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

Book Review: No One Home (By Tim Weaver)

Published in 2019, No One Home is one of the most recent books in the David Raker series. The next full-length novel in the series, The Blackbird, comes out mid-2022. Between these two, Tim Weaver published one standalone thriller – Missing Pieces – and one collection of short stories featuring David Raker – The Shadow at the Door.

The reason I bring all of this up is that when I realized I was almost completely caught up and would now have to wait months and years for the next installment in the series, I was both happy and sad. But if you haven’t read any of Tim Weaver’s books yet, or if you’ve just read a few here and there, I would really recommend reading the entire series, and starting from the first one. The David Raker series remains one that meets the bar almost every time.

Genre: 

Thriller

Length: 

400 pages

Blurb:

The village of Black Gale has four homes and nine residents. On Halloween night, they meet at one of the houses for dinner. Photos of the night show them happy – drinks and smiles all around. Then, none of them are ever seen again. Two and a half years later, the police still have no clue about what happened to the entire village, and the media focus has died down. So the families of the missing people turn to David Raker. And Raker makes their obsession his own. With every case, David Raker has been moving closer to his own destruction. He knows this truth. He accepts it. But nothing could have prepared him for the mystery of Black Gale.

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10 stars

Plot:

10 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

10 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

10 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

10 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

Yep, this is Book #10 in the David Raker series. I wouldn’t really recommend reading it as a standalone. After around Book #5, they’ve become more and more connected, and you’re likely to have spoilers for the prequels if you read them out of order.

Highlighted Takeaway:

An unconventional mystery, supported by numerous characters that are all shades of gray, and enhanced through its perfect setting.

What I Liked:

No One Home has two stories running simultaneously, far apart in setting and time. Both are interesting, and both have their own protagonists. This dual approach is incredibly engaging.

Then there is also the fact that, as with previous works, David Raker’s character grows more and more with every successive novel. And #10 in the series has some of the most interesting character development yet. Never before has the series had you so concerned.

What I Didn’t Like:

I didn’t really find much to dislike. Quite a few twists and turns that keep you guessing right up until the end.

Who Should Read It:

If you’ve read and enjoyed even one of the David Raker books, I’d recommend giving the entire series a read. And if you haven’t read anything by Tim Weaver as yet but enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and crime fiction, especially those with gritty settings, then I’d highly recommend this series.

Who Should Avoid:

If you don’t enjoy crime fiction that focuses on cold cases or that can become a bit dark, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

Some shocking developments in David Raker’s story arc, and interesting ones in those of other favorite characters.

Unsurprisingly, I actually ended up reading The Shadow at the Door, which is set after the events of No One Home. Its review will be up soon but before that will be the review of Simone St. James’ most recent book. You might have heard of this one if you like the crime and thriller genres, especially true crime. Stay tuned!

Got something to share about Tim Weaver, David Raker, or other books? Or just want to say hi? Drop a comment below!

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

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Falls Just Short of its Prequels: A Review of The Calling of the Grave by Simon Beckett

A reeeaaally long time after reading Whispers of the Dead, I picked up the next book in the David Hunter series. I’ve always found a lot of similarities in the characters of David Hunter by Simon Beckett and David Raker by Tim Weaver. They are in different professions, but their drive, the fact that they’ve lost loved ones, and the settings of their stories do have similarities. But, with each passing book, you do begin to see them as two very different people, each one’s story with its own interesting elements.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the review of David Hunter Book 4 – The Calling of the Grave.

Genre: 

Thriller

Length: 

327 pages

Blurb:

The body on the moor was most definitely one of the victims of Jerome Monk, a monster convicted of four rape and murders two years prior. Three of the victims had never been found – until now. When the third victim’s body turns up, the search for the remaining two heats up. But nothing goes as planned and Monk is left to rot in prison, the search going cold. That was eight years ago.

Now, Monk has escaped from prison and seems to be targeting those involved in the search all those years ago. Forensics expert, David Hunter, had been part of the original, unsuccessful search. And when an old acquaintance calls and asks for help, he returns in spite of the bad memories. But what awaits him is more twisted than he could have ever imagined. Will Monk be captured before he wreaks havoc, or will he succeed in his revenge?

