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, June 26, 2013

"The Absent One", by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Also published under the title "Disgrace".

Book 2, in the Department Q series

We learnt in the first installment that Department Q was set up the handle cold cases with Carlo Morck, a prickly Copenhagen Deputy Det., to lead it. This follow-up is quite different to the first case he tackled. This story is more brutal and is filled with great inventiveness in its descriptions of the technique of torture and depravity. The nonstop action is pulse-pounding with many unforeseen twists to derail us although we do have some breaks to help us relate to the characters. This is a saga that is far from being dull.

Carl returns from vacation to discover that his unit has been reshuffled and is confronted with a file that shouldn't be on his desk. The file concerns the brutal murders of a sister and brother two decades earlier and one of the suspects confessed and was convicted. How did the file come into his possession and why was he immediately asked to let it go?

Once Carl looks something, this contrarian individual will do the direct opposite to what he is told. Looking further into this supposedly solved case leads him to Kimmie, a vagrant who steals to survive and a group of ex -boarding school bodies who became successful businessmen. The group is later discovered to be engaged in a series of despicable acts.....

Maybe the antics of the criminals are over the top and a bit unbelievable but nevertheless we have a plot that is exciting and revolves around Carl's attempts to get evidences and convictions. The characters are intricate and fascinating. Carl is hard to work with, Assad is always cheerful and Rose the new addition to the department is a piece of work. To the mix are the creepy villains and Kimmie I let you judge her....IMO this author is in a league of his own and provides hours of captivating reading with his superb writing, his original characters and exciting plots.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"The Bone Collector". by Jeffery Deaver

Book 1, in the Lincoln Rhyme series

Written in 1997 this novel introduces Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic forensic criminalist as its main protagonist with Amelia Sachs, a 31 year old police officer, as its main character, along with them it showcases strong secondary characters in Lon Sellito, a homicide detective working for the NYPD and Thom, Lincoln Rhymes’ full-time care assistant. The movie adaptation starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie was made in 1999. To this day, this series is a success and still strong in the ratings.

In “The Bone Collector”, the plot depicts a frantic race to save lives and catch a killer , it has a generous hunk of CSI style forensics investigation, is action packed with a multitude of wild chases, some fascinating disclosures and a few gruesome scenes and the pages are filled with Interesting and colourful characters. We have drama and suspense everywhere and there isn't much down time for a breather.

Rhymes is a high-level quad, a man trap in a broken body with a sole falcon living on his windowsill as company and it quickly becomes apparent that he is a bitter, angry and aggressive, he is strongly considering suicide. When his loneliness is interrupted by his former colleague who needs help in an ongoing crime investigation his interest eventually peaks at the highest level, just what was needed for Rhymes set aside the decision of suicide. Assisted by the beautiful Amelia Sachs they track down a killer whose ingenious clues hold secret to saving his victims. There is a lot going on I will abstain to divulge in order to tease you….

This is quite a captivating story an absolute page turner …... “The Coffin Dancer” is the next to follow the Lincoln and Amelia saga and I surely will add it on my TBR list.

Too many books …too little time but never too late to read a good story.

Friday, June 14, 2013

"The Witch Of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho

This is a compelling work of fiction about a woman (Athena) born in Transylvania to a Romani mother who left her in an orphanage and was later adopted by a wealthy Lebanese couple and raised in London. It is one of those books that dig into the mysteries of the transcendental world and one that blends the mundane life with the esoteric. This tale is a sure recipe not to please everyone but without any doubts this story is thought-provoking and will appeal to those with an avid interest in transcendentalism and divinity.

“ The Witch of Portobello” starts with the death of the main character, Athena, her life story is alternately told from the points of view of the people who knew her: her adoptive mother, her ex-husband, a journalist researching vampires, a priest, her landlord, a teacher of calligraphy, a historian and an actress. They each provide a different view of her, describing not only what they saw and experienced but adding their own impressions, interpreting her through their own beliefs and fears but we never learn what Athena really thinks herself.

This book is complex, challenging and pushes the boundaries of our imagination. The intriguing premise is heavily laced with references to religion, spirituality and mysticism. Was the purpose of this book to question our own spirituality? Well this is a thought to ponder over…. The plot started well, was captivating enough and definitely quite original but ….isn't there always a but…. midway the author’s rambling lost me in the mumble jumble of all that New Age stuff and those gullible characters eventually got on my nerves. This story was way too creepy for my taste.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"The Scottish Banker of Surabaya", by Ian Hamilton

Book 5, in the Ava Lee series

Although I had missed the two previous entries (which are on my back list) this latest installment had enough of chunk of back-story and fill in plot points and character relationships that I fitted right in and never felt lost, therefore, it was easy to pick up the pace and plunge into one of the stronger entries Mr. Hamilton has written so far….. I really need to catch up though….this is such an addictive series.

