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Currently reading

Uncle John's Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader
Bathroom Readers' Institute
Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, #11)
James Marsters, Jim Butcher
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Shel Silverstein
Eyes of the Innocent (Carter Ross Mystery #2)
Brad Parks

Dust

Dust - Hugh C. Howey Not as good as the others. The conspiracy lost steam as the series progressed. Will review all 3 at once in the omnibus volume.
Hard Magic (Grimnoir Chronicles, #1) - Larry Correia,  Bronson Pinchot Excellent Magic Noir - 4 Stars

Being that I am a big fan of the gun toting, monster slaying cowboys in Larry Corriea's Monster Hunter International it seemed natural that I would give his other series a shot. I am glad that I did. Correia bends the Urban Fantasy Genre once again by melding elements of noir with alternate history sci fi. The result is a unique reading experience that sets it apart from the Dresden clones.


Plot summary

For a large portion of the book, two major parallel storylines are taking place with a few smaller ones for good measure. The first focuses on Jake Sullivan, an ex military, ex con "spiker" (a person able to alter or spike gravity) under the thumb of the government. The second story line focuses on Faye, an Oakie (Gypsy) girl sold to a kind hearted farmer who shared her power as a "Traveler" (a person able to transport themselves from one place to another). After each of the them suffer a series of unfortunate events they each come into contact with a secret society of Actives (people with magical powers). Of course, once they do, all hell breaks loose.

The Good

Great Feel

The story was atmospheric and the reader has the sense that some of these characters would fit in with a bunch of gangsters in a mob flick or would be solving crimes from their poorly light, smoke filled offices. This is unlike most books in the UF genre which tend to be character centric while the setting is blurred or generic.

The novel is deeply rooted in a period of time. While I don`t recall that a date was given, you have the sense that it occurring in the 40`s or 50`s. The difference is that it is not the 40`s and 50`s that show up in our text books. Hitler, Einstein, Tesla, J. Edgar Hoover and a wide array of historical figures existed but their lives and deaths did not necessarily unfold as we remember. Some of them, Einstein and Tesla for example, were Cogs (Actives whose intellect is augmented by magic). At the beginning of each chapter, the author "quotes" historical figures. The quotes are generally related to real events but make reference to appearance or use of magic. This literary device did an excellent job of helping the reader he was reading an alternate history.


The Bad

It`s the good kind of slow

Fans of Monster Hunter International have come to expect specific pace from of Larry Corriea book. Namely, a plot on full auto with a hurricane at its back. This novel on the other hand moves at more leisurely pace. For the most part, this did not bother me. It did seem that from time to time the plot was dragging or some obstacle was put in the way simply to draw out the story. For some lovers of UF the pace with put them off. While it did detract somewhat from book (and ultimately my rating) don`t let it scare you away. The genre mixing style is entertaining and fun.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed the world building and a magic system that people did not understand. The exploration of how magic suddenly appeared and where it came from is an interesting aspect of the story. Corriea`s ability to draw in the reader and engage them with his story never fails to impress. While Monster Hunter International remains my go to series for all things Larry Corriea, this is an excellent addition to Corriea lore.

Audiobook Notes

The narration was 5 star. The narrator is genius with voices and accents. He does an especially good job of bringing to life two the odd speech patterns of the two unique characters.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 2

There is some sexual tension between a few characters. Once character is revealed to be a former prostitute. Sex is implied on at least one occasion. Overall, the sexual content is low.

Language - 3.5

Corriea does not shy away from the use of adult language. That said, there is less than in the Monster Hunter International series. Moderate occurrences of mild obscenities and low occurrences of the f-word.

Violence - 4

There is plenty of magical and gun related violence. As there is war between factions of those who have magic, there are battles on many fronts. There a several scenes where characters are disemboweled and it is moderate to highly graphic. In most every chapter, at least one person is killed by a wide array of means. It is pervasive and occasionally graphic.

The Wool Trilogy: Wool, Shift, Dust

The Wool Trilogy (Wool, #1-9) - Hugh Howey Instead of Writing Reviews for each of the books in the Trilogy, I will write one review for the trilogy as a whole.