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

9 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 for its mystery, 7 for its thrill

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book 4 in the David Hunter series by Simon Beckett. It can be read as a standalone, but it does have some significant references to the previous books and is best read in order.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The setting. Beckett always sets his Hunter novels in places that add a high ‘creepy’ factor. His narrative style pulls you right in, transporting you to the settings, and makes everything that much more believable.

What I Liked:

The twists that kept coming. You definitely don’t expect most of them, and they unfold in a way that leaves you feeling incredibly satisfied with the way the book ends (albeit a bit disturbed with the lengths people could go to).

What I Didn’t Like:

There’s nothing specific to dislike in The Calling of the Grave. But, it was definitely not at par with his previous books, being really good, but just not great. One thing obviously missing was the detailed forensics – there is some information and procedure, but nothing close to his previous works.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys thrillers with dark, brooding settings, well-woven story-lines, and well developed character arcs. However, I would recommend starting at Book 1 in the David Hunter series. You can check out my review of that one (The Chemistry of Death) here, Book 2 (Written in Bone) here, and Book 3 (Whispers of the Dead) here.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy reading about forensics. With bugs, maggots, decomp discussions and more, the David Hunter series can be too graphic for some.

Read It For:

Getting a detailed look into the terrible experience that made David Hunter into the person he is introduced as in the beginning of the series, and an intriguing, perfectly-set crime thriller.

Got something to share about David Hunter, Simon Beckett, crime thrillers, or books in general? Drop us a comment below!

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my review! Coming up next – something a little different – a review of Obviously Awesome, the book on product positioning by April Dunford. 🙂

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Not at all what you’d expect: A Review of What Remains by Tim Weaver

One of the main, parallel story arcs in Weaver’s books (and in David Raker’s life) is finally brought to the forefront in What Remains. Which is why I couldn’t help but pick it up, making it the only time I read a third book by the same author consecutively. And it did not disappoint!

Genre:

Thriller, Crime fiction

Length: 

592 pages

Blurb:

Missing persons investigator, David Raker, had barely had time to come to terms with the shocking events of his previous case – one that hit too close to home – when he gets a call from Colm Healy. Once a decorated cop, Healy’s career and life came crashing down around him when he ran into an unsolvable case – a single mother and two young girls murdered brutally in their own home. Angry, bitter, and forced to bear even more loss along the way, Healy never recovered. Raker is the only thing akin to a friend for him, even if he only speaks to him a few times a year. When Raker receives a call from Healy, he meets him because of the fragile yet strangely strong bond they share – one born of the fact that they had saved each other’s lives in the past. But nothing prepares him for the request that Healy makes – to help him find the man who murdered the family and solve the case that haunts him to this day. Raker accepts because he wants to bring home the lost soul that Healy has turned into. But nothing goes as expected. And as Raker persists, he discovers that Healy and he aren’t very different after all. Which brings him face to face with another realization – in walking the path that Healy had in search of seemingly unattainable answers, he may not have long before he gets lost too.

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

10 out of 10 for Tim Weaver’s ability to keep you turning the pages as fast as you can, even three books in.

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book #6 in the David Raker series. While it can, to a great extent be read as a standalone, you would run the risk of losing the suspense and mystery of the previous books. But, if you’re not interested in reading the entire series, Book #4 – Never Coming Back – is a good place to start too.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Colm Healy’s story. Heart-breaking, crazy, and heart-warming at the same time, Healy’s story as told in the past and present, overshadows even that of leading man, David Raker.

What I Liked:

Different timelines have been presented in the story in parallel and, unlike what happens in most such cases, the result is not choppy or confusing; instead, it manages to weave a really good tale that becomes even more layered.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was little to dislike in What Remains. Tim Weaver’s books get better as they go. Surprisingly, he continues to give plot twists that will have the desired effect on most readers, regardless of how many of his books they’ve read in the near or distant past.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys crime fiction and thrillers, especially those who would like to follow the story of one character over many books.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who does not enjoy stories where the main characters are jaded and, often, not ethical.

Read It For:

Colm Healy’s story. Although a David Raker book, What Remains is more about Healy – the man he was, the man he became, and the case that utterly destroyed him. The focus on his character and story is both satisfying and emotional, and exceeds all expectations.

What Remains is an incredibly satisfying read that finally concludes the case that turned Colm Healy’s life and character into one that became unrecognizable to all those who knew him before it transpired. And it redefines even Raker’s understanding of who Healy really is, as he delves into who Healy was in a time before he’d known him. It’s a must-read if you’ve been following David Raker and Colm Healy’s stories, and a good series to consider if you haven’t.

