1st To Die–Book Review

Women’s Murder Club – 1

By James Patterson

After trying different genres I don’t usually read or enjoy, I caught hold of my favourite genre – detective. Rather, 2 of my favourite genres combined – detective and chick lit. Now, whether the combination worked well or not, I will talk about that a bit later.

Homicide Inspector Lindsay Boxer works with San Francisco Police Department. Even strong Boxer is unable to face the gruesome murders of brides and bridegrooms happening all over US. A mad serial killer is on the loose. He attacks couples on their wedding nights, kills them brutally, steals their wedding bands and leaves their murdered bodies in outrageous positions. The sexual sadist killer makes Boxer’s blood boil but however desperate she is to catch the killer, she is helpless at the hands of her own critical illness. 6 murders one after the other takes a toll on Boxer’s peace of mind and health. Then there is a major distraction by the name of Chris Raleigh. Soon, Lindsay is unable to ignore the growing chemistry between the two. Both divorcees; heartbroken & tough. How far do they go? What happens to their chemistry by the end of the book? Ah. The story of their relation is to be read on your own.

With the killer still on the run, Lindsay realizes she needs moral support more than skills. And that’s when she forms the Women’s Murder Club consisting of herself, Claire (a medical examiner), Cindy Thomas (a reporter with Chronicle) and Jill Bernhardt (assistant D.A.). They do all it takes to keep their guts and sanity together when suspicion falls on celebrity novelist, Nicholas Jenks.

Through rapid twists and turns, they nail down the killer.

I enjoyed reading a light crime story after ages (I must stick to such kinds and not venture into literature, like I try to, once in a while). Some may find the plot childish and the writing, amateur. I felt that too. At times, I wanted the characters to move fast, talk lesser hollow stuff and just get real.

Putting in a love story appeared interesting in the beginning (who doesn’t like some spice amidst any serious theme) but later on, ‘chick lit romance’ & girly drama (Boxer’s illness) just did not gel well with ‘hard-core murder detective’. Sometimes, the narration gave a feel of Mills & Boons. Creepy.

This book has also been made into a movie. I thought of watching it. But I remembered the detailed descriptions of murders in the book. Gross; cannot watch them on screen.

I was hooked on to this book, I confess. However immature a murder mystery may be, once suspense is created, you just have to finish it to know who the killer is. It was like that. Once I was mid-way (and mind you, the book isn’t very fast paced), I sneaked into the book during class, while travelling, while eating – I could not keep away from it. And the climax did throw me off track but many could guess it mid-way.

If you want to go in for a light, casual read, this is a good one.

I rate it 3 on 5.

Faceless Killers

Title: Faceless Killers
Author: Henning Mankell
ISBN13: 9781400031573
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 1 out of 5

Cover of

Synopsis from Goodreads: It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn’t present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman’s last word is foreign, leaving the police the one tangible clue they have–and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecutor who has piqued his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.

My Review:

I already wrote about how uninteresting  I found this book to be. Now that I have finished reading it, I feel it was a total waste of time.

Maybe it was the translation? I don’t know. It lacked suspense and urgency, the characters were dull and the plot was boring and poorly written. I don’t know why it was put in the thriller genre. It is neither psychological nor political.

When I read a mystery book, I expect the murderer to be a complex character with enough motive to execute a cold-blooded murder. The murderer’s character should at least be discussed, outlined, debated and focused on to solve the crime. It was surprisingly missing in this book.

The police officers were predictable. Kurt Wallander himself is a bit of a complex character but is not developed enough. I think with more description and emotion the book could have been better. I mean why is he so popular? His colleagues detective Rydberg and Boman were more interesting comparatively. They were at least doing things and were on the right track.

I also expected to read about Ystad’s landscape, scenery, surrounding, which makes the setting of this novel. Unfortunately, there is none, except the repetitive “the wind was blowing”.

Do the next books in the series get better? I don’t know. I might give Wallander another chance but not anytime soon.