Shift Omnibus Edition

Shift Omnibus Edition - Hugh Howey Not as good as wool but still great. Review to follow. I'm so behind...

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5)

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey A provisional 5 stars. Flew through this one. Review after vacation.

The Butcher

The Butcher - Jennifer Hillier A Thriller Without the Thrills - 2 Stars

When a book holds itself out to be a thriller, especially one that is to involve a notable serial killer, I expect there to be some suspense. I can tell you right now who the killer in this book was. It wouldn't be a spoiler. Read the first chapter and you will know within two minutes. In fairness to the author, she was being bold and taking a different approach to the often formulaic telling of crime thriller. Sometimes an author steps out the box writes a masterpiece and sometimes the step out and fall of the cliff they couldn't see from inside the box.

Plot summary

You would be best to avoid the plot summary listed on goodreads as it is very misleading. The story opens with the reader learning that a character in the story is a murderer. This is quickly followed by another character also realizing that this character is a murder. We are then introduced to a third character who does not know the truth and we follow that character around until they quite literally stumble onto the truth.

The Good

She Took a Chance

This review should not be construed as knock on author. The writing is above average quality. While most the characters (the killer excluded) tend to be a bit one dimensional, the story is written in clean prose and the story move and a fairly quick pace. In reading the story, I had the distinct impression that the author was trying to do something different. Instead of leaving us guessing as to WHO was the murderer we were meant to keep guessing IF he would get away with it.


Unfortunately it just did not work...

In my opinion, a crime thriller in which the mystery of "whodunit" is removed requires another equally compelling hook. For example, had the story had strong psychological thriller elements and provided a compelling look into the mind of the killer, the fact that murderer was known may not have mattered. As the characters did little to drive the story, I was uninterested in the fact that the story largely focused on the uninformed character and their quest to find the identity of the killer.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the novel anticlimactic. There is a reason that most crime thrillers reveal the killer at the end. The reader expects it. The reader will view this a telling a story at beginning and completing the story at the end. This may have worked as character driven novel, a la [a:Tana French|138825|Tana French|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1277505771p2/138825.jpg] but did not work here. Regardless, I read the novel to the end but was left unimpressed.


Content Advisories

As this was one of about six books I read over a week long vacation, I am bit fuzzy on the content specifics. Please be aware that these are likely to be less accurate than normal.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 3.5

The killer was a psychotic criminal who obtained sexual gratification through the act of murder. This theme in and of itself will be disturbing to some readers. That said, it mild to moderately graphic in description and was not pervasive.

Language - 3

To play it safe, I am giving this a three. There low use of mild language and some low use of the f-word. The usage of all adult language was generally low.

Violence - 3.5

There is some description of some historical murders and multiple murder as the novel progressed. The description of the historical murders were moderately to highly graphic. We are informed that a murdered body was dismembered but it is not described. Several murders take place with moderate violence (single blows to the head) some murders are no violent (poisoning).

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game - Dan Barry The best baseball book I have ever read. Review after vacation.

The Chemistry of Death (David Hunter, #1)

The Chemistry of Death (David Hunter, #1) - Simon Beckett Enjoyed the ending but almost quit a few times before I got there. Review after vaca.

Faces of the Gone (Carter Ross Series #1)

Ancient Glass in the Yale University Art Gallery - Susan B. Matheson This was another of my Dominican Vacation reads. As I read many books that week, I am doing some simplified reviews so I can catch up.

As Good as any in the Genre - 4.5 Stars

There is something about that nosy, ethics driven, ignore common sense and the police investigative journalist (IJ) that intrigues me. Carter Ross is that guy. I like the IJ crime mysteries. They can go places the police can't, speak to witnesses who would avoid the police and are not dragged down by this little concept of "Human Rights" (at least as far as in how they investigate).

