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 »

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Hypothermia", by Arnaldur Indridason

Book 6, in the Reykjavik Murder Mystery series.

This is a fantastic book; its plot is solid, simple with no dramatic and thrilling climaxes, but it is masterfully written giving it depth without any frills. The straightforward writing evokes sentiments while weaving smoothly from one event to another. True to the author's style there is a link between the past and the present with a mix of reality and the supernatural that is gradually blended into the story as we follow a thoughtful, compassionate protagonist that has a strong desire to resolve old cases

This fascinating mystery moves at a pleasant speed and opens when Erlendur receives a tape of a séance attended by a woman who subsequently committed suicide. She had attempted to communicate with her mother to discover what afterlife has in store for her. Erlendur's inner need to learn more and to understand what drove the woman this far triggers a panoply of events. The search for answers brings him far into the depths of his own personal history and the loss of his young brother in a blizzard.

The author's perception of grief is brought forward in this novel but it is not all sadness it has some funny moments with superb interludes into the magical Icelandic landscape.

"Hypothermia" is not your conventional police procedural novel; it focuses a great part on the protagonist and his dysfunctional family life. I recommend this series for its solid mystery, great character development and original subject matter tied to Icelandic myth and culture.

"The Lake of Sorrows", by Erin Hart

2nd book featuring Nora Gavin

This is an Irish mystery that stands above the typical murder novel of today. The story is atmospheric, the writing so colourful it is easy to fall into a spell and feel we are with Nora every part of the way. The story is very exciting; we follow a delightful female protagonist and her passion investigating ritual murders that have been committed many centuries ago and some recently. The author has filled the story with neat twists to keep her readers wondering what will happen next, it is hard to foresee the next move.

The story opens when workers discover the remains of a man in the Loughnabrone Bog. Called to examine the well preserved corpse is American pathologist Nora Gavin. Preliminary examination of the body shows he may have been killed in a Pagan ritual manner known as triple death. As Nora reaches the crime scene, another victim who appears to have died under similar circumstances is unearthed. Why would someone come to this desolate place to hide their dreadful handiwork and does the Bog have any other victims to reveal? While there, it is brought to Nora's attention that a member of the team has suddenly disappeared...Is there a connection?

As Nora is pulled deeper into the mystery, her tumultuous love affair with archaeologist Cormac Maguire intensifies and the reader is plunged into a suspense charged thriller

"The Time of Singing", by Elizabeth Chadwick

Blending an array of authentic period details into a modern tale, Ms Chadwick has given life to two remarkable individuals. The book spans between 1173 and 1199 during the years of Henry 11's reign, this historical fiction is centered on Roger Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk and his wife Ida de Tosney.

With a steady pace and emotional tension, the story tells how Henry 11 was drawn by Ida's naivety and innocence and quickly made her his unwilling mistress, a son named William came from that union. He eventually gave her up in marriage to Roger Bigod.

At the same time we follow Roger Bigod from his struggle to regain his earldom which was stripped from his father and disputed by his stepmother and brothers to the beginning of his relationship with Ida and finally to their long and remarkable life together.

"The Time of Singing", propels the reader into two worlds, one tells, a love story with its moments of tenderness and lust and the other covers meticulously the life of medieval England bankrupted by its Crusades and politics, a country at the mercy of its kings and leaders.

The writing is captivating and grabs your attention from the start. The story is straight forward and not encumbered by frivolous details. The characters are cleverly described and vividly brought to live. This is one absorbing novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"The Scarecrow", by Michael Connelly

Book 2 in the Jack McEvoy series

This is another neatly woven thriller that will hold your attention till the very end. The story is inspired by the decline of newspapers and the threat of the Internet and told in a way only Michael Connelly can.

The central character is Jack McEvoy, a reporter who is facing job elimination at the Los Angeles Times. Adding insult to injury he is given two weeks to train Angela Cook, his young replacement before leaving. It is then that Jack sees the opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory by writing a story of a former gang member Alonzo Winslow accused of murdering stripper Denise Babbit.

