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Reviews Written by
Peter Werner "peterwerner4" (Essingen, Germany)
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Semper Mars: Book One of the Heritage Trilogy
Semper Mars: Book One of the Heritage Trilogy
by Ian Douglas
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
68 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Splendid story - poor political insight, Oct. 27 2001
Technically this book is one of the best in its genre. The author knows how to get a grip on his readers. The fast action, unexpected turns, credible characters make this novel an example of good writing.
But in opposition to this the political setting as the background to this story is improbable and inconceivable as it is based on national stereotypes and unnecessary jingoism. Never during the whole novel does the author explain why one side really fights the other. It is not a fight good vs. bad. It's a fight of nations the author seems to like and nations he does not care for. Never during the whole novel do we get to know why the "UNers" act as they do - their motives virtually remain in the dark. Consequences like religious unrest and radical sects in Western Europe are not realistic arguments, and someone who knows a bit more of the world than the author, may conclude that America could be more endangered in this respect than Europe. Does Douglas really believe a scenario like this could really be possible in nations of the Western hemisphere?
The political situation at this very moment strongly suggests the contrary. The people who work against truth and human progress are to be found elsewhere. This book is a good example of the fact that novels and stories have to be founded on excellent research, political insight and psychologically realistic scenarios if they want to be really good. Maybe Douglas should have had a closer look at "Star Trek" to find out how to create a serious background for Science Fiction Stories, and better even, he should have read Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. Oh, but this is only fiction, some will say. True enough! But if fiction wants to be relevant, wants to mirror the world as it is, it has to weigh certain possibilities, above all when the setting the author chooses is seemingly a realistic one.
But, dear reader, go ahead and read the book - it is full of suspense. But do not let yourself get manipulated by cheap clichés.

Blood Test
Blood Test
by Jonathan Kellerman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Still practicing, Oct. 18 2001
This review is from: Blood Test (Mass Market Paperback)
You immediately realize that this is an early Delaware novel. It seems as if Kellerman was still practicing then. He did not create the convincing characters we can find in his later novels when he wrote this book. And the plot is a little heavy, too. The climax is somewhat forced and improbable and comes before the actual ending, which is too transparent and obvious. We know exactly what is coming. Nevertheless, the book is quite a good read, a simple thriller, not too demanding, and it cannot cope with later novels by Kellerman.

Disclosure
Disclosure
by Michael Crichton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
180 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars All too credible I'm afraid, Oct. 11 2001
This review is from: Disclosure (Mass Market Paperback)
This is one of the best novels by Michael Crichton that I have read. The most delicate themes of "sexual harassment" and "mobbing" simply invite authors to write about them. And I have read a lot of trash and cheap voyeurism concerning these subjects. Not here. Like in "Rising Sun" the research for this novel was outstanding and this resulted in an excellent plot with a logical, inevitable line of events and a breathtaking speed. The characters and, I am afraid, the plot are all too credible and they reflect reality more than a lot of people would like to admit. It is not disturbing then that the final twist of action has somewhat of the deus ex machina technique, because the ending is not what is really interesting. The most interesting thing is that events like this can happen (actually happen) and that they are in a way even legal. Crichton writes about the effects of laws that are fine with us in theory and well meant by the legislator. But once they are exposed to reality human nature corrupts them and brings about more injustice, they even awake the beast in man (and women, too!!).
When you begin to read this novel make sure you have enough time to read it in one go!

Voodoo River
Voodoo River
by Robert Crais
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
111 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Ol' Thriller, Oct. 10 2001
This is exactly the book you need when you are on vacation and want to get rid of your every day troubles. It has got fast action, romantic scenes, thrilling danger and a well knit plot. Who cares that the characters are a bit cartoon-like? Elvis is a bit too cool, the typical cliché of a private eye. The others are a bit too simple in their personal structures. But I guarantee, you read this book fast. It is the traditional thriller without pretence, but it is excellent entertainment. And - you want to read more Elvis Cole stories. It has been my first Elvis Cole novel, and now I am hungry for the rest.

Nightmares And Dreamscapes
Nightmares And Dreamscapes
by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
70 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Partly boring - partly exciting, Sept. 26 2001
This collection of stories has it both: it can be utterly boring, and this is true for most of the stories. But there are also very good stories in it. It is significant, though, that the best piece of writing is not fictitious. It is the report of a Little League baseball season, when the author accompanies his 12-year-old son and his team in the local championships. King shows a great feeling for baseball here, and the story is a must for every genuine fan. On the whole the anthology could be a little bit slimmer.