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

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Talk about plot twists! – A review of Fall from Grace by Tim Weaver

Someone had once told me, “Never read two books by the same author consecutively, no matter how good the first one is.” I disregarded that advice, picked up a second book from an author I absolutely loved, and proceeded to hate the book. In fact, I didn’t even finish it. I had to come back to it years later, at which time I found the book really good!

That was the time I vowed to not make that mistake again.

Until David Raker, and Tim Weaver’s Never Coming Back. I found my way back to the David Raker series after a long break, and Never Coming Back reminded me why I loved Tim Weaver’s books. So, I promptly picked up the next one in the series, Fall from Grace. The beginning was not easy – I did find myself getting impatient and wanting the story to move along faster. But a couple of chapters in, all of that faded away. My review tells you just what I thought of it.

Genre: 

Crime thriller, Suspense

Length: 

578 pages

Blurb:

Nine months after Leonard Franks goes missing, the police have no leads, and the search has all but come to a dead end. When someone from his not-too-distant past brings the case to him, missing persons investigator, David Raker, accepts. But even with all the lies that Raker had uncovered in the past, he remains unprepared for the shocking truths that this case brings. And for the dangers that now threaten not just the case and him, but also those he loves. Raker pushes forward, driven by his calling to help bring lost people and souls home… but who will pay the price for his determination?

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

9 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its mystery and suspense, 7 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

10 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book #5 in Tim Weaver’s David Raker series. And it is at that point in the series where you just won’t enjoy it if you haven’t read the older ones. It will spoil a few things for Book #4, if you haven’t read that already, and will also make you miss a lot of the start of relationships that Raker’s character is shown to have. I highly recommend that you start at Book #1, Chasing the Dead (check out its review here), or at least Book #4, Never Coming Back, which is probably the last one you could read as a standalone (check out its review here).

Highlighted Takeaway:

Fall from Grace has an insane twist at the end. Not only does it change the way you perceive every character, it flips the entire story on its head. It smoothly and effortlessly shows you just how unpredictable people can be, and that being good or being bad – and expecting people to only be one of these two polar opposites – is more of a theoretical concept.

What I Liked:

As the series progresses, the characters’ arcs are increasingly woven together, and Fall from Grace is where you can see this at its strongest. While making for an exceptionally enjoyable read, it sets the bar high for what may come next.

What I Didn’t Like:

Nothing specific to highlight. Smooth and effortless storytelling throughout by Tim Weaver.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers in domestic settings, crime fiction and thrillers, and stories set in slightly dreary, cold places.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who does not enjoy the crime or suspense genres.

Read It For:

I would say David Raker, because he becomes increasingly real (in personality) as the books progress, but Fall from Grace should be read more for its plot twists – you absolutely do not see them coming.

Got thoughts on David Raker? Or questions about Tim Weaver’s books? Share them in the comments below. And as always, thanks for stopping by to read my review!

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer

A Chilling Must-Read: A Review of Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis

This was one of the first books I tried off of Amazon Prime Reading. And it definitely made me glad that this option exists for Amazon Prime users, and those without Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. An interesting enough premise led to me borrowing this one, and I have to say that the book far exceeded expectations.

Read on to know why.

Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis
Source: Goodreads

Genre: 

Thriller, Suspense

Length: 

331 pages

Blurb:

A young girl’s body is found on an isolated beach – she was drowned. A second girl – Toni – is found wandering alone, drugged, and with foggy memories of a nightmare. A third girl is missing, her name – Emily – the only thing that Toni remembers; her name and that she had been taken away from the party from where Toni had barely escaped with her life. Another girl has been missing nearly a decade, and her mother is forcing the police to reopen her case with the help of the press. DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans need to make sense of all these events and find the culprits. But the missing girls are only the beginning. And the Fenland police may just not be prepared to handle the horrors that begin unraveling as they fight against time to find the missing girls, and save others from meeting the same fate.

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

9 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its suspense and thrill

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book 2 in the DI Jackman and DS Evans series, but can be read as a standalone too. I haven’t read Book 1, but had no trouble following Their Lost Daughters.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The authentic feel of the Fenlands, which comes across in the descriptions of places as well as the conversation.