Eva Lee is a complex character, a young, stylish Chinese Canadian, a brilliant forensic accountant and a very engaging protagonist who stands out from the pack. Recovering from a gunshot wound acquired during her last job she is at a crossroad deciding her future when her mother ask her to help a friend who has been victimized along with others in the Toronto Chinese community in what seems to be a Ponzi scheme. To please her mother she accepts and begins her investigation. The trail leads her to a bank in Indonesia that is run by a Scot and a front for money-laundering operation for Italians mobsters.

The tight plot is detailed and full of international intrigue, one that is so suspenseful easy to get immersed into and lose track of time. Eva’s identity, her sexuality, her loves and challenges bring such human emotions into story especially her love for “Uncle” and the people she works with. The narration is focused on action and is definitely super-fun and a reader’s delight (IMO). Eva continues to develop and brings deferent twists with each installment.

Mr. Hamilton has once again gifted us with a compelling story filled with vivid description. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"The Hell Screen", by Ingrid J. Parker

Book 2, in the Sugawara Akitada series

Some sites will show this book as the 5th in the series.

The Hell Screen, set in eleventh century Japan, features government official Sugawara Akitada and occasional amateur detective. It is a solid multilayered mystery with detailed attention to Ancient Japan, a spec of humour and a tad of horror.

This entertaining and exotic novel sends Akitada to his ancestral home to be at the bedside of his bitter and dying mother and sisters troubled by personal dilemmas. On his way, he seeks shelter at temple whose great treasure is a brilliantly painted hell screen depicting the horrors of hell. That night his sleep is filled with nightmarish images and bloodcurdling screams.

When Akitada finally arrives home he learns that his night at the temple was more than a bad dream, a woman had been murdered. Personal and professional interests begin to merge and soon Akitada becomes ensnared in a tangled web of deceit while he hunts for her killer.

This is a particularly interesting and an excellent whodunit tale, a rich and intriguing combination of history and suspense. Ms. Parker is a fascinating writer an expert in weaving into her plot and sub-plots the mystery of ancient Japan and painting complex and realistic characters for our enjoyment. The plot keeps a steady pace, has all the basics needed to make it an entertaining read: lots of clues, red herrings, weird characters, good and bad guys, a persistent protagonist, emotional punch, subtle dialogue, etc. (I am a huge fan).

Reading this series in sequence is not particularly necessary the author provides enough background to situate us and tease us to read those we have skipped.

"Why Men Lie", by Linden MacIntyre

                                                                 Book 3, in the Cape Breton Trilogy

“Why Men Lie”, the last volume in the trilogy is actually an extension to “The Bishop’s Man” (book 2) where Priest Duncan MacAskill , known as the “fixer” was the center figure. This latest features Effie MacAskill- Gillis, Duncan’s sister, as the main player and is set mostly in Toronto and in Cape Breton during the late 1990’s. The story follows further the community and the family saga we have come to know in the previous installments. The central theme in “Why men Lie” is impotence: physical, mental, intellectual as well as sexual and revolves around lies and deception.

Narrated in the third person from Effie’s perspective, the novel chronicles the journey of a middle-aged woman and a highly regarded Celtic scholar making her way into the world of men that has populated her life.

I join those who have mixed feelings about this book. In one hand, this is undeniably a complex, well-crafted novel with excellent prose but on the other hand the plot missed to deliver intrigue successfully. IMO the novel resonates more as a domestic fiction with ever changing series of flashbacks to anything else. Mr. MacIntyre is a master in dialogue and the characters definitely talk a lot, in fact they ramble quite freely, at times in Gaelic. This is a very slow moving story that highlights the author’s love for the east coast and it takes him a long time to make a point. In reality it gave me time to pause and mull over the question “Why men Lie?”……In the book women lie as much……( is that so :))

This novel is interesting in many ways but it was just missing that captivating quality to be invested deeply into it or compelled to keep turning the pages at rapid pace. “Why Men Lie” is definitely not as great as its predecessor “The Bishop Man” but nevertheless worth spending time with.