Friday, October 30, 2009

Cody McFadyen - Abandoned (Smoky Barrett series, Book 4)

For FBI Special Agent Smoky Barrett, the wedding of one of their own was cause for celebration. Until a woman staggered down the aisle, incoherent, emaciated, head shaved, and wearing only a white nightgown.

No one knows who she is or where she's come from—or why she’s chosen to appear in a church filled with law enforcement agents. Then a fingerprint check determines that the woman has been missing for nearly eight years—that once she was someone's wife, someone's mother…and a cop. Imprisoning her in a dark cell, depriving her of any contact with the outside world, her enigmatic captor was a man she didn't know and who seldom spoke, who punished her only when she failed to follow his most basic instructions designed to keep her alive.

Cold, businesslike, seemingly indifferent to his victims, he's a predator with an M.O. as terrifyingly inscrutable as any Smoky has ever encountered. As she fits together the pieces of what remains of his victim's fractured life, a chilling picture emerges of a killer every bit as calculating, masterful, and professional as Smoky and the team she leads—a professional psychopath who doesn't take murder personally and never makes a mistake.

There's a reason he let one of his victims go free. And by the time Smoky pierces the darkness of his twisted mind, it may cost her more than she can bear to lose to escape. For a trap snapped closed the moment she took this case too much to heart.


FBI special agent Smoky Barrett celebrates her best friends wedding day when the ceremony is concluded by a woman dumped out of a car in front of the church. She was tortured and looks like her skin hasn't seen the sunlight in a very long time.

The victim is identified as homicide detective Heather Hollister who vanished years earlier. Her husband just recently had her declared dead and received a huge insurance payment.
Meeting the husband Smoky and friend and colleague Alan find his wife and one of his sons killed. Eventually the husband admits to have met a man on the internet who offered him a way out of a bad marriage by having his wife vanish and receiving half the insurance money after seven years. When the husband declined the payment heater was released.

Because Heather isn't the first case across the U.S. it seems that someone offers husbands a way out of bad marriages by kidnapping the wives and keeping them locked away for years.

The case gets very personal when the kidnapper recognizes Smoky's internet trap and kidnaps her and young computer expert Leo.


Cody McFadyen is one of my favorite writers. His different approach to serial killers, who are almost always out of the box in what they do to their victims, usually gets to me right in the beginning.
Unfortunately with this one my expectations were already high after I received the latest newsletter from the author's website. The plot sounded delicious but couldn't keep up with the promises that were made. It almost wasn't dark enough.

However, without thinking about the newsletter Abandoned is a nice addition to the series. It doesn't top the first two novels but still is a frightening tale.

Visit Cody McFadyen.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Bantam (October 27, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553806955
ISBN-13: 978-0553806953

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jordan Dane - No One Heard Her Scream (No One series, Book 1)

Burdened by grief she hunts a killer.

They never found her sister's body, but Detective Rebecca Montgomery knows her murderer is still out there. In the five months since Danielle went missing. there have been two more brutal abductions. A savage menace stalks the women of San Antonio, and the relentless detective will do anything to find him.

A seductive stranger shadows her every move.

But her latest case - the discovery of a young woman's remains inside the wall of a burdened-down theater - plunges Rebecca from her grief into a brand new nightmare. She soon meets handsome, mysterious Diego Galvan at the crime scene, and his shadowy connections will lead to her first break in both cases. But when Rebecca submits to his considerable powers of seduction, she will leave herself vulnerable to a merciless killer... and when he attacks, no one will hear her scream.


It has been five months since Detective Rebecca Montgomery's sister Danielle vanished and has been presumed dead eventually.
Grief-stricken Rebecca tries to move one and learn how to deal with her self-reproach when her newest case distracts her:
The old theater has fallen victim to an arsonist but even worse is, that firemen found the remains of a young woman buried alive in the theater's walls.

During the time of the woman's death the theater belonged to Hunter Cavanaugh, a man who's been on the FBIs focus for human trafficking for quite some time.

While Rebecca investigates she is shadowed by a handsome stranger. They soon fall in love but there is one disturbing fact: he works for Cavanaugh.


No One Heard Her Scream comes from the average suspense/mystery/thriller genre. It isn't worldshaking no is it bad. It's just a good beachread for less demanding reader.

The plot itself sounds promising but doesn't offer lots of surprises. Who's who is pretty much known right from the beginning.
The whole bla about the attraction between Rebecca and mysteryman Diego Galvan, was way too much and reptitive. I believe the reader got the picture after the first two encounters between the two.

For me personally, I found the book not great but entertaining enough to keep me reading.

Visit Jordan Dane.

