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 »

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Alex Cross, Run", by James Patterson

Book # 20 in the Alex Cross series

This is by far one of the better stories in this series. It focuses on Alex who has featured in countless of novels and puts him in the heat of the action once more trying to solve three hot puzzles of a crime at once. This novel is quite captivating and once I opened it, I was immediately hooked and I simply let myself go along with the adventure to see what would come of it. It has been a long time since I was so captivated in an Alex Cross escapade. I am not surprised this one had a spot on the bestsellers list for many weeks. Anyways it gets high marks from me:).

Mr. Patterson shines in managing the many suspenseful moments and expertly switches perspectives again and again, from stalker to killer to Cross. He writes in his usual way, the first person style when Cross is narrating and in the third with his other characters. The plot is written with precision and is neatly wrapped up, definitely attributes of a master storyteller. Mr. Patterson trademark is front and center: short chapters, a nice balance between Cross’s personal and professional lives, intriguing crimes for the protagonist to solve and complex subplots that do not necessary end well. Well rounded characterization and a jaw-dropper of a conclusion leaving the door open for a subsequent installment. I really can say Mr. Patterson’s pen was in tip top shape……

In a nut shell the mystery in this installment is this:

Cross is tasked with investigating two very different sets of serial killings that are taking place in the Washington area.

At the same time, he is targeted by a stalker, an anonymous blogger who seems to have a grudge against the D.C. Police Department in general and Cross in particular, his main goal is to ruin Cross’s life.

Meanwhile, there is a problem at Cross’s home involving his foster child, Ava.

In conclusion, this novel is an electrifying read that held me captive from start to finish.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"The Destiny Secret", by Guy Clinton

(Second Edition)

The book is a fast paced thriller designed to get people thinking and talking about where our destiny lies and, where it is dangerous to poke your nose into. Definitely another one of those books not meant for all eyes.

The story is complex with constant twists and addresses what societies around the world hope for and ask from their leaders but rarely obtain: honest and open government one that will not be victim of greedy manipulators.

This quick read is a cat and mouse game that revolves around a plan to bring America crashing to its knees by implementing a clever plot that targets the foundation that support Law and Order and rendering it ineffective to arrest the perpetrators. The plot is chilling and frighteningly plausible. Some events outline in the book may seem far-fetched but even a cynic like me can realize the possibility. Whether one agrees or not with the author’s viewpoints, it is clear where Mr. Clinton stands and he expresses his thoughts quite a bit throughout the pages. We find a fair amount of characters to keep track of and two protagonists to hold our interest. Even is this subject is covered numerous times in thrillers it still has a touch of originality to it, provides plenty of suspense to captivate us and has an added touch of romance to lighten the mood. It is a good novel if you take it for what it is.

On a parting note and after reading reviews on this book it seems the second edition may be the best choice.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Mutiny on the Bounty", by John Boyne

I love how Mr. Boyne takes a well-known event gives it a new spin and revives it into a most riveting iconic story of the sea, a sure sign of a very talented story-teller.

In a few words this is what happened to the ill-fated ship: After a long voyage on the high seas and a short stay on a sexy Polynesian paradise, the screw revolted, a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian erupted, the breadfruit-laden Bounty was seized shortly after leaving Otaheite (Tahiti) in April 1789, and the captain, William Bligh, with his followers were set adrift in a boat to fight for their lives. Miraculously the captain led his small screw back to England to a hero’s welcome and the hunt for the mutineers began and those found were rounded up and tried in London.

In this novel, the real –life John Smith, Captain Bligh’s steward, was replaced by John Jacob Turnstile, a fourteen year old street urchin who was given the choice of a year in the goal or taken service aboard the Bounty. Through John Jacob’s (Turnip) eyes we travel from the streets of Port Portmouth to a myriad of adventures. His character is a brilliant creation with a charming sharp sense of humour and the most delightful egotistical narrator.

This book is captivating, it is expertly written to describe with heart the sailing and those aboard the Bounty and with skill guides us during the 48 days the 23 foot launch held the starving men till they reached Timor. It also deals with the sexual frustration of sailors at sea, the root of their mutiny after enjoying the delights of the native women and forced to return to the ship and leave them behind. Mr. Boyne style flows smoothly and allows for the most vivid, fresh images to filter into our mind. Although I have a strong sense that historical record may have been modified to make this story the most enjoyable of fiction.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Spider Bones", by Kathy Reichs

Also under the title “Mortal Remains”

Book 13, in the Temperance Brennan series

This installment is pretty much the Kathy Reichs we know and we have come to expect. The story centers on the world of JPAC (Joint POW/MIA (Prisoner of War/Missing in Action) Accounting Command (US DOD) and how far the military will go to find and bring home the bodies of fallen soldiers around the world. Of course as in all the novels we have a family drama to spice up the mystery and all the forensic science knowledge and real life criminal investigations are once again brought forward.

