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Archive for the ‘crime’ Category

mistermercedes_cvr

Sorry for the late post. It has been a wee bit crazy this month at my library. I now hate teachers … you get summer off and we get the privilege of running around the stacks hunting the TONS of books that you so casually compiled for your pupils. For some reason I can hear Q Lazarus’ Goodbye Horses playing in my ear the more I think of this. Don’t worry, I won’t be doing the Buffalo Bill dance routine to it. But enough about the bollocks and no let’s head off the matter at hand (if I haven’t creeped you out at this point).
It is clear to me that there is NOTHING out there that Stephen King can’t take and into suspenseful, horrifying prose. Absolutely nothing. So taking a cue from the current state of employment in this country, the book starts out with a bunch of people lining up in the pre-dawn hours at a site for job interviews. Yes, apparently there are things more important that iPhones and other such bollocks worth waiting for in line. It is a scene that reads like a near-dismal modern day version of Grapes of Wrath minus the billowing tumbleweeds and complete dark looming clouds of despair. A young woman, with a baby, befriends a gentleman on the line. He in turn gives her a sleeping bag for her to rest in with her infant. It is touching, and just as the warm cockles of your heart start warming up along comes some wanker in a Mercedes-Benz car and plows through the entire crowd … intentionally. And this is all within the first chapter.
Bill Hodges is a retired detective who lives a very simple – retired – life. His usual daily regimen involves watching some self-righteous, indignant female judge verbally pummel unsuspecting litigants and a certain show involving people, screaming audience and DNA tests. He’s had quite an accomplished career closing many great cases … all except one. I guessing you can guess which one. Then one day, Hodges receives a letter from a certain Mr. Mercedes. Though seemingly apologetic, the letter is a thinly veiled taunt at Hodges’ inability to close the case.
Meet Brady Hartsfield, by day he works at a discount electronics store and is part of Cyber Squad (or something like that), a team that drives around in lime green Volkswagons fixing people’s computers. On the side, Mr. Hartsfield also drives an ice cream truck which allows him to dispense ice cream to sugar-starved kids whilst keeping an eye on Bill Hodges. After a grueling day of fixing computers and selling ice cream, Mr. Hartsfield goes home to his mother. This is where it gets cringeworthy for Brady has very unusual fascination with mum (as in incestual with a capital I), though not as sexy as anything you might see on Game of Thrones. And for the record, I’m not implying that incest is – sexy. Allow me a moment to deal with the slight vomit burped into my throat and is slow being re-digested. Oh the things I must endure for my blog and readers. So aside from planning psychotic bollocks and taunting retired detectives, Mr. Hartsfield is an avowed racist as is seen in his hatred that is directed towards Jerome Robinson; a young black man that is befriended by Hodges and is brilliant beyond his age. He is also quite the adoring wiseass.
So there is Brady Hartsfield in a nutshell: racist, a bit psychotic and lives with his mum that he’s sexually fascinated with. Hmmm … sounds like a good percentage of the trolls that hang out on Yahoo and other news site messageboards. Now I know what some might be thinking that I’ve tossered up and decided to reveal the killer to you. Sorry mates, hate to break it to you, but King beat me to that within the first three chapters.

As Hodges pulls himself back into the case he encounters Lauren Trelawney, whose sister was driven to suicide by Mr. Mercedes since it was her stolen Mercedes that was used in the crime. He is hired by her, as a private eye, to investigate her suicide. Of course, Lauren is a hot 40-something and yes their relationship becomes more than professional. Awww, older folks having hot sex. It is only a matter of time before things go awry (I’m not going to say what -) and before you know it Hodges is joined with a strange motley crew (Olivia Trelawney and Jerome) as they pursue Bray in what turns out to be a terrifying race against the clock where there is a lot at stake … to lose

King’s Mr. Mercedes, though not your typical preternatural horrifying tale, is more of psychological crime thriller that nevertheless scares you breathless. Especially when you realize, based on current events, that there are tons of Brady Hartsfields out there – minus the incest factor. Maybe. I hope. Please.
All in all, it is premium King that, as always, never skimps on the excitement and throat-grabbing suspense, and leaves you waiting for the next book.