The Coffin Dancer
The Coffin Dancer
by Jeffery Deaver
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
120 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Superman (good) vs. Superman (bad), Aug. 9 2001
This novel is an example how a good idea, a well worked out plot can be partly destroyed by the wrong choice of characters. It is really disturbing to find two completely unrealistic characters - superman (good) and superman (bad) - in a realistic setting. Both supermen never make mistakes, well, not really. But they move in a world that is quite normal, and this makes part of the action improbable or simply unrealistic. The placement of the second bomb cannot be realistic; a highly sophisticated device like this cannot be organized and placed within a couple of hours. But superman (bad) can do it - easily. The constantly deceiving tactics of superman (bad) cannot be predicted or even guessed at. There are always several - realistic - possibilities thinkable. But superman (good) finds the right one - easily. And how can somebody murder eight US Marshals within minutes - sometimes noisily - without the people staying in the same house noticing anything? The author should have given the novel a fantasy setting and written about witchcraft and telepathy, but this story is not believable as it is. I admit, it is never boring, but because of the flaws I described it always a bit annoying.

Devil's Waltz
Devil's Waltz
by Jonathan Kellerman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
60 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A subtle thriller, July 15 2001
Who says thrillers are only good when there is a lot of action and a breathtaking climax? If you want to be convinced of the contrary, read this novel. Kellerman shows in this book that he is a real and genuine psychologist and an expert author. He wrote a pageturner that is soft and subtle and, nevertheless, you cannot lay this book down. You work yourself into the mystery with the characters, and Dr. Delaware is at his best here, with a splendid Milo at his side. The sick characters are so weird, but so credible, that it takes a super writer to present this novel and its complicated plot with the expertise that is shown here. A remarkable book by an author I like better and better.

Darwin's Radio
Darwin's Radio
by Greg Bear
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
91 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Good idea - a bore!, June 28 2001
I admit the idea is good. It is very imaginable that people in their prejudiced ignorance behave as it is described in the novel, that authorities act against their better knowledge and follow populist motivations. But after a very good beginning, the novel just loses its energy. This may be partly due to the fact that we have a hard-core sf-novel here and the scientific explanations are somewhat lengthy at times. I am not an expert, but I always understood the general idea of what Bear explained. Why did he not go the simple way and emphasize the action a little more as he did at the beginning and cut out the scientific bla-bla that no one is interested in, at least not for the story's sake? In addition, he changed from a more global point of view to a very private one, with the effect that the dramatic evolutionary change gets somehow lost on the reader. A drama important to all mankind becomes a tiny little problem of a family. Bear should have introduced more "cases" and described the cruelty of the masses explicitly to keep the drama up. But he chose to let the story trickle very slowly at the end. So there is absolutely no climax where we should expect one. In contrast to one of the other critics I would not mind a sequel, but it should show more action and suspense.

Bag of Bones
Bag of Bones
by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
144 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The Old King Again, June 6 2001
Finally: I read a King novel like I used to when I was much younger. Like in the old times when we read "It", "Pet Sematary" the "Tommknockers" and more of the kind. So the five stars are a must. But one thing has changed. King's writing has matured, if I am allowed to say this. His characters are flesh and blood, and the setting - his Maine - is full of real life. The Yankees are described after long and meticulous observation of the different types, the author looks at them and their pecularities with love, affection, understanding. But he never loses his critical distance. The supernatural elements blend in the novel very naturally. Without it the novel would not be "realistic". And he writes in the tradition of the great regionalists, he would be one of their best. Maybe this is why he keeps quoting and mentioning Thomas Hardy in this novel. There may be one little thing that some readers might see a little negative: very often King is carried away by his love of writing and this gives some length to a couple of passages. But those who know him grant him generous pardon. Well done! I am waiting for the next in the row.

Murder, She Meowed: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
Murder, She Meowed: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
by Rita Mae Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
72 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Could be better, May 6 2001
The other novels by Sneaky Pie Brown were better - definitely. I would not say this book is bad, but it is not great either. In those novels the characters were credible and the plot was very well developed. Here the characters of Chark, Adelia and most of the other horse racing professionals are stereotype, clumsy and wooden in their presentation. Chark and Adelia are hardly characters of flesh and blood. The plot is not of the same quality as the plots of the other books I have read. The solution does not come as a surprise, but like in a classical English soap mystery you accept it, but the development of the plot does not help you to sharpen your qualities as a detective. It is not logical and you'd rather not think much about it. Because there is no argumentation that necessarily leads to the ending. The animals are too intrusive and their "help" a little too erratic as well. So on the whole this novel is readable, but it is not a pageturner and not as hilarious a story as the other ones I have read.

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