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, February 18, 2015

"Deep Down", by Lee Child

Book 16.5 in the Jack Reacher series

I am not a big fan of short stories but from time to time I do make room for them in my library. To come out with filler books a few months before a major release is today’s trend for crime writers, Mr. Child has taken advantage of this and has sent a few our ways as the means to promote his next installment. I inadvertently skipped “The Second Son” book 15.5 and I need to catch up soon before reading any other of Reacher’s adventures.

The events in this story take place in 1986 when Reacher station in Germany as a MP is hustled back to D.C for an undercover mission to identify the officer operating inside the Capital who is leaking sensitive information regarding weapon specifications to enemies unknown.

Being a short story under 100 pages this is a brisk and easy read that gives a snapshot of the early days when Reacher was in his youth and relatively inexperienced. The narrative is in Mr. Child’s usual style, straightforward with no embellishments. There isn’t really a plot to speak of, but again this is a short story which lacked the development needed to provide intense action and the many twists we want in a thriller. These short stories although good will never satisfy the dye- hard fans.

Borrow this book, the library is a good place to do so.

Friday, February 13, 2015

"Grandad, There's A Head On The Beach", by Colin Cotterill

Book 2, in the Jimm Juree Mysteries

If humour is the essence we find here no shortage of it, actually we have plenty to make us laugh, a bit too much for my taste but again this is Colin Cotterill, a prolific and eccentric crime writer and cartoonist who is more than able to produce stories that will certainly throw us off guard, bring a sort of escape, provide an exotic ambiance and strike the right nuance between funny and subtle.

Told in the first person by Jimm the story opens with the discovery of a severed head on the beach where the Thai ex-crime reporter lives and works. Outraged when no one of authority is interested or wants to get involve and with the help of family and friends Jimm springs into action and sets out to track down what circumstances brought the poor fellow on her beach. On the journey this bunch of mishmash wannabes uncovers gruesome tales of piracy, slavery, violence and murder. Once more we have a tale where the amazing and the ridiculous clashes.

The story takes its merry time before getting to the meat of the mystery. Half the book’s dialogues is a play on words and seem funny but there is more to this laugh out loud silliness it does have an underlying seriousness. The plot centers on the situation Myanmar refugees in Thailand find themselves in, where some are kidnapped, forced into slavery aboard fishing ships and in a situation where some will never return to dry land. Although the story may sound rather grim, the hilarious spots make this book a really light read, one to enjoy to a degree

"The Good Lawyer", by Thomas Benigno

This debut legal thriller is about a young lawyer’s crisis of conscience and is by far more than just courtroom scenes peppered with legalese jargon hard to understand. This book is a fractionized account of some of the grittiest cases Mr. Benigno dealt with during his time practicing as a Legal Aid Attorney in the South Bronx.

In a nutshell:

Told from the main character’s perspective, Nick Mannino, a young legal Aid attorney tells how he is given the opportunity to defend a teacher’s assistant accused of child molestation. Zigzagging is the hunt and apprehension of “Spiderman” a rapist and the excitement begins when Nick pieces together all the parts and a connection is made with other cases. This is only a very broad outline of a complex and believable plot that includes a mob connections and a necessary tad of romance.

I like the depiction of the main player, you can feel Nick’s ethical dilemma when he uncovers several more heinous crimes and is unable to reveal that his client’s is behind them. The author slowly introduces his co-conspirators in a crafty manner developing each one and weaving them into the main story till everything is neatly tied up in the end. We do have audacious twists some are easily guessable while others less but all add excitement to a very captivating story. This is a story that keeps a steady pace throughout and is written in a clear and dynamic narrative.

I zipped through this thriller in no time and enjoyed every single moment I spent with it. Well done.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"The Marauders", by Tom Cooper

This stunning debut novel is a noirish crime mystery written with a touch of humour. The tale brings us deep into the murky water of the Louisiana bayous. The story is post Katrina and soon after the BP spill that devastated the livelihood of the citizens of Jeannette, a little town where shrimping is in the blood.

We are introduced in short chapters to a cast of lively as much as eccentric characters. Each chapter bears the characters names and shifts perspectives as the story keeps its journey into waters infested with alligators, reptiles and creepy creatures. This is quite a mélange that meshes beautifully together. This gumbo’s main players are Wes Trench, a young man who wonders if there is any future in shrimping; Lindquist, a one-armed man who spends days with his metal detector and a Pez dispenser full of Oxycontin searching for pirate Jean Lafitte’s fabled treasure; the Toup brothers two sociopathic twins and drug lords; Cosgrove and Hanson petty criminals searching for the pot of gold and finally the inevitable slick talking BP representative swindling people of Barataria region by asking them to sign away their claims. All these funny, miscreants, romantics and scary people are thrown into compelling odysseys filled with rocking action and intense suspense till they come together in a shocking conclusion we can’t imagine. This is definitely a character driven book I enjoyed immensely.

This brilliantly written story is also a real blast filled with rich descriptions of the cypress swamps and waterways and this all said with an enthralling voice of the south and a dash of Cajun to spice our enjoyment ….well done, very good book.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler”

"Your Are Here"by Chris Hadfiled

Around the World in 92 Minutes

This book is a virtual creation of earth from space. Mr. Hadfield shares with us along with his thoughts a selection of amazing and unforgettable photographs taken during his five months stay on the International Space Station. This planetary tour opens a window to the magnificence of the landscapes and effects humans had shaping our world. 

