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bone_tree_cvr

Ah yes, another one of those books that “whispered” to me. A cry for help, or perhaps the need to get out more? Oui? Non? Time will tell. This is my first book by Greg Iles and an 800-plus page to boot at that. Yes, quite the risk of my time … which turned out quite well (thank goodness … I’d hate to add this bloke to the list authors that owe me the life of their firstborn for my time wasted on their books). Well, enough of the bollocks, and let’s start with the bleedy book review. Shall we?

It starts with the murder of an Afro-American nurse, named Viola, in Louisiana. A murder that turns Dr. Tom cage into a fugitive and creates a rift with his son, Penn. Penn Cage, on the other hand, has a pile of steaming bollocks to deal with: he has started a war with a KKK fringe group called the Double Eagles. Penn’s fiancée, Caitlin Masters (yeah, I know thanks to a certain reality star that name creates a lot of neural twitching) is a journalist (that is probably part bloodhound) is on the scent of one of the biggest stories, of her career where Tom Cage is key to it all. In the center of it all, is the Bone Tree (hence the title of the book), a legendary killing site, somewhere amidst the tons of roving marshes and bayous, that was used to by the Double Eagles to conceal more than the remains of the forgotten. And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse we get to encounter the Knox clan. An A-class racist, misogynistic, psychopathic clan that literally has this stuff interwoven into their DNA and has ties to (no surprise here) the Double Eagles. The murderous ringmaster that leads this mayhem is a crafty, vicious little bugger named Forrest Knox, that is beguiling and calculating as serpent, and exceedingly vicious with probably just as equal a venomous bite to match. He also owns a “hunting lodge” that has been known to provide its members with occasional carnal delights from the local trough and the opportunity to hunt a bit more (allegedly) than exotic animals (hint: the ones that walk on two legs). And somewhere in there, is a connection to the JFK assassination, which dominates the book and Iles does a fascinating job on this that debunks the grassy knoll bollocks and offers another interesting possibility. And yes this is a linked with the Double Eagles.
Bone Tree waste little effort in grabbing readers by the throat and keep them riveted. The book reads like one big Machiavellian chess board, except some of the pieces aren’t really what they may seem and there is a lot of blood. Blood that flows hot and thick like humidity in Louisiana during hurricane season. Vendettas, revenge and murder are exacted with the stealthy and calculating viciousness of pissed off, silent, slithering water moccasin (on steroids). And this is not even half-way through the book. It is the South like you’ve never seen or read it. None of that hat-tipping, curtsying, mint dew lip drinking bollocks. Oh no, no, NO. And if you’re expecting happy endings … well … it is all merely perspective. Huh, you ask? Aye. There are little conflicts both internal and external. There are different quests: the quest for truth, the quest for revenge, the quest for power. And all paths converge on the enigmatic Bone Tree.
Iles uses a hybrid format, which apparently, is becoming rather common in most novels: first person narratives (Penn Cage) combined with third person narratives (everyone else). And at first it may throw folks off … for about a few chapters … but it is only matter of time before you find yourself wrapped up in the story and binge-reading your way through bodily functions, feeding times and possibly sensible sleeping hours. Caution to most readers: don’t become attached to characters. Trust me. You will love me for this. Or not.The good news is that this is part of a … (wait for it) … TRILOGY. The really good news is that this is the second book, and now I’ve got to go read the first book (bloody hell, what’s a bloke to do … decisions, decisions).

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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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It is Memorial Day so I felt that this would be an appropriate book review. Back in the late 80s into the 90s there was a great show on the telly called Tour of Duty. You remember those days, when networks actually took the time to show great shows instead of the heavily scripted and possibly rigged bollocks that is now called “reality tv” … talk about a big, buggering oxymoron. Well, every Saturday night many of us ran home to curl up in front of the telly to watch Tour of Duty, a series that centered around a group of characters that were serving in the armed forces deployed in Vietnam. The show was gritty, though not so gory, and it probably mirrored what really happened to many servicemen and women that served in Viet Nam.

I came across Fallen Angels in the YA (young adult) stacks and I was drawn to the illustration the cover. I had to satiate my curiosity. And I was not disappointed. Fallen Angels is centered around Ritchie Perry, a young black man that is recently deployed into the scary mess that is Viet Nam. Enlisted in the hope of earning money to send back to his mother and brother, he hopes that a busted knee would exclude him from active duty. Unfortunately, someone did not get the memo and Ritchie got sent to a fiery vacation point in South East Asia.  As you read the book you come across his fears, apprehensions as encounters bumbling bureaucracy, bouts of racism, spurts of cowardice and insanity, the hint of a love that will never be (not going to spoil that one for you, mates), an unnerving amount of body bags, and an appreciation for God Almighty. It would be a far stretch to say that this was as good as sitting next to the blokes in Quonset huts during the this moment time, but I’ve got a really vivid imagination and I’ve seen tons of Viet Nam based war movies. Though I must safely and honestly add that, despite all of that, I would never be able to truly grasp what those brave souls that served truly went through over there. I would be foolish to think otherwise. Still it is delightful pieces such as Fallen Angels that give us a slight glimpse into what our servicemen and women endured. All the more reason to be more respectful and grateful of their service. Fallen Angels is a quick read, and though it is centered around the somberness of war, there is mixture of everything … even humour  (watch out for bloke named Peewee). Interesting fact about this book: it was on the ALA list of banned books for it was challenged in some schools, in 1990, for profane language. And if you meet a vet, be kind enough to say thanks or lend them an ear as they tell their stories. Thanks mates, for your service.

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