Book Review: Triple Cross by James Patterson

A killer is targeting families in the DC area. Ruthless murders under the cover of darkness, no family member spared. The media have dubbed him the Family Man killer. Alex Cross and Detective John Samson are working with the FBI to try and catch the killer quickly, before there are more deaths. The renowned true crime writer Thomas Tull claims to have spotted patterns in the Family Man killings, and offers to help on the case, in return for full involvement, so he can write his next blockbuster book. Alex Cross is left wondering how much of Tull’s claims are fact and how much is fiction.

Meanwhile Bree Stone, Cross’s wife, is investigating a fashion industry big name in New York. She has been hired by an anonymous client, with broad parameters on the investigation. She quickly unearths more than expected. As she digs deeper, people connected with the case keep getting killed off. She continues to dig and what she unearths shocks both her and Alex.

This is book 30 in the Alex Cross series, and it is just as gripping as the 29 before it. Even though the Alex Cross books are a series, you can read this book stand alone as with many of the others. However, if you have read the series, this book is like being welcomed back into the fold of a loving family. Mama Nana cooking by the stove, Alex and Bree brainstorming their cases out on the stoop, and the kids playing basketball on the driveway. Samson dropping by for a beer on his way home from work, and for some of Mama Nana’s famous cooking. At the end of the day Cross catches the killer, and makes the world that bit safer. It should be boring, formulaic, repetitive by now. But Alex Cross never disappoints, never fails to entertain, and always keeps you turning the pages, and ends with mysteries leaving you wanting more. Alex Cross gets better with age, and after 30 cases is showing no signs of slowing down. Here’s to 30 more!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: No One To Help Her by Kate Watterson

Detective Chris Bailey is called to a crime scene in the middle of the night. The body of a woman was found at the side of the road, with no coat, empty handbag bag dumped at the side of the road, and missing a shoe. Her brother Mick has only just moved back to the area, and he was not even aware his sister had come back home. Mick wanted to move back home, live in his newly bought cabin by the lake, and live a peaceful life. Instead he is devastated by Bailey and his partner Carter showing up at his door, making the connection via DNA testing.

He is even more upset when someone breaks into his cabin and leaves Amanda’s ID and missing shoe in his kitchen. What follows is more bodies, more missing shoes, and more property of the deceased showing up at Mick’s place. It soon becomes clear that Mick is not the killer, but why is he being targeted? Who is the killer, and why are they tormenting Mick? Bailey needs to find out, and quickly, before more bodies are found.

On paper, this book sounds great. A gritty mystery/thriller, with a complex plot to solve. In practice, it didn’t quite meet the mark. Mick, as the brother of a woman who had just been murdered, and having to entail the trauma of identifying her body, forgoes comforting his parents, and instead, jumps straight back into a relationship with his now dead sister’s best friend, who is also his ex girlfriend. I know everyone copes with grief in different ways, but there was a lot of romance, and food talk in this book, and not as much focus on the lives lost and what they should be doing to stop more crime. 

Speaking of food, I don’t think I have even had so much information on what a character is going to eat for dinner throughout a story. Make that characters, as they were all at it! This was also book three in a series with Detectives Bailey and Carter, and I didn’t really feel like there was much missing out at all, so it works well as a stand alone.

Overall a good detective mystery, but with too much romance and food focus for me, it took away from what could have been a great story.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Cleopatra’s Vendetta by Avanti Centrae

What does Cleopatra and a Special Ops commander have in common? More than you would imagine. Tim Stryker is the leader of an elite Special Ops team. He is in Italy, with his wife, a smart, driven, powerful CEO. They are on holidays with their daughter, Harper, trying to save their fast crumbling marriage following the death of their infant son. The holiday comes to an abrupt halt when Angie and Harper are kidnapped. 

