Tour’s Books Blog

August 21, 2011

Three Short Reviews: Recent Releases – Thriller, Paranormal UF, Paranormal Cozy

It seems good thrillers are few and far between, so when a decent read does come along, it scores really well with the genre fans.   I’m probably as guilty of that as anyone, but I did enjoy this book.

  • Title:  Buried Secrets
  • Author:  Joseph Finder
  • Type:  Suspense thriller
  • Genre:  Nick Heller Book 2 – finding a kidnapped teen for billionaire family friend
  • Sub-genre:  Fae, vamps, shifter and their coming out of the closet
  • My Grade:  B+ to A- (4.0*)
  • Rating:  PG-13 to NC-17 due to intensity
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 100,000+ $14-$17
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  bought from an online bookstore

Joseph Finder has a keeper with character Nick Heller.  Buried Secrets has the kind of action, tension, and surprising twists that a really good thriller needs.  It was a tough book to put down.  The pacing was steady and fast as the plot unfolds, with twist after twist.

Nick Heller has reason to be grateful to Marshall Markus, an old family fried who was one of the few who helped his mother when Nick’s father went to jail for financial crimes and their country club life disappeared.  When Markus calls, Nick immediately responds.  Alexa, the teenage daughter of the billionaire, has been kidnapped and buried alive.  (Heller really makes it realistically creepy and plays to one near universal fear of being buried alive, with a sadistic sociopath and a tough, badly frightened teen.)  Alexa had been kidnapped before, but this is different, this is beyond a simple kidnapping for ransom.  Markus is adamant in refusing FBI help – and it becomes obvious why, the FBI want his on securities fraud and the SAIC of the investigation will do ANYTHING to make his case, including risking a teenage girl’s life.

Nick quickly learns one thing, everyone is lying, including his client, and Boston’s movers and shakers will do anything to keep their own secrets buried.  From the drug dealing son of a South American diplomat, to Alexa’s step-mother, to her supposed ‘best friend’ – daughter of a lying US senators, to Russian mobsters, no one is willing to tell the truth.  But everyone threatens him.

In classic lone wolf with friends style, Nick Heller calls in favors and technical help, as hunts for the hiding place of Alexa’s grave.  Exciting, slightly improbable, but overall, a great suspense thriller read.  The one part that failed, was Alexa’s reaction after everything was over.  It was a real weak spot for me.  The other issue was a lack of character development with Nick Heller, but Nick was not the focus of the story, so it’s a minor complaint, and boilerplate secondary characters who were kind of predictable and trite.  I just wish Nick was more fleshed out and the other characters a bit fresher.

Is Buried Secrets worth $14-$18 at a discount?  I thought so, but books like these are not reread material, so hardcovers are not good investments.  You might want to borrow it from you library, or wait and buy the paperback.  Highly recommended for all suspense thriller fans.

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  • Title:  Kill the Dead
  • Author:  Richard Kadrey
  • Type:  Paranormal – UF
  • Genre:  Sandman Slim Book 2
  • Sub-genre:  Fae, vamps, shifter and their coming out of the closet
  • My Grade:  B+ to A- (4.1*)
  • Rating:  PG-13 to NC-17
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 100,000+ $7.99 – deals available
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from and online book store

I was sufficiently disappointed in the highly touted Sandman Slim, first book of the series, that I waited to buy Kill the Dead in mass market paperback.  I was way more impressed here and I actually pre-ordered the third, and supposedly last book, Aloha from Hell.

Kill the Dead is a long and convoluted story, but one that satisfies more with character growth as well nifty plotting.  Karady paints a picture of a seedy underground LA that is about to get a lot more dangerous thanks to Lucifer coming to town for the filming of his autobiography.  Stark might have escaped Hell, but he isn’t stupid enough to try and refuse Lucifer’s ‘request’ that he be his body guard.

The Hollywood glitterati are far more involved in the dark side of Sub Rosa

than even Stark realized.  At a big party, Stark hustles Lucifer out and they get ambushed.  Thing is, Lucifer should be able to take care of things, but for some reason, he can’t.  At the same time, zombies are getting loose on the streets of LA and Stark is just one of several targets.  They’re screwing with his favorite donut shop!

On top of that Stark has another problem, his usual ability to heal is fading with scars the longer he’s away from Hell.  His friend, Vidocq, an alchemist, is trying to find a potion to stop or reverse the process.  Meanwhile, Lucifer’s spy and the former owner of the movie rental place that Stark kind of took over, is now just a talking head (yup – JUST the head) and lives (well, kind of) with him, also thanks to Lucifer.  Stark has learned that being out of Hell is far different from being free of Lucifer.  And it seems throwing Mason to the Hellions might not have been his best idea.

As with Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead has sharp, witty dialogue, a scurvy cast of characters, and ends up being a really good read.  Far better than Book 1 because here, there’s depth to Stark missing in first book, and complexity to events and decisions – and the future for Stark and others.  Where Sandman Slim was about simple revenge at all costs, Stark has learned how empty that can be and now he must actually find a life and perhaps, find himself.  The ending had an unexpected twist that sets the stage for Book 3.

Is Kill the Dead worth $7.99?  Yes!  Well, with the caveat that it’s for lovers of noir style UF.  You do need to read Sandman Slim first to follow the plot line fully and understand the characters.

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

  • Title:  Home for a Spell
  • Author:  Madelyn Alt
  • Type:  Paranormal mystery
  • Genre:  Maggie O’Neill looks for an apartment and finds trouble in a dead body
  • Sub-genre:  Cozy lite
  • My Grade:  D+ (2.2*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 80,000+ $15-$18
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  acquired through and online book swap site

Home for a Spell picks up the story of Maggie O’Neill as she struggles with the fact her best friend will be moving when her fiance, a doctor at the local hospital, finishes his residency.  And she feels she’s holding back her boyfriend Marcus by being a burden with her broken ankle.  She decides to apartment hunt and finds a first floor unit at a cheap rent.  Oddly, there’s a mirror in the bedroom ceiling that is one of the ‘improvements’.  OK – can the red flag get any bigger?  Do we not all IMMEDIATELY know the plot?  Just in case, the boyfriend of a teacher who live there starts a fight with the apartment manager about all the strange ‘clicking and whirring’ noises and the unbreakable lease his girlfriend has.  Talk about a head slap Ms Obvious – and still Maggie agrees to sign a lease the next morning.

Arriving at the apartment, Maggie and Marcus find the office door ajar, the place a mess, the computer destroyed, and sleazy manager Rob Locke floating in the pool.  DUH!  Now, anyone who doesn’t know the plot at this point, doesn’t read mysteries.  There are no real surprises and the author telegraphs everything in advance.  Even the killer is no surprise, though the reason is perhaps the closest thing to a twist this short book has.  Predictable is the kindest word for the plot.

Madelyn Alt is generally an able writer, but Home for a Spell is so completely cliche, it’s like she phoned this one in.  Is it worth $15-$17 at a discount?  NO!!!!!!  It won’t be worth the paperback price of $7.99!!!!!!!!!!  Get it at the library or buy a cheap used copy.  Better still, just skip it.

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