With this as backdrop the puzzle start with Dr. Brennan called on the scene of a drowning, victim of bizarre auto-erotic asphyxiation stunt gone horribly wrong. The body is identified as being a long-dead Vietnam War veteran John Lowery presumed buried in his hometown in North Carolina. This kick off a case that will have Tempe turn circles and take her all the way to Hawaii looking into Vietnam vets and Hawaiian gangs.

The plot is full of drama however I found it to be far-fetched and rather contrived as it moved along. The narration is told in a very didactic manner, choppy with an over-use of acronyms and scientific jargon. Initially I did find the story interesting but it quickly fell apart and lost its appeal. I really don’t care how accurate police procedural are but give me outstanding characterization and I am a happy reader, here we have the dullest of characters and the most frustrating ones acting the same old way. The author has employed the same writing style over and over again, even if I was to some extend entertained I do think this formula is wearing thin and a change is highly needed, “Spider Bones” is far from being an exciting novel. Thank goodness it was a fast read….With this said I still will read further installments, I like the fact that the main plot is usual based on events that made the news at some point.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Merry Christmas, Alex Cross", by James Patterson

Book 19, in the Alex Cross series

This is a typical Alex Cross story, a direct sequel to “Kill Alex Cross”, with a similar plot-featuring Hala from the previous installment but does feature new characters, some new elements and a few other story lines. It is jammed packed with action as we see Alex being pulled out of the family Christmas celebrations and rush on scenes and confront the unthinkable.

Following are two heart-pounding threads: first, Alex is forced to make a decision when a father is threatening to murder his children and ex-wife. Whatever the decision, the results could end as many lives as it saves, that including his own. Second: a cat and mouse game with Jihadists on a mission to do as much harm as possible. Union Station seems to be Hala and her team’s primary target….Alex is on speed dial with the FBI and evidently is the in-between guy….

This novel is the usual James Patterson, short chapters, sharp narrative, intense actions and likeable characters. This is good entertainment easily read in a few hours. It may have Christmas as a backdrop but it is a thriller for all times. It has a wonderful contrast between the grim reality of terrorism and the lovely close relationship of the Cross’s family.

Good read to pass time.

"Eyes of the Predator", by Glenn Trust

The Pickham County Murders book 1

Eerie and extremely intense the story is definitely not for everyone. The plot although a fiction sounds quite realistic and I presume is based on cases and events that may have occurred in a City who has been rocked by the abduction and presumed murder of young women. This is a very dark story that paints a picture of abuse within a family and through the eyes of a killer gives insight into the predatory patterns of serial killers. Some passages are deeply disturbing and while sex may be part of the victimization of woman, the pleasure comes from a sadistic behavior….. Inflicting pain on victims is the predator’s primary motivations and we are taken deep in the dark mind of a sociopath.

The storyline in this captivating psychological thriller flows smoothly back and forth between the well-drawn characters: the victims, the predator, the by-standers and the police forces as they tell their side of the story. Even with all the gory details I found it hard to put the novel down. I guess I am an adrenaline junkie in some capacity…I was riveted by the intense action and the many twists encountered during the hunt to find both the abductor and victim. Not much is predictable and everything is neatly tied up by the end. “Eyes of a Predator” is well written, with simple language and his narrated in a sweet southern drawl of Southern Georgia. Excellent read.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"A Philosophical Investigation", by Philip Kerr

Philip Kerr wrote this thriller in 1992 and has staged a futuristic vision to his most original idea. He has mixed cyber punkish techno language with a serial killer detective mystery and added strong philosophical, psychological and sociological terms for depth. One could say in those years this complex science fiction techno-thriller was highly thoughtful. Today’s reader will probably see the denouement with a deferent light and perspective.

The year is 2013, London has been chosen for a pilot project called “Lombraso”, the program is to identify and track male citizens who are genetically predisposed to be aggressively violent. The database has been an excellent tool to law enforcement. When a serial killer appears to be stalking and killing the individuals whose code names appears on the records. In this case, the killer’s code name is “Wittgenstein” named after the famous philosopher, his language and mind set both were highly influenced by the genius’ ideas….and were the root of most of his problems.

Detective Chief Inspector Isadora Jakowicz (Jake) is assigned to the case and the cat and mouse game begins…..and the inevitable showdown….. (I will spare you the many details).

The narrative unfolds from a dual perspective: Wittgenstein's, and the female police lieutenant, “Jake", assigned to catch him. Wittgenstein's portion is told from the first person as a diary of his assassinations and subsequent downfall; the detective's portion is told in a more traditional third-person perspective. Along the narrative are citations from works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and other philosophers. In my view, the frequent philosophical discussions were overplayed and for me this brain teasing game became a huge distraction. Unfortunately the plot mystery side was overshadowed by the weight of too many philosophical ideas and with this the story suffered and felt underdeveloped. This story may have been a fascinating one in 1992 but many years later it is just the run of the mill type.

With this said even if “A Philosophical Investigation” is far from being a favourite I am still one of Mr. Kerr’s biggest fans and will not hesitate to gradually read all of his books.