Thursday, July 31, 2008

Heather Graham - The Death Dealer

Genevieve O'Brien knows all about nightmares. She survived for two months as the prisoner of a deranged killer. now a new menace is stalking the streets of New York.

The media are buzzing about the Poe Killings, a string of homicides mirroring the author's macabre stories. Almost without exception, the victims have been members of a literary society devoted to the master of crime fiction - and Genevieve's own mother may be next.

Spooked by the bizarre slayings, Genevieve turns to P.I. Joe Connolly, her rescuer, her friend an ... ?
She wants him to be much more, but he's been avoiding her since her ordeal, and she can't seem to get close to him.

Joe isn't sure there even is a case. But as the body count rises and their investigation leads them miles from Manhattan.he has to admit that there's a twisted new serial killer at work.

Even more unsettling is the guidance Joe is receiving from beyond the grave, People he knows to be dead -- his cousin Matt and Matt's fiancee, Leslie-- are appearing to him, offering new clues and leads, and warning him of terrible danger ahead.
But not even otherworldly intervention can keep Genevieve and Joe's new nightmare from becoming terrifying real - and putting them squarely in the crosshairs between this world and the next.


Judging from the books description there isn't much to tell about this book. To me it felt like ages to make it through it.
Now I understand Graham writes lots of romantic suspense but lack of both made this book a pain to read. People who find it intriguing to read about ghosts won't find much except the usual mush of ghosts trying to help those in need.

The whole story unexciting and boring.

Visit Heather Graham.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Mira Books; Library Ed edition (March 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0778325326
ISBN-13: 978-0778325321

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stephen King - Bag of Bones

Four years after the sudden death of his wife, forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan is still grieving. Unable to write and plagued by vivid nightmares set at the western Maine summerhouse Sara Laughs, Mike reluctantly returns to the lakeside getaway.
There he founds his beloved Yankee town held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, whose vindictive purpose is to take his three-year-old granddaughter Kyra, away from her widowed young mother, Mattie. As Mike is drawn into Mattie and Kyra's struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations and escalating terrors. What are the forces that have been unleashed here - and what do they want of Mike Noonan ?


I haven't read a King since Dreamcatcher has been published in German language in 2002.
I found a loooong ghost story which didn't leave me alone. In King's way it was a long and very descriptive plot.
We're back in Derry, the place where It, Insomnia and Dreamcatcher took place, we have a writer like in The Dark Half, The Shining or The Tommyknockers but still, Bag of Bones is nothing King has ever written before.

All allround a story that fits the friend of ghost stories. It feels a bit stretched at times but also wouldn't feel right without the stretching.

Visit Stephen King.

Mass Market Paperback: 752 pages
Publisher: Pocket (June 1, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 067102423X
ISBN-13: 978-0671024239

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Harlan Coben - The Woods

County prosecutor Paul Copeland is still getting over the loss of his sister twenty years ago - the night she walked into the woods, never to be seen again.

Now, as Cope struggles to raise his six-year-old daughter alone and try one of the biggest cases of his career, evidence links him to a man who has been viciously murdered. The victim could be the boy who disappeared along with Cope's sister.
And, as hope rises that his sister could still be alive, dangerous secrets from his family's past threaten to tear apart everything he's been trying to hold together.


County prosecutor Paul Copeland lost a lot of loved ones in his life: his sister was murdered 20 years ago, his mother left him and his father overnight, his wife died of cancer and recently his father died as well.

Raising his six-year-old daughter with the help of his sister-in-law he now faces an angry father who's son stands trial for the rape of a young stripper girl. The father promises to do everything possible to destroy Paul's life if his money offer isn't accepted and the plaintiff doesn't accept his money offer to spare his son jail.

On top of that the past reaches into the present when suddenly a long thought dead body surfaces. One who supposedly should have been dead for about 20 years - except that the dead body is fairly fresh.
20 years ago four teenagers were killed in the woods. Two bodies surfaced and two, including Paul's sister Camille, were never found. Now Paul's hope rises that his sister might have survived as well.

Something is going on - not only in Paul's life: 20 years ago Lucy Silverstein, now known as Lucy Gold, fell in love with Paul, the junior camp counselor in her father's camp. One night, the night that would change their lives forever. While Lucy and Paul were making out in the woods, four of the campers Paul was supposed to watch over, were killed in the very same woods.
Today, due to an assignment to her students, Lucy received an anonymous journal entry about the most traumatic event in their lives. Lucy is shocked to receive a journal entry describing the events in the woods, what she and Paul saw and never told to anyone. She reaches out to Paul, ripping open old but never really healed wounds.

