Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review: THE NIGHT I DIED by Max Allan Collins

Publisher Titan Comics
Length 112 pages
Format Trade
Published 2018
Series Mike Hammer (#1-4)
My Copy I bought it

My Review

"She was a beautiful blonde and she was in trouble. Usually, that's all I need to know. When your name is Mike Hammer, certain things are expected of you."

Tricked into meeting a client in the proverbial lions den of mafia land, Mike Hammer's long overdue return to the graphic novel medium sees the perennial private eye come face to face with death - the long one. 

Whilst Hammer has been portrayed in comics and newspaper strips previously, the Titan Comics / Hard Case Crime collaboration freshens up the hard man for the modern day audience and the results are largely positive.

In trademark Hammer fashion, the PI falls for a damsel in distress (in this case, Helen Venn), while his secretary with extras, Vera, becomes embedded in the story both as a victim and heroine. The linear nature of the story makes for an easy and entertaining read.  

The trade paperback collection also features two short stories entitled Trouble... Come And Get It, and Killer's Turn which, whilst not featuring Mike Hammer, are a nice addition for long time Spillane readers. 

My rating: 4/5 stars. Not as hard edged as some of the prose novels yet still captures that tried and true Mike Hammer feel. I hope we see more of the perennial PI in this medium. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Pick of the Month [November 2018]

I read 12 books in November to take my 2018 tally to a whopping 159. Of those, I rated 5, 5 stars which is a pretty decent strike-rate with the best of a very good bunch being Vengeful by V.E. Schwab, the action packed superhero showdown sequel to 2013's Vicious. 

Read the review of Vengeful (published 2018 by Titan Books) here

I also read Vicious this month which, no surprises gets the 5 star treatment too. Read the review on Goodreads here. 

Jason Starr and Joe Ide's new books also got my tick of approval with both of Wrecked (the third book in the awesome IQ series) and Fugitive Red (a creepy standalone crime novel) being my top crime reads for the month, check out the reviews below:

Fugitive Red by Jason Starr (Oceanview)

Wrecked by Joe Ide (Orion Publishing)

My other 5 star read was the new graphic novel by Mirka Andolfo, Unnatural, published by Image Comics which collects the first 4 issues of the fantasy series. This was such a great read and could end up being one of my favorite graphic novels for 2018. 

Other highlights, in no particular order, include:

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings - the inspiration for the TV series Killing Eve

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly - the second Rene Ballard book, this time featuring a heavy Bosch influence

The Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly - the latest globetrotting Jest West Jr. adventure thriller

Monday, December 3, 2018

Review: THE THREE SECRET CITIES by Matthew Reilly

Publisher MacMillan Australia
Length 464 pages
Format hardback
Published 2018
Series Jack West Jr. #5
My Copy I bought it

My Review

Despite the hefty page count, Matthew Reilly's books are super quick reads loaded with pure adrenaline - and the latest installment in the Jack West Jr. series is no different. 

Whereas the previous book, The Four Legendary Kingdoms focused primarily on a single location, Hades, The Three Secret Cities marks a return to West's globetrotting adventures as he and his loyal friends attempt to save the world once more from certain doom. 

By completing a complex set of ancient puzzles across multiple continents, the returning adventure-based action theme prominent in previous books proves to be a winner yet again. 

My rating: 4/5, sure some of the action sequences felt a little repetitive at times and Jack West Jr. seems to have superhuman healing and fighting abilities but that's part of the fun with these books. They're well researched and loaded with manic action to provide a great form of escapism. I can't wait for The Two something something

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Review: VENGEFUL BY V.E. Schwab

Publisher Titan
Length 575 pages
Format paperback
Published 2018
Series Villains #2
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review

Eli Ever has the power to regenerate; he doesn't die and he doesn't age. Victor Vale has the power to hurt, to turn people into living puppets he can bend to his will - at least physically. The two resume hostilities in an wholly entertaining and enthralling story.

Vengeful picks up where Viscous left off, so if you've not read that book, you'll be a little lost here. 

Continuing to build upon the superhero mythos introduced in the previous installment, Vengeful expands on the extra-ordinary characters (EO's) to give the book an added layer of depth. One character in particular, June, a shape-shifter, is perhaps one of the best characters in the book. I love the way V.E. Schwab is able to introduce a new character while also providing significant backstory that doesn't detract from the core plot. 

