Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Cove by Catherine Coulter

The Cove (FBI Series)
Title: The Cove
Author: Catherine Coulter
Series: FBI Thriller (book #1)
Next in series: The Maze
My rating: 2 Stars

Synopsis: Sally Brainerd is on the run from an FBI agent, who believes she has information about her father’s murder, and from a sadistic doctor who wants to keep her quiet. She seeks sanctuary in a picturesque town called the Cove but strange things are happening there and the townsfolk are not what they seem. What is really going on in Sally’s life?

Review: This is one of the worst plots I have ever read. It is ridiculously implausible and becomes seriously confusing with numerous disorienting transitions in location. The dialogue is stilted and the characters are like card board cutouts with no real development.  The female lead is idiotic. Really, how many times can the same woman be abducted? She seems to be on a really slow learning curve. Even her name is puzzling – is she Sally or Susan?
I will not be continuing with the series.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Black Hills
Title: Black Hills
Author: Nora Roberts
My Rating: 4 Stars

My Synopsis: While visiting his grandparents on a ranch in North Dakota, Cooper Sullivan meets Lily Chance and they begin a friendship that develops into romance years later. After circumstances drive them apart, Lil fulfills her childhood dream of establishing a refuge for large cats and Coop becomes a detective and then a PI. Now, Coop has returned and they rekindle their romance. However, their path is not without obstacles for they must get past Lil’s trust issues as well as the threat of a serial killer who has decided to make Lil his next victim.

My Review: The back story regarding the animal refuge and the large cats is very enjoyable as are the descriptions of the scenery. While the book begins very well, I found that the middle dragged on a bit until the build-up of tension at the very end. While I did like the main characters and the development of their relationship, I felt that Lil’s trust issues were a bit unfounded and did not warrant her coldness toward Coop.

Farley is definitely my favorite character in the book. His loyalty, honesty and ability to love despite the circumstances of his upbringing make him one of the best characters Nora has ever written.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon

The Tunnels (Kelly Jones Novels)
Title: The Tunnels
Author: Michelle Gagnon
Series: Kelly Jones (Book #1)
Next in series: The Boneyard
My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: FBI agent, Kelly Jones and her partner, Roger Morrow are called in to investigate when the mutilated bodies of two female students are found in the abandoned tunnels beneath a prestigious college. The ritualistic nature of the killings and the fact that both victims are daughters of powerful men contribute to the need to discover and stop the killer before he strikes again.  

Review: Let me begin by saying that I adore serial killer stories, and I am always looking for ones that contribute to the genre and do not merely regurgitate traditional plot lines.  Fortunately, this book falls into the former category. The plot is original and inventive with its roots in Norse mythology, and there is a strong build-up of tension and suspense with an interesting twist at the end. The characters are well developed, especially the female lead who has an interesting back story. There are a couple of minor shortcomings, such as the obvious red herrings and the final scenes, which are a little bit too reminiscent of the Silence of the Lambs. In sum, this an excellent debut novel and I am curious to read the next installment.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Second Sight by Amanda Quick

Second Sight (The Arcane Society, Book 1)
Title: Second Sight
Author: Amanda Quick
Series: Arcane Society (book #1)
Next in series: White Lies
My Rating: 4 Stars

My Synopsis: Venetia Milton is a Victorian-era photographer with the uncanny ability to see people's auras. Gabriel Jones is a member of the Arcane Society, which has hired Venetia to photographic their mysterious collection of relics. When these two meet, sparks fly in more ways than one and they must ultimately join forces to catch a killer intent on discovering the secret formula to enhance psychic abilities.

My Review: This is a quick and entertaining read (no pun intended). The prose flows and the characters are well developed. The romantic leads have a sweet relationship and there are some interesting details on early photographic techniques.
Nevertheless, I had some minor issues. First, the mystery outweighs the romance, and second, the discovery of the killer's identity and his demise are quite sudden and anti-climactic.

