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 »

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Death Angels", by Ake Edwardson

4th novel translated into English from the Erik Winter series

This series has not been released to the English audience in the order it was written, “Death Angels” is actually the 1st in the series. For those who are already familiar with Chief Inspector Erik Winter this novel will bring you back in time to when the Inspector was younger and unmarried. 

In this novel, Erik teams up with Scotland Yard to solve a mysterious case that has the same M.O. as other cases in which British and Swedish young men have been found murdered in extremely violent ways. The discovery of filming equipment suggests the killer maybe recording his deeds to gain notoriety in the snuff film world. While Winter works the UK side of the case his colleague in Sweden questions a stripper named Angel, who he believes knows more than she is telling, her beauty and her expertise in handling people prove to be daunting challenge….. However the key to solving the case may lay with the thief who found a sack full of bloody clothes……

I found the story to have a sluggish start and be a touch less captivating than the other books I have read so far in this series. It is intensive in police procedural and takes a while before the action kicks in however just when you think it has peaked you are thrown a few more curves to keep you guessing. The effects a homicide has on the officers working the case and on the victims’ families is quite emotional and well done. I was quite fascinated by the in depth psychological characterisation of the Chief Inspector and his British associate. There are many sub-characters and keeping up with their Swedish names and their parts can be challenging at times. I have the feeling I was on the wrong track at times and missed out on some of the important nuances between players. 

If I had started with this book I doubt if I would have continued with the series. I found the other books much more exciting and captivating however this one gives us an important introduction to Erik Winter, Sweden’s fictional youngest Chief Inspector.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"The Watchman of Ephraim", by Gerard de Marigny

Book 1, in the Cris de Niro series

The "Watchman of Ephraim " is a sparkling debut novel by author Gerard de Marigny, a great geopolitical thriller which intricately weaves current events into an exciting story of international espionage.

The story opens with Cris De Niro, the main protagonist, a successful hedge fund entrepreneur on his way to meet his wife at the World trade Center on 9/11/01 when disaster strikes the twin towers killing her and their unborn son. Many years after the terrible tragedy, Cris is still haunted by the memories of losing his wife and in an effort to move on he decides to relocate from N.Y. and start a new career. His old career left him with the means to create and fund a private organization called the "Watchman". The organisation is staffed with highly equipped retired military personnel whose expertize is fighting terrorism and running covert missions......... Everything goes as planned until the day they unknowingly stumble upon a connection between a rich Iranian businessman and the Mexican drug cartel.......This proves to be an explosive discovery......

The plot is fast-paced, full of intrigues, very captivating and most enjoyable. The thriller's many twists and red-herrings kept me hooked and on the edge of my seat till the last page. This is a solid read cover to cover, exactly what a great storyline should be, Mr. de Marigny writing style is easy to follow, very active and one that drew me in right away. This is a top-notch thriller and a stellar first novel. I like the characters they are gripping, determined, fierce and well balanced action figures that do not shy from expressing their intense emotions in a straight forward dialogue..... Just what one would expect in this day and age under the circumstances....

Well-done Mr. de Marigny I am looking forward to your next novel.

"The Emperor's Tomb", by Steve Berry

Book 6, in the Cotton Malone series

The author has penned books dealing with many different countries and themes in his series, fans have been taken on escapades to France, the Sinai, Italy and Antarctica. This latest political thriller dispatched Cotton Malone, ex-Magellan Billet agent for the first time to the Far East, to the heart of the incredibly vast country of China. The novel is filled with historical information around Qin Shi Huang, China's First Emperor and the numerous innovations and accomplishments that have long been overshadowed because of the country's isolation and the tendency of one dynasty to eradicate all vestiges of the previous one. "The Emperor's Tomb" has resurrected within its story line the eunuchs and giving them an active part and a most predominant role. I must not forget it also touches on China's history on child trafficking and a most fascinating side-bar on fossil fuels.

