Tag Archives: Tim Weaver

Review: The Sleeping Beauty Killer (By Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 302 pages

My rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Casey Carter was on the verge of her happily-ever-after when she got engaged to Hunter Raleigh III, a renowned businessman, beloved philanthropist, and potential political candidate whose family was nothing less than political royalty. But then Hunter was found murdered, two gunshots ending his life, and Casey left with blood and gunpowder residue on her hands. In spite of her claims that she’d been drugged and unconscious during the murder, Casey is convicted for manslaughter.

Fifteen years later, Casey returns to society, but feels like a pariah. Although everywhere she goes, people look at her like she’s guilty, she is determined to prove that she hadn’t murdered the man she loved. She approaches Laurie Moran, host of Under Suspicion, a show that opens cold cases, in the hope that Laurie could help her tell her side of the story, and find Hunter’s real killer. As Laurie and her team begin investigating the events that took place on the night of the murder and the people who had made up Casey’s past, Laurie finds herself close to believing that Casey is truly innocent. In her search for the truth, Laurie finds herself facing a new, egotistical co-host, a skeptical boss, protective family members, and a host of questions whose answers are not even remotely as simple as they should be. But the largest question that continues to plague her at every step is whether Casey is really innocent or did the woman that society named The Sleeping Beauty Killer actually murder Hunter?

The Bottom Line:

An extremely basic mystery that does not do justice to its apparent genre of thriller or suspense.

My take:

Let Me Call You Sweetheart was the first Mary Higgins Clark book I’d read, and I’d absolutely fallen in love with the author. I read most of her books over the years. While not all of them have been great, I think it’s safe to say that The Sleeping Beauty Killer was downright disappointing.

Essentially, the book is a simple mystery. The version I read had a quote on the cover from the Guardian saying, “Scared the hell out of me.” The claim is consistent with the reaction that people have when reading Clark’s work; her books are eerie, suspenseful, and unpredictable. So I obviously went in expecting that. But there was absolutely nothing of that sort in the book.

It’s got an interesting enough story with the kind of characters you’d expect from Clark. There are some twists and turns that, although not unpredictable, are interesting enough to keep you turning the pages. That is actually the only reason the book is good enough for a 1.5-star rating. Other than a mildly interesting presentation of a mildly interesting story, the book doesn’t have much to offer, especially for fans of Clark’s older works.

A few things that were really disappointing was the absolute lack of a thrill factor. I don’t need people jumping out from dark corners at me, but I do expect some element of thrill or even suspense, which I didn’t see in The Sleeping Beauty Killer. What was even worse was that the book was so unbelievably predictable – I’m not talking about the who, but also the why and how. There’s little point in reading a book when you already know the end (that too so early on in the book), other than to just find out if you were right.

My biggest problem with the book, though, was the characterization. This is the first book I’ve read in the Under Suspicion series, but the first few pages are enough to get the idea that Laurie Moran is an accomplished woman who’s seen hard times and come through them gracefully. Which is why I couldn’t understand why she chose to randomly titter like a sixteen-year-old. I’m not saying older women are expected to be serious or boring all the time, but there were these parts that were downright cringy, mainly because they seemed so out of character for the personality that Laurie is shown to be. The times where she was a normal adult but still having fun didn’t come across like that, which is what made the contradiction even worse.

And that inconsistency was in almost every character. Even Casey herself. It almost seemed like the author(s) couldn’t determine whether to make Casey strong, weak, mean, kind, gentle, or harsh; so instead of including a little bit of all these traits in a symbiotic manner, they just gave her random extremes of them whenever they pleased.

All in all, the book seemed very… amateur (the bookish dialog didn’t help). There is no dearth of crime fiction and crime thriller in the world today. Jeffery Deaver, David Baldacci, Simon Beckett, Tim Weaver, and Mark Edwards are just some of the names that come to mind when I think of detailed, layered, thrilling, suspenseful, and eerie reads in the genre (check out the reviews to some of their books I’ve absolutely loved, linked to their names above). Authors, seasoned and new, are getting better with each book that they pen. But with each book, Mary Higgins Clark seems to be continuing her descend from the pedestal on which her work had, justifiably, placed her. I still remember books like On The Street Where You Live (which I’d found brilliant) and A Cry In The Night (check out the review for that one here) which was quite good. Then, more recently, I read As Time Goes By, and that was a good book but was still incredibly predictable and just not as enjoyable as her previous works (more detailed review available here). But I have to admit that The Sleeping Beauty Killer finds a place at the bottom in my pile of Clark’s books. I’m definitely not reading more of the Under Suspicion series unless I decide to just read something light, fast, and not overly complicated.

So, should you read The Sleeping Beauty Killer? Yes, if:

  • you’ve read the Laurie Moran Under Suspicion books before and enjoy the character and series
  • you enjoy Clark’s more recent works
  • you enjoy uncomplicated, linear mysteries

But definitely not, if:

  • you want mystery that comes with thrill and suspense
  • you love unpredictability
  • you loved Clark’s older works (that makes this book disappointing on numerous levels)

Don’t go yet! Share your thoughts on how Clark’s work has progressed over the years according to you, drop a recommendation, or simply say Hi! in the comment section below!

Thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

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Review: Chasing the Dead (By Tim Weaver)

Chasing the Dead Source: Goodreads

Chasing the Dead
Source: Goodreads

Length: 434 pages

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

David Raker knows all about the pain of losing someone you love. He goes through it every day since the moment his wife died. Finding missing persons gives him a way to look beyond the pain, if only briefly, and bring back loved ones to those he can help. But when Alex Towne’s mother comes to him for help, the case becomes personal. Alex Towne had been missing for five years before his body was discovered a year ago. And yet, his mother claims to have seen him only weeks ago; and she wants Raker to find him. Raker accepts for one reason alone – Mary Towne’s grief mirrors his own. Almost certain that the case is nothing more than one of mistaken identity, Raker begins to dig; and he unearths more than he’d bargained for. Alex’s life begins to unfold in front of Raker and the missing persons’ investigator finds dangerous secrets in the apparently innocent life of Alex Towne – secrets that a group of killers have guarded dearly, and that they continue to guard, even at the cost of Raker’s life. Raker pushes through every obstacle, driven by his own desire for closure that becomes intertwined with the closure of the case he’s taken on. But can he battle the people who now target him? And where does Alex fit into the web of secrecy and insanity that threatens to painfully strangle every breath of life out of Raker?

My take:

Chasing the Dead is Tim Weaver’s debut novel and the introduction of David Raker. But, it’s not his first book that I’ve read. I’ve read The Dead Tracks earlier, the second David Raker novel, and absolutely loved it. So it isn’t too surprising that I expected something good from this one. And to put it briefly, this book didn’t disappoint.

Chasing the Dead, in some ways, is not as good as The Dead Tracks. First, the story can get a bit confusing, especially if you take long gaps between your reading sessions. Second, it isn’t as chilling as its sequel. So for those who love books for their creepy factor, you may find this one lacking in that aspect. If you compare it to its sequel, you will still like this book, but probably not as much as you liked the second Raker novel.

However, by itself, Chasing the Dead is an excellent read. It might not have much creepiness, but it has a lot of great suspense and mystery, coupled with action. It also brings in a small share of creepiness and a good dose of gore (that’s not unbearably gory), making it a well rounded story. The writing style is easy to read and gripping, and Weaver ensures that he keeps you turing the pages relentlessly. The clincher, though, is David Raker and his character development. You get to see a lot of his background in the second story, but this one put things into a whole new, complete, perspective for me. You see the events that lead him to do what he does, you see the way he reacts to death and loss – his own and others’ – and you see him grow into a different person than he once was. The change is wonderfully done, finally giving you a protagonist who is entirely human, and yet, heroic in his own way.

All in all, Chasing the Dead gets added to my list of favorites and Tim Weaver continues to be an author whose work I’m going to diligently follow. Like with every series, you may like one book more than another, but Chasing the Dead is great as a read by itself, and doesn’t disappoint when compared with its sequel. It’s really good, in its own way. It kept me looking for excuses and breaks to be able to pick it up whenever I could and ends extremely satisfactorily, even while leaving you wanting to follow Raker on his next case. If you enjoy suspense and thrillers, you’ll enjoy Chasing the Dead. But if you’re extremely squeamish at the very mention of pain and blood, this book might not be the best one for you to pick up. And if you’re following the Raker series, then whether as the first one you read or one that you pick up after any of its sequels, you need to read Chasing the Dead; because it gives a whole new life to David Raker.

– Rishika

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Review: The Dead Tracks (By Tim Weaver)

The Dead Tracks Source: Goodreads

     The Dead Tracks
   Source: Goodreads

Length: 530 pages

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Megan Carver disappeared from her school six months ago. A brilliant student who loved her family and her life, Megan was not the kind to run away. But when the police have no answers for her grief stricken parents who hold on to a small shred of hope, they turn to David Raker.

Raker knows what loss is about, he’s felt it, been surrounded by it and continues to live through it every day. He also knows the evil that the world holds and the secrets that hide in plain sight. As a journalist turned missing persons investigator, he’s seen it all. And the more he digs into Megan’s past, the deeper he finds himself in a web of lies, deceit and death.

But as the clues fall into place, clues that reveal a sinister plot larger than Raker expected, he finds himself drawn to a forest at the very edge of the city. The forest has secrets of its own and has seen death too. Once the home of a demented serial killer, the forest has a history that goes back a hundred years, a history that gave it its name. But the lines between history and present begin to blur as Raker uncovers the secrets that are whispered by the Dead Tracks. And the forest begins to reveal a terrifying truth, one from which Raker may not make it back alive.

My take:

Tim Weaver is, to put it simply, an amazing author! The Dead Tracks is one of those books that you just don’t want to put down. The story moves fast, is written with beautiful clarity and leaves no loose ends hanging. The twists, turns and surprises keep coming and leave you guessing at the end of almost every chapter. The book goes from normal to creepy (in a thrilling way) without wasting time on niceties. You get into the story from the first page and it holds on to you till the very last.

David Raker is a great protagonist and Weaver has created a character that is incredibly well thought out and gripping. The other characters that appear are unique in their own way, each defined by their quirks and drive which lead you to love them or hate them, and sometimes, both. You get an insight into their emotions and thoughts, brought to the forefront with a brilliant play of words by Weaver.

The story is not an outright horror. But Weaver’s writing gives you chills as he describes scenarios in great detail. Each sentence adds to the creepy thrill that fills you as you read. Every word seems to be placed perfectly, giving the perfect effect at the perfect time. The Dead Tracks is not devoid of violence or graphic scenes. But they’re all done in a manner that is chilling rather than gross. And they all add to the feeling that you need to look over your shoulder because something may be watching you.

I have, for some time now, been in search for a really good crime thriller author. And I can safely say that Tim Weaver, now on my list of favorite authors, is the answer. The Dead Tracks is the second book with David Raker and one of four books that are based around the missing persons investigator. If you like James Patterson’s older work such as Pop Goes the Weasel and Along Came a Spider, you’ll like Tim Weaver. He’s got a gripping style similar to Patterson’s without the sometimes unnecessarily hyped violence. Perfect for anyone who loves crime thrillers, mysteries and serial killer stories, The Dead Tracks is an unputdownable book that you don’t want to miss.

– Rishika

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