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Archive for the ‘thriller’ Category

findrs_kprs_cvr

It has been a very interesting summer, in terms of reading… that is, and I couldn’t help but notice the new Stephen King book sitting in the stacks, beckoning to me like a curvaceous Siren to a marrooned, randy sailor (wow, I seriously need to go out more). What can I say, perfect timing, yeah?
The new King book practically begins with a bang. A reclusive, iconic writer, John Rothstein, is the victim of a home invasion. But this is no ordinary home invasion. Led by Morris Bellamy, an obsessive fan, the object is, seemingly, the large amounts of money kept in the writer’s home safe, though to the Morris the real treasure is the pile of Moleskin notebooks filled with drafts of unpublished Jimmy Gold novels. After cold-bloodedly murdering Rothstein … and his accomplices, Morris hides his literary “booty” along with some piles of cash, only to be sent to jail (for life) on a totally unrelated crime. Something about a rape that he was to drunk to even remember. What a way for life to suck.
Several decades later, this “well-hidden” bounty is discovered by a young Pete Sanders who was simply wandering off the beaten path (literally) and his curiousity got the best of him. Pete Sanders family is enduring some tough times, since Pete’s father (apparently the bread winner) was injured in the Mr. Mercedes rampage (bloody hell, you say, a tie back to another King novel). Yes. And it gets better. So what does a young man do when he finds a significant amount of money? Instead of spending it on bling and other such bollocks, Pete does the “unthinkable” he anonymously mails portions of it on monthly (or was it weekly?) basis to (gasp!!!) his family in order to help them out of their financial crisis. Blimey, you say, a teenager that chooses to the most selfless thing with a large pile of money … King has sunk to a new terrifying low. Of course, good intentions aside, pillaged treasures soon finish and … some prisoners, despite the odds, get released back into society. And a certain convict is going to need his “hidden treasure” to fall back on. As the body count begins, a troubled Pete Sanders find himself embroiled with shady rare book dealers and eventually crosses path with Bill Hodges (yes, the retired detective from Mr. Mercedes). Also joining Hodges, is the boy wonder Jerome Robinson, an intelligent (now in college) black teenager who is a wisecracking, techie genius (also from Mr. Mercedes). Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for the suspense to rachet up at speeds that would redline your adrenaline guage, as the book races with break-neck speed towards a heart-pounding conclusion. Notable mention: Brady Hartsfield (aka Mr. Mercedes) also makes an appearance and even though he is physically incapacitated, there is something supernaturally brewing up in the mix. Alas, the saga of Mr. Mercedes is not quite over. And it is pure, premium King. Bloody fantastic.

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shotgunarcana_cvr

R.S. Belcher returns us to the fantasy-filled, steampunk wild West world of Golgatha. Golgatha is a strange little town where all is not quite as it seems and it is populated with strange, enigmatic, and in some cases, terrifying characters. In Shotgun Arcana, Belcher returns with some the old crew: Maude Stapleton (the female assassin/pirate), Jon Highfather (the sheriff that is seemingly unkillable), Mutt (the half-Indian/ half coyote … still trying to figure out that arrangement), Jim Negrey (the deputy with the strange jade eye) and Malachi Bich (the mysterious, charismatic fallen angel). Believe me, there is quite an intriguing roster of delightful characters I’d love to mention but that would make me a complete and proper tosser and it would deprive your curiosity. Translation: you’ve got to read this book … but don’t take my word for it. Oh alright then … please do be a good sport and take my word … just a wee bit.
It is the year 1870, and Golgatha had just endured a wee little Wurm problem a year ago (something about plunging the universe in darkness and chaos … yeah, small stuff … please see the first book). As the residents of Golgatha begin to pick up the pieces and life seems to return to normal (if there is ever such a thing as normal in the town of Golgatha), a new evil rears it head in the horizon. No, it is not a Bruce Jenner reality show chronicling his “changes”. The horror, the bloody horror. A mythical skull said to contain a vile force, that once released would turn the world into a murderous fury, is sought by a mysterious Ray Zeal (who apparently had a past with Malachi Bich). Even worse, a collection of some of the vilest beings, ever imagined, are all being summoned by a strange sinister force. How file are these wankers you say, let’s just say that they make those ISIS assholes look like a bunch of daisy-picking, little girls … dressed in pink tutus. Come to think of it ISIS backwards is SISI. I’ve detoured slightly. And guess where all these fine specimens of gene pool maladies converge on? Ah yes, the unwitting town of Golgatha. No rest for the wicked, yeah?
So as Golgatha gears up fo another cataclysmic showdown of apocalyptic proportions, some interesting are added to the Golgathan roster: a female Pinkerton agent, a Madame that could probably take down Rhonda Rousey very easily (Rhonda can, however, take me down ANYTIME), and a bouncer that is a well-read, teddy bear with the personality of glacier (wtf … you say … trust me). And that’s just the folks on the good side.
Shotgun Arcana is like a runway train, hopped up on meth, careening into blinding lightspeed as the suspense and action takes readers into an explosive conclusion that could only be measured in kilotons. And it will have most readers jonesing for the sequel. This IS, after all, trilogy, right Mr. Belcher?