Stryker will stop at nothing to get his family back. But this is more than a simple kidnapping. As his team gets to work on the case, working to find where the kidnappers base is, they discover a connection to a recent string of assassinations. While Stryker and team are working from the outside, Angie is using her smarts to work on escaping from the kidnappers’ compound. She unearths a dark secret, linking the group to a plot that connects all the way back to Cleopatra herself.

This book managed to weave two completely seemingly unrelated, and unrelatable, topics together in a fascinating manner. As a thriller, it would have been action paced and engaging, but not the most memorable of reads. But weaving in the historical fiction, and the mystery wound throughout was a tantalising hook, keeping you completely vested in the outcome throughout. 

Think Indiana Jones, meets Dan Brown, meets National Treasure, meets Liam Neeson in Taken. Then stir it all up, add in some kick ass female characters, and you have a page turner on your hands!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Next in Line by Jeffrey Archer

It is 1988, London. Princess Diana is the love of the nation, the people’s princess. Scotland Yard’s Royalty Protection Command is the team entrusted with keeping the Royal family safe. They are the best of the best, and need to be operating to the best of their ability. 

However there are some suspicions that one of the operating teams is not performing as they should. Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick is sent in to investigate. This job requires complete dedication to your role, otherwise the protection of the Royal family is at state. So his team throw themselves into the investigation in multiple ways to get to the bottom of it. 

Meanwhile, a ruthless criminal that Warwick put in jail, Miles Faulkner, is pulling strings, both inside jail and outside to try and get what he wants. Unknown to him, his previously trusted legal counsel is working against him. How does this all connect? The pressure is on to figure it all out, fast.

This is Book 5 in the William Warwick collection, a new to me series. As a result I found that I was a little lost when it came to some back story and characters. The two storylines worked well, with good twists and entwined well, keeping you entertained and turning the pages. It felt very well researched, although I presume some dramatic licence on the behalf of the princess in some parts! I think the book worked ok as a stand alone, but would have been better with the context of the previous 4 books. Overall however, an enjoyable read, fast paced, and full of clever moments that will make you wish you were half as cool as Warwick and his team!

*I received this copy from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Signal To Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

It is Mexico City, 1988. Meche, short for Mercedes, loves music, a passion inherited from her father. This is the time long before iTunes, Spotify, or MP3 players. It is all about the vinyl, and her beloved portable record player. Meche is an awkward fifteen year old teenager, unpopular with few friends, and her parents’ marriage is falling apart. She throws herself into music as an escape, and discovers magic. Her friends Sebastian and Daniela help her discover the extent of her powers. But then it all goes terribly wrong, and friendships shatter. Meche flees town, never to return, she thinks. However, nearly two decades later, her estranged fathers funeral drags her back, and she has to face up to what happened all those years ago.

This story is told through multiple storyline approach. The primary is set in the 80’s when Meche and her friends are coming of age, trying to find themselves and where they fit in the world, and how to cope with all the changes that life brings. The other is then twenty years later, with Meche’s return, and trying to cope with the anger she still feels. I was a bit conflicted reading this one. While on one hand I enjoyed the coming of age, mixed with the discovery of magic and how its power was found, I found the intense anger still felt by Meche twenty years later a bit confusing. She was a successful woman, with an excellent job, living a great life, yet still held onto resentment that one would  imagine would have faded somewhat over the years.  

As a story about love and hate – and how sometimes it can be hard to separate one from the other, it was written well. The characters are well developed. Some become a tad annoying – Sebastian I am looking at you!! But the emotions felt, the growth, the life portrayed was all done very well. I always enjoy reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work, and while this was perhaps not my favourite to date it still did bring Mexico to life, along with three teenagers just trying to belong.

*I received this copy from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Immortality Thief by Taran Hunt

Sean Wren is a talented linguist, a refugee who’s world was destroyed, a criminal, a smuggler working out in the galaxy. With his childhood friend, and only other survivor of their homeworld’s destruction, they carve out an existence among the stars. Then they get caught. They are made an offer they can’t refuse. Life in prison, or a salvage mission – recovering data from a nameless ship, empty, abandoned and long forgotten. The ship is at the edge of known existence, close to a dying star. There is not long left before it gets destroyed by the star. Sean and Benny need to retrieve some long lost data in a long dead language, that fortunately Sean speaks.

