NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, July 23, 2010

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read in the Women's Murder Club series...., July 23, 2010
This review is from: The 9th Judgment (The Women's Murder Club) (Hardcover)
This is one of the better books in the Women's Murder Club series. It's fast-paced and has several different criminal actions going on that involve the members of the WMC.

In first person point of view, Sergeant Lindsay Boxer of the SFPD juggles simultaneous investigations involving the shooting death of the wife of a movie star, tracking a cat burglar who steals from the rich during dinner parties, and chasing a psycho dubbed the LIPSTICK KILLER who is running rampant in the garages of San Francisco shopping malls killing women and their children. The other members of the WMC, Yuki, Claire, and Cindy, are all involved, as usual, in various aspects of these cases. This particular book is more focused on Lindsay although the romance between Cindy and Lindsay's current partner Rich Conklin, also gets some page time.

Although not great literature, this was an absorbing and entertaining page turner; a quick read with Patterson's trademark short chapters, perfect for summer travel or for reading while lounging at the pool with a cold drink.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Caught by Harlan Coben

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and fun!, July 20, 2010

This review is from: Caught (Hardcover)
This was a fun summer read, a fast-paced suspense thriller without all the gore or grisly details that are often the hallmark of this genre. If you like Linwood Barclay (No Time for Goodbye or Never Look Away: A Thriller), you'll find that Coben writes similar tales. He writes mysteries about ordinary people faced with unexpected events that cause them to make decisions and perform heroic efforts to find the answers or solutions to the situations.

In this book, a TV news reporter, Wendy Tynes, lures a suspected pedophile, social worker Dan Mercer, to a house where he is "caught" in a sting operation that is televised nationally. In another side plot, teenager Haley McWaid has disappeared from her suburban New Jersey home without a trace. These two stories converge in a plot that becomes more complicated as it evolves. Ultimately, the novel is about accusations, both founded and unfounded, and how quickly reputations can be ruined by false charges, even if later the accused are proven to be not guilty or deemed innocent by the courts. At times, Coben seems to be juggling too many moral and ethical questions, for example, what should be done to parents who provide alcohol to teenagers? Should victims forgive those who have caused them harm? Is vigilante style justice ever acceptable? How far will parents go to protect their children? to name a few. Some of the characters tended to take the moral high road in a manner that almost seemed like a "lesson" or lecture to the reader. As far as characters go, incidentally, none of them were all that likable to me. It also seemed as if there were some loose ends in a rushed ending, but nothing that will keep me up at night wondering!

In short, I recommend this for those who like a quick entertaining read.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

5.0 out of 5 stars Expect the unexpected..., July 19, 2010

This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
Are you a Dickens fan? Did you read The Woman in White (Barnes & Noble Classics) by Wilkie Collins? Have you enjoyed Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White? If so -- this is the book for you!

Set in Victorian London and outlying areas circa 1862, the novel is the gloomy, grim, yet enthralling story of two very different girls whose meeting results in circumstances that change both in cataclysmic fashion. Sue Trinder, a fingersmith (pickpocket) lives among con men and thieves with an adoptive mother who takes in infants. Maud Lilly, heiress, lives a protected existence on a country estate with her bookish uncle and finds herself in need of a maid. The two are brought together by Gentleman, a scoundrel and rogue, in a dastardly plot to gain him Maud's inheritance.

The novel is divided into three parts giving you the perspective of each of the girls. The third section is the conclusion, full of surprising twists and turns. The characters in London, the ones on the estate, and those in the lunatic asylum, are interesting and their plights are compelling -- some you will love and others you will hate. Or will you change your mind, once you understand their motivations and secrets?

I really enjoyed this novel because of its setting and I liked the plot -- including the many times that I discovered that what I had thought was not what happened or when a foregone conclusion proved false! I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a complex and entertaining read with many layers. I have not read any of Sarah Waters' previous books, but will certainly rectify that now.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber

3.0 out of 5 stars The impact of a hidden Gospel..., July 10, 2010

This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Paperback)
This is a short novel said to be based upon the myth of Prometheus -- the Greek god who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals. Faber's book has the main character, Theo Griepenkerl, stealing nine papyrus scrolls that were secreted inside a wall mounted bas-relief and hidden for two thousand years from a war-torn museum in Iraq, writing a translation of them into a bestselling book, and the resultant consequences of his act of perfidy.

