Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: THE EXTREMIST by Nadia Dalbuono

Publisher Scribe
Length 301 pages
Format softcover 
Published 2018
Series Leone Scamarcio #4
My Copy provided by the publisher


More thriller than police procedural and with a different 'feel' than the preceding books in the series, the fourth book to feature Flying Squad Detective Leone Scamarcio is a race-against-the-clock shot of adrenaline which brings terror to the Detectives front door.


When three locations across Rome are simultaneously targeted by terrorists, the police seem to have their hands tied, that is, until one of the extremists requests Scamarcio in person. 

Thrown into the proverbial lions den, Scamarcio is brought face to face with an unusual extremist, one with an odd demand that only Scamarcio fulfill.

The Extremist makes for entertaining and high octane reading as Scamarcio at once becomes the hunter and hunted. Known for blurring the lines between law and lawlessness, Scamarcio once again relies on his underworld connections as much, if not, more than those on the thin blue line of justice alongside him.    

The book flows freely and introduces an interesting new character who is sure to have an impact in future installments. Much like the other books in the series, The Extremist is new-reader friendly but series readers will enjoy the continuity.     

You can read my review of the previous book, The Hit by clicking the link below

Review: THE HIT by Nadia Dalbuono


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Review: PUNISHMENT by Scott J. Holliday

Publisher Thomas & Mercer
Length 235 pages
Format ebook 
Published 2018
Series Detective Barnes #1
My Copy provided by the publisher


Punishment introduces a cool concept into the dark world of crime fiction; a machine which enables law enforcement to temporarily transpose the dying memories of murder victims into their own corpus of memories. The criminals in the fictional (future?) world have acclimatized to this new wave of policing and now wear masks to hide their identity, which means good old fashioned policing is still paramount to catching a killer. 

In Punishment, a killer is terrorizing the populace and taunting the police by brutally murdering unsuspecting and seemingly random victims with a pick axe and leaving cryptic clues at the murder scene for the likes of Detective Barnes and his partner Franklin to decipher.

This is an inventive book which not only introduces some cool tech into the crime fictional realm but also provides the real world implications of such technology on the open market; b-grade celebs selling memories, prostitutes selling weird and wonderful experiences at a price, and addicts known as munkey's who can't get enough. And the perhaps the best part of the 'machine', the ghost memories which live on in those who experience the transference. 

The criminal element itself is pretty straight forward serial killer and the protagonist conforms to the tried and true genre troupes, however, these are both a positive and complimentary to the complexities introduced by the technology. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. This is a great start to a new series featuring a troubled Detective who himself looks like being on the brink of sanity - I mean, how long can someone function with a bunch of murdered peoples dying memories? One of the top new books of 2018. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: DONKEY PUNCH by Ray Banks

Publisher Polygon
Length 248 pages
Format softcover
Published 2007
Series Cal Innes #2
My Copy I bought it


Donkey Punch is a vastly different read to the first Cal Innes book, Saturday’s Child. In Donkey Punch, Ex con, Innes finds himself in LA playing the chaperone to an up and coming boxer, Liam, who is participating in an amateur boxing competition. The competition is meant to be the first step in a lengthy career for Liam, himself, a reformed adolescent criminal. However, trouble soon finds Innes and before long it’s Innes throwing the punches outside of the ring and not Liam within.  

Boxing fans who enjoy crime fiction will get a kick out of Donkey Punch. There’s little in this book that resembles the private eye angle of Saturday’s Child, with Innes a glorified babysitter. That said, Innes is very much the hard-man of the preceding novel.

Two of the more prominent characters from the preceding novel Mo and Paulo return but play smaller parts. This book is all about boxing and keeping Liam in check – something Innes struggles to do (in favor of getting blind drunk and befriending strangers in bars).

Despite being the second Cal Innes book, Donkey Punch reads perfectly well as a standalone.

My rating: 3/5 stars, I think I would’ve rated this higher had I been a boxing fan.  

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: THE LIAR by Steve Cavanagh

Publisher Orion
Length 327 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series Eddie Flynn #3
My Copy provided by the publisher 


When the daughter of a prominent businessman who runs a successful security firm goes missing, the only person who can be called upon to assist in facilitating the transaction of a hefty ransom is Eddie Flynn. 


Leonard Howell, the father, trusts few, it's his former life on the opposite side of the law which draws him to Flynn, the one time criminal/hardman turned lawyer. 

Nothing about the ransom drop is normal. For one, there's two drops scheduled simultaneously, secondly, the FBI have no knowledge of the drop Howell is making. Additionally, there's something 'off' with the agents at Howell's house; a tension without cause. 

From the moment Flynn climbs into  Howell's waiting car in the middle of the night he's involved in a proverbial spider's web of lies, deceit, mistrust and murder. 

Flynn is the modern day Perry Mason (created by Erle Stanley Gardner), a lawyer who isn't afraid to travel down that pitch black alley if it means he can scrap together evidence to secure his clients' freedom. 

More grit than Grisham, Steve Cavanagh, once again blurs the lines between courtroom thriller and crime fiction to write an entertaining and enjoyable story that captivates the readers attention from start to finish.  

