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Thrillers Of The Month - June 2013
This month featuring
- The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
- White Gold by Rachel Amphlett
- The Geneva Decision by Seeley James
- Valley of Thracians by Ellis Shuman
- The Blackstock And Myllnestone Casebook by Mel Tebbutt-Bushell
- Cold Killing by Luke Delaney, published by Harper Collins
We are always open to new submissions from authors/publishers – click here
|The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes|
|Review by Sophie Scott
Imagine someone could travel through time to kill you. Imagine they got bored with the simplicity of that and decided to travel to a time before they killed you, to tell you they’d come back to get you – when you’re all grown up. Imagine being the victim who survives, wondering whether that was the or an attempt-on-your-life, and spending your days fearing your killer’s return.
Harper Curtis is Beukes’ time-traveling serial-killer. A Depression-era ruffian he flees from his own attackers into the protective power of the House (a hungry, supernatural entity, and shrine – or map – to the women Harper will murder). Each victim is a woman living (consciously or not) to illuminate the neuroses and politics of her given era. The reader travels across the ages with Harper, criss-crossing through nigh on seven decades of Chicago city life: visiting a child with wild, curly hair in 1974; college-graduates, artists, a transvestite; a black-female-welder in 1943. We ride the rollercoaster of time, looping backwards, lurching forwards in a cycle of infinity, of violence in perpetuity, which finally undoes even the man who can create murderous confusion across the years.
Kirby Mazrachi is the one that gets away. A heroine replete with chutzpah and youthful intolerance, she survives her brutal attempted-disemboweling and, determined to bring her attacker to justice, joins forces with jaded homicide-turned-sports-reporter Dan Velasquez (a likable foil written with heart). But when the killer can vanish into the ether, how will Kirby find him before he returns for her?
It is in solving the crime that Beukes loses the plot – suddenly Kirby is able to exist in the same time-plane as Harper, although others who visit the House are not, and it grows frustrating that so much must be left unexplained. Given that the House seems really to be in control, it’s odd that it remains in a supporting role. Beukes doesn’t quite have (here) H.P. Lovecraft’s gift for making invisible the impossibility of the impossible – I never quite lost my awareness of or desire to discover the backstage mechanics. But the narrative crackles along so vitally, adroitly switching between time and place, shifting among and between the detailed drawings of each victim, each nugget of history, that there is no heartfelt desire for this to have been another book. .
Rating: Ingenious, deftly researched, heart-pounding thriller.
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|White Gold by Rachel Amphlett|
|Review by Debbie Cullen
A power harnessed from processing gold in a certain way, proves a viable fuel alternative. More stable than nuclear, greater output than solar or wind and cleaner than fossil fuels. But this research will have an adverse effect on the coal & oil industry that would threaten the empire of those who own them… so they have to act to save their millions. And they don’t care who gets hurt.
One geologist, Peter Edgwater, whilst doing a lecture tour of Europe, speaks quite openly during his lectures about ‘White Gold’, the alternative fuel, and gets himself killed.
His ex-wife, Sarah, and a former soldier and friend of Peters, Dan Taylor, embark on a frightening journey to discover why Peter was killed. This takes them across the world as the plot unfolds, leaving a trail of death & destruction with plot twists and turns along the way.
This is an excellent first novel from Ms Amphlett, she has worked hard on the plot with its twists and turns and I think most would enjoy this book as a holiday read or something to get your teeth into on a day off. It was also a refreshing pleasure to read a book without any grammatical errors!
Although this is an excellent plot concept, I found the book rather read like a script for a film. There’s too much irrelevant information, giving detailed ‘scene’ accounts leaving nothing to your own imagination. I found this a little irritating and tended to skim over them so I could get on with the exciting bits.
As Ms Amphlett grows as an author, I think she will learn how to allow the tension to build instead of giving too much away, she has talent and is sure to get a following.
Rating: Easy to read page turner
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|The Geneva Decision by Seeley James|
|Review by Misty Martin
The Geneva Decision is a thrill ride. Action packed, the story grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let up. The writing is tight and the characters are memorable. The author clearly did his homework and made the perfect blend of using his research without taking you out of the plot. I love Pia Sabel. I can’t wait to read the next one.
