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Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

This was an audiobook narrated by Lisa Coleman, and is the seventh book in the DCI Tom Douglas series. I have previously listened to another book which is later in the series than this one, and while there are personal aspects of Tom’s life included in the storyline, it is easy enough to follow as a standalone novel, or if you do the same as me and read/listen out of order.

Tom and his team are called in to investigate when a young woman is found dead at a frozen lonely scene. Who is she, and how did she get there? Did she commit suicide or was she murdered? None of these questions are easily answerable.

Meanwhile, a young woman named Callie is trapped in a miserable relationship with an abusive and parasitic boyfriend. When she decides to travel to Myanmar to honour a promise to her grandfather, she befriends an older couple who take her under her wing, and help her realise that she needs to end things with Ian. But when she tries to do so, things take a sinister turn.

And in a lonely kitchen, two women sit and eat their meals in almost complete silence, trapped as they are in a prison of their own making. What are their stories and how did they arrive at this low point?

Slowly all the threads of the stories come together…

I’ll start with the good parts of this audiobook, including the narration. Lisa Coleman did an excellent job, and managed to distinctly voice all of the characters.

I also really like the character of Tom and all of his colleagues. They are believable and likeable – and deserve a better storyline than the one they had here.

Unfortunately the twists and turns in this book were so well signposted that the characters – Callie mainly as large parts of the book are told from her point of view – just end up coming across as unutterably stupid and naive. Without giving anything away, I wanted to shake her for putting up with her awful boyfriend, and then for her subsequent actions, which I won’t reveal here. Many of the characters apart from the officers – and maybe this is because the police characters have had several books through which to develop their characters – were like cardboard cut outs, and never easy to invest in. And there was a huge dollop of coincidence, which never rang true. I did listen to the end, but found myself underwhelmed by the conclusion, which left some strands of storyline hanging.

Despite all of the above, I would consider listening to more in the series, because the investigators were great, and according to other reviewers who have read the whole series, this is a particularly weak book compared to others. So maybe at some point I will pay another visit to Tom Douglas and co.

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Having previously enjoyed Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ and bearing in mind the myriad of excellent reviews for ‘The Secret History’, I was looking forward to reading this, and I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint.

The book is narrated by Richard Papen, a young man who leaves his dead end town in California to become a Classic Greek student at Hampden College in Vermont. He quickly becomes drawn into the friendship group of the five other students in his class. However, on the very first page of the book, before the story proper even really begins, we learn that things have taken a very sinister turn and five of the group have murdered one of their own.

Richard tells the story of what happened and why, from an undetermined time in the future, and in doing so describes the intricacies of the group’s relationships, everybody’s character flaws, and how their actions affect them all differently. It’s a murder mystery of sorts, but instead of being a whodunnit, it’s a whydunnit.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially the first half. At that point I thought that although it is only the first book I have read this year, it’s certain to be one of the best. I still feel that way, because even though things did slow down somewhat in the second half, I was still fascinated by it and looked forward to coming back to it each evening.

I’m somewhat surprised that this hasn’t been adapted into a film, as I could easily see it translating to the screen – if it ever is, I shall be in line to watch it. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it.

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This is the second Jackson Lamb thriller, set in the world of MI5 and espionage. In truth, Lamb is just the head of an ensemble cast, each of whom has their own role to play in these novels.

Lamb’s team are affectionately nicknamed Slow Horses by the powers that be at MI5. Partly because it’s a play on the name of the building called Slough House where they work, and partly it’s because they are all considered subpar – for differing reasons – and are put into this team to quietly spend the remainder of their career carrying out mundane and unimportant tasks, being no trouble to anyone or anything.

However, Lamb is not as acquiescent as they would like, and cannot resist when he gets a sniff of a mystery. When he hears that a former colleague and spy, named Dickie Bow (really!) has died, he thinks there is more to it and this sets him and his team on a trail leading back to the Cold War.

I’m not sure what it is about these novels that I enjoy so much. I generally do not like spy novels because they almost always seem to have unnecessarily convoluted plots and it’s not a genre that interests me. However, Mick Herron’s writing is such a pleasure to read, and his characters are all so real and believable, that I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as it’s predecessor Slow Horses, which is the first in the series.

