Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: THE CHIMERA VECTOR by Nathan Farrugia

THE CHIMERA VECTOR is an intense, high octane tech-fi action thriller that blends Crichton, Clancy and Reilly to create a no holds barred worldwide futuristic look at plain sight gorilla warfare. Fusing together military science with precise and deeply plotted covert ops, THE CHIMERA VECTOR reads as one long action sequence balanced by well defined characters in Sophia, Jay, Damien, and Denton. Each with questionable origins and equally as questionable allegiances and agendas.

The Chimera Vector by Nathan M. FarrugiaThe fifth column is a secret agency shaping the world to its image. Creating terror when none exists and selling lies to the Government for a selfish cause. The general populace would shutter and rebel should the maniacal method be whispered on the wind.  THE CHIMERA VECTOR explores the notion of multiple types of humans coexisting with one having the potential to rule by fear and an iron fist, the other – a select and secretive group of reprogrammed agents trying to stop them.

The nod towards Crichton is apparent yet this is Farrugia’s own world with his own unique cast of characters and spin on the tech-fi sub genre. Each scientific revelation leads humanity down a path towards robotic instinct and action yet this futuristic look at a soulless weapon of flesh and blood seems entirely plausible, further exemplifying the dire and urgent nature of the ‘good guys’ to control this threat.

THE CHIMERA VECTOR is one of the few books in this genre that has left a lasting impression equal in plot and characters – the balance is maintained to perfection throughout. I’m interested to see where this cast and the far reaching plot spans in the follow-up THE SERAPHIM SEQUENCE.

View the author website here:


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review: TRUE CRIME by Max Allan Collins

True CrimeThe Nate Heller novels explore the seedy underworld of organised crime blending fact and fiction to create an irresistible tale that appeals to true crime buffs and noir enthusiasts alike. In TRUE CRIME, author Max Allan Collins pits his former cop turned solo PI against public enemies John Dillinger and the Barker gang among others. I love the way Max Allan Collins subtly introduces Dillinger by way of a man wanting to keep tabs on his promiscuous wife. Dillinger, having undergone plastic surgery isn’t instantly recognisable to Heller, the deception sets forth a chain of events that leads Heller from the Windy City to the deadly spaces of rural farm life.

In order to fully appreciate TRUE CRIME, a recommended read is PUBLIC ENEMIES – the non fiction counterpart which chronicles the events of the real world gangsters. Nate Heller, the fictitious PI is beautifully intertwined into this violent and realistic underworld. From shootouts, kidnapping, unethical mob docs, and corrupt cops – Heller takes is all in stride, never batting an eyelid in the face of danger and death.

There is a lot to like about TRUE CRIME and I found myself utterly immersed, not only in the multi faceted yet intertwined plot thread but in Heller’s personal life. Sally Rand, a performer and love interest keeps Heller grounded yet his devotion to justice continues to compromise any longer term plans – that and being an accessory to murder. The depth to Heller keeps the story grounded and maintains the illusion of reality. This isn’t a blood thirsty mob story; it’s more a journey of discovery and a snippet of Heller in his quest to better the world around him.

In a word: brilliant, well worth 5 stars.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: THE ADJUSTMENT by Scott Phillips

The AdjustmentReminds me a lot of the sleazy pulps by Orrie Hitt and to a lesser extent Lawrence Block (written under his many aliases) by which the central character is adulterous and without morals. Lust drives his desire for womanly conquest despite having an attractive pregnant wife at home. True, there aren’t many redeeming qualities to Wayne Ogden, a war vet of sorts who dealt in prostitutes and goods prior to taking up a job at Collins Aircraft as the boss’ bodyguard nee babysitter, but that’s the point – Ogden isn’t meant to be liked.

The story heats up nicely when Ogden learns of a plot to remove him from Collins Aircraft rendering him jobless. In a desperate bid to stop this from happening he uses blackmail to damaging effect which not only lands in him hot water by the company, but has the law sniffing around crying bloody murder.

THE ADJUSTMENT is an interesting novel. It’s part pulp, part noir, part exploitation yet easily readable with enough anticipation coming through to balance out the slow building story. I would recommend this for fans of noir and the sleaze pulps by Orrie Hitt.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: LIVE BY NIGHT by Dennis Lehane

I love prohibition era gangster stories – LIVE BY NIGHT is perhaps one of the best there is. The main character Joe Coughlin, a self proclaimed outlaw brings a refined sense of thugernomics to Tampa’s Latin Quarter. As much as Joe’s prerogative is to make cash in the rum trade, it’s his drive at the hands of a broken heart that gives him is fire and determination on the path to damnation.

Live by NightLIVE BY NIGHT is a deeply character driven story. Joe, a son of a prominent Boston police officer turns his back on the lawful life and teams with a couple of young thugs for petty stick-ups and minor offenses. The path towards being one of the most feared and respected gangsters forms when three police officers are gunned down following a robbery. Joe does hard time where he meets an old gangster who changes his life for ever.

Upon release Joe is given a head post in the organisation where he quickly assumes the mantle of top Don by show of force and smarts. However, the semi peaceful existence soon comes crashing down in a hail of bullets splattering the pavements a sticky red and causing Joe to own his reputation and embrace the violent lifestyle of a gangster.

There are so many positives to this book. As a fan of the period and genre, it ticks all the boxes.

Review: THE BIG O by Delcan Burke

The Big ODrawing upon dark humour and clever use of coincidence, Declan Burke’s THE BIG O is a kidnap caper that’s violently funny and is written in a manner eerily reminiscent of Elmore Leonard. The kidnapper, Ray, doubles as a painter; an occupation he readily uses to scope his targets. Wanting to retire from the business, Ray takes on one last job to snatch the wife of a doctor for the purpose of netting some insurance cash. Along the way Ray becomes involved with the doctors receptionist and later discovers the target and Karen (receptionist) know one another, having formed a common bond in despising the no-so-good doctor.

Karen is the strongest character here; it’s her past that catches up to Ray and throws the scheme off balance when a former boyfriend is released from prison. Demanding a stash of cash, gun, and bike – all of which Karen is unable to return proves to be the catalyst for a train wreck of unfortunate events that turn a simple snatch and grab into a deadly showdown.

I really liked Burke’s easy flowing narrative and inventive characters. While coincidence upon coincidence has a tendency to become unbelievable and disinteresting, in THE BIG O it actually works. Each scenario is plausible (if you suspend your belief a tad) and down right funny. The light hearted nature to the serious scheme complements these characters perfectly. I liken the overall style to a cross between Elmore Leonard, Victor Gischler (SHOTGUN OPERA-Gishler), and Carl Hiaasen. Dubbed a screwball noir – the subgenre couldn’t be more apt.
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