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andaluciancvr

A lot of good things have come out of the Scandinavian countries: Danish cookies, hot Swedish women, some awesome beer, and ABBA. Yes, I said it … ABBA (which holds a prominent spot in my Zune mp3 player). And as of lately, so is the writing thanks to the Steig Larsson and his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Yes, I have seen the original Swedish version with Noomi Rapace but has yet to actually read the books (aye, shame, shame, shame). And yes, I did see the American version also. Now I’m not going to be one of those pretentious tossers that’ll go around being snooty about the different versions and other such bollocks. Let’s just say that Mara did a great job, but she’s no Noomi, who’s got that dark-haired, sensual, mysterious European thing going for her. Let’s pause for a moment to think about this. Hmm. Aha. Yes. Jolly good. Sadly I have detoured and may have ventured into strange territory. To the review … shall we?

Sophie Brinkmann is a widow, single mom and nurse living a sublime life in some Swedish suburb. Her son, Alberto, is the joy, heart and apple of her eye. During her rounds at the hospital, Sophie encounters an exotic patient named Hector Guzman and despite her training she develops a friendship with Mr. Guzman. Apparently, Hector is quite the Lothario and Sophie is subconsciously drowning in his charm. Unknown to Sophie, she is also unwittingly drawn into a sinister web of sorts as she gains the interest of a Machiavellian female commanding police officer named Gunilla. Yes, that is her name (sounds like a cross with Gun and Godzilla) and yes, she is as vicious as she sounds. Maybe a wee bit more. It turns out that Hector is a subject of interest for Gunilla, and apparently so is anyone that makes his acquaintance. The moment Hector leaves the hospital, it doesn’t take long for the intrigue and violence to rear its head as the reader finds themselves immersed with coke-sniffing, gun-running, Russian Mafiosos; thuggish and corrupt cops; a prescription drug addicted cop that doesn’t mind pilfering the occasional panty or two from female surveillance subject’s house(ah, those kinky Europeans); and as mentioned before, a ruthless, manipulative female commanding police officer that is willing to use anyone or anything as a means to an ends.

Söderberg’s Friend is marinated in intrigue, in a topsy-turvy world filled with virtuous criminals and dreadfully corrupt lawmen. The violence is quick, vicious and merciless often catching the reader off-guard and occasionally knocking them senseless. You’ll find yourself rooting for Sophie as she maneuvers through this vicious labyrinthine game of cat and mouse, a game that she was unwittingly thrusted into. Each character has a story to tell, some heartwarming, and some very dark and disturbing that adds to an intense, fiery tale that thunders towards a breathtaking conclusion that’ll keep you guessing to the very end.

Note to self: must read more Scandinavian writers. Paging Jo Nesbø.

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joyland

It is your typical college boy story. Boy goes to college to study journalism. Boy meets girl and falls in love. Girl, however, is not so in love with boy. Summer comes boy and girl has to go separate ways. Girl finds a job (and a new “love”) in some other state. Boy finds job at carnival with colourful characters … which also involves a haunted mirror house with a ghost. Girl breaks up with boy (at least he didn’t get played with that “I have to concentrate on my studies” bollocks only to find out that she’s dating your swim team mate who is stupid enough to blurt it out to you … oh, I’m sorry, just a flashback detour). Boy decides to hang around with carnival beyond the summer. Sounds pretty much cut and dry, except it is not. After all, this IS Stephen King, mates.

