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

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

Quintessential ‘Skeletons in the Closet’: A Review of 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

Emotional, Insightful, and a Page-turner: A Review of 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:

Successfully maintains the mystery, keeps the pages turning, 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

Simple yet Deadly: A Review of 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.

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

Posted in All Book Reviews

A few drawbacks, but an interesting read: A Review of Death of a Messenger by Robert McCaw

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Death of a Messenger is not the first Robert McCaw book I’ve read, although it is the first in the Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery series. I had earlier read and reviewed Book #3 in the series – Fire and Vengeance. You can read its review here. The first two books were on my TBR, so I was quite excited when I received this book for a review. Read on to know more.

Genre: 

Mystery

Length:

352 pages 

Blurb:

Detective Koa Kāne is called in to investigate a murder when a body is discovered in a lava tube at Pohakuloa, the army’s live-fire training area. In his many years on the force, Koa has seen a lot of horrific sites, but the mutilated body with signs of a ritualistic killing is one of the worst. Koa is determined to find the person capable of such horror while forced to fight against an ineffective ME, hostility from both nativists and westerners, and personal demons born of his own past actions. With grave robbers, thieves, astronomers, and nativists falling into the suspect pool and everyone concerned to the case sharing more lies than truth, Koa needs to use every skill, intuition, and bit of experience to find out who the victim was, why he was murdered, and who is behind the heinous mutilation.

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

9 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

5 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #1 in the Koa Kāne series, followed by Off the Grid and Fire and Vengeance.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The depth of information regarding traditional Hawaiian practices and traditions. Like other books in the series, Death of a Messenger stays true to showcasing the various facets, past and present, of the region in which it is set.

What I Liked:

Death of a Messenger is a classic whodunnit. Or, as Captain Holt of Brooklyn Nine-Nine says, a ‘who has done this’. A series of suspects, all of whom have motive, keeps the story moving and the reader, guessing.

What I Didn’t Like:

Maybe it’s because this is the first book in the series, but I noticed that it had a lot of “tell, not show” instead of it being vice versa. There were random mentions of back stories when, instead, the point being overly-repeated could have simply been shown in character development after a couple of mentions. I found the writing style in those segments really strange and off-putting, and think the story could have done a lot better without the excessive repetition. (Much like this paragraph, you may be thinking!)

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes mystery, learning about new places (Death of a Messenger does not stray far from reality in setting and history), and suspense will enjoy this Koa Kāne story. In spite of its few shortcomings, it is an interesting read.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone uncomfortable with gore or violence – while not over the top, there is some violence in Death of a Messenger that can be a bit too graphic for those who are uncomfortable with it.

Read It For:

Koa Kāne. The leading character in the series is a relatable, likable, and kind-hearted person, with enough shades of gray to make you want to follow his story.

Want to share something about the Koa Kāne series or my review? Leave a comment below 🙂

Coming up next is a review of The Alienist (the book, not the TV show). Stay tuned to find out if the historical suspense fiction meets expectations. And, as always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this review.

Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Better to avoid: A review of No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O’Callaghan

A big thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book. I thought the blurb was really interesting and I tried really hard to like the book. But at the end of it, No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O’Callaghan was just a disappointing read.

I’m taking a slightly different approach in this review, primarily because I found it a bit difficult to get through the story. I didn’t want to close it as a DNF, so I’m just going to summarize what I felt after ensuring I completed it.

Genre:

Mystery, Suspense

Length: 

352 pages

Blurb:

Lieutenant John Driscoll begins investigating a series of murders in NYC. The perpetrator is twisted, as evidenced by his actions. But what’s driving him? And will Driscoll win the fight against the evil that the murderer epitomizes?

Overall Rating:

1 out of 10

Plot:

1 out of 10

Characterization:

1 out of 10

Primary Element:

2 out of 10 for its few random plot twists that did end up adding some elements of surprise.

Writing Style:

2 out of 10

Part of a Series:

Yes, it’s the third book in the John Driscoll series but can be read as a standalone.

