I have written quite a few reviews of Gerritsen’s novels, especially the Rizzoli & Isles series. I like Gerritsen’s simple writing style and excellent plots. I particularly liked this one, The Mephisto Club, which is the one in which Isles’ parents split up. The story revolves around satanist cults and the search for fallen angels, the infamous Nephilins. This is a good story and I read it in a flash. Probably one of the best Gerritsen crime novels I have read.
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I recently reviewed The Devil of Nanking, by Mo Hayder, which I loved. Gone is a bit different, it is part of a series featuring Jack Caffery, a murder detective; however it is great as a standalone book as well. I really liked it. Hayder is a great writer of thrillers. She keeps you on edge all the way, and you honestly don’t know who’s done it until the very end. Her books are scary. In Gone, a car is stolen with a girl sitting in the back. What initially looks like a car jacking turns out to be a kidnap… and this won’t be the last one. As we witness another car jack and another kidnap, our hearts keep sinking. To be honest, it’s hard to read the book without flinching. I liked the plot, it’s clever, and it is a great page turner. What also makes it special is the back stories of the different characters, which are interwoven with the main plot. Unlike with some other crime novels, these back stories all sound true and fascinating – none of the characters is either black or white, and I liked that. Another interesting point is that in spite of Jack Caffery being the lead protagonist, he does not solve the riddle all by himself, there is a real team behind, and Jack is more like a music director. The victims also play a big role in the story, and I found that great. As for Hayder’s writing, it’s precise, evocative, and exactly what is needed for the story. It’s truly good writing. If you’re after a great thriller to keep you on your toes, this is the one!
My blogging friend Niki-Ann has written a great review of Gone as well. You can read it here.
I enjoyed reading “A Spot of Bother” by Mark Haddon, the author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time“. It is the story of a family getting ready for a wedding, but nothing goes as planned of course. George, the father, discovers a lesion on his hip and thinks the worst, starting to slowly lose his mind. His wife Jean is having an affair with an ex-colleague of his. His gay son Jamie is having relationship issues of his own; and his daughter Katie is having second thoughts about getting married… I won’t say more as I don’t want to spoil the book. Each character is well crafted and contributes to a funny, fast-paced story where something happens in every chapter. Haddon is a master of voices. He did it in “The Curious Incident…” and he’s doing it again in this one. Haddon has managed to capture George’s voice particularly well as he is sinking into depression and madness. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the main characters, and this is highly entertaining. This is an easy read, but probably not one that will stay with you forever: the messages may be important, but they are not unusual. At times the story feels even a little forced, almost turning into slap-stick comedy. But despite its flaws, I found it a good read, and you may agree with me as long as you don’t come to it expecting another tour-de-force like “The Curious Incident…”.
Minette Walters is good. This is the second book of hers that I read, and I must say that I enjoyed it tremendously. Walter’s writing is witty, her dialogues are truer than life, and her characters are diabolical. The plot in this one was flawless and I was kept guessing until the end who had committed the murder – I even wondered if it was murder at all! There seems to be a recurrent pattern of incestuous relationships in Walters’s books, but I’ll have to read more to see if this is true. In any case, The Scold’s Bridle figures such relationships, as did The Ice House. Like all great writers, Walters creates real characters whom you love or hate. She does create a world full of horrors, but not without redeeming features. In this book, an old, bitter woman is found murdered in her bath tub with a scold’s bridle on her head. You may wonder, as I did, what is indeed a scold’s bridle. Here’s the Wikipedia definition: “A scold’s bridle, sometimes called “branks”, was a punishment device for women, also used as a ‘mild’ form of torture. It was an iron muzzle or cage for the head with an iron curb-plate projecting into the mouth and pressing down on top of the tongue. The ‘curb-plate’ was frequently studded with spikes so that if the tongue remained lying calmly in place, it inflicted a minimum of pain.” Very nice… And here’s a picture of it. I trust you will enjoy The Scold’s Bridle as much as I did, if you like crime novels with twisted relationships and a mystery that won’t be solved until the very last pages.
A little lower than the angels by Geraldine McCaughrean is not a new book. In fact, it won the Whitbread Children’s Novel Award in 1987. But I enjoyed reading it this week. The story takes place in the feudal era and features several likeable characters, including Gabriel, a stonemason’s apprentice who leaves an abusive master to play the part of an angel in a traveling play group. His new master sets up a miracle cure hoax that has believing peasants showering Gabriel with money and gifts, and making him believe that he can produce miracles. His friend Izzie and her father Lucie try to warn him, to no avail. Gabriel will learn the hard way who he really is and who matters and doesn’t in his life. This is a classic growing up story, albeit in a fascinating setting. The main characters are vivid, the atmosphere is heavy and real, and values of loyalty, honor, and even literacy are at the core of the book.
D-day came faster than I expected! The Wings of Leo Spencer was successfully launched last night at gleebooks in Sydney. I was genuinely surprised by the size of the crowd and thrilled to see so many familiar faces in the audience. I was surrounded by friends for the launch: Jane Malone, playwright, writer, producer and co-founder of the inclusive theatre company The After Party Project was MC for the night; Caroline Conlon, deaf director, actor and writer launched the book and entertained the crowd in true Caroline-style; and Andy Carmichael was the Auslan interpreter. Hearty laughs echoed throughout the night, which for me is the best sign that people truly enjoyed themselves. I took the opportunity to share some of my experiences in interacting with secondary school students, one of the highlights in my life as a writer. A big thank you to all my friends and supporters.
I’m posting a few photos and a video of the event below for those who are interested.