And yes , I know … doesn’t sound like your typical chill-up-your-kilt scary King stuff that I’m always reviewing but when you like a writer … well … you can’t help it. Believe it or not, this is actually a crime novel (sprinkled with bits of supernatural shenanigans … of course). A bit like Stand by Me and Green Mile minus the jail stuff. In Joyland, the readers are guided through the story through the eyes of Devin Jones (the down and out on love lad), as it is written in the first person narrative. Starts a bit slow, but Devin’s life with the carnival is filled with colourful characters (each with their own intriguing mini-stories) that keeps the reader sucked in. Somewhere in the 70s, King’s tale captures a bit of nostalgia of a time when nothing said fun like the annual summer carnival and water park. And the best part was that there was not Twitter, Instagram and other such bollocks that kid us into believing that we’re capturing the “fun” moments of our lives. Really? I thought we already had a built in app for that and it does not come with contracts or limited memory and it was called … memories. And believe me, some things are best left in your memory than preserved on Instagram for the rest of the world to see. Think 80s, hair mousse and lots of neon-coloured clothing … on a black bloke. Hope you folks out there have a really good imagination because you will NEVER see that on web. Ah yes, great times. I detoured again, didn’t I? Just a wee bit.

One of the most delightful characters introduced comes in the form of Mike Ross, a young kid, with a terminal disease, filled with supernova wisdom packed into his short and tragic. Needless to say, he is one of these characters that will linger with you long after you’ve read this book. But just as the book is beginning to get all touchy-feely, and most readers are resigned to a nice calm roller coaster ride to the end, the roller coaster suddenly dips and plummets at a terrifying pace as the reader practically wets their undies holding for dear life. Yes, there is a ghost of murdered girl(Linda Gray), strange mutterings from a fortune-teller (Madame Fortuna), and a serial killer twist that would cause most readers to drop their jaws in the puddles of their own discharged body fluids. A bit too graphic on that one? Sorry. I need to control that.

The beauty of Joyland is that even though it is a first-person narrative, most of the characters we encounter have their own stories, that are intriguing, shocking, frightening and yes, tugs on the heartstrings. Did I weep like a nancy, you ask? Like bloody hell, I am going to admit that. (Ok … sort of … but I didn’t need a tissue). Splendid King as usual, and perfect for summer reading at the beach. Ah yes, you remember that … SUMMER. The other S word. Warm, sunny days. Girls in … oh, never mind me.

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lamadness

No surprise here, but I’m a big fan of British gangster movies. Particularly, the ones made by Guy Ritchie and um … starring Jason Statham. So as I going through my rounds at the library I came across this one in the stacks. Something about a bloke holding a gun, on the cover, and pointing it at the reader … gets my attention. On top of that, when I saw it was written by J.J. Connolly, the author of Layer Cake, my interest was naturally heightened. Yes, I’ll admit it … I have never read Layer Cake but I did see the movie that starred Daniel Craig (you might know him … tall, blond and acts as that Bond fellow) and I did like it. But enough with the pleasantries, shall we?

Madness, apparently, continues from where Layer Cake left off where we find ourselves guided, throughout the book, by the narrative of Cake’s anonymous hero. Whom, I must add, seemingly speaks with Jason Statham’s voice (in my head). Yes, it has occurred to me that I “like” Mr. Statham way too much that it is enough to put my current sexual orientation in complete and utter peril. I have detoured and may have ventured into the “Too Much Information” zone. My apologies.

The book opens with our hero in Barbados waiting at the airport for several of his mates (from the underworld) from England. Though not an entirely social visit, this is a business trip where Sonny, a major “player”, is doing a bit of banking (or hiding) of – no surprise – ill gotten gains. Somewhere, along this get-together, our nameless hero is old that he is need back in England, where (by the way) he is wanted criminal and has been living in Barbados on the lam. Whilst in England, he is soon re-united with his mates from their abruptly interrupted Barbados vacation for what seems to be the untimely passing another fellow comrade-at-arms. There is an encounter with a psychotic Venezuelan gangster which leads to his untimely and extremely violent demise. And then the fun begins. There are Venezuelan and Brazilian hit squads; narcissistic and self-delusional South American psychotics; a fiery, sexual Latino femme fatale named Jenna Zambrano; the usual English underworld back stabbings and bumblings all marinated in Machiavellian schemes; and yes, a USB drive with information that everyone’s willing to paint the streets of London red for. Yes, London has some interesting visitors and they are not there to see the changing of the guards, Big Ben or to have some bloody tea and scones. The action is fast, vicious and sometimes, senseless (what’s new). The language is most definitely politically incorrect (thin-skins be warned) and marinated in dark English humour, wit and Cockney lingo (don’t worry you’ll start figuring out most of it before the book ends). And oh yes, from some strange reason Jason Statham’s voice seem to be narrating the entire bloody book (I think I mentioned that before). Bloody hell, I think this what they call a man crush. Maybe I shouldn’t say that out too loud. Sigh. Great book, though.

