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.

 

3rd Degree – James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Headline Book Publishing ISBN 0 7553 0025 4

Detective Lindsay Boxer is jogging along a beautiful San Francisco street as a ferocious blast rips through the neighbourhood.  A townhouse owned by an internet millionaire explodes into flames, three people die and a sinister note signed ‘August Spies’ is found at the scene.  Soon a wave of violence sweeps through the city – and it seems that whoever is behind it is intent of killing someone every three days.

Even more terrifying, the four friends who call themselves the Women’s Murder Club discover that the killer has targeted one of them.  And Lindsay learns that one member of the club is hiding a secret so dangerous and unbelievable that it could destroy them all.

The Women’s Murder Club is one of my favourite reads by James Patterson, with the fast paced action and short chapters, it is easy to read this story in a couple of days.

Lindsay Boxer is on hand when the bomb explodes in a nearby house and finds herself drawn into the mystery right from the word go, but then so is the FBI and Special Agent Joe Molinari from the Department of Homeland Security.

Terrorists are holding the city to ransom, threatening to kill people every three days if their demands for freeing up the rights of the third world country, and to make things worse, a G8 summit is scheduled to begin inSan Franciscoin a matter of days.

The team have the clock against them as they try to work out who is behind the killings, and it is down to the final minutes.  The clock is ticking loudly with every action that takes place, right down to the G8 summit.

Another fast paced action thriller from the master of suspense.  I enjoyed the pace and the freshness of the story (even though this one is a few years old now!).

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.

Blackbirds – Chuck Wendig

This is the first novel I’ve read by the author who is probably most famous for his foul-mouthed but fabulous writing advice (I’m currently reading 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer, full of great tips!), Chuck Wendig’s latest book, Blackbirds, is quite frankly, stunning.

Let’s start with the cover. Because OMFG from the moment I saw it I loved it and knew I HAD to read the book. It’s gorgeous.

You can try and tell me that you’re not curious, but I won’t believe you for a second.

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. 

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. 

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

This is a book right up my alley. Right from the beginning I was caught up in Miriam’s web. She is not a typical character by any means, and her gift, or curse depending on how you want to look at it, means that she sees life in a totally different way from those around her. At times I might not have agreed with her choices, but she was true to herself the whole way through. And when she meets Louis, she is confronted by the kind of life she might  have had, under other circumstances. He is sweet and caring in a world that has treated her badly, and she is the only one who might be able to save him.

This is not a book for everyone: there is a lot of profanity in it, but then, I think it was fitting to the kind of story, and the range of characters included. There is a lot of violence, this is a brutal and intense novel which does not hold back. If you are squeamish, you might want to sit this one out. But if those things don’t bother you so much, then I think you should definitely pick this up. It’s one hell of a ride. Not only is it dark and brutal, but it’s also funny, and sweet in parts. It runs the gamut of human emotion, and Miriam will draw you in almost despite yourself.

There are questions still unanswered about why Miriam can see how people will die, and plenty of room for exploration in her world. Luckily I only have to wait until later in the year for the second installment in this series. Chuck Wendig has secured a place on my ‘must-buy’ authors list.

Dead Harvest

Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls. 

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before. 

“No.”

I love a good ‘damned souls’ novel, so I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one where Sam is a soul collector. One thing that I really enjoyed was that he has no set body – he nabs those of the recently departed (for the most part) and inhabits them in order to do his job, making him slightly abnormal on the undead scene, who typically jump into the skin of the still living.

It was really interesting to follow a character whose form changed several times throughout the novel, but I really appreciated the way Holm wrote this, so that without being over the top obvious, the reader, and other characters in the novel, could tell who was possessed at any given time.

Sam is a great character, far more moralistic than you would think a denizen of hell should be, and over the course of the novel we find out what it was he did to become a Collector, and how the decisions of his past are impacting on his current job. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he never sways in his conviction that the girl is innocent, even though he has angels and demons alike coming after him, and everyone else is sure she is guilty.

This is an action packed book with a story line that powers along. The secondary characters are well written and unique and I really had no idea how this one was going to pan out. Well written, and well paced, this was a book it was easy to lose myself in. Dead Harvest is being released this week, and a second in the series (The Wrong Goodbye) is scheduled for later in the year – I will be picking it up!

Play Dead – Anne Frasier

No one understands the dark side of Savannah better than homicide detective Elise Sandburg.

As an infant, she was thought to be the daughter of a famous root doctor-and was abandoned in an ancient Low Country cemetery. Growing up, she was haunted by her possible connection to the local Gullah culture-with its spells and voodoo. 

Now, however, there’s a twisted killer on the loose, and the city is gripped by terror. Someone is using a substance that leaves its victims in a state that mimics death. As their bodies slip into an irreversible paralysis, their minds remain fully, shockingly awake. Before you wake up dead.

Step by step, Elise’s relentless chase for the killer draws her straight back into the world she most fears. And now, to stop a murderer, she must confront the truth about her own past in ways she never could have imagined…

I’m pretty sure that I picked this up from the Kindle Free Bestseller list awhile back, as I really liked the premise. I love these kind of books and the combination of crime and the occult always appeals. I very quickly got hooked and this one did not disappoint.

I really liked Elise as a character – she’s flawed, strong, has an interesting past and a mystery to her origins which comes directly into play with the main plot line. She has a teenager daughter who is reluctant to have anything to do with her, and a partner who is the odd one out on the force, and has a mysterious history of his own. The story is told from several points of view, one of which is that of the killer – Frasier manages not to give it away who that is though, and when it was finally revealed I was most surprised!

The atmosphere is fantastic, and the level of occult nicely played. It’s a creepy, fast paced read and certainly worth picking up. I gave it four stars and will be checking out other titles from the author because this was right up my alley.

Paul Carson – Cold Steel

Published in 1999 by William Heinemann (Random House UK Ltd)

ISBN 0434007676

The body of a teenage girl is found in a Dublin park. She has been brutually stabbed to death. For Dublin’s police and politicians, the nightmare is just beginning. The dead girl is the daughter of a high-profile American surgeon who heads the Mercy Hospital’s new Heart Foundation.

When DS Jim Clarke and his team pick up the trail of a suspect, the pressure is on to close in quickly. America is baying for justice. But do they have the right man?

At the Mercy Hospital Frank Clancy, consultant haematologist, is concerned about two unusual deaths. But when he decides to take a closer look he places his own life in danger…

An intriguing read that took some getting into.  I started reading this book some time ago, but seemed to be able to put it down, but pick it up again.  The entire story takes place over an 8 day period from the time her body was discovered to when they uncovered the real conspiracy.

Interesting turns and twists within the story that had you guessing right to the end who the murderer actually was, and even then, it wasn’t entirely clear who murdered the school girl first.  Not that she was an innocent victim in this game.  She was a junkie who ended up trying to double cross the wrong people.

There were lots of characters to try and follow in the book, and it didn’t really all come together until the last few pages.  When it did come together, it wasn’t as satisfying as I would have expected, but and there was a lot of facts at the end that weren’t even in the original story, which was a shame because it would have added a whole different dimension to the story.

Overall I recommend 3 out of 5 stars.