What I Liked:

A really well-layered, twisted story, where all arcs come together extremely well at the end. It is quite predictable, and does not shy away from showcasing real-world horrors that we wish didn’t exist, but need to accept.

What I Didn’t Like:

I can’t really pinpoint any one thing, because I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes crime thrillers with a spooky old town feel, and who enjoy suspense.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who can’t digest graphic scenes – there was no gore as such in this book, but there were some scenes that hit really hard and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Read It For:

The very enjoyable mix of spooky but charming setting, real-world horrors, reality checks, and an intriguing storyline.

After Their Lost Daughters, I will definitely be adding more of Joy Ellis to my to-be-read pile. The first book in the series – The Murderer’s Son – seems interesting and I’m going to try to make it my next read by Ellis.

If you’re looking for a really good suspense/thriller with a whole bunch of twists, pick up Their Lost Daughters. I can say with some confidence that you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review!

– Rishika

 

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: Into The Darkness (By Sibel Hodge)

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Source: Goodreads

Length:

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old Toni wants to study criminal psychology to be able to help people, especially children, affected by the evil deeds of which psychopaths are capable. But a week before her university course begins, she discovers something horrifying in the deepest corners of the internet. Before she is able to wrap her head around what she’s seen, she finds herself attacked, abducted, and locked in a dark cell. With no help from the police, Toni’s mother turns to an old friend for help. Ex-SAS operative, Mitchell, has seen the worst that the world and its people have to offer. He knows that evil is not a concept of fairy tales, but a very real threat that can exist in the form of anything and anyone. Uncaring about the law and only concerned with quick justice, Mitchell is a vigilante with a mission – bring Toni home safe, no matter what it costs.

DS Warren Carter has been a detective for so long that the job and the growing lack of justice are beginning to make him grow weary. He is two weeks away from retiring from the force and taking up a different job. Then, he’s called in to investigate the double murder of a simple, seemingly normal couple. Nothing is what it seems in the case. DS Carter is short on staff and has almost no support from his overbearing, bureaucratic boss. Yet, he won’t let the case go, relying on the instincts that have always had his back to try and solve the cold-hearted, heinous crime. But the case isn’t simple, and DS Carter finds himself falling into the depths of a world that is more twisted and evil than he could have ever imagined.

Time is running out for Toni as Mitchell tries desperately to find her in a world of shadows where anonymity is pivotal. And DS Carter is beginning to question everything he’s ever known. The Missing, the Vigilante, and the Detective are caught in a dangerous game, one that offers threats at every turn, and that none of them may win.

The Bottom Line:

An interestingly told thriller that does not shy away from the gory stuff, hits you in the face with the truth that you’d rather never know, and spins an intricate, well-plotted tale that is not made any less enjoyable by its predictability.

My take:

Writing in the first person isn’t always easy. Not too many people like the approach so you have to be exceptionally good at it to ensure that your audience can associate with the character they’re following. Writing from different points of view consistently isn’t easy either. It’s altogether too easy to get their personalities mixed up, and end up with one’s style seeping into the other.

Yet, Sibel Hodge does both these things with brilliant precision in Into the Darkness. 

The story follows a vigilante who believes that justice is best served instantly, a missing girl whose desire to help people takes her into the depths of unspeakable horror, and a detective who’s been worn down by the injustices he’s witnessed in his career but still, desperately, needs to trust in the legal system. All three are gray characters, and Hodge’s style allows you to follow their internal battles and really get into the story. She doesn’t break their characterization at all, which adds to the association that readers develop for the characters.

The story itself is quite interesting. It is based on a topic that has been done previously (in movies and books) – the dark web – but still manages to be fresh in its approach. It’s also painfully graphic, so those who aren’t used to too much gore may have a few cringe-worthy moments while reading. When you look beyond the near-horrific narrations though, you see that it’s less about the activity and more about the people behind it. Into the Darkness focuses a lot on what people, good and bad, are really capable of; on how far someone can go, how malleable their morals can become, if they’re motivated by greed and insane fetishes, or the desire to help people and enable justice.

The book proceeds at a good speed, taking you from one POV to another and back as you turn pages wondering just how (and even if) these three arcs meet. It’s not immensely unpredictable, but there are definitely some shock-factors. The characters within the story have apparently made appearances previously in other works, but the story is complete in itself. All in all, Into the Darkness is a well-paced, intriguing thriller; and while I wouldn’t say that this should be the next book you should read, it definitely should be on the TBR pile of anyone who enjoys the genre or wants to venture into it.