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (March 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061252786
ISBN-13: 978-0061252785

Monday, October 26, 2009

Peter Blauner - The Last Good Day

Lynn and Barry Schulman moved their family to the leafy suburb of Riverside, New York, to be surrounded by family and old friends and escape the danger of city life. But when a headless body--which turns out to belong to Lynn's oldest friend--floats to the surface of the river, they realize Riverside may not be the sanctuary they were seeking. Instead, it's a town fraught with tension and simmering with sexual intrigue. Amid the McMansions bought with boom-economy bonuses and SUVs driven by soccer moms lurks a creepier sense of paranoia and a more sinister web of violent crimes than city dwellers could ever dream of. Stalked by Lynn's old boyfriend and terrorized by a menace that seethes beneath the seemingly placid routine of commuting, play dates, and white-wine evenings, Lynn and Barry engage in a primal fight for their lives and their future together.


The Last Good Day is one of the books that took me forever to finish. I already forgot most of what happened in the plot.
It seems the author didn't really care about the readers thoughts. The feeble attempt to draw the reader into the even more feeble plot by mentioning 9/11 a few times, didn't really work. After all, the plot hasn't really much to do with 9/11 or its aftermath for the people in the town.

Shallow characters and unbelievable actions by police and protagonists leave a bad taste in my mouth. I definitely won't read Peter Blauner's books again. This one is just too bad and boring.

Visit Peter Blauner.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown (May 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316098736
ISBN-13: 978-0316098731

Sunday, October 18, 2009

George D. Shuman - Second Sight

Stunningly beautiful psychic Sherry Moore's world has been draped in darkness for as long as she can remember. Though she has been blind since childhood, her extraordinary gift for seeing the last eighteen seconds of a deceased person's memory has helped solve numerous crimes and save countless lives. Her life has been anything but normal, but because of her relationship with Brian Metcalf, the Navy SEAL she met during a dramatic rescue on Mount McKinley, Sherry has never been happier. Then her exposure to deadly radiation changes everything.

Unnerved about the radiation's possible aftereffects and suffering from optical migraines, Sherry checks herself into the hospital to undergo tests. All seems normal until they wheel in the body of one Thomas Monahan. Vivid, terrifying images from his memory flood her thoughts the moment she grasps his hand. She feels a connection take hold as she thrashes about on the gurney, finally letting out a bloodcurdling scream. When Sherry next opens her eyes, for the first time in thirty-two years, she can see.

They call it a miracle. But for Sherry life with sight proves to be more complicated. She has to navigate the world anew, troubled by the agonizing, unanswered question: Who was this man and how had he enabled her to regain her vision? Enlisting the help of retired Admiral Garland Brigham, her confidant and best friend, Sherry doggedly begins to unravel this complicated history and unearths some startling revelations, beginning with the work of Edward Case.

Case is a man used to getting his way. The CEO of pharmaceutical giant Case & Kimble, he has the nation's elite on speed dial. But unsettling rumors have circulated for years about the genesis of the company's stratospheric success, questioning how this upstart firm has gained prominence and grown to be a monolithic institution worth billions of dollars. How its drugs always seem to make it onto the market before those of its competitors. If the secrets to C&K's dominance are ever made public, they will destroy the empire Case has so carefully constructed. And he will stop at nothing to keep his domain intact.


The fourth novel in Shuman's Sherry Moore series could have been as exciting as the previous novels if it weren't for once again a very dark topic running the side lines: illegal human experiments on U. S. soldiers during the 1950s.

While helping with an investigation Sherry is exposed to radiation. She gives herself over to her trusted doctor when she experiences a number of side effects. To discover if her sight has been affected she touches the hand of one Thomas Joseph Monahan, whom she later discovers, lived in an Asylum for the Insane for over 50 years. During the process something strange happens and when she opens her eyes she has her eyesight back. Not completely but steadily getting better.

With that she has to discover life anew with images influencing her usual instinctual judgement. Haunted by what she saw in her vision she wants to know who Monahan was, why he was in the Asylum and what happened to him.
Her research brings her and her dearest friend Admiral Garland Brigham to the Asylum which lies next to an old, long abandoned military base.

Unfortunately asking for Monahan's background sets off alarm bells, bringing her into the focus of Edward Case, the ruthless CEO of a pharmaceutical company that always seems to be a step ahead of his competition.


I didn't like this novel as much as the previous one because its style seems to be almost the same plus it got a bit long winded with Sherry's mental state of her relationship with Brian Metcalf and the new influences with regaining her sight. Might have been intentional that she behaves partly like a teenage girl because of that but I really missed the depth when she f. e. saw for the first time how Brian really looks like. Sherry acted out of character, completely trusting her eyesight and she made stupid choices I couldn't understand.

The suspense unfortunately got deflated way too often by knowing who is who and the reader always knowing more than the protagonist did.

Visit George D. Shuman.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 4, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416599797
ISBN-13: 978-1416599791

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dan Brown - The Lost Symbol

What is lost will be found...

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object--artfully encoded with five symbols--is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation... one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations--all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.


Amazon seems to have the answer Brown readers are asking: Is The Lost Symbol as good as the The Da Vinci Code ? Amazon says yes. I say no.
My biggest pet peeve with this novel is quite that it reads like a repetition of the Da Vinci Code. Unfortunately Brown couldn't catch me with the same scheme again. Apparently the whole 528 pages plus/minus a few that go back into the past of certain characters, happens in one night, similar to the Da Vinci Code.

