Tour’s Books Blog

July 27, 2011

Four Super Short Reviews: Mixed Genre

Having a broken wrist caused a real bad attitude, and FINALLY, I’ve made it to therapy.  Now the ulnar nerve is having fits.  SIGH!  Back in the splint off and on, and I still have the problems with blood flow.  One stupid little fall.  A non-event.  What a pain in the rump.   Still, the enforced idleness came when a bunch of books I’d been waiting for got released.

  • Title: Dead on the Delta
  • Author:  Stacey Jay
  • Type:  Paranormal UF/alternate reality
  • Genre:  noir style paranormal mystery
  • Sub-genre:  killer faries, drug runners, and family secrets on the bayou
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 90,000+ $7.99
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

This was a semi-original story by a new author.  If certain backstory elements and world building had gelled just a bit better, this could have been an A.  The writing style and quality lacked some polish, but the atmosphere was there.  The story is centered around the murder of a small girl, thought to be one of a string of such murders, and it hits close to home for Annebelle.  Annabelle Lee, is seeking forgetfulness and oblivion at the bottom of the bottle way too often, but her unique talents – she’s one of the rare immunes who won’t die from mutant fairy bites – her affair with the too-good-to-be-true boyfriend, police detective Caine Cooper, and the appearance of ex-fiance Hitch as an FBI technical expert with his female partner/agent – who is his current fiance, was kind of too much coincidence for one book.

Annie keeps reminding herself she’s just a special kind of crime scene technician,med school dropout, and someone who deserves to be punished.  Her determined efforts at self-destruction for an incident in her past, are at odds with her unwanted sense of obligation to the murdered child.  the story unwinds rather like a choppy homemade movie, without smooth segues and criss-crossing various plot elements in a distracting style.  The ending brings an interesting twist, not so much to the crime, but to what happens to Annabelle and what she will become.

Was Dead on the Delta worth $7.99?  Yes – for any fan of the noir style.  The writing is no match for authors like Lawrence Sanders or Dennis Lehanne, but a decent read.  I just hope the authors style smooths out a bit in future.

***************************************************************

  • Title: Dark Descendant
  • Author:  Jenna Black
  • Type:  Paranormal UF/alternate reality
  • Genre:  PI action thriller with descendants of the gods
  • Sub-genre:  What do you do when you realize you won’t die?
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 90,000+ $7.99
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

Nikki Glass a very rare person, a descendant of the gods.  They exist in our world and are pretty much the same as everyone, living and dying – unless a descendant kills another descendant then the immortality is passed to them.  Yes, the whole ‘immortal’ and ‘killing’ do seem inimical, but that nothing unusual.

Nikki is a bloodhound, a finder of lost people and there’s no one better at her job.  Her latest client wants his girlfriend taken from a well secured “cult” house and calls a reluctant Nikki for help one night.  Against all her better judgement,she does exactly as the client asks, racing through the open gate and up the driveway – when her client steps in front of her car. a strange sad, resolute smile on his face.  Instead of dying in the crash, Niki became an immortal.

This unusual story had it’s up and downs, but more ups than most and a kind of unique spin on children on the gods.  Nikki learns she’s the only living descendent of Artemis.  But before she knows it, she’s drawn in a conflict between immortals – the Olympians and the Liberi, and both groups want her – for very different reasons.  The Liberi because she one of their own and took his immortality, the other because they feel descendants of the Greek gods are better than the others.  But there are other, more sinister reasons.  The Liberis think she deliberately killed their man and more than one want her dead.  Interestingly only a non-immortal off-spring of a immortal can kill an immortal and then take that immortality for themselves.

Nikki is a strong character who has her whole world turned on its ear.   The double dealing, secrets, and readjusting her whole reality while trying desperately to still be ‘normal’.  If you like stories based based on various gods/mythology, this will be fun.  Though I enjoyed it, it was not a favorite.  Otherwise, give this one a pass.

**********************************************************************

  • Title: Killer Move
  • Author:  Michael Marshall
  • Type:  Action intrigue mystery
  • Genre:  Revenge against those who play games with
  • Sub-genre:  Complex thriller that doesn’t quite get off the ground
  • My Grade: C- (2.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 90,000+ $15-$18
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

I’ve always been a fan of caper and revenge novels, but this story just lacked the intensity to make it really work and no character that I could care about in the slightest. By turns frightening in the way things can be electronically manipulated, and dull when it deals with a man seeking revenge, the first half read well enough to hold me, but the lack of a strong lead combined with a dull writing, I lost all interest.  I did read the last 3 chapters – the ending was beyond frustrating and made me want to scream.

Is Killer Moves worth the price?  NO.  My advice, don’t pay for the hardcover.  Get from the library or buy cheap used.

******************************************************

  • Title: The Bonaparte Conspiracy
  • Author:  Greg Loomis
  • Type:  Action intrigue thriller
  • Genre:  Another improbable Lang Reilly thriller
  • Sub-genre:  Spies and artifact hunts
  • My Grade: C (3*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 90,000+ $11-12.50
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

Greg Loomis is mining the same general territory as Clive Cusslar did with his Dirk Pitt series – an historic artifact that becomes sought after for one reason or another.

Langford Reilly is an Atlanta lawyer, now married with a son, with a hugely lucrative practice and no longer working for the CIA.  His wife Gurt, another former agent, and son Mannfred are trying to live a quiet life when they literally stumble into trouble in Venice.  Lang and Gurt are attending one of Venice’s leading Carnivale balls in mandatory costume.  Mannfred is home, staying with a neighbor in the wealthy Atlanta neighborhood where they live.  Leaving the ball, they stumble on curious midnight light in St Marks.  A short check suddenly lands them in a fire fight with – of all things, Chinese thugs.  Their training kicks in and the get out, killing a few of the bad guys.

Clown suits in Venice are distinctive, and next day when Reilly and Gurt return their costumes, Chinese thugs are again after them.  Both are confused by this as they didn’t see what it was the thieves took and could never identify them, but for some reason, they want them dead.  Getting back home, the problem follows them.  First a parabolic mike is aimed at the house, then a member of the Chinese security forces is trapped by the security measures inside their house.

The action is fast and furious, but the premise is weak.  Loomis never quite captures the kind of carefree over-the-top wit that’s made Cusslar so popular.  The so called ‘Bonaparte Secret” when discovered,  was actually quite interesting.  Loomis wrote the book before the Haiti earthquake and with an obvious dislike of the current president, so if those things will bother you, leave it alone.

Is The Bonaparte Secret worth the discount price of $11-12.50?  Not to me.  It was a very average thriller.  Reilly is a likable character and the James Bondish style of unlikely events and characters, well you either go with the flow or find anther author.  I’ve never found Loomis’ books as cleverly plotted or enjoyable as Cusslar’s, and certainly they are no match for something like the John Rain series by Barry Eisler, but they’re an easy and usually pleasant read.

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