Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dick and Felix Francis - Even Money

On the first day of Royal Ascot, the crowd rejoices in a string of winning favorites. Ned Talbot has worked all his life as a bookmaker—taking over the family business from his grandfather—so he knows not to expect any sympathy from the punters as they count their winnings, and him his losses. He’s seen the ups and downs before—but, as the big gambling conglomerates muscle in on small concerns like his, Ned wonders if it’s worth it any more.

When a grey-haired man steps forward from the crowd, claiming to be his father, Ned’s life is thrown into further turmoil. He’d been told since he was a baby that his parents had died in a car crash.

Barely an hour later, his newly found father is stabbed by an unknown assailant in the Ascot car park. Blood oozing from his abdomen, his father warns Ned to “be very careful.” But of whom? Of what? Ned finds himself in a race to solve his father’s riddle, a race where coming in second could cost him more than even money, it could cost him his life. . . .


As much as I tried I couldn't finish the book. It was just too boring. I quit after the first third where I waited for something (anything, except bla) to happen after the alleged father was stabbed to death but nothing substantial happened. The final straw was one page that used the Word "I" for about 25 times.

Unfortunately the book is not worth the money nor worth the time spent reading. At least not for me.

Visit Dick Francis/Felix Francis.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (August 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399155910
ISBN-13: 978-0399155918

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sandra Brown - Smash Cut

The murder of Paul Wheeler has all the elements of a blockbuster: family rivalries, incalculable wealth, and a prominent man dying in the arms of his beautiful mistress. It's a case that could earn Derek Mitchell even greater star power. When the Wheeler family approaches him about defending Creighton Wheeler for his uncle's murder - even before he's charged - he jumps at the chance.
But Derek soon discovers that Julie will stop at nothing to secure justice for Paul - and that includes preventing Derek from defending Creighton. Infuriated, Derek realizes that his hands have been tied in a way that could not only cost him the case, but ruin his entire career.

Although Creighton has a rock-solid alibi, Julie is convinced that he is responsible for Paul's murder. But the homicide detectives have another theory. Caught in several lies, and keeping secrets from Derek and the police, Julie is suspected of casting blame on Creighton to cover her own crime. Meanwhile, Derek fears he's once again being duped ... yet he burns with jealousy when he thinks of Julie with her late lover.
But the more Derek learns about Creighton and his darker side, the more he doubts the young man's innocence.
And hiding in a squalid motel under an assumed name is the one man, a career criminal, a killer, who knows the truth.
The clock ticks down toward a shocking ending as Derek and Julie seek to learn whether Creighton's fascination with movie murders is merely a bizarre hobby or depravity. Has he begun reenacting cinema's goriest scenes ... and, if so, who will be his unwitting costars ?


The books cover description should be called a major spoiler because it almost tells the story in just a few sentences. I'm glad when I got the book I didn't read the description before otherwise I might have been tempted to not read the book at all.
Luckily the description, even if read, doesn't take away that Smash Cut is an exciting thriller to read.
Just when I thought how great the author had hidden the killer's identity (with hints it might not be the suspect you have in mind) she plain let me know by telling me. At first I was shocked and disappointed but afterwards it made perfectly sense and didn't bother the suspense in the least.

I probably won't go back in time to read Brown's older novels but will keep an eye on new publications.

Visit Sandra Brown.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (August 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416563083
ISBN-13: 978-1416563082

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Faye Kellerman - Blindman's Bluff

As a lieutenant in the LAPD, homicide detective Peter Decker doesn't get many calls at 3 a.m. unless a case is nasty, sensational—or both. Someone has broken into the exclusive Coyote Ranch compound of billionaire developer Guy Kaffey and viciously gunned him down, along with his wife and four employees.

A well-known figure on both the business and society pages, Kaffey, with his sons and his younger brother, Mace, built most of the shopping malls in Southern California and earned a reputation for philanthropy, donating millions to worthy causes. It doesn't take long for Peter, his trusted detectives Scott Oliver and Marge Dunn, and the rest of his homicide team to figure out that the gruesome killings must be an inside job. Things become even more entangled when they discover that Kaffey's largesse had included organizations that extended second chances to delinquents, many of whom Kaffey had hired for his personal security. But was the job pure murder/robbery or something even more twisted? A developer of Kaffey's magnitude doesn't make billions without making more enemies with blood grudges.

With leads taking the team across L.A., up and down the Golden State, and into Mexico, Decker is plenty busy—and plenty thankful not to have to worry about his wife, Rina Lazarus, getting caught up in this deadly case. Rina is out of harm's way, serving on a jury at the courthouse.

