Tag Archive | Thriller & Suspense

Review of The Swede: A Novel by Robert Karjel, Nancy Pick (Translator)

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About The Swede

A Swedish security agent is summoned to interrogate a terror suspect held by the FBI —but the prisoner isn’t the only one with something to hide.

At a remote military base in the Indian Ocean, the FBI is trying to get a prisoner to confess. But the detainee, a suspect in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in the United States, refuses to talk.

Ernst Grip, a Swedish security officer, has no idea why he’s been dispatched to New York City. The FBI agent he meets on arrival, Shauna Friedman, seems to know a little too much about him. And when he arrives at his real destination, the American authorities have just one question: Is their terror suspect a Swedish citizen?

In the process of uncovering the prisoner’s true identity, Grip discovers the man’s ties to a group of other suspects—a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, and a heartbreakingly naive Pakistani. The closer Grip gets to the truth, the more complicated the deception becomes. Who is real and who is leading a double life?

My Review

The characters were full of intrigue and differences, enough to create interest for the reader.

The plot was involved, at first you are curious to see how it all fits together and believe me it falls into place wonderfully. Loads of suspense complete with knotty twists will continually grasp your attention.

Impressive work from Karjel. Everything pulls together nicely at the end. Identities are revealed at the tail end amplifying the suspenseful conclusion.

Exciting debut, anticipating more from the talented Robert Karjel.

About Robert KarjelRobert-desk-webres-500x500

I was born in 1965 in Gothenburg, Sweden. My mother is Swedish, and my father Estonian.

At the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, I majored in Applied Physics.

After graduation, I entered the military. At first I flew fighter jets, and then helicopters. I became a Lt. Colonel in the Swedish Air Force. I’m proud to have trained with the U.S. Marine Corps and flown its attack helicopters.

I’ve written four thrillers, and I’m finishing a new one now, sequel to The Swede/ My Name Is N. This next one, based on my experience with the Swedish Air Force, is about pirate-hunting in the seas near Somalia.

Researching my novels has taken me to the Libyan Desert, Amazonian drug dens and the secret archives of the Vatican.

In my downtime, I’ve taken my younger daughter scuba diving in Egypt and the Maldives. I’m also a runner, and I like sea-kayaking.

And then there’s the kitchen. For celebrations with friends and family, my official job is to make fancy desserts and chocolate pralines.

I have two daughters. The older is attending college in the US; the younger goes to high school in Stockholm, where I live myself.

My latest novel, The Swede (in the UK, My Name Is N), was published by HarperCollins in July. This is my first novel to be translated into in English.

Published July 7th 2015 by HarperCollins (first published 2010)

Review of Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker

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About Crazy Blood

The Carson dynasty rules the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Founded by patriarch Adam, the town is the site of the Mammoth Cup ski race-a qualifier for the Olympics. But when Wylie Welborn, Adam’s illegitimate grandson, returns after a stint in Afghanistan, it reopens a dark moment in Carson family history: the murder of Wylie’s father by his jealous and very pregnant wife, Cynthia. Her son Sky, born while his mother was in prison, and Wylie are half-brothers. They inherit not only superb athletic skills but an enmity that threatens to play out in a lethal drama on one of the fastest and most perilous ski slopes in the world.

Three powerful and unusual women have central roles in this volatile family feud: Cynthia, bent on destroying Wylie; his mother Kathleen, determined to protect him; and April Holly, a beautiful celebrity snowboarder, on track to win Olympic Gold. But, as Wylie falls in love with April and they begin to imagine a life away from the violence that has shattered his family, history threatens to repeat itself and destroy them both.

Combining exquisite writing with breathtaking scenes of high stakes skiing, Crazy Blood is an unforgettable story of two brothers on a ruthless quest for supremacy.

My Review

Fabulous description of competitive skiing along with the emotional, physical and mental demands the sport requires. Your adrenaline hits an apex as you find yourself racing the course completely exhilarated attempting to shave off seconds from your time.

None of the characters left a mark, including Wylie, not much development more of a rough outline provided. Sky was theatrical and just plain weird along with Cynthia. Both characters and plot felt contrived, strong predictability factor. It’s safe to say the narrative was very dramatic, would make a great Lifetime movie. Hardly a psychological thriller, behavior of protagionists too off the wall and the reactions of others equally bizarre.

I would read more from Parker, solid writing, the book has a great framework in need of minor tightening and tweaking with stronger characterization and plot.

About T. Jefferson Parker55814

T. Jefferson Parker is the bestselling author of 20 crime novels, including Edgar Award-winners Silent Joe and California Girl. Parker’s next work is a literary novel, Full Measure, to be published in October. He lives with his family in Southern California.

Published March 8th 2016 by St. Martin’s Press

Review: Deadly Lullaby: A Thriller by Robert McClure

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About Deadly Lullaby

Fresh off a nine-year stint in San Quentin, career hitman Babe Crucci plans to finally go straight and enjoy all life has to offer—after he pulls one or two more jobs to shore up his retirement fund. More than anything, Babe is dead set on making up for lost time with his estranged son, Leo, who just so happens to be a rising star in the LAPD.

