI’s serial crimes unit. But the ex-Tampa Homicide Detective barely has time to settle into his new role before he’s sent to Chicago on a case. A serial killer who has managed to evade the law for years has resurfaced. His victims are turning up in dumpsters, drained completely of all their blood. And the body count is rising steadily. Rawlings and his new partner, Agent Beth Harper, have to dig deep and dig fast if they have any hope of catching the killer before he disappears again. But can they track down a killer who always manages to stay one step ahead? Or will the case cost much more than either of them is willing to pay?

My take:

Drained is your pretty regular, fast-paced, crime fiction. It doesn’t take a whodunit approach, but more of a will-they-catch-him approach. This brings in its own interesting elements as you see the protagonist and antagonist trying to out-do one another.

You get great insight into Hank Rawlings who played a supporting character in Malevolent and he comes into his own, evolving into a likable and strong personality. There’s also some light being shed on the relationship he shares with his wife – a relationship that was only touched upon in the first of the Lieutenant Kane series. There are other well-rounded characters that bring a wholesome feel to the story.

What I liked about Reinhard’s work, and it stays true in Drained too, is that he offers a certain amount of completion as far as motive, methods, and background of the antagonist are concerned. So you’re not left high and dry, wondering why someone would do what they do, and feeling like you didn’t get any closure.

The story moves along pleasantly enough, isn’t gore-filled, and keeps you turning the pages fast. The only thing it has against it is the play-by-play that is Reinhard’s preferred style. Personally, I’m not a big fan of having every action spelled out for me, so that can get a bit tedious to read (I’ve explained more about this in my review of Malevolent which you can read here).

All in all, Drained isn’t a great piece of literary excellence and, to be honest, I don’t think it’s meant to be that either. It’s meant to be a fast reading crime fiction with a considerable amount of suspense and twists, and a decent group of characters. On all those fronts, the book delivers. And it definitely keeps you interested enough to want to follow the series and Hank Rawlings’ FBI career.

Recommended to anyone:

  • who wants to indulge in some quick crime fiction
  • is a die hard crime fiction fan
  • as a travel read (it’s just 157 pages long)

– Rishika

Review: Hush (By Anne Frasier)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 380 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ivy Dunlap had been waiting for the call for sixteen years – the call that would tell her that he’s resurfaced. She had no doubt that he would. The man who had murdered her son and left her for dead wouldn’t stay in the dark forever – he was compelled to kill. As a criminal psychologist, Ivy knew that.

And when the call did come, Ivy knew that she had no choice. She couldn’t continue living the life that was a lie, the life where she was safe, but where no one knew who she really was. So, she went back to help the Chicago PD apprehend the man who had been murdering single mothers and their infant sons. But going back was not going to be easy. Keeping her real identity a secret was not going to be easy. Chasing the man who’d haunted her waking and sleeping hours for sixteen years may come at a price that even Ivy could never have anticipated. And all the while, a single question remains – will the Madonna Murderer succeed where he’d once failed?

My take:

There are a lot of things you expect from a psychological/crime thriller. And for the most part, Hush delivers. It’s got a good story that shows you the evil that can exist within people. It’s blunt, sometimes gory, the right amount of mess-with-your-head disturbing, and its criminal psychology seems to be pretty spot on (speaking from the perspective of someone whose criminal psychology course was basically watching Criminal Minds). It’s even got some interesting characters who seem to do justice (for the most part) to what you would expect, given their backgrounds.

But the execution of all those aspects is what kills a lot of the experience.

And the grammar and formatting errors. I mean, it can’t be that difficult to ensure that if you’re moving from one scene to another altogether, at least hit Enter twice. When you’re reading a fast paced thriller, those things can really throw you off, hitting the breaks on an otherwise good momentum.

Coming back…

The characters are as good a place as any to begin. The characters are good, but their growth is terrible. The main characters seem to have some bipolarity going on at the weirdest of times. They go from being angry and closed off to super emotional in seconds, and that too for no real reason. They have these over-dramatic reactions to random things, and mainly just seem a little confused about who they are. I get the intense aspect – cops, trauma survivors, and people dealing with crime day in and day out will be so – but there is no consistency in their personalities or evolution of personalities. And that really slows the book down.

