Saturday, 29 September 2012

Book review: Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

Cold Granite (Logan McRae, #1)Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somehow, I always manage to read these books out of order. Not that it really matters with the Logan McRae series, but it's nice to finally read the first book, the one that started it all.
Cold Granite was the M in the A-Z of authors and I'd been looking forward to it when I started all that time ago. MacBride's books are a brilliant conglomeration of gore, humour, outlandish characters and witty dialogue. Cold Granite was no exception.
The discovery of a boy's mutilated body starts off events and soon, children's bodies are piling up left, right and centre, with mob minion Georgie Stephenson chucked in for good measure. At the beginning it's hard to see how all of these crimes would link together but they eventually do, all unravelling and explaining themselves, fitting neatly in the giant Aberdeen puzzle.
MacBride describes crime scenes with relish and gore. This book is certainly not for the squeamish. There are several outbuildings full of dead animals and despite it being written word, it's as if the smell is with you in the room. So is the cold, bitter wind and mountains of snow.
But to balance the gore, is the humour, definitely one of the reasons I keep coming back to this author. There's a wealth of eccentric characters, pantomime villain and sweetie fiend DI Insch, chain smoking lesbian womaniser DI Steel (my personal favourite), 'ball breaker' WPC Jackie Watson and Bastard PC Simon Rennie, to name just a few. As I've read other books in this series it was nice to see familiar characters before I knew them. For example, PC Rennie isn't mentioned too much in this book, but he becomes more of a feature in the later ones. In contrast, Logan McRae himself is quite normal.
I don't normally give murder mysteries five stars, but in the past I have given MacBride's books full marks. However, this one didn't quite get there. The only reason for that is because rather than following evidence and linking crime scenes together that way, Logan would almost have an epiphany. For example, it appears one child has been beaten, but after seeing a road safety advert he realises the child must have been hit by a car. There are a few moments like this and although it doesn't take anything away from MacBride's genius, gory but hilarious world, it can seem a bit stilted and a bit unrealistic.

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Book review: Deadly Intent by Lynda La Plante

Deadly Intent (Anna Travis Mystery, #4)Deadly Intent by Lynda La Plante
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At the beginning of Lynda La Plante's Deadly Intent this book was a four. As the case continued, it stuck to a four, but by the end I was so fed up with the case and frustrated with the characters that I went down a star.
The case starts with ex-policeman Frank Brandon being shot in a squat. The whole case spirals, with several dead bodies, all linked in some way to Alexander Fitzpatrick a drug baron who disappeared over ten years ago.
Alongside the complicated case, is DI Travis' personal relationships which seem to get more ridiculous by the second. But more about that later.
The actual case is good, exciting, lots of evidence and strings that all seem to knit nicely together as the book steams along. I'll admit, this book certainly has the 'pull', as one chapter ends you just want to start another. I read most of this book when I was travelling and it was a welcome friend on the long train journeys.
The book gets three stars for the case and La Plante's writing, which is quite tense in places. I can't really put my finger on it, but there is something that keeps you reading.
What really fell down for me was DI Travis, all the characters really. I found Anna whiny, she complained about everything, even when it was well deserved. She made bad choices and had no appreciation for her colleagues. To be honest, apart from Gordon, I felt no affection towards any of the characters. This was my first Lynda La Plante novel, so I didn't know anything about Travis' relationship with Langton, but when we meet him, I can't see the attraction. He's an arse to her. Her relationship with Pete, the Lab Tech is just as bad. He introduces her to drugs and despite asking him to stop taking drugs, he still does and she doesn't show any reaction to this.
The last quarter of the book is mainly interviews, and by this point I was ready to give up. The last chapter really got my goat. As their search for Alexander Fitzpatrick is drawing to a close, she makes a decision. Personally I think she made the right decision, although her bosses do not. After getting told off, and possibly demoted by Langton she goes home and manages to talk herself into believing she'd made the right one. Despite her telling off and everything else, she risks it all and agrees to go on a date with someone who was at one point a suspect in the case! And at that point I was considering going down to two stars!
Anyway, after my long rant, it's up to you. I personally am in no hurry to read another Lynda La Plante, especially an Anna Travis novel, but if you like your lead a fluffy female officer with a string of bad relationships, then pick this book up.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Book review: Watchers by Dean Koontz

WatchersWatchers by Dean Koontz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dean Koontz's Watchers was book K in my A-Z of authors. My Mum has always raved about Dean Koontz, despite it not being her normal read. I had attempted to read Strangers but got a bit stuck and had read another thriller-like book.
So I went into this book fairly optimistically. First of all, Koontz is a brilliant writer, he brings characters to life, makes situations seem realistic despite the story involving a genius dog and the dialogue is good. There are tonnes of comparisons between Koontz and Stephen King and I don't think this is a bad thing. I love Stephen King and Koontz displays all the things that I love about his writing. The main character, the dog Einstein is brilliant. There are times I laughed out loud and times I cried reading this book and it's all because of this wonderful dog. I own two dogs myself and if they were as clever as Einstein it would make life a lot easier.
Overall, this book is heart warming, though provoking and at some times horrifying. Einstein makes it all! Some other reviewers have said that it was too long and I agree with this. There were some parts that could have been scrapped and a whole section involving a hitman that I wouldn't have missed at all.
Reading Watchers has given me and Koontz hope and I'm prepared to give Strangers another crack.

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