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Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA)
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Thirteen Hours
Thirteen Hours
by Deon Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
5 used & new from CDN$ 5.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Race Against Time, July 16 2011
This review is from: Thirteen Hours (Paperback)
Post-Apartheid South Africa has undergone many traumatic changes. But for homicide detective Benny Griessel, nothing much changes except for the murder victims, the politics, unsettled race relations and his own personal problems. Benny is saddled with 'mentoring' newly promoted black, or 'colored,' detectives. Of course, he is the only experienced white.

The plot involves two murders and a kidnapping, each a potential PR disaster for the SA government. It is up to Benny and his untested troops to save a captive American girl who witnessed the murder of her fellow tourist. Meanwhile, a well-known music executive is found shot in his home with his pistol lying at his feet, his alcoholic wife asleep in a chair.

Deon Meyer has written six novels and 'Thirteen Hours' is probably the best (not taking anything away from its predecessors). It is taut, moving and deeply memorable, and is highly recommended.

Bank of the Black Sheep
Bank of the Black Sheep
by Robert Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.14
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Plotting, July 13 2011
Robin Llywelyn, ostensibly a private detective, wakes up in a hospice with amnesia, handcuffed to a bed after a week-long infusion of morphine. Such a state gives him a real slow start, along with the reader. Additionally, he is told he has lung cancer with just a couple of months to live. Actually, it seems from what follows that he can go on forever.

It turns out that Llywelyn was involved in some kind of scam, but of course he can't remember what it was. And so, he sets out inadvertently to find out about his past, bumbling his way to make a final score and to atone for his past transgressions before his end. For much of the novel, to this reader, it dragged on with a lot of wearying prose and observations. It is not until near the conclusion that the novel really becomes interesting, and then we are drawn into the real story.

Bank apparently is the last in a trilogy of Llywelyn detective stories and, given the medical prognosis, it would seem to be just that.

So Close the Hand of Death
So Close the Hand of Death
by J.T. Ellison
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
74 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars So Close the Hand of Death, June 22 2011
This is the newest entry in the Taylor Jackson series, and picks up several threads of earlier books. At the end of the prior book, 'The Immortals,' Dr. John Baldwin, Supervisory Special Agent and Taylor's fiancé, was about to attend a hearing into a case from his past, held at FBI headquarters at Quantico. The aftermath of that hearing resulted in his [hopefully temporary] suspension. But the tentacles of that prior case extend well beyond that, to threaten Taylor's career and, indeed, her life and that of those nearest and dearest to her. As the book opens, one of those is immediately apparent as Pete ('Fitz') Fitzgerald, Taylor's dear friend who has been nothing less than a father figure to her, has seen the love of his life, Sue, murdered, and now lies in a hospital bed, grievously wounded [something apparently called 'enucleation,' but you'll have to look that one up yourself]. Taylor, a six-foot tall Metro Homicide Lieutenant in Nashville, Tennessee, vows to prevent further fallout.

A serial killer, the self-styled 'Pretender,' learned his deadly craft at the feet of another character from past books, the Snow White killer, is responsible for 26 known deaths as the tale begins, and has in turn amassed several acolytes of his own, who at his behest have now begun killing sprees across the US mimicking famous, or infamous, serial killers of years past: the Boston Strangler, the NY killer known as the Son of Sam, and the Zodiac Killer. This is all part of a deadly cat-and-mouse game on his part, the ultimate prize being Taylor Jackson. His identity, and the motive behind all this, is the biggest mystery, beyond the fact that it is very, very personal.

In this novel the reader discovers that Baldwin has unsuspected baggage that is about to complicate his and Taylor's lives, but the emphasis is, of course, on identifying and stopping the serial killer who has targeted Taylor and those she loves, with the suspense increasing as the inevitable confrontation comes closer. I felt that the book could have benefited from some judicious editing, but nonetheless found it a very enjoyable summer read.

