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, January 24, 2015

"Purity of Vengeance", by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Also under the title “Guilt” and as “Dossier 64”

Book 4 in the Department Q series

Exploring cold cases is what the squad at Department Q does best, add a little history, mix a bit of humour and plunge your reader into a fascinating mystery and you have a good combination that surely will please most suspense buffs.

In this latest the three person unit headed up by Carl Morck come against an old intricate plot of social engineering going back to 1929, the desire for a pure race and the legal sterilization of the “mentally retarded”.

In a few words:

The opening scene brings our trio on a case of a missing brothel owner who disappeared decades ago while they were investigating the life of a woman who killed her husband and has attempted suicide not long after. As expected this intricate mystery doesn't stay there soon weaved into it is the case of a strange mix of people who had all gone missing the same day while on their way to Copenhagen. All of them were visiting the same elderly and reclusive woman at the time of their disappearance. This part was my preferred section, totally suspenseful and expertly written to provide everything one wish in a mystery.

Eventually all threads intersects and comes together thanks to the hilarious Assad and the multiple-personality plagued Rose who played a huge part in finding links to solving this bouillabaisse of suspense. Although the investigations are ultimately resolved, there are plenty of personal and professional issues left to explore for the next installment.

Even if the subject is rather gruesome this book is overall a winner. It is written with nifty twists, many surprises and turns galore some difficult to foresee. We have cold, callous villains, bigots and extreme nationalists etc. playing roles to highlight the distasteful aspects of life in Denmark. These characters are well-drawn and very engaging. This is a suspense novel with a degree of depth that most mysteries lack and is populated with personalities that have substance.

This book may be a bit long that it needed to be but is a worthy addition to any library.

"Descent", by Tim Johnston

This novel is definitely creative writing at its best: it is gorgeously written, masterfully plotted and is a pulse-pounding thriller ripped from headlines and every parent’s worst nightmare: the mysterious disappearance of a child out for a morning run. This thought provoking and haunting novel also tells how this affects each member of the family.

A few chapters in I had doubts whether I like this story or not but half way through my opinion changed as I became addicted to the lyrical and hypnotic words about loss, hope, struggle and the grief the family endured and especially on the poignant mystery of what had become of Caitlin, the child gone missing in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. The writing style is so unique I slowly felt drawn by the feelings of the each character as they came into play. The characterization is very well-done to highlight the painful and emotional journey they faced. The whole drama moves along at a leisurely pace (maybe a bit too slow for my taste) and as each chapter is added a different voice takes over. Slowly pieces of the puzzle are revealed then matched and everything falls into place.
By the end I must say this is gripping and riveting novel I am happy to have read.

Friday, January 16, 2015

"The Zen Man", by Colleen Collins

Book 2, in A Humorous Colorado Mystery series

This is a tightly written the run of the mill whodunit mystery told in the first person narrative of Rick Levine, the Zen Man, a disbarred Denver attorney turned Private Investigator. Charged with murder after hosting a party at his B&B ends up in the slammer with a half-mil bail bond and 30 days to clear his name.

This is a lighthearted approach into mystery/crime fiction supposedly written with a sarcastic and humorous side to it but I failed to see any sharp sense of wit here. The language is basic at its best. One plus, is a well-structured, somewhat believable plot with clues, twists and turns and enough chilling scenes doled out steadily to keep things interesting, but I had trouble staying with it, there was something not gelling in my mind. To the mystery buffs there are no surprises here, you will pin point the murderer from the get-go although some do find the journey to be still enjoyable. The characterization is interesting and entertaining but to a degree they are too much of a garden-variety type. I found that some of the scenes are overblown while others are simplistic making one hot and cold story to read. If it weren't for the spurts action to have kept me on track I would have ditched this one mid-way. Not to say it is a bad book, it simply dabbles too much for my taste.

"Target Churchill", by Warren Adler and James C. Humes

“Target Churchill “unfolds a fast moving cloak and dagger drama starting days before Churchill’s historic visit to Fulton Missouri in 1946 where he delivered one of the most famous speeches of all time: the fated Iron Curtain speech and concludes shortly after. This gripping read combines both historical facts and fiction, is told from multiple points of view and provides a picture of the world’s political players struggling for supremacy.

The main theme centers on a fictionalized Soviet conspiracy to assassinate Churchill in order to prevent him delivering this speech. The assassin is a Russian mole and Nazi who served Hitler’s SS and now lives in the USA.

Mr. Adler does not compliment his recreation with superfluous fluff and stays on track till the end. He feeds us with gulps of intrigue in short paragraphs and meticulously buildups suspense with just the correct nuances needed for us to wonder if this event actually happened. From the first page this cleverly blend of history and suspense held my attention, it is quite a page turner. I love the characters, real figures or not, they are particularly well defined especially the unforgettable and charismatic Winston, with him puffing endless cigars and his drinking habits at the forefront.