My rating: 4/5 stars. I'm really enjoying this series and will have to pick up the latest Flynn thriller, Thirteen soon. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: FIFTY FIFTY by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Publisher Pengiun Random House
Length 382 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series Harriet Blue #2
My Copy I bought it 



Sydney Vice Detective Harriet Blue once again finds herself on the outskirts of civilisation after assaulting the lawyer who is prosecuting the murder/kidnapping case against her brother Sam. Banished to the small community in regional NSW of Last Chance Valley she’s thrust into a violent case which threatens to cripple the 75-strong population.

There’s a terror plot, gold digging schemes, isolation driven paranoia and a group think which leads to all manner of drama for Blue, who, while dealing with her own inner demons from a fractured childhood, also contends with the deadly Australian desert.

Despite being the second (3rd if you include the bookshot) book in the Harriet Blue series, it reads perfectly well as a standalone. A great thing about this book is that there is always something happening – be it Harriet’s case or the case against her brother.       


My rating: 5/5 stars, better than Never Never which was also a very good read set in a mining town in the West Australian outback. I can’t wait to read the next installment. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner

Publisher Dutton
Length 378 pages
Format hardcover
Published 2017
Series Unsub #1
My Copy borrowed from the library 


An unknown suspect has terrorized two generations with highly publicized displays of violence and an unabashed regard for human life. The rein of bloodletting first began in the 1990’s with law enforcement, in particular Detective Max Hendrix, unable to make headway into the spate of brutal killings. Now, his daughter, Caitlin, also a police officer in the present day setting, relives the nightmare in real-time which ultimately cost her father his family and job as the killer with the moniker ‘The Prophet’ makes a menacing return to the macabre.

Part cat-and-mouse, part police procedural, all high octane thrills, Unsub is popular fiction written to entertain while inducing fits of paranoia for those bumps in the night. This isn’t a book for the squeamish as author Meg Gardiner manages to incorporate many inventive ways of killing off characters.   

Like most books of this nature, there’s a personal element to the case and here it’s the Hendrix family. I liked the generational crime linkage and thought the present day and past criminal elements blended together seamlessly. Max is a complex character, though while not at the coalface of the present day investigation, he’s very much a large player in the broader plot. His daughter works in a complementary fashion to Max; she’s the investigator full of vigor and drive, Max is essentially a washed up ‘has-been’ - on the surface that is, the almost ying/yang effect works very well.

My rating: 4/5, this is the start of what promises to be a very entertaining thriller/crime series. I look forward to reading more of Caitlin’s cases, especially if the crime contains as much cryptic clues and mystery surrounding the antagonist as this one. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: CLEAR TO THE HORIZON by Dave Warner

Publisher Fremantle Press
Length 378 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series standalone (features characters from other books)
My Copy provided by the publisher

When you're touched by evil, it leaves deep within you a trace like some dormant virus waiting to be reactivated into full-blown dead. 

In 1999 and 2000, three young women go missing on separate occasions, last seen leaving a nightclub in the Perth suburb of Claremont. With the police not making any headway in the investigations, one of the families contacts renowned private investigator Snowy Lane for help. 

Clear to the Horizon is distinctly Australian, loaded with local colloquialisms and locales. The outback features prominently bringing the dusty and dangerous isolation that comes with it into the urban landscape in which the elusive kidnapper terrorizes young women.

This book reads as a tale of two stories; the earlier one centered around the missing women and Snowy Lane's case, with the second featuring a mining mogul's missing daughter in which Snowy is also brought in to investigate, this one is set some 17 years later. Both cases collide in great fashion as the lengthy cat and mouse hunt comes full circle. 

I really enjoyed Clear to the Horizon; the Aussie feel is great, the colorful language, similes and sense of mateship between PI and police force are a joy to read. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. Whilst Clear to the Horizon features characters from previously books written by Dave Warner, this one reads perfectly well as a standalone, though I am keen to check out City of Light, the preceding book featuring Snowy Lane.   

Friday, February 2, 2018

Pick of the Month [January 2018]

I read 18 books in January in what was a great start to the new year. Highlights included a couple of new crime fiction releases by A.J. Finn (The Woman in the Window) and Craig Robertson (The Photographer), a re-read of an old favorite by James Sallis (The Long-Legged Fly) and a couple of pulps by Carter Brown and James Hadley Chase (more on those below). 

However, the pick of the month (and my semi-theme of the month) was It by Stephen King, this, among other books firmly rooted in that nightmare-inducing genre were a lot of fun to read, Relics by Tim Lebbon was also a top January read. 

Each month I'm discovering new authors and new books to read. Andy Raush is a great example of taking a chance on a new author. His collection of 3 Elmore Leonard-like crime novellas in the collection Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties was easily a 5 star read. Additionally, Marshall Karp's collab with James Patterson in Kill Me If You Can was high octane thrills in typical Patterson punchy chapters - I thought the audio edition was great. 

Here are the notables: 

Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties by Andy Rauch - a collection of 3 blood-soaked crime novellas

The Girl From Outer Space by Carter Brown - a fun pulp featuring Hollywood Private Eye Rick Holman

The Soft Centre by James Hadley Chase - a timeless crime mystery, published in the 1960's which still reads well among today's modern crime mysteries.