November 5, 2013
A Noir Mystery With A Slight Twist
The Car Bomb by T.V. LoCicero opens on the streets of a dying Detroit that’s trying desperately to survive. A young mother and her two children are incinerated in a fiery explosion as witnesses watch in horror. It’s up to an aging, hard-drinking, womanizing news anchor to come to grips with his life and solve the crime which may involve his best friend. The tale builds to an edgy crescendo of action that you won’t want to miss.
Although the story is well-told, there are still some aspects that could have used work, and became impossible to ignore. The first half of the book is slow, concentrating on the character of a conceited, adulterous newscaster, Frank DeFauw. However, I missed the motivation that drives him to rise above his depravity in order to righteously go after his best friend who was only vaguely suspected of illegal activities.
The story is told to the reader which doesn’t give us much opportunity to get involved inside the plot or imagine ourselves as part of the drama. I wanted to feel what it was like to be in Detroit’s ghetto, hear the cries of those society has cast aside, smell the gas fumes rising above the sidewalks, see a poet’s graffiti scribbled across a rundown cityscape, and taste the merchandise dealers were pushing on the street corner.
In spite of its faults, it’s worth a read. The Car Bomb is a noir mystery with a slight twist. The lascivious characters are found in the lap of suburbia while the moral prize-winners emerge from the bleak, sleazy side of town. This book should appeal to fans of old-fashioned crime fiction.
Reviewed by Awesome Indies' Assessor
May 18, 2014
When Lord Oldfields, a magistrate and wealthy landowner, asks for assistance to determine who murdered his gamekeeper, Josh Castle, Foster’s superior dispatches him to the small village. Disguising himself as a wandering itinerant, Foster becomes part of the gang of poachers who are Lord Oldfields’ real targets. In the process, he uncovers deeds from the past, some so evil that their perpetrators will do anything—including murder—to keep them hidden.
Lucienne is a masterful storyteller, skillfully weaving history, culture, and the social customs of the period into the story in a natural manner that not only piques the reader’s interest, but helps the reader with a watchful eye and attentive mind to figure out whodunit.
This story has a profound theme. The injustices perpetrated upon the poor by the privileged, how people react to events over which they have little or no control, and the importance of integrity and empathy in alleviating the human condition.
Not one word in this story is wasted, and it is told in a manner that both entertains and educates—the true sign of a master wordsmith. Extremely well edited, I could not find one comma or semicolon out of place, and unlike books by some of today’s bestsellers, no misspellings or grammatical glitches—nary a one.
Unlike many books I read, which are good stories, but contain a few formatting or other errors, making it impossible for me to give them a top rating in all honesty, I found nothing here that gives me pause; and, I re-read several passages just to make sure. Actually, I have to get personal here and say that I re-read several passages because I found the prose so entertaining, I just wanted to go back over it to enjoy reading truly great writing.
I found everything about this book engrossing, from a cover that conveyed in stark symbolism the theme of the story, to passages that glistened with brilliance. The characters were magnificently portrayed. Dan Foster, the protagonist, is totally captivating—from his willingness to face his own weaknesses, to his devotion to right and justice, but most compelling, his sense of honor and decency. Even the secondary characters were fully fleshed and well-rounded, creating a setting that made me feel that I was there. I could see, hear, and smell the surroundings, and sense what characters were thinking and feeling in a story that was impossible to put down once I started reading.
An easy five stars.
Reviewed by Alexes Razevich
September 23, 2013
A Fast-Paced Story That Will Stretch Your Imagination
What do you get when you combine a medical/crime thriller with science fiction/horror? A creepy yet compelling page-turner of a book. Told from multiple points of view, including several characters who are undead but not your stereotypical zombies, Generation takes us into a world of corporate greed, gene manipulation, and people desperate either to live or to die. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the science in Generation, but Knight makes it sound entirely plausible. Anyone who has ever worked in an office will recognize the truth of the politics, even if a character or two carry it to the extreme.
In fact, the villains are one of the few disappointments of the novel. The journalist who discovers a story much bigger than the one he set out to cover, the forensic scientist/teacher focused on her work, the National Enquirer-type journal editor, and other characters are nuanced and ring true. The chief villain, sadly, is the stop-at-nothing type we’ve seen too often. The best, most poignant characters are the undead, each of whom deals with his or her fate the best they can.
The other disappointment is a gratuitous sex scene that leaves the two main characters naked during the climactic (not that kind of climax) scene. The romance between them seems more grafted on than natural, and their sudden falling into bed together unlikely. The author could have sent them to have coffee at her flat and the plot wouldn’t have changed.
