The Thirst – Jo Nesbo

I love the Harry Hole character. I love Jo Nesbo’s writing. I love Jo Nesbo’s plots, his sense of pacing, the artfully done backdrop, and the enthralling nature of each book. So far, so good. It’s been a while since the last Harry Hole book. Would this be up to scratch? I’m delighted to say, this one is no exception.

The story revolves around a murder victim whose particular injuries connect to a case Harry never solved. He is, inevitably, drawn into the hunt for the killer, but all is not what it seems, and the investigation always seems to be one step behind.

The tension builds up to an extended showdown, brilliantly told by Nesbo.

The supporting characters are given a bit of a push here, though if there’s one tiny, niggling black mark here, it’s that I could not 100% buy in to the killer’s motivation. That having been said, it was logical and understandable, which is more than can sometimes be said about other crime novels.

You can read this on its own if you have not read other Harry Hole books, but it would be a better reading experience to go back to the first – The Bat – and read them all. They are a joy.


Ninefox Gambit – Yoon H Lee

Weird space opera that very cleverly manages to meld calendars, mathematics, and war into a coherent story about the struggle for power in a faction ridden universe.

The lead character is Captain Kel Cheris, a soldier out of favor for not following the stereotypical orders mandated by the Hexarchate. With seemingly nowhere to go, somehow she is one of several candidates asked to pitch their ideas for liberating the Fortress of Scattered Needles that has been taken over by (calendrical) heretics.

With nothing to lose, Cheris suggests an almost heretical approach herself involving Shuos Jedao. The latter is dead, but available. (I did say weird, didn’t I?)

And into battle they go.

On the whole, I enjoyed this. It’s very different, and fairly sizzles as it goes. But the story didn’t grab me the way others have done, and the pictures the text painted in my imagination were confused and incomplete. No doubt my shortcoming rather than the writer’s

If you want to try some science fiction that is different, this is a good option.



The Wrong Side of Goodbye – Michael Connelly

If you have read any of the Harry Bosch books, you know what you are going to get here: the grumpy but determined detective making his way to solve a crime, regardless of the cost. The setting now is slightly different, with Bosch out of the Los Angeles headlights, and operating as a sort of volunteer detective for the nearby town of San Fernando.

Harry’s main challenge in San Fernando is to track down a rapist. But, simultaneously he is rather naughtily working on a private commission from a dying billionaire to search out a possible heir to his fortune.

Although this is a well constructed book, with a decent plot and interesting characters, it doesn’t quite reach the giddy heights of Connelly’s best work.

For example, the search for the heir has no real bite to it, despite attempts to inject some edge to the investigation. And the hunt for the rapist doesn’t seem to be as pressing as you might expect. The narrative falls somewhat flat in places, and even when the action and the interest picks up, it’s not enough to restore the book to the top of the quality tree.

If you are a fan, you will read this and love it. I thought it was OK, but that  underwhelming impression might be because Bosch is on his way out, and the author’s attention is clearly moving on.

If you have not read any Michael Connelly, don’t start here; instead go back to the first Bosch book, The Black Echo, and read them in order. By the time you get to this one (the 19th according to the official list) you’ll be well hooked and gladly excuse the author a less than perfect performance.



Body Breaker – Mike Craven

The follow up to the passable Born in a Burial Gown, this is more of the same: a decent enough police procedural crime novel, with an interesting character at the core, a good measure of tension, a well constructed plot, and a shade too much telling rather than showing. It’s a level above what many would call an airport read, but there’s just something about the writing style that jars with me.

The action starts with the discovery of a severed hand on a golf course, and heats up with our hero policeman getting a visitor who stirs up memories of the past. and a view into the who, what, when, why, and where of the murder. If only he could figure out which way to go in the investigation.

For some, this detective will be so detective, they will not like the book at all. For others, that broken nature will be a main attraction. For me, it’s an interesting enough hook; unfortunately, I don’t see much more that will engage me long term.


Born in a Burial Gown – Mike Craven

This is a dark, atmospheric police procedural novel that features an interesting character, a passable setting, and a decent plot. The central character is Avison Fluke – when will we get a character called John? – a policeman who is facing his share of personal challenges. He built his house illegally, and is threatened with being made homeless. He is not in the best of health, but is hiding that for fear of losing his job. And he’s only back at work after an incident that involved him committing a serious crime. He is definitely a defective detective.

From here on, the book fairly rattles along. There are some good twists, and some decent writing. But there was a shade too much of the telling instead of showing.

However, overall, not bad, and worthy of a follow up.



Blackout – Ragnar Jonasson

Despite the puff, this is run of the mill nordic noir, with not that much to raise it above the ordinary. It’s alright, but nothing outstanding.

The crime at the center of the novel is the murder by vicious assault of one man, a team leader of a crew working on a civil engineering project in remote Iceland. Ari Thór Arason, the lead policeman, is struggling with his personal life as well as the challenge of this case. Meantime, there’s a reporter snooping about, and another potential victim just around the corner.

It has its moments, but is largely pedestrian.

For dedicated readers only.


Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

This book begins like many contemporary thrillers with an ordinary guy going about his routine, until something out of the ordinary happens. For Jason Dessen, the unusual event is that he is kidnapped. And, when he wakes up from being knocked out, things are not what they were, to put it mildly.

At this point, the thriller becomes stranger and stranger. I don’t want to say more as it would spoil your enjoyment. If you are an open minded reader who likes their fiction with a touch of the bizarre spicing up some interesting ideas and classical morale challenges, this is for you. It’s an adventure with brains. If you read it, you may never look at the world around you in the same way.


The Fix – David Baldacci

This is the third in the series featuring Amos Decker, the man whose football injury changed his character, and gave him perfect recall. This time around he has to use his skills and investigative talents to solve the mystery of why Walter Dabney, a family man with an impeccable background, apparently commited a heinous crime and then suicide.

Of the three, this is the weakest. The plot is up to scratch. However, at some points of the narrative I felt there were absences – of empathy and interest – that somewhat reduced the tension. The action was not as intense as in the previous books, and the dialogue more extensive, presumably intended to develop the character. Unfortunately, it was boring in places before getting back on track.

Decker remains a fascinating character and so the combination of him and a truly puzzling plot made it, overall, a good read. But I may wait for reviews of the next one before buying it.


Killing III – David Hewson

After enjoying the first and second in the Killing trilogy, I started the last with some concern that it would not be able to keep up the good standards of its predecessors. My worries were unfounded. If anything, this may be the best of the three. (But that enjoyment is substantially aided by having the read the first two. So, do not skip them!)

This time, the story starts when a dead body turns up, and is eventually traced back to the harbor. The police start to think there may be a connection to a plot to assasinate the prime minister. Into the mix comes Zeeland, a megacorp belonging to the local Zeuthen family, when tragedy strikes their domestic bliss. To further complicate matters, this occurs at the height of an election campaign, where the politicking is almost as deadly as the murder on the streets. Sarah Lund is asked to investigate, and she does so in her inimitable style.

The writing takes the reader on an express train of a thriller journey, full of twists and turns, and stuffed with interesting (not always nice) characters, and interactions. There is so much happening, that it almost overpowers you. But Hewson has judged things perfectly, and it all leads up to a grandstand finish that is as suitable as it is shocking.

On reviewing what I have written, I see that I have made no cricticisms of the book. I ask myself if I am being too positive. Was there anything I didn’t like? Maybe just one thing: reading the last words was a bittersweet experience. I did not want it to end.

The Killing is one of the best trilogies I have read.