I had no motivation to go on reading this book but I thought it might grown on me and there would eventually be something startling or maybe there was something I am missing but really the book was quite forgettable.

Truth

by Peter Temple.

Inspector Stephen Villani is the head of Homicide. He is called to a swanky hotel where a young woman — a girl — is lying dead. Possibly a prostitute. However, the hotel owners don’t want to make a big deal of the death. They respect their clients’ privacy and given the recent opening, want it to be big. And news like this is detrimental to their prospects. So begins a cover up. And more murders. Villani and his team attempt to solve the murders while at the same time, he has to deal with personal issues — a failing (or failed?) marriage, a 15 year old daughter gone astray, a brother who is possibly dealing with bikies and drugs and a father who won’t leave his property despite bushfire threats. The whole case gets very political with the important people possibly involved and trying to get Villani off the case. To no avail.

This book won the Miles Franklin Award and the Victorian Premier Literary award in 2010. All I found myself thinking was — how??? Am I missing something? The book didn’t do much for me at all. There were too many characters and I got lost as to who was who. It seems like a fast paced action that probably would be more suited to the TV than to a book because you just get lost. Villani’s character is probably the only one that seems to grow and that the reader gets an insight into. Everyone else is just there. I don’t know if that makes much sense. But honestly, I struggled to read this book and even the ending wasn’t worth it for me.

I give it a rating of 1. If you have read this book, please tell me if I’m missing something!!!

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

P.S. This has been cross-posted on my personal blog

The Tattooed Man

…by Alex Palmer.

Commander Paul Harrigan is called to a gruesome murder scene in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Four people are dead. One is a Senator’s ex-wife. Another, his teenage son. The third is someone unknown. And finally, one is a corrupt detective from the police force, Mike Cassat who has been missing. In a mummified state. They have all been shot in the head.

As Harrigan searches for the killers, he becomes embroiled in a mess around corruption, politics, terrorism, fraud, biotechnology and espionage. With the help of his girlfriend Grace Riordan, who works for a specialist anti-terrorism organisation and can’t talk much about her work, and his own team, Harrigan tries to crack the mystery. It takes him to different suburbs in Sydney to rural New South Wales to connections in Africa.

What is Cassat’s connection with the other victims?

Who is or are the killers?

Why is Harrigan’s own son, suffering from cerebral palsy kidnapped?

And will there be any justice?

The book was not great by any standard for mystery and thrillers. It felt like there were several issues trying to be tackled at the same time to the point where it became too far-fetched. So much so, I actually took a break from it and read a whole other book in between. In my opinion, a thriller should be a page-turner…one where you can’t wait to find out whodunit. I didn’t get that feel with this book at all. After all, I was able to take a break! The ending was a bit weird and anti-climactic too…which is saying something when the book wasn’t all that thrilling. And while the characters of Harrigan and Riordan were pretty good, no one else really seemed realistic. All in all, a disappointment for me.

I give it a rating of 1.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Note: This has been cross-posted on my personal blog.

Sister

Rosamund Lupton’s debut novel features Beatrice ‘Bee’ Hemming who receives a phone call from her mother in London following her younger sister Tess’ disappearance. Beatrice leaves on the next flight from the United States where she is usually based. The story begins in the form of a letter from Beatrice to Tess. Beatrice informs Tess about the events following her disappearance and finding out information she did not previously know. When Tess’ body is found with her wrists slit, the police and the coroner believe Tess committed suicide following the loss of her baby who was stillborn. Bee’s mother and fiance Todd believe this too but Bee refuses to believe that Tess would take her own life given that she values living. However convincing everyone else is a different matter altogether.

Bee begins by suspecting almost everyone. The father of Tess’ dead child Emilio who wanted nothing to do with Tess or the baby. The boy in her art class, Simon who was obsessed with her and in love with her. The psychiatrist of briefly saw her following the death of the baby. The staff at St. Anne’s hospital where Tess underwent a trial for a cystic fibrosis cure. The founder of the cystic fibrosis trial and the organisation. Everyone. Hence coming across as almost emotionally unstable herself to the police who have given up the case.

