NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cold Plague by Daniel Kalla

4.0 out of 5 stars  
"The purest water on earth" is deadly...
The two doctors with the World Health Organization who appeared in the novel, Pandemic, Dr. Noah Haldane and Dr. Duncan McLeod, join forces with the European Union's department of agriculture representative Elise Renard to analyze several recent cases of what appears to be a variant of Creutzfelt-Jakob Disease. When the team arrives in Limoges, France, to begin their investigation into seven mad cows, they quickly discover that this rapidly accelerated vCJD is not a straight-forward situation of contaminated cows leading to human infection. They delve more deeply into the case and find what they believe is a link between the dead human victims -- is the link connected to the cows or to water all consumed before their deaths? Water that was given to them by a mutual acquaintance -- water with supposed healing properties that came from the huge recently tapped underground lake in Antarctica - Lake Vostok. The purest water on earth, untouched by pollution. The market for this drinking water will be huge and those that discovered and tapped it definitely anticipate the huge profits they will get when it is bottled and brought and sold to the type of people who will pay a hundred dollars or more for a single bottle. They need to solve the mystery fast.

Unfortunately, as the reader suspects immediately, the water contains prions that act very rapidly to destroy the brains of those who consume it. In a race against time, the WHO team and Elise Renard try to find and stop the greedy owners who don't seem to care that they are selling a very horrible death along with the water. The reader knows the major characters involved in this complex coverup, but is not fully able to separate the good guys from the bad guys until almost the very end of the novel. It moves along at a nice pace, back and forth between the settings of French provincial farms and small cities, to the cold ice of the Antarctic.

My favorite genre is the medical thriller and I read them mainly for the science and this idea of the CJD was original and well done. I knew that the doctors would save the world from drinking the contaminated water and having a massive CJD outbreak, but the story of how they solved the case was interesting and I really enjoyed it. I saw that Kalla has written another novel, Of Flesh and Blood, and I may have to read it at some point, but I'm really waiting for another with the Haldane and McLeod characters as I want to see what happens to them next!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Burning by Jane Casey

4.0 out of 5 stars - Solid investigative police procedural

The Burning Man is the name given by the press to the killer who has attacked and beat four women to death before setting them on fire in various places in the city of London. Maeve Kerrigan, a detective constable and one of the few women on the team, is called to the scene of a fifth victim. As she begins to delve into the crime and interview friends and relatives, some questions about this particular murdered woman, Rebecca Haworth -- make Maeve wonder if Rebecca is really the victim of a copycat killer instead.

The narrative is told in the alternating voices of Louise, Rebecca's best friend, and Detective Kerrigan. Although the ending is somewhat predictable, the story is good and the characters are well developed. It's not a typical fast paced suspense thriller but more a well plotted and deliberate by the book report of the investigation into the crimes. I understand this is the debut of a new series and I will most likely look for the next one when it comes out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

4.0 out of 5 stars  
RED: the color of blood, the color of murder, the color of sin...
Hannah Payne wakes up in a cell after being injected with a virus that has turned her skin completely red -- her crime: she aborted her illegitimate pregnancy in a new American society where that is illegal. She will not name the father of her unborn child, a famous married minister, nor the abortionist, and is charged and convicted of murder. What happens to Hannah when she is released from the temporary post-chroming seclusion and is thrust back into a society where she is stigmatized and humiliated by everyone who sees her as a Red? Prevented from returning to her home by parents who will not allow her to live with them, Hannah must navigate a scary road to regain her dignity and make a new life for herself in a world where there is no longer separation between church and state -- and no protection for the Chromes.

I've just paged through all the wonderful reviews written on this product page about When She Woke. I agree wholeheartedly with those who suggest that you obtain and read this book if you like dystopian, futuristic novels about family, religious controversies, crime and punishment, relationships, and self-discovery. The author weaves a very interesting tale -- yes it does have themes similar to those found in some of the classic literature mentioned in other reviews, but it brings all of those together in a new and very thought-provoking way. This would be a fantastic book for a book group discussion, and though probably more appealing to women, I'd love to hear from any men who read it as well.

