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review 2019-03-13 17:30
THE BORDER by Don Winslow, narrated by Ray Porter
The Border - Don Winslow,Ray Porter

 

THE BORDER is the last book in the POWER OF THE DOG trilogy.

 

All I can say is WOW. It was everything I hoped for and more. Brutal criminals, sometimes even more brutal law enforcement, international drug wars, politics, and the absolutely fabulous Ray Porter relating it all in that powerful voice of his.

 

At this point I feel like Don Winslow and Ray Porter are a part of my life. I've spent dozens of hours with them both and to be honest? I'm going to miss them.

 

Does Art Keller finally get somewhere in the drug war he's fought his entire life? Will he get to settle down and live a quiet life with Marisol? What about Eddie Ruiz? Callen and Nora? Hell, will any of them even survive? I recommend you read this ASAP so you can find out!

 

Winslow delivered the goods here and Ray Porter performed the hell out of it.

 

My highest recommendation!

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review 2019-03-07 18:45
THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN by Niklas Natt och Dag
The Wolf and the Watchman - Niklas Natt och Dag

 

A gruesomely mutilated body is fished out of a local lake by a night watchman. So begins this dark mystery set in Stockholm in the late 1700's.

 

The main characters, the aforementioned night watchman, (Cardell), and a lawyer dying from consumption, (Winge), were fascinating and multi-layered. Winge hasn't much time left in this world, and he makes the investigation of this case his only reason for living. Cardell, an injured war veteran looking for self worth and coming up short, is turning to the bottle instead. This mystery provides a reason for him to stay sober. Mostly. Together, they wander the disgusting streets of Stockholm, hunting their murderer. Will they find him/her? Will Winge live long enough to see the perpetrator tried for the crime? Will Cardell be able to keep himself out of the bottle long enough to aid Winge in his only goal? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I enjoyed reading about this time in Stockholm's history. Admittedly, I do not know much about the city or the country, but I learned a little bit reading this book. I learned that the city, much like others of its size around the world at that time, was a seething pit of disease. Piles of excrement lying around, chamber pots emptied out the window-I think you get the drift. Whenever I read about living in a city during this time period I wonder how humanity survived at all.

 

On top of the filth of the city, its inhabitants were often entertained by the worst society has to offer. Gambling, prostitution, and ruining the reputations of others just for fun-these were the popular habits of the day. A woman, left widowed, or worse yet? Impregnated before marriage? They were left in circumstances beyond dire. Combat veterans-especially those who lost limbs or those who were mentally impaired due to the harsh circumstances of war? They fared no better. Most people were so involved in their own survival, (no small feat!) there was no time or thought put into charity for others.

 

Regarding the solving of the gruesome murder, this book reminded me quite a lot of THE ALIENIST. Winge was especially interested in hearing the motives from the killers themselves in his past cases, and he wants to know what made this perpetrator tick as well. While THE ALIENIST was heavily involved with crime investigation techniques, Winge was much more interested in the psychological aspects of criminals. So am I, so this viewpoint worked perfectly for me.

 

The way this tale unfolded was intriguing-the first section involving Winge and Cardell, the others involving other people with whom we were not familiar. It kept me reading because I needed to see how all of this was going to tie together. I think the telling was my favorite aspect of this story-well, this and the main characters.

 

I finished up the book having developed a serious liking and respect for Cardell. Both he and Winge were men of honor, something which seemed to be in short supply during this time period. I wanted to know more about the Eumenides and a few other characters as well. I am really hoping for a sequel here, people!

 

I devoured this book as quickly as I could. As I said above, I was fascinated by how the author told the story, the pacing was excellent, and the mystery a good one. I especially liked the darkness of the tale and how the author did not shy away from the brutality of life at the time. I suspect that the gruesome nature of this story, and the author's unflinching telling of it, may turn some readers off. But for this reader, lover of dark fiction that I am, it was nearly perfect and left me wanting more. Please, bring on a sequel, sir!

 

Highly recommended!  Get your copy here: THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN

 

*Thank you to Atria and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-02-13 18:45
THE IMMACULATE VOID by Brian Hodge
The Immaculate Void - Brian Hodge

 

THE IMMACULATE VOID is a stellar entry in the fields of cosmic horror and dark fiction!

 

Brian Hodge has long been a favorite author of mine and this novel only justifies his position on my favorite authors list.

 

I'm finding that I don't have adequate words to properly review this book. (Which is the same way I felt about John Langan's THE FISHERMAN.) I was lucky enough to read both of these novels in 2019 and I'm just worried that nothing else I read this year will be as good as these two books.

 

My HIGHEST recommendation!

 

Get your copy here: THE IMMACULATE VOID

 

*This book is on the 2018 Locus Recommended Reading List and for good reason. If you don't want to listen to me, please listen to them!* http://locusmag.com/2019/02/2018-locus-recommended-reading-list/

 

** Book source: I bought this book with my hard earned cash.**

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review 2019-02-12 12:34
Loved the movie Chinatown? Love San Francisco and female protagonists? This is your novel!
Not Here: A Dina Ostica Novel - Genevieve Novoco

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

This is the first novel published by this author, and although it might not be to everybody’s taste, I found it an intense and gripping book that deals with important topics. And I was fascinated by the portrayal of the protagonist.

