‘Mr Mercedes’ by Stephen King – Review

Satisfying and suspenseful crime thriller that’ll keep you reading….

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While Stephen King might be known for stories with a paranormal edge he’s more than capable of delivering one in the realms of a modern crime thriller. Of course he keeps the depravity and absurdity close nit because that’s what he does and I might be questioning my own tastefulness here when I say I kind of enjoy where he goes sometimes; even if its on the fringes sick. This is for all intents and purposes to tell a story and that he does here.

We see the typical loner/mother issues/tech nerd killer who takes his own aspirations to more and more depraved heights while he also taunts the cop who could never catch him, a retired detective. This could have been a police procedural if the main character ‘ Bill Hodges’ hadn’t given back his badge so instead its a cat and mouse private investigator type set up that grows more and more dramatic. While he chooses not to confide in old colleagues about a still to be caught perp, he takes the taunting personally and this sets up the perfect conflict that double backs on the story.

There are secondary characters that bring possibly more dimension than the mains and they become needed by ‘Hodges’ in this world of computers, social media and technology. By the end you’re rooting for them to pull out the win. It’s dark, urban, mystery intertwined and thrilling fun written in the highest quality.

5 Stars – My first paperback read in nearly two years. Back to indie reads now…. 

A Dish Best Served Cold: An ‘Archer’ Novel by Steve Lumsden – Review

Page turning British crime that keeps readers immersed…

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Steve Lumsden tells a unique crime story in a unique way. Presented Over six parts A dish Best Served Cold is a revenge and criminal underworld story that see’s implications from the past shape the present day and the characters in it.

At the beginning we don’t quite know what ‘Archer’ is doing or what his motives are other than disrupting a crime syndicate but he’s a man on a mission and gets things done. His mystique and intrigue carries the opening parts of the book while it intertwines with the opposing forces he is messing with. Just who ‘Archer’ is and what his connection is to the people he faces is what this story is all about. His journey eventually becomes apparent but you’ll be guessing for a while.

Scenes and pages fly by with a writing style that doesn’t keep readers in one place for long, its different in that sense and works. While the story unfolds it’s told through multiple characters that are all moving towards a satisfying resolve that contains a few twists – some expected and some not so much. There are some characters who may appear to be of the bad persuasion but are actually a force of good.

From drug dealings to sordid affairs there’s a subtle level of grit that makes for an easy to read British crime story…

4 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon UK and Goodreads

‘Cells’ by Julia Cowan – Review

An engaging and original debut that takes readers down the ‘well’ of crime…

Cells is a story that begins with intrigue and mystery and keeps you reading all the way to the end. There aren’t many books that manage to carry the mystery element throughout and for her efforts Julia Cowan has done quite well. Somewhere between psychological and crime thriller, the story is told though multiple points of view, a perhaps different choice as it switches between various characters in third person and then first person for main character James – this would be my only real critique as many of James’s scenes feel a little repetitive in writing style but in the same breath pages are turned quickly.

While being about many different things, Cells explores the morality of rehabilitating criminal offenders by way of what is a dark experiment of sorts that aligns with vigilante justice. James never really had a chance from a young age and is caught up in some rather unfortunate circumstances by way of coincidence, or perhaps that’s how it was always supposed to be. His father’s influence is a central theme to his character arc.

What follows is a cat and mouse account that switches back and forth in time while overlapping in what I imagine took some real thought and work to put together by the author. From police corruption, blackmail and even a complicated love triangle this story ticks many of the boxes that fans of crime thrillers will enjoy. In some places it’s brutal and doesn’t hold back with the darker edges readers will experience. The question readers will face at the end of it all is whether or not James is any better for the journey he has been on.

4 Stars – an impressive debut, looking forward to reading more from Julia Cowan!

Recent Indie Book Recommendations

These are unprecedented times… sick and tired of hearing that over and over again? Do yourself a favour and turn off the news for a while, the headlines aren’t going to change anytime soon so do something better with your time. 

