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, November 27, 2013

"The King's Deception", by Steve Berry

Book 8, in the Cotton Malone series

This is another suspense thriller that weaves his tale around documented facts, events and known figures of history. Being a fan of conspiracy and the Tudor period I much enjoyed Mr. Berry’s spin on time.

Right from the start I was engaged by the secrets societies the political intrigue and the Tudor secrets although at the heart of the story is the all too real drama of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a former intelligence officer, convicted of 270 counts of murder for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. After tweaking some facts and adjusting them to fit his creation, the author has filled the pages with the right formula and provided us with a panoramic view of the past while slowly introducing the present day setting. I will skip the intricacies not to spoil the enjoyment of this action-filled and well-written mix of history with the spy action. Yes there is plenty of action and the Tudor secret that is behind the operation has a great romp of intrigue. We have three strands in this story that are interwoven in cinematic scenes, very visual as they move from one plot to another. If you can keep track of all the characters you are in for a treat. There are no loose ends everything is wrapped up nicely. As always we find at the end of the book a writer’s note separating fact and fiction.

Most part is quite entertaining however on the down side I did find the central mystery to be rather flimsy and the machinations which involved the CIA lacked logical consistency. But again this is a thriller and it wouldn't be fun if our imagination wasn't stretched to its limits..

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Bitty and the Naked Ladies", by Phyllis Smallman

A Short Sherri Travis Mystery

I am not particularly fond of short story they are a big tease and usually leave you flat. I would normally pass them but since I am a big fan of this author and hate to miss any of her work even teasers. So here I am reading this one while waiting for my partner to meet me for our afternoon hike.

This 16 pages story is to the point, nicely writing but too short for any intrigues, not bad if you want a sample but for an avid reader not good at all…I want more…..but again if it is free or borrowed why not read it….

The product description says:

Some crimes are perfect. Greed leads Sherri into temptation and delivers her to evil.

"Cafe Insomniac", by Mark Capell

What a strange story, highly imaginative, quite a page turner and the most outlandish premise I have read in a long time. It is told entirely from Justin’s, the main character, point of view. We get inside his mind to feel his fear and how confuse he is. As the story progresses everything becomes weirder and weirder…..very spooky indeed. At one point it is easy to feel as Justin did mix between not knowing what is real and what isn't. I had to wait till the end to find out.

What is it all about?

“Twenty-five-year-old insomniac Justin Brooks opens an all-night café. But soon after the opening, one of his customers is murdered. The fallout from the murder makes his insomnia worse -- much worse. He completely loses the ability to sleep. Strange things start to happen in Justin's world, things that are hard to explain and could possibly have something to do with the murder.”

If you suffer from sleep deprivation “Café Insomniac” will walk you down memory lane and if you a sound sleeper this fascinating tale will not only keep you awake wondering if you are really awake but it will also have you looking over your shoulder for the boogie man…..very unnerving and highly unpredictable…..

Although I usually stay far from these types of novels I admit being quite surprised how much I like this one. It is well written to be visually entertaining and to appeal to those with a taste for the surreal.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"High Chicago", by Howard Shrier

Book 2, in the Jonah Geller series

This series is definitely Canadian very unique in its genre and I love how each story is crafted from current events found in the news. A few weeks ago I had the chance to read “Miss Montreal “ the 4th novel in the series and skipped momentary book 2 and 3 but I couldn't keep too far away before returning to the sequence to catch up. Here I am this time telling everyone nice enough to read my thoughts that Mr. Shrier has definitely won my admiration and made me one of his most faithful of fans. 

Jonah Geller, the protagonist is so unlike any American hard-boiled detective we read these days. He exploits his Jewishness, does not carry a gun and splits his attention between Toronto and an American city with his gay female partner. First he was in Buffalo in “Buffalo Jump” and now in this second installment Jonah brings his investigating skills to the Windy city, Chicago. Of course along the way Jonah will re-establish contact with Dante Ryan, a former contract killer now a restaurateur, for assistance. 

“High Chicago” has a stylish Hollywood crime drama opening. Jonah is hired to look into the apparent suicide of the daughter of a well-known Toronto property developer. Not one to mind his manners, he smells a rat that needs fixing and soon find himself up to his neck, deep in trouble, crossing words with a major real estate developer and the father of the dead girl. Before long he is in hot pursuit of a mega builder (reminds you of Donald Trump) who has ways of dealing with pesky investigators. Before it is all over, a considerable of mayhem has taken place, some surprising plot twists unfurled and we are plunged into nail-biting suspense not typically found in this kind of mystery. Needless to say Jonah is a wonderful character and the supporting cast is as varied as they come all with their own strong personality and ambition rarely seen.

This is a strong entrée and a very entertaining addition to a fantastic series.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"A Conspiracy of Faith", by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Also under the title “Redemption”

Book 3, in the department Q series

The two previous novels had politics and money as their main topics it is of no surprise to find in this latest page-turning psychological thriller Detective Carl Morck and his team from Department Q pinned down by reclusive religious sects.