Shatter The Bones
Shatter The Bones
by Stuart MacBride
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shatter the Bones, June 14 2011
This review is from: Shatter The Bones (Hardcover)
Alison McGregor and her six-year-old daughter, Jenny, Aberdeen's huge favorites to win the competition on the hit tv show Britain's Next Big Star, have made it to the semi-finals. Suddenly they are kidnapped, and the ransom note soon received says they will be killed if an indeterminate ransom is not paid within fourteen days. Contributions are made across the country from their millions of fans. The police are stymied - - there are no witnesses, and no trace of forensic evidence can be found on either the ransom notes or the gruesome videos which the police are examining, and there are absolutely no clues as to who is behind the crime. Needless to say, the media, and the public, are in an uproar, and the detectives are being hounded by both, as well as by the head of the CID and other investigative agencies.

There is a second story line dealing with a routine drug bust which goes seriously awry, with the drug dealer managing to escape despite handcuffs and the presence of numerous police officers designed to prevent just that from happening. The ramifications of this are far-reaching and brutal, and very personal for DS Logan MacRae.

This latest entry in this wonderful series moves at a slower pace than I remembered the earlier books being, perhaps reflective of the actual way in which serious crime investigations happen in real life. But trust me, by the time the reader approaches the wrap-up of this well-written tale of celebrity culture run amok, the reader will be turning the pages swiftly to reach the suspense-filled ending as time is running out and the deadline approaches.

Logan MacRae, his significant other, Samantha, and the cops on the Grampian Police force who readers have met in the earlier books are wonderfully well drawn. MacRae is a very human and believable protagonist, and I can't wait for his return in the next series entry. Highly recommended.

Fifth Victim
Fifth Victim
by Zo Sharp
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.79
21 used & new from CDN$ 3.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Fifth Victim, April 12 2011
This review is from: Fifth Victim (Hardcover)
Charlie Fox [nee Charlotte Foxcroft] is a 'take no prisoners' kinda gal. Now nearing thirty, she takes on a new assignment for her company, Armstrong-Meyer, a "close-protection" [read "bodyguard"] organization: to protect a young woman from kidnapping. The preemptive action by the girl's mother is due to the fact that three of her friends have been kidnapped, a fourth is abducted in the early pages of the book, and the fear is that she will become the titular fifth victim. The families of all those involved are for the most part obscenely wealthy, with the requisite enormous homes [or, more accurately, estates] outside Southampton, up towards the eastern end of Long Island, multiple sports cars, private jets, yachts, etc.; the payment of ransom has not always ensured the safe return of the victim.

Charlie needs the distraction of this assignment, inasmuch her lover and 'soulmate,' Sean Meyer, lies in a coma, his prognosis uncertain, following the events that ended the last book in the series, 'Fourth Day,' a near-fatal shooting three months prior

The author's background ' thoroughly familiar with rifles and for that matter every type of gun imaginable, equally at home flying a helicopter and light aircraft as on the back of a horse and piloting a yacht ' uniquely qualifies her to create a protagonist capable of getting into, and out of, one very challenging situation after another, and providing the reader with an exciting, eminently readable thriller along the way. The tension of the situation confronting Charlie in this entry, with Sean's life, or death, an uncertain constant, only adds to the suspense inherent in this well-written novel.

Recommended.

The Leopard
The Leopard
by Jo Nesbo
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenges, March 22 2011
This review is from: The Leopard (Paperback)
The latest Harry Hole novel presents the reader with a formidable challenge: On the one hand, the temptation is to try to read this tautly written, tightly plotted murder mystery in a single sitting. On the other hand, its 611 pages is undoubtedly a very large hurdle. Whatever the method, it's well worth the effort to read it no matter how long it takes.

After the travails he suffered at the conclusion of 'The Snowman,' Harry was so down that he resigned from the police force and traveled to the Far East, where he loses himself in alcohol, opium and gambling. There, a female detective from Norway finds him, pays off his gambling debts, tells him his father is in the hospital dying and he, as the only officer with experience solving serial murders, is wanted back in Oslo to help in what appears to be another multiple homicide case. At first he is reluctant, but finally accedes to the request to return because of his dad.