I will be recommending this!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

4.0 out of 5 stars  
How well do you really know those people in your circle of family and friends?
I have read all of Barclay's previous books so was looking forward to the latest one! This suspense novel had a fast pace with an interesting subject presented immediately in the prologue - the illegal sales of counterfeit merchandise and the seedy, dangerous underground -- and it kept me turning the pages well past bedtime.

A quiet suburban neighborhood is rocked first by the car accident death of a housewife and mother, Sheila Garber, whose inexplicable car crash while driving drunk results in the unraveling of the lives of several interconnected families. As her husband, Glen, and daughter, Kelly, try to come to terms with this tragedy, discoveries are made that make Glen wonder if indeed "the accident" was what it seemed. As the narrative goes on, suspense mounts as first one character and then another comes to light as involved in a ring of sorts that centers around the sale of various items and a stereotypical villain who wants "the money." The novel has several plot twists but a savvy reader will not be too surprised as events unfold and the climax is reached.

My main complaints, and the reasons I don't give this novel 5 stars: I felt that the death toll was unnecessary -- it didn't advance the plot, and it seemed overmuch. In addition, I've come to notice that the protagonist, in this book he's named Glen Garber, is one that Barclay duplicates in every single book -- a decent ordinary man, husband, father driven to extremes by events he didn't anticipate and now must avenge. This man is always a bit naive and ignorant about things going on under his own roof until the moment when he's spurred into action and then pretty much has to take matters into his own hands and figure out the truth even though he's facing some pretty unrealistic scenarios that cause the reader to suspend some disbelief.

Despite feeling sometimes that I keep reading the same Barclay novel over and over, I would recommend this for any of his fans and others who enjoy a suspense mystery with lots of layers and a well-constructed (though not completely unpredicted) conclusion.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

3.0 out of 5 stars We all might have demons that drive us...
First, let me say that I have read all of Chris Bohjalian's previous novels and some I have liked more than others. I should have known when someone compared this to The Double Bind (Vintage Contemporaries) that it would be one of those that I liked less.

This was a good story IF you like paranormal (ghosts) and books that tend toward the horror side of the spectrum. I don't tend to like that type of fiction, but I did want to give this novel a chance.

What I liked: the details about the pilot, Chip Linton, suffering PTSD in the aftermath of his plane crash and its relevance to current events and present day airline activity. Reading about Chip's attempts to come to terms with the tragedy was interesting to me. I also liked the details about the plants and tinctures which I assume that the author researched thoroughly.

What I did not like: the fact that the mother seemed clueless and naive, and I could never generate any empathy for her. The twins seemed like stereotypes and the "bad guys" were so obvious that I couldn't believe they weren't all run out of town! The foreboding and ominous feeling that I hope to get from the narrative when reading a thriller was lacking, and events were predictable. I also didn't care for the second person voice of Chip throughout the book.

Ultimately, I liked The Night Strangers: A Novel well enough, but it won't be one I'll urge others to read as I have with his past books. It might just be me -- I'm not a paranormal, supernatural, ghost and haunted house person. I don't care to read about covens and witchcraft, spells or potions used for harm. When I read the book was a "ghost story", I was just expecting something a little different.

If you want to check out other Bohjalian books, I urge you to consider the titles I liked better: Midwives (Oprah's Book Club), Skeletons at the Feast: A Novel, Trans-Sister Radio or even Secrets of Eden: A Novel.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Warning Signs by CJ Lyons

 *** stars

Not much to say about this one. I hoped I would like it more than I did. I really only read it for the clinical/medical details. Don't like all the romance stuff. And, I don't like ANY of the characters really. Scenarios unrealistic in my experience, but realize it is what it is - fiction. Will likely read the rest of the series.