It is a fairly complicated story with lots of strands, but they are all explained well without patronising the reader. The characters, including the overweight, chain smoking, heavy drinking, farting belching and insulting Jackson Lamb are a pleasure to spend time with, and there are a few big surprises along the way.

Although you don’t need to have read Slow Horses to understand and enjoy this book, I would recommend it as it gives background to some of the characters on the team. As for myself, I look forward to reading the next ones in the series.

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After reading Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel, ‘I Let You Go’, I was really looking forward to the this follow up. I had enjoyed the first book, thought it was well written with a super twist that, unusually, came halfway through. Unfortunately, I See You was nowhere near the calibre of it’s predecessor, and ultimately I was disappointed.

The story is narrated by mother of two Zoe Walker, another unknown narrator, and in the third person from the point of view of police officer Kelly Swift.

Zoe is horrified when she spots her own photo in an advert in the classified section of a free newspaper – there’s nothing there other than her picture, a phone number and a website address, but when she goes to the website she cannot gain entry. The next day the advert has a photo of a different woman, and she soon realises that there is a different woman shown each day. When she realises that crimes are being committed against some of the women in the pictures, Zoe starts to worry about her own safety. Who is printing these adverts and what kind of danger is she in?

Meanwhile PC Kelly Swift, still recovering from disciplinary action taken against her a few years before, becomes involved in the investigation into the advertisements and subsequent attacks on the women featured. It’s a race against time to discover who is behind the pictures and stop the crimes before more women are hurt.

Okay – so here’s the good part: the writing is well paced, and the characters are fairly well drawn (at least Zoe, her daughter Katie, and PC Swift are all easy to relate to). The idea behind the mystery is an intriguing one, and so far so good.

However…the final reveal, which I won’t give away here, almost made me throw the book against the wall in disgust. I can suspend my disbelief to an extent but this was ridiculous. Also, and I don’t think this is too spoilery, Zoe was not able to access the website because a password was required and she couldn’t figure it out. Fair enough – by her own admission, she was not particularly computer savvy. However, when the police are investigating and also cannot work out how to get in for some time, it didn’t make sense that the people who the advert was aimed at were miraculously able to figure out the password.

Anyway, it’s a quick read and undemanding if you don’t think too deeply about it. After the brilliance of I Let You Go, though, I can’t help feeling that this may have been rushed in order to capitalise on the success of that book. I’ve read worse for sure, but I’ve also read a LOT better.

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This audiobook, narrated by Todd Boyce, follows an unusual format, in that it starts at the end of the story and then goes backwards in time, with each chapter being set earlier than the previous one. It’s an interesting idea, and I’m not sure that it completely worked. The ending (or the beginning, as it were) was very satisfying and provided lots of ‘aha!’ and ‘wow!’ moments, but for the first few chapters (or indeed the last few!) it was confusing and somewhat frustrating. Jeffery Deaver has written some excellent books, and I don’t think this is one of them. It was good in the end, but I was tempted to give up on it after listening for the first hour or so.

Anyhow, the story revolves around a woman named Gabriella MacKenzie, sitting in a room with a man who is obviously there to look after her, while she anxiously awaits to hear if her kidnapped daughter Sarah has been rescued. Sarah was taken by a mysterious man named Joseph, who demands a huge sum of money and a mysterious document called The October List, which Gabriella’s boss has ownership of, and which contains details of people he had been dealing with in criminal financial activity. The boss has disappeared with the list and with Joseph’s – and several other people’s money – and Joseph wants it back. The story covers Gabriella and her new boyfriend Daniel’s attempts to retrieve the mysterious list and get it to Joseph before her daughter comes to any harm.

The narration was fine and the story was clever, but as mentioned above I’m not sure I would read something else written in this format. Normally when people are introduced into a story, there is some background or information provided about them which gives the reader an idea of the role they are going to play. Not so here however; characters are introduced with no explanation of how they fit into this story. It’s kind of like piecing together a jigsaw without ever having seen the picture you’re trying to make.

