Guest Reviewer Johnny's Book Round up for September and October 2015

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Guest reviewer Johnny is back with a round up from September and October 2015.


The Blissfully Dead by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: This book is a bit of a curate’s egg, good in parts. The basic premise is the murder of girl fans of the latest boy band sensation and the subsequent police investigation. On the plus side there is decent plotting, some snappy dialogue and an exhaustive knowledge of social media platforms used by teenage girls. The hero is the usual good looking, tough but vulnerable copper- D.I. Lennon. His colleague, and rival, is the unlikely named D.I. Winkler and this is where the problems start. Whilst our hero is being, well heroic, in his pursuit of the killer the Winkler character, besides having a stupid name, is portrayed as a vain, ambitious and with the intellectual capacity of an ant, who inadvertently hinders the investigation at every stage. How anybody like that can rise to the rank of Detective Inspector seems very unlikely. This is a pity as some of the supporting characters are well drawn and believable, which makes the pantomime villain copper so jarring. My only other problem is that the book is by two authors and sometimes that is apparent as the styles may be complementary, but they are noticeably different. In conclusion a decent police procedural that is worth reading, but could, with a few tweaks, could have been very, very good.

Someone Out There by Catherine Hunt

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: As a psychological thriller this is a more than passable debut novel..

Good plotline and well written although I must admit I did not find the main character particularly sympathetic. That may have been the intention of the author, in which case. I would have given book four stars rather than three!

No real criticism to be made although some of the minor characters were a little under developed and the "someone" who was out there wasn't that difficult to detect.

In truth these are insignificant quibbles in a very promising first effort, so well worth trying.

Montmarte Mysteries by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balan

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: Latest in the series featuring wine expert Benjamin Cooker and his assistant, Virgile. .As per usual this is more about food and drink than the solving of crime. The description of viniculture in Paris is interesting as is the detour into the world of truffle selling. As regards the crime element, the plotting is even more perfunctory than usual but that is almost irrelevant, these books are really about the French way of life and the authors capture that with panache.

White Leopard by Laurent Gullaume

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: Relentlessly violent thriller with an intriguing central premise. A disgraced French cop goes to Mali to escape from past indiscretions and sets up as a private investigator, Interesting as its a part of the world, formerly I think as part of French Sudan, that few will be familiar with but with definite Gallic influences.. The story revolves around cocaine smuggling and the interaction between our hero and the African/French authorities and criminals. My man reaction was that this is quite well done but for the astonishing indestructibility of the hero. .He  is shot,  stabbed and, at one point, virtually disembowelled, but still comes back for more. Coupled with a remarkable number of last second escapes from death this tends to strain credulity to breaking point. That said the anti-hero is interesting and the background in Africa sufficiently different to merit giving this a try.

The Survivor by Vince Flynn

Johnny’s Rating: 4/5

Johnny’s Review: Well written, thoroughly professional and exciting thriller revolving around CIA exploits against Pakistan Intelligence led attempted coup .Detailed and knowledgeable analysis of Pakistan, Middle East and American politics, combined with a complete grasp of CIA strategy and tactics make for a really impressive read.  Not really any minuses to speak of, the hero is suitably indestructible and the Pakistan Intelligence community are hissable villainy personified. The action rattles along at a cracking pace that never diminishes to make for an engrossing thriller. Highly recommended.

The Darkest Day by Tom Wood

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: Plenty of bone-crunching ( and bone-headed) action in this relentlessly violent thriller. Lots and lots of action with occasional dashes of plot thrown in as an afterthought. The non-stop nature of constant violence revolves around two competing assassins ( don't ask) who end up in New York when the entire city suffers a complete blackout, Trust me, there's no point in trying to explain the plot, suffice it to say that our two protagonists massacre anybody who gets in their way.

While the lack of cohesive plot is a minus, a definite plus is the sheer pace of the action and the comprehensive catalogue of methods of killing people. My advice would be to suspend your critical faculties and your credulity and enjoy this book for what it is - a thriller that proceeds at breakneck speed from start to finish.

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