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, August 26, 2010

"Blood Line", by Mark Billingham

Book 8 in the series featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne

I am rather fond of fictional detective stories and love to discover new ones. “Blood Line” is my first experience with both the protagonist and its author. Should I have started with the first instalment in the series….(some series you can, some series you can’t)

D.I. Tom Thorne becomes involved in what seems to be a domestic murder but it is soon discovered that the case is anything but ordinary. Clutched in the hands of the dead woman is a sliver of an X-ray that leads investigators to others murders committed in the past by Raymond Garvey, a convicted serial killer.

It seems children of Raymond Garvey’s victims are the new targets and they are being killed in the same manner. Could that someone be Garvey’s son. While on the hunt for a strange and twisted killer, Thorne has to piece together a macabre puzzle and protect those thought to be still on the murderer’s list.

The personal life of Tom Thorne plays a great part in this story and adds intimacy and sensitivity to this gruesome tale. During the time of the investigation, Tom’s girlfriend Louise has a miscarriage and they both struggle to cope with their sadness and help each other through the rough times.

The opening is exciting and gives the novel the punch expected in a mystery , quite a positive start but as the storyline moved on, it gets confusing. The author injects many victims and many police officers (some may have been recurring characters) , it became hard to place everyone and stay focused. Unfortunately the personal drama of the protagonist was too predominant and slowed down the pace so much that I found my mind wandered, it simply didn‘t garb me enough to keep me on track. As a result, I probably missed some of the twists and turns that most reviewers seemed to have enjoyed, the experience left me flat, possibly a price I paid for not starting with the first novel. However to the author’s credit the ending was exceptional, the wrap up brought everything into perspective and fell into place nicely.

Starting at this point was not the wisest move, I am certain fans will enjoy adding this latest instalment to their collection

"Kamikaze", by Michael Slade

Book 12 in the Special X series

The story brings together two men whose paths crossed at Hiroshima during the last days of WW11.

Genja Tokuda, the only survivor of the bombing that wiped out his entire family made a bushido oath to avenge this horrific event, his target is Joe Hett a crew member on the Enola Gay. His plan is to fulfill his long time oath to his ancestors at the “ Pacific War Vets Convention” in Vancouver where Joe is one of the honoured guest speakers. Genja feels murdering Hett and his entire family in a most gruesome way would bring a much needed sense of closure. Hearing of this, Special X forces get involve to save the day…

The plot goes back and forth in time. A large component in the storyline is the Pacific campaign. The author highlights atrocities committed by both sides such as Pearl Harbor, St-Stephen’s College Hospital Hong Kong Okinawa, Hiroshima and others. I found this, one of the most interesting parts but I am sure die-hard historical buffs would prefer reading a non-fiction account of these events.

I found this novel to lack lustre and imagination, it is a little bare bones. The numerous characters are bland and the narrative style doesn’t help. This novel seems to have been rushed, it is missing the bloodthirsty police procedurals and the brilliantly executed plots. The intrigue, twits and turns and many surprises that peak ones interest are lacking…. Yes you will find blood and guts, hara-kiri and all the samurai stuff…so predictable.

This is one novel I was happy to have zipped through in no time….

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"The Bourne Sanction", by Eric Van Lustbader

The 6th instalment in the "Jason Bourne" series by Robert Ludlum

This novel focuses primarily on never ending action placing characters in hair raising situations. The author has Bourne on another chaotic chase, this time in Moscow dogging pursuers while he himself hunts one of the most dangerous villains, a killer named Arkasan. Hold you breath, this is a fast paced story where Bourne faces the most treacherous campaign to date.

Bourne now assuming the name of David Webb lives an ordinary life as a scholar at the Georgetown University. Unsatisfied with this deceit he desperately wants to get back into action. When his mentor Dominic Specter approaches him for help it is exactly what Jason needs to lift his spirits and leave his make believe world behind.... Dominic is convinced that a group of terrorists named "The Black Legion" are preparing an attack on the United States.....something has to be done..... The story is a little farfetched but nonetheless you are in for a wild ride. The author has written many superb action sequences that will have you on the edge of your seat.

During this time, there is a turf war brewing between the Central Intelligence and the National Security Agencies overriding their actual mandate in global affairs. Each agency is aware of the "Black Legion" and their plans but true to life politics trump logic at times. NSA's aim is to covertly illuminate Bourne at all expense thus discrediting the CIA. The infighting in this sub-plot gives a touch of reality and I found it more interesting than following Bourne's actual mission.

This novel is a satisfying read although I prefer seeing Bourne's capers on the big screen.

"The Tourist", by Olen Steinhauer

Book 1 in the trilogy staring Milo Weaver

This seemingly realistic thriller is a first rate fiction , a tale of the nasty and deceitful world of spies and assassins.

Milo Weaver aka Charles Alexander is one of the CIA’s highly skilled assassins, in the trade they are known as ”Tourists”. When deployed to various corners of the world, their missions are to be executed without question.