They learn the data is known as the Philosopher’s Stone. When they arrive on the ship they also learn they are not the only ones looking for it. Oh and they also learn that the ship is not as empty as they were led to believe. What ensues is a frantic race for the data and survival. 

This was a wonderfully entertaining read. Sean was a Stainless Steel Rat/meets MacGyver/meets wanna be Indiana Jones type character. His humour in the face of adversity, making light of situations, but inevitably pulling through when needed was a constant enjoyment. On a ship full of mutant aliens, a fanatic alien species, creepy children (think Village of the Damned!), the odds are against them. But he never gives up. On a crumbling and fast deteriorating spaceship, nothing goes right, and we are held by the seat of our space suits to see where they go next. I don’t want to say any more for fear of spoilers. The characters are fantastic, the pace fast, the story fun, the use of flashbacks to memories used very well. The supporting characters were just as engaging and interesting as the main cast. Does Sean need a little more depth to be more plausible? Perhaps. We are, however, talking about a murderous alien-filled spaceship where we are hunting for the Philosopher’s Stone. So as long as I am entertained, I will suspend my hunt for plausible!

Book Review: Mindwalker by Kate Dylan

An apocalyptic event has wiped out most of the world as people knew it. Tech companies now rule the world, and tech body modifications and implants have become the norm. Eighteen year old Sil Sarrah has embraced the tech modifications to the extreme. Working for the Syntex corporation, she has a super computer embedded in her brain. She IS a super computer, designed to rescue Syntex field agents – by taking over their minds remotely and getting them to safety. She is a Mindwalker, and the best one to date. She has less than a year remaining before the computer grafted to her brain burns out, killing her. 

In her ten years working for Syntex, she has a flawless record. Until something goes wrong – and she ends up on the run, fighting for her life and desperate to find a way to prove she is not a traitor. In this search she finds much more than she expected. The resistance takes Sil in, and she starts to realise that her view on the world may not be the only way to view it. That is all I am willing to share, to do the story justice you have to read it!

Mindwalker was a stunning read. It packed as much of a punch to read as Sil does when she is angry! I could not put it down, and stayed up far later than is acceptable when you have work the next day to finish it. There is skillful character building, realistic world development, gripping storyline, and never ending action. The book is so well written. The story in a wasteland of a dystopian world is fresh and exciting, in what can be a tired and worn genre. Every aspect pulls you in, has you wanting to join the resistance. Where can I sign up? Where can I get some of the mods? (I am looking at you rainbow hair!). I say run, don’t walk to read this one. You won’t regret it.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Night Watch by Neil Lancaster

This is the third instalment of the DS Max Craigie series, and Max and his team are back in flying form!

A lawyer is found dead at a clifftop in a remote part of Scotland while on honeymoon. The same day a renowned gang enforcer walks free from court following a not proven verdict. His body is also soon found, his murder brutal and gruesome. The connection? It was his lawyer. But is there more of a connection than just a sleazy criminal defence lawyer and a lifetime criminal?

It soon becomes apparent to DS Max and his team that something much more sinister is going on. They are not the only ones to notice. A shrewd local reporter has made some connections between criminals escaping justice, only to be found dead a few days later. They start to investigate and quickly realise where the evidence points. The killer knows how to stay hidden. They know how to remove evidence, or how to leave none in the first place. They know how to evade the police, and what the police will be looking for. They know how to use police restraints, have access to police weapons, and police techniques….

Max Craige and his team have to work fast in order to unmask the vigilante, revenge obsessed serial killer, who is located dangerously close to home.

