Happy Reading

Toni's bookshelf: read

The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, #4)
Ape House
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Operation Napoleon
Walking Dead
The Sentimentalists
The Heretic Queen
The Midnight House
Cross Fire
Peony in Love
Finding Nouf: A Novel
City of Veils: A Novel
First Daughter
A Place of Hiding
Peter Pan

Toni Osborne's favorite books »

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Firing Line", by Mike Hollow

Book#4, in The Blitz Detective series

The London Blitz may be the background for this story but the murder mystery could have been staged anywhere and could have taken place in recent years. In this 4th installment Detective Inspector John Jago and Detective Constable Peter Cradock are called to the scene where a young woman was murdered, strangled with a nylon stocking and near her they found a sailor’s cap.

I love how the author drips slowly clues to Jago in his investigation to keep the tension going and our interest at its peak. The plot is very well written to takes us through the investigation without any fluffs, it is simple and to the point. Questioning witnesses is the key to a thorough investigation and the story does not shy away from doing a lot of it. A good murder case has its moment of emotional strain evidently we see how Jago and Cradock face those moments while searching for answers. Why stay with only one case, on a second front and during the painstaking search the inspectors stumble into a robbery at the theater that need also their full attention. What excels in this mystery is the interrelation between the two protagonists, how they communicate and complete each other. Mr. Hollow knows how important good dialogue is. We are well served with a good dose of excellent exchanges.

To sum up:

“Firing Line” is a well-plotted storyline with excellent narration and dialogue played out by two wonderful protagonists and great secondary characters….what’s not to love. I am looking forward to book #5.

I received this ARC from Lion Hudson LTD via NetGalleys

Saturday, March 17, 2018

"Dangerous Perceptions", by Stuart Murray

The Road to Nowhere

I had “The Road to Nowhere” on my TBR list for a very long time, a book I had downloaded a few years back from Amazon. After I had read more than half the book my friend asked if I was reading the latest edition…the book had been completely revised. I usually do update when I noticed them although here I cannot be certain I did…. So with this in mind my review reflects the edition I had in hand….

The story in a few words:

Former Marines Steve Tait and Jeff McCrae decide to rekindle the romance they’d once had with their wives, Karen and Shauna. A peaceful drive from Omaha to the quiet town of Whitefish turns into a battle of life and death when they become victims of road rage from Wayne Jackson.

My thoughts:

What I liked:

“The Road to Nowhere” is mostly a gripping and adrenaline-pumping thriller. Mr. Murray’s imagination depicts brilliantly his diverse characters. Each are well thought out and through their eyes we are able to experience the confrontational and disturbing scenes they encountered. Whitefish is a town full of maniacal bullies and this thriller shows what happens when they come up against well trained former marine with PTSD. The story doesn’t stay there we go deep into Steve’s past and other problems that haunts his minds…back to the firing zones of Iraq and Afghanistan and the troubles his memories brought into his marriage.

This is chilling tale of suspense, an action packed drama that explores the darkest desires and highest of hopes. To describe this story in a few words: a wild ride where people are swept up in one clash after the other…… “Dangerous Perceptions”, could have been a very captivating read if it was not for……

What I didn’t like:

What spoiled the experience is how terribly the chapters meshed together. It was as if a flash of darkness happened and in the next chapter you are reading a totally different topic. I wondered too often if my mind had been someplace else and if I had missed something. Too many chapters have no resolution again leaving you wondering what happened to the players and how they managed to pull through. Although the story is good for most parts, I think it touches too many subjects. It may have been better to stay more focused on one or two at the most…..

Sunday, March 11, 2018

"The Italian Wife", by Kate Furnivall

Set in Mussolini’s Italy in the early 1930’s, this well- researched novel clearly reflects a society where you needed to keep your thoughts to yourself and your actions well-guarded. The sense of unease, mistrust and fear resonates throughout this story. This novel is much more than an historical fiction it is one that relives a piece of history.

Isabella Berotti is the heroine, a female architect employed to work on Bellina (fictional city), on Pontine Marshes. Draining of the marches and the construction of new towns was part of Mussolini’s grand plan, a risky idealistic vision to silence the unrest among the veterans of the Great War and give them employment. Benito Mussolini breathtaking ambition stormed through all obstacles. He knew the value of propaganda and demonstrates the success and power of Fascism…..but at what cost. His Blackshirts and secret police terrorized the population….