Cotton's life is shattered when he opens an anonymous Web address and sees his long-time friend Cassiopeia being torture at the hands of a mysterious man who has one single demand: he wants the artifact he believes Cassiopeia gave him for safe keeping. However there is a big problem, he has no ideas what he is talking about nor has he any such item in his possession. But his skills as an agent and his curiosity kick in and his determination eventually takes him to China to rescue his friend.

After many harrowing escapes and being deeply involved in a titanic struggle for the leadership of the People's Republic of China, Cotton's quest to save his friend deeply changes their relationship for ever.....however not all those involved escape unscathed....

The "Emperor's Tomb" is an adventure that flows seamlessly and keeps a steady pace throughout. In a note at the end of the book the author has clarified the fine line between where he took his inspiration and in which sections the factual events are located. A cast of charismatic characters takes us on quite a trip into history and of course Steve Berry has spiced it up with his own twists.

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Promise Me Eternity", by Ian Fox

After reading this novel I still have mixed thoughts on how to label it. I went through the usual list: is it a tale of suspense, a thriller, a medical mystery, a psychological drama, a simple fiction or a combination of all of the above? Don’t mistake me it was a fair read although at times hard to grasp but what intrigued me the most was its premise. As I carried on I became quite curious by the life of the many characters, many lived a very shallow life style. I was captivated by the things they did for money and their outrageous behaviour in their quest for romance and love. 

The story centers on Simon Patterson, a dedicated neurosurgeon at a local hospital and at home an obsessed researcher looking for eternal youth in his spare time. His research takes his attention away from his wife who complains about their dull life, his neglect towards her and his spending habits regarding his experiments. The household finances are a continual source of friction until the day he saved the life of a powerful mobster Carlo Vucci….. This is the start of a turning point in their life.

In gratitude, the Pattersons are invited for dinner at Carlo Vucci’s residence and when he introduces his wife, the beautiful Christine, to the doctor there is instant chemistry. A few weeks later when Christine shows up at the hospital faking terrible headaches, the doctor is all too willing to help her. Meeting her outside the possessive eyes of Vucci proves to be the start of a downhill spiral for the doctor, a nightmare that eventually opens the doors to multiple murders…..

We start with one chapter after another with events that at first seem like unrelated stories however when the catalyst kicks in, the doctor surfaces as the main character. At this point, the story becomes interesting and starts to gel but eventually it became so predictable that I started to lose interest once again. The plot has many characters, some are rather stiff and others are so na├»ve, stereotypical and immensely frustrating, they became a turn off. In my opinion, the main characters had a lackluster appeal at times and the secondary characters were a little overdone. A good part of the novel moves at a snail pace but to be fair to the author there are some interesting twists and turns along the way. Sorry Mr. Fox “Promise Me Eternity” is not one of my favourites….

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Your Mouth Is Lovely", by Nancy Richler

“Your Mouth is Lovely” is a touching and memorable tale set in Russia between 1887 and 1912. It is rich in the shtetl ways of life and sweeping historical events. The title is from the Song of Songs, offered as a prayer when a child speaks its first words.

The story centers on Miriam’s life while she languishes in a Siberian prison camp. She recounts memories, the high and the low points in her life in a form of a letter to her six year old daughter who was taken away at a very early age and will never have the pleasure of knowing her real mother. Her prose is lyrical and is told with the tenderness of a mother’s love. Most of the characters are women, they are superstitious and smart, judgemental and kind and the few male characters are complex and sympathetic and act as a catalyst in the plot. 

The novel exposes the brutality of the regime as well as that of the radical socialists who struggled through one aborted revolution after another. It starts with flashbacks in Miriam’s upbringing and continues as time passes to the first up rise against the tsar’s regime and to the circumstances that led to her arrest. 

At first I found it hard to understand the fine points of the time and culture however the author’s excellent ground work at start helped me to quickly become somewhat familiar with Jewish and Yiddish terminology and customs. It all paid off and it carried me back to the turbulent and horrific time in Russian history when hope and passion were all the people had to live for.

This is a rich human drama that was very intense and emotionally stimulating.