So a bit of a mixed bag. If you manage to get halfway through then it’s definitely worth sticking with it, but be prepared to be a bit lost at first.

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This is the third book in the Cormoran Strike series, and they just keep getting better and better!

This one dives straight into the story when Strike’s partner Robin has a severed girl’s leg delivered to the office. Strike immediately and correctly deduces that whoever sent it is trying to send him a message and four suspects come to mind. While the police believe they know which one it is and concentrate all their efforts on that person, Strike is convinced it is one of the other three, and he and Robin focus their investigation on those. Meanwhile, the killer – whose identity is not revealed until the end, but who does narrate certain chapters of the book – is committing other horrendous crimes in London, attacking and mutilating women, leaving a trail of bloodshed in his wake.

As Strike and Robin get drawn further into their investigation, they soon find themselves heading towards real danger.

Considering these books were written by the same mind that created the Harry Potter series, Robert Galbraith aka J K Rowling, takes the reader to some very dark places. This has been a theme in all of the Strike novels, especially this one and the preceding book ‘Silkworm’. If very gory scenes are not your thing, then be warned that this might not be a book for you. However, she writes a great story, and is very capable of springing surprises on the reader and maintaining tension throughout. The relationship between Strike and Robin kicks up a notch in this book, despite remaining platonic, and Robin is still with the odious Matthew.

Strike himself has always been a fascinating character despite his somewhat questionable social skills, and Robin has always been immensely likeable – this is maintained in this third instalment of their work. I’m reluctant to reveal more about the plot for fear of revealing any spoilers, but if you like thrillers, and/or have enjoyed the previous Strike novels, I would definitely recommend this one.

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I recorded this film months and months ago, because something about it intrigued me. I’m not sure what and it took ages for me to get around to watching it – somehow whenever I was trying to pick a film I fancied, I passed this one by. But finally I settled down to watch it, and wow! It FAR exceeded my expectations (and if you will allow me to be shallow for a moment, it also awakened me to the fact that Viggo Mortensen is a beautiful man!)

The story revolves around Chester McFarland and his wife Colette (Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst), who are holidaying in Athens. They meet up with Rydal (Oscar Isaac), an American tour guide, and hire him to show them around. Rydal is something of a con artist, but as the audience quickly learns, so is Chester. This fact catches up with Chester when some disgruntled victims of his hire a private detective to track him down and Chester accidentally kills him. Rydal stumbles upon Chester trying to hide the body (don’t worry, this all happens very early on, so there are no spoilers here) and not realising the other man is actually dead, helps Chester.

The two men are then inextricably bound to one another – both has the means to get the other into trouble, and also the motive – Rydal is clearly attracted to Colette, and the feeling seems mutual.

An uneasy alliance forms as the three of them are forced to stay together – I won’t say more as there are lots of twists and turns and the storyline deserves not to be spoiled for first time viewers.

I really liked this film – it’s basically an old fashioned thriller, done extremely well, with great actors. The main three are all excellent, with Mortensen and Isaac competing for who steals each scene (Dunst is also fantastic, but I think she was given less to work with). Fans of Alfred Hitchcock will like this; I feel sure that if Hitchcock were making movies today, this is the kind of thing he would come up with. It also looks stunning, the locations and the lighting were beautiful, and the music was reminiscent of thrillers from the 50s and 60s.

I was entirely unsurprised to discover after I had finished the film that it is based on a  book by Patricia Highsmith. It is undershot with just the right amount of tension, and you are never quite sure who if anyone will come out on top.

I highly recommend this film, and will also add the book to my reading list.

 

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For my money, Keanu Reeves is one of those actors who it is impossible to dislike. People may say he can’t act (I disagree with this) but I never hear anyone say that they don’t like him. Personally I’m interested in seeing pretty much any of his films – he’s always entertaining, picks interesting roles – and okay; on a shallow basis he’s lovely to look at.

