You’ve Been Warned – James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Published by Headline Publishing Group Ltd ISBN 978-1-74180-047-0

Youve been warnedKirstin Burns has lived her life by the philosophy, ‘don’t think, just shoot’- pictures that is.  Struggling to make ends meet, she works full time as the nanny for the fabulously wealthy Turnbull family, looking after their two wonderful children and waiting for her glamorous life as a New York fashion photographer to begin.  When her photographs are considered at an elite Manhattan art gallery, it seems she might finally get the chance that will start her career.

But Kristin has a major distraction: forbidden love.  The man of her dreams is almost hers for keeps.  Breathless with an inexhaustible passion and the excitement of being within reach of her dreams, Kristin ignores all signs of catastrophe brewing.

Fear exists for a reason.  And Kristin can only dismiss the warnings for so long.  Searching desperately for the truth through the lens of her camera, she can only hope that it’s not too late.

This isn’t the typical John Patterson I know, but this unusal offering has an intriguing storyline, and it took me a day to read it.

Kristin loves the children that she works for, but not the wife.  The husband, well that is another story.  But when she comes across a murder on the way to work one day, she can’t resist the urge to get her camera out and take photos.  But that strange occurrence is only the start of an incredibly strange journey.

Right until the end, I was unable to decide who Kristin really was.  The mystery deepened when she starts seeing, photographing and worse, talking, to dead people, including her own father.

Mixing this up with the story of the Turnbulls and Kristin’s own part to play in their marriage, the whole plot boils down to a whodunit that is only worked out in the last chapter.

An incredibly complicated paranormal story that is thoroughly enjoyable.

 

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The Visitor – Lee Child

Transworld Publishers 2000 ISBN – 0593 045599

Sergeant Amy Callan and Lieutenant Caroline Cook have a lot in common.  They’re both high-flying army career women, they’re both victims of sexual harassment by their superiors, they’re both forced to resign from the service.

And now they’re both dead.

They’re discovered in their own homes, naked, in baths filled with army-issue camouflage paint, their bodies completely unmarked.  Expert FBI psychological profilers start the hunt for a serial murderer, a smart guy with a score to settle, a loner, an army man, a ruthless vigilante known to both of them.

Jack Reacher, former US military cop, is a smart guy, a loner and a drifter, as tough as they come.  He knew both victims.  For Agent-in-Charge Nelson Blake and his team he’s the perfect match.  They’re sure only Reacher has the answers to their burning questions: How did these women die? And why?

Everyone raves about Lee Child, and I guess it was only time until I finally read one of his stories.  And while I liked it, it isn’t exactly a story I will be in a hurry to read again.

 

Jack Reacher is forced to work with the FBI, the enemy of the armed forces.  While he plots to get out of the situation, the murder count continues, which worries him because he knows some of the women, he had dealt with their military cases.  One woman in particular is very close to Jack and he is worried that she is next.

The story slowly untangles over the course of the book, allowing Jack to reach the conclusion that happens in the end, although some of the book felt more like padding to make it a little thicker.  Jack wants to spend a lot of time alone to think, yet he always has Lisa Harper, a “plain vanilla” FBI agent tag along.

The character of Jack Reacher strikes me as a bit of a rogue.  He has a lovely intelligent girlfriend, yet he lets Harper get under his skin, and it undermined my liking of him as a character.  While Jack and Jodie have their issues, surely kissing another girl is considered cheating, or am I just old fashioned in that respect.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story, but I felt there was some repetition that wasn’t really needed and took away from the story for me.  I do have another Jack Reacher story to read, so I might give that one a go in the near future, see if the story improves with time.

 

4th of July – James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

4th of July – James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Published by Headline Book Publishing ISBN 0 7553 0582 5

In a late-night showdown after a near-fatal car chase, San Francisco Police Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer has to make an instantaneous decision: in self-defence she fires her weapon – and sets off a chain of events that leaves a police force disgraced, an entire city divided and a family destroyed.  Now everything she’s working for her entire life hinges on the decision of twelve jurors.

To escape scrutiny during breaks from her trial, Lindsay retreats to the picturesque town of Half Moon Bay.  But soon after her arrival, a string of grisly murders punches through the peaceful community.  There are no witnesses.  There is no discernable pattern.  But a key detail reminds Lindsay of a case she worked on as a rookie years before – an unsolved murder that has haunted her ever since.  As summer comes into full swing, Lindsay and her friends in the Women’s Murder Club battle for her life on two fronts: before a judge and jury as her trial comes to a climax, and facing unknown adversaries who will do anything to keep her from the truth about the killings – including killing again.

I am getting quicker at reading them, this one probably only took three to four hours, which is what I love about Patterson, they are quick and easy to read.

This has to be one of the best Women’s Murder Club to date, with that many twists and turns it was hard to tell what was going to happen and the ending was a total surprise to me.  I actually had another one pegged as the murderer, but he was just a red herring, and a very good one too.

Fast paced action leaves you feeling like you have run through the book, unable to stop reading because you might miss something important.

There isn’t much else I can say about this story, another enjoyable read.

Mission: Survival – Sands of the Scorpion by Bear Grylls

Published by Random House Childrens Books, ISBN 978 1 862 30482

 Having stumbled upon a smuggling operation, Beck Granger is forced to bail out of a plane over the merciless Sahara Desert.  Now he faces a slow and agonising death if he can’t cross the miles of sand between him and civilisation. 

Finding water…

Eating scorpions…

Enduring the blistering desert heat…

With nothing but a makeshift survival kit to help him, Beck will have to rely on all his survival knowledge and experience.  But the desert is not his only enemy.  Beck knows too much.  If the endless desert doesn’t kill him, there’s a very real danger that the smugglers will.  In the face of so much adversity, can Beck keep himself alive?

