Torchwood: Exodus Code / Carole E. & John Barrowman

Captain Jack is back. No, really, he is! Proving that with a great set of writers new TV isn’t really necessary (although it would be nice, you know, to have another series… hint hint… ) – these writers create Torchwood in your mind.

Plus: These great writers are Barrowmans, after all – the actor who was Captain Jack, and his incredibly talented sister Carole! Therefore you get Torchwood – set after Miracle Day -, you get Wales, you get a mystery that might just destroy the world in the process, you get new friends and lovers and new locations (Peru!! They introduce Peru!!! They of course did that purely for me! LOL) and you get great writing on top of that!

I was gripped by the colourfully told story of groups of women going mad all over the world, of people tasting sounds and seeing colors – which is a very real medical condition – and of this madness even affecting Jack Harkness who desperately tries to remember something that happened years, even generations ago to him, something that might save the world from destruction. As nothing is easy with Torchwood, Gwen is affected by this madness, too, and Jack comes to the rescue – only to realise that where he has to go, FBI and other 3 letter organisations have their hands in as well. There is – or it wouldn’t be Captain Jack – time for snarky banter and for some wink wink, nudge nudge that leads to more. But when the day comes, the hero has already made a plan to save the world once again.

The book is incredibly well written, the characters old and new well fleshed out and believable. It was written with making a movie / TV show in mind, which turns out surprisingly well (much better than another Code I never finished reading as it was so badly written) and it caters to the “needs” of fans in giving them their favorite characters and landscapes as well as new food for thought.

The only thing Ididn’t like: There’s only one book! Where’s the sequel???

Again: taken from Amazon

Captain Jack is back!  Citygirl

This eagerly awaited Torchwood novel, penned by John and Carole E. Barrowman, lives up to expectations. Who better to co-write an adventure centred on Captain Jack Harkness than the actor who has played him since 2005 – John Barrowman himself?

The characterisations are perfect: we already know Jack, Gwen and Rhys, but we meet new friends and enemies during the course of this exciting adventure.

Women are being driven mad… strange things are happening to the Earth… but why can’t Jack remember key events from his past? And how are they linked? This is what you’ll find out as you turn the pages of Exodus Code. Set firmly in the world of Torchwood, after the Miracle, the writing drives the action forward with energy, intelligence and humour.

The story would make an excellent fifth series of Torchwood. Here’s hoping!!

This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies (Reed Ferguson Mystery Series) / Renee Pawlish

It’s fun. Hell, it’s great fun. The PI – not totally untalented, but really really new to the job – faces the femme fatale in his first real case and it turns out she’s very fatale even when she’s hilariously drunk (which she is most of the time). All of a sudden he is confronted by a group of murderous X-Women and their rather “interesting” approach to the law, the FBI jumps in and let’s not forget his mother is on the phone, whose trust in her son is not very pronounced on a good day. Add to that the snarky writing style that goes back to all the greats of crime noir writers like Dashiell Hammett (who judging by one of Pawlish’s novels is her inspiration after all) and you have a fun and highly enjoyable book to curl up with. Pawlish even pulls off the first person narrative, something I’m not that keen of, but it works perfectly in this case. I’m glad it’s a Series, as I will want to know more about Reed’s adventures of being a PI.

 

And this I pilfered from Amazon:

Reads like a great Matinee movie laurathomas61

This story starts off with a bang!
“I want you to find my dead husband.”
“Excuse me?” That was my first reaction.
“I want you to find my husband. He’s dead and I need to know where he is.” She spoke in a voice one sexy note below middle C.
“Uh-huh.” That was my second reaction. Real slick.
Renee’s writing style reads like a noir film. Like a great Bogie movie. It is no surprise that Reed Ferguson, main character and P.I. in the story, is a fan of Bogie. He prefers old movies, especially detective film noir, and dark women.
When Amanda, the client, walks into his office, the first thing he thinks is “Trouble”. She is a major flirt. It’s never a good idea to mix business with pleasure.
Honorable mentions to brothers Ace and Deuce, the comic relief team. Kept me laughing and lightened the atmosphere. Cal. Get a picture of Sherlock Holmes in your head. Got it? That’s Cal, Reed’s friend. He helps dig for the dirty little secrets in the investigation. I had many a grin with their back and forth banter.
Despite all of the warnings to drop the investigation, Reed persists and ends up in a world of hurt. He does not get through this without being battered and bloodied.

My body was screaming at me, sore in too many places to count. “I feel light-headed.” I blinked hard at Forbes.
“Hey, buddy, you’re bleeding.”
I began examining myself, but didn’t see anything.
“No, back there.”
I craned my neck around, exploring my backside with my hands. “Oh, man! She shot me in the ass?” I couldn’t believe it, but it was true. My rear end suddenly hurt like nobody’s business.
Agent Forbes tried to hide a smile. And then I fainted.

