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Guest Reviewer Johnny's Reviews from August 2015

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I am beginning to look forward to these review round up's of Guest Reviewer Johnny more and more. It seems that he has yet again set his scathing tongue on a couple of books. My favourite this month is his line that a particular book has 'more holes than a colander'....say no more. Take a look below for his round up from August, it seems Linwood Barclay has made the worthy '5 star' review status so that's one I'll be pushing up my to-read list!

 

Contract to Kill by Andrew Peterson

Johnny’s Rating: 2/5

Johnny’s Review: Action packed, gung-ho, jingoistic thriller. Yet another book set in the world of private military contractors, this is up to the minute as the villains are now North Korean gangsters and Mexican drug cartels. Lots of action, shooting and explosions but distinctly lacking in plot. As usual the good guys are all ex Special Forces with dazzling skills in all forms of combat and, of course, are virtually indestructible. The weaponry is, as in all books of this nature, described in mind numbing detail and the fact that the inevitable outcome of victory for the good guys and the American way make this fairly predictable fare.

Not a bad book, a sort of Tom Clancy light; all the action, the obsession with weapons but without the plot. This will pass a couple of hours while you're waiting for your flight, but I'm sorry to say, little else to recommend it

You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: Well written, serviceable romantic mystery. If you're a fan of this genre then this book ticks all the relevant boxes. Tall, dark, mysterious stranger, somewhat predictably, is not what he seems. Mysterious death in the past is revisited and, again is not what it seems.  Clues are conveniently signposted for the plucky heroine and the conclusion ties up all the loose ends. This was a pleasant and very readable book.

Broken Proimise by Linwood Barclay

Johnny’s Rating: 5/5

Johnny’s Review: Widowed reporter David Harwood returns from his job with the Boston Globe to his home town of Promise Falls. The object of the exercise is to spend more time with his nine year old son, be near his family and take up his old job as a reporter on the local newspaper. Needless to say things start to go wrong almost immediately. Murders, a stolen baby and assorted sub plots make for an absolutely superb thriller.

Written like a cross between Raymond Chandler and Harlan Coben this is a book not to be missed.  Aa a story of small town America and the dysfunctional families within it this is outstanding, but it's real merit is the story. Very imaginative plotting, razor sharp dialogue and some cracking one liners make it compulsive reading. A suitably world weary hero, a well-drawn cast of baddies and losers and an ending that doesn't try to tie up every loose end make this an outstanding read. To top it all a last page hammer blow that I didn't see coming. The best I've read for a long time. I know, me, five stars, but trust me, it's worth it. Any criticism? Only that an author this good is really called Linwood Barclay, surely a nom de plume!

The Treacherous Net by Helene Tursten

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: Enjoyable slice of Swedish noir, featuring detectives hunting for a serial killer and a couple of "New Tricks" style oldies trying to connect the murder of a father and son committed decades apart.

Well plotted with believable characters and vivid descriptions of Goteberg and its surrounding countryside which, in all honesty, doesn't seem the most attractive of places. The basic premise of a murderer grooming victims on line is entirely plausible and well realised. The case investigated by the old codgers is also interesting and has a quite cleverly constructed resolution. .Although it does seem to be somewhat "tacked on" to the central narrative it does make a nice counterpoint to the main case.

This is a good book and it seems that there is an insatiable demand for these downbeat, rather grim Scandinavian stories. If that is a genre you enjoy then this opus ticks all the requisite boxes.

The Offering by Desiree Bombenon

Johnny’s Rating: 1/5

Johnny’s Review: Oh dear, regarding this offering I'm sorry to say that there is very little I can say that could be interpreted as positive. The plot about a kidnapping in Hawaii is perfunctory in the extreme and has more holes than a colander.

The husband and wife team who set out to rescue the kidnapped family are mega rich philanthropists who help out when the police aren't making progress. Apart from being fabulously rich they are brilliant at everything and, of course, indestructible. Inevitably they swim rivers, climb mountains, fly helicopters and see off the baddies whilst suffering no life threatening injuries. Think a 21st century version of Hart to Hart and you will have the correct degree of banality. The denouement was clumsy and sufficiently ludicrous as to make no sense. Sorry to be unkind but, were it not for the fact that I was to review it, I would not have bothered reading to the end.

Death of The Blue Flower by Roxann Hill

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: Interesting murder mystery set in northern Germany. The mystery concerns diamonds stolen in Nazi Germany during World War Two and the murder is of a very old lady in a modern day sanatorium who might hold the key to the current whereabouts of the gems.

The main protagonists are unusual and interesting. Representing the goodies is an African/American female (with a past) working at the clinic and a policeman concluding a course of chemotherapy at the same institution. Ranged against them are big business interests who don't want old Nazi stories being raked over and a trio of three bizarre psychopaths hired as a hit squad by said businesses. The settings are unusual and interesting in northern German cities and a Hallig, evidently one of a number of small islands in the North Sea off the northern coast of Germany. The locations are well realised and the action rattles along at a good pace. Thank goodness the dynamic duo on the side of good are well described and don't fit into the usual indestructible mode, whilst the hit squad are vile characters with no redeeming features and therefore more interesting than the usual villains. A good book, and though I guessed the real villain well in advance of the denouement, this did not really detract from my overall enjoyment. Sufficiently different to be well worth a recommendation.

Devoted In Death by J D Robb

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: Gripping, but not particularly original thriller, centring on the exploits of a Bonnie and Clyde type couple who go on a murderous spree as they progress from the Deep South to New York. The main emphasis thereafter is on the hunt for them by lead cop Eve Dallas and her team of detectives. For some reason the book is set in the mid 21st. century, which allows for more techie gadgets but really adds little to the story. On the plus side this is well written with plenty of good cop-speak some realistic dialogue and plenty of tension generated as time runs out for the cops and, more importantly, the latest victims being held by the killers.  Overall the author has done a good job with what, in effect, is a very slight story, so well worth a read.

Are you Watching Me by Sinead Crowley

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: After a somewhat funereal start this turned into a well written thriller. The two female leads are well written but both suffer from the problem of being unremittingly dreary with their on-going personal problems. The thriller element of the story is believable and the conclusion is deftly handled. Perhaps the only criticism being the amount of exposition by one of the protagonists at the end to explain the various convolutions in the plot. It reminded me of Poirot explaining to the dim witted Captain Hastings how he had solved the case. That aside, a good, professionally handled thriller. Well worth a read.

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