Here at the Hall of information we have vowed to carry on in the face of adversity and continue our sacred vow to read and review indie books and keep this whole book train rolling down the track.

With book reviews comes book recommendations and so here are some recent reads that I urge you to check out for some awesome escapism from the crap reality this season of life has become – I’m talking worse than the final season of GOT…  Let’s go!

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The power of being positive is a powerful thing! And one way out of this shit storm is to escape through being positive or at least taking on a read that is proactive in that. Donald Lee approached the Hall for a review and we were not disappointed because his unique outlook on the self help genre is both thought provoking and valuable for learning so many of live’s lessons.

Donald is a tenured band teacher (no pun intended) and throughout his years he’s picked up a thing or two about life and how to get the most from it. Made up of short parables on very many subjects this book will bring a smile to your face! Check out my review of The Band Director’s Lessons about Life

Next up is a regular name who appears in the reviews here because Christina Engela has done it again with her immersive brand of space sci-fi.

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The Horror! Panic in Space series presents ‘Life Signs’ and my recent review headline reads ‘A trio of enjoyable sci-fi tales filled with mystery, fun and revelations…’

This is the second entry of Engela’s series which I am gradually working my way through. In these distracting times, stories like this are easy to read and are light on the mind while also being enough to whisk you away for a while. I urge you to check out these books along with her many other books which I have reviewed here in the past year (the Quantum series comes to mind…)

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Another author who recently reached out to the Hall is Damien Linnane from the land of Oz- stralia… who presented me with a recommendation in the form of ‘Scarred’ which is exactly what the title suggests. Trust me when I say this one is both good and brutal but it goes to brutal places for the sake of a great story.

To quote my very recent review:There are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice…’ 

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Right now like a lot of folks there’s a bunch of worry and pressure on our shoulders. It’s hard to get into a book but escapism and taking the mind away for a little while is important; enter the first book in the Willie Abrams Saga which is just enough to take you away while not overloading you with a complex overindulgent story. Sometimes simple stories are the best ones and this is a fine example of that. And I don’t mean to be critical when I say it’s simple because this is a rare quality found in indie books.

The Quest for the Sun God’s Tomb by CJ Evans  was a fun and easy to read book. Chapters are pacy and only five minutes or so long which means you can put it down and pick it up as much as you like. Somewhere between Indiana Jones and an original tale, this one is full of action and intrigue! Looking foward to reading more in the Saga soon!

 

So what are you reading? I know these are hard times, but staying in and finding a book to read will take away that anxiety and worry for a while, trust me!

Scarred by Damien Linnane – Review

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge…

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Scarred is exactly what the title suggests and Damien Linnane has carved a unique story telling path by bravely going to some violent and graphic places. It isn’t for the faint of heart but the places readers are taken make for a great story.

You have the historically abused and damaged vigilante in the form of Jason Ennis who leads the story while residing on the fringes of society. He’s the quiet type who could be Batman one day and then in the same breath a cold blooded killer, even though his motives could possibly be justified – the conflict which is genius in this story and that being whether or not Jason’s motives are the right thing to do? He’s complex and haunted by a childhood of abuse, his back story like all of the other principal characters is explored and told through the eyes of whoever is leading the scene. The view even switches in some scenes which is a credit to the author’s execution and work to achieve.

We also follow Howard who is at the other extreme end of life’s scale. He too is haunted by a dark past and uses it as a fuel on others sometimes brutally and graphically. In between the violence and sometimes depravity is a reason to go there, not for the shock factor but for the the greater good of a story which I eventually couldn’t put down.

There are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice. My only real critique comes from the writing style which chooses more often to show as opposed to tell – a rather cliche critique in book reviews and for this book the ‘showing’ works most of the time to immerse one in the depth of backstory and to get into the thoughts of characters.

For those who don’t mind some violence and graphic content, you’ll appreciate a story that goes to places of darkness and scarring to tell it while a few ‘bad guys’ get taken down in the process.

