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, April 28, 2014

"Bloody Mary", by J. A. Konrath

Book 2, in the Jack Daniels Mysteries

No denying J.A. Konrath produces gruesome material, even if he may say otherwise in his introduction. This second installment is a mystery with a creepy take and a view on the dark side of funeral homes. Relying on subtlety and imagination this latest concerns a mysterious killer who murders women to suppress his recurring headaches and hatches plans to pin the murders on a Chicago cop.

This sequel has a great story line and starts during a sweltering Chicago summer, a pair of arms is discovered at the morgue and the rest of the body is missing… this little problem brings Jack and her partner Herb on the scene to investigate.

It is pleasantly nice to see the recurring characters first introduced in “Whiskey Sour” returning in tip-top shape even if we find them in the midst of personal struggles this time. It is fun to follow Jack as each crime scene seems to be connected to her in some way….I found the plot line quite suspenseful even if we know fairly early the identity of the killer but what make this deferent is not the who did it but the uncertainty of how or when he will strike again. This quick read has a lot of action and gratuitous gore and managed to have kept my attention till the last page. Although, it may be the standard style found in most thriller of this genre I nevertheless like the wits and the snappy dialogue that peppered the pages. Mr. Friskers’ antics give us some really good laughs along the way I couldn't help but to giggle….Quite entertaining, I am looking forward to the sequel.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane", by Katherine Howe

Set in Cambridge, Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts this unique story told with a new England accent flashes back and forth between two time periods: during the Salem witch trials in the late 1600’s and the summer of 1991. This book is definitely a work of fantasy.

The general outline follows several sets of mothers and daughters, their relationships and how they differ. At the heart is the witch hunt where the good folks of Salem thought they were hunting real witches that were putting the entire community in actual danger through malicious magic.

The protagonist is Connie Goodwin a Harvard student working on her PhD, her dissertation topic brings her on a quest to find an old tome, a book of witchcraft. While cleaning her deceased grandmother’s house Connie discovers a key in an old family Bible and the name of Deliverance Dane the author of a book of remedies and spell….hence history comes to life where many scenes cite historical figures involved in the Salem witch trials and vividly portrayed the women accused of practicing witchcraft and what they went through. We also have a romantic sub-plot and lots of supernatural phenomena…… lots of hocus-pocus, lots of abracadabra, lots of smoke and mirrors and puff inevitably visions…. Really?

This book may captivate some minds but definitely will not please everyone. Some may say it is richly written and that the author has immense descriptive abilities, surely true but it missed the target in many ways. Reading this tale felt like molasses: thick, too slow to come and left a terrible after taste (boring and beyond silliness). I was expecting more depth and historical data but I found a totally uninteresting version of one of the most notorious cases of mass hysteria in the early modern period.

Even the characters were under developed, the protagonist for example was simply too dumb for a PhD student in Colonial History, her ignorance was mind boggling. This book left me totally flat and I am surprised I haven’t ditched it before the ending… yes I made it to the last page this was the best part of the whole experience….glad it ended and I could move on. This is the way I see it….

Friday, April 18, 2014

"When Maidens Mourn", by C.S.Harris

Book 7, in the Sebastian St.Cyr Mytery series

This is my first experience reading this author, although I did so with the 7th installment I never felt lost or that I had missed anything of importance. I molded right into the story and enjoyed the mystery at its fullest. The series is set in Regency England at the beginning of 1800’s and features Sebastian St. Cyr, an aristocratic sleuth, now Viscount Devlin.

The 7th book brings Devlin and his new bride, Hero Jarvis, to put their honeymoon on hold to investigate to the best of their own abilities the mystery behind the death of Hero’s friend, Gabrielle Tennyson, whose body was found floating in a boat in Camlet Moat. We follow them as they search Inns and many grimy black alleys, meet panoply of individuals and in rural London how they dealt with Celtic paganism so revered by most.

This is a fast moving story with many red-herrings. The plot is a strong one and offers intriguing characters. There are more layers added when Sebastian and Hero struggle to unmask the true murderer, one among a mass of suspects. To stitch everything together are political intrigues, family secrets and Napoleonic plots, some are facts and some fiction. This is a well written story in tone and places with numerous dialogues and a little romance to please the reader. I like Sebastian he is definitely not the brightest detective around in fact quite clumsy but he is fun to follow. As for the other characters they are so numerous I easily lost track of some.