Still refusing to rejoin the crime squad, Harry finally gives in when a third victim, a member of parliament, is killed. There are no clues and no common links between the victims until Harry discovers all three spent a night in an isolated mountain cabin together, and it becomes apparent that the 'guests' are being picked off one by one.

From that point, the case slowly unfolds somewhat murkily to keep the reader in the dark as to the ultimate denouement. Sometimes, Harry's insights are prophetic, others off base. But he always has his eye on the main purpose: to catch the bad guy. At the same time, he is fighting his personal demons, his separation from the great love of his life, his relationship with his dying father, the politics of the competition between elements of the department as to responsibility for murder investigations, and his disillusionment with his role as a cop. More than enough, one must say, for one man.

Highly recommended.

Gone
Gone
30 used & new from CDN$ 1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gone, Feb. 1 2011
This review is from: Gone (Hardcover)
DI Jack Caffery, an 18-year-veteran of the Murder Squad and presently head of Bristol's Major Crime Investigation Unit, returns at a point six months after the events described in the author's last novel, 'Skin.' As the book opens, on a cold November night, Caffery is called to the scene of a carjacking in an underground car park, something one would not consider a case for the MCIU until it becomes known that an 11-year-old girl was in the car when it was taken.

Caffery puts a team together: DC Prody, just coming off four years as a traffic copy; DS Paluzzi [nicknamed 'Lollapalooza'], DS Turner, and at some point Phoebe ['Flea'] Marley, now a support-group sergeant who also runs the Underwater Search Unit. ['She'd got her dumb nickname as a child because people told her she never looked before she leaped. And because of her irritating, incurable energy.'] There are secrets in both Caffery's and Flea's lives that play in the back of their thoughts, coincidentally both involving siblings; children at risk are also a large part of the plot. The investigation takes a different turn when Flea tells Caffery there have been two other incidents closely following the same pattern, and they realize this was not just a random act.

The characters are very well-drawn and intriguing, especially Flea, who remembers her father telling her as a child 'We don't give up in this family. It's against the Marley code. Ancient belief system. Bad things happen when you do - - it's like flying the face of nature.' And that persistent nature is a good part of what makes her such a terrific cop, and fascinating individual.

The reader is kept rapt for more or less the first half of the book just by the mystery of the identity of the hijacker, and what he may have done to the child [shudder]. Then there is a sudden shift in intensity, as the plot takes unexpected and quite startling twists and turns, and from that point on I could not put the book down till its conclusion, breath held a good part of the way there. [I should add that my vocabulary has been enlarged by the terms 'elasticated,' lumpenly,' and 'forensicated,' which may just be a matter of Brit-speak.]

Happily, the final few pages hint of a return of Caffery and Flea, and one can only hope it will be soon. Highly recommended.

The Shadow Woman: A Chief Inspector Erik Winter Novel
The Shadow Woman: A Chief Inspector Erik Winter Novel
by Ake Edwardson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.36
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elusive Leads, Jan. 16 2011
Slow and steady: Sweden's youngest Detective Inspector seeks elusive clues in this slow, plodding police procedural about a murder victim that takes half the book to identify. Erik Winter, the dapper inspector who likes expensive clothing and cars, and finds it difficult to grow up to a maturity in relation to his girlfriend's desire for more permanence, is an intuitive, careful thinker confronted, in this second installment in a Swedish noir series, with almost no clues about the victim or murderer, other than that she has borne a child.

The plot switches back and forth between the present-day investigation and flashbacks, so the reader ' this reader, at least - is at a loss as to where the story is at. It is confusing at best, yet interesting, from a psychological point of view. There are some idioms the translator obviously inserted into the text which have no obvious counterpart in Swedish.