The book follows Beatrice’s journey in uncovering the truth and trying to convince non-believers that her sister would not commit suicide and instead was murdered. She reveals step by step how she comes to the conclusion of who the murderer is. From the onset, the reader is informed that the murderer has been caught. But we don’t know who the murderer is and Beatrice takes us through to that conclusion. It’s a good debut effort but I was able to pick who the murderer was about three-quarters of the way through. There are little hints on the way that would help you probably figure it out as well. A light read if you are interested in crime fiction and also an interesting look at sibling relationships and responsibility in relationships.

I rate it a 3.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Broken Glass Park

…by Alina Bronsky.

Narrated by seventeen year old Sascha Naiman, this book reads as her journal as she goes through life after her mother is killed. Born in Russia, Sascha now lives in Germany with her two younger siblings and a relative who is their guardian. The story beings with Sascha pointing out that she has two dreams – one is to kill her stepfather, who murdered her mother and her mother’s lover, and the other is to write a book about her mother. And from there the book goes on as a chronicle of Sascha’s life as she takes care of her siblings, goes to school, and tries to live with that grudge against her stepfather who is now in prison.

The book is a journey into a teenager’s life as she’s trying to get over a tragedy, while being there for what is left of her family. Sascha’s voice is very engaging…she lets the reader get into her mind slowly but steadily; yet, keeping herself closed to a certain extent, so as to leave the reader wanting more. She sheds light on the past every now and then, narrating all those events from the past leading up to her mother’s murder. She pours out her anger, builds a bubble around herself to keep her from getting close to anyone.

What I liked most about the book was the depth of Sascha’s character. Even after the nightmare of a past, she emerges as a strong and smart personality. And a very accurate portrayal of what goes on in her mind just adds to how easily a reader is able to relate to that character. On the other hand, the powerful beginning lead me to want an equally compelling end, but for some reason it all fell very flat after a point, and that’s where I was left disappointed.

Overall, this realistic and touching story about a teenager with a brutal past is worth a read.

My rating: 3*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

The Attack

…by Yasmina Khadra.

Dr. Amin Jaafari, an Arab born Israeli citizen, is a prestigious surgeon in a hospital in Tel Aviv. His life is good with his loving wife, successful career and admirable friends. Tragedy gets a hold of his life when a bomb goes off in a restaurant in Tel Aviv where over a dozen children are killed. As Dr. Jaafari goes home tired after treating the victims of the blast, he gets a call from the police informing him to meet them right away. The doctor gets to the location only to learn the gruesome fact that the primary suspect in the bombing is his wife, a suicide bomber. The doctor’s world comes crashing down…the questions of “how could she?”, “why didn’t I see any signs?”, “how did she keep this side of her life a secret fro me?” and many more haunt his mind from the second he learns the news.

What happens next – whether or not he finds the answers to the grueling questions that are eating him alive, whether or not he could find peace of mind again after such a tragedy, whether his life gets back on track at all – all this and more is answered in this sad tale of love, relationships, religion and war.

A simple story the book starts off as, but goes on to becoming one of the those tales that has the power to make one’s heart heavy with grief that the character is experiencing. It makes the readers wonder how someone with a decent life would go to do something so hideous in the name of religion country and what not. The questions that raise in Dr. Jaafari’s mind as he learns of his wife’s act are the very questions that the reader would want answers for, making this book an interesting and engrossing read. The writing is so simple and beautiful that readers won’t find it hard to connect with the main character, feel sympathetic for his loss and for the torment that he goes through after the tragedy.

Overall, this easy to read tale takes one through a journey towards seeking answers to troubling questions, offering a fitting closure to main character, and I would recommend it.

My rating: 4*.

*for the rating scale, click here.