The Good

Very few books get me laughing. Someone told me that [a:Carl Hiaasen|8178|Carl Hiaasen|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1208367876p2/8178.jpg] was funny so I picked up one of his books. Sure, I could see why people thought it was funny but it didn't make me laugh. Carter Ross made me laugh. Honestly, I found him funny and I often laughed out loud while reading. I have to say there is one scene involving a gang informants, the ultra WASPy Carter Ross and a big joint that kept me laughing every time it was mentioned.

While many crime writers like the gruesome murders and the serial killers, I enjoy the IJ sub genre as they are often looking at broader issues or issues that are not on the police radar. In this novel, Carter Ross is investigating the connection that the murders of several drug dealers has with a specific brand of heroin that has been released on the streets. Throughout the investigation, Ross meets a wide variety of colorful characters ranging from an exotic dancer - escort, a street gang with an entrepreneurial spirit, a feisty grandma caring for her grandkids to an editor sizing Ross up to be a potential sperm donor. While the cast of characters is entertaining and often funny, the story never loses focus of the serious nature of the crimes and the investigation.

The Bad

The voice of the bad guy was a bit strained. Many chapters would begin inside the head of the unknown criminal mastermind. After a while, his scheming got the point of cartoonish and near the end when he spoke to his sidekick I was expecting his to say "Pinky, are you thinking what I`m thinking!" While I found the investigation and the crimes to be very believable, the ultimate reveal was less impressive. I had difficulty believing that the bad guy honestly thought he would get away with what he was doing.

Regardless of my issues, the book was a very enjoyable read. With the exception of [b:Providence Rag: A Liam Mulligan Novel|17910157|Providence Rag A Liam Mulligan Novel|Bruce DeSilva|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1384569372s/17910157.jpg|25095613], it is the best IJ crime novel I have read in a long time. If enjoy this subgenre, I urge you to pick it up and give this series a try.

Immoral (Jonathan Stride, #1)

Immoral (Jonathan Stride, #1) - Brian Freeman This was one of my Dominican Vacation reads. As I read so many books this week, I will be doing a more compact review so I can catch up.

A Killer Debut - 4 Stars

The novel is set in the cold and quiet streets of Duluth, Minnesota. These are not the mean streets of Detroit and major crime is not an everyday occurrence. A year after the mysterious disappearance of a teenaged girl, the Detective Jonathan Stride is faced with another disappearance that is eerily similar. The investigation reveals secrets buried deep within his city with an investigation that begins in "wholesome" streets of Duluth to the "immoral" streets of Las Vegas.

The Good

Brian Freeman wrote a very impressive debut novel. Immoral was nominated for several prestigious award for best debut and rightly so. The story is sharply written with a wonderfully developed main character.

In my opinion, it is the wonderfully delicious development of the VICTIM that sets this novel apart. (I apologize if that sounds creepy but it is an apt description :) The second of missing girls and main victim is Rachel Deese. She is beautiful, intelligent, sexually promiscuous and all around devious. She relishes is playing with emotion and hurting those close to her. I cannot recall another novel where the victim was less likeable. As descriptions suggest, we are left guessing as to whether our victim has kidnapped and murdered or if she is playing a game. The novel resolves the questions but not in the way you expect. I found myself rooting against the victim and hoping she dead. Maybe this makes me a bad person or a psychological need for revenge against those "mean girls" from my high school days. While the novel may have exposed a need for a psychiatric evaluation, it was a thrilling and satisfying read.

The Bad

Sex was theme that woven throughout the novel. While there were several sexual encounters that were not graphic, the theme is pervasive. I found that usage was often unnecessary as it didn't take long to the get the point.

The major problem with the novel is that is seemingly has two lives. There is a shift in time (three years or so into the future) that occurs about 2/3 of the way into the book. The author builds characters and relationships and summarily destroys some of the them over the course of break in time. For me, it was a frustrating misuse of characters and I felt that it detracted from the story. As new relationships were added in the last third, the story lost a sense of cohesion that had been so tightly maintained. While the break in time makes sense for the story, the break in continuity turned a potential masterpiece of a first novel into a very good debut.


Overall, the story was excellent, the writing was clean and the pacing was fast. Jonathan Stride is a compelling and interesting character. The ending of novel poses some interesting questions for the character and leaves him to make some difficult decisions. So major changes could be in store for book 2 and I look forward to continuing this series.