But then a chance encounter with a court translator who needs her help leads Rina into the terrifying heart of her husband's murder investigations—and straight into the path of a gang of ruthless killers. To protect Rina, Decker must find his prey before death unites his two worlds.


Blindman's Bluff is the 18th installment in Kellerman's Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus series and it's the first book I've ever rad by this author. The question I always ask myself when jumping into a long established series is if I'd read another book in the series.
My answer in this case would probably be a no for a few reasons:

First of all, I excepted both characters to play a relevant role in the book. The part of Decker's wife Rina could have been played by anyone and her role didn't really contribute to the plot. There is also a lot of build-up in the book. Suspects without end, more names one has to remember over the time span of a few days it takes to get through the book.
Finally the ending was a huge bore for me.

It also took me a while to get the novels title and for those who haven't figured it out I recommend the book Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage. It's not a direct connection but might indicate why the author choose this title, even if slightly irrelevant.

Maybe it just wasn't Kellerman's best but enough for me. :-)

Visit Faye Kellerman.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition first Printing edition (August 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061702323
ISBN-13: 978-0061702327

Friday, September 18, 2009

Michael Palmer - The Fifth Vial

In Boston, a disgraced medical student is sent to deliver a research paper that could save her career… In a hospital four thousand miles away, a reclusive scientist, dying from an incurable disease that threatens to make each tortured breath his last, is on the verge of perfecting a serum that could save millions of lives—and bring others inestimable wealth… In Chicago, a disillusioned detective is hired to determine the identity of a John Doe, killed on a Florida highway, with mysterious marks on his body.

Three seemingly disconnected lives, surging unrelentingly toward one another—and linked forever by THE FIFTH VIAL.


Medical student Natalie Reyes has fallen in disgrace with her supervisors and got suspended from school for 4 months. Her mentor and friend, a famous transplant specialist sends her to Rio/Brazil to speak at a transplant meeting. She never arrives there but is kidnapped, drugged and shot. Days later she awakes with her left lung lost in the shooting. Everything points to her needing a transplant soon.

At the time P. I. Ben Callahan is hired to investigate the identity of an unknown man who was run over by a truck but has visible marks of a recent bone marrow transplant. The Organ Guard Institution assumes him to be a victim of organ trafficking especially because they know about a similar case of a surviving woman who was kidnapped recently.

Valuable Dr. Joe Anson desperately needs a lung transplant. To not loose his valuable research he is tricked into agreeing to a transplant but later has to learn, that he was terribly tricked into an early transplant that has been waiting for him for a long, long time.


The Fifth Vial is one of the best thrillers I've read this year. With an already satisfied appetite with the organ trafficking topic, this novel didn't hurt a bit. Quite the opposite, I couldn't put it down.
The book has three main characters with Natalie and Ben independently bringing the plot together from their perspective. They both, Ben more than Natalie act stupid at times, bringing their lives into even more danger but readers that are not bothered by some questionable turns in the storyline will enjoy this medical thriller from the first page to the last. They even might oversee the more or less last chapter (which is a bit cheesy) that concluded the relationship between Natalie and the person who received her lung.

Good read !

Visit Michael Palmer.

Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (November 27, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312937741
ISBN-13: 978-0312937744

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dennis Lehane - Shutter Island

The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades -- with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. But then neither is Teddy Daniels.


U. S. Marshalls Teddy Daniels and his newly appointed partner Chuck Aule arrive on the remote island Shutter Island that holds Ashecliffe Hospital, a maximum security institution for the criminally insane.
A woman has mysteriously vanished from a locked room without leaving any kind of evidence on how she got out and where she went.
While the investigators try to bring some light into the situation, Teddy however has a second agenda.
He has been researching the island and came to find the arsonist who killed his wife. What he finds is much more disturbing. An unaccounted for patient, secret surgical experiments on patients and a complete hospital crew that seems to be in on it.


Shutter Island was brought to my attention quite some time ago and now that I've finally read it I have to ask myself why it got such great reviews. It certainly doesn't miss the suspense in the story. It even takes some turns that weren't expected at all but halfway through the reader should have caught the drift about what is going on the island.
After a more or less pleasant ride through the pages I craved the big bang at the end but only got a flat not exciting ending. Not a good read for me and certainly a disappointment after having read The Given Day in 2008.

Visit Dennis Lehane.

Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperTorch (April 27, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 038073186X
ISBN-13: 978-0380731862

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stephenie Meyer - Breaking Dawn (Twilight Series, Book 4) (Spoiler included)

When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?


The fourth and last installment in the Twilight series concludes the whole series with Bella finally giving in to marry Edward and her getting pregnant on their honeymoon, But what wasn't known to be possible happened and Bella bears a half human, half vampire girl she names Renesmee. Bella is also changed into what she chose to be: a vampire.

