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 »

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Faithful Place", by Tana French

Book 3, in the Dublin Murder Squad series

This third installment is an elaborately twisted saga of class resentments, family burdens, regret and passion. The story alternates between 1980’s Ireland and the present day and is told in the wry, bitter and plain voice of Dublin police detective Frank Mackey as he describes the people and the depressed neighborhood he was raised in. “Faithful Place” is a journey, a psychological escape into the intense feelings of the protagonist’s youth and the constant undermining of his self-esteem by his family.

At an early age Frank planned to flee his small Irish hometown with his sweetheart Rosie, however she never turned up at the agreed rendezvous point. With his mind made up he left without her, he assumed she had cold feet or her parents had gotten wind and prevented her from following him. We fast-forward twenty years to when Frank learns Rosie’s decayed body has been discovered under mysterious conditions. Determined to get to the root the situation, Frank heads home and quickly becomes involved in the case. The bulk of the novel, beyond the question of who killed Rosie, revolves around the Mackey family and their complex relationships.

This novel is a long 400 pages, the melodramatic story of the families is over worked and blends poorly with the plotting of the mystery. “Faithful Place” is one of those books you love or hate, I am leaning towards the latter. Looking back I found the drama uneventful and unconvincing and this overshadowed all of the good points the novel possessed.

I enjoyed the first installment of this series; however I have been somewhat disappointed ever since.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Siege", by Simon Kernick

This is not my first novel by this author and once again I was not disappointed. The fast paced, action packed, tight plotting provided a high-speed thrill ride with all its ups and downs, engaging to the very last page. The storyline played my mind like a white-knuckled action film with ruthless violence executed by rogue ex-military specialists. The scenario in “Siege” was inspired by the brutal Mumbai attacks in 2008 when terrorists stormed predetermined strategic locations, indiscriminately slaughtering anyone in their path leaving behind a trail of destruction in order to shock the world.

The author leads by introducing a fascinating list of characters and their credentials before getting to the meat of the action, a 24 hour period when all hell erupts into a day to remember. The intense drama starts with the brutal killing of a young maid who innocently opens the door to her master’s domain. Simultaneous attacks are launched at railway stations and shopping centers in an effort to divert attention from the main target the prestigious fictional Stanhope Hotel in central London. The terrorists’ goal is to shock and intimidate the rest of the world by holding hotel guests and staff as hostages and threaten to murder them one by one if their demands are not met. The captors strongly underestimate their victims will to live and the ensuing mayhem is a real adrenalin rush. The author adds colour to the drama by entering into the psyche and the past history of each character involved. As time progresses and darkness falls, the gunmen become increasingly violent and the captors more and more determined to increase their chance of survival.

In one of the sub-plots, we see how Arley Dale multi tasks as head detective overseeing the police operation at the hotel and how she handles a personal crisis that arises when she learns her family is one of the terrorists’ distractive measures.

This is another exciting thriller that gave me many hours of reading pleasure.

"The Calling", by Inger Ash Wolfe

Book 1 in the Hazel Micallef Mystery

This debut crime-fiction novel released in 2008 is a dark and haunting mystery heavy with suspense, a terrific cat and mouse game following officials hot on the trail of a serial killer.

The story has a clever and devious plot that delivers both psychological depth and emotional heights. It has a gruesome beginning, the body of an elderly woman stricken with cancer is found brutally murdered and drained of all her blood. When the detectives arrive they witness a scene that would be a great opening for any horror movie. Their preliminary instincts are: could this be a desperate assisted suicide or an outright sadistic slaughter?

The 61 year old Hazel Micallef, the protagonist, is the Acting Chief inspector of Dundans, Ontario. Viewing this macabre murder scene is a first for Hazel, since her early days as a police officer she has dealt with drunks, trespassers and occasional domestic disturbances, typical small town issues. The investigation takes another spin when a few days later a man is killed in Chamberlain, a small town some kilometers east. The two cases raise alarm bells for Hazel and her team when they find strong similarities with murders in other jurisdictions. One theory quickly comes to the forefront Canada has a serial killer for hire specializing in the terminally ill and preying on people desperate to end their suffering. As they unravel the mystery the pace accelerates to a wrenching powerful conclusion.

This novel is a great addition to the serial killer genre, a thought provoking and well-written mystery with unique and compelling characters surrounded by a believable and well-drawn supporting cast. Some may find the police tactics somewhat over the top and full of technical errors however this fictional story skilfully brings to life the contrasts between rural and urban policing. The author’s imagination and originality go a long way in making the suspense a captivating time between the pages.

This is another series that has piqued my interest and is on my TBR list.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"This Body of Death", by Elizabeth George

Book 16, in the Inspector Lynley series

This is another long-winded story, a multilayered puzzle that is skillfully structured to include many engaging details. This book is a marvellous read and once started very difficult to put down. The hard cover edition is just shy of 700 pages and is typed in a small font, daunting at first glance but never overpowering. I always enjoyed the way Ms. George’s puts her thoughts in writing, they go a long way in creating the atmosphere needed in a good mystery.

This is another police story with terrific plotting. The suspense gradually builds and shifts into high gear with the discovery of Jemima Hasting’s brutal murder in a London Cemetery. Acting Superintendent Isabelle Ardery summons Detective Inspector Lynley back to London to help her spearhead the investigation. New to the team she quickly learns this is no ordinary group, they are faithful to Lynley, have developed their own style over the years and have a hard time readjusting to a new leader…..

In a parallel thread in a form of a social worker’s report we learn the story of a former child killer. It has many similarities with the kidnapping and murder of a young boy in England many years ago. At first I wondered where all this was leading but eventually everything tied in to the main threat at the end.

The usual characters reappear: Havers and Nkata, the unflappable Dorothy and the Assistant Commissioner, more or less the whole team even Havers lovely neighbors have a role in this mystery. Many pages are added to the suspense by Ms. George’s detailed coverage of the day to day life of her cast. Adding a new player to her roster was a sly move by Ms. George the not so likable Isabelle Ardery enters like a pit-bull changing the dynamics and the direction of everything in this series. The move was a refreshing game changer and it will be interesting to see how this will play out in the future.

This novel is vintage George at her best.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Arranged", by Catherine McKenzie

“Arranged” is a romantic and delightful story crafted with subtle humour, a fairy tale whose premise explores the process involved if a third party could help find the perfect match. We follow the experiences and results of one such person as she sets the stage for the rest of her life.

After a string of failed relationships, Anne Blythe is slowly giving up hope in finding a person she can comfortably share the rest of her life with. One day she finds a business card advertising what seems to be a dating service however she soon discovers the company’s expertise is geared towards providing arranged marriages. Discouraged with the results of dating up till now she gives the company a call, it is a pricey service but they have an impressive success rate. Wanting what others seem to have and with her biologic clock ticking she takes a chance and gives it a try. A few months after signing the contract she meets and marries Jack Hammer, a fellow writer and the perfect match…….but will he turn out to be her soul mate?.....

I am not a great fan of this type of novel I find them too mushy but I will make an exception with this one. Curiosity got the best of me, I was hooked when Anne made contact with the agency and was highly captivated by her journey to obtain love and marriage. The plot is sweet, has good dialogue, excellent characterisation and page-turning scenes. The author has made this far-fetched idea plausible and entertaining and has delivered it in a fun and at times in a hilarious fashion.

If you are into women’s fiction and partial to love stories, be warned you will most likely have a hard time putting this one down.