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review 2018-07-13 03:04
A Solid Sequel featuring a Procedural and a Puzzle
The Death Pictures - Simon Hall

So here we are a few months after the events of <b><a href="https://wp.me/p3z9AH-3nh" rel="noopener" target="_blank">The TV Detective</a></b>, and while Dan Groves, TV reporter, and DCI Adam Breen aren't working together any more, their friendship has grown and both of the careers are improving from their collaboration. So when there's a serial rapist on the loose -- one who made a point of leaving a calling card at the crime scenes to get public attention -- both of their bosses are interested in them renewing their partnership (even if no one ever gets to hear about his calling card).


Around the same time, there's a famous artist dying of cancer who is using his impending death as a launching pad for a contest of sorts -- it raises money for charity, and raises his public profile a bit, too (not that it needed much). Dan has been tapped by his producer and the artist's wife to help with the final part of the contest, and to do his final interview -- most to be aired upon his death. This is so far from the rape case that it seems odd to spend time on it -- until the artist dies under mysterious circumstances. A murder inquiry into a celebrity's death obviously gets the police's and public's attention -- although it's really seen as more of a distraction from protecting women who are prospective targets of the rapist by Adam and his team. For the most part at this point, Adam and Dan tackle the murder investigation and his team handle the rapes, and Dan pretty much only covers the case as a reporter (with an inside track, of course), but not as an investigator.


Arrests are made pretty early on in both cases -- it's in the aftermath of the murder investigation and the contest that the latter part of the novel focuses on. The puzzle's solution is clever, but the reader can see it coming (we do have a little more information than all the characters), but that only adds to the sense of drama leading up to the Reveal. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Dan through this story -- both his official work as a reporter or with the police and his unofficial personal obsession with the puzzle.


As for the rape story? I don't mean to sound cold, but there was something very cookie-cutter about the motivation and perpetrator. Horrible, yes; disturbing, yes, but nothing that hasn't been on <strong>Law &amp; Order: SVU</strong> an estimated 3,709 times -- I'm not saying badly written or boring, just something I've seen before. But when Adam gets him in the interview room and he starts laying out his defense? That was utterly chilling. As I write this, I imagine the accused's approach is not completely novel in Crime Fiction, but man . . . the way that Hall depicts this guy? Chilling.


Dan's frequent work on the contest is reminiscent of his search for the Ted Hughes Memorial in <b>The TV Detective</b>, but is obviously tied more closely to the plot of this novel. I don't recall another series doing something like this in book after book -- I hope Hall continues it.


There's something that happened to Dan in the past that was alluded to in the previous book and is talked around a good deal here. We're not going to get more details on that in Book 3 (I bet), but I expect to see it wreak havoc on Dan's life and various relationships soon. Similarly, there's something that happens in this book to Adam -- that will possibly do worse pretty soon. Both of these guys are ticking psychological bombs.


I have one gripe: the formatting. There are occasional -- maybe even rare -- white space breaks between sections of the story, but by and large they are conspicuously absent. Which is problematic when the perspective changes from character to character -- what's worse is when the perspective change introduces an entirely new character and you don't know how this new name connects with anything. It honestly only caused a real problem for me once, but was frequently annoying.


I should stress when your complaint about a book has to do with Kindle layout (who knows what the paperback looks like), there's a lot that's working pretty well.


<B>The Death Pictures</B> is a solidly entertaining mystery novel that recaptures a lot of the high points of its predecessor, but isn't just a repeat of it. This series has legs, that's obvious, and I look forward to returning to it to see what happens next.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/12/the-death-pictures-by-simon-hall-a-solid-sequel-featuring-a-procedural-and-a-puzzle
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review 2018-07-11 17:28
Black Rabbit Hall - Eve Chase


This felt like a Gothic novel. SPOILER!! [A matriarch dies and the family falls apart especially when the dad remarries. (The new wife)] She tries to be just as beloved but her jealousy just makes things worse and she does and says nearly unforgivable things. This is more a young adult romance book which I'm usually just okay with but I ended up liking this book a lot. 4 stars

