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Wednesday 27 December 2017

‘War Hawk’ by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood

Published by Orion Books,
12 January 2017.
ISBN: 978-140915449-5

This is the second interesting collaboration between Rollins and Blackwood (the first was The Kill Switch).

The story reaches into the electronic world of artificial intelligence, cyber attacks   and computerised warfare waged by highly programmed robots, stealth weapons and drones and foreshadows the day, not so far off, when there will   probably be no need for boots on the ground.

 Once again   one meets former U.S. Army Ranger Tucker Wayne a veteran of Afghanistan suffering from PTSD and   his devoted partner, Kane, a keenly responsive and powerful Belgian Malinois shepherd dog. The formidable duo gets embroiled in investigating a diabolical crime that has its roots at the very heart of government when Jane, Tucker’s ex colleague and old flame who’s fleeing those seeking to liquidate her, approaches Tucker for help.

The novel delves in to the secret world of Bletchley Park and the pioneering work of Alan Turing then flings the reader into the 21st century as a power hungry, megalomaniac head of a private corporation struggles obsessively for global dominance. 

The plot is well constructed, characters are generally engagingly rounded out and the story moves at a good pace with a lively dialogue although readers may find the technological descriptions challenge and jar and some incidents defy belief.  

The hairy adventures twist and turn from the Deep South via the tropical paradise of Trinidad and Tobago to the inhospitable terrain of rural Serbia and   just when one thinks the game’s  up for Tucker and Kane, the situation reverses and they’re riding high again.

I found the pooch to be the real hero of the hour, it being evident that the training of a combat dog by its handler and the unique relationship established between them was thoroughly researched.  The book doesn’t disappoint, as I can’t wait to see more of amazing Kane.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

James Rollins is a New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the "top crowd pleasers" (New York Times) and one of the "hottest summer reads" (People Magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets--and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

Grant Blackwood was born 7 June 1964, He is a A U. S. Navy veteran, Grant spent three years aboard a guided missile frigate as an Operations Specialist and a Pilot Rescue Swimmer. Grant lives in Arizona, where he is working his own standalone series starring a new hero.

 Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

Saturday 23 December 2017

‘Look for Her’ by Emily Winslow

Published by Allison & Busby,
19 October 2017.
ISBN: 978-0749022662

Look for Her is a mystery novel about a cold case. Teenager Annalise Wood went missing from the small town of Lilling near Cambridge in 1976 and, although her body was later discovered in a shallow grave, the police never found out who was responsible. In the following decades, for the community of Lilling, the teenager has become something of a celebrity and for one troubled young woman an obsessive jealousy. When new DNA evidence comes to light the case of Annalise Wood is reopened.

Part of a series, the characters of Detectives Morris Keene and Chloe Frohmann are already established as they re-examine the cold case details of Annalise Wood. Chloe Frohmann is a first-time mum juggling work and the guilt of leaving her child to go off on the investigation. Morris Keene, the lead investigator, is adapting to life after an horrific injury that has seen him moved out of a job he loved and onto the side-lines. There are elements of the police procedural, but a lot of the book is also told from viewpoint of the other main characters: Dr Laurie Ambrose, a University counsellor who is still grieving for her husband even though she has remarried; and her obsessive and manipulative patient Anna Williams. With these four viewpoints the reader can then understand the coincidences that trigger the events of this story.

The writing style of this book is unique as it feels as if it is set in small town America rather than in the UK, so it came as no surprise to find out that Emily Winslow is American but now living in the Cambridge. This is a light read that focuses on the domestic situations of the characters but with a fast-paced climax where the story of what happened to Annalise Wood is revealed.

Reviewer: Christine Hammacott

Emily Winslow is an American writer who in 2006 moved to Cambridge, England, with her British husband and two little boys. Falling in love with Cambridge, its gorgeousness and quirkiness and way the University permeates the city, Emily’s first book began as her attempt to describe it The Whole World was published in 2010.

Christine Hammacott lives near Southampton and runs her own design consultancy. She started her career working in publishing as a book designer and now creates covers for indie-authors. She writes page-turning fiction that deals with the psychological effects of crime. To read a review of her debut novel The Taste of Ash click on the title.

twitter: /ChrisHammacott

Thursday 21 December 2017

‘Undertow’ by Anthony J. Quinn

Published by Head of Zeus,
14 December 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-78669602-1

Irishman Tommy Higgins is living in Andalusia in Spain when he receives a letter from his mother back home in Dreesh, Republic of Ireland. She begs him to come home where a Detective Carey has visited her apologising for the way the intelligence people had treated Tommy. Carey is going to reopen the investigation and needs him there. Tommy flies home.

However, it's not long before Carey's body is washed up on the shores of Lough Neagh, is it suicide or murder? Inspector Celcius Daly is brought in to solve the death.  His enquiries lead him to Dreesh and a police sergeant Peter McKenna. There he learns all about the illegal activities of a former I.R.A. volunteer and shrewd business man Tom Morgan. The whole village seem to be involved in his smuggling and money laundering.

Daly suspects Morgan and his operators are behind Carey's death but how can he prove it?  It's not long before Special Branch is involved and Day realises how much conflict there is between Northern and Southern Ireland. Also puzzling him is the real identity of a Robert Hunter supposedly from Special Branch who seems to be involved but remains elusive. Daly can find no trace of him, but his name keeps cropping up and he was said to have worked with Carey. Also, what is the significance of the Green and Blue Fishing Club, the name of which keeps being mentioned. The more Daly searches for the truth the more he discovers it involves huge sums of money and many very prominent people.

When more deaths follow and even Daly's life is threatened, it becomes a matter of urgency to solve the crimes before he too becomes a victim.

A very well written and atmospheric book. The reader gets a real impression of the treacherous bogs surrounding this part of Ireland, it almost sucks one in!

The descriptions of the conflicts really come to life and is certainly food for thought when Brexit is considered.
Recommended especially for those with an interest in Ireland and its troubles.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell
Anthony J Quinn was born in 1971 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and after completing an English degree at Queen's University followed various callings - social worker, organic market gardener, yoga teacher - before finding work as a journalist and author. Disappeared, his first novel, was picked by the Times and the Daily Mail as one of their books of the year, and was nominated for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. On its US publication it was shortlisted for a Strand Critics Award, as selected by book critics from the Washington Post, the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Guardian.  Quinn works as a reporter in the wilds of County Tyrone. His short stories have been short-listed twice for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing Award.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf  (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.