I got this story out because it was written by Bear Grylls and was in the Intermediate Fiction section – quick and easy read.

The entire time I was reading it, it was like Bear Grylls was narrating it in my head!  The story felt more like a young person version of Man vs Wild (Child vs Wild?) but was very entertaining.  I now know that if I am ever in the desert, to make a double walled tent, as this will keep more shade on you; make sure that you cover all of your body or else you will severely dehydrate.

I enjoyed the storyline with Beck and his mate Peter making their way across the desert after jumping out of a perfectly good plane (even though they were being shot at) and landing safely in the middle of the Sahara desert.  Not only does Beck have to keep himself alive, but he has to keep his friend alive too.

Food is scarce, water is rarer, and they have to make it to civilisation, wherever that might be.

A very enjoyable read.

Case Files by Larry Verstraete

Published by Scholastic Canada Ltd

ISBN 978-1-4431-0000-7

A killer had been caught, convicted and sentenced, the case closed , all within 114 days.  No one suspected – least of all the boy on death row – that it would take almost 50 years for a tiny piece of scientific evidence to answer the question:  Was it really murder?

 40 amazing stories of how scientists solve crimes, reveal identities, untangle evidence and discover the truth.

This is a fascinating book which focuses on the science that brings the murderer to justice, or solves crime, or even identifies a body.  There are very interesting cases in here, like Tsar Nicholas Romanov and his family, Pharaoh Tutankhamun, a serial arsonist, murder cases and lost shipwrecks.

While I watch CSI, sometimes the program exaggerates the information and everything is processed in a day, whereas in real life, it can take weeks to process DNA, geographical scans and interpret the results.

This was a very interesting read, especially if you want to write a murder mystery.

Zero Day – David Baldacci

2011 – Grand Central Publishing USA

ISBN 978-0-230-75490-4

War Hero John Puller is known to be the top investigator in the US Army’s CID.  So when a family with military connections is brutally murdered in a remote area  of West Virginia, Puller is called in to investigate, and soon suspects the case has wider implications.

As the body count rises he teams up with local homicide detective Samantha Cole.  As the web of deceit is revealed, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s much more to this case than they had first thought.  It is an investigation where nothing is as it seems, and nothing can be taken at face value.

 When Puller and Cole discover a dangerous situation in the making, Puller finds he must turn to the one person who can help avert certain catastrophe.  A person he has known all his life.

 In a breathtaking rollercoaster race against time, Cole fears for her community in which she was raised, and Puller knows he has to overcome the enemies of his country to avoid far reaching disaster.

 But, in the end, you can’t kill what you can’t see coming…

David Baldacci has taken a leaf out of James Patterson’s book and written a story with short chapters, and this works well for me.  It makes me read more than I normally would, because they are short and sharp and to the point.  Before you know it you are caught up in the story.

John Puller has suffered through Iraq and Afghanistan, but discovers that his biggest challenge will be on home soil.  What seems like a straightforward murder is anything but, and becomes stranger still when more bodies turn up, which don’t seem connected, but because of the proximity, the connection can’t be avoided.

Add into the mix a strange relationship developing between Puller and Cole and you end up with a classic thriller whodunit, and I have to admit that I wasn’t sure, right to the very last chapter, just what was happening.

The story is tragic and simplistic in its telling, and I love the way that David Baldacci tells a story, just enough to keep you reading to find out what happens.  If you haven’t read any Baldacci, try this one to start with.

Hanging By A Thread – Sophie Littlefield

Summer is the best part of the year in Winston, California, and the Fourth of July is the highlight of the season. But the perfect town Clare remembers has changed, and everyone is praying that this summer will be different from the last two—that this year’s Fourth of July festival won’t see one of their own vanish without a trace, leaving no leads and no suspects.

The media are in a frenzy predicting a third disappearance, but the town depends on tourist dollars, so the residents of Winston are trying desperately to pretend nothing’s wrong.  And they’re not the only ones hiding something. 

Clare, a seamstress who redesigns vintage clothing, has been blessed—or perhaps cursed—with a gift: she can see people’s pasts when she touches their clothes. When she stumbles across a denim jacket that once belonged to Amanda Stavros, last year’s Fourth of July victim, Clare sees her perfect town begin to come apart at the seams.  In a town where appearance means everything, how deep beneath the surface will Clare dig to uncover a murderer?

When I read the above blurb for Hanging By A Thread, I thought it sounded like it could be my cup of tea – I really enjoyed Littlefield’s Aftertime series, and while I didn’t realize that this one was YA, that didn’t put me off. Littlefield has an engaging style of writing that transcends age or genre, so I thought I could probably trust her on this one.

It’s very much a YA novel though, and those aren’t exactly my cup of tea. There is a lot of inner chatter, and the main character is a talented and creative seamstress who spends vast amounts of time thinking about clothes and working with them. Some of this was really interesting, but for a woman lacking in style like me, it probably wasn’t the best match up.

That said, I actually enjoyed the book. It was a fun, lightweight read that I burned through very quickly. I really liked Clare, and I loved the idea of psychometry that was linked only to clothing. The fact that she is willing to risk learning things she doesn’t want to, shows just how important this passion for clothes of hers is. I enjoyed reading about her conflict between wanting to fit into this small town, as well as her desire to stay true to who she is. The cast of characters were your typical tight knit community and I wasn’t sure who the killer it was revealed near the end.

So in summary, this book is a nice blend of cozy mystery and paranormal YA romance, which isn’t something I have seen much of, but definitely think there is a market for. Worth a read, in any event 🙂