Although I did enjoy this book I question if it is worth back reading the installments I skipped or simply continue from here……

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Whiskey Sour", by J.A. Konrath

Book 1, in the Jack Daniels Mystery series

This is one of those mysteries with no frills and right to the point. “Whiskey Sour”, combines a dose of humour into a gruesome detective story. No mistake here this book is full of the old clich├ęs we seen numerous times but it is surprisingly a great read one impossible to put down until the last page has been turned.

The pacing moves fairly rapidly and we are kept guessing until the end. The protagonist is Lieutenant Jack Daniels, a bold and fast talking female officer. The main plot is very serious: the investigation of a serial killer case. The Gingerbread Man has been killing young women and dumping their bodies in trashcans outside convenience stores. Taunting Chicago’s finest and the media was just the beginning of an exciting cat and mouse game. In the usual side plot we see Jack’s personal side, a life in turmoil after a break-up. Now approaching middle age Jack decide to give a video dating service a try. But her violent career soon gets in the way and it is kind of funny to see how she handles herself…. In alternate chapters the first person narration handles Jack’s point of views while the murderer’s side is told from a third person’s perspective.

Drip by drip clues are unveiled the killer’s real identity is revealed and the reason why the women were chosen wrapping up everything neatly. Although this is a very gruesome subject the graphic nature of the grisly murders are not overly done and to keep the story entertaining the author’s has smoothly injected enough biting humour into his words to lighten the mood.

This engaging story has me hooked I guess I was in the correct mood for such a story and now looking forward to the many sequels I have in hands.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"For the King", by Catherine Delors

Do not be fooled by this title although eye catching it is quite misleading, you will discover its true meaning mid-way. “For the King” is a tale of love, betrayal, political corruption and mostly the plight of the common people of Paris during Bonaparte’s time as First Consul.

“For the King” is more of an historical mystery or thriller than the standard historical fiction. At first I was disappointed in the style but the further I read along and once I had fitted all the pieces together I thought it was an astute strategy, a good combination that vividly portrayed the struggles happening in France during the post-revolution and a satisfying fashion to pull the tale together. Of course I am certain Ms. Delors took some historical liberties and has created fictional characters to breathe life into her story but nevertheless has based her words on real events and figures. The story is told from three different points of views in a narration smeared with long passages and flowery descriptions.

The story deals with the investigation which followed the attack, which, although it failed to harm Napoleon, killed and maimed many other people. The central character is Roch Miquel, the son of a tavern owner who has risen to be Chief of Police and has a beautiful mistress. All through the story Miguel hunts down the assassins but his investigation is complicated by the maneuverings of his superior, the indiscretions of his father, a former Jacobin and of his love interest….

“For the King” is an interesting novel that plays out more of a mystery than anything else.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"Gray Justice", by Alan McDermott

Book 1, in the Tom Gray series

This is a fast-paced, action packed thriller with lots gun battles, explosions and inevitably lots of death. “Gray Justice” is one of those books hard to break away from while reading.

The story unfolds as Tom Gray, a military veteran and proprietor of a security industry loses his only child at the hands of a car thief who is a repeat offender. Consequently unable to cope with the death, his wife took her own life. Tom’s world now chattered after losing everything he loved so deeply decides to teach the justice system a lesson….The drama tells what happens when his son’s killer goes free and the ways he takes to appease his mind. His crusade attracts instant worldwide media attention….and as readers we are in the middle of a rollercoaster ride….

This story is far more than a tale of revenge and your typical good-guy wins and bad guy loses mystery. While reading I couldn't help but to question the justice system, one that gives community service to repeat offenders or simply let them go. This book is tough with occasional swear words and some of the scenes are quite violent. Told in the third person viewpoint was a brilliant choice by letting the reader be part in the drama and guessing the outcome. Well I wasn't very good at it and missed more often than I would have liked…than again isn't it what a great thriller supposed to do, “Gray Justice” did not miss a beat and did that beautifully. In thrillers it is usually easy to suspect what the ending is going to be, impossible with this one….

The main plot is strong with no excess details and is much focussed on its theme. There is also the mandatory sub-plot where a real terrorist organisation takes an active role in the drama. This is so similar to reading a season of 24, unbelievably action packed…

Cool, calm and calculated may describe the protagonist, a bit of a credibility stretch found here but again what is a thriller without characters out of the ordinary, we love James Bond after all why not Tom Gray….

Mr. McDermott debut thriller is a real page turner superbly written to fuel our interest in the subsequent additions….Well-done.