Still, the novel worked for me, and I would have given it five stars were it not for the clichéd villain, the unnecessary sex scene, a few info dumps, a couple of typos, and some weird hyphenation. I give it a solid four stars and recommend the book to readers who want a fast-paced story that will stretch their imaginations.
May 19, 2014
Great Scenes & Well-Written Passages
Lies of the dead is an enjoyable mystery that becomes a thriller at the end. The book held me as I read to find out what Tom and Andi’s brother had been doing to warrant them being hounded after his death by a crime boss and his thugs. I soon found myself caring about the characters, who were ordinary people and easy to relate to. Would they get out of this difficult situation, and if so, how?
Tom thought he knew his brother Liam, but after his apparent suicide, he discovers that much of what he knew of Liam was a lie. I can’t say what Liam had been up to to get a huge debt to a crime boss without giving the mystery away, but I can say that the boss transfers the debt to the dead man’s family (Tom and Andi) and that the race to find the money and escape the thugs throws Tom and Andi’s life into turmoil. They find themselves faced with decisions that no one should be forced to make and doing things way outside their comfort zone.
Tom is a simple fellow who lives in a small sea-side village and earns his money renting out his boat. His sister, mother of teenage twin girls, lives elsewhere and is estranged from her husband. Her relationship, or lack of it, adds another thread to the story.
There is a lot to recommend this story. The plot is well constructed; the characters are well drawn; their dialogue and interactions are realistic, and the action scenes are engaging. The author builds the tension well throughout and culminates in a situation worthy of a novel. It’s an easy, undemanding read, simply entertaining with no pretensions, and as that, it works well, but if you’re looking for anything with deep themes, bold statements, or a creative vision, this isn’t it.
The characters develop well as the story progresses, reacting to events as you imagine that they would, and the spark between Janine and Tom is a nice touch in amongst the difficulties. The romantic aspects, though fairly minimal, allow for a satisfying ending.
The book has some great scenes and well-written passages. When I first read this, the prose suffered from bouts of passive writing, but the author attended to these issues after I mentioned them to her. The copy-editing is clean.
All up, this is a very enjoyable read.
This is a fabulous story. Bickley paints beautiful backdrops in which to set her books, and this is no exception. When the characters are on the shore, you can smell the salt water.
The characters are realistic and well-drawn, and you quickly come to care about their family struggles as you would for the worries of a close friend. Bickley seems to specialize in taking ordinary individuals with ordinary problems, and putting them in extraordinary circumstances that challenge them without minimizing the importance of their everyday struggles. This book is a mystery, but it is also an exploration of relationships and parenting, and it interweaves both themes flawlessly.
The plot moves quickly and keeps the pages turning right from the beginning. The subplots integrate smoothly and seamlessly, leading to a believable, if not completely comfortable conclusion.
All in all, a great read for fans of mysteries and/or family dramas.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
July 28, 2013
The (fictional) subject of grooming and targeting girls on the internet for sex is getting dangerously close to cliché, unfortunately. There’s hardly a TV thriller any more than doesn’t hinge on some form of child abuse, and – important subject though it is – it can feel just a wee bit hackneyed.
So when I started Chris Longmuir’s Missing Believed Dead, and entered the world of a mysterious, creepy man driving his van from Manchester to Scotland to meet ‘Jade’ for a cyber date, I must confess my heart sank a little – for the wrong reasons. Despite the taut scene setting and the quality of the writing, I feared I was in for yet another harrowing but essentially unsurprising trawl through the expected.
Wrong. Jade was indeed a victim, and white van man sure as hell hadn’t arranged to meet her to have a chat about any problems she might be having at school. His vehicle was bursting with the required gear. Mattress, eye-bolts welded to the floor, black-out, the lot.
And when both the innocent young lady and the dirty old man ended up together in the back, something very nasty did indeed happen. There was a corpse, with beads jammed into the eye sockets. Jade beads. Jammed in with violence and intent. Jammed in by Jade, though, not the man.
Next day however – next moment for the reader – the boot is suddenly on other foot, the more usual one. This girl is called Megan, and she is young, blonde, beautiful. She is laid out on a rug on a floor of dirt, and part of her ponytail has escaped and spread across her face. The worst is about to happen. As it had happened to another girl, another victim of this man.
This book, set in Dundee, in Scotland, is many things, and proceeds in several interlinked strands. By chapter three it has turned into a police procedural, with officers struggling to unravel the startling mystery at its heart. But it is also about families, and appalling loss, and it is not afraid to delve into the misery that crimes like this, and the revenge that follows, must bring.
There is another book about the same detectives, Kate Rawlings and Bill Murphy, and I hope there will be more. It is gripping, thoughtful stuff.
Review by Jan Needle