Rubbernecker

Rubbernecker - Belinda Bauer Delightfully Odd - 5 Stars

Ever since reading the masterful [b:The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|1618|The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|Mark Haddon|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327882682s/1618.jpg|4259809], I have sought another book told in the voice similar to that of the Autistic child in the The Curious Incident . I have finally found an equal to Mark Haddon's wonderful story. The author seamlessly weaves storylines together while telling them through two unique voices.

Plot summary

Our main character and unlikely detective, Patrick, is a college anatomy student and lives with Asperger's syndrome while his mother suffers the fallout of the disorder. Since the death of his father, Patrick has longed to know what happens to a person when they die and where it is that person goes. He believes that the answer lies inside of the dead human body so naturally, dissecting a human body as part of college study will provide the answer. As the semester progresses, Patrick becomes obsessed with the cause of death of the Cadaver and mystery is born. In a parallel storyline, we view the world through the eyes of a coma patient and we learn of startling behaviour in the coma ward. Unfortunately, he lacks the ability to express his observations. Eventually the storylines converge and secrets are uncovered both in Patrick's "investigation" and in his own home.

The Good

Unique Voices

While this novel is reminiscent of the Curious Incident it is by no means a clone. The story is told though the black and white and emotionally challenged voice of a Asperger's patient. As he is unable to appreciate nuance, sarcasm and most emotional reaction, the reader is left amused at the situations created and enlightened by the observations of this unique individual. In the parallel story, we see the world through the eyes of a coma patient. As he cannot interact with and examine his surroundings, the reader is left intrigued with his conclusions as we are never sure if when can trust what he saw. As the two major characters, these two voices tell a story from points of view that will be foreign to the average reader. As such, the view is intriguing, enlightening and entertaining.

There's a Story Too!

This novel is not a one trick pony. While the story is largely driven by these two unique characters, the plot is not left to suffer. It is only the singularity of focus afforded by Patrick's disorder that allows him to see a mystery where others see nothing. The book also deals with the complicated family dynamics brought on by the disorder and his mother's difficulty in dealing with same. The issue is explored with humour and levity and avoids melodrama. The final scenes between Patrick and his mother are both absurd and touching. While the character's personal life may not resolve in a manner that the reader would find satisfactory, it is resolved in a manner that Patrick and understand and accept. Honestly, you have to read it to appreciate the seemingly absurd honesty and acceptance of Patrick.

The Bad

I really have nothing negative to say. If you hated The Curious Incident I doubt you would like this one. While the character in this novel is older and the subject matter more adult focused, the thought process and voice of the MC is similar.

Final Thoughts

This is easily one of the best books I have read in many years. If you enjoy mystery, stories told from unique perspectives mixed with brilliant writing, than this is the book for you. I give this one my highest recommendation. Looking to be my top read for 2014. Going to take a great read to knock this one down a peg.


Content Advisories

As this was one of about six books I read over a week long vacation, I am bit fuzzy on the content specifics. Please be aware that these are likely to be less accurate than normal.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 2.5

There is a minor sub plot that involves an affair. One character discusses sex in non graphic terms. There scene in which a character is exposed as being a lesbian as was caught having an affair with another woman. It was not graphic. There was some innocent sexual tension.

Language - 3

To play it safe, I am giving this a three. There low use of mild language and some low use of the f-word. The usage of all adult language was generally low.

Violence - 2.5

While not strictly violence, there was some rather graphic descriptions of an ongoing human dissection as part of a university anatomy class. It was not told in gory terms but in the MC's straight forward voice. There is mild-moderate graphic of murder. The murders were not violent in nature. While this seems contradictory, a reading of the book will clear up this point.

Posted to theLiteraryLawyer.ca

Birdman (Jack Caffery Series #1)

Birdman - Mo Hayder This was one of my Dominican Vacation reads. As I read so many books this week, I will be doing a shorter review than normal.

