Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Quick Review - UNSPEAKABLE

Published in 1999

The Players:

Two convicts, one E-V-I-L personified, the other a sad mental deficient, break out of prison and go on a vicious crime spree.

The slightly smarter brother of E-V-I-L, who joins in on the crimefest.

A small-town sheriff forced to retire, obsessed with the case he couldn't solve thirty years ago.

A gruff rancher who harbors a secret love for his widowed daughter-in-law.

Said daughter-in-law, a beautiful deaf woman, accomplished and self-sufficient, who has put her ambitions on hold and with her five year old son remains at the ranch from a sense of duty.

A rugged drifter with painful secrets

A slick banker who covets the rancher's land

Stereotypical characters aside, this is a suspenseful thriller with graphic violence and sex, remorseless cruelty and murder aplenty. Amidst the mayhem a tender love story emerges.

I had a slight problem with Brown's tendency to insert comprehensive past histories of minor characters, and the two-steps-forward-one-back approach as movement halts to detail a character's morning. Did some skimming, which is a shame as the book is well written.

And I can't define why, but I felt the drifter's big secret was, for want of a better word, bogus.

Conclusion: Not for the gentle reader. Stock characters in stock situations, redeemed by Brown's powerful writing.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Quick Review - BLOWOUT

When I read BLOWOUT I didn't realize it was the ninth book of Coulter's FBI Series. (She's at thirteen now. Maybe more, she's so prolific!)

An intriguing start: FBI agent blows a tire on a snowy country road. After changing the tire he's accosted by a frantic young woman who insists she's about to be murdered. He follows her to a big house, she vanishes, and when he reports to the local police he learns she died thirty years ago.

Before he can investigate however, he and his wife/ partner agent are called to Washington DC to investigate the murder of a Supreme Court Justice. Off we go with the agents, who are joined by a Metro detective and the judge's journalist stepdaughter.

We do not revisit the first case until well past the middle of the book, and then only in a token manner. The FBI agents and the cop and journalist alternately interview everyone (and their dog) connected to the judge, clues are drawn out s-l-o-w-l-y, two more murders occur, there's a race to protect a law clerk who's become the killer's next target.

Much of what happens makes some sense to me when it happens, but when I learned the reason, the who and why, I stopped believing.

Oh, and the original intriguing case is also resolved, but again in an unbelievable, to me, way.

Coulter is an experienced writer, but this book could have been better edited. The story solutions simply lack plausibility. I later learned her FBI stories generally have two cases for the agents to solve. Had I known that before I started reading, my take may have been slightly different.

Conclusion: A mishmash of two unconnected cases, sometimes confusing, repetitive in places. For her fans.


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Quick Review - HONEYMOON

Chosen 2005 International Thriller of the Year by the International Thriller Writers

The same organization named Patterson Thriller Master of 2007.

HONEYMOON follows an oft used plot, the beautiful Black Widow who marries rich then offs the husbands for their millions. An equally common plot addition is the handsome FBI agent who, while investigating the Widow, falls in lust with her, placing both his job and his life in jeopardy.

The chapters are short, two to three pages long, ensuring a fast pace, a fast read.

Patterson/Roughan give us the viewpoints of several different characters. The FBI agent, working undercover, is shown in both first person POV, and third. An interesting device to reveal character.

The beautiful villain is well drawn, and because of her traumatic childhood becomes an almost sympathetic character despite her deadly activities. She starts truly falling for the agent, but when she discovers she's been played no one seems safe. A black widow scorned...

An odd character, a killer identified as The Tourist appears in the book and his scenes seem unrelated to the Black Widow mystery. Later it becomes clear he is the hero/FBI agent working on another case at the same time.

There's also an unidentified female character following the Black Widow. My first guess as to her identity proved correct.

I expected a big showdown at the end between the agent and the widow, perhaps on a sailboat (per the cover). No such showdown. No sailboat, either. Sure, the widow is dispatched in the same gruesome manner she killed her men. But the end was a wee bit anticlimactic for me.

Conclusion: a good quick summer read. All's well that ends well.