NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit*, December 31, 2010

This review is from: The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway) (Hardcover)

I knew when I opened the first page of this book that I should have read the first one in the Ruth Galloway mystery series -- The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway) -- so if you haven't read it, stop and remedy that now. This second book immediately made me wish I had "met" the characters previously so I could understand what led to Ruth's pregnancy and to know the relationship she had with her baby's father. That said, and even though her pregnancy takes up a lot of the novel, the book is really a mystery about the murder of a child, and how that child's headless skeleton comes to lie underneath the doorway of an old mansion. Who is the girl and how did she end up there?
Ruth Galloway is 40ish, unmarried, and a slightly overweight forensic archeologist. She is called in as a consultant when bones are found during the demolition of a large, old house (once an orphanage) that is being converted into apartments. Joined by other colleages -- Max and Cathbad -- Ruth begins to assist Detective Police Inspector Harry Nelson in the investigation. The more she delves into the case, the more trouble she has. Who is afraid of what she might find out and how far is that person willing to go to stop her!?

Although the story is not what I would call fast paced, it's the characters and their interactions and dialog that make the book interesting. I really like that the protagonist is a strong, intelligent, and independent middle aged woman. Her friends are interesting and the archelogocial details are fascinating.

I think most who enjoy forensic mystery stories will like this novel -- but be sure to read them in order as I didn't think this one worked well as a stand alone!

A solid 3 1/2 stars.

*Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit = Everything changes but nothing is destroyed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry

3.0 out of 5 stars A thriller that takes you deep into the history of China, December 20, 2010
I have read most all of Steve Berry's previous novels -- my favorite was The Third Secret: A Novel -- and I like the way that the author blends history, archeology, and adventure into a mystery thriller. The typical Berry novel is a cross between Clive Cussler and Dan Brown, and they are fast paced, quick reads.

In this novel, Cotton Malone and Casssiopeia Vitt (these characters most recently appeared in the previous novel The Paris Vendetta: A Novel) are reunited in a mission that focuses on China and a conspiracy that may prove deadly as there are those who want to keep an incredible discovery a secret. Malone and Vitt are brought into the inner workings of the post Mao government where there is a showdown between the two leading contenders (Tang and Ni) for that country's leadership role. Add in traitorous eunuchs, Russian spies, and trigger happy soldiers and you have a somewhat confusing story of cross and double cross. At stake is China's leadership yes, but also a race to verify that oil -- not fossil fuel as long believed was scarce -- but abiotic oil that is self replenishing and would never run out. What a find for China if true -- China that needs massive quantities of imported oil to run its industry and shelter its people. A Russian geologist has what he believes is proof that abiotic oil exists and was actually discovered in Gansu over 2200 years ago!! He is wanted by both the Russians and the Chinese and they will stop at nothing to get the verification they need. For if China doesn't need to import oil, it will no longer have to follow the dictates of the other nations and won't be held in check by threats of embargo. How powerful the leader of the nation that possesses unlimited oil would be. But no other country will find out! Is the verification they need hidden in the Emperor Qin Shi's tomb? The only problem is that the tomb has been off limits and sealed for over 2000 years!

Although the historical parts of the book were quite interesting (dynastic succession, eunuchs, important discoveries made centuries ago in China but kept from the western world) the narrative was somewhat disconnected. The point of view and the scene would switch back and forth quite frequently. I found the dialog more like an anthropology lecture sometimes and something that irritated me was the way the author wrote the way the Russians talked. The Chinese spoke English smoothly, but the Russians said things like "I not know" and "She gives to Tang who returns boy" i.e., skipped words, etc. Annoying -- I'm certain that any Russian secret agent would speak English quite fluently.

In short -- this book was OK but seemed more like a lecture in between unbelievable scenes of escapes and near death experiences. The fight scenes seemed to go on far too long and some of the transitions dragged on between bursts of action. Read it if you like to read about Chinese history and if you like spy stories and adventures. The conclusion was quite predictable.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ghost Country by Patrick Lee

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun sequel - sci-fi thriller..., December 6, 2010

This exciting follow up to The Breach reads like a movie script and I could see the action sequences and the main characters on the big screen as I turned the pages. A worthy sequel, Mr. Lee takes the characters on an incredible adventure following their discovery of a dead city filled with dusty bones.

Travis, Paige and Bethany used the cylinder to time travel to Yuma, Arizona, where they figure out that a controlled catastrophe is about to happen in the current month of December and that it will have the effect of virtually destroying the known world. What that incipient disaster is has them running all over the continents, back and forth in time, and facing their nemesis -- a former humanitarian in cahoots with the sitting President and a host of other corrupt scientists and government officials.

Although some suspension of disbelief at the last minute saves and some of the science and politics is required, it is after all science/adventure FICTION, and should be read just for the pure escapist pleasure of it.

Seems that there is plenty of room for another book in this series and I will look forward to reading it as well.

Recommend -- enjoy!