At times satirical and always sardonic, THE FIRE GOSPEL is often humorous and very clever. Theo muses on this academic coup as he translates the scrolls from Aramaic into the novel that will be his undoing. He finally finds a publisher for his work and soon the book shoots to number one on the bestseller lists. Theo does that requisite madcap book tour and, during fits of anxiety, sneaks down into the lobby of his hotel to read the reviews posted on amazon (that part alone was the most hilarious in the book - I laughed out loud). The book Theo wrote is often called "incendiary" by reviewers as it sets Christianity on fire -- the papyrus scrolls come to be known as the Fifth Gospel. Written by a purported eyewitness to the crucifixion, a bystander and former scribe to Caiaphas, Malchus' revelations cause the faithful to examine and question closely held beliefs. Amidst demonstrations and book burnings, Theo is referred to as the "minion of Satan" and finds himself at the mercy of fanatics.

The book jumps around and seems disjointed and not fully developed. I did enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I loved The Crimson Petal and the White. It definitely will provide an evening of entertainment and most likely cause some rumination or reflection on the topics of faith, the Bible, and religion.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Damaged by Pamela Callow

2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and predictable., July 8, 2010
By Denise "DC" (Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Damaged (Mass Market Paperback)
This novel was melodramatic romantic suspense at less than its best. The premise: someone is killing and dismembering young girls. Is there a connection to the body parts/tissue procurement industry? Who is involved in the dastardly plot? It's an attempt at a legal/medical thriller but there's not much law and much less medicine.

The protagonist, attorney Kate Lange, is definitely an angst ridden would-be heroine whose preoccupation with a tragedy that occurred when she was a teenager continues to haunt her despite her success. The reader is treated to frequent long stretches of internal dialogue where Kate obsesses about her past and thrashes about in the wellspring of her guilt. The other characters in the book were no more interesting and were poorly developed caricatures of police detective, managing partner in a legal firm, funeral home director, greedy lawyer, mad scientist, etc. I didn't like or care about any of them. All the men were basically lusting after Kate and the "romance" was completely absent unless you count "longing" looks and "heated" gazes. The author's attempt to insert subtle messages about medico-legal ethics, tissue donation, and the use of cadaveric materials for transplant were annoying and quite transparent. In addition, there seems to be obvious effort to get the reader to feel sorry for poor Kate who is bumbling around in her mistaken and misguided investigation without, of course, involving the police who should be handling the matters. I found her insipid and irritating as a main character and won't be reading the sequel in this series, INDEFENSIBLE, due out in January 2011.

Kate makes one stupid decision after another. Please, authors, can any one write a suspense thriller where the heroine does not end up in the killer's clutches?? Surely there are more realistic ways to solve the crime than this old and tired climax where the (usually) female main character stumbles headlong into an investigation and manages to almost become a victim?

As far as I'm concerned, I recommend that thriller lovers skip this debut and the series.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

5.0 out of 5 stars Best suspense thriller I've read in a long while..., July 6, 2010
By Denise "DC" (Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Still Missing (Hardcover)
I'd forgotten the great feeling a reader gets when she/he picks up a novel and is treated to a fresh, original story and a unique point of view to the narrative. This suspense thriller by Chevy Stevens is fresh, original, and quite possibly the best novel of this genre that I've read for a very long time.

Real estate agent Annie O'Sullivan is abducted from an open house by a man she refers to as The Freak. She is held prisoner for nearly a year in a remote mountain cabin and subjected to physical and mental abuse. Her story is told within the framework of 26 sessions that she has with a psychiatrist after she escapes. Without going into further details that might spoil the story, Annie finds that her return to home, family, and friends is fraught with difficulty. She feels that she is "still missing" to them and to herself because of the horrific experiences she had while with her captor.

Annie is an unforgettable protagonist and her journey of reintegration is at times terrifying and often heartbreaking. The other characters in the book were well developed and the plot line moved beyond the predictable to a surprise ending that really makes the heroine even more sympathetic. I found this to be a book that I didn't want to put down.

Recommendation -- buy this one and enjoy a satisfying and suspenseful thriller.