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.
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.
February 18, 2014
The Glade is basically a supernatural suspense story. It’s different, intriguing and totally unpredictable.
Like many indie works this book crosses genres. The supernatural element puts it in the fantasy category, but apart from The Presence that Helen and Geoff, her husband, feel in their little glade in the Forest of Dean and the dead people who get up and walk, it all happens in the fairly ordinary world of a small country village. It’s this low key approach that makes the story all the more chilling because we can’t immediately dismiss it as a fantasy world. This real world basis means that the book also fits into the mystery and suspense categories. There isn’t so much fantasy that it would turn off those who aren’t generally fantasy readers, and there’s plenty of mystery and suspense for fans of those genres. Kent’s characters and the world she creates around them are very real, but beneath this ordinary exterior lies a dark underbelly.
Helen has cancer and she and her husband retire to the Forest of Dean to live out her remaining days. Things do not go as they expect, however, and the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride to find out the truth behind the strange events, and then to work out how to destroy the menace that has haunted the village for generations.
The story is extremely well done in terms of plot and pacing. I never knew what would happen next, was often surprised and always keen to keep reading. The characterisation was excellent. I got to know Helen quickly and soon became concerned for her. Though Geoff was a bit of a mystery, it worked for the story because Helen also discovers that she never really knew her husband. Mike and John were well-rendered and were both lovely characters, and Sheila also came across loud and clear.
I was particularly impressed by how Kent handled the backstory. We moved seamlessly from past to present until they coincided, and the backstory never felt like backstory. Beginning the story, as she did, part way through, created an added layer of mystery as we wonder now Helen got to the point where she took her husband’s life. Another thing the author did well was to feed the information out at the right pace, just enough crumbs to keep you reading, but never too much at once, and she left the real revelations until right at the end, exactly as a good mystery should be.
Endings can make or break a novel, and in this case, the end was its crowning glory and made it much more than just an ordinary suspense story. I was concerned about it for some time as the end grew near, wondering it if would leave me miserable – it could easily have gone either way. Of course, I’m not going to tell you whether it did or not, but I will say that I thought the end was magnificent.
Some of the phrasing I found strange, but I think that’s because it’s local lingo – the author is English.
I like the cover too; it does a good job of expressing the feel of the book. I recommend it for those who enjoy a good supernatural suspense story.
It’s really worth a read.
Review by S M Spencer
This is an excellent book – the perfect mix of mystery, thriller, horror, fantasy & even a touch of romance. Couldn’t put it down. Probably not a good book to take on a camping trip to an isolated forest however 🙂
5 stars for sure.
Reviewed by Tahlia Newland
October 14, 2014
As a writer, I was told to keep a nice balance between narrative, description and dialogue. That including a lot of the former, along with a lot of backstory, really drags the reader through the experience and slows the pace down to nothing.
And yet here we are giving the Lupane Legacy five stars.
The Lupane Legacy begins with a brutal village massacre somewhere in the depths of Zimbabwe, just after it had stopped being named Rhodesia. A small boy, Patrick Khumalo, remains the lone survivor of the ordeal. Across the world, in Washington DC, Joshua Denham attends a concert held by the Austrian embassy where his cousin, Constance Traun is a renowned violinist. There, he again meets none other than Devon Kerr, a banker who first met him in Afghanistan, during his tour with the Marines. Patrick, now in Zimbabwean Intelligence years and years later, one day receives the package he has been waiting his whole life for: a film reel of what happened in his village when he was five.
The book continues thus, with two parallel lines on two different continents, until out of the blue Patrick calls Constance; they must meet in person.
The Lupane Legacy carries the reader along smoothly, a page-turner that kept me up nights trying to figure out just how everything would play out. The narrative reveals a lot about the author’s education, it’s full of choice imagery, the vocabulary is lush and full, and expects the reader to read between the lines often. Slow as narrative generally goes, this book hits a good stride and doesn’t let up even after the explosive climax.
Readers of thrillers and mysteries beware: while this book is an excellent one, in terms of historical fiction and even literary fiction, there isn’t as much action as one would expect. Most of the book is building characters and explaining the political situations of the present and the past for various different countries. The characters are real, the dialogue never trite or cardboard, and the description is handled with the same effortlessness as the narrative, though one could ask for a tad more in some places.
If there was one gripe about the book, it was that it sailed over my head in a few places. Movie, music and literature references expect the reader to be familiar with a lot of classics, and for a vast majority of readers, that simply won’t be the case. It was possible to surge past this, but I felt certain that my enjoyment and experience with the story was lacking something in not understanding these.
In addition, this book contains a preview of the second book in the series, the Pyin Protocol. I’m definitely keen to read further adventures of Joshua and Devon, to see what’s in store further down the road.
Thank you for the read, Darby.