As the previous novels it was a hard book to put down. The story relies on psychological insight, a complex and intense plotting and nonstop action to maintain suspense up to its climax. Although the heart of the story may be gruesome the author lightens the mood with well-placed humour and along the way we get to know the protagonist and the other players a bit more. We have a very compelling main plot and as in all thrillers we have a side plot to distract and confuse us a bit. I like the characters they are far from being stereotypes and come across quite genuine. This is the most convoluted novel created by Mr. Adler Olsen so far alternating several points of view as the story shifts among characters and time period. 

The main theme concerns a professional kidnapper who preys on families austere religious sects, exploiting their reclusive nature to ransom two siblings at a time without the police being notified. 

This is a thick book over 500 pages it kicks off when one of two kidnapped brothers held captive in a boathouse sends out an obscure note in a bottle with an urgent plea for HELP written in his blood. It took years before it eventually washed ashore and reached the hands of Department Q. This message is a puzzle they need to decipher and the hunt solving the mystery reaches outlandish proportions and somehow clues emerge slowly just to tease us till the next installment.
It is a tough read although well-worth it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Standing in Another Man's Grave", by Ian Rankin

Book #18, in the Inspector Rebus series

After five years into retirement Rebus is back only to find himself in trouble, what else is new? We should have known better to think Rankin would have put his best protagonist to pasture. He is just too good a character to have done so.

Still his old self, drinking and smoking to excess, Rebus now in a civilian capacity works for the serious crime review looking into cold cases of long forgotten victims. He pairs up with his old protégée, Siobhan Clarke, and they embark on an investigation that will see them hopping all over Scotland even into the most remote of places. All along the way the author expertly spins a suspenseful tale one that could have been hard to put down if it wasn't for countless countryside description and poetically villages names and the constant moments when Rebus lights another cigarettes or opts for another drink.

As always Mr. Rankin is impressive at handling plot complication and adding twists to force his protagonist in taking unorthodox action, having a seditious behaviour and ignoring protocol. He is not a team player and never will and is well aware that he is out of step with the new way of working….but Rebus will rise up to the task and show us how to get the job done….he is in top shape to tackle anything…

I am glad Mr. Rankin resuscitated his grumpy old detective. This series was the author’s best and still is IMO.

Friday, November 1, 2013

" Hat Dance ", by Carmen Amato

An Emilia Cruz novel

Without any doubt, this new series will be a hit. “Hat Dance” follows “Cliff Diver” and continues the same exciting detective story that had me totally captivated from start to finish. The plotting is so realistic you would think the author has taken her inspiration right out of the news and pitted her protagonist against both Mexico’s drug war and culture of machismo. 

In this latest Emilia will deal with both an arson investigation as well as tracking down the whereabouts of a missing girl from her neighborhood. 

This story opens with a wall of intrigue and suspense when high end restaurants are being targeted by arson. Who is behind these attempts is what makes this caper a thrilling ride through the pages, seeking the answer and not finding it till the very end is what makes it most exciting. Of course Emilia and her partner will pursuit their quest for the truth and justice will prevail……or will it…..This is one adrenaline charge novel with multiple unexpected twists that never slows down. “Hat Dance “is a riveting read populated with a strong cast of divers and interesting characters. Their involvement has snared my attention from the get go and I devoured every word, (OK I am pushing the envelope but I urge you to give this author a try and see how her creativity is not only unique it is also very addictive.)

This novel is as good and as entertaining as “Cliff Diver” but if you missed the first no worries, Ms. Amato has smoothly filled in the necessary background not to leave anyone behind. 

Ms. Amato is becoming fast one of my favourite authors.

"In the Beginning", by Abby L.Vandiver

“The Beginning” is a mystery novel with a bit of a sci-fi twist to it. Originally written in 1997 this fiction finally reached the hands of a publisher this year. The story follows a Biblical archaeologist on a quest to uncover the hidden mystery behind the disappearance of old manuscripts that were discovered in 1949 with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

If this short introduction reminds you of a well-known author, keep in mind this book was written long before the other came into the picture, IMO there is no resemblance between the two stories.
The protagonist “In the Beginning” is Justin Dickerson, a woman who suffers from depression, who thinks demons are chasing her and has terrible mood swings. Her depression is soon replaced by an obsession once she finds hints to the manuscripts whereabouts. Thank goodness Justin (correctly spell) has a loving husband, and a supportive family willing to help. Their squabbling is quite a distractive interlude to the chase for the revelation and a side bar to the core of the story…..

This story scrawls at a snail pace and spoon feeds you tit bits of information to ultimately reveal the key that unlock the secrets behind the thousands of years old documents……fascinating stuff and quite an imagination. My attention did waver by the end and I lost interest by the time I had reached the far-fetched wrap up. The concept has its valour and it is evident the author has put her heart and soul into her creation. Unfortunately I was too often hung up by the slowness of its denouement and the many hiccups in the editing (typos, misused words and font changes), and Justin’s continuous crying got on my nerves.…..Having said this “In the Beginning” is an excellent debut novel and with a little tweaking Abby will eventually make an entertaining novelist.