I’ve read Dean Koontz in the past with mixed feelings. Some are excellent and some I haven’t finished due to lack of interest. This one is somewhere in between. The differences in Koontz’s writing styles makes me wonder if he uses ghostwriters, or if he has multiple personalities.
Devoted is a mix
of fantasy, suspense, genetics SF, horror, psychological thriller, paranormal, and
maybe a “shaggy dog story” without the humor. It’s the story of an intelligent
dog, Kipp, and an autistic eleven-year-old boy, Woody, who has never spoken a
word. The boy screams a psychic cry for help that is picked up by “The Wire,” a
telepathic communication network for a group of dogs. Kipp comes to the rescue.
My biggest problem with this book is the characters all appear to be seen from the point of view of the dog. All the people are either very bad (haters, liars, greedy, etc.) or unbelievably good (loving, truth-tellers, sympathetic, loyal, etc.). The good people have no bad characteristics, and the bad have no good. And of course, all the dogs are noble.
The best part of the book is the hopeful ending.
Wilde, who was found living in the woods thirty-some years
ago and has no memory of how he got there or where he came from, makes an
intriguing character. He lives off the grid in an Ecocapsule home in the woods,
with extreme security. He has little social contact in his life, except for the
family (son, wife, and mother) of David, who befriended Wilde when they were
boys, and Wilde lived in the woods. David died in an automobile accident.
Hester Crimstein, David’s mother and a high profile lawyer
and TV personality in her 70s, is another interesting character. She’s a small
feisty bombshell. All the characters are well defined; most have good and bad
sides to their lives and personalities.
The plot centers around Wilde and Hester searching for two missing
children. Are they kidnapped or runaways?
There are several underlying themes in this book—political scandal,
teen peer pressure, bullying, innocent man in prison, looking for lost family,
and more. Cohen weaves it altogether seamlessly.
This is the first Harlan Cohen novel. I will look for more.
Irish DS Cormac Reilly becomes personally involved in a murder case when his girlfriend, Dr. Emma Stone, discovers the body of a girl near the Darcy Therapeutics lab where she works as a researcher. The victim is tentatively identified as Carline Darcy, granddaughter of John Darcy, billionaire owner of the largest pharmaceutical company in Ireland. But Carline is found alive and well in her apartment.
The plot is twisted and engaging, although we know half of
the connections and motives by the middle of the story. I did find Cormac’s
jumping to the right or wrong conclusions so quickly a little disconcerting. Everyone
has secrets, even Cormac and Emma.
It’s a good police procedural. Characters are likable with
enough problems in their lives to keep them interesting. I’m not sure why the
series is labeled the “Cormac Reilly” series; Detective Carrie O’Halloran has
an almost equal role in this novel. But this is the first book by McTiernan I’ve
I will look for more books by McTiernan.
I believe Lee Child has a subtle sense of humor in his
writing. It feels like he thoroughly enjoys writing Reacher stories, making the
unbelievable believable, letting this giant of a man wander across the country
taking out all the bad guys in his path, and painting a picture of a country he
I won’t go into the plot of Past Tense. You can read about it in almost every review. But I liked it.
I’ve read most or all of the Reacher books and enjoyed every
one of them.
The title of this novel should be Long Dark River instead of Long
Bright River. There is hardly a bright moment in the 500 pages. (It could be
cut to about 300 without losing anything.) But it’s well written, enough to
keep me reading through the whole book.
There are two plots. One is a family story about two sisters, a cop, Mickey, and an addict, Kacey. They haven’t been on speaking terms for years, but Mickey keeps an eye out for her sister. When she doesn’t see Kacey on the streets for several weeks, she assumes her sister is missing, possibly dead from an overdose or a serial killer who is loose in the neighborhood.
The serial killer is the second plot, the mystery. I think
it’s supposed to be the main plot since the book is classified as a mystery/thriller
(I’d call it “women’s fiction” or a family novel), but the serial killer thread
takes a backseat to Mickey’s search for her sister. She’s not a very good cop.
She neglects her duties, breaks rules, believes and follows up rumors, and finally
The first person narrator, Mickey, isn’t likable. She’s
depressed, insecure, terrible decision-maker, and she doesn’t connect with
people. The author spends far too much time in Mickey’s head and switches to
her past in some chapters, which probably isn’t necessary. I wanted to like her
but never connected.
One thing that irritates me about the writing is the use of
the M-dash instead of quotes for dialog. It’s distracting. I don’t know what
the author is trying to prove.
There’s not an ounce of humor in this story.
