Friday, September 27, 2019

Pick Up A Pulp [52]: SNATCHED and SAFEKEEPING by Gregory McDonlad

Published in 2017 by Hard Case Crime as a two-for-one, Snatched (originally published as Who Took Tony Rinaldi) and Safekeeping are kidnap capers with interesting and well developed characters who find themselves in compromising and unpleasant situation. 

Form the synopsis, Snatched reads like a thriller laden with politics, lies, and deceit and whist there are lies and deceit aplenty the political angle was played down to the extend it was more background noise than prominent plot piece which allowed for the kidnap and events proceeding it to take center stage.  

8yr old Tony Rinaldi, son of a prominent political figure is kidnapped by criminals who can only be described as blundering and semi-professional insofar as their plans are complicated by the comedic nature of their enterprise and penchant for self destructive behavior. It's like the blind leading the blind with no braille; this makes for some light heartened moments in what could've been a dark slice of crime fiction. 

The short punchy chapters didn't skimp on detail and progressed the story at just the right pace, all the way through to the entertaining (though a tad drawn out) cat and mouse finale. 

Safekeeping unfortunately didn't live up to expectations and was very nearly a DNF. I'm not sure the premise worked; a heady mix of satire and comedy blended with heartache, death, and a homeless orphan. It's a confusing concoction that doesn't mix. 

8yr old Robby is pulled from his sleeping quarters at the boarding school he attends in England to hear his family has been killed following the bombing of their house; innocent victims of WWII. He's promptly shipped off to America to live with his 'uncle'; a man who turns out to be of no relation (nor has he a single parental bone in his body), a journalist, and well known in criminal circles. This 'uncle' irresponsibly sends Robby off on his own to find a school in New York because all young children 'know where to find a school'. Robby is kidnapped shortly after getting lost and the story just goes downhill from there. 

If you're reading this two-for-one, I strongly suggest putting the book down after Snatched, Safekeeping just isn't worth it. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review: THE WAREHOUSE by Rob Hart

Publisher Bantam (Penguin Random House Australia)
Length 358 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review

In a scarily plausible near future, brick and mortar stores have crumbled to the overwhelming weight of online shopping, with Cloud (a fictionalised futuristic take on today’s Amazon) catering to every conceivable consumer need. Productivity and efficiency are crucial to keeping costs down and profits high; as means to maximise the output of the workforce, each employee of Cloud lives onsite and takes Cloud owned transport to their designated ‘section’ (packaging, food prep, security, tech etc.) where they work 7 days a week undertaking highly repetitive tasks.

Each employee has a star rating, has their movements tracked, and output measured; it’s a police state with a semi-voluntary slant; employees actually want to work at Cloud. The reason? Cities are overpopulated, jobs are scarce, and much of the plant seems uninhabitable. However, two characters (and recent Cloud recruits), Paxton and Zinnia arrive at a Cloud ‘city’ with ulterior motives; revenge, and destruction.

The Warehouse is an addictive and all-consuming read which transports the reader to a future world not too far removed from what we already know. Big brother doesn’t watch, he tracks and monitors – everything from health, task assignment, to toilet breaks; its creepy and claustrophobic. 

There’s an omnipresent threat element hanging over Cloud which builds as the story progresses with both Paxton and Zinnia key cogs in the machine. Not only are the characters and setting well written, so too are the more mysterious plot devices. I know the term ‘page-turner’ is overused but it’s warranted here.

My rating: 5/5 stars. Highly recommend.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Review: THE EDGE by Tim Lebbon

Publisher Titan
Length 333 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series Relics #3
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review
The third book in the Relics trilogy provides a satisfying conclusion to the Ascent story-line while leaving the Fold ajar for future stories. 

The Edge follows a slightly different path to the previous books (Relics, The Folded Land) in that it focuses on two locations for the vast majority of the story; the Fold (the mysterious land of the kin controlled by the murderous and mad fairy, Grace) and a long dead town of Longford, recently revealed to the world following the receding of longtime flood waters (the place of a grisly mass murder and cover-up some 40 years ago of its inhabitants, both human and kin). 

It's within this muddy graveyard of death and despair that creatures return to the fold (nice play on words there eh?), existing where they should never draw breath. Their minds maddened, their hunger intense. It's the perfect platform for horror fiction further exemplified by the just-as-scary element of mythological creatures walking the face of the earth. For Bone, the lone survivor of the decades old tragedy, returning to Longford sees his dreams and nightmares converge, caught up in a cataclysmic battle of good verses evil.

I'm a big fan of the Relics books and ate this one up like Grace sampling her kin for sport. The mythology and expanse of creatures grows, the characters become more invested, and the stories more shockingly brutal. Fingers crossed we've not seen the last the the kin.    

My rating: 5/5 stars. 

Visit Tim Lebbon's website HERE for more info about the author and some of his other equally entertaining books (like The Silence for instance). 

Visit the publisher website, Titan Books, HERE for more info about this series and other cool books. 
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