Creepy. Creepy. Creepy. - 3

It is my personal belief that given the right set of circumstances ANYONE is capable of murder. If someone tells me that they are not capable of killing another human, I will disagree with them. Having said that, there are some things that I don't believe every person capable of doing. While I might believe your grandma is capable of shooting or poisoning someone, I don't necessarily believe that she is capable of then cutting them up and cooking them is a stew for supper. I enjoy dark crime novels. I have always be interested in what makes people do those things for which I think few people have the capacity.

While I enjoy reading about these things, I believe I have found my upper limit for what I stomach. Birdman has brought me to that threshold.

The Good

The writing and pacing of this novel is excellent. Mo Hayder writes excellent prose and the story never drags. Jack Caffery is an interesting and nuanced character as are the criminals. The psychological elements of the crime are well explored. There is an interesting exploration of how a person feels compelled to do bad things, the steps he takes to avoid doing them and the ultimate failure of those boundaries. It is a compelling look in the mind of the depraved.


The Bad

In the words of a 14 year old "OMG!" These people are messed up. While I can stomach quite a few things, this one about took me over the edge. We have some people in this novel who are interested in necrophilia. In case you do no know what this means, that would be obtaining sexual gratification with corpses. While many dark crime novels have characters who find the act of killing as sexual experience, I find it far more disturbing that the sexual experience occurs after the act of killing is complete. The only reason I finished this novel is that it was multilayered. As this was the not the only aspect of the novel, this theme was not pervasive.

Another major issue with the novel was the manner in which Jack Caffery made breakthroughs in the case. Most every breakthrough was an "Eureka" moment. The reader is rarely privy to the information that the MC uses to reach his conclusion. Jack usually sits around thinking about the case and suddenly he thinks, "Hey! We are looking at this case all wrong. (fill in the blank) is what is actually happening here". This was lazy plot development.


While Mo Hayder can certainly write, the plot development leaves something to be desired. Assuming the next novel is not increasingly disturbing, I will continue reading in hopes that the plot development improved as the writing gained experience.

Pray for Silence: A Thriller (Kate Burkholder)

Pray for Silence: A Thriller (Kate Burkholder) - Linda Castillo,  Kathleen Mcinerney Excellent Crime Thriller - 4 Stars

Me and Kate Burkholder are not quite seeing eye to eye. Her and her friends need to have their mouths washed out with some soap. We get it already, you are not God-fearing, pacifist Amish. If the penchant for drinking away pain and the intimidation of witnesses didn't give us this impression, the frequent f-bombs certainly clue us in. Although I really do enjoy the wonderful writing and meticulous plots, I going to have to put the series aside. The excessive use of adult language has been a turn off.


Plot summary

The normally quite town of Painter's Mill is left paralyzed by fear when in the early morning hours a family of 6 (or maybe 7)is found shot and murdered with no trace of a killer left behind. Amongst the family members killed by gunshot wounds, the two teenaged daughters appear to have been tortured while one of the girls was found to have been mutilated. It is the story of this savaged girl that leads the investigation. While investigation these brutal crimes, Kate Burkholder finds herself emotionally drawn into the investigation and she faces what she has lost and what could have been.

The Good

Death and Destruction Brought to you by Thomas Kincade

This series by Linda Castillo features one of the best setting for any crimes novels I have read. The peaceful and rolling countryside dominated by the insular Amish society provide a stark contrast for death and destruction. It is almost profane to imagine such dark crimes taking place in this pastoral setting. The author does a wonderful job of blending the beauty of the setting with the brutal and brooding darkness of the human mind.


The Bad

Plug your Ears Grandma

As I complained above, I felt the adult language was again excessive. As I chose to listen to the audio version of this book, the language really stood out. Linda Castillo continues to paint a story with stark contrasts. While the language may be used to contrast with the surroundings, I was put off by the constant swearing.

Give the Woman a Tissue

I always enjoy strong female characters. Without a doubt, Kate Burkholder is a strong woman...well, mostly. Unlike the first book, we found Kate, somewhat stereotypically, teary and close to losing control of her emotions. Granted, she does more than cry. Kate has a hard time with impulse control. Throughout the story she finds herself in bed with a person she is trying to avoid, drunk on several occasions when it was not appropriate, attacking a potential witness, finding herself unable to say no to the strong male character and in one major move, taking action that could conceivable cause her to lose her badge. While a broken character is believable, Kate felt like more a caricature that in the first novel.

