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 gold-coast-blues-by-marc-krulewitch

Aims High But Misses the Mark

Review of Gold Coast Blues by Marc Krulewitch

A missing girl, stolen expensive wine, an honest private investigator, bent cops and a touch of organised crime. This novel has all the elements of a great crime thriller but doesn’t quite hit the mark.

The characterisation is very thin and the major protagonists’ motivation is often difficult to comprehend. The plot lacks bite and some parts of the action added nothing to the reader’s comprehension or understanding of the story line and appeared to be extraneous.

It is a pity that the author makes little use of the settings – principally New York and Chicago, both of which are marvellous, atmospheric cities. The plot could equally have been set in Birmingham or Acton. Additionally some of the twists in the final chapter were difficult to swallow and everything is wrapped up far too quickly.

It was a good read over a couple of days on the beach but looking for others in the series will not be a first priority.

-- mr zorg

 

Star Rating: Three Stars

3-Star Rating

 heirs-and-assigns-by-marjorie-eccles

Enjoyable Whodunnit is Evocative of Agatha Christie

Review of Heirs and Assigns by Marjorie Eccles

Both my parents were alive during the year in which this story was set, children granted, but living nonetheless which makes it slightly hard for me when I see this identified as an historical novel! But that’s what it is!! Though as I was drawn into the narrative it became almost timeless. A tale of people and families, of reactions and interactions.

In so much of today’s novel writing, and not just the crime genre, there are so many attempts to be ‘clever.’ A little like supermarket brands producing new, improved, enriched this and that. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s a bad thing, there have been some incredibly creative and stimulating works produced. But sometimes it is wonderful to pick up and enjoy a straightforward, storytelling whodunnit. And with this tale Marjorie Eccles has ‘dun’ it.

Enjoy a slow, languorous sojourn in the Shropshire countryside in a sleepy little village that conjures Marple and Agatha Christie herself. Passages of descriptive narrative reveal the world we are entering. It’s the work of a writer confident in her own skin. It’s economic but with no lack of relevant detail and substance. And the herrings are pinkish rather than red.

It was a nice little spider’s web of characters and connections that unravelled predictably at times but surprisingly at others. Plenty to satisfy the reader who likes to second guess and be correct as well as the reader who likes to be thrown a complete curve ball.

The characters seem to fall into two quite distinct camps: those we like and those we don’t like and those we thought we liked until we didn’t like them!!! Sorry, that’s three camps!!! And they were well defined within the story.

This is not a page turner but I don’t think that was the intention of the writer. This is a pleasant, easy, satisfying read, one for the train or the beach maybe.

-- Whizz

 

Star Rating: Four Stars

4-Star Rating

 blood-trade-by-john-a-daly

Punchy Thriller Has Many Surprises

Review of Blood Trade by John A. Daly

Andrew Carson has had a bad day, culminating in a blazing row with his daughter, when both said things they will later regret. Then he comes across a crashed car and parked nearby a motorist who is not prepared to get involved. Andrew can’t drive away and just leave someone to possibly die and so he starts to climb down to look for any survivors. His day continues to get worse as the driver is not only unhurt but is also violent and demands that Andrew drive him to Denver which Andrew is determined not to do. He manages to get away and home to the safety of his garage, but the stranger has hitched a ride in his boot and Andrew is stabbed in the stomach.

Sean Coleman is the town drunk, or at least he used to be, but now that his uncle has been killed and left his security business to Sean he has cleaned up his act and is trying to become a respectable business man. The business isn’t doing well and whilst he struggles to pay off the mortgage, Sean volunteers twice a week at a clinic which pays him hard cash in exchange for his blood plasma. Sean has a soft spot for Jessica, one of the nurses and one day he finds her crying over a newspaper article. It relates to her uncle, one Andrew Carson who has disappeared in suspicious circumstances.

Hoping to gain Jessica’s gratitude, Sean involves himself in the search for Andrew only to find that that the twists and turns of event leave him (and the reader) breathless.

At the same time Sean’s brother-in-law, Gary Lumbergh, the local police chief, finds himself and his family being threatened as a result of a spectacular case he recently resolved.