The story opens in 2001 with Milo at a low point in his life. Being a “Tourist” for several years has taken its toll….. his only escape at this point is amphetamines and they are leaving him in a suicidal state. A new mission in Venice to stop the hit man known as “The Tiger” gives him a whole new look at life……

The story flashes forward to 2007. Now a married man with a child, away from active duty and bored at his desk job Milo finds himself longing for the excitement and the adrenalin rush of his old job….Once a spook always a spook…. Milo is reinvigorated when he is summoned to the side of the “Tiger” for a death bed conversation.… The man’s confessions send Milo off once again on a chilling path into the world of international conspiracies.

This novel is a modern twist of the old days of espionage, a compelling and intricate account of betrayal, manipulation, loyalty and risk. Its central figure is a complicated man with many faults and flaws, but when faced with extraordinary situations he excels. Throughout the novel you will find plenty of breathtaking scenes and heart stopping action. I enjoyed piecing together the various parts of this very entertaining puzzle and would not hesitate recommending it to anyone

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"The Good Son", by Michael Gruber

My first experience reading Michael Gruber was without any doubt a enjoyable one.. The author has delivered a taunting, multilayered and riveting tale of suspense.

"The Good Son' is the believable story of Sonia Bailey Laghari who while on a peace symposium in Pakistan was kidnapped along with eight other associates and held captive by armed terrorists. Sonia a highly religious and celebrated psychologist took lead of the group . With her background and her familiarity in the culture, she was able to work her way into the kidnappers' mind and interpret their dreams, at the same time trying to keep her own group in good spirits and alive throughout this tremendous ordeal. The hostages worst fear was the terrorising prospect of being killed one by one by their captors....

When Sonia's son Theo, a professional assassin by trade, hears of the kidnapping he sets out to rescue his mother on one of the most daring plots ever undertaken, a plot that could set a new precedent in U.S. and South Asian policies...

At the same time, Cynthia Lam, an analyst for the national Security Agency in D.C. has her attention piqued while monitoring the airways. It appears their has been a theft of Pakistani nuclear material, this further heightens the state of alarm....

This novel is powered by the many twisted plots and action scenes throughout, and proves to be an ambitions work of fiction. The huge cast of characters have depth and portray a wide range of human behaviours: cowardice, cruelty, courage etc... The narration is brilliantly done it exploits the Westerner's perception of corruption in the politics of Central Asia ....Although some passages in the dialogue may seem to slow down the action , they simply serve to enlighten the reader on various religious beliefs and ideologies. This is a well-written and totally engrossing novel I enjoyed immensely.

"The White Queen", by Philippa Gregory

The first book in the Cousins' War series

This latest series tells the story of the Plantagenets, the first novel is centered around Elizabeth Woodville and her family. Based on facts and mixed with the author's vivid imagination, this historical fiction proves once more that Ms Gregory is more than a researcher, she is also a master storyteller.

Elizabeth cherishes the idea that she is a descendant of the water goddess Melusina and the daughter of a woman believed to be a witch. Applying her magic she charms the previously betroth King Edward into marrying her in secret this allows her to eventually move into the castle. Keeping the throne and staying in power is not easy. Her husband had recently dethroned King Henry thus making him the new target...

The story recounts the struggle for ultimate power during this time period. Although witchcraft plays an important part in this fictional plot it also highlights Elizabeth Woodville influence on history.

I like the way Ms Gregory depicted this era, it is quite entertaining but some may not like the route she took and may prefer the traditional point of view. You will find the characterization is one dimensional.... they are all described as having a wicked side to them.....

This tale is definitely not for the historical buff....

"Unholy Loves", by Lisa Appignanesi

A Belle Époque Mystery

The story takes us to the Loire Valley early 1900's during the period of the Belle Époque. Adventure after adventure will captivate the reader till the very last page.

It opens when Marguerite is ordered by her husband the Comte de Landois to leave Paris and accompany him at their country residence. A normally enjoyable train ride is soon shattered when a man is found dead on the tracks before them. Without saying a word, her travelling companion suddenly takes on a different allure at the sight of the man. Is there a connection ? Is she hiding something?...This was not the only surprise in store. On arrival the Comte has a revelation that will change her life forever...he introduces her to a child and informs her that he is in the process of adopting him.

At this time in the Comte's life, he is highly influence by his friendship with clerics, this brings new rules and regulations to the household, but Marguerite with a mind of her own will not let herself be manipulated that easily.....Another challenge surfaces when the sister of her companion mysteriously disappears and Marguerite teams up with Chief Inspector Emile Durand in search of answers....What dark secrets will they unearth?...

Ms Appignanesi is a talented and diversified writer. "Unholy Loves" is a cleverly conceived fiction that is populated with easy to follow yet complex and interesting characters, their actions are guarantied to stimulate ones emotions. Don't expect a chivalrous or a romantic tale here; it is far from that. What the mystery will do is to provide a chilling study into obsessions of mankind blended with the gripping power of love. The author has achieved this quite eloquently.

This epic is a fascinating travel back in time that I enjoyed very much.