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brotherhood

When Priya, a young woman with a promising future, is found dead in front of her dormitory building at NYU, everyone assumes it was suicide. But there are a few that fear differently. Niral Solanke, one of Priya’s childhood friends, is a down-on-his-luck type, just drifting through life after living a life filled with decadent appetites and really crummy choices (oh I ‘m sure some of us can identify … well .. minus that whole bit about sex parties and other such naughtiness … didn’t have too many “artistic friends”). His limited experience with the law leads to him being recruited the Brotherhood, a Hindu religious organization, to investigate the Priya’s death. Along the way he finds himself being drawn back to his Hindu roots, and not so-convenient crossings with an ex-flame (Lauren) turned artist/turned stripper/turned prostitute/turned artist (hmm, sounds like your average pop singer … yes, I did go there) and a quick talking, sleazoid named Vishal. Vishal is quite the wank. He’s seemingly made some good dosh and is living the good life (or so it seems)… and on occasion tends throw it in Niral’s face. Oh, did I mention that these two blokes were childhood friends also? But everything and everyone and anything aren’t what they seem, and even as you adjust your logic to keep up Brotherhood keeps you guessing all the way … to the nerve-wracking conclusion. A conclusion that is so abrupt that I found myself shaking my fist to the sky and demanding “why does cruel fate mocketh me?” as the author teased us with a glimpse of the second part of this trilogy. Yes, it is trilogy. The best way to describe Brotherhood is simply this: a Mickey Spillane novel with a Bombay (or is it Mumbai … bloody hell) flavour … set in New York City. Betrayal, religious hypocrisy, greed, and sexual nastiness … it is nice warm cuddly pulp fiction with a nice global marinade. The book contains a lot exotic jargon that is dispersed throughout the writing but is easily appreciated thanks to the glossary that is, thoughtfully, provided by the author. And yes, there is more to the Indian culture than “namaste”, curry and yoga. Feel free to indulge. It is also one of the few self-published books that I’ve read out there and I just happen to know the author. Great chap. Does a mean Garth Brooks and Tupac at karaoke (yes, I’m probably breaking our Karaoke Krew rule: whatever happens at karaoke STAYS at karaoke). Um … sorry, mates.

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deathbenefit

Several months ago I watched the remake of Coma on DVD. Though the storyline was slightly changed from the original (from the 80s) that starred Micheal Douglas and Genevieve Bujold, it was still watchable since it was great to see Geena Davis still looking saucy as ever. But back in the 80s it was Genevieve Bujold that had my attention since I was your typical hormonal teen and I had scorching crush on her. Oh sweet Canada. Yes, she may be a bit older, but I doubt whether my feelings have changed. Um … a bit much information there … and I’ve already detoured. Focus … and now we’re back. I came across Death Benefit in the stacks and since there was Robin Cooks name on it I was compelled to give it solid perusing.
Pia Grazdiani is not your typical medical student since she comes with a lot of baggage, and not the type found in overpriced shitty Coach designer types: her estranged father is a VIP in the Albanian mafia; she witnessed her mother’s mother at six years old; she was sexually molested by an uncle; she’s passed through more foster homes than extinct joint at a reggae concert; and she’s got some serious trust issues with authority figures. Yet, despite it all, she manages to become a very smart and focused medical student and PhD candidate that works under the equally feared and neurotic Dr. Rothman who is not only her mentor but is pioneer in groundbreaking medical research. The sort of research that could turn the medical world upside down … in a good way … but at the same time may put some folks out of business. When Dr. Rothman and his assistant, Dr. Yamamoto, become violently ill and within 48 hours is dead, on the surface it is nothing more than an accidental contamination, but as Pia digs deeper what she finds something even more sinister. The kind of stuff that could possibly get her killed. Oh, conspiracy you say? Well, I’m not bloody telling. Though Death Benefit at times comes across like medical science lecture, Cook does his earnest best to make it easily digestable for those (unlike myself) that are not so scientifically inclined. And yes, this aspect is kept to a delightful minimum. Filled with intrigue and surprising twists that’ll keep you anxious to get to the next page, Death Benefit is a great medical thriller that’ll keep you riveted to your seat as you mentally try to override all pertinent body functions … and it’ll probably scare you about ever getting life insurance. The same way Coma scared the living shit out of me about ever getting anesthesia for any operation. Then again, I wouldn’t mind being operated on by Genevieve Bujold or Geena Davis … though I ‘d prefer to be awake for that. A bit too … much? Bad images in your mind? So dreadfully sorry.