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review 2018-07-01 22:22
Our Kind of Cruelty
Our Kind of Cruelty: A Novel - Araminta Hall
Mike was a twisted dude. I mean they both were twisted in the beginning and then later as I read, I was shaking my head for Mike just couldn’t seem to find reality. He was so confused that I began to wonder if perhaps I was the one confused. Dang, this novel was great!
Crave. It’s a game that Mike and V created, where an intense reuniting is the grand finale to this activity. It begins when V appears alone at the bar. They wait until a strange male approaches her. As this male begins to talk to her, to hit on her, the excitement begins. Mike rushes to the scene and he calls the man off. It’s a huge turn-on for both of them and they like to do this, a lot. I find it disturbing. I found as I read, that Mike seems too obsessed with V, whereas V likes Mike but not to the same degree that he likes her.
It’s decided that Mike would go to America to work for a few years, he’ll make more money there in a shorter amount of time. V will stay in London. When Mike returns to London, Mike tells V of his one-time affair. Well, that set V off and they ended up parting. Not long after that, V informs Mike that she is getting married. What?That didn’t take V long and now, I am starting to dislike V. Mike feels that V is still in love with him and that this is part of a secret Crave that she has created for him. He is so excited about this Crave, you can feel his anticipation and enthusiasm. I start to become obsessed with this novel as everything Mike sees and hears is about this new secret Crave, I mean everything! I am thinking, no Mike you are just a crazy, obsessed person. I begin to wonder what will happen when Mike realizes that she doesn’t like him anymore. Will he lose it? Will he walk away or go off? Mike starts to change his life for V but yet she is getting married to SOMEONE ELSE, hello Mike…. can’t you see what’s happening in front of you?
Mike starts to pass out from drinking and not remembering what happened. I can’t even begin to tell you where I thought this was headed. He starts to email her and his emails are off the wall. I’m wondering what V is thinking when she gets them. Then, when he finally confronts her face-to-face, I was like holding my breath because was this really happening? I was now totally confused but loving every minute of it. This was one twisted book.
Seriously, I loved this book! I couldn’t get enough of it. If you could see my copy, you would think I had it for years as it looks like, it has seen better days. I crunched it, it is water damaged from being around the pool, the covers do not lie down right, this book looks loved. If you like a dark, creepy, psycho thriller with some sex in it (not graphic sex) then, I highly recommend this novel. 4.5 stars
I won a copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaway – thank you Farrar, Straub and Giroux for the novel. This review is my own honest opinion.


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review 2018-06-29 09:04
Our Kind of Cruelty: A Novel - Araminta Hall

I'm pretty sure I spoil this book. Thing is, I'm not 100% sure I nailed the author's intention, so I'm not hiding it behind a spoiler tag. Just read at your own risk. If you've read the book, I'd love to discuss it with you in the comments below.


I'm going to try to review this book without naming the book I was thinking about the entire time I was reading this one. Suffice it to say, OUR KIND OF CRUELTY is, without a doubt, its own book, and the antagonist is far less likeable than He Who Shall Not Be Named.


Throughout the entirety of OUR KIND OF CRUELTY I felt like an ass for questioning a certain character's motives. Araminta Hall does a fantastic job of making the reader uncertain with regards to who to trust. Given the current political climate, and this world's history of treating women like animals, I didn't hesitate in considering that Verity could be as much at fault here as our unstable narrator. Gillian Flynn has made a career of writing about vile women, and I thought that's what I was reading here. It wasn't until the final pages (and the author's note at the end of the book) that I began to hate myself for ever questioning the author's intent.