Recommended to:

  • those who enjoy thrillers
  • those who enjoy multi-POV or first-person focused books (both these aspects are done extremely well)
  • those who like crime fiction

A big thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for an ARC of this book. It led to me discovering some very interesting characters and a new author to follow. Share your thoughts on how you liked (or are waiting for) Into the Darkness and any other books by Sibel Hodge in the comments section below.

Into the Darkness releases on 3rd June, 2018.

– Rishika

 

 

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: Fool Me Once (By Harlan Coben)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 387 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Maya Stern is no stranger to death. Having served in the army, she’s seen her share of loss. And learned to deal with it. Which is how she manages to bear the pain of having witnessed the death of her husband in a mugging gone wrong. She’s forcing herself to get through one day at a time, fighting against the loss and the nightmares she brought home from the war with a smile on her face for the sake of her two-year-old daughter. But some things are too much even for Maya’s willpower. When she sees her husband on the feed from a secret nanny-cam – feed from a week after his death – she begins to question everything, and everyone. She begins digging to find an answer, but instead finds only more questions. And secrets that go back decades. Everything she’s ever known begins to come under suspicion, and Maya is forced to face the fact that she can trust no one – not even herself. Things simply aren’t what they seem. But is that the result of a conspiracy that goes back years, or the loss of Maya’s own sanity?

The Bottom Line:

A relatively typical crime thriller whose saving grace is its incredible, and unpredictable, ending.

My take:

Fool Me Once has an interesting story that is told with the nearly infallible skill that only an experienced author can possess. Harlan Coben has been around for a while and yet, this is the first book of his that I’ve read. And I can say that the man is, without a doubt, a really good storyteller.

Fool Me Once moves along briskly, and the suspense keeps you turning the pages relentlessly. It is written with the effortlessness that seems so simple, but is probably extremely difficult to achieve. And that translates into a smooth, effortless reading experience too.

The characters are well defined and very human. In fact, they’re human enough to like and dislike at the same time. This is another aspect in which complexity is presented exceptionally well, in seemingly-effortless simplicity. The most enjoyable thing in Fool Me Once is Coben’s skill; I definitely want to read more from him.

As a story, however, it’s pretty average. The premise is interesting, and it unfolds well. But the many twists and turns that were meant to be shocking are quite predictable. That’s not to say that they aren’t enjoyable. But at the same time, it leaves the book lacking the quality that gives it an edge, that pushes it to the level of evoking an, “I loved it!”

The one thing that was surely unpredictable though was the end. And that is what takes the book up from 2 stars (read: It was okay), to 3 stars. All in all, Fool Me Once is a very average thriller, but one that deserves to be read for its story-telling finesse and pretty awesome end. Recommended to:

  • fans of crime fiction and thrillers
  • fans of Jeffery Deaver and/or Agatha Christie
  • anyone who wants to read a fast-moving but not heavy crime fiction

Liked Fool Me Once? Or think that another Coben book is better? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

– Rishika

 

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: The Fix (By David Baldacci)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 428 pages

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amos Decker, the man who forgets nothing and who has just about managed to bring his life back on track, is walking along outside the FBI Headquarters. In front of him is Walter Dabney, a well-respected family man, and patriot who has built a successful business consulting on government projects. Everything seems normal. Until Dabney shoots Anne Berkshire, a high school substitute teacher in the head, and then himself.

The special FBI team of which Decker is a part is assigned the case. But they can find no connection between the killer and victim. And yet Decker can’t believe that anything about the shooting was random. Then Agent Harper Brown of the Defense Intelligence Agency orders Decker and his team off the case; the murder is part of an ongoing DIA investigation for which they aren’t cleared and which has now become an urgent matter of national security.

Unfortunately for Brown, Decker doesn’t care about rules. He only cares about finding the truth. Forced into a shaky alliance, Decker, his team, and Brown work against the clock to discover the truth behind the shooting and the connection between Dabney and Berkshire. The right steps will help them save the nation from an impending attack of unprecedented proportions. A wrong or delayed step leaves the nation vulnerable to an unknown but dangerous and armed enemy. Time and luck are against them; and this time, even Decker’s famous abilities may not be enough to solve the case.