Even if this conspiracy is a fiction, it makes perfect sense. It is not surprising this book is well written since both authors are renowned and have extensive knowledge of history and political landscape.

This is an excellent read and should please those who do not mind a fictionalized dab into history.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Station Eleven", by Emily St.John Mandel

This story is the weirdness I have read in a long time. First I am not a fan of sci-fi/fiction although I do read some from time to time. I loved Miss Mandel’s previous novels so why not go for this latest after all ”Station Eleven” was one of the 2014 finalists for the National Book Award for fiction, This was enough to give it a try, after all this book must be a good read.

The idea behind is very timely with Ebola and different strains of flu mutating across the Planet and the threats and capacity this has to wipe humans off the face of the earth make indeed one scary topic for a novel. Miss Mandel story unfolds after the Georgia flu has done that. This novel does a lot of time-shuffling from before the outbreak and 20 years after. The plot jigsaws a lot of pieces together which needs particular attention not to get lost in. This drama also taps into the poignancy of lives cut short, living a scenario without any hope and where life is altered for ever. This book is very tough and it takes a while before the seemingly disparate stories come together, every loose end is eventually neatly tied and each character is put to rest and finally life goes on.

Having said this I was most disappointed with this book. The subject is very thin, the tone and narrative lack the richness of her other novels and finally the characters are too one dimensional to be memorable and by far appealing. Indeed this apocalyptic, flowery, ridiculous concoction is not my cup of tea. Having said this , the story has many merits particularly how expertly Ms. Mandel manages to plunges us in the middle of a developing society fighting for survival where gas fast runs out, the electric grid is down, food is a rarity and everyone fends for themselves. Scary isn't it?.....

"The Heist", by Daniel Silva

Book 14, in the Gabriel Allon series

This series has managed to stay fresh time after time and after fourteen stories not only it is getting better and better as it moves along it has also kept up with the high expectation we demand as fans. Daniel Silva is definitely a master spy crafter that anticipates what we want, knows how to provide every bit of excitement from the get-go and never fails to entertain his readers. I agree with everyone saying this latest has to be one of the best if not the best so far.

This 14th caper is not only a fun read it also has all the elements I love in a thriller: a great plot, unique characters and a range of emotions within the words. Gabriel is on his last commission before becoming the head of the Israeli Intelligence Agency. In the first part of the book Gabriel spends some time with his wife doing what he loves best restoring a painting. But soon this serene time is disturbed by the death of a man suspected to be a purveyor of stolen art. Who else can be the perfect investigator but our debonair Mr. Allon….. In the second half of the book Gabriel masterminds a scheme to seize monies stolen by the Syrian government. As in many other novels Gabriel has always time to visit his first wife and the scenes with her have always been heart wrenching and this latest follow the same pattern.

“The Heist” is more than a spy thriller it also dabs into history, gives us a sample of art restoration and provides some insights into illicit activities, here we have looting and selling of stolen art for the enrichment of dictators.

This thriller is a page turner and very hard to put down. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Moscow Bound", by Adrian Churchward

Book 1, in “The Puppet Meisters” trilogy.

This is an engaging story that surely will please anyone who is interested in reading thrillers set in contemporary Russia and enjoys navigating the complexities of its law, its bureaucracy and are concerned about the ever-growing abuses of state power. Scott Mitchell, the fictionalized idealistic human rights lawyer, is one of the messengers in this suspenseful and very captivating novel that revisits Cold War themes.

The story opens with an electrifying start and keeps the tempo throughout and never let go, so be ready to stay captivated for hours. Although keeping with the Russian names may be somewhat of a challenge but is a lot of fun once into it, I for one, gobbled it down in now time. The author handles the various threads competently and has provided us with a story that has depth and populated with rich and archetypal characters we came to expect in modern day political tales. To add colour we have the gorgeous Ekaterina, young Russian mother separated from her oligarch husband and Pravda, a Lieutenant-General of the GRU (military intelligence).

The main plot and sub-plots have all the exciting elements: The book opens with Scott Mitchell, a human right activist, a hero and defender of ethnic minority manages right from the start to get in trouble with the Russian army. One thing leads to another and Ekaterina shows up needing Scott’s help finding her father, a man who was spirited away by the KGB years ago. Now more mystery is added when POV characters are found murdered in particular manner, Pravda, an honest and patriotic soldier gets mixed in and slowly we are into an explosive military secret that is at risk to be revealed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and looking forward to its sequel.

My thanks to NetGalley and to Silverwood Books for the opportunity to read this book