Together they face the mystery of what really happened back then, who killed whom, who knows and ultimately: is it possible that Camille survived the tragedy as well ? And if yes, where is she ? Where does she hide ?


What I like about Coben are his characters which almost always are believable and seem all to real. In all the stand alone Coben novels I've read or listened to, the main character could have been the beginning of a new series after the Myron Bolitar series hasn't been continued in a long time.
Coben knows how to do it: he spins a huge cobweb, with millions of different angles,
which meet in the middle to feast on the freshly caught fly.
The Woods exceeds the readers expectations by far.
Thrilling and gripping from the beginning to the end.

Visit Harlan Coben.

Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Signet (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451221958
ISBN-13: 978-0451221957

Harlan Coben recently had his novel Tell No One made into a movie. Visit the movie site here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Joshua Spanogle - Flawless

Nate McCormick, former medical detective for the CDC, thought he'd left the world of death and medicine behind. But the new life he hoped to start with his girlfriend in San Francisco will have to wait.
For Nate is pulled back by the vicious murder of an old friend and the suspicious role the dead man's employer, Tetra Biologics, may have played in his slaying.

The deeper Nate probes, the more clearly the clues lead to a secret alliance of crime, science, and a billion-dollar industry preying on the pursuit of beauty... and determined to hide its victims at any price. For Nate, that price will be the woman he loves - unless he can reveal the flaw in a perfect conspiracy of medicine and murder.


When it comes to beauty and cosmetic the industry smells money to get out of those desperate to keep up with the standard or those feeling imperfect as today's standard of being flawless is pressuring high.

Nate McCormick recently moved into his girlfriends apartment in San Francisco. Seeking for a new job and the relationship with Brooke struggling with everyday life settling in, an apartment of his own.
Then he is suddenly contacted by a long forgotten former friend from med school: Paul Murphy.
Paul is desperate to tell Nate something that scares him to death and threatens his life. Unfortunately the time for Murph is running out and before he is able to reveal his secret Nate finds him, his wife and two children brutally killed.

Nate struggles with his search for answers and keeping his relationship with Brooke alive while Brooke demands he has to move on without playing detective again.
But Nate conscientiousness and old feelings for his friend demand him to search for answers, straining his relationship even more.

With his clues in hands his research leads him to a secret clinic in San Francisco which promises beauty but unfortunately leads to unimaginable suffering for a certain percentage of patients who soon develop bumps on their faces, the diagnosis: cancer.

All leads back to Murph's last employer Tetra Biologics, Asian connections and the desperate attempt to keep beauties victims hidden alive or dead.


Flawless is Spanogle's second novel starring Nate McCormick, a former medical detective at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). While Nate seems to be an average guy with average thoughts, annoying at times, he's very likeable and a typical guy.

The novel began a bit slow with lots of Nate's thoughts which, at times, weren't interesting at all. Getting used to that the reader gets a good medical thriller.
Joshua Spanogle, currently in an internship at Stanford, knows his territory well and
introduces the reader into the secrets of medical research, science and medicine in a sensitive and informational manner.
Looking at his homepage I got the feeling there's a lot of himself to find in the character of Nate McCormick. It made me look forward to his next novel and picking up his first one, Isolation Ward.

Visit Joshua Spanogle.

Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Bantam (March 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440242290
ISBN-13: 978-0440242291

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Caitlin Rother with John Hess - Twisted Triangle: A Famous Crime Writer, a Lesbian Love Affair, and the FBI Husband's Violent Revenge

Twisted Triangle tells the compelling true story of Margo Bennett, a married FBI agent whose jealous, vengeful husband, Gene Bennett, a former undercover FBI agent, kidnapped and attempted to murder her after she had a secret love affair with best-selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell.
This series of bizarre events caused a sensation when it made national news a decade ago, but the whole incredible story has never before been told. Only now have Margo Bennett, her friends, and family granted access to personal interviews, previously sealed court records, diaries, letters and other formerly confidential material.

The book details the crazy dynamics of Margo and Gene Bennett's marriage and family, the rise and fall of FBI careers, and Margo's clandestine lesbian affair with celebrity author Patricia Cornwell. Stranger than fiction, this story describes the makings of Gene's complex plan, his insanity defense, and the trial that ultimately vindicated Margo and sent Gene to prison, where he remains today.