Witty sarcasm and tension oozes from the pages. This book looks and smeels like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I ate this up and immediately moved on to the second book, Real Estate Rip-Off. I have also posted a review for it here on Amazon.
Don’t miss out on this well written mystery novel, packed with action and thrills.

 

Frozen Heat / Richard Castle

It’s a Castle novel. Of course I love it. (and I’d really like to know who the writer of these novels is – they are really doing a great job). As always the characters are well fleshed out, the perfect addition to watching the show on TV. This installment is delving deep into Nikki’s past – just when we think there’s some peace in the life of our detective and her lover Rook. The walk down memory lane towards the solving of Heat’s mother’s murder brings us to Paris, various shady agents and back to New York where an idiotic boss (and don’t we all know one or two of those) jeopardizes the case just as much as his lover, the incompetent and lazy new girl. (my favorite line: “Five minutes in the same room with your boss, I want to eat my own flesh just for the distraction.” it’s effing brilliant!)

There’s life and death situations and enough surprises interspersed with sarcastic one liners to keep the reader breathless both with anticipation and with laughter – which is a good thing!

But.

It’s a bloody cliffhanger.

And I am truly pissed about that. It seems the novel was pushed out hastily in time for the TV show start – and I for one am less than enthused that I have to wait a year for the next installment. This is me, not being a happy camper…

And this is what others say:

By S Wilson – Published on Amazon.com
I picked this one up, being a big fan of the Castle series as well as Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, as well as to drown out the silence on my son’s first day of preschool. I really couldn’t put it down!The first 3 books in the series were quite good, and improves on rereads, which is difficult for a murder mystery novel. After all, if you already knew whodunit, what’s the sense of reading again?

The sense is the characters are rich and the action is brilliant. I absolutely love Castle mainly for Detective Beckett, who is a wonderful, meaty character, and the novels increasingly capture it. Sure, there’s dumb jokes and more than my fair share of cliches, but it kind of blends into the environment, and that they probably would be saying all those cliches if this were real life.

The twists are really clever (while still being believable!) and the action is really fun and exciting.  The excessive cop-lingo (and acronyms) that makes you feel like you’re in a foreign country is quite toned down since the first novel, which is a big relief. I’ll definitely go back and read it again, enjoying all the little nuances I missed the first time. Sure, there’s a few things that you’re like, “Why didn’t she chase that particular lead down?” or, “Why doesn’t she look there?” Or “She’s walking into a trap! Wait for backup!” But you’ll get that with almost every mystery novel or movie. (I think the trick is to not say it out loud when you’re in the movie theater. 😉

And don’t forget the serious cliffhanger. I got to the end and I was like, “Where’s the rest?” It seemed like there should be another chapter or two. If cliffhangers bug you, wait until the next one is out and read them together. I certainly felt brought-up-short. I know at least one reviewer before wrote that it was “kind of a cliffhanger.” No, its a serious, full-stop, mid-thought kind of cliffhanger. Not quite as bad as leaving off a person screaming in terror, but similar. Now we get to wait a whole year for the next part, oh goody. -.-

Anyway, have a lovely time reading this book. Definitely start with the rest of the series if you haven’t read them yet, there’s old characters to swim with along with new. (And watching the series does not count.)

Cambridge Blue / Alison Bruce

 

I like Gary Goodhew. He’s different. He’s an odd sock, not a teamplayer, even less in a team like the one he has to fit in. There’s the unfaithful senior detective who gets it on with the girl Gary secretly admires – and learns that she is a bit afraid of him. There’s his boss who likes Gary’s brain but hates his rogue behaviour and then there’s the Grandmother who is clever and quirky. And of course – in yet another lead part of the novel – there is Cambridge and Ely, both playing their roles of beautiful university town as well as center of crimes beautifully. I did enjoy the story – it was construed cleverly enough to not be seethrough easy. It was a bit convoluted and at the time I read it I thought that was just me because I had a terribly stressful time and couldn’t devote my usual concentration to the book. But I will definitely get another one of Alison Bruce’s novels about Goodhew to see where she goes with her detective character.

As always I’m lazy – this is the review I liked most online:

By Roman Clodia at Amazon.com
Gary Goodhew is only 25 and the youngest detective in Cambridge. When he discovers a murdered girl he is given the chance to take a lead role in a high-profile murder case, but his maverick abilities cause him to clash with his boss; he and his partner dislike each other, and he knew one of the suspects at school. The case of Lorna Spense uncovers dark secrets in the Cambridge community and touches on more than a few secrets in Gary’s own private life.

This is a page-turner of a novel that introduces an attractive young detective working the residential, rather than the collegial, side of Cambridge. Sex is placed right at the centre of the book, with erotic entanglements central to both the suspects and the police.

