Friday 23 November 2012

Dead Religion by David Beers

Alex Valdez has spent most of his life trying to get away from a nightmare that has haunted him and destroyed his parents. When Alex is linked to a terrorist attack on a hotel in Mexico City FBI Agent James Allison is despatched to find out what happened and why, before the incident becomes a major diplomatic issue. He uncovers a history of mental illness, which started when his parents held an ancient blood rite to awaken a forgotten God. This is part thriller part horror, told from several viewpoints as the Aztec God finds himself growing in strength once more.
Dead Religion

In the early part of the book we discover plenty of Alex's recent past and a little of his early life with parents haunted and hunted before they met an early death. Although his supportive wife and a therapist at one point persuade him that his nightmares are nothing more than that over time he begins to doubt once more and descends back into terror. It had the definite air of a thriller about it, but as events began to pick up pace the story telling moved more firmly into the realm of horror with plenty of blood and gore, and a vengeful God who is now hunting more and more people associated with Alex. I really felt his growing unease, and eventual terror. He was definitely the most well rounded of the characters, and although Allison plays quite a key role there were other characters that featured less but struck more of a chord with me.

On the whole the book was well written and nicely paced. The foundations were well laid early on with a gradual addition of more and more information to really put flesh on the bones of the story. Some of the descriptions made me flinch and I liked that this was a horror with a decent back story rather than the protagonists facing some vague, ill defined malevolence. However there were a few typos that should have been picked up and I felt the epilogue left too much unresolved for my liking. However as an entirety I really enjoyed this read.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*

Friday 9 November 2012

One Last Lie by Rob Kaufman

One Last Lie Philip and Jonathan are a devoted couple whose dream of having a child together was stopped in its tracks after cancer left Philip infertile, and Jonathan was reluctant to pass on his obsessive compulsive genes. When Philip's old college friend Angela reappears in his life after 15 years, having conquered obesity and depression, she has a suggestion they feel could benefit them all. She wants to be a mother and is happy to let them have contact with the child if they will provide the sperm. Although friends have concerns about the idea they plough ahead, only for the situation to deteriorate rapidly once Angela is living nearby and pregnant.

The story moves between the present, where Jonathan is in a home seeing out his days and waiting for his life to be over, and the past. Although it moves around in time the progression of the story in the past is pretty linear, and we get various viewpoints to help the reader see the full picture, so it's not too hard to keep up with. 

A lot of the book is setting up for the dramatic unravelling of the relationship between the couple and Angela, and paints the two men as a warm, clever and caring couple surrounded by good friends and with a wonderful life. Angela on the other hand is clearly scheming in the background and has a temper that she carefully hides until it is too late. The latter part of the book sees events quickly unfold after just a few small alarm bells start to go off and Angela's plotting ends in tragedy. The very end throws up one final surprise. It  was something that had crossed my mind while I was reading but I certainly wasn't expecting it, and it wrapped the book up nicely.

One Last Lie is a tale of a warped woman who sets out the get what she wants at the expense of others. She is deceitful  manipulative and I couldn't find a single redeeming factor, so she is the perfect foil to the men who couldn't be more different. Seeing how much had gone into her plot made me dislike her more and more. 

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I only have a couple of criticisms. The balance of the book felt a bit off, with the unveiling of Angela happening very hurriedly towards the end after a long set up. I also noticed a few silly typos that should have been picked up easily - nothing major but a little distracting. It was definitely worth the time I spent reading it though.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*

Friday 2 November 2012

Invisible Murder by Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis

Invisible Murder is the second book in the series, coming on the heels of New York Times bestseller The Boy in the Suitcase. I missed the first book but the blurb for this one had me drawn in.

In Hungary two young Roma gypsy boys are scavenging in an old Soviet military hospital when they are able to access a formerly sealed up area and find something that could make them a lot of money. Their actions could threaten the lives of many others though. In Denmark nurse Nina is used to being in close contact with the poor and dispossessed but this time her work is about to damage everything she holds dear. Elsewhere Sandor is trying to escape his roots and make a good life for himself, but his new world is about to come crumbling down around him.

The story is told from a number of perspective and draws together several strands to an unlikely climax. In addition to the above we also see events unfold from the perspective of a Security detective, trying to head off terrorist threats, and an elderly man who thinks his wife is frittering away their life savings. It is clear how some of the threads dovetail but it takes right until the end to neatly tie them all together. Although there is a lot going on and plenty of characters to keep in mind I didn't find it hard to keep the strands clear or keep up with what was happening. The themes are very topical and I love that the ending wasn't what I had been expecting.

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it had a plot that kept moving and was full of little twists and turns but that it also had some great characters with real depth to them, where some thrillers like this get carried away with plot and offer slightly flat protagonists. Nina is devoted to her work  with the underground Network and determined to do what she can to look after children who need her, although husband Morten sees this as being at the expense of her own children. I also felt for Sandor while being slightly sorry for him feeling he almost had to deny where he came from. As a Roma man he is acutely aware of the discrimination his people face but wants to have a career. When his half brother comes bowling back into his life he struggles with uniting his two very different worlds. I felt for him as he became more controlled by others.

I really enjoyed this book and will try and get to the previous book at some point in the future.

Format: Kindle, review copy
Publisher: Soho Crime
My Rating: 4*