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, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: You Were Gone (By Tim Weaver)

If you’ve been reading the last few reviews on this site, you would’ve noticed that Tim Weaver’s name and books have popped up quite often. I’d read a couple of his books a while ago and sort of re-discovered him more recently. And since then, his series has been getting more and more interesting. Which is why his books have become a ‘comfort read’ for me. I know that they’ll move fast and be interesting, but most of all, I love seeing the development of David Raker (the leading character).

There is, of course, always the question, “What if this isn’t as good as the previous ones?” But for the most part, Tim Weaver’s David Raker series has been consistently good.

Now that that explanation for why I’ve been devouring the David Raker series is out of the way, let’s come to You Were Gone – the ninth book in the series. Was this the book that broke the streak of ‘consistently good’? Read on to find out.

Genre: 

Thriller

Length: 

483 pages

Blurb:

When David Raker had to watch his wife slowly be consumed by the cancer that eventually took her life, he felt a part of him die too. He coped by choosing to become a missing persons investigator and helping others find closure. His work soon became an obsession, one that had repercussions on his health, and his doctor warned him that it could push him over the edge.

But years after Raker buries his wife, a woman walks into a police station, and tells them she’s been missing for eight years. She has no ID, no phone – only the name of her husband – David Raker. When Raker is called in by the DI, he finds himself looking at the woman who looks exactly like his dead wife and who knows intimate details of their marriage. She claims that Raker had a breakdown, that she had never died. And Raker is forced to question whether he knows his own truth at all. Did Derryn really die? Or is everything he knows… and lived… a lie created by his own fragile sanity?

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its thrill, 10 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

10 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yep, this is Book #9 in the David Raker series. While I have read reviews on Goodreads that say readers enjoyed this as a standalone, they did state that it took a couple chapters to get into it because of not having read the previous books. I’d definitely recommend starting from the first book, but if you’re just looking for an interesting read, this would work as a standalone too. You can find reviews of the previous book on this site too.

Highlighted Takeaway:

You Were Gone will make you question everything you believe about David Raker, leaving you in the same conundrum as the main character, and wondering if you’ve trusted the wrong (fictional) person all these years.

What I Liked:

Raker’s vulnerability and fragility, mentally and emotionally, is depicted really well, making it really easy to associate with him. At the same time, you find yourself questioning what you’ve known so far while also wondering about the truth. The mystery unfolds well, keeping the suspense going even as things get resolved along the way. Overall, the book moves fast, hits hard (emotionally), and keeps you turning the pages late into the night.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing I can point out as having disliked. Like its preceding books, You Were Gone was an incredibly interesting and absorbing read.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who loves thrillers and mysteries will like Tim Weaver’s work, including You Were Gone and its prequels. The David Raker series remains one of my favorites, book after book.

Who Should Avoid:

If you’re not a fan of mysteries, cold case books, or thrillers, or hate picking up books mid-series, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

The most personal case David Raker has ever found himself in.

As you may have realized by now, I’m definitely going to be finishing the David Raker series soon, finally catching up to the latest releases. I’ve got The Shadow at my Door bought and ready, but will buy and read No One Home prior to starting that (as I would like to go through this series in order).

In the meanwhile, I’m reading other authors (of course!). So stay tuned for more reviews coming up very soon. And as always, thanks for stopping by and checking out the posts on The Book Review Station!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: I Am Missing (By Tim Weaver)

Missing persons investigator, David Raker, returns in I Am Missing. Except, this time, the case he’s presented with is not like anything he’s ever worked on.

I am a big fan of the David Raker series. Its chilling, fast-paced books have always been my ‘comfort reads’. While not all have been great, the series does a fantastic job of keeping the quality of almost every subsequent book as high as its predecessor. So, unsurprisingly, I went into I Am Missing with high expectations. Read on to know if they were met.

Genre:

Thriller

Length:

519 pages 

Blurb:

David Raker is presented with an unusual case – the person who hires him, wants him to find none other than himself. Richard Kite has no memory of who he is or where he came from. Nor of how he ended up beaten and bruised by the shore. The media named him ‘The Lost Man’. He assumed the name ‘Richard Kite’. Months later, in spite of media coverage and police investigations, Kite still has no answers. Which is why he turns to Raker. Now Raker needs to find out just who Kite is, why no one knows or remembers him, and what may connect him to a two-year-old, unsolved murder. As Raker delves deeper into the case, he’s faced with growing threats, and a single question – is Richard Kite a victim… or murderer?

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

10 out of 10 for its thrill and its mystery

Writing Style:

10 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book No. 8 in the David Raker series. While the story will probably be an interesting read as a stand-alone, it is best read on order, especially if you really want to know what makes Raker who he is. Reviews for all the previous books in the series are available on the website.

Highlighted Takeaway:

In part wonderfully creepy and in part delightfully suspenseful, I Am Missing offers a unique take on missing-person mysteries that keeps you turning the pages relentlessly.

What I Liked:

The ‘past’ section of the book really gets quite under your skin, giving you the thrill that is typical of Tim Weaver’s work. Combined with the suspense and twist-filled ‘present’, you get a thriller that ties in multiple arcs really well and leaves you guessing until the end. Also, although the book is quite lengthy, it actually moves really quickly, not dragging at any point.

What I Didn’t Like:

There is nothing specific to dislike in I Am Missing. Although a part of it may seem fantastical, it actually provides convincing context.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys thrillers set in small towns, and anyone who has read (or not read) any of the Raker books. While it may be best read in order, many first-time Tim Weaver readers have found I Am Missing to be a perfect starting point.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy thrillers.

