The Black Echo

by Michael Connelly (Orion Books) ISBN 9781409139485 



Harry Bosch, LAPD Homicide Detective, is called out to investigate the body found in a drainage tunnel. On seeing the man's face, he remembers Billy Meadows from long ago in another tunnel. He is led to believe the cause of death is a drug overdose but he has his suspicions. He proceeds to investigate further which is an unpopular decision amongst his peers. Nevertheless his determination urges him forward against all odds, of which there were plenty. 

The author's characterisation is believable and consistent, which elicits the reader's sympathy. Your attention is held by suspense, intrigue and many surprises. There is a realism which is appealing as the author did real life research about ‘a day in the life of a detective’ which adds to the believability. 

This is Connelly's first book from 1992, which has been reprinted, so if one has not read any of his other books, there are many more to look forward to. 

Dawn Blankfield
4/5

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Lady of the Shades

by Darren Shan (Orion) ISBN: 978140914361 1

 

Ed, an American author tormented by ghosts, travels to London in the hope of sourcing fresh ideas for his next horror novel.

 

An avid fan, Joe offers to support him in his search for answers. Ed’s focus shifts when he meets the alluring but forbidden, Andeanna Menderes, the wife of London’s most notorious crime lord. Ed risks everything to be with Andeanna but is soon ensnared in the shadows of the world she inhabits. As events play out Ed realizes all he is in a far more complicated relationship than he ever imagined.

 

The dark supernatural thriller for adults by Darren Shan is exciting and ever-changing. There are multiple twists and ulterior motives run rampant. I thoroughly enjoyed the advanced plot with its consortium of characters living and playing extended roles. These characters keenly capture the mind, heart and soul of the main character. Nothing is certain and no one is quite what they seem.

 

I found it a captivating read.

 

Liz Breet

4/5

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An Absolute Deception

by Lesley Lokko (Orion) ISBN: 978 1409 101758 R199.00

 

Anneliese Zander de St Phalle is a famous fashion designer—having created an international brand with just her talent, determination and beauty. While holidaying on her sumptuous island hideaway, an uninvited guest turns up, unlocking the Pandora’s Box of her past. It is a past she’s hidden from the world, the press—even her daughter, Callan.

 

From here, the novel flashes back and forth through time as we learn of Anneliese’s complex past and follow her journey as she claws her way to the top. These flashbacks break the narrative up in a fractured and confusing manner, making it hard to get into the story.

 

With her previous novels such as Sundowners and Rich Girl, Poor Girl, Lesley Lokko proved herself as a solid writer of glamorous blockbusters in the Barbara Taylor Bradford and Penny Vincenzi mould.  However, An Absolute Deception was a bit disappointing and left too many loose ends untied. It should’ve been better.

 

Anthony Ehlers

2/5

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Gods and Beasts

by Denise Mina (Orion Books) ISBN 978 1 4091 4069 6

 

What a find! Denise Mina has won various awards and is considered a writer of Tartan Noir, crime fiction particular to illustrious Scottish writers like Ian Rankin.

 

Gods and Beasts is the third DS Alex Morrow book and takes its title from Aristotle: ’He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god’

 

Just before Christmas and exhausted from looking after her baby twins, Morrow is called in on the murder investigation of Brendan Lyons, a grandfather who was shot at a post office after assisting his murderer in robbing it. Lyons’ background reveals connections to some influential Glaswegian players: Kenny Gallagher, a politician with a secret life about to be exposed and Morrow’s stepbrother Danny, who after a career at the other side of the law seems be changing his ways.

 

Questions arise around the tattooed man who saved the grandson. Why is he lying and why does he visit the boy? Morrow finds other irregularities that must have come from within the police. Are these linked to the two police officers that took a bribe?

In a Glasgow riddled with drugs and corruption Alex needs to find out who’s god or beast or occupies the shady area between.

 

Josine Overdevest

4/5

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Gone In Seconds

by A.J. Cross (Orion) ISBN 978 1 4091 4268 3

 

When the skeletal remains of Molly James are discovered five years after she went missing, the case is reopened by the UCU (Unsolved Crime Unit) based at the West Midlands Police Headquarters.

 

Dr Kate Hanson, who is consulting forensic psychologist on the team, becomes alarmed when a second set of remains nearby to the first set is unearthed. She starts to fear they might be dealing with a ‘Repeater’ - someone whose pattern of killing adapts over time.

 

When Kate starts to dig deeper into the archives, certain anomalies start to appear, as though someone deliberately tried to sabotage the outcome of the case. Together with her motley crew of colleagues, Joe, her love interest, Bernie, the slovenly side-kick, and Julian, her student helper, Kate attempts to solve the case.