The road to reconciliation starts with tickets to a Dodgers game. But first, Leo needs a little help settling a beef over some gambling debts owed to a local mobster. This kind of thing is child’s play for Babe–until a sudden twist in the negotiations leads to a string of corpses and a titanic power shift in gangland politics. With the sins of his father piling up and dragging him down, Leo throws himself into the investigation of a young prostitute’s murder, a case that makes him some unlikely friends—and some brutally unpredictable enemies.

Caught up in a clash of crime lords, weaving past thugs with flamethrowers who expend lives like pocket change, Babe and Leo have one last chance to face the ghosts of their past—if they want to live long enough to see their future.

My Review

I liked the lukewarm turbulent relationship between Babe and Leo. These two are more alike than they realize despite the different paths chosen. Their troubled relationship feels realistic considering their family history of high dysfunctionality. A game of hide and seek basically describes their current interaction. Plenty of action, risk and suspense will keep you turning the pages. A few surprises kick the narrative into high gear, the colorful characters keep your attention as well. Smatterings of satire breaks up the roughness of both plot and players.

Wasn’t a fan of the racial slurs, uncomfortable.

Gritty glimpse into the underworld with a dysfuntional family as the focal point. Crime fans will definitely want to clear shelf space, McClure impresses, looking forward to much more from this rising talent.

About Robert McClure14106999

Robert McClure read pulp fiction as a kid when he should have been studying, but ultimately cracked down enough to obtain a bachelor’s in criminology from Murray State University and a law degree from the University of Louisville. He is now an attorney and crime fiction writer who lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky.

His story “My Son” appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories, and he has had other works published in MudRock: Stories & Tales, Hardboiled, Thug Lit, and Plots with Guns.

Published September 29th 2015 by Alibi

Review: We Shall Inherit the Wind (Varg Veum #1) by Gunnar Staalesen, Don Bartlett (Translator)

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About We Shall Inherit the Wind

1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then, in one of the most heart-stopping scenes in crime fiction, the first body appears…

A chilling, timeless story of love, revenge and desire, We Shall Inherit the Wind deftly weaves contemporary issues with a stunning plot that will leave you gripped to the final page. This is Staalesen at his most thrilling, thought-provoking best.

My Review

The narrative is refreshing Eco-Warriors, wind turbine farms, religion, family tension, secrets, questionable business practices, disappearances and murder. The pace is incredibly quick and interesting making it difficult to put down.

The translation is excellent, wonderfully descriptive writing. Varg Veum is an enigma of sorts, the fact he’s mature was different within itself and a welcomed change. He possesses enough charisma fascinating the reader, professional with a strong sensitive side without being overly dramatized.

A slight edginess makes this a standout, between plot, characters and presentation more than satisfying read.

About Gunnar Staalesen18776

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. The next instalments in the Varg Veum series – Where Roses Never Die and No One Is So Safe in Danger – will be published by Orenda Books in 2016 and 2017.

Published May 8th 2015 by ORENDA BOOKS (first published May 1st 2015)

Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson, Quentin Bates (Translator)

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About Snowblind

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. Taut and terrifying,

My Review

Classic mystery feel with a solid narrative, remove the mystery, thriller, suspense elements and you have a plot still keeping your interest a must for this reader, when combined you have a fantastic union. Great characters, enough threads of backstory’s and subplots. Ari Thór Arason sparked my interest, lots to build upon his character, loads of potential, looking forward to seeing how his personal and professional life pans out. The small hamlet where nothing ever happens leads to tension and guessing when a crime hits, secrets unraveled, no one is immune to suspicion, marvelous depiction of everyone knows everyone along with their business mentality.  As the story’s layers are slowly peeled away clues fall together providing a satisfactory ending. I had no idea of the culprit until it became obvious with great calculated skill. Low on graphic gore which I prefer, heavy on mystery penned with a lovely contemporary literary feel. Excellent translation, Quentin Bates outdoes himself.

About Ragnar Jónasson32B9843or-300x200

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters. Nightblind will be published by Orenda Books in 2016.

Published April 20th 2015 by ORENDA BOOKS (first published 2010)

Review: The Kill Shot (Jamie Sinclair #2) by Nichole Christoff

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About The Kill Shot

Jamie Sinclair’s father has never asked her for a favor in her life. The former two-star general turned senator is more in the habit of giving his only child orders. So when he requests Jamie’s expertise as a security specialist, she can’t refuse—even though it means slamming the brakes on her burgeoning relationship with military police officer Adam Barrett. Just like that, Jamie hops aboard a flight to London with a U.S. State Department courier carrying a diplomatic pouch in an iron grip.

Jamie doesn’t have to wait long to put her unique skills to good use. When she and the courier are jumped by goons outside the Heathrow terminal, Jamie fights them off—but the incident puts her on high alert. Someone’s willing to kill for the contents of the bag. Then a would-be assassin opens fire in crowded Covent Garden, and Jamie is stunned to spot a familiar face: Adam Barrett, who saves her life with a single shot and calmly slips away. Jamie’s head—and her heart—tell her that something is very wrong. But she’s come way too far to turn back now.