 

5 Stars – I enjoyed this immersive and sometimes brutal tale. Thank you to the author for reaching out! Reviews left on Goodreads and Amazon (UK) 

Lock the Door (Clown Conspiracy Book 2): A Short Thriller by Mallory Kelly – Review

The conspiracy of clowns moves into stalker territory…

Lock the Door (Clown Conspiracy Book 2): A Short Thriller by [Kelly, Mallory]

The ‘clown conspiracy’ series moves into even creepier and stalker type heights in what is the second entry to a well written and enjoyable crime thriller series. Detective duo ‘Shirley’ and ‘Carter’ are reeling from their previous clown encounter while they pursue a suspect which brings them closer but also further into the rabbit hole of murderous lurking clowns.

A sense of danger begins to envelope the downtrodden ‘Amelia’ who lives with a not so deserving husband while an old school acquaintance closes in. She never knew this ‘friend’ wanted more and he’s back on the scene to take it. This soon becomes a race against time for crime fighting duo ‘Shirley’ and ‘Carter’ in what is a tale that will keep the readers turning pages.

 

5 stars 

 

 

Chappie : A story about a robot about humanity

In the future there will be robots…… You will probably get the rest as you have heard me many times ramble on about the first line of my book.  I was feeling a little anxious as I went into the cinema this past Friday to watch a new film called Chappie.

Anxious because my unpublished work deals with similar issues as seen in Chappie. Robots are centre stage and with me going into watch this film there was a hell of a lot at stake. My reason for this is because one day in the not too distant future I want to see my legacy of novels converted to the big screen. So anything robot related is representing the genre that my life’s work is under. But enough about my internal ramblings.

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From the very beginning Neil Blomkamp ( director of district 9) throws us into a world not that far away from ours. Johannesburg, South Africa. A place where crime is a big problem. So the police have started to draft in newly developed robots to deal with the gangs and violent goings on. Minutes in and we are treated to spectacular action.

Many of these police robots are involved and you know sometimes there’s that moment : ‘oh that’s a bit fake’. I’m not sure how they did it, whatever sorcery was involved worked. Because I was led to believe every robot I saw, engaging in combat was actually there.

The story continues to unfold and we are introduced to some well-known faces such as Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Dev Patel. But they were matched by some rather unknowns who to me stole the show. Our title character begins life as a police robot and takes on heavy damage early in the first action sequence. This runs in parallel with some swanky new software being developed by Patel pulling an all nighter on red bull.

This software allows a robot to simply be human in terms of emotion and feelings. He can learn and is influenced by the people around him and from what he is told. The ultimate theme and concept that is familiar in all robot stories. But this time they got it so damn right.

Chappie is born and the real story begins. I found myself thoroughly enjoying this film. There were nods to Robocop and many of the 80’s sci fi classics in terms of certain themes and sequences. As much as it felt like one of those classics this also felt like a modern day better version of these productions.

I wouldn’t be able to compare this film or story to anything ever done on screen. It’s a fantastic original piece and represents the robot genre immaculately. There were moments when I laughed out loud and times when I was truly moved. Mostly by this robot who was just trying to find his way in the world. The story to me was beautiful, I have only been quoted once to say that about Titanic. Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet falling in somewhat doomed love whilst one of the worst disasters in history unfolds around them. This is all heightened by that tragedy. It’s perfect and although chappie isn’t as much a Romeo and Juliet story it still gives the same effect.

Although the action was quite violent in places, it was suitable for what Neil Blomkamp was trying to tell us. This film wasn’t about robots in the end, it was about humanity and its ability to make you laugh and make you cry with every other emotion in between. But it takes for something not human to try and be human for us to see that. (yes read that last sentence twice and slowly)

I came away thinking what an exceptional film and story. One film that I do recommend you seeing because it may not make you laugh or move you but it will certainly get you in one way or another.

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The film had some great thought provoking moments much this one