But these changes affect not only the Cullens' and Bella's family, it also affects the wolves pack, especially Jacob. Other threads involve themselves as well.


Breaking Dawn with its 700+ pages was a piece to read, especially at parts that were just too long and made me wonder how the capability of writing page after page with the same over and over again just using different words is called. There were parts that I think are excruciating to read just because they don't seem to end, like f. e. Bella's pregnancy. Although she got the child in a manner of a few weeks it felt much longer for the reader to get through that part.

Surprisingly I liked the part from Jacob's view. A style that wasn't used by Meyer in the previous three books.

I didn't like the fact that our Bella got everything she wanted. No sacrifices at all, besides as a vampire she lost all her "bad" characteristics. No problems at all. That certainly helped finding the book exciting.
The Renesmee - Jacob relationship made me choke. Seriously ?

To end this painfully, most certainly spoiling review, I'd like to end that if Meyer would have read Wuthering Heights she'd never have used such an ending. Why she felt the need to mention Wuthering Heights more than once in her books is not understandable to me.

In the end there was no drama. All is well, happily ever after - no.
This particular way of writing a conclusion so many people waited for shatters dreams. Not mine but others I now have to feel bad for.

Visit Stephenie Meyer.

Stephenie Meyer - Eclipse (Twilight Series, Book 3)

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself in the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: Life or death.
But which is which ?


Bella and Edward move on with their relationship with Bella desperately missing her friend Jacob who keeps away from her since she decided to stay together with vampire Edward. Edward, strictly against a friendship warns her that werewolves aren't predictable and tries to occupy her with his sister Alice or himself to keep her away from La Push, the wolves reservoir.
But sooner or later he has to learn that Jacob's friendship means a lot to Bella, enough to run away from his watchful eyes. He knows that sooner or later Bella has to decide between the human love she feels for Jacob and his and wants her to decide for herself.

When Seattle is raided by a group of young vampires, Bella once again is the target of Victoria's revenge. To win this war the Cullens' have to built an alliance with the wolves pack to fight the group that will come to Forks.


I don't quite know what to think of this third installment. Bella has her issues with becoming immortal, she has her issues to give up the human qualities Jacob could offer her. The author most definitely went overboard with the whole love triangle thing and certain parts didn't make sense to me at all. But then, I've never been like Bella, who is still the most dependent person in the world, now needing two men to "survive".
Edward seems to have matured a bit by allowing Bella to keep her friendship and decide for herself but still the whole situation is annoying. As a mother I'd probably throw a fit over it.

So top or flop, I wouldn't know and can't decide if I liked it or not. The book didn't offer much substance to me which I expected but overall, it was an ok read to pass the time.
I'm still interested how the story ends and have already picked up the last book to finish the series and get it out of the way.

I refuse to draw any conclusions to the secret fantasies the author might have. Won't do that. No no no.

Visit Stephenie Meyer.

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 640 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers; Reprint edition (August 4, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316027650
ISBN-13: 978-0316027656

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brian Freeman - Immoral (Jonathan Stride Series, Book 1)

Lieutnant Jonathan Stride is suffering from an ugly case of déjà-vu. For the second time in a year, a beautiful teenage girl has disappeared off the streets of Dultuh, Minnesota - gone without a trace, like a bitter gust off Lake Superior. The two victims couldn't be more different.
First it was Kerry McGrath, bubbly, sweet sixteen, and now, Rachel Deese, strange, sexually charged, a wild child.
The media hound Stride to catch a serial killer, and as the search carries him from the icy stillness of the northern woods to the erotic heat of Las vegas, he must decide which facts are real and which are illusions. Stride also finds his own life changed forever by the secrets he uncovered. Secrets that stretch across time in a web of lies, death, and illicit desire. Secrets that are chillingly ... immoral.


In a time span of one year two young girls have been vanished without a trace. Pressured by public and media, Lieutenant Jonathan Stride and his partner Maggie Bei tried to solve the disappearance of Kerry McGrath in vain and face the same situation again.
But when rumors surface about Rachel's stepfather abusing his stepdaughter, the police digs into the families life, exposing evidence that that the stepfather might have killed Rachel.
Police and the District Attorney agree, that they can reach a conviction for murder without having the body.

The case seems to be solved but three years later when a body is found in the desert of Las Vegas, the past catches up with a restless Stride who never forgot the Rachel Deese case.


Immoral is an o.k. read that won't bore you but neither will it wow you. I am certain there are a lot of readers that like the whole story but I couldn't find much that appealed to my taste.
The solution to the whole story is rather simply to guess otherwise other parts of the story wouldn't make sense at all. I was only waiting for my assumptions to be confirmed - which I was.