Hikers find a girl’s bones off the Appalachian Trail in
northern Georgia. They turn out to be the remains of a girl gone missing 15
years earlier, a suspected victim of dead serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. The incident
brings together a team of crime investigators, led by FBI agent Kimberly Quincy.
She recruits a group from Boston who have been tracking Ness’s crimes—police
sergeant D.D. Warren, civilian kidnap-survivor Flora Dane, and Flora’s sidekick,
computer guru Keith Edgar.
The book combines police procedural and thriller. The first
part, mostly procedural and introduction to the characters if you haven’t
followed the series, is a bit boring if you’ve followed Gardner’s novels. The
pace picks up as it goes along, and the crimes and criminals pile up. The last
few chapters are action-packed. The story pace feels like a train slowly
chugging out of the station, picking up some speed as it goes through the city,
then turning into high-speed rail.
The plot is chilling. Hopefully no real towns exist like the
one in this story. Gardner’s excellent writing kept me reading even through the
early slow chapters.
The pace and the proliferation of characters keep my rating
at 4 stars, not 5. I would prefer fewer POV characters. Four women carry the
story, each picking up separate pieces of information—Kimberly, D.D., Flora,
and a girl without a name or voice who is held captive by the bad guys.
Even with these flaws, When
You See Me is an excellent read. I recommend it, and I recommend that if
you haven’t read other Lisa Gardner books…do it now!
Not having read the previous books in the Monkeewrench
series, this was a standalone for me. It was well written, and I enjoyed it.
The characters, good and bad, are interesting, some with
unique backgrounds and personalities, but there are too many to follow. I was
almost to the end of the story before I had them all sorted out. It probably
would have helped to read earlier books in the series first. But they were
warm, sometimes humorous, and the baby in the office at Monkeewrench added
insight into some of the characters.
I won’t summarize the story; it’s covered many times in
reviews. The plot had many twists and turns, but I feel it overdoes the coincidences
and connections between crimes, like cop shows on TV. I can’t believe that
happens often in real life.
There were several bad guys in this story, and I spotted
them all early before they were revealed even though some were painted as good
or harmless. But there is a twist at the end.
“You ever notice that when it’s this cold, snow doesn’t crunch, it squeaks?” The bitter cold Minneapolis setting made me shiver, reminding me of my many years living in the north. I’m glad I now live in Florida.
Overall a good read. I would recommend it, but with the caveat
that you read other books in the series first.
Ms. Morgenstern writes beautiful pictures with her creative
imagination. This is a novel for the senses.
Not a particular fan of fantasy, I picked up The Night Circus because I thoroughly
enjoyed her second novel, The Starless
Sea. I see there are mixed reviews for this story; people seem to love it
or hate it. The plot moves slowly, but the author writes beautifully. You need
to immerse yourself in the sensations of the circus to enjoy it.
The book is magic.
Elevator Pitch is
the first novel I’ve read by Linwood Barclay. I found the plot intriguing. Why
would anyone kill people by messing with elevators? Is it just to terrorize the
people of New York, one of the most vertical cities in the world? I predicted
the villain early in the story but was led astray a few times before my guess
was confirmed at the end. But I never guessed the “why” until revealed at the conclusion.
Barclay’s character portrayals are varied and interesting;
the main ones are a reporter with an ax to grind, her daughter, two NYC police
detectives, the mayor of New York, his son, and his “I take care of everything”
Although the book kept my interest throughout, it could use
some editing, and it could lose about 200 pages. Lots of unneeded detail slowed
the pace in the middle. I have a habit of skipping to the last few chapters of
a book when I get bored, but this one kept my interest enough to keep me from
doing that. I read all 600 plus pages.
I will look for more of Barclay’s writing.
A police procedural mystery with beautiful coastal England
settings and a mix of interesting characters.
The plot includes the murder of an apparently homeless man
and two kidnappings of Down syndrome women. Detective Matthew Venn believes
they are somehow related. All the victims have connections to his husband
Jonathon’s service center, The Woodyard, which houses an artist’s colony, a
counseling service, and a center for the learning disabled.
The author’s characters are varied and usually believable.
But I found DI Venn a bit too insecure for a detective leading a murder
investigation. His constable, Jenn Rafferty, is lively and smart. Ross, another
member of Venn’s team, is young and impatient.
Cleeves’s description of North Devon brings to life the
sights, smell, and sounds of the villages, countryside, and the coastline.
The story held my interest throughout. The pace is somewhat
slow in the middle but interesting enough to keep me reading. It picks up
toward the end.
The Long Call is
the second novel I’ve read by Ann Cleeves. I’ll look for more of her books.