Coming to the story – the delivery is choppy. A lot of things are happening which come together eventually, but they are presented in a way that leaves you confused about the timeline. You think days have passed and it’s been only hours, or vice versa. That makes it a little hard to follow and you have to take a lot of things as just given and move on.

The last aspect that wasn’t tapped to its full potential was the depth of the evil that the book touches upon. It does decently on showing you the darkness that people can have. But it seems to only scratch the surface and leave a lot implied. I wouldn’t have minded reading more thoughts, monologs, or even narration, if it would have helped paint a complete picture, instead of just bits and pieces here and there.

All that being said, the book does great on closure. It brings almost all tangents to a comfortable close, and gives you a nice, complete feel – at least on the story. And that’s why I wouldn’t greatly mind reading more of the author’s work. As long as there isn’t too much of the off-putting stuff, of course!

Recommended for:

  • 16+ (or maybe even 17+) because of the gore and disturbing details
  • Fans of psychological thrillers as a thrill (or holiday or easy) read
  • Readers who enjoy crime fiction and crime thrillers
  • Readers who tend to enjoy the commercial (TV/Book) versions of criminal psychology

Share your thoughts in the comments below! I’d also love a recommendation of a really good psychological thriller.

– Rishika

Review: The Devotion of Suspect X (By Keigo Higashino)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 374 pages

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Yasuko had left her bad marriage to Togashi and its terrible memories behind. She had made a new life for her daughter Misato and herself, one that was filled with hard work and happiness. And one that was devoid of the terror that Togashi had brought to her daily. Until he turns up at her doorstep one day. To protect her daughter, Yasuko commits the greatest crime of all, and Togashi ends up dead in her apartment.

Unsure of how to keep her daughter and herself safe from the consequences of her actions, Yasuko accepts the help she receives from the most unexpected of persons – her unassuming, quiet neighbor, and maths teacher, Ishigami. And when the police investigation leads Detective Kusanagi to Yasuko, he finds nothing but an alibi that just about holds its own. Yet, Kusanagi has his own helper – physicist, occasional consultant, college friend, and genius, Dr. Yukawa. Fate puts Yukawa against Ishigami, his old friend and mathematician extraordinaire, and the only person Yukawa considered smarter than himself.

What happens when two brilliant minds are pitted against each other? Can Ishigami fulfill his vow to protect Yasuko and Misato? Does friendship have a chance of survival? Or will unexpected betrayal tear apart the delicately woven fabric that holds so many lives in the balance?

My take:

To begin with, let me say that the above blurb contains a lot of information, but no spoilers. Everything happens in the first three chapters and sets a stage for the story that follows.

Now, you’d imagine that a story in which the victim, murderer, and aids to murder are laid out in the first few chapters would have little to offer in terms of mystery and suspense. But that’s where The Devotion of Suspect X is so incredible. Even with everything already explained, it manages to shock, surprise, and make you (audibly) gasp. It keeps you thinking about what bad (or good) is about to happen as the investigation unfolds, and it makes you turn pages while wishing you could read faster.

But that’s not even the best part.

Sure, there are really well-done characters, an intricately woven storyline, lots of things happening, and a lot to process.

But the most amazing part of the book is the presentation of logic, rationality, and emotion. We are used to believing that logic and emotion can rarely co-exist. But The Devotion of Suspect X tells you that, in reality, they do exist together and are, in fact, highly dependent on each other for their existence. The book gives you a look into the psyche of people that is both, beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It explores the depths to which emotion (of every positive and negative kind) can go, and shows you how, the deeper you go, the more enabling or catastrophic emotion can be. And this is done in a way that leaves you absolutely reeling. Higashino makes you feel for and associate with the characters in an art-that-was-lost sort of way – establishing powerful connections that stay with you long after the book is done.

The only reason I would give it a 4.5 instead of a 5 is because I wanted it to go a step further at the end. There are some loose ends (even though how they tie up is pretty implied) that I would have liked more explicitly covered. Other than that, there is little to complain about in the book. It’s fast paced, super-engrossing, deep, and so, so interesting. All in all, a rollercoaster of an experience that I’m glad to have gotten on.

Recommended for:

  • Ages 16+ (because it is a bit complicated as a read)
  • Anyone who likes psychological thrillers
  • Fans of crime fiction and whodunits

I would love to read your thoughts on The Devotion of Suspect X (or this review too). Tell us what you think in the comments below!

– Rishika