Rating: I would give this book an A+
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|Valley of Thracians by Ellis Shuman|
|Review by Leslie Gardner
Ellis’s novel is a sober, psychologically astute thriller set in an exotic part of the world – ancient civilisations and artifacts, corrupt smugglers and personal flaws and secrets are a potent mix in this one. innocent beloved grandson scott has gone missing and his parents, pressuring him during college have driven him to seek foreign landscapes gave up when he was lost- it’s his grandfather, Simon, surprised recipient of a skype message years after his disappearance, who believes he is still alive and returns to Bulgaria years later to find him despite all odds.
With little experience of travelling on his own and no knowledge of the language, widower Simon is surrounded by what he thinks are ineptitudes in local embassies and among local people who knew Scott. .. that is with the exception of a beautiful and mysterious scholar and an affectionate friend who’d sheltered him during his stay who help Simon to unravel the tangle of relations that ensnared Scott. The result is rescue, and revelation of a group of vicious crooks. Despite sometimes tepid and contrived coincidences, we are absorbed in this culture and by the story. Very impressive.
Rating: Psychologically astute thriller.
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|The Blackstock And Myllnestone Casebook by Mel Tebbutt-Bushell|
|Review by Leslie Gardner
In this genial paranormal series of linked stories, set in a countryside of pubs and family mansions of traditional settings, we float along in a waft of good feeling and drink among friends, as the paranormal detective agency assembles its professionals.
A journalist and a spiritualist on his uppers set up an independent office to respond to ghostly presences and crimes, and to people reaching beyond the grave to sustain friendships. They are soon joined by an affectionate and talented psychic, whose charms soon make her essential, along with the elderly (what else?) ghost they meet on their first job who sticks around as a partner.
These are easy reading – not much tension but the fixes they get into are set pieces of hilarity, and pleasant reads for a slow Sunday afternoon. more are promised!
Rating: Easy reading
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|Cold Killing by Luke Delaney|
|“The Chinese swear that dog meat tastes all the sweeter if the dog is terrified before being butchered. I would have to agree.”
Review by Sophie Scott
A slew of inventively brutal killings of unconnected victims at crime scenes cleaned of all forensic evidence; an unknown serial-killer whose only motive is to return to the “mercilessness” and “violence” of Nature: “Because I have to”; and, a detective whose powerfully morbid imagination is a product of his abusive past.
These murders seem truly to be in cold blood, while being described by the (almost) chillingly dispassionate killer with all the pleasurable sensuality of a love affair. There’s a deft dance between DI Corrigan’s instincts and the killer’s confidence as police try to ascertain what is “progression” and what’s “camouflage” in the murderer’s changing tactics. Sean Corrigan’s reimagining of the murders – uncannily close to each original – are enthralling and disturbing. His family life is real, impossibly rocked by his job and opposing responsibilities. He is neither a loner nor a bachelor at heart, but driven by fear of and a need to avoid his own potential for abuse. His colleagues have their own agendas, their own concerns, and their own negotiations with the moral complexities of their lives. There are no minor characters, only people the reader gets to know more intimately than others – and Delaney uses each introduction (whether a shopkeeper, bouncer, or antiques-seller) to deepen his portrayals of the people he follows throughout the novel. There are no cursory exchanges.
Delaney takes apparently well-trodden ground, and confounds the reader’s expectations. The plotting is excellent, the narrative swift and sparky. He weaves his cast with the dexterity of an artisan and has created a string of convincing, potential protagonists, giving himself the real opportunity to spin-off multiple series. There’s a rich density to the layering of points-of-view, and the creepy recurrence of first-person-narration – almost journal-like, even epistolary at times – in amongst various third-persons’ (victims, police, suspects) is effectively unsettling. It’s rare to finish reading a book, feeling satisfied whilst still looking over your shoulder on the way to the bathroom at night; but Delaney’s cleverly leading and consciously anonymous “I” haunted me for several days. The final chapter left me vulnerably alert, wondering, do we really know who that voice belongs to?
Rating: Tight, imaginative plotting and authentic, intelligent characterisation from a debut writer, who happens to be an ex-Met murder squad detective.
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