Spanning multiple timelines yet maintaining a cohesive narrative, Vengeful is well plotted and wholly addictive. I hope we see a lot more books set in this interesting and diverse fictional landscape, V.E. Schwab has so deftly crafted. 

My rating: 5/5 stars

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Review: UNNATURAL by Mirka Andolfo

Publisher Image
Length 112 pages
Format trade
Published 2018
Series Unnatural (#1-4)
My Copy I bought it

My Review

Unnatural echoes sentiments of Black Mirror with elements of real-world totalitarian plausibility exemplified through birth and mating control, as well as overtaxing those few who dare to be different, stretching the populace into poverty. 

While this all consuming and thought provoking story draws comparison to current day events and spotlights the strength of diversity, it's a fun and wholly entertaining light erotica with fantastical elements which steadily build each chapter into an epic crescendo of violence and the other-worldly. 

The protagonist, Leslie Blair, is a pig girl, who dreams of a wolf-man lover; something forbidden in this animalistic world where its citizens are made to procreate with 'their kind', if not on their own accord, then at the hands of a Government controlled match-making service called Real Love, a subsidiary of the Reproduction Program Office. 

Unsure as to why she's constantly at the mercy of these 'unnatural' dreams, Leslie confines in her roommate, Trish for support, seeking method to the madness.

What follows neither of the young women sees coming - and certainty not this reader.

My rating: 5/5 stars. Unnatural is a great read complimented by some stunning art. Over the course of the 4-issue volume, the graphic novel establishes a new world, concept, characters, and a heartbreaking backstory while setting up the next installment. I can't wait to read volume 2.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Review: DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly

Publisher Orion Publishing Group Limited
Length 10hrs 39mins
Format audiobook

Titus Welliver, Christine Lakin
Published 2018
Series Harry Bosch #21 / Renee Ballard #2)
My Copy I bought it

My Review

More Bosch than Ballard, Dark Sacred Night teams up Michael Connelly's longtime protagonist with his latest to create a well balanced and entertaining police procedural bathed in the darkness of LA's nighttime underworld.

Bosch has a case which haunts him; the murder of an underage prostitute he's never been able to solve. The case eats away at him. Every day he's reminded of his failure, in part due to the dead prostitutes mother who shares his personal residence - their relationship purely platonic.

Ballard, perennial member of the 'late show' aka the night shift in LA's police department, catches cases only to throw them to other detectives when the sun comes up. There's a decent smattering of small time cases for her wade through in Dark Sacred Night but it's when her world and Bosch's collide, do things get really interesting. 

I enjoyed Dark Sacred Night. Personally, I was hoping for some more Ballard-based books; the character does well to hold her own without the need for a heavy hitter to push the book into 'best-selling territory' but Connolly makes the duo work; their chemistry is natural and the multi-POV methodology fits seamless into the narrative (this made more apparent with the changing narrators in the audio version).

My rating: 4/5 stars. Dark Sacred Night has a decent plot at its core complimented by enjoyable supplementary cases the two protagonists find themselves entangled. Bonus points for reading perfectly well as a standalone in its own right. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Review: WRECKED by Joe Ide

Publisher Orion Publishing Group Limited
Length 10hrs 52mins
Format audiobook

Narrator Sullivan JonesPublished 2018
Series IQ #3
My Copy I bought it

My Review

Isaiah Quintabe (aka IQ) can be likened to a modern day Sherlock Holmes, such is his superior intellect and heightened powers of deduction which are comparable to the renowned PI of early crime fiction. While his sidekick, Dodson isn't quite Sherlock's Watson, he's a great character and a perfect fit for IQ; both in his ability to help (and at times hinder) an investigation while also providing a humorous outlet for the often dire situations the duo find themselves in. 

In Wrecked, the third IQ novel, author Joe Ide dumb downs IQ a little which casts the urban sleuth in a new light; showcasing his insecurities and vulnerabilities, which ultimately transforms the character into something more real-world. His struggles and failures are gains for the reader and the supporting cast who pay a more pivotal role in the plot (this being Dodson, Gloria, and the bad guys). 

Wrecked reads perfectly well as standalone but is much better with the added context of the previous novels in IQ and Righteous.  

My rating: 5/5 stars. This series continues to grow from strength to strength. Highly recommended.