A little more:

No One Will Hear Your Screams has some great reviews. Unfortunately, it just did not work for me. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Characters were very one dimensional. There was good, there was bad, and there was very little depth to either. Maybe that was because the character of the protagonist, Driscoll, has been developed over the series, maybe not. Either way, there was little in way of development that made you really associate with the characters, consequently leaving you un-invested in anything that happened to them.
  2. Random arcs that went nowhere. I’m not even sure why these plot points were added other than for shock value.
  3. Which brings me to my next point – random shock value. There were some seriously graphic scenes, which could affect even those who’ve read tons of violent suspense. They could have honestly added a whole other layer to the story but didn’t, because they were incredibly haphazardly placed instead of being part of the theme and the antagonist’s MO.
  4. One small, but extremely irritating, point was the constant and childish interaction between two characters that were, until that point, shown to be capable, functioning adults. Put together, they become bickering toddlers. Not only was it uncharacteristic, it was just cringey to read because literally no one behaves like that.
  5. Lastly, the writing, story, and persons were just all over the place. Connections between characters, motives, psyche, and even the past of the characters (which was shown to have some effect on the present) were just explained enough to take the story a step forward without really painting a picture. With nothing being delved into, you just end up reading a series of loosely tied events.

Should you read it?

Writing a book is tough work, which is why I really tried to find something that I liked in No One Will Hear Your Screams. It just didn’t work for me though. I would not personally recommend it to anyone because there are a lot of mystery and suspense novels out there that would probably be a better choice.

Drop a comment below if you’d like to share why you loved or hated No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O’Callaghan. As always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my review!

Until the next read…

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Some highs, some lows, but a hit overall: A Review of Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw. It was an interesting read, which had its highs and lows. Read on to know more!

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

336 pages

Blurb:

A volcanic vent erupts in the town of Hilo, Hawai’i, killing children and teachers when it causes the explosion of the school that was built on the mountain. The chief architect and contractor of the school are murdered within hours of the event. Chief Detective Koa Kane is called in to investigate whether the explosion and deaths were the result of natural calamity or intentional negligence. As the case heats up, Koa receives news that his estranged and imprisoned brother collapsed in prison and has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Chief Detective Koa Kane’s personal and professional lives clash when he’s forced into attempting a risky plan to free his brother. His principles are compromised even as he begins to unravel the mystery behind the explosion, a mystery that goes back forty years. Can Koa save his brother and still pursue justice for the murder of innocent children? Or will his own demons bring about his downfall?

Overall Rating:

6 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book 3 of the Koa Kane series. While I don’t know if it held spoilers for Books 1 and 2, I can say without a doubt that it was perfect as a standalone too. Book 1 in the series is titled Death of a Messenger and Book 2 is Off the GridBoth sound interesting and might make for great mystery reads.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Koa Kane himself. As a man who continues to deal with demons, personal and professional, that show him the worst of the world, he still fights to do what is right. Sometimes forced into feeling hopeless for his desire to remain ethical and moral in a world where those very qualities are taken advantage of, Koa comes across as a likable character that you can easily associate with and want to root for. That made every defeat and victory he faced personal to the reader.

What I Liked:

The book took some really unexpected turns, turning a story that could have been very one-dimensional into a much more intricate, woven tale of mystery and suspense.

The Hawaiian culture references were really interesting too. Not only did it set the stage for the story to unfold, but also added a lot of depth to the characters, what drives them, and how those nuances influence their reactions and actions.

What I Didn’t Like:

On multiple occasions, I found myself a little confused with the characters. There were a lot of them, and many shared similar names or were simply called by different names at various points, that made it a little tough to follow who was who.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who is interested in a good suspense and those who like to explore other cultures. Fire and Vengeance has a good helping of both.

Who Should Avoid:

I don’t think anyone would actively dislike Fire and Vengeance, unless of course, you absolutely hate msytery and suspense novels.

Read It For:

The Hawaiian culture references, a complex and very real protagonist, and an intricate plotline.

Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw released on 26 May 2020. You can get a copy on Amazon here. While I wouldn’t say that the book turned McCaw into an author I’d diligently follow, I will definitely be reading more of his work, given the chance, probably starting with Off the Grid.

Got something you’d like to share about Robert McCaw’s work, Fire and Vengeance, or some beloved thrillers and mysteries? Drop a comment below!

As always, thanks for dropping by and taking the time out to read this review.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Average Read – Great End: A Review of Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate

Shout out to NetGalley for an ARC of Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate. Reading and reviewing it took longer than expected, but here we are (finally)!