I was intrigued by the description of the novel because I do like the promise of a strong protagonist (although it does not always work, I did like Dina), and because the topic promised something a bit different to the usual thriller. No serial killer, no small-town setting, but a narrative closely linked to a time, a place, and a social issue. Any reader who lives, or has lived, in a city, knows how expensive it is to secure accommodation in a safe neighbourhood, and what a cut-throat world property development can be. In this novel, set in San Francisco, that is literally so. The fact that the protagonist was trying to make a name for herself in the world of podcasting, added to the interest for me, as I’ve always interested in radio and, in my mind at least, podcasts are closely linked to the immediacy of radio, especially to the programmes broadcast by local radio stations.

The story is told in the third person from Dina’s point of view. And it is a very interesting choice, because at times it feels like a first-person narrative (there are plenty of descriptions, although brief, of things like the clothes the protagonist is wearing, and the drinks she makes… She likes tea, and I’d dare say her choice of tea at any point is a clear indication of what her mental state is like at the time); it manages to capture perfectly the tone of character’s thoughts, her fears and anxieties, gives readers a good insight into her mind and feelings, while at the same time offering an outside perspective, an observer’s point of view. I might be stretching it here, but I felt that this is the way Dina sees herself. She is a young woman who has undergone a very traumatic experience and went through a period of depression following it. Now, determined to survive and get back on her feet, but also to never be a victim again, she is always on alert, observes things and people around her, never quite trusting what they say, or her own actions and reactions, second-guessing others and her own motives, ready to flee at the slightest hint of risk, but working hard to rebuild her life. She is not going to take it lying down. She joins a gym and self-defense classes (well, an interesting combination of martial arts and fighting that introduces action scenes and another setting that proves very important to the story). She is determined to make her podcast a success and wants to pursue stories that are important for the people around her, rather than those that might bring her commercial and financial success. Although she is cautious, due to her previous experience, she puts others’ needs ahead of hers, and never hesitates to step up to help others and offer her support, even when it might be dangerous. Her reactions to what happens to her in the story (that, in a way, mirrors her abuse, at least in her head) are totally believable and they match the defence mechanisms she has put in place.  I don’t usually do trigger warnings, but I feel survivors of domestic violence and abuse might find it a hard read. On the other hand, she has moments of desperation but she never gives up fighting, and she is a compelling and inspiring human being rather than a one-dimensional cut-out.

I felt the psychological side of the story, and the insights into Dina’s thoughts and reactions were very well done —there is no magical cure here, no saviour that comes along and sorts everything for our protagonist, and she does not fall for the first person coming along either, no matter how attractive he might be— and although some of the story elements stretch somewhat the imagination (and test the suspension of disbelief, but when we think about true stories we have heard or read, we soon realise that they are not as far-fetched as at first they might appear), the author manages to create a compelling and cohesive story from diverse strands: the world of podcasting, the city and property development, homelessness and crime in San Francisco, abuse and domestic violence, cage-fighting, police corruption, local government conspiracies…

This is not a light read, and there are hardly any moments when the tension loosens up. No light relief present either, and readers need to be prepared to experience a gamut of uncomfortable emotions, that succeed each other at a fast —take-no-prisoners– pace, especially towards the end of the novel.  I’ve mentioned already the descriptions that might not suit all readers. The author ignores Stephen King’s warning about adverbs, and although I have never been too worried about it, I admit it might give one pause, especially when they stray away from the most neutral and commonly used. But other than that, the book is written in straightforward style, it flows well, and it shows a good knowledge of the city and the topics without going overboard and “telling” too much.

I’d recommend this book to people looking for a different kind of thriller and a strong female survivor as a protagonist. Not a superhero, but a young woman determined to make it and an inspiration for readers familiar with these feelings and experiences. I kept thinking about Chinatown as I read this novel (perhaps because of the focus on local politics and speculation) and although it is set in a different city and historical time, if you enjoyed the plot of that story, love San Francisco, and are keen on a dark urban setting, you should try it. I can see this author going from strength to strength, and as this is the first in the series, I look forward to seeing what Dina does next.

 

 

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review 2019-01-04 17:15
COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglesias
Coyote Songs - Gabino Iglesias

 

COYOTE SONGS. What can I say? It was brilliant, so let's start with that.

 

I can't even hope to write a review as insightful and well written as my friend's, Michael Patrick Hicks', here: Mike's review.

 

 All I can hope to do is try to impart to you the way this book make me feel. There is a small group of characters living near the U.S./Mexican border and we are privy to their lives-with all the sorrows and joys therein. Unfortunately, there are very few joys. There is little to look forward to other than more poverty, misery, and crime. I quote from the book:

 

"He opened his eyes to a present that mocked his every wish and shattered any vision that dared go past it." 

 

When every hope you have is dashed, when every small good thing in your life is met with ten big, bad things, what point is there? When you have no hope for your children or yourself, again, what's the point?

 

Here is where I was going to make a brief political statement, but I just deleted it. If you don't already feel compassion or empathy for those innocents caught up in this immigration debacle, then there's nothing I can say to make you feel for them. But Gabino Iglesias has said the words that made me feel even more for them than I already did.

 

They are powerful words. They are words that needed to be said. They're not all flowers and sunshine, they are violent and dark and represent some of the worst things about humanity. You should read those words. They are called COYOTE SONGS.

 

My highest recommendation, period.

 

You can and SHOULD get your copy here: COYOTE SONGS

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