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review 2019-11-24 08:47
Shady Cross
Shady Cross - James Hankins

Shady Cross has an interesting premise. A low-time criminal is in a car crash and happens upon a big bag with cash. He's about to celebrate his luck when the phone in the bag starts ringing and he speaks to a young girl, whom he's never met, who is abducted. Clearly, the bag contains her ransom. Suddenly overtaken by a conscience he decides to deliver the ransom. This, however, turns out not to be easy.

It had a very masculine feel to it. The main characters kept steering into trouble and at some point, as everything was following up in rapid succession I started to loose my interested. This because it was getting more and more unrealistic, almost by the page. Just deliver the ransom already!

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2017-08-09 02:35
Shady Cross by James Hankins
Shady Cross - James Hankins

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this book even though I didn't love it. I recently discovered that Amazon Prime members can borrow books with narration as part of their Prime Reading program. There are not a ton of options but this one sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try. I did find it to be an entertaining story and I really liked the premise. 

Stokes is a small time criminal. He is not above taking something that isn't his and tends to keep his eye out for any opportunity to to make a little money. When he is involved in an accident that takes another man's life and finds a bag full of money, he thinks that he has finally found his big payday. Then the phone in the bag rings and everything changes. When he realizes that the money in that bag was meant to save a little girl's life, he feels compelled to do the right thing and save the girl.

This book had a lot of things going for it. I love that the story features an antihero. It was kind of fun to see a character with questionable morals work so hard to save someone he has never met. The story was exciting with one roadblock blocking his path after another. There were a few surprises along the way as well.

I didn't love all aspects of the book. I started to tire of all of the problems that Stokes kept running into. It seemed that no matter what he tried thing would go wrong. It became a bit predictable and the excitement of the story suffered as a result. I also never really connected with the characters. I didn't dislike him but I didn't like him either. I never fully believed that he would really risk so much to save the girl. 

This is the first time that I have listened to Bon Shaw narrated a story and I really enjoyed his performance. He handled all of the voice really well and the dialogue in the story was flawless. The cast of character in this story really cover a wide range including men, woman, older adults, and children and he did a great job with all of them. I would not hesitate to listen to his work again in the future.

I would recommend this book to fast paces mystery fans. This was an enjoyable listen that was a little different than the norm. This was the first time that I have read James Hankins work but I do plan to read more in the future.

Initial Thoughts
This falls somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me. I liked that it was a different kind of hero but by the end of the book he had run into so many problems that they stopped being exciting. The narration was great.

Book source: Kindle Prime borrow

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review 2016-09-09 21:03
"Shady Cross" by James Hankins
Shady Cross - James Hankins

"Shady Cross" played like a movie in my head from the first page. One of those intense, claustrophobic movies, shot with a shoulder-mounted camera, with no sound track and a lot of close-ups of desperate people and dismal places, that I'd like to look away from but can't.

The story is told from the point of view of Stokes, an habitual criminal with little empathy and less conscience, who blames the fact that, in his thirties, he has no family, no friends and no money, not on his own weak character and poor judgement, but on the fact that he's just never caught a break.

This is not a world view I'm used to living with. I felt as comfortable as if I'd just put on a shirt drenched in someone-else's sweat.

Yet I kept reading.


Because of the "what will he do?" dilemma that baits the hook this book reeled  me in with.

Stokes finally gets a break. He has a dead man's backpack in his hands with $35o,ooo  in it, that he can just walk away with and no one will ever know. Then a phone in the backpack rings . He answers it and little girl says, “Daddy? Are you coming to get me? They say if you give them money they’ll let you take me home.”

I found that I really wanted to know what a man like him would do in those circumstances.

"Shady Cross" has three things going for it that kept me hooked: constant tension that is delivered at an almost exhausting pace and intensity; a plot with so many unexpected turns and frustrations that you feel you have to keep reading so you can find out how it all works out; and the character of Stokes a fundamentally flawed man who is quite hard to like and almost impossible to trust but who I still found myself rooting for from time to time.

The audiobook version of "Shady Cross" is nine hours and ten minutes long. I gulped it down in two sessions and wished I'd had the time to read it without stopping.

There are two things I didn't like about "Shady Cross" The main one is that I could never quite buy Stoke's motivation for continuing to try to do the right thing, no matter how ineptly, rather than looking after his own interests. It's not that this wasn't explained, it's just that I didn't believe the explanation. The second thing is related to first thing and it's the way Stokes feels about how everything works out. I bought what happened in the end, just not how Stokes felt about it.

Still, it's a fun way to spend a few hours and it does what thriller should do: keeps you guessing and keeps you turning the pages.

Bon Shaw does a great job narrating "Shady Cross" and keeping me inside Stokes' unpleasant head. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.



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review 2016-04-05 00:56
Shady Cross by James Hankins
Shady Cross - James Hankins


Highly enjoyable read! Stokes, the anti-heroic MC, comes across a fat chunk of money. He thinks it's his lucky day until being mistaken for someone else on the phone and learning that the money was intended to save the life of a little girl. What to do; What to do? This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Great writing, great plot.  I listened to the audio book version, and I also enjoyed the narrator.

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text 2014-12-18 12:00
TBR Thursday 19
The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley
Island Fire (Island Series Book 1) - Toby Neal
Shady Cross - James Hankins
The Blood of the Fifth Knight - E.M. Powell
Emissary (Legends of the Realm) - Thomas Locke
The Hitchhiker Strain: The Complete Series - Kellie Sheridan

Moonlight Reader started the TBR Thursday, and I think it's a good way to a) show what new books I've got and b) confront myself with my inability to lower my TBR. In fact, since I started recording it, it has risen significantly. I get the feeling I'm doing something wrong here...


I've got absolutely no time, so I've prepared this in advance and it's just the books I received this week. Hopefully, I'll be a bit less stressed next week.


TBR pile currently stands at 258. (+9)

(Netgalley ARCs at 90 (+5))



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