In the preface Caitlin Rother clearly describes what made her write this particular book. Not only did her agent ask her to write about this special case, she also was intrigued:

"Two FBI agents involved in a love triangle with a best-selling crime novelist who wrote about FBI agents and the serial killers they profiled. And then to find out that Cornwell's affair was with the female agent - now that was intriguing." (page ix, quoted from the book)

And she is right. Her reasons to write the book are the reasons that made me pick this book as soon as I stumbled about it. Having read all Cornwell novels myself I never heard about this particular period of Cornwell's life and I was, very much intrigued what her involvement might have been.

The book is put together from most sensitive documents like f. e. letters, diaries, psych. evaluations, novels with personal inscriptions by P. C. and official documents.
Most of the dialogue and events are reconstructed or approximated by Margo Bennett's memory, crosschecked with the people involved. P. C. and Gene Bennett declined to participate in this book.

John Hess, co-author and former FBI agent, Quantico instructor and close friend of Margo Bennett provided his documentation taken from hours of intensive talk with Margo.

I could not decline that I am feeling repulsed by certain thing mentioned in this book. Certainly Patricia Cornwell's involvement was a main 'ingredient' but shouldn't have been used as some sort of 'linchpin'. P. C.'s involvement didn't have much to do with what Gene Bennett did to his family. The short encounters between her and Margo Bennett were more a tool for him he wanted to use in a later divorce.
I found it extremely disturbing that Margo Bennett used privately exchanged things of P. C.'s life to get some juice into the story. Known in public or not, they didn't do much to the main 'plot' except that it took some of the credibility.
It also seems to me, that Margo Bennett in her descriptions left the feeling of P. C. being of a cold nature when in the end what happened furthermore between those two made perfectly sense and happens every day to normal people.
Out of place seemed her constant referring to P.C. as 'Patsy'. Considering the circumstances and years that went by the use of 'Patsy' seems a bit non-distant and intimate.

While the 'relationship' between the crime novelist and Margo is pretty much detailed (can you imagine) it also feels single sided because it was only told by one part of the story. In fact the whole book feels like told from one person (which it is) which gives it a funny taste.
It certainly isn't to dismiss that what happened to this family is terrible and difficult to comprehend and I deeply feel for Margo and her both daughters. It just seems that the author wasn't the right one to write about this story.
She left P. C. in a strange light and Margo in a pretty good one, never mentioning what she did wrong or what she could have done to change the course of actions during years of an abusive relationship between her, her children and Gene Bennett.

Informative links:
P. C. speaks up about being gay, Margo Bennett (beginning page 2, bottom) and the book. The Advocate, June 17, 2008
Rother on Twisted Triangle., July 07, 2008

Visit Caitlin Rother.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Jossey-Bass (April 18, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0787995851
ISBN-13: 978-0787995850

Friday, July 11, 2008

James Rollins - The Judas Strain

From the depths of the Indian Ocean, a horrific plague has arisen to devastate humankind - a disease that's unknown, unstoppable ... and deadly. But it is merely a harbinger of the doom to follow.

Aboard a cruise liner transformed into a makeshift hospital, Dr. Lisa Cummings, and Monk Kokkalis -operatives of the shadowy covert organization SIGMA Force- search for answers to the bizarre affliction that has inexplicably washed ashore. But there are others with far less altruistic intentions. In a savage and sudden coup, terrorists hijack the vessel, turning a mercy ship into a floating bio-weapons lab.

At a Fourth of July celebration a world away, SIGMA's commander Gray Pierce thwarts the murderous schemes of a beautiful assassin -a would-be killer who holds the first clue to the discovery of a possible cure. With the fate of every man, woman and child on Earth hanging in the balance, Pierce joins forces with the women who wanted him dead, and together they embark upon an astonishing quest -one that winds through Venetian tombs, Byzantine cathedrals, and jungle-encrusted ruins- following the trail of the most fabled explorer in history: Marco Polo.

But time is an enemy as a worldwide pandemic grows rapidly out of control. And as a relentless madman dogs their every step, Pierce and his unlikely ally are being pulled into an astonishing mystery buried deep in antiquity and in humanity's genetic code. And as the seconds tick closer to doomsday, Pierce will realize he can truly trust no one -not the bewitching enigma who runs at his side or even those who are closest to him -for any one of them could be ...
a Judas.


Taken on an adventurous ride this thriller took me with it's first pages. Rollins' held a firm grasp on a plot so compelling that the book keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time.
Ancient history reaching from the past into the future in the form of an ancient strain of viruses turning friend into foe: The Judas Strain.

There is no Dan Brown here. There is something with believeable substance That takes you into the past, present and future. Likeable characters, blended fact and fiction create a masterpiece in the thriller genre. One that stays with you for a long time.