The Bottom Line:

A compelling read that keeps you turning more for the combination of individual story and continuing (personal) story arc than just the story of Dabney and Berkshire themselves.

My review:

The Fix is the third book in the Amos Decker series. And it’s as good as its prequels. For more info on those, check out my review of Memory Man here, and The Last Mile here.

As with many of Baldacci’s works, The Fix takes a seemingly isolated incident and merges it with matters national and political angles. The book tackles the mystery of why Dabney killed Berkshire really well, slowly developing one angle into an elaborate story with an interesting political angle.

The characters are well fleshed out. They are very real, their human-ness being at the very core of everything that happens, and yet being something that isn’t made very obvious. That is what allows the story to unfold in the way that it does – the randomness and unpredictability that is inherent in people. And, this is more shown than told, making it seem all the more relatable.

The Fix introduces us to some new characters and re-introduces us to old ones too. One of the most appealing parts of the book was the development of the relationships between the characters, with each one really coming into their own. There is inevitable conflict, but there is also growth achieved by accepting and showcasing both vulnerabilities and strengths.

At the center of it all lies Amos Decker. A haunted hero if there ever was one, Decker is one of my favorite Baldacci characters. It can sometimes get annoying as to how much people expect from him. Or how much he takes on himself. But as the characters grow, the reasoning for this is also depicted. And it makes things a lot easier to understand and accept. In fact, it manages to give you new insight into a character who you may have considered easy to figure out, a character who can be painfully simply and oddly complex at the same time. But all within reason.

Overall, The Fix shows a lot of development in the arc continued across the series. The individual story is also very interesting. It does come across as a bit over the top at times. In retrospect, I realize that it’s not really about those seemingly fantastic parts. The story is about repercussions. And as a whole, it plays out well and makes for a difficult-to-put-down read.

I’d recommend The Fix to:

  • fans of Baldacci (this has enough background to be a standalone, but you may have a better experience if you read Memory Man and The Last Mile first)
  • anyone interested in getting started on a new series (The Amos Decker one is interesting, to say the least)
  • fans of political thrillers and crime fiction

Let us know what you thought about The Fix and why you love or hate Baldacci and/or Amos Decker. Shout out in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: The Coffin Dancer (By Jeffery Deaver)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 438 pages

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One of the best forensic experts in the world, Lincoln Rhyme loses almost everything when an accident leaves him a quadriplegic. Until he starts solving cases as a consulting criminalist, assisted by unlikely partner, Amelia Sachs. And when an old name comes up, Rhyme is pulled into one of his toughest cases yet. The Coffin Dancer is the best assassin in the country. And he’s outwitted Rhyme before, killing two of his tech-agents in the process. Now, he’s back to kill three key witnesses in a case against a nearly untouchable airline businessman. When the first witness Ed Carney’s plane blows up, killing him, Rhyme is brought in to protect the other two witnesses and stop the Coffin Dancer. But he has only two days before the trial, two days in which the Coffin Dancer will use everything he can to finish the job. This time, the expert criminalist finds himself facing an enemy who may be smarter and more determined. Because the Coffin Dancer never leaves a job incomplete, even if it means having to kill everyone who stands between him and his target, including Lincoln Rhyme and all the people he cares about.

The Bottom Line:

A fast-paced, edge of your seat read that packs a lot of surprises and remains highly unpredictable, with great character development.

My review:

The Coffin Dancer starts slow, in spite of starting with a literal bang. You take some time to get into the story, but once you’re about 10% in, there’s no looking back. It moves really fast and keeps you guessing right until the last page. There are parts where you feel like you know what’s going to happen, but Deaver manages to surprise time and time again, showcasing his talent for thrillers.

The book does have some references to its prequel – The Bone Collector – but they’re nothing so obvious as to put a dent in the reading experience if you haven’t read the first Lincoln Rhyme novel. As a mystery and story, it stands by itself.

There are some strong, unsaid references to the first book in its character development though. The many relationships that began in the first book move ahead in this one quite naturally. The personalities of characters also progress quite realistically. And that’s the best part of the book – the progression of the characters. The Coffin Dancer delves into those sides of Rhyme and Sachs that were only hinted at in the previous book. The characters have definitely changed (in both good and bad ways) and this change is depicted really well. In fact, Deaver shows off his craftsmanship in the way he handles both sides of his primary and secondary characters – their personal vulnerability and sensitivity, and the unforgiving hunger and drive for their work.