Isabella has been haunted for the past 10 years since her husband Luigi a Blackshirt and a devoted Il Duce follower was shot and killed. Maimed in the shooting and losing the child she was carrying left her with emotional scars ever since. Till one day a woman stopped her and asked Isabella to look after Rosa, her daughter. Moments later the woman jumped to her death and Isabella’s life changed for ever. Roberto Falco, a photographer employed to capture images of the creation of the new town comes into Isabella’s life. Together they fight the establishments to uncover the truth behind her husband’s murder and the child left in her care.

I am a huge fan of this author, what I love most of all is her sweeping settings and the way she transports us to another part of the world and into another time. No confusion about her settings, you could picture them clearly. Her characters are likable and quite complex, each with their own story and dark secrets. Isabella is tormented by her past and she is not able to let go till she finds out the truth about that fateful day. Rosa is the key to finding the answer but Mussolini’s fascist regime block her at every turn. Roberto eventually finds a place in Isabella’s heart…..

What a good escapist passing time with “The Italian Wife”, it is easy to get lost in the story and enjoy every moment. It is a wonderfully written novel of suspense, mystery and intrigue sparkled with love and romance to soften the blows. The twist and turns were surprising and well placed. The plot is strong and entertaining, and has kept my attention till the very last page.

Friday, March 9, 2018

"In Pursuit of Platinum", by Vic Robbie

The Shocking Secret of World War 11

Said in the third person narrative, “In a Pursuit of Platinum” revolves around three characters: Ben Peters, Alena and Ludwig Weber. Whether this adventure is true or not, the quest to extricate from the grips of the German Alena and her son and drive them in a Bentley loaded with the most precious of metal Platinum from occupied Paris through the Pyrenees, Spain and Portugal to hopefully reach the shore of England is at the most shocking, if not a nail-biting political saga that for most part kept me on the edge of my seat.

Alena and her son were more important than the platinum both for the Nazis and for England but what made her such a valuable target: thus the title of this book “shocking secret”. All through the story I was confuse enough to wonder if I was reading a non-fiction or a fiction and if that secret was real or not. Many parts of their journey didn’t seem realistic: how could a Bentley loaded down could cover the rough terrain through the mountains without losing some of the platinum or falling in hidden crevices. How did the group managed to escape the hands a War Lord, crossing police blockades and a multitude of traps to only come out with some dents on the Bentley and some scratches on their bodies. Parts were so unrealistic that I questioned if this really could have happened. I deducted parts could have been product of the author imagination in order to enhance his narrative and make his book entertaining and others could have been the real facts….which is which I could not detect, the author never mentioned a word. A fact: “The Freedom Trail (Chemin de la Liberté) did exist and was a WW11 escape route to Spain.

Having said this, the story is nevertheless quite a page-turner I enjoyed reading from start to finish. The style is colourful and it moves at a fast-paced. The writing and evocation of the time in Paris is quite convincing. The characterization is good and is expertly played out, first class act by all of them. Good overall even with its abrupt and disappointing ending.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

"Casino Qaddafi", by Graham Tempest

Book #3, an Oliver Steele Casino series

Set largely in Libya weeks after the assassination of Muammar Gadhafi, this mystery focuses mainly on Oliver Steele mission to locate Hassan, an illegitimate son of the slain dictator.

Hassan is financing construction of a massive casino in Macau but amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring, he inexplicably disappeared, without his backing the development is doomed.... Comes Oliver to the rescue…..but he is not alone.

Mr. Tempest is relentless on pacing, vivid description of exotic locales, action and adventure and does not shy from interweaving storylines peppered with ruthless characters such as unethical bankers, financiers, revolutionaries and murderers. Oliver’s investigation into layers of secrecy surrounding Hassan’s fortune is interesting but the accounting gibberish is however so over powering and distracting that I let my mind meander during the long narrative. Nevertheless the adrenaline fueled saga is quite suspenseful with characters involved in one conflict after the other. Every time Oliver gets close to a solution, this financial sleuth is derailed instantly. Definitely this story keeps you guessing from page one. Set aside the distraction this book is a good straightforward and easy read played out by an interesting cast of diverse characters.

Even if “Casino Qaddafi” may not have been my preferred story in this series I nevertheless enjoyed passing time reading this mystery.