Enjoy the ride ! You're going to travel from the Indian Ocean through Venetian tombs, Byzantine cathedrals and jungle-encrusted ruins - following the trail of the most fabled explorer in history: Marco Polo.

Visit James Rollins.

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (July 2, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060763892

Friday, July 4, 2008

Andrew Gross - The Blue Zone

Everything in Kate Raab's life seems perfect. She has an amazing family, an invigorating job straight out of college, and a boyfriend she adores. Then a phone call changes everything:
Her father, a successful businessman, a man she has always trusted and admired, is in trouble with the law. He's innocent, he insists, but the only way out is this: his testimony against his accomplices and the immediate placement of the family deep inside the Witness Protection Program.
... Now, a year later, her worst fears have been realized: Kate's father suddenly disappears--into what the WITSEC agency calls "the blue zone"--and someone very important to him is found brutally murdered. ...


I've never read a book by Andrew Gross before so this was the first time for me and I actually thought this is a new author. I was surprised to read he'd published a few books before.
However, I liked the plot:
The family Raab is tight and torn apart after Ben Raab, the father, admits to different accusations by the FBI. His confession and plans to testify in court against the Colombian drug cartel puts him and the family into a dangerous position and therefore into the Witness Protection Program. The family has to vanish and never come back to it's old life.
Kate, the oldest daughter though, decides to not run away from her life and boyfriend Greg. Realising later on, she's never going to see her family again she takes on her own life and marries Greg.

14 month later she receives a surprising visit by the FBI: her father has vanished and left a trail to the murder of his case agent.
Feeling the FBI hides information from her Kate begins to investigate a bit and soon discovers that the special relationship she once had with her father isn't as true as she'd always believed.
Who is the man she'd always believed to be her hero ? Why did he do what he did ?

Kate needs answers and tries to find her family which causes her mother's life. From there on Kate's life is a roller coaster of fear. Understanding what she is dealing with Kate has to realize she is stuck between her father and the cartel. Who is right and who is wrong and what did her mother plan to tell her when she got shot ?

Although I didn't like the all too predictable ending I enjoyed reading The Blue Zone.
The main character Kate isn't very memorable from my point of view but I really liked her husband Greg as a minor role. The Blue Zone is a nice holiday-beach read: not too demanding and quite short.

Visit Andrew Gross.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (April 13, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061143405
ISBN-13: 978-0739480731

Brian Keene - City Of The Dead

Where can you go when the dead are everywhere ? Cities have become overrun with legions of the dead, all of them intent on destroying what's left of the living. Trapped inside a fortified skyscraper, a handful of survivors prepare to make their last stand against an unstoppable, undying enemy.
With every hour their chances diminish and their numbers dwindle, while the numbers of the dead can only rise. Because sooner or later, everything dies. And then it comes back, ready to kill.


The book begins where The Rising left the reader. Luckily, for those who didn't read the book shortly after finishing the first one, the last chapter is repeated. Jim Thurmond, Frankie and pastor Martin travelled through five states facing death with each step to finally reach Jim's ex-wife's house to look for Jim's son Danny.
Danny is alive and reunited with his father but the zombies aren't far away. The house soon is ambushed from the outside and it is only a matter of time until they face the inevitable once again.
They find themselves in a small room without escape while the zombies try to burn the house. le, attracted by gunshots, Don De Santos, leaves his panic room for the first time in what seems to be forever. He sneaks up to his attic to discover faces and little Danny in the neighbor's house. With time running out he manages to lift his ladder from one window to the other and all are save - for now.
Wounded and scared they all flee in his SUV but are soon in trouble again. Chased on top of a parking garage they are rescued by a helicopter which takes them to the seemingly only safe place left: The Ramsey Towers in New York City.

Wounds healing and adjusting to a new life, they think they might have made it until the undead form an army, preparing to ambush the tower and killing the last remaining living humans on earth. The hopeless battle for their lives and all that humanity stands for begins and leaves a group of ten people underground trying to go, well, nowhere.


Keene's impressing way of describing the war inside the tower almost blew me away. He has this thing to involve different characters which shortly after face their death while the reader just thought a new, lasting character, entered the story. He does that in a very natural way that it always feels saddening to read that this person dies.

What happened in this tower was rage, wrapped in simple words that made it feel like it's real. Placing gruesome pictures of people overrun and dying where ever you look in ones head.
The eerie feeling in the underground tunnels left goosebumps on my arms. Imagine standing in the tunnel, smelling the sewer and it is pitch black around you. You don't know where you are going, what's around the next corner or who is standing directly in front of you staring in your eyes.