I expect the first novel of a crime series to involve a case that is personal to the protagonist. I thought we did that in the first novel. Apparently, it can get more personal. If I ever read the third novel, I hope it is less personal as that ground is now well tread.

Final Thoughts

The language aside, I really did enjoy the book. While I had issues with the development of Kate Burkholder, Linda Castillo is an amazing author with a wonderful sense of plot and setting. If you are not bother by adult language and you like dark crime novels, you will enjoy this series.

Audiobook Notes

If I do continue the series at a later point, it will not be in the audio format. I found myself tired of the narrator after this second book. She seemed to play up the frail emotions in her narration and added to the feeling of a stereotypical female lead. While her narration is fairly good, I don't enjoy her in this series.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 4

There is sexual tension between characters and one non graphic description of an implied sexual encounter. There is some non graphic descriptions of a victims consensual sexual encounters. The rating was raised because there was a major theme of rape and sexual encounters where the victim could not give consent (through the use of drugs). Though the investigation, there is much discussion of forms of pornography where there is non consenting participants. While the description are at most, moderately graphic, it is a major theme and persistent.

Language - 4

While there may have been a small reduction in adult language from the first novel, I was still pervasive. I felt the use of mild obscenities and the f-word were excessive and unnecessary.

Violence - 4

Violence is a major theme. It covers the gambit from execution style murder, suicide, torture and rape. The crimes are dark the perpetrators are unrepentant. While the violence is persistent, the author avoids gore and manages to be respectful despite the high violence level.

Providence Rag: A Liam Mulligan Novel

Providence Rag: A Liam Mulligan Novel - Bruce DeSilva DeSilva Hits a Homerun with this Taunt and Thrilling Tale - 5 Stars

Thank you God. 2014 has been a rough year for the written word. Granted, I am writing this in the middle of March so there is much more time left to right this wrong. While having listened to many great audiobooks this year, I have not read much worth celebrating. Thankfully, Bruce DeSilva comes through again and helps me break the slump. If you haven't yet discovered this author, I suggest you go and pic up his Edgar winning [b:Rogue Island|8522372|Rogue Island|Bruce DeSilva|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1386924529s/8522372.jpg|13389226] and give this series a go. DeSilva writes gritty and taunt thriller and shows us with his third installment that his Edgar Award was no fluke.


Plot summary

The story begins with a series of flashbacks covering several timelines. The reader follows both the mind and musings of a disturbed serial murderer while following our protagonist, Liam Mulligan, and the case that changed him from a sports reporter to an investigative journalist. Flash forward to the present and we find the once prestigious paper struggling to keeps its head above the water. In the midst of the struggle, a story threatens to divide the newsroom as the publisher's son investigates and threatens to exposes crimes against prisoners, specifically false charges and convictions designed to keep the most violent of criminals in jail and off the street. The story explores the bounds of journalistic ethics, the negative effect of good deeds, the blindness of youth and cynicism that comes with age.

The Good

Keeping it Fresh

The first two novels in the series where atmospheric/noir with the hard nosed journalist investigating crime and exposing corruption. At the outset of this novel, the reader is brought back in time and the reads as a prequel to the previous installments. This provides a wonderful set up for the remainder of the novel. In the first two novels, DeSilva deals with arson and child pornography respectively. This time around the author covers a form of corruption that the average person could easily justify. The reader is left asking if the ends really do justify the means. Is it better to allow crime go unexposed or expose the corruption and put the lives of innocent people in jeopardy. The idea is explored in a unique and interesting manner with two storylines/investigative reporter working at cross purposes. The flashbacks and the present day investigations culminate in an expected but nonetheless chilling confrontation.

The Bad

Done Already?