As with the previous two books in this series, this one was fast paced, full of twists, and kept you on the edge of your seat. The relationship has really developed between the team, and the process of the investigation had a wonderful natural flow, with everyone really falling into their roles. The character development is really progressing superbly. While it can be read as a stand alone book, you will definitely enjoy it more if you have read it as part of the series. Overall, a very enjoyable read, that I did not want to put down until I had finished, I was engrossed until the very last page!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Time Trials by Jon and Dayna McConnell

Finn Mallory has his life turned upside down when he and his parents are in a horrific car accident. His parents die but he survives, with some cuts and scrapes, a minor broken bone, but a tonne of guilt upon him, as he feels that the accident was his own fault. One of the last things his parents did for him before the accident was enter him for a scholarship at an elite boarding school, wanting to give him the best possible life. When he gets offered the place, he takes it to honour their memory, despite not wanting to go.

When he gets there he soon realises he is seen as an ‘unfortunate’. He is the odd one out among a never ending crowd of super rich kids. These kids immediately begin to pick on him, mocking him for where he is from, his choice in clothing and his lack of social standing. He is saved by an invitation to join the history club. It sounds boring, but the head of the school makes it sound less than mandatory to join. Once Finn gets there he realises the most popular and beautiful girl in the school is a member, so he thinks he can tolerate it.

However, once the professor who runs the club explains what exactly the club really does, Finn soon realises he is in for much more than he expected.

This was a super fun, fast and easy read. I enjoyed the concept, as far fetched as it was. We will put aside how the logistics of keeping such equipment and training secret on a school campus works, as we are taking into account that we are reading about a time travel club. The story was engaging, the characters had some good diversity, and the challenges were interesting. There could have been some more depth in the trials themselves, with a bit more of the history in the locations and more detail around the trial and the team completing it to flesh the story out and give it a bit more of a sense of completion, rather than the focus on the relationships. But overall a good read and am looking forward to the second book.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Babel by R.F. Kuang

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution

Where do I start? Firstly, this book has nothing but five star reviews on NetGalley at the time of my writing. It has over 91% four and five star reviews on Goodreads (leaning more towards five star). I know numbers are not everything, but I think it says a lot for a book that is so hefty a read, it makes one heck of an impact.

Now, what are we reading? It is 1828. Robin Swift is orphaned by cholera in Canton, China. He is brought to London by Professor Lovell and trained in Latin, Ancient Greek and Chinese to prepare him for enrollment in Oxford University’s prestigious Babel programme. Babel is the world’s translation hub, and most importantly the epicentre of silver working. This is the magic and technique of using language to imbue silver bars with power. Silver working has given the British empire their power to sweep across the world, and is supporting its efforts to colonise every country it comes across. 

Robin and his friends on the Babel programme soon come to realise what their true roles are in Oxford and the Babel programme. They have to decide if they want to keep living in the comfort they have become accustomed to, or if they want to change the world. I am not saying any more than the author’s blurb because you absolutely have to read the book to really and truly understand it.

The description does the story no justice. Babel is one of the most thoroughly researched, developed, creative and engrossing books I have read in a very long time. I felt like I was reading an academic paper, a biography, a history book, and a coming of age story all in one. The character development in this book is incredible. The time taken to set the scene is long, slow and in depth – and I loved it. Chapter after chapter was merely bringing you through the life of the main characters, yet it was done so skillfully that you were happy to simply grow with them, explore with them, and learn with them. When things finally started to get gritty and the pace increased there was no sacrifice in detail. 

This is not a happy read. This is a book that lays dark academia and magic over history, the dark nature of British colonisation and the impact it had on many different countries at the time. It explores racism, delves deep into linguistics, and requires you to very much pay attention as you read. It is filled with footnotes, and imparts knowledge as well as emotion. I loved every moment of it. I am not ashamed to say I wept at the end. I was mentally exhausted when I finished. I did not regret reading this book however. It is a masterpiece. The author has said it is the most ambitious thing she has ever written. In my eyes, she absolutely nailed it, and I can’t wait to see where she goes from here!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.