Awesome what else can I say

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Warrior", by Ty Patterson

Book 1, in the Warriors series

“The Warrior” is not very big book around 152 pages or so but is one that definitely packs a punch from start to finish. The story invokes a world of corruption viewed by a man with questionable moral values, a contract killer named Zeb Carter, a man who witnessed a few too many crimes and is bent on his own justice.

The plot is cleverly developed and filled with visual imagery and colourful characters. It moves at breakneck pace like a well-oiled thrill machine. The author uses economy of words and focusses on what is necessary. No filler words in this one he gets straight to the point. This page turner is sharply crafted to set the mood and starts out strong by throwing us right into the action on page one. Some small flashbacks and perspective are used to add depth and to pick our interest till the real revelation comes. One by one side characters are introduced to help move the dialogue along and tie together scenes. We are delightfully teased by the leading man, a warrior with flaws and a voice of a tormented soul. Throughout the author has kept Zeb’s life and persona a mystery. I could not anticipate his next move and stayed entertained and captivated as each scene kept quickly jumping from one to the other. Now as for the conclusion what a cliff hanger I never saw that one coming. Of course I can always nitpick and find weakness but for a first try this one is without any doubts a winner….

"The City", by Dean Koontz

I always loved Dean Koontz for the way he has given us magical stories to read slowly and savour while taking our time to live inside each one of them and enjoy every moment. “The City” is a must to take time with and let the words and style tease our analytical side in order to capture the essence of one of the very best narratives in this genre.

The hauntingly beautiful story is of a young boy of ten growing up in New York during the sixties. Told from the perspective of his older self, Jonah Kirk now in his late fifties recounts how he yearned to become “a piano man” like his beloved grandfather.

Of course this mystical tale is more than a story about music and the people who make it, it has dark forces at work, nightmares and dreams come true and our protagonist finds himself often tangled with some very bad people while trying his best to make the right choices to keep everyone safe. With a master’s touch Mr. Koontz builds tension, heightens the suspense and adds the feeling of impending doom to keep us at the edge of our seat till the plot reaches its dramatic conclusion. To be honest, although this book is beautifully written and has good characters it lacks the supernatural and horror some may look for. This apart, the narrative is held together with the amazing language and with this we can easily forgive all the faults we can find.

I zipped through “The City” in no time it was that captivating.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"Falling in Love", by Donna Leon

Book 24, in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

The mystery brings back Italian Soprano Flavia Petrelli to Venice to sing the lead role in Tosca. Fans of this series will remember we first met her in “Death at La Fenice”, and later when she reappeared in “Acqua Alta”. In this latest our Diva gets overwhelmed by the worship of an obsessive fan that trails her everywhere and inundates her with yellow roses and expensive gifts. Flavia gets very concerns for her safety when people around her are found injured and asks Guido Brunetti, a long-time friend, to get to the bottom of this mystery.

I am a huge follower of this author so I knew “Falling in Love” would have a slow pace and be a crafty mystery without car chases or gruesome murders. It would also titillate us with a leisurely ride along the Venice canal with many descriptions of this seductive city great lagoons and luscious taste and smell. Ms. Leon has always made room in her books to make us savour all of the city’s charms and delicacies. A mystery would be boring without a good theme and some suspense, Ms. Leon has fictionalized events she read in the news or experienced in life and has sprung fascinating stories where the truth gets distorted for our enjoyment. Of course Guido with all his ingenuity and assisted by colleagues at their best track down the suspect and the culprit is found and all ends well.

Once again this latest is a great read and a wonderful addition to a terrific series.

My thanks to NetGalley and to Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read this book

"The Casanova Embrace", by Warren Adler

This story deals with the dynamics of relationships and the mysterious nature of love. Be warned, the story has extended graphic portrayal of sex, some may say it is even excessive and some may be offended by the specific detailing. “The Casanova Embrace” is a bubbling cauldron of the darkest thoughts and fantasies and a terrific story to ponder on.

The story is of three Washington women who fall for the charms of a charismatic South American and allow themselves to become his sex slaves and be manipulated into a bizarre and lethal scheme. When Eduardo Allesandro Palmero, the Casanova, is killed by an exploding bomb a CIA maverick question the reason for his death and looks toward the women in his life. The story is built around known events surrounding the assassination of one of Chili’s oligarch and the suspense begins…..

This is an absorbing and well-written story that explores the raw power of desire. Not only it is sexy but it is full of intrigue and passion. The portrayal of sex is inherent to character and plot development and not simply a distraction, they author must of asked himself hard questions before writing those explicit scenes. Indeed Casanova is the perfect moniker for this cone man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants but Mr. Adler suspenseful touch of the pen has given a spin to his plan and given Eduardo a well-deserved ending.

Romance and erotica is definitely not my forte but I make exception here. Three books I have read so far by this author all with a different style and context definitely a sign of a great storyteller.

My thanks to NetGalley and to Stonehouse Productions for the opportunity to read this book