There is lots Mr. Freeman has to work on and probably already did in the following three novels already published.
I'll probably pick up the second book in the series soon just to figure out if things have changed. The Jonathan Stride character development in the end left room for hope and more. :-)

Visit Brian Freeman.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur; 1ST edition (August 25, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312340427
ISBN-13: 978-0312340421

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sabine Thiesler - Hexenkind

In an old, lonely and remote farmhouse in the midst of the Tuscany, a mushroom collector finds a horribly mutilated body: Sarah, the German wife of restaurant owner Romano, throat has been cut through.

This brutal killing is only the beginning of the doom that began years ago in Germany, and now reaching into the future to take it's hold over a whole family until it reaches a final, most gruesome ending.


Romano Simonetti worked in an Italian restaurant in Germany when the battered and abused Sarah stood in his doorway, holding a crying infant in her arms. A friendship developed soon and they fled to Italy to open Romano's dream: a small restaurant.
They marry, they become children but you can not hide from your past.

Sarah's passion for other men, a mentally disabled son, an intelligent daughter with jealousy issues, a mean mother in law, and the daughters father are a mean mixture made to explode sooner or later.


The book begins with the discovery of Sarah's dead body by one of her former affairs and her husband learning that his wife has been killed. From there on we learn about Sarah and her family through flashbacks placed very nicely. Actually the whole book is more flashbacks than "real time". The reader learns how the family developed and how the disaster was built brick by brick by the victim.

Whatever it was I felt like a bystander watching a families doom slowly develop in front of my eyes. I saw through Sarah's and Romano's eyes. I saw through the eyes of daughter Elsa and those of the abusive ex-boyfriend from Germany.

All in all you won't get a real thriller, nor will you get a family saga. There will be things you will be able to predict, but there will also be things that surprise you.

I for myself couldn't put the book down and loved it from the beginning to the end.

Sabine Thiesler is a German author, who's novels unfortunately haven't been translated yet. Her first novel, Der Kindersammler was a major success. Hexenkind, different but unique in it's own can add to that. Her third novel Die Totengraeberin was published in the beginning of 2009 and I won't wait much longer to pick it up.

Let's hope at some point they are going to translate the books. It really would add to the international list of very good writers.


Paperback: 580 pages
Publisher: Heyne Paperback (October 1, 2007)
Language: German
ISBN-10: 3453432746
ISBN-13: 978-3453432741

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Robin Cook - Intervention

It's been more than thirty years since New York City medical examiner Jack Stapleton's college graduation and almost as long since he'd been in touch with former classmates Shawn Doherty and Kevin Murray. Once a highly regarded ophthalmologist, Jack's career took a dramatic turn after a tragic accident that destroyed his family. But that, too, is very much in the past: Jack has remarried - to longtime colleague and fellow medical examiner Laurie Montgomery - and is the father of a young child. But his renegade, activist personality can't rest, and after performing a postmortem on a young college student who had recently been treated by a chiropractor, Jack decides to explore alternative medicine. What makes some people step outside the medical establishment to seek care from practitioners of Eastern philosophies and even faith healers?

Jack's classmate Shawn Doherty is now a renowned archaeologist and biblical scholar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose taste for good wine and generally deteriorating health are taking a toll on his career. He has recently obtained permission for a final dig beneath Saint Peter's, and despite his long-standing grudge against the Catholic Church, begins his research - which eventually takes him to Jerusalem and Venice - only to make a startling discovery with ecclesiastical and medical implications. And when Kevin Murray, now Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York, gets wind of Shawn's findings, he's desperate to keep them from the public. Kevin has strong political ambitions within the Church, but his association with Shawn threatens to undermine them. Kevin turns to his old friend Jack to help protect an explosive secret - one with the power to change lives forever.


I've always been intrigued to try one of Robin Cook's novels and decided Intervention might as well be the first one. The audio book unabridged audio edition lasted
11 h and 6 long minutes in which I was tempted to just leave it be and listen to another audio book. The plot, strongly reminding of Dan Brown, is intriguing but unfortunately neither the revelation of bones that possibly belonged to the virgin Mary, nor the sparsely detailed research in it's mitochondrial DNA, nor the critis into alternative medicine took a hold of me.
Truly, Cook's way of writing seems very fluent after almost 30 published novels.

The narrator's voice was an ok voice, less memorable than those I am used to but in the end it suffices the purpose. Obviously Intervention isn't a book written for newcomers to Robin Cook. Probably the reason I longer feel tempted to try one of his books.

Visit Robin Cook.

Audio CD
Publisher: Penguin Audio; Unabridged edition (August 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 014314457X
ISBN-13: 978-0143144571