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review 2019-02-19 18:45
The Playing Card Killer (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Russell James


THE PLAYING CARD KILLER was one twisty-turny thriller of a ride!


Brian is tired of taking anxiety meds as he's been taking them his entire life. He decides to quit them cold turkey and see what life is really like. Unfortunately, his panic and anxiety attacks return and they seem worse than ever. Also, he can't sleep without having terrible nightmares wherein he's strangling people. When Brian learns that the victims he's seeing in his dreams are actually being killed, his anxiety ramps up to a previously unknown level. Is he murdering people while he's asleep in some kind of sleepwalking trance? How could he do such a thing? You'll have to read this book to find out!


It's hard to talk about this story without spoilers, but I'll give it my best shot. While I don't think this tale added anything new to the thriller genre, I do think it gave an unflinching look at anxiety and panic attacks. In fact, it personified them in the form of Mr. Jitters and that WAS new. To be honest, Mr. Jitters freaked me out. I've had personal, close up experience of what panic and anxiety attacks can do to a person and I've seen what the meds can do as well. There's nothing good about any of it and this book addresses those facts head on.


I loved the characterization in this book, especially that of Brian and Detective Weissbard. They came across as real to me, with real life concerns and problems. I could understand why Brian wanted to be off of his meds and why it was so important to him.


The only problems I really had with this story was that Weissbard's boss was a caricature of a "bad cop" and I thought that came across as a bit silly, even though I did hate the guy. Also, the real antagonist of this story didn't seem quite real to me at first, but as the tale progressed, I warmed up to him and I could see where he was coming from.


Overall, this fast paced story flew by and I enjoyed it. I think fans of psychological horror, serial killer stories and police procedurals would enjoy THE PLAYING CARD KILLER as well!





You can buy your copy here: THE PLAYING CARD KILLER 


*Thank you to Flame Tree Press for the paperback copy in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-02-02 17:34
An exploration of death
Exquisite Corpse - Poppy Z. Brite
This book is hardcore in terms of violence and lust. The only comparable books I have read, ones as graphic and disturbing with vivid descriptions of dismemberment, disembowelment and bodily waste would be 
Frisk, by Dennis Cooper and In the Miso Soup, by Ryu Murakami.
Exquisite Corpse is told in first and third person. The first person narrator is Andrew Compton, a British serial killer who escapes prison by faking death. How he manages this is somewhat vague, magical and shamanistic, but we expect some suspension of disbelief in fiction, and this isn't too much of a stretch.
In this way the narrative and plot reflect each other as Exquisite Corpse is an exploration of death both of the narrator's own self and of others. Not only the violent murders that follow prolonged torture, lovingly described, but also more subtle and normal deaths. Death by disease - the AIDS epidemic has badly hit the French Quarter of New Orleans, and the deaths of relationships - familial and lovers, represented by Tran, the exquisite corpse of the title.
A lot happens in the story. Yes, it is shocking and grotesque, but it is also poignant and sad. Exquisite Corpse is by far the best book by Poppy Z Brite that I have read so far.
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review 2019-01-24 11:28
"My Sister The Serial Killer" by Oyinkan Braithwaite - more than the title suggests
My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

"My Sister, The Serial Killer" both is and is not what the title and the cover would lead you to expect.


It is a book set in Lagos about two sisters, the younger of whom, Ayoola, has, by the start of the novel, already killed three men and the older sister, Korede, has always helped clean up the mess.


It is not a "normal" serial killer book. This isn't a who did it and how were they caught mystery, nor is it a voyeuristic gorefest. The emphasis on sister is much stronger than the emphasis on serial killer in this story.


The story is told from Korede's point of view. She's the big sister: organised, cool-headed, deeply protective of her younger, more attractive, more impulsive, sometimes lethal sister.


Korede is a nurse, good at her job and slowly, timidly falling for a Doctor in the hospital she works in. Ayoola is stunningly beautiful, the jewel of her mother's heart, who designs and sells dresses over the internet. Men don't tend to notice Korede and they can't look away from Ayoola. Korede is compulsively tidy and constantly alert for threats. Ayoola leaves clutter everywhere and is almost totally self-absorbed. Yet the bond between these two is strong.


It seems to me that the book is about taking sides. Korede has to decide whether to side with the men who have or who are going to, fall prey to her sister's need to kill or with her sister. It explores the bond between them, the family history that forged that bond and the society that both stresses and strengthens it.


Men do not come off well in this book. There are some who are kind and gentle, one of the doctors and one of the patients, but only by comparison to the aggressive, patriarchal, entitled men around them. As Ayoola says of one of them: "He is not deep. All he wants is a pretty face." Except these men want and expect more than that. They expect submission and they want devotion.


I know nothing about Nigeria, but the Lagos of this book is vividly evoked as a modern, vibrant city with a culture very different to my own, from the attitudes of the bribe-me-or-I'll-arrest-you traffic cop, through the I-am-a-chief-so-you-girl-are-mine-if-I-wish-it, to the I-enforce-my-will-with-this-cane father and head of the household.


This is the backdrop against which Korede has to choose sides. Personally, I think the choice is not a hard one but the road to it is difficult and beautifully described.



Weruche Opia

I strongly recommend listening to the audiobook version, performed by the British-based Nigerian actress, Weruche Opia.


Her performance is flawless. She gives each character the perfect voice and reads the text in a Nigerian middle-class accent that brings its richness to life.


I went looking for a sample on SoundCloud and found only a version read by Adepero Oduyewhich I did not like as much as it sounded too American to me.









Oyinkan Braithwaite

If you'd like to know how Oyinkan Braithwaite went about writing "My Sister, The Serial Killer", I recommend this in LARB article "Stuck with Them: An Interview with Oyinkan Braithwaite"by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

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review 2018-12-29 02:02
The Lincoln Lawyer
The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly

This is a book that I think was actually my husband's.  I think it got mixed into my books by accident and now he doesn't even remember if he read it or now.  So that means it's mine.  I've been meaning to read it for a long time and I'm glad I finally did.  I really liked it a lot.  


Mickie Hallar is a Defense attorney who thought he had finally found the perfect client.  Every lawyer dreams of finding the type of client that has the money, pays, and keeps coming back.  That kind of client keeps the bills paid.  It isn't until he gets too far into the case that he realizes it wasn't the sweet deal he thought it was.  When he realizes he is working for pure evil itself and that an innocent man was in jail because of him he knows he has to do something.  The problem was that would be impossible without ruining his career. 

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review 2018-12-29 01:54
Cold Dark Places (New Release)
Cold Dark Places - Kylie Brant

This is a kindle book I won from a Goodreads giveaway.  


I loved this book and every character. I will definitely be reading the others in the series as they come out. This was my first time reading a book by Kylie Brant and now I want to look up more of her books.

Eryn Pullman was 9 years old when she was found with the dead body of her mother. Her mother had been stabbed to death and Eryn was found with the bloody knife. A judge sent her to a mental facility and at the age of 21 she is finally getting to go home. The local community is not happy about that though and tries to block their way onto the property. The sheriff has to intervene. A short time later a child-killer escapes from a forensic facility that was a few miles from where Eryn had been kept. Multiple agencies are called in to help find him as fast as possible and hopefully, before he kills another child. In the course of going through the escapee's room and possessions they discover he had an MP3 player but the songs changed to speech. They discover the man had been listening to Eryn's patient notes from her doctor. Why? No one knows but all the agencies are racing against the clock to stop him before he hurts someone.

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