I liked much of the book: the pace, the tension, the sense of suspense, and certainly found myself unable to put it down – but there are some niggles, too, which become much bigger at the end (no spoilers following).

Some of the plot points seem very odd and unbelievable – e.g. the `anonymous’ letters. And there are various threads that are started up at the beginning but which never really go anywhere (the conversations between Victoria and Lorna at the start, the revelations about Lorna’s sexual fantasies). But the major issue which had this book dropping a star is the ending: the sudden flurry of revelations certainly keep us breathless but once you close the book and think about them, they cease to make much sense. So I was left wondering not who was responsible for the murders – but why?

So this is a great switch-your-brain-off relaxing read, exciting and fast-paced – but it actually doesn’t stand up to much post-read analysis.

Buckingham Palace Blues (Insp. Carlyle Novel) / James Craig

Oh yes, I love James Craig’s Inspector Carlyle novels. They’re gritty, they ring true, this third one  covers corruption in the police as well as Russian mobsters and child trafficking and yet still never loses that slightly sarcastic, grumpy tone that I came to love in my Inspector Carlyle. It’s a wild ride Craig takes us with this book – a ride that starts with a lost child in the royal gardens. That it also ends there, close to the palace, is a truly poetic twist I loved – full circle even though the child in question had been doomed from the first pages of the book. The beauty is also that we learn more about his daughter, slowly coming to her teenage years, his boss, her husband in jail, and his long suffering partner, all of which get more threedimensional over time. I need more of this – I truly hope there’s a fourth novel sooner rather than later!

Once again I’m pilfering the summary of the book from someone on Amazon – and believe me, unlike them I already am a huge fan 😉

By El Becko    Amazon.com
I’ve been reading each Carlyle novel as it comes out, and I’m in danger of becoming a bit of a fan.Third book in and Craig is hitting his stride, an appropriate metaphor as the London Olympics proper start today. (At the beginning of Aug 2012 – addendum)If you are not familiar with him, then Carlyle is an Inspector from London’s Charing Cross Police Station who makes a speciality of upsetting vested interests whilst solving crime. It takes seconds to irritate him, and once irritated his language is choice. He’s a second generation Scot, so hardworking and dour but funny in the way that Scot’s are – and with plenty of integrity.

Thing is, this time round Carlyle finds a young Ukrainian girl who has been trafficked and prostituted – and whom the system is about to fail miserably. And he takes it personally. His own daughter is of similar age and the thought of this happening to her makes him feel physically sick. So off we go on a very personal journey as Carlyle takes on the East European traffickers, the posh boys and the bent coppers who have united to make this happen.

I think Buckingham Palace Blues is a crap title – but get over it, because it’s horribly plausible fiction in parts which rocks along at a pace. Carlyle actually manages to be flirted with along the way – hilariously he’s too much a Calvinist to flirt back! And women clearly find his love of lost causes endearing. This is a more well-rounded character we meet – and it makes for a very good read.

So to sum up, BPB is funny, pacey and full of grit and splatter. It has a few moments of genuine pathos and lots of rough-house fighting as Carlyle kicks bad guy ass more than is good for someone of his age. In Carlyle’s world the system fails people, Community Cops are ‘Plastic Policemen’,  the Royal Protection Squad are bent and social workers are lazy and useless.

What’s not to love? This is James Craig’s best book so far.

Never Apologise, Never Explain (Inspector Carlyle Novel) / James Craig


And again – it’s a great story; the suspicious death of a librarian – the woman seems to have been killed by her husband of 40 odd years – apparently is solved when the husband dies, too. But once again Carlyle can’t stop the nagging feeling and therefore keeps following leads that bring him to past but not forgotten crimes committed by the Chilean junta. This time though his daughter might be in danager as well. And while Carlyle finally solves the riddles that lead to the librarian’s death, the killer seems out of reach. Out of reach of the law, that is. Not out of reach of justice, though, as it turns out.

It’s a great read, a slow starting wild ride that I enjoyed immensly.

review by Joe McCoubrey  Amazon

This is the second outing for Craig’s London Met detective, John Carlyle, a down-to-earth copper who seems to be constantly juggling more cases than the average plod should be able to deal with.

The central plot involves the death of an elderly woman, apparently at the hands of her husband who insists he’s innocent. Vague references to a Chilean connection with the case fail to dissuade Carlyle of the husband’s guilt. In between he tries to help find a missing child, deal with the stalker of a pretty newswoman, and investigate a nasty drug ring. Not unexpectedly, things take a twist on his main case when he learns the husband is not the killer.

Carlyle is the type of hero to enjoy. He doesn’t jump through burning hoops, abseil tall buildings, or shoot an MP5 out of the window in a high-speed car chase. But he gets the job done in an efficient and believable manner while juggling a domestic life with an understanding wife and a teenage daughter beginning to explore the usual adolescent boundaries.