The only problem, I felt, the book had was a very slight lack of logic in a particular part. I get that things happened a certain way. I don’t get why, and it isn’t really explained except as part of a character’s choice. But there was no explicit (or implied) reason behind that choice being made; and “Because I said so,” doesn’t seem like the most fitting reason for a book that’s otherwise brilliantly logical. That’s the only reason this crime fiction doesn’t get to 5 stars.

The Coffin Dancer confirmed (for me) that I’m going to be reading a lot more of Deaver’s work. He’s published a lot too so that is going to be work-in-progress for a while. In the meanwhile, I’d recommend The Coffin Dancer to:

  • fans of crime fiction
  • fans of Simon Beckett and Lee Child
  • anyone who wants to give Deaver a try (may not be his best book, but it’s a good one)

For those who prefer to go in order to really enjoy the series, start with The Bone Collector (you can check out my review for that one here). If you’ve read The Coffin Dancer, drop us a comment below to share your thoughts. Or share some recommendations… I’m always looking for new authors and styles!

– Rishika

 

 

 

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: Two Girls Down (By Louisa Luna)

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

Length: 320 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Jamie Brandt leaves her ten and eight-year-old daughters alone in her car for less than five minutes at a strip-mall parking lot… only to come back and find them missing. When the overworked police department fails to provide answers, Jamie hires Alice Vega – a bounty hunter known for finding missing persons. Vega comes to the small Pennsylvania town, learns more about the case, and finds herself facing a tight-lipped police captain who wants her to have nothing to do with their investigation. So Vega reaches out to Max Caplan, a disgraced former cop turned PI. Together, they begin the search for the two missing girls. But soon they discover that there is a lot more than what meets the eye in the kidnapping case. As stranger and stranger connections are uncovered, Vega and Caplan realize that the kidnapper will stop at nothing to remain hidden. And with time going by all-too-fast, that may lead to the girls being lost forever.

The bottom line:

Two Girls Gone has an interesting storyline and attempts to hit audiences right in the feels, but ends up being a little too confusing instead of intense.

My review:

Received an ARC – So a big thanks to NetGalley and DoubleDay Books!

First, let’s look at the good things about Two Girls Down. It’s a really good story with twists and turns that you don’t see coming. It contains a good amount of suspense and keeps you turning the pages almost relentlessly. It also does justice to the genre, does not shy away from violence, and keeps you guessing till the last minute. As a crime thriller, it does well and has a lot of interesting angles.

But, it also has aspects that take away from how good it could have been.

Alice Vega and Max Caplan’s characters are really interesting. They are honest, raw, and easy to associate with, and unfold as the book progresses. But, there are these random moments where their actions make no sense and don’t even remain consistent with their characters.

A large part of the writing is through thought based narration. So you can really tell what the characters are feeling in any situation and you get to see the entire moment through their eyes and thoughts. I’m assuming that this was meant to come across as “intense” and to a great extent, it does. But at times, the writing is just so convoluted in its attempt to be human that it becomes too confusing and even annoying.

The most irritating part, though, is Vega and Caplan’s relationship. It’s an interesting and honest relationship, for the most part. But there is this element of attraction that is weakly explored at odd times. Honestly, I think the story could have been even better if that aspect was either ignored altogether or explored more fully. The way the attraction angle is used comes across more as forced than the intended (I assume) impulsive.

There are also a lot of characters who are briefly mentioned and then play an important role. With so many names being thrown at you on every page, keeping track can get difficult. And this makes the story a bit cumbersome.

These tiny problems really reduce the reading quality of the book. And yet, the book manages to be interesting enough to want to finish. It also has some great “kick-ass” elements for both the protagonists that are a lot of fun to read. It flows really well and in the end, has a great story. Although it is being published as a standalone, I’m hoping that Luna will write sequels because I want to see the development of the very interesting partnership between Vega and Caplan as they take on new cases.

So, in spite of its flaws, it can definitely be enjoyed, especially by:

  • crime fiction fans
  • mystery and thriller fans
  • fans of female-centric books

Two Girls Down releases on 9 January 2018. If you’re a crime fiction fan, I’d recommend marking the date and getting a copy. In the meanwhile, let us know if you’ve already read the book or what you’re looking forward to about it by dropping us a comment below!

– Rishika