Friday, 21 January 2011

All the Pretty Girls by J. T. Ellison

All The Pretty Girls (Taylor Jackson)Title: All the Pretty Girls
Author: J. T. Ellison
Series: Taylor Jackson (book #1)
Next in series: 14
My Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis:  A serial killer dubbed The Southern Strangler is on a killing spree across the Southeast. At each new crime scene, he leaves a gruesome memento from his previous kill – the victim’s hand. Nashville homicide detective, Taylor Jackson, and FBI profiler, John Baldwin are hot on the heels of this sadistic killer while at the same time, Jackson is searching for a rapist who only attacks in the rain.

Review: Very suspenseful with some great twists and turns and even though the plot involves death and murder, it is not to gory. One of the aspects of the narrative that I found particularly intriguing was the fact that the story was told from multiple perspectives, including those of characters who were ultimately killed off.
While the main characters are realistic and believable, I would have liked to know more about their backgrounds and relationships. As this is the first installment in the series, these details may still be forthcoming and I will definitely continue reading.
Ultimately, the identity of the killer is not surprising and it is not too difficult to figure it out. Nevertheless, his motivation for killing is one that I have not encountered before.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Seduction by Amanda Quick

Title: Seduction
Author: Amanda Quick
My Rating: 4 Stars

My Synopsis: The enigmatic Earl of Ravenwood and his new bride, Sophie Dorring, each of their own reasons for marrying. Julian seeks a woman who is the exact opposite of his promiscuous first wife, whom he is suspected of murdering. Sophie desires the freedom to seek vengeance against the man who defiled her sister and believes marriage to Julian will give her this opportunity. Little do they know that this marriage of convenience will ultimately set them on a collision path with a dangerous mad man.

My Review: The story is fast moving and has some amusing moments including a visit to a popular courtesan and an early morning duel. The heroine is intelligent and independent, and the conversations are witty and entertaining. The mystery, however, is where the book encounters difficulties as it is somewhat lackluster and formulaic. In addition, the excessive foreshadowing regarding the villain gives his identity away quite early.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham

Ghost Shadow (The Bone Island Trilogy)
Title: Ghost Shadow
Author: Heather Graham
Series: Bone Island Trilogy (book #1) 
Next in series: Ghost Night 
My Rating: 2 Stars

My Synopsis: Katie O’Hara can see and speak to ghosts. She plans on purchasing and refurbishing a wax museum where the gruesome discovery of a corpse was made several years before. Now, with the suspects returning to Key West and the new bodies piling up, Katie, with the help of her ghostly friends and the original victim’s ex-fiancĂ©, must discover the identity of the killer before she becomes his next victim.

My Review: The macabre details of Key West’s history are very intriguing, however, they cannot compensate for the poor writing and predictable plot. Graham has a bad habit of repeating clues as if she thinks the reader will miss them - unfortunately, she even uses the same words to do so.  
The killer is also predictable and can be guessed in the first third of the book.  
One of the only other positive elements is the hilarious ghost, Bartholomew, whose wisecracks make the book somewhat readable.  
I will not be reading any more in the series.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Split Second by Alex Kava

Split Second
Title: Split Second
Author: Alex Kava
Series: Maggie O'Dell (book #2)
Previous in series: A Perfect Evil  
Next in series: The Soul Catcher
My Rating: 3 Stars

My Synopsis: FBI profiler, Maggie O’Dell, must cope with the escape of her Nemesis, Albert Stucky, the serial killer who left her both physically and emotionally scarred. She must also contend with the disappearance of her new neighbor, and as the bodies begin following her around, Maggie must face the possibility that the killer’s next victim will be someone closer to home.

My Review: While the pacing is smooth and the book includes some suspenseful moments, the plot lacks imagination. The character development is limited (mainly Maggie and her new partner, Tully). It would have been more interesting to learn of the killer’s background and motivation, which are hinted at but not elaborated on sufficiently. As it stands, he is a generic construct with formulaic reasons and behaviors. The climax is also just as predictable.