So it’s almost disconcerting to see him playing a cold hearted serial killer here. He’s charismatic and charming, but evil to the core. James Spader is Joel Campbell, the FBI agent, who haunted by his inability to catch the man who has been killing young women in LA, moves to Chicago, where frankly he becomes a mess. Semi conscious half the time, on all kinds of medication and suffering from guilt induced migraines, his purpose is restored when Reeves’s David Griffin follows him to Chicago and continues his killing spree. The two have a symbiotic relationship – Griffin needs Campbell to notice him, and Campbell lives to catch Griffin.

The director of the film is apparently a music video director and it shows. The stylised flashbacks, the slow mo effects – they’re all here. The script too does not really contain anything groundbreaking or shocking, but nonetheless the action moves on at a decent pace, and kept me interested.

If you like thrillers, give this one a try – as long as you go in expecting an hour and a half of decent entertainment and nothing too mind-glowingly brilliant, I think you might enjoy it.

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Year of release: 200

Director: Joe Charbanic

Writers: Darcy Meyers, David Elliot, Clay Ayers

Main cast: James Spader, Keanu Reeves, Marisa Tomei, Chris Ellis

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Genre: Thriller

Highlights: The delectable Keanu Reeves, always

Lowlights: Slightly over stylised

Overall: A pretty decent thriller and a good way to pass 90 minutes of your time

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The Blurb

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.
A noose is round your neck.
You are bound, standing on a chair.
All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.
You are about to die.

John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable. Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour.
He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction. The momentum is in his favour for now. But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

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My Thoughts

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Luke Thompson who did a great job. The narrative hits the ground running – rather than any introductory back story, it starts slap bang in the middle of an attempted murder. When photographer John Wallace is attacked in his apartment, he feels sure that he is about to die, but manages to escape by the skin of his teeth. However, his attacker is relentless and seemingly able to track John, no matter where he hides. John has to find out who is trying to kill him, and more importantly why – but his journey will take him across an ocean and down some very dark paths.

I really liked the first part of the book – the action was fast moving and the characters were well fleshed out. However, when the story moved to New York, it faltered somewhat for me, as it began to include elements of cyber terrorism (don’t worry – no spoilers here) and it became unbelievable as Wallace seemed to be able to somehow defy numerous attempts on his life, while around him the body count continued to rise.

Hamdy definitely knows how to write an action sequence, and Luke Thompson’s narration matched the pace of the storyline. However, the second half of the story was something of a slog for me. This book is the first in a series, and although it’s easy to see where the set up for the next book comes in, there was enough closure here for anyone who didn’t want to read any more. I fall into that category – this wasn’t awful, but didn’t interest me enough to want to read any more about the Pendulum case.

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Year of first publication: 2016

Genre: Thriller, action, mystery

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This book is set in Dooling, West Virginia, but the events of the story are happening throughout the world.

A new global phenomenon which comes to be known as Aurora is affecting women as they sleep. They become cocooned in a web like structure, and if anyone tries to remove the webbing the women become uncontrollably violent. As women fight to stay away, inevitably they all (almost all anyway) fall asleep and the men are left to run things by themselves. It’s not long before they revert to their primal instincts.

In Dooling Correctional Prison however, there is  a new inmate named Evie Black, who is able to fall asleep and wake up normally, and opinion is divided over whether she needs to be studied in the hope of finding a cure, or whether she is a demon who needs to be killed.

I half wish I hadn’t chosen this book as my first book to read this year – I think it’s going to be hard for other books to live up to it, because quite honestly I LOVED this. It’s not a horror story, it’s more of a dystopian novel – and if there’s one genre guaranteed to get me interested, it’s dystopian fiction. The book raises the question of what the world would be like without the input of women, and while it’s fictional of course, so we cannot really know the answer, in this story at least, it’s not pretty!

As is normal with Stephen King (I’m not familiar with Owen King’s work, but after reading this would like to seek more out), there is a huge cast of characters, but I felt that they were all brought to life admirably and the distinct personalities shone through. There is the age old battle between good and evil, although both sides see themselves as good and the other as evil, and the suspense is maintained throughout.

I would say that this is a thoughtful and intelligent novel. Don’t be put off by the size – at just over 700 pages, it’s a big brick of a book – if this is a genre or theme that interests you, or if you have previously enjoyed Stephen King, I cannot recommend this highly enough.

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