the alfmeister

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Archive for the tag “murder”

Book Review; Hit Girls by Dreda Say Mitchell

images-55I have enjoyed Martina Cole’s books now and again over the years, a strangely successful mix of female stubbornness clashing with East End crime which has resulted in some of the most graphically violent and disturbing novels I have read. So when I picked up this book and Cole herself has praised the writing of Mitchell I just had to read it, the question being could someone really write in the same genre and be as good/successful at it?

For the greater part of the book, yes, it was on a par with Cole and I found it gripping to read, however, and as is the case with a lot of crime fiction, the hero or heroine seems to take on an almost invincible, Superman type aura which is probably far from the truth, but then, what would I know about the crime world?

Twin sisters are literally mowed down outside their school, and a third boy is badly injured as the vehicle speeds away…the girls are the daughters of the local crime kingpin, Stan Lewis, the boy the son of Jackie and ‘Schoolboy’, seemingly reformed gangsters and so starts a battle of words and bodies as a mix of investigation and revenge hits the streets.

The story follows the same old premise of control of the streets and in this case it was obvious that suspicion would fall onto an up-and-coming rival and the same old ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality takes place while the Police are powerless (as usual) to do anything.

Meanwhile, a misfit foursome of girls (one being the mum of the injured boy, one being an ex-African mercenary, one being an old tranny) do their own investigation into the killings which of course turns up more information than any Police force is capable of…even the all-powerful gangster Stan Lewis hasn’t got these contacts and just beats the living shit out of everyone…this is where the story slowly started dying a painful death for me.

The whole way through Mitchell drops hints at who the possible killer is with witnesses and informers, but in an amateurish methodology she closed off each with each lead being killed off in any gruesome method that took her fancy. The ending is a myriad of surprises, some coming completely out of left field, others blatantly obvious from the outset, however to me it seemed such a huge revelation that it was immediately unbelievable and completely wasted what had been a pretty good book until then.

Unfortunately I can’t rate Mitchell anywhere near being in the same field as Cole and to this extent I again question the (endless!!!) plaudits Mitchell feels obliged to print all over her book (from memory the first three pages are just self-satisfying reviews) whether anyone had actually read it before commenting…

While nowhere near as bad as my favourite punching bag, Richard Laymon, I normally do the writer some justice in at least reading another book in case  I had stumbled upon an off-day, however in seeing her other titles I don’t think I will be searching out another Mitchell book.


Book Review; What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz

If nothing else I am a man of my word; after reading my first Koontz novel some time back which I didn’t like, I did offer to read one again and duly did so with this one.

The story follows Detective Calvino who starts (unofficially) investigating a gruesome murder in which a 14 year-old slays, and I use the term lightly, his entire family. It mirrors similar murders from 20 years before which raises some nightmares for Calvino.

With what proved to be a gripping concept of horror story-telling this book dives right into the worst man can do to his fellow human-beings and if you have a low threshold for depravity, this might not be you. However, in saying that while I enjoyed the story the horror and gruesomeness was way too far and between as it was interspersed with some psychological mind-fucking and God-awful biographies on Calvino’s wife and kids…no family is that perfect, not even the Keatons.

While you expect some way out concepts and crazy shit in the paranormal, I have to say that the ending was like a king hit, but one that didn’t connect right. It was bullshit way to finish the book…but I won’t spoil it for you.

All in all a goodie but at times dull and drawn out. However it may well have sparked interest in reading another Koontz book, I just wish it would get a bit more scary. I guess it can’t be easy writing in the same genre as Stephen King…

Book Review; The Bad Place by Dean Koontz

Believe it or not this is the first ever Koontz novel I have read. And if I were to be so shallow and regard the entire collection by one reading, I wouldn’t read another again. However I am fair if not judgemental and the guy must have something as he has written and sold so many novels so I will endeavour to find another. I just hope he doesn’t turn out to be a massive disappointment as Richard Laymon proved to be.

This book promised so much and yet delivered so little although it is well written in that it is easy to picture the scenes no matter how far-fetched and silly they may appear to be. But by no stretch of the imagination was this scary, and I am easily scared. in fact the only time in the whole 500 pages where I was mildly uncomfortable was the introduction of some spider-like creature (I’m a chronic arachnophobic) and even this proved to be nothing more than some semi-mechanical, GM-ed space worker-type insect. Meh.

And as Americans are want to do, there has to be a romance or love somewhere intertwined in amongst the horror and deprivation. Meh, again.

Call me cynical but I like my make-believe to actually be believable in some sort of unlikely but possible way, but this book wasn’t. Even throwing in some hermaphrodite-incestual in-breeding (yep, you heard me) only served to push way beyond the realms of what is fiction and what is just ‘words on a page’. I’m still uncertain if Candy (not really a name befitting the ‘monster’ in this book) was a vampire or just someone with a neck/blood fetish??

Listen to me, like I’m sort of story writer…maybe not, but I am still a reader and like my rants on fast foods here in NZ, I sometimes feel I have been cheated when a book is raved about only to turn out like seeing your hot sister in the buff; unacceptable and ultimately disappointing.

Book Review; 101 Crimes of the Century

By Alan Whiticker

Now and again I have a need to read grisly books based on fact. No idea why, it’s not like it sates a deep dark desire I may harbour, or to give me ideas for my own havoc on the world but like a train wreck there is a part of our human psyche that needs to shocked, needs to witness repulsion, and most of all, needs to feel insecure.

This book did just that and did it very well. And further to that it does it in a way that you are not required to read through scores of forensic notes nor the drivel associated with psychologist and psychiatrist’s about why people do the unthinkable things that they do…and while it covers 101 actual crimes, each crime is well versed within a couple of pages each giving history, the crime itself, and sometimes aftermath.

Yep, if you want to be aware of some of the most horrific crimes in the last hundred years then this is a good place to start. It will never serve as a reference to a school project of uni degree but it will certainly give you a rundown on some of history’s more notorious criminals.

Read more…

Book Review – Above Suspicion

By Linda La Plante

I know it seems all I do on this site is book reviews and I am in no doubt many of you are showing withdrawals from not having my sordid tales of the pit of hell that was (and still is) my life…I will get back into soon, I promise…its just that I find myself spending most nights doing blogs and other Social Media outlets for others and it takes away time…but never from reading which is the one escape I have.

So, to the second book mates of mine left here when they came to stay. This book is a beaut! Crime fiction can be so hit and miss but Linda has got the story telling down pat. From hooking you in with some gruesome autopsy to becoming fascinated in the lives of the two main characters, a seasoned homicide detective and the rookie, a young female cop roped in to help with a possible serial killer. In the vein of the Ross & Rachel “will they, won’t they” the side story of the two cops had me somewhat hooked, and personally I hate how writers feel obliged to put in some sort of love story or gratuitous sex…but not this time which had hints of both.

So, back to the story…London seems to have a serial killer and while the cops are continually frustrated with trying to catch a break they also have to battle with internal politics and their own demons. And when it seems the killer may also be involved in killings across the Atlantic, the case takes on biblical proportions.

Then they finally have a suspect. But as a high-profile actor with all the schmooze and graces of royalty it becomes a battle between the two characters; one believing he is the killer, the other believing otherwise. It is the classic ‘circumstantial’ evidence versus hard facts.

Loved the book, and it has come to my knowledge there are more in the ‘series’. Well put me down for one of two and lets hope she can keep up the great story telling.


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