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drone_cvr

The story opens with some Somali military tosser walking around thinking he’s the dog’s bollocks as he debates releasing aid (donated food), that has been held ransom, to his FELLOW countrymen. Aye, not like this kind of bollocks EVER happen in the real world. Until he’s contacted by some ominous presence via his large screen HD telly that he has to comply with his deal to release the aid in consideration of the large sums that has been paid into his Cayman accounts. But since this bloke is tosser, like most Third World tosser, he decides to toy with the patience and decency of the West … and then he and his entire military compound, filled with armed bullies, are surgically dispatched by a drone. Hence the title.
And of course, the action at this point kicks into full gear.

Tony Pearce is former special operations agent that once worked for the CIA and now runs Pearce Research Systems that specializes in designing everything from next-generation prosthetics to …well… next generation combat machinery (i.e. drones). On some weekends, when Pearce is not designing the latest precursor to Skynet, he is sometimes running black ops on behalf of President Margaret Myers (yes, we’ve got female president … finally … too bad it’s in fiction … never fear … not too far off … I hope … and yes, I’ve detoured) testing out his drones on bad guys. When a bunch of teenagers, at a house party in El Paso, is surgically massacred by a Mexican drug cartel, the crap hits the fan in Capitol Hill. However, when one of the victims of the massacre turns out to be the President’s son (a teacher that was hanging out at the party with … apparently … his students) that’s when the shit gets real … and personal. Soon Tony Pearce is asked a favour by President Myers, and no … it doesn’t involve bringing home a gallon of 2% lowfat milk. And as the cartels find themselves in the crosshairs of Myers, unknown to them, they’ve unwittingly allied themselves with an Iranian double agent that uses them for his own ulterior motives. Motives that involve using Pearce as an unwitting pawn into something even more frightening and threatens to push America over a dangerous precipice.
Machiavellian schemes (from Mexico to Capitol Hill) coupled with adrenaline-drenched action … all marinated in gut-wrenching suspense makes Drone a very hard book to put down. Bodily functions and sleep be damned. It is Mr. Maden’s debut novel and what a bloody debut it is. A delightful yet terrifying bit of fiction on the fascinating world unmanned combat. On the cover of Drone there are the words “Introducing Tony Pearce”. I’d like to say “nice to meet you … and I’m looking forward to more of your work”.