This book has so many twists, turns, misdirections and layers of plot, that I even forgot to eat -- I was so involved. The characters are larger than life and when you think you know them, there is another surprise just around the corner.

This is a very easy book to read and lacks much in the way of sophistication, but that doesn’t mean it is lightweight; it really does pack a punch without stretching the credibility too far. A very satisfying crime thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed.

-- Pashtpaws

 

Star Rating: Four Stars

4-Star Rating

 the-flood-by-david-hewson

Glorious Florence the Setting for Dark Deeds

Review of The Flood by David Hewson

In this thoroughly enjoyable novel, the beauty and art of the city of Florence are juxtaposed with its deadly side.

In late October 1942 a four-year-old boy is smuggled out of German-occupied Rome by one of the priests.

In November 1966 a seventeen-year-old boy, Aldo Pontecorvo, has been subjected to abuse at the hands of some of Florence’s senior figures.

How these two boys meet up later in life is the meat of this beautifully written novel.

It is November 1986 and Pino Fratelli, that four-year-old, and now a member of the Florence Carabinieri, is a white-haired forty-eight-year-old. He is on sick leave and, accompanied by his new English tenant, Julia Wellbeloved, they are in the Brancacci Chapel viewing some new desecration of the art works. Julia, a post-graduate student is working on a dissertation entitled ‘Why Murder Art?’ hoping to discover why members of the public attack works of art. Unbeknown to them, this ‘minor’ damage in the Chapel is going to escalate into something more sinister. Could it be that the famous 1966 ‘Great Flood of Florence’ holds the secret of Pino’s sickness and what ties him and Pontecorvo together? (Considered the worst flood in the city's history since 1557, over one hundred people were killed and millions of masterpieces of art and rare books were destroyed.)

Pino is the bane of his friend and superior Captain Walter Marrone, and when he suspects that the attacker might be harbouring some darker and more dangerous motives, Marrone tells him in no uncertain terms that he is on sick leave and must have nothing to do with the case. Pino, of course, has other ideas.

This book is not just a thriller, although it could stand alone as such. It is also a voyage into the history and art of the city of Florence, the city of the Medici, Benvenuto Cellini, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Savonarola, Machiavelli and many others, and we are treated to lessons in the travails between the various rival factions of this glorious city.

I found this book to be very enjoyable and highly recommend it.

-- Sméagol.

 

Star Rating: Four Stars

4-Star Rating

 chasing-justice-by-h-terrell-griffin

A Web of Deceit Involving Homeland Security

Review of Chasing Justice by H. Terrell Griffin

Detective Jennifer Diane Duncan – ‘JD’ to her friends – is called to a murder scene in the laid-back town of Longboat Keys. Little does she know how quickly things are going to escalate. Longboat Keys lies off the south-west coast of Florida, and is unused to anything other than your average petty crime and domestics. The victim is Linda Favereaux, the young wife of monied Jim Favereux, who is unable to be traced. When doubt emerges over the true identity of Linda, JD realises that this is not your ‘ordinary’ murder.

The plot escalates when Nate Bannister, a nasty piece of work and ex-Longboat Key resident, is also murdered in nearby Sarasota. Very quickly, Abby Lester, the wife of the Longboat Key Police Department Chief Bill Lester is arrested. Abby entreats Matt Royal, ex-trial lawyer from Orlando, (now resident beach bum and JD’s ‘partner’) to come out of retirement and defend her.

As JD’s and Matt’s relative cases proceed, people connected to them are murdered, and we are drawn into a web of deceit involving drugs and National Homeland Security.

This is a very enjoyable novel and the plot is cleverly constructed to throw in a couple of ‘red herrings.’ The characters are well-fleshed-out, believable, and in most cases, likeable.

As well as being a very readable book, the writer, H Terrell Griffin, expresses his dissatisfaction with the way justice is going in the USA – the dumbing-down of the facilities for the judges, which inevitably leads to lawyers not taking up places on the bench but continuing with their much more lucrative practices. This in turn results in a lowering of the standards both of intelligence and experience on the bench, and therefore of justice itself.

Thoroughly recommended.

-- Sméagol

 

Star Rating: Four Stars

4-Star Rating

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