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Linwood Barclay thriller about Zack Walker - quite fun and reasonably interesting

Bad Guys - Linwood Barclay



Zack Walker is a writer/journalist getting involved with a private detective in observing high-end clothing thefts. However he becomes entangled in a web of other crimes and events which bring his family in and which he eventually helps to resolve. The characters are well-defined and drive the book and Zack comes over as slightly less annoying than he did in the first book in the series. It's quite entertaining, engaging and worth a look if you want a light thriller.

Dated and wordy fantasy novel from the ‘70s - hard work

Lord Foul's Bane - Stephen R. Donaldson



This first part of the Thomas Covenant trilogy is tough going. Our main character, Thomas, suffers from leprosy in our world in the 1970s. He is transported to a fantasy world of magic and unusual creatures where he is revered as a possible saviour in a struggle against Lord Foul. Over 500 pages long, the novel takes us on two long journeys, greatly embellished and wordy. It’s not an easy read and I’m not convinced that it’s worth reading the next two volumes as it’s not particularly engaging.

Fairly ordinary cosy crime tale set in the 1950s

Dover One: A Mystery - Joyce Porter This detective novel deals with the disappearance of a young lady from an estate in the 1950s. Inspector Dover and his sergeant investigate and solve the crime, discovering all sorts of skullduggery amongst the residents. The characters are a bit stereotypical and the plot moves along slowly but comfortably. The general effect is of a reasonable detective story but it’s nothing special. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The final volume and it’s quite entertaining- and tragic

Chew Volume 12 - John Layman

With a definitive finality to it, this comic series’ final volume has all the main characters and a fair amount of plot, moving along at a decent pace and proving to be entertaining. The artwork is relatively basic and colourful. I’m no great fan of this series but I enjoyed this book.

Reasonably good police procedural about murder and interesting relationships

Gently With the Ladies - Alan Hunter

This is the third Gently that I’ve read and the best so far (not difficult). George Gently investigates a murder when the prime suspect comes to see him, proclaiming his innocence. As the title indicates, nearly all the main characters are women and none of them are particularly trustworthy. The story is short and quite engaging but the plot is slightly more convoluted than necessary.

Very satisfying last part to this four-part fantasy series

The Broken Isles - Mark Charan Newton



This fantasy novel brings this series to a close as Brynd, Eir, Rika, Randur, Artemisia , Fulcrom and Lan find themselves fighting for survival in a variety of ways in Villiren and thereabouts. The plot thickens considerably as new interesting characters are introduced, all with an important part to play. There's plenty of action, a high body count, betrayal and a fair amount of plot twists to enthral the reader. I enjoyed this a lot but it does not stand alone so it's worth the three other volumes of the series beforehand.

Kung-fu Chinese fantasy novel - not for everyone

A Hero Born - Anna Holmwood, Jin Yong



This is the first of twelve volumes in this fantasy Kung Fu series by a celebrated Chinese author, Jin Yong.  This novel centres around two sons of martial art heroes and their fate. Guo encounters a variety of martial art experts and the text is full of fights and Kung fu moves. There’s some historical context but the whole experience is long and not particularly engaging, unless you’re a fan of that sort of thing. The fact that I found this easy to put down says a lot. I completed it, hoping for a bit more inspiration but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Norwegian noir detective novel - interesting and complicated

The Cabin - Jorn Lier Horst



Wisting is a highly placed police officer, asked to investigate the disappearance of a young man several years earlier as well as the discovery of several cardboard boxes at the cabin of a recently deceased politician as both take place in the same vicinity. He gradually gathers together a team of investigators and together the truth eventually comes out. The main protagonists are not particularly developed much and the plot centres around their work and enquiries. It lacks emotional involvement until the denouement but works well as a police procedural with a political slant. I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Another great action-packed adventure thriller about Lori Anderson.

Deep Dirty Truth - Steph Broadribb



Following on from the first two thrillers about this bounty hunter, her daughter and JT, this novel has the now-becoming usual action-filled plot about the Miami Mob, betrayal, a hefty body count and a lot more besides. Again Lori doesn’t know who to trust but extricates herself from danger situations but not without difficulties. It’s a “fun” yarn and enjoyable but it’s probably worth reading the first two books beforehand. Recommended to anyone who enjoys an involved thrill ride. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Brunetti takes on corruption and murder - another successful novel.

Beastly Things - Donna Leon


Inspector Brunetti, Venice's finest, has another murder to solve and this one involves the meat-processing industry. The usual characters appear and there's a lot of talk about the worsening conditions in Venice due to modernisation and tourism. Like other Brunetti novels, this one is an easy read and enjoyable in many ways, especially if you know Venice.

An interesting second volume, confusing yet fun

Shutter Volume 2: Way of the World (Shutter Tp) - Owen Gieni, Leila del Duca, Joe Keatinge



Kate and young Chris find themselves in another world / dimension with all sorts of relations. It’s all a bit chaotic and quite hard to follow, especially as I’ve ended up reading these volumes out of order and a while ago for the others. The artwork is fun, entertaining, colourful and detailed. An interesting series.

Detective story based in late 19th century about anti-Semitism

Library Paradox, The - Catherine Shaw

Vanessa is a private investigator hired to help to solve a murder in London in the late 19th century. The plot centres around the death of an anti-semitic scholar and a few key characters are introduced and developed.  I am torn in two directions with this novel as the background of the plight of the Jews in this era, including the Dreyfus Affair, is dealt with at length and well-developed and researched. On the other hand, the detective plot is not brilliant with too many connections between the key characters. Quite good historically but ...

Third part of an original fantasy series. Exciting and intriguing

The Book of Transformations - Mark Charan Newton



The plot thickens as this volume takes us back to Villjamur where much unrest and revolution are met by force. Supernatural and magical forces also come into play, leading to a mighty climax. More intriguing and unusual characters are introduced and developed, resulting in a complicated but fulfilling plot. Another book will complete the series where hopefully all will be resolved. Good stuff.

Entertaining comic book series, lengthy but well worth it.

Elephantmen Mammoth Volume 2 - Richard Starkings

This huge volume continues the story about how the Elephantmen and their human companions cope in this post-war scenario. All the major characters, animal and human, are well catered for and bring humour and pathos to the plot. There’s a lot going on and, with a variety of artists, the end product is exciting, involved and impressive. Read Mammoth Book 1 first perhaps but this book also works on its own.

A different take on the scientists of the late 1940s. Interesting concept.

The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 1: Science, Bad - Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra

Involving all the great scientists of the era (Einstein, Fermi, Oppenheimer etc..), this imaginative comic series takes us through the development of the atomic bomb while they also indulged in other projects. Without giving too much away, they all have foibles and unusual back stories and this leads to all sorts of trouble. It’s interesting and original while the artwork is reasonably clear. Worth a look.

YA fantasy novel which is generally a good read, part of a longer series

Once a Princess - Sherwood Smith

 Sasha is whisked away from Earth to a magical world where plots are afoot and many adventures begin. These involve her mother, a pirate, mages and the king. She struggles to know who to trust while a romantic element enters the fray. A host of characters are introduced and developed. The plot moves along at a reasonable pace and the general effect is enjoyable and I liked this novel more than I thought that I would. Perhaps aimed at a female readership as the main protagonists are mainly women. Ending on a bit of a cliffhanger, the series continues in another book.