 

This forensic crime story was an enjoyable read and towards the end I couldn’t put it down. However, its fundamental flaw is that it’s way too long and wordy. The first few hundred pages are off-putting, as the barrage of characters and other details is overwhelming. However, if you persevere you will be rewarded with a fairly plausible plot.  

 

Ashleigh Seton-Rogers

3/5

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Stay Close

by Harlan Coben (Orion) ISBN: 978 1 4091 12563

 

Harlan Coben, the master of the twist, is back with another hard-paced, unputdownable thriller. 

 

The convoluted plot is not easy to summarise but easy to follow once it pulls the reader in. Detective Broome has to solve a baffling mystery—on Mardi Gras night in Atlantic City each year, some no-good loser guy goes missing, never to be seen again. 

 

After almost twenty years of these suspicious disappearances, he is determined to break the pattern. When Megan, ex-stripper turned suburban soccer mom, comes forward with some vital information, she doesn’t realise she’s put herself—and her ex-lover, a battle-scarred photographer called Ray—in some serious danger.

 

Atlantic City is a great setting, kind of like Vegas without Celine Dion and the big electricity bill, and this added to the great atmospheric noir elements of the story. Coben doesn’t only do the plot twist like a pro—he does the sardonic humour well too. It was especially great to see how he brought in some clever and absorbing observations about human nature through his colourful characters’ voices. The theme of the novel—wanting to go back and change the past—was pretty damn poignant.

 

Stay Close is a great novel, told in a great narrative voice. It’s a really immersive entertainment. Pick it up on a Friday night and when you’ve come up for air, your whole weekend will have disappeared. Trust me.

 

Anthony Ehlers 

4.5/5

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The Japanese Devil Fish Girl

by Robert Rankin (Orion) ISBN: 9780575088542

 

If you think this book has anything to do with Japanese devils or fish, then boy will you be in for a surprise.

 

If anyone reading this knows what the term Steampunk means then buy this book it contains all your nerdy requirements for the month.

 

The story is what makes this book good. The writing, while not without humour, is bland but very smooth and readable. The pacing is just not an issue because there is none.

 

This is an example. “London imminently threatened by invasion. Let’s have a wedding. Build up to wedding. More boring stuff about weddings. And then oh crap I forgot about the invasion… they’re here now. Wait? Oh right that I’d forgotten.”

 

But it’s not boring. There is a total disregard for anything resembling a plot but it manages alright without one. It’s like having a really angry bull on your high school debating team. You don’t need to make a meaningful point so long as the other team knows Big Red is ready to trample them if you lose.

 

It’s a bumbling stumbling mess through jungles of a mad man’s mind. And I can’t wait to read the next instalment

 

Christopher Dean

4/5

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Book Review - Live Wire

by Harlan Coben (Orion) ISBN 978-1-4091-1253-2

First off, let me admit that I adore Harlan Coben and his books… and this one is no exception.
I feel like I know Myron Bolitar, the quirky sports agent and all-round defender of his clients.  Perhaps because this is the 20th book in the series!

This story takes a very personal look at Myron’s family as his father suffers a severe heart attack and he must find his long lost brother in order to honour his father’s last wish. At the same time, he needs to discover why his client, retired tennis star Suzze T, is being threatened.

As he follows his client’s case and searches for his brother, he uncovers secrets about his client and his family, and is drawn into a web of deceit created by decisions of the past. Certain aspects of the book are slightly fanciful, but in the spirit of the story, I can accept that the gorgeous and proficient multi-billionaire, Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) can and will do anything to save his friend Myron.

Like the other books in the series, this is a trip into the world of Bolitar, his family, friends and clients that will keep you turning the page… highly, highly recommended.
 
Shelley Roe-Berning
www.writerswrite.co.za 
4/5

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Book Review - A Private Affair

by Lesley Lokko (Orion) ISBN 978-1-4091-0173-4

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about girls married to army officers, whose lives are ruled by the dictates of the army. The wives can be alone for months on end and the men have to keep quiet about top secret affairs when they come home. 

Samantha is desperate to be married and adores her good looking husband until she finds he is a beast in bed. But in spite of that she still tries to validate her feelings for him. She was an ugly duckling in her past who grew into a lovely swan. She is very insecure in spite of her personal success. 

Meagan is swept off her feet by the dashing officer, Tom and she is glad to escape her loathsome family. Dani suffers in her marriage but hangs in there. And Abbey, the model wife who carries a dark secret threatens to pull her well-ordered life apart. 

I became totally absorbed in all their lives, so well does the writer get your attention. I must admit I couldn't put the book down and in the end all is revealed and you don't know whether to be relieved or not.  

A stunning, well written story. I would recommend it for book clubs. 

Dee Andrew
www.writerswrite.co.za 
5/5

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