Read It For:

David Raker’s attempt and efforts at solving a case so different from his norm, and so very twisted.

Tim Weaver’s David Raker books continue to remain one of my favorite thriller series. I will definitely be reading the few remaining in the series, and would strongly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a new thriller/mystery series or just a standalone book or two in the genre.

As always, thank you for stopping by The Book Review Station and reading my review! Got something to share? Drop us a line in the comments section below!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: Broken Heart (By Tim Weaver)

Continuing with the David Raker series by Tim Weaver, we’re talking about Broken Heart this time. Read on to know if this book fails in comparison to its prequels or if Tim Weaver can keep the momentum going.

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

451 pages

Blurb:

Security footage from one of the headlands overlooking the Devon coast shows a woman enter in the morning. Her car is found in the parking lot days later. The woman is not seen or recorded leaving from the only entrance and feasible path in and out of the area, and yet she’s never found again. Months later, David Raker is hired by her sister, who lives halfway across the world, to find out what happened to her, if she’s even alive, and where she may be. What led the woman, widowed from a reclusive film director, to disappear… and how exactly did she disappear? An already complicated case gets even more so as Raker digs deeper and decades-old secrets begin to emerge. Someone has kept these secrets hidden until now and, as David starts to discover, no cost seems too high to keep them buried. Raker finds himself caught in an intrinsic and dangerous web. And yet, that may not be the cause of Raker’s destruction. Because the demons and memories of his past are slowly catching up.

Overall Rating:

8 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

7 out of 10 for its mystery, 9 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #7 in the David Raker series. It can, to some extent, be read as a standalone. But the development of David’s character is best read in order, starting at at least Book #4 – Never Coming Back.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Tim Weaver is the master of ‘skeletons in the closet’ tales – and his talent in bringing these to life is undeniably evident in Broken Heart.

What I Liked:

The creepy factor – the narrative in many parts of Broken Heart leaves you feeling unsettled, and with the feeling that someone is around you but just out of sight, providing the perfect ‘thrill’. Another aspect that’s really enjoyable is the depth of information (narrated entertainingly) about the movie industry and its evolution (from technical and cultural aspects). Both these elements manage to pull you in and keep you turning the pages.

What I Didn’t Like:

I did feel like the book could have been a few pages shorter, that some chapters were lengthened without cause. But it didn’t really take too much away from the momentum of the story.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who loves thrillers and mysteries will enjoy Broken Heart, and the entire David Raker series.

Who Should Avoid:

There are a few graphic parts that do make your stomach turn. So if you’re easily put off by violence, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

Unsurprisingly, David Raker. Without giving too much away, I will say that his character development is becoming interesting and even unexpected. But it leaves you wanting to know that much more about what happens next!

Love the David Raker series? Or have recommendations for similar works? Drop a comment below. And as always, thanks for stopping by and reading my book review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

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 All Book Reviews

Exciting, even if a tad over the top: A review of Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver

It’s been a while since I read Tim Weaver’s work, in spite of having really enjoyed the three books of his that I have read. I was recently reminded of his work by S.W. Kane’s The Bone Jar (check out the review of that thriller here). And a day later, I was reading Never Coming Back. Read on to know what you can expect from this crime thriller, based on Weaver’s missing persons investigator – David Raker.

Genre: 

Crime thriller, Suspense

Length: 

529 pages

Blurb:

David Raker leaves London behind to heal, physically and emotionally, at his parents’ old house in Devon. But there’s a reason Raker does what he does – he needs to help people keep their loss at bay, so that they never face what he had to. Which is why when his ex-girlfriend, Emily Kane, turns up at his door asking for his help in finding her sister, Carrie, and her entire family, Raker cannot refuse. Carrie, her husband Paul, and their two daughters, disappeared without a trace, leaving the house like they’d just been there moments before. That was months ago. The police have had no leads, and Raker’s the only hope for Emily. What begins as a missing persons case turns into something much more sinister. Will Raker find the answers he’s looking for, or will a decades-old secret claim even more lives than it already has… including Raker’s?

Overall Rating:

8 out of 10

Plot:

7 out of 10

Characterization:

9 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out 10 for its suspense; 7 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book #4 in the David Raker series. Although it can be read as a standalone, with enough information to bring a new reader up to speed while not sharing spoilers, it is best read in order.

Highlighted Takeaway:

A few of the plot twists. You come to expect certain trends and twists when you read a lot of crime thrillers and suspense. But Never Coming Back still manages to surprise.

What I Liked:

The strong characterization and the effortless display of the complexities of relationships. They made the story more intriguing and very easy to associate with, and left you really invested in what happens next.

What I Didn’t Like:

Part of the plot was a bit over the top. I genuinely do not know if the core circumstances that led to the events of the book could and/or do happen. Seems improbable but still just possible enough to be believable (to some extent).

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes crime thrillers and suspense. You’ll especially enjoy this if you like the works of Jeffery Deaver, Tony Parsons, and Simon Beckett.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who is turned off by graphic crime and conspiracy theories.

Read It For:

David Raker. He’s one of those literary characters that will make you want to read an entire series. He’s not shown to be invincible. In fact, he’s vulnerable, honest, and limited in capabilities, making it that much easier to think of him as a very real person and, consequently, to care about what he does and what happens to him.

Have you read any of the David Raker series? Let us know what you thought in the comments below. And as always, thanks for stopping by The Book Review Station!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

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

33304804
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

Posted in All Book Reviews

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

Posted in All Book Reviews

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