If I had to say anything negative about this story is that it ended too quickly. It builds to a final confrontation and seems to end as soon as it started. The author indicates that this is the first of his story to be based on real events. Unfortunately, the author does not provide the fact and the fiction at the end of the story. It is not clear which portions occurred and which portions did not. With the "based on true events" label, I believe it is important to provide the reader with some biographical information at the end of the story.

Final Thoughts

I am afraid this review does not sufficiently portray how much I enjoyed this novel. While I wish to better explain how the investigative reporting was compelling, I am afraid that I will reveal portions of the plot that are best left to discovery. Regardless, DeSilva continues to interesting interesting and refreshing crime fiction. In this novel, the author adds significant elements that make this a psychological thriller as well. If you are tired of crime thrillers that focus only on murder and serial killers or you want to explore other equally compelling crime investigations, its time to pick up and read a Bruce DeSilva novel.


Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 3.5

There was some minor sexual tension between characters. There was a non graphic description of a sexual experience between two characters. The novel focused largely on the historical murders of several woman and children. While exploring the murders and developing the antagonist, the are descriptions of how he obtain sexual gratification through violence. Additionally, the is some moderately graphic description of how sexual gratification was obtain through the actual murders. The content will disturb some readers. There is a scene in which a character is a "peeping tom" and is watching a naked women through her window. If you have read the previous novel, this content is less disturbing and less disturbing that many of the recent novels dealing with dark subject matters.

Language - 3.5

There is moderate use of mild obscenities and low to moderate use of the f-word. Generally, the adult language was confined to a few scenes with specific characters. It is in these few scenes that much of the language is contained.

Violence - 4

The story focuses on a series of brutal murders. The victims are subjected to a significant amount of violence. The reader experiences the crimes through the eyes of the killer as well as viewing the aftermath through the eyes of the investigators and the protagonist. It is the violent nature of the crimes and the continual referral back to the crime that garners this specific violence rating.

A fuller review posted at The Literary Lawyer
A Chilling Tale in a Beautiful Place - 4.5 Stars

I am going to start this review with a confession. For reasons now lost to the ravages of time, I had a prejudice against female authors. My impression was that books by female authors will be sappy, romantic, emotional or uninteresting. I then went to university, got married and had two girls. Once the I got the aforementioned out of the way, I got back into reading and asked myself why it was I didn't read books by female authors. I have to say I was a stupid man for holding a stupid prejudice. The majority of the best crime/mystery fiction I have read in the past year have been written by women. I have discovered [a:Tana French|138825|Tana French|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1277505771p2/138825.jpg], [a:S.J. Bolton|1038226|S.J. Bolton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1270501061p2/1038226.jpg] and now Linda Castillo. These women have written intricate tales with deep and nuanced characters. They have avoided many stereotypes and have skillfully written male and female characters. Their female characters are at times tragic and broken while encapsulating stenghth and determination. To the other female authors whose wonderful books I will soon discover, please accept this as my sincere apology.

Now that my soul has been laid bare, onto this book.

Should you ever want to vacation in a peaceful and idyllic place, let me suggest Holmes County Ohio and the surround towns and cities. There you will find small towns with wholesome names such as Sugarcreek and Walnut Creek. The towns are a mix of modern and traditional with dollars stores and clothing shops run by "English" residents and quilt shops, bake shops and furniture stores run by local Amish residents. My wife and I have vacationed here several times and we look forward to returning again. Now imagine that a brutal killer is terrorizing this beautiful and peaceful place, abducting and killing young women, English and Amish alike. To me, this type of terror in this setting is far more horrific.

Plot summary

Kate Burkholder is the main character and police chief of the small town, Painter's Mill. The town, like much of the surrounding area, is made up of two distinct cultures, the English and the Amish. Kate is a product of both cultures. Until her teens, she grew up and was raised Amish. After living through some horrific events in her teens, she came to leave the Amish way of life and live the "English" life. Although part of both world, she doesn't belong to either but is tasked with keeping law and order in both. A woman is found dead with roman numerals carved into her stomach. While this shocks the town it spreads panic as this appears to replicate a series of murders 16 years earlier. The old murders, dubbed "The Slautherhouse Killings" are personal to Kate and despite the fact everyone believe the old killer has returned, she believes someone else is at work. As a result, he judgment is impaired and she make a series of poor decisions. Murders continue to pile up until the chilling and gripping final confrontation.