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6guntarot_cvr

Yes, I know … it is February and it is the month that we have Valentine’s day and this year … the premiering of the Fifty Shades movie. Now I know what some of you folks are thinking. Is this the moment that the Evil Parrot takes one for the team (whatever team that may be) and actually … dare I say it .. read and review some erotica. And this is the part where I laugh and say … like bloody hell I would. So yeah … I’m afraid no erotica, but instead scary stuff. That’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. So enough with the bollocks and lets get on with it, yeah?
In 1869 Nevada, Jim Negrey is a wanted man on the run. He carries with him his six-shooter, a nearly empty canteen of water, and a false jade eye that was once his father’s. As he and his horse, Promise, painstakingly prepare to die from starvation, he is rescued by Mutt, a half breed: half man and half coyote. Yes, that was not a mistake … you did read the word, coyote. Apparently Mutt is some sort of shape-shifter.. Jim finds himself in a town called Golgatha. And this is where things begin to get dicey. In Golgatha, there are strange types and strange worlds where science and sorcery meets in an almost delightful but symbiotic blend. And as a war rages in the heavens (aye, there angels involved in this), an ancient evil more ancient than time itself threatens to awaken and wreak havoc on the world. No it’s not Kanye West’s ego or another frightful narcisistic endeavour by the Kardashians. Nay, it is something much more evil and called the Voidling. And caught in the ground zero of this glorious event is the delightful town of Golgatha and delightful handful of characters whom the fate of the world depends upon: a mayor that is hoarding treasure and secrets (such as a gay lover named Ringo); a banker’s wife that belongs to a secret order of pirates and assassins and the cult of Lilith; a sheriff that bears the mark of many nooses around this neck and is seemingly unkillable; a shady saloon whose got his fingers in everyone’s business and knows more of town’s dark true origins. Are ye intrigued at this point? Like bloody hell you should.
It is my first (yes, I have to shamefully admit) steampunk novel. Aye, I know … scandalous … I am such a naughty boy. What next, erotica? Gasp. Here we go again. But then again … anything for my readers/followers. So there, my first steampunk novel and I loved it. In Tarot, Belcher has written an intriguing western that is delightfully marinated in the worlds of science and sorcery, trickling over with copious yet well measured amounts of drama, humour and suspenseful action. The characters are delightful and you will find yourself attached to many, and every intriguing, suspense-filled page that urges you onward the teeth-clenching-teddy-bear-squeezing climactic conclusion that’ll take your breath away. And yes, I do have a teddy bear … named Mr. Noodles. Totally trampling over my Evil Parrot persona like a total tosser. Bloody hell. Great debut, Mr. Belcher and … cheers.

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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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cellcookcover

George Wilson, MD, is a senior radiology resident in a major L.A. hospital. A promising future and a loving fiancée, George’s future is so bright that he’s got to wear shades (oh Timbuk 3, we need you chaps back on the radio). And then one morning, George awakens with a dead fiancée in his bed … seemingly due to Type 1 diabetic complications. Several months later whilst going through the grieving process, George attends a seminar hosted by Amalgamated Healthcare, where he runs into an old flame (Paula Stonebrenner) and the revelation of a new medical breakthrough in the form of a smartphone app called iDoc. A convergence of informational technology, nanotechnology and genomics, the iDoc is poised to be quite the thing to supplement the Affordable Care Act where virtual digitized doctors monitor and offer medical advice without the inconvenience of waiting in line at the local hospital or clinic. Now I know what you’re thinking: a health insurance company coming up with a solution to “help” the healthcare system. Seriously, that alone is some really good medical fiction right there. But alas, here it is. Soon George discovers that there are many people using iDoc as beta testers. Among them was his late fiancée (hmmm, you say). And just when the uneasiness of being replaced with Siri, MD, was beginning to arise in George, many of the beta testers started dying on him which ranges from a friendly neighbour to several patients he’s actually worked with. Still not impressed or intrigued? Oh yes, did I forget to mention that most of these victims were either terminal or potential terminal cases. Bloody hell, you’re saying about now … and you’re in good company. As George decides to investigate iDoc (the accidental death panel known as Siri) and Amalgamated Health, he finds himself entrenched in a sinister game of cat and mouse where his sleuthing threatens Amalgamated’s bottom line (aye, that is always a good thing) and George stands to lose more than just his residency or sanity.
Cook’s Cell is a neck-breaking thrill ride down a dark, twisting mountainside on a very thin road … with the lights off. It grips you by the throat all the way to the mind-blowing end … and yes, it will blow your mind. And if anything, it’ll make you appreciate those long waits at your local clinic as you thumb through old People magazines or endure Judge Judy or the Price is Right on a crappy telly … over some PHd enhanced Siri that simply wants to kill you. Just saying mates.

P.S. Siri is not the actual virtual avatar that is used in the book. I just used her because … well … she makes such a great target. Tee hee.

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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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