Having struggled over a longer period of time to read the novel than would be devoted ordinarily to a book of this length, it is with ambivalence that it is recommended, solely on the basis that it is an interesting work.

Collusion: A Jack Lennon Investigation Set in Northern Ireland
Collusion: A Jack Lennon Investigation Set in Northern Ireland
by Stuart Neville
Edition: Hardcover
47 used & new from CDN$ 1.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Team Work, Jan. 10 2011
This follow-up to the highly praised 'The Ghosts of Belfast' deserves the same reception. It picks up where the earlier noir ended, carrying forth the characters and events, and, presumably, planting the seeds for a third novel which hopefully will develop into a full-blown series.

Jack Lennon, a Catholic detective in an otherwise Protestant police force in Northern Ireland, is warned off investigating the deaths of three persons associated with the massacre of numerous criminals and politicians at Bull O'Kane's farm in Belfast. But having knowledge of the event, at which his girlfriend, Marie McKenna, and their young daughter, Ellen were present, pressures him to continue pursuing knowledge of the murders and their relationship to the past. Marie was whisked away from the massacre by the notorious killer, Fegan, and into hiding, promising to return whenever she needed protection. He leaves for New York City for adventures of his own.

O'Kane has a grudge against Fegan and employs The Traveler, a killer of equal stature to Fegan, to kill the three victims as well as his nemesis, who was responsible for a gut wound which incapacitated the gangster. When Marie comes out of hiding to visit her dying father, she and the child are abducted, serving as lures to draw Fegan out of hiding and resulting in an unlikely collaboration between Lennon and Fegan to rescue Marie and Ellen.

The novel develops the characters in more depth than was exhibited in 'Belfast,' and the pace is steadier. But the writing is the same tense hard-driven prose which made the first so highly readable. It is a graphic tale of the corruption between the politicians, criminals, British authorities and others in the fraught Northern Ireland of the era. It is powerful and tragic, with intense violence and deep insights into a country still affected by long-continued terror. It is highly recommended, and we look forward to the hoped-for sequel.

Worth Dying For: A Jack Reacher Novel
Worth Dying For: A Jack Reacher Novel
by Lee Child
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.69
95 used & new from CDN$ 0.27

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Dying For, Dec 30 2010
It should perhaps be noted at the outset that readers waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak, after the cliffhanger ending of '61 Hours,' the previous book in the series [of which this is the 15th], are [initially at least]in for a disappointment, for the explanation [such as it is] comes pretty much only by references to Reacher having been badly hurt, as well as descriptions of specific effects of the trauma sustained in the closing pages of that book, but no details. Until a bit later in the book, that is: After a while there is a paragraph giving a succinct description of the events themselves.

Now that that's out of the way . . .

This time around, Reacher finds himself in Nebraska, after hitching a ride [as is his wont] 'in the dead of winter in the forty-first least densely populated state of America's fifty,' where he comes up against an old family [three brothers and the son of one of them] so powerful that they have an entire town - - with everything and everyone in it - - under its control. The town in question is 450 miles due south of the Canadian border, and it soon becomes clear that said family is involved with some kind of illegal smuggling.

Reacher takes a motel room for the night, in which he finds 'everything he needed, nothing he didn't,' which happens to be his credo for the manner in which he travels [i.e., 'light']. And which, for that matter, is a perfect description of a Lee Child book, to which this one is no exception. When Reacher is told he is crazy, he says he prefers to think of himself as conscientious. But he is more than that. Wrongs need to be righted. At some point the tale includes an investigation into what happened to an eight-year-old girl who had disappeared 25 years earlier.

The expected quotient of heightening suspense mixed with violence, equally in service of good and evil, is present, of course. As always the writing is wonderful and witty, and includes a priceless treatise on human nature. Reacher once more relies, for the most part, on little more than ingenuity. At one point, when he finds himself outnumbered four to one, with only a small amount of weaponry, he finds that he has everything he needs, nothing he does not, once more. Not invincible, but still Reacher, after all.

Highly recommended.

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