It is true that Brown's writing style is a bit naked, call it bland, I call it naked, but his books have gotten enough positive reviews so they can't be that bad. :-)
I liked the book but missed the references in the end. The topic Freemasons and Noetic Science is an interesting one but I guess only for those that are interested to do their research and learn or people who aren't interested in fiction and fact at all. I'm pretty sure that voices are already or will be loud about facts described wrongly etc. .
As one of Brown's characters said a few times in the ending: It's all about the perspective, from which angle you look at things. He's right with this statement when it comes to the book and in general.

So what's to wish for in the future ? Maybe, and be aware here comes a spoiler, not again the bible (thanks) in the ending, visit other places like for example Egypt, there is so much you can write about, change the storyline, the scheme, or just stay who you are, Mr. Brown, obviously your books reach readers and that's what a writer wants, that's what makes a good book. :-)

Visit Dan Brown.

Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Books; First Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385504225
ISBN-13: 978-0385504225

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sarah Pinborough - Feeding Ground

The spider creatures from Breeding Ground have begun to take over London. A small group of survivors try to escape the city via an unused Underground tunnel, only to realize -- too late -- that the tunnel contains a storehouse for the spiders' food.


It's been a few days since I finished Feeding Ground, a continuation of Breeding Ground and I've already forgotten how the book ended.
As much as I liked all of Pinborough's novels this one left me quite unimpressed, more so bored. We're now in a time where the spiders have taken over London and we have a few of male survivors. The mean drug dealers trying to use the former drugs using woman to their advantage, two groups of teenagers who are trying to survive on their own and the bad guy turned good, helping the teenagers.
So far for the main message.

The bocks description is very clumsy. The Underground tunnel it is talking about comes into play almost on the last few pages and doesn't even play that big of a role. Yes it is storehouse for spider food but the big finale comes just after the tunnel but as I said I don't even remember if the group and the bad guy turned good made it to the boat unharmed. I really have to think hard and still don't remember.

Visit Sarah Pinborough.

Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843962933
ISBN-13: 978-0843962932

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shane Briant - Worst Nightmares

Dermot Nolan is an international award winning, bestselling author who seems to have it all - a successful career, fame, fortune, and a beautiful wife. Between the royalties coming in from his most recent book, and the revenue he has received from the film company that bought the rights, Dermot seems every bit the literary darling.
And yet, for the last year, he has suffered from a bout of writer's block and in the process has grossly overspent his income. So when Dermot comes across an unsolicited horror manuscript stuffed into his mailbox from one Albert K. Arnold entitled My Worst Nightmares--My Delicious Memoirs, he cannot help but feel intrigued. it tells the story of the twisted, homicidal "Dream Healer" who snares his victims via his website, seduces them into revealing their innermost fears, and then kills them by revisiting their very own nightmares upon them, magnified a hundredfold. And while Dermot is disgusted by the horror of Mr. Arnold's manuscript, he is also deeply intrigued, so much that he seeks to solve his writer's block by rewriting Arnold's novel as his own.
Sweeping aside the threatening prospect of plagiarism, Dermot begins to rework the novel while simultaneously researching Arnold's stories. In his search, he slowly begins to realize that the novel may not be entirely fictional, that these poor characters may have perished at the hands of a twisted torturer.
Could the Dream Healer be real ? Could these innocent cyber-surfers have fallen victim to a raving maniac ? And could Dermot be writing his own ticket to death ... his very own worst nightmare ?


Bestselling author Dermot Nolan suffers from writers block for the last year. His editor pushes him to give her something to work with. So when the unsolicited manuscript arrives he is tempted to look at it but its content is appalling not only in literally ways.
Dermot however wants to back himself up and research the deaths and names. He soon figures that the unknown author going by the name of Albert K. Arnold has a psychopaths psyche. Further pressured Dermot decides to keep his knowledge to himself, especially when he and his wife Neela, are sure, that Arnold killed himself by jumping of a roof.

He feels safe until a reporter receives secret calls filling him in with clues about crime scenes that relate to Dermot's book locations and place him at the scene of crime.


Unfortunately I don't have much praises for this novel. Despite taking me forever to finish it I've read a similar book just a few weeks ago. The characters actions didn't often make sense to me and they weren't likeable at all. Whatever happened to them, they brought it onto themselves.

The ending wasn't really an ending, the story just stopped at some point. After the last few chapters finally got my attention it just wasn't conclusive for me and left questions open.
In the opening acknowledgements the author claims to believe he delivered his best novel to date. With five novels published in Australia, Worst Nightmares doesn't keep up with the promise Publishers Weekly announced as the novel being an exciting page-turner. But what else to say, Publishers Weekly still thinks Worst Nightmares is Shane's debut novel.

I won't spent my time or money on this author again.


Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Vanguard Press (May 12, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159315514X
ISBN-13: 978-1593155148