My Review

Jamie is a likable character, a true professional, however, I am confident all the romance in both novels overshadows Jamie’s full potential to the point where it solidly distracts. Given the seriousness of her assignment, she wasn’t as sharp as she was previously. She seems overly preoccupied with both men’s interests – Barrett and Philip, which is understandable to a degree. Her diversion conflicts with the impression she’s created of herself with the reader, at least for this peruser.

I would have preferred more action, thriller, mystery as opposed to yet again, hefty romance. Too much for my taste, a repeat of my issues with the first book. I would have preferred more development in the personalities of the two men in the quasi love triangle over the political hand.

Jamie’s distraction, the weighty political facet, the romance component deflected what could have been an even better narrative. I’m not opposed to my thriller/mystery containing romance, only a much smaller dose and less domineering. Showcase Jamie’s smarts, professionalism, independence along with strength and a whole lot less amorous man hunting.

About Nichole Christoff8393402

Nichole Christoff is the award-winning author of three Jamie Sinclair thrillers: The Kill List, The Kill Shot, and The Kill Box. A writer, broadcaster, and military spouse who has worked on-air and behind-the-scenes for radio, television news, and the public relations industry in the US and Canada, Christoff is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime and the Jane Austen Society of North America. She also belongs to Private Eye Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and three of RWA’s local chapters, in which she’s served as an officer and a member of the board.

Published March 17th 2015 by Alibi

Guest Post: Austin Williams, author of Blind Shuffle: A Rusty Diamond Novel

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Austin Williams is the author of The Rusty Diamond Series of crime thrillers published by Diversion Books. The second novel in the series, Blind Shuffle, released in October 2015.

Other books by Williams include the cult suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.

He lives in Los Angeles.

Connect with Austin: Twitter | Goodreads

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Guest Post

About two years ago, a New York-based editor of commercial fiction invited me to create an outline for a proposed series of suspense novels that would feature a recurring protagonist. This represented something of a departure from my earlier books, which were stand-alone novels populated with large ensembles of characters. Considering the offer, I experienced a wave of depression so strong I actually retreated to my bed for a uncharacteristic midday nap. What had me feeling down was the prospect of trying to insert a new figure into a mystery/suspense marketplace already teeming with established book series centered around popular recurring characters and written by capable authors.

How to find a niche in that crowded arena? I had no idea, but I knew one thing: the character I came up with had to possess a background and skill set distinct from the norm. That ruled out ex-cop, retired Secret Service agent, discharged Special Forces officer, jaded gumshoe, burnt-out investigative journalist, ex-con trying to make good, and a handful of other familiar tropes. I had no inkling of a fresh concept that might help my character find his or her place, and it felt like a bit of a lost cause. So I lay down for a nap, and woke up with an idea: “How about a magician?”

Not a working magician, that was too implausible to take even a little bit seriously. I couldn’t conceive of a character who spent his nights performing feats of illusion to sold-out crowds and then dabbled in crime-solving as a way to fill his spare hours. But a former magician, someone no longer in the spotlight … that idea held some potential. Better yet, a disgraced former magician, someone who’d not quit his profession by choice but had been forced out. And even better still, a person who’d not only quit but had to go into hiding to escape the consequences of his own misdeeds. It was starting to make sense. I could see the outlines of an agreeably complex character beset with a range of faults as well as strengths that would separate him from the bland category of “hero.”

That germ of an idea bolted me from the bed after my brief but productive siesta. And it was with a flawed but relatable protagonist in mind that I wrote an outline for three books in a proposed trilogy. The disgraced magician-turned-vigilante/detective was named Rusty Diamond. It took more than a year to secure a publishing deal (not with the editor who extended the original invitation) and to then complete the first of the three intended novels. The opening installment in the Rusty Diamond Series, entitled Misdirection, was published by Diversion Books in the summer of 2014. The second book, Blind Shuffle, comes out on October 20th.

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About Blind Shuffle: A Rusty Diamond Novel26074301

Far from the neon lights of Bourbon Street, heinous crimes are being committed against young women, and a street magician seeks to pull off his greatest trick by staying alive long enough to see justice done. The stage is set for a New Orleans noir perfect for fans of James Lee Burke and George Pelecanos.

Rusty Diamond abandoned the Crescent City years ago to pursue fame in Las Vegas, leaving Marceline Lavalle, the daughter of his mentor, with a broken heart. Now Rusty has come back to make amends with his former teacher and his first love―but Prosper Lavalle won’t face him, and no one has seen Marceline for days.

Five months pregnant, Marceline’s vanished without a trace. Her estranged boyfriend, a casino boss with criminal ties and a hair-trigger temper, claims no knowledge of her whereabouts. With the police not yet ready to declare foul play, Rusty launches his own investigation.

The search for Marceline will take Rusty into the darkest corners of New Orleans, where enormous profit can be made from human misery, where desperate people hunt on the fringes, and where not all magic is sleight of hand. It will force him to confront the mistakes of his past, and offer him a shot at redemption. And it will leave him―if he’s not careful―at the bottom of a bayou.