The Good

Best of Both Worlds

I thought the setting and setup of the novel was fascinating. The novel was series of contrasts that flowed from beginning to end. Kate, as a product of two cultures that wasn't truly accepted by either, made her both compelling and relatable. Who hasn't felt as if they didn't fit in at some point in their life. The author expertly weaves this theme throughout the story while providing interesting and telling insights into both cultures.

In my opinion, the most interesting characters are those that have elements of strength and fragility. While Kate is a strong character, she is haunted by the events in her past. These events lead her to make decisions that the reader knows are wrong, misguided or selfish. While she retains a strong sense of morality from her Amish upbringing, he past has allowed her to justify bad behaviour. Without a doubt, Kate Burkholder is one of the most interesting main characters I have read in a very long time.

The Bad

&%!# It

Kate is not the only broken characters. Early in the novel we are introduced to John Tomasetti another officer of the law with a recent past as an avenging angel. There are many ways to make your character seem rough around the edges, troubled, tortured or broken. The author chose to use adult language to punctuate his lack of care for the world. It got to the point that I was simply annoyed and put off with the language. If he shows up in future novels, I hope he is forced to spend a few months with an Amish family and he is shamed in cleaning up his mouth. Overall, the adult language was excessive and detracted from the rating.

Audiobook Notes

I listened to the audiobook version of this novel. In this case, the narrator impacted on the overall rating. For the first quarter of the book I found her narration to be unappealing and lacking in emotion. The voice she used for John Tomasetti was a bit painfully. She attempted a deep gruff voice that came off as more grating. Fortunately, she came into her own as the story progressed and her narration in the final confrontation was stunning and was dripping with emotion. It made for a powerful scene. Despite a rough start and a bad voice for one character, her narration was a 4 of 5.

Final Thoughts

I should note that the subject matter is dark. If you see that this is set amongst the Amish and are expecting a "cozy mystery" in the like of some book like "A quilting circle murder", you will be very disappointed. There is a dark edge to our killer that would fit right into an S.J. Bolton novel. This is an excellent book and about as close to five stars as I can get without going the whole way. If you like tense thrillers with a dark antagonist, this book is for you.


Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 3.5

While there is no graphic sex, there is significant discussion of sex as related to assaults. Victims are sexually assaulted and there is some discussion on how sexual assault and torture were related. There is a scene where there is an attempted sexual assault that is moderately graphic. There is sexual tension between some characters and there is some "lead up" to sex and sex is ultimately implied.

Language - 4.5

As stated above, I took some issue with the language in the book. There was the entire gambit of language moderate to high use of mild obscenities, scatological terms and religious exclamations. There was also moderately high use of the f-word. This book is not suitable for younger readers.

Violence - 4

As with most crime thrillers, violence is an integral part of the story. I gave this a 4 as most of the violence inferred through the examination of the victims bodies and was, for the most part, moderately graphic. The final confrontation is quite graphic and will be disturbing for some readers. Readers who are not comfortable with sex crimes should avoid this novel.

The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale (US Edition)

The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale (US Edition) - Oliver Pötzsch I have had difficulty getting to my reviews. I will provide a more in depth review if I can remember to get back to it.

The Dark Monk is the second book in the Hangman's Daughter series. They are historical mysteries with thriller aspects. It would be a mistake to call them "cozy" but they do not qualify as a "dark". They provide a pleasing and entertaining read somewhere in between.

The second installment is, in my opinion, even better than the first. The charactes are entertaining and vibrant. Each character has their own list of vices and unashamedly themselves. In this installment, the author delves into the sub-genre or religious mystery/thriller with Templars and hidden treasures. This themes in recent years has had much paly and has mostly lost my interest. In this case, the mystery is approached from characters in the 17th century. Their perspectives, beliefs and methods of solving the mystery are different than any of the similar storylines. Overall, this makes for an exciting historical thrill ride.