OUR KIND OF CRUELTY deals with victim-blaming in a brutally-honest, realistic way, so much so that I was considering that the victim might have actually had something to do with the crime. It is a testament to how topical this book is that it made me take a closer look at myself, someone who would never consider blaming the victim in a situation like this, considering the possibility that the victim could be to blame. In this case, anyway. I'm so used to rooting for the bad guy in books like this that I never once considered the possibility that the bad guy was an unforgivable monster. He certainly was not relatable, or even likeable, but that was the author's intention. He's supposed to be a monster, from beginning to end, and the fact that I questioned his role says so much about the state of modern psychological thrillers.


We've grown to worship shitty human beings. We've come to romanticize bad men. This book takes a hard look at the victim, and asks you to see them, to believe them. Hall trusts you to make the right decision, and I almost didn't, because this isn't YOU, by Caroline Kepnes, and this crazy motherfucker is definitely not Joe Goldberg.


Fuck. I just failed, didn't I? Gahdameet!


In summation: OUR KIND OF CRUELTY will be compared to YOU until the end of days, but it truly does stand stunningly well on its own. Hall has created a puzzle that is only a puzzle because of where we are as a society. She turns a mirror on us, those who hero-worship characters like Joe Goldberg, and asks us to take a long hard look at ourselves. I, for one, didn't like what I saw, but that doesn't make me like Joe Goldberg any less. Odd how that works.


Final Judgment: Buy it for the amazing cover, read it for the brutally-honest social commentary.

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text 2018-05-23 02:29
Summer Reading List 2018
Pete Rose: An American Dilemma - Kostya Kennedy
First Love, Last Rites - Ian McEwan
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket - Edgar Allan Poe,Richard Kopley
Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld,Keith Thompson
Three Tall Women - Edward Albee
Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

I'm well behind pace in my reading this year. I always say I "average" a book a week, for 52 or so books a year, but I usually exceed that by a fair margin. This year, I'm quite slow. Only 16 so far - even though at least two were "doorstops."


So two weeks ago, when I realized I hadn't even considered my summer reading list, I was worried. But when I finally sat down to compose it, the list came flowing straight out. Easy-peasy, less than an hour's contemplation, for sure.


The fact I've been using the same nine categories for years, I'm sure, helps considerably. Three books for each month of summer. Things that make me happy and better-rounded. Plenty of room left for serendipity and other titles. Here goes:

The list.


1. A baseball book - "Pete Rose: An American Dilemma" by Kostya Kennedy. Reading a baseball book - fiction or non-fiction - is a summer tradition. Thanks, Casey Awards for the ready-made list. 


2. A Michael Chabon book - "Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces." This was both tough and incredibly easy. I've read all of Chabon's books, except some very hard to get screenplays and graphic novels. Luckily, he has a new book out this month. It's an anthology of his magazine essays, in the mode of "Maps and Legends," but it's better than none!


3. An Ian McEwan book - "First Love, Last Rites." I've read all of McEwan's recent stuff, so I have to reach way back into the Ian Macabre phase, which I like less, but it needs to be done. At least there's a new McEwan adaptation coming out in theaters soon.


4. A Neglected Classic - "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket," Edgar Allen Poe's only novel. Not one that was really on my radar, but read entry five for more "why." 


5. A recent "big" book - "Pym" by Mat Johnson. I have the opportunity to hear Johnson read in June, and I think it's time to read his novel, inspired by Poe's, as listed above. 


6. A YA book - "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld. A steampunk, World War I revisionist novel? Yes, please. 


7. A Play - "Three Tall Women" by Edward Albee. It's in revival on Broadway right now with Laurie Metcalf. You know I won't make it to Manhattan, so I'd better finally read it.


8. A Recommendation from a Friend - "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi. My friend, Laura, suggested it. She didn't have to suggest very hard, because I was already meaning to read it. And she loaned me her copy!


9. The book I didn't read from last year's list - "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" by Anne Bronte. There's one every year. This year's will probably be the Chabon, just because it's new and might be hard to acquire through library means.


Well, that's it. I'll post a list on the booklikes list app. Will you read along with me? What's on your list for Summer '18? 



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