Thursday, May 19, 2016

Die of Shame

Mark Billingham, the author of "Die of Shame" is a comedian. I remember the first time I heard him speak (as a writer, not as a Seinfeld), he mentioned his book titles were intended to make the job easy for the reviewers, as in:

  • "Lifeless" - a perfect title for this piece of rubbish novel
  • "Buried" - it certainly should be.
He continued the theme with "Good as Dead" and "The Dying Hours". And now - "Die of Shame". What was he daring critics to say?

And now, the actual review.

"Die of Shame" is not a Tom Thorne novel. Tom makes an appearance in the very last chapter (Phil cameos earlier), but the Detective Inspector who leads the murder investigation is a new face, Nicola Tanner. Refreshing that it's a woman, and I'm looking forward to seeing her personality develop in future books.

I liked the experimental structure of the book. I liked the idea: a group of addicts meets every Monday night for their therapy session, and then one of them is murdered (for a while, we don't even know which one). What I didn't like were the characters. Not a single one of them. OK, they're addicts, and they've done some terrible things. But they're not - nice. You know? I wouldn't want to be friends with them. I wouldn't want to meet them for lunch. I actually didn't care who'd done it, I just wanted him or her to do it again, until nobody of the group was left.

Don't get me wrong, it's actually a good book. Good plot and all. I wouldn't die of shame if I'd written it.

Monday, May 09, 2016

We are all completely beside ourselves

What can I say about "We are all completely beside ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler that'll convince you to read it? Come on, imagine that elusive, magical something, the one thing that'll make you reach for a book, no questions asked. Now imagine I've just said it about this book. And read it.

(There is a very good reason I'm not telling you what the book is about. If you don't know, you'll want to be surprised.)

Friday, April 29, 2016


I"m watching a new TV series. Think "Prison Break" meets "Blacklist" with a touch of Harlan Coben's "The Five".

A woman with full body tattoos is found in a travel bag in Times Square - alive, but with full-blown amnesia. One of the tattoos is the name of an FBI agent, who soon discovers that her body is a map of crimes about to be committed. But why this specific FBI agent?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Find Her (Detective D.D. Warren Book 8) by Lisa Gardner

(Have I ever mentioned how long it took me to get into Lisa Gardner's books? I read samples of her texts in writing courses, and I loved her voice, yet every time I picked up one of her stories, the violence and inherent sadness in the blurb made me put it right down again.

Eventually I succumbed. Started with "Catch me", because the writeup seemed the least tragic. Loved both the story and the respectfully gentle, non-sensationalist way, in which Ms Gardner deals with brutal events. Read the rest of the series in random order, which messed up the character arc a little bit, particularly D.D.'s love life, but it didn't matter. Her books rock.)

So, "Find Her". I read it as soon as it was published, back in February. As always with this author, I got a plot full of intrigue, originality, heart, real yet quirky characters, and a pace that kept me up the whole night, turning the pages with one hand and propping up my eyelids with the other.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fool Me Once

“Fool Me Once” (2016) by Harlan Coben is a brilliant read.

Now, before I tell you more, a digression. I had it on pre-order as soon as it became possible, with the release date diarised… only to be caught out by the time difference between New Zealand and America, which meant I had to wait an extra day. Miss Patient I was not, as you can imagine.

And while I (don’t) have your attention, here’s another digression. The poor author had spent 6-9 months of his life writing the book. I read it in two evenings. (Could have made it one evening, but I wanted to prolong the pleasure.) It doesn’t feel fair, somehow.

All right, onto the review. The book contains all the essential bestseller elements that Coben is so good at: a character you’re immediately cheering for, a murder mystery, a family secret, a moral dilemma (should you use webcams to spy on the nanny?), a sense of impeding danger. It even has Win as a cameo – and if you don’t know Win, don’t read this book just yet, first read any of the Myron Bolitar thrillers (I like Promise Me and The Darkest Fear the best).

The blurb – I know you want it:

Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.