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Running Title – Gomorrah: A Personal Journey Into The Violent International Empire Of Naples’ Organized Crime System

In this current world, there are two types of journalists. On one side there are those who choose to remain in some lily-white/ white picketed fence backdrop such as Colorado, Connecticut or Virginia as they basically rehash the leanings of whatever political or religious drivel that they subscribe to. Once in a while they’ll further rehash this bunk as some superform of “the truth” in a book, on sale at the local book stores, that sucker unsuspecting sods into parting with their hard earned cash. Poor bastards. To add to their delusion, they’ll sometime invoke quotations by greats such as Cronkite and Morrow … simply because it makes them sound journalist … like. Tossers !!!!

Then there are those that take themselves out of the comfort zone and risk life, limb, sanity and even hygiene to bring to life things that are vile, vicious and occasionally heartwarming. In Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano does the thinkable and goes beyond his call of duty, as a journalist, to do the unthinkable. On the outskirts of the ever romantic Naples, is place called Camorra, where any and everything is for sale and life is cheaper than cheap.  Drugs, prostitution, gun running, smuggling, sweatshops, and land being sold to nations to dump toxic materials are all controlled by the Camorrista, the Camorra mafia.  Posing as a Camorrista underling, Saviano goes into the underbelly of this criminal underworld and brings to life all the viciousness that saturate the underworld. And yes, he even named names (the unthinkable part). Not exactly your tea and crumpets book-discussion group book, it spews out barbaric violence that could seem like a Quentin Tarantino wet dream and levels of corruption that would make Machiavelli blush outright.  The bad news is that this is non-fiction. Yes, non-fiction as in this shit has actually happened. Some scenes are graphic as is memorable such as a scene where a junkie overdosed after being given a “test batch” of heroin only to be revived by his junkie girlfriend who simply squatted and urinated on his face. Bloody hell, who needs a stab of adrenaline to the heart when female junkie piss would suffice quite nicely. And there are many more memorable gems such as this that grace the book. I kid you not. Really.

 In 2009, the movie adaptation of this book (Gomorrah) made its debut and was shown at several select theaters. More than 180 minutes long, the gritty portrayals was enough to send many folks running from the theatre. I guess they were expecting some artsy-fartsy foreign love movie. Surprise. It was Grand Theft Auto in reality. The frightening thing about this was that as vicious and gritty as the movie was, it was the mere tip of the iceberg in the accounts of barbarism. Gomorrah smacks away the romantic imagery of gondolas guided by oarsmen singing operatic love lullabies and takes us to a whole different side of Italy.  Note to self: Stick to the tourist areas if ever should I visit Italy. The sad part, about this is that Mr. Saviano’s brave effort to bring light to the dark deeds of a few has resulted in him living in an undisclosed area under police guard. All the more reason to read this compelling and fascinating book yet extremely violent book. My hat’s off to Mr. Saviano

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