Keene gave his story something real and alive so that the ending isn't shocking at all.

"Everything dies, but not everything has an ending."

The zombie-fan is delighted !

Visit Brian Keene.

Mass Market Paperback: 357 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books (May 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843954159
ISBN-13: 978-0843954159

Keene just published another book strongly connected to 'The Rising':
The Rising: Selected Scenes From The End Of The World contains thirty-two short stories based in the world of The Rising and City of the Dead. Now, fans can witness how the undead epidemic plays out across the globe-Australia, the United Kingdom, Norway, the United States-nowhere is safe from the zombie invasion. Meet new characters you'll come to love, re-discover old characters you thought were gone, and find out what happens after the fateful events of City of the Dead.
(Product description taken from Amazon)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Brian Keene - The Rising

The dead are returning to life as intelligent zombies. Trapped by the undead, escape seems impossible for Jim Thurmond. But Jim’s young son is alive and in dire peril hundreds of miles away. Despite overwhelming odds, Jim vows to find him— or die trying.

Joined by an elderly preacher, a guilt-ridden scientist, and a determined ex-prostitute, Jim embarks on a cross-country rescue mission. They must battle both the living and the living dead. And for Jim and his companions, an even greater evil awaits them at the end of their journey. This is the time of...The Rising.


In the beginning The Rising reminded me a bit of Stephen King's "The Stand" and "Cell" but that changed later on.

Basically the story is about a black hole opened by Havenbrook Laboratories. The hole weakened the walls between this world and the world the others come from. The others are things living in the void. They obtain our dead bodies as soon as it dies. They are intelligent, able to speak and hungry. Of course there are a lot of them so they kill the humans by eating a bit but always leaving enough of the body so that one of their brethren can use it. The Brethren also use animals also use dogs, cats, snakes or birds for their advantage.

Jim Thurmond hides in a self built bunker since weeks. His wife and unborn child were killed and now belong to the zombies. Without hope and not knowing if his son Danny in New Jersey is still alive he sees no future and is ready to kill himself when suddenly his cell phone rings. Frozen he doesn't move and later listens to his sons desperate phone call. With new hope he decides to find a way out of his bunker to rescue his frightened son.

Rescued from the zombies by pastor Martin he finds an alley with hope and the believe in God. Martin thinks he's destined to help Jim find his way to New Jersey.

Then there is Frankie, a drug addict prostitute who tries to survive somehow. After she rescues a running soldier she is captured herself.

In a world where no government exists people built their own government the way they think is convenient for them. So it happens in the city of Gettysburg that a group of soldiers built a shelter for them and use survivors as their slaves. The camp is lead by Colonel Schow, a cruel man with a cruel mind. He uses women shiftwise for "moral" in a so called "meat wagon". Townspeople are required to enforced work or used as bait when exploring other towns.

So it happens that one day Jim, Martin and Frankie are hostages in Gettysburg when the camp is moved to the Havenbrook Laboratories. During an ambush they all make it to free themselves and decide to all drive to New Jersey to find little boy Danny.

The book ends with Jim entering his ex-wives house to find his son and Frankie and Martin hearing gunshot from inside.


The reader doesn't expect the ending comes this fast and most of all stays completely open. And I mean completely. It feels like the book misses a few pages. Those who tell us that Jim finds him son alive. This made me grab the second book 'City Of The Dead' immediately as my next read.

I liked that the main characters aren't heroes. They all have their weaknesses and they all were rescued by someone else during the book. It made the book so real and described what would happen if some day the world actually ends. What differs this book from all the other zombie novels is that there is no escape. There is no safe island. Well there might be safety from the possessed human bodies but there isn't safety from the dead animals which already played a huge role in this book. It really got me thinking when someone in the book mentioned to sail out onto the ocean just to be killed by hungry sharks or bigger animals.

There was one short talk that really got me hooked on this book because it is so simple but also tells all about what's going on and made me cringe:

'Wait a minute.'
'There is something else, Jim !'
'Just a second -- got it !' The grin on his face died when he glanced up at the pastor.
'What is it ?'
'Sniff the air for a moment.' Martin told him. 'Do you smell it ?'
Jim breathed deep and then gagged.
'Jesus, what is that ?'
'They are coming !'


The Rising is different, it's intelligent and it's reality of the possibility what might enter the world if we open a black hole (experiments regarding this actually are happening) is frightening. Keene touched a topic before a few others (f. e. Preston) tried to touch in different ways but didn't get it the way I'd liked it. Fascinating and intriguing.

Visit Brian Keene.

Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books (January 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843952016
ISBN-13: 978-0843952018