Genre:

Thriller, Mystery

Length: 

302 pages

Blurb:

Paul Czarcik is a veteran of the Illinois Bureau of Judicial Enforcement. He has no shortage of vices, is a loner, and is the Bureau’s best detective. When a seemingly open and shut case of double murder doesn’t sit right with him, he digs deeper… and finds an obscure connection to the gruesome murder of a Texas judge. Before long, Czarcik’s hunch brings him up against a killer who is nothing like any murderer he’s met before… and who is not yet done. When the killer challenges Czarcik, the detective accepts. And sets forth on a game of cat-and-mouse that mocks him at every step and threatens to turn the case into the first one Czarcik can’t win.

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

6 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its thrill (how will this end??!)

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Maybe, maybe not. As of now, not.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The end – did not see that coming.

What I Liked:

Although the story is pretty linear and as such doesn’t allow for too many twists, the author – Thomas Holgate – manages to get a few in, all of which are fun and relatively unexpected.

What I Didn’t Like:

The characterization was too clichéd. Every character was the textbook version of what it should be, without enough shades of gray (think typical anti-hero with a heart of gold).

Also, there were these random words that pivoted from the general, casual flow of the language. They really pull you out of the story, unfortunately, and I definitely could have done without the abruptness.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys relatively gory thrillers. This has a real ‘how is he going to hurt this one?’ vibe going. Definitely a plus for those who don’t mind some (and occasionally, a lot) bloodshed.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who can’t stand too much violence. Rain Will Come is not for the faint-hearted.

Read It For:

The anti-hero with a heart of gold. Yes, really! It may be clichéd but, for the most part, it works. Would have helped to have Czarcik be just a bit more… empathetic, though.

Rain Will Come releases on 1 April 2020 by Thomas & Mercer. It’s the debut novel of Thomas Holgate who has, as per his NetGalley bio, written television movies, series, and feature films, along with nonfiction books and magazine pieces under a pseudonym.

While the book has its drawbacks, I would definitely read more of Thomas Holgate’s work, especially for its dark themes and theoretically justifiable violence. If you like that kind of stuff, I’d recommend picking up Rain Will Come.

As always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my review. 🙂

– Rishika

 

Posted in All Book Reviews

Nicely twisted: Review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient (by Alex Michaelides) had been on my TBR pile for a while, and when I saw that it was in contention for Goodreads’ Choice Awards 2019 – Mystery and Thriller + Debut – I brought it up to the top and delved right in.

Does it meet the hype and expectations? Keep reading to find out.

Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient
Source: Goodreads

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

323 pages

Blurb:

Alicia Berenson was a famous painter, happily married to Gabriel Berenson, an equally famous fashion photographer. Until the day that she shot her husband five times in the face. Since that fateful day, six years ago, Alicia hasn’t spoken a word. The silence turns the crime into a sensational mystery, and Alicia becomes one of the most intriguing cases for criminal psychotherapists around the country. Theo Faber believes he can be the one that gets her to speak up, to reveal what happened that night, and to save her. But soon he finds that the case begins to reveal his own demons, long since buried. Theo may or may not save Alicia; but can he save himself?

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.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The major plot twists. You’d expect twists from a mystery/thriller, but you do not see these coming in the least.

What I Liked:

The book begins similar to Tell Me A Secret by Samantha Hayes (review here). It also has a bit of the, “I know I’m a psychotherapist but…” justification that Hayes’ book had in abundance. I had really disliked Tell Me A Secret and that justification. But, The Silent Patient does not use those words as a justification. Neither does it go down the self-pity path you’d expect from the first few pages. It actually walks that fine line between justification and self-awareness really well, and that aspect contributes to the story rather than giving an excuse for it. As it turns out, done well, that kind of first-person and self-aware narrative can add great perspective to a story, as it does for The Silent Patient.

What I Didn’t Like:

Nothing that would actively dissuade you from reading the book.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy books based on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

Read It For:

An interesting mystery with an unexpected plot twist. The Silent Patient is a good read that moves fast and has some really intriguing angles; it’s just not a read that I would classify as, “Oh my God, this is the best thing ever written!” If you enjoy mystery and thrillers, though, go for it. And I have to mention here that, at no point, does it seem like a debut novel. I would definitely read more works by Alex Michaelides.

Got something to add about The Silent Patient? Drop a comment below. And, as always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my review! 🙂

– Rishika