The main plot is centered on murders committed by someone called the Scarecrow. His unique way of killing has baffled law enforcement for a long time. Cases that were previously settled in an expedient manner are brought back to the forefront with the recent research on the Babbit murder. The ambitious Angela uncovers undeniable links to the past that leaves many questions to be answered. Angela's Internet research unknowingly triggers an alarm alerting data specialist Wesley Carver. At this point much of the story becomes centered on Carver and his part in the drama, exposing his true identity.

Jack McEvoy's character is at its best and the action peaks while he is in pursuit of this particularly intelligent serial killer taking the reader on a very thrilling ride. Along the way he is reunited with Agent Rachel Walling exposing his softer side.

True to his trademark, Mr Connelly filled the story with numerous clever touches and details. The plot moves at a steady pace told with a prose that is exciting and suspenseful, the action alternates between Jack and Carver chapter by chapter.

On the down side, I found revealing the Scarecrow's identity early may have removed some of the suspense.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Cold Terror", by Stewart Bell

How Canada Nurtures and Imports Terrorism Around the World

I encourage every citizen of Western countries, especially Canadians to read "Cold Terror". Mr Bell one of Canada's leading reporters on national security and terrorism has courageously presented evidence in this acclaimed book, exposing events taken from classified intelligence documents, front line accounts and interviews to inform Canadians about terrorists living in their country.

In his book he recounts many incidents that happened around the world involving Canadian terrorists: the most talked about are: the 1985 Air India bombing, the 1991 assassination of Indian prime Minister Gandhi, the 1993 World trade Centre bombing, the 1993 assassination of Sri Lankan President Premadasa, the 1995 attack at the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad and the killing of tourists in Egypt in 1997and the truck explosion that killed 100 in Sri Lanka the same year, the Bali night club bombing in 2002 and the 2003 attack in Riyadh.

The book doesn't stop there it also provides examples of terrorists taking advantage of the liberal immigration and refugee policies to enter Canada, most of us will remember the better known: such as the Canadian leader of the Tamil Tiger Mr Suresh, Issa Mohammed who took part in the assault of an El Al airliner in Athens in 1998, Essam Marzouk responsible for the training of the bombers of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and Ahmed Ressam who was caught at the Port of Angeles border trying to get into the US with a carload of explosives determined to blow up the L.A. airport.

In one chapter, the author went to great length recalling multiple incidents credited to the Khadr clan. Describing how Ahmed Khadr exploited to its maximum his Canadian citizenship and the CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) to support the Al-Qaeda jihad.

Another chapter was dedicated to the Jabarah brothers, two young men that were brought up and educated in St.Catharine's Ont and responsible for the Bali bombing and other exploits. All this helps to confirm Mr Bell's opinion that Canada is a safe heaven for terrorists, not only by phony refugees but also by landed immigrants and worse by citizens.

According to Mr Bell, CSIS and the RCMP were reasonably effective at monitoring the activities of the terrorists groups but lacked support from Canadian politicians who refused to acknowledge the magnitude and the seriousness of their threat to the world.

After reading this book, if you are not mad and frustrated by the complacency of the government representatives I would be very surprised. Hopefully the views of the Canadian Leaders have changed since the publication of this book in 2005...

This is one impressive and chilling account that reads like a high octane thriller.

"Gone Tomorrow", by Lee Child

Book 13 in the Jack Reacher series

No doubt, this gritty and gripping suspense will plunge fans of Reacher into this high octane thriller with its never ending action. Once again Reacher is larger than life.

The story opens with an attention grabbing train ride on the New York City subway at two in the morning. Reacher is sharing the ride with five other passengers; four seem unassuming but one is displaying those tell tale signs of a person about to do the unthinkable...could she be a suicide bomber?

Concerned, Reacher interferes triggering a manhunt of many different groups each with their own objectives. A race played out in the complicated labyrinth of streets in Manhattan. Long time readers know that once involved, Reacher and only Reacher decides when it is over...always riding a fine line between conflicting sides he takes the reader on a wild ride....

One surprise after the other makes this novel exciting, the action is breath taking with some of the violence tacky at times, some raw and some a little far fetched. With a tight and well structured storyline Mr Child brings back memories of past and more recent terrorists and political events. His protagonist is always plunged into the heart of the action. The dialogue is heighted with a New York flair and we find Reacher a more dynamic character than he was in the last novel.

This is one enjoyable and captivating novel. .