There’s a lot about this novel to keep you engrossed and interested. The initial, slightly overlong, references to what happened in Chile could have been best dealt with in a prologue, but that’s almost unfair nitpicking in what is a superbly written and cosy yarn. Craig’s style, pace and underlying knowledge is as good as anything you’ll find in the crime genre. Judging by what lies between the covers of Never Apologise, Never Explain, the Inspector Carlyle brand deserves to sit on the shelves with the best of the modern serial detectives.

London Calling – Inspector Carlyle / James Craig

He doesn’t want a career, he isn’t good at office politics, and he doesn’t like to bend. But he is a very good, very determined detective. And when he’s told to stop a murder investigation that reaches into highest political ranks he doesn’t. It’s the gritty realism that grabbed my attention – and the fact that these series of crime stories takes place in London, a town I love. I also like the fact we learn more and more about his family, his little daughter he sends to a public school, and barely knows how to pay for it.

I am currently at the third of the novels which probably shows how much I enjoy them.

review by J. B. Hoyos – Amazon.com

Twenty-five-years ago, the Merrion Club – a fraternity composed of Britain’s future VIPs – went on a drinking binge and committed a heinous crime against a fellow student. Now, someone with a very large knife wants revenge against these eight men. One is Christian Holyrod, Mayor of London, and another is Edgar Carlton, who, according to the polls, will become prime minister in the next election, which is only a few days away. After two men are found butchered, Inspector John Carlyle must find the killer before more VIPs die and the General Election is disrupted.

James Craig’s gutsy, envelope-pushing debut, “London Calling,” dares to distinguish itself from the rest of the crime drama genre. It is a carefully crafted blend of horror and police procedure that is quite macabre and spellbinding. “London Calling” is a fast-paced mystery that kept me in suspense until the killer’s carefully guarded identity was eventually revealed at the shocking conclusion. In the meantime, the death scenes are graphic, bloody and disturbing; likewise the sex scenes are as equally perverse and stomach churning. I was reminded of my beloved Italian gialli of the late sixties and seventies. These gialli are films where a black-gloved killer often stalked and butchered those who are involved with a past crime; usually the victims consisted of gorgeous women.

What was envelope-pushing about “London Calling”? I’ve never read sex scenes as graphic as the ones depicted in this crime novel. The raunchy sex scenes, I assume, are intended to depict the depravity of the men belonging to the Merrion Club. Because of their decadent, selfish, lifestyles, I lost all sympathy for the victims. In fact, I was hoping the killer would survive long enough to slay everyone in the Merrion Club. Other readers may also feel the same as I. Carlyle sympathized with the killer.

Inspector John Carlyle of London’s Metropolitan Police is a flawed but very likeable character. He never carries a gun and seldom remembers to bring his handcuffs; he relies heavily on his partner, Sergeant Joe Szyszkowski, to manhandle and subdue the villains. Carlyle is a loving family man with a huge sweet tooth; he is also good life-long friends with a professional, highly successful drug dealer, Dominic Silver, who supplies him with information needed to solve his cases. Furthermore, his boss is an the overbearing, image-conscious Superintendent Carole Simpson who behaves more like a ladder-climbing politician than a police officer. I believe that the author is boldly stating that there are many unqualified employees, like Carole Simpson and Edgar Carlton, in positions of power because of their gender or race. The author also speaks openly and passionately about the economic downturn that has despairingly plagued London as well as the rest of the world.

The novel’s chapters alternate between Carlyle’s present and his past – a past pertaining to his career as a police officer since joining the Met Police in the mid-eighties. He’s had a turbulent career involved IRA terrorist bombings and coal mining strikes that were all very warlike in their depictions. Details are provided on how Carlyle became good friends with Dominic Silver and how he became enemies with a vicious bully, fellow police officer Trevor Miller, who later becomes head of security for the black Carlton twins, Edgar and Xavier. The transitioning between past and present is expertly executed without any confusion. Furthermore, I am partial to this novel because I am the same age as the major characters; I was studying hard at the University of Tennessee at the same time that the wealthy, spoiled Carltons were partying at the University of Cambridge.

After reading James Craig’s provocative thriller, “London Calling,” whenever I look at a politician I ask myself, What dark, horrible secrets are you hiding? How many lives have you destroyed to get to the top rung of the ladder? The novel also has an element of dark, political-related humor. For example, one of the politicians is behaving badly like Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in that he gets his nanny pregnant. I can’t help but laugh when I think about that one. Overall, if you can stomach the strong sexual content, I highly recommend reading “London Calling” with its creative, bloody death scenes, high body count, exotic locales and intriguing mystery. I can’t wait for the sequel; I can already hear it calling my name.