corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton, 1887
Let me first say that I’m an eighty-year-old woman who loves to read most fiction genres. I receive my books from the local library Books by Mail program. Most are not specific requests and they cover a wonderful variety of subjects and styles. Second, I almost didn’t start this novel because it’s a sequel to a book I haven’t read, and reviews indicated it was aimed at a young audience with a theme about social media, which I avoid.
But I loved this book (even without reading the previous
installment). It’s not only about the abuse of money and power, it’s about
humanity, encompassing our worst and best traits and in between.
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.
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!
Sara is running from a Hurricane headed for the Outer Banks
of North Carolina and also trying to escape witness protection. She rescues two
children, Cassie and Boon, who are home alone in the apartment next door. She’s
torn between finding someplace to drop the children and staying off the radar,
so the agents don’t track her.
All the characters are intense and twisted but interesting.
I’m not sure who the title character is supposed to be, since everyone is lying
and/or a liar’s child. Hank, a retired sheriff, is almost unnecessary to the
plot. He’s haunted by a missing son who disappeared years earlier at age ten.
Whit, Cassie and Boon’s father, is dealing with the disappearance of his wife
while holding down a demanding job and taking care of the two children. Cassie,
age twelve, tries to fit in with the older kids in the neighborhood by dressing
Goth. Five-year-old Boon sleeps in his closet.
The story feels repetitive at times, but each time we see the “facts” from a different point of view, we learn a little more of the “truth.” It kept my interest to the end, and I liked the ending.
The Current is a
strange story written in a strange style, and it leaves unanswered questions at
the end. It’s closer to real life where everything doesn’t get neatly tied up. There
is mystery here, but not your typical “whodunit” mystery, maybe a literary
I enjoyed the story, but it took a little while to
understand the flow. At times Johnston writes stream
of consciousness, sometimes he uses second person POV, head-hopping from
one character to another, and he skips back and forth between timelines. But he
digs deep into the psyches of his characters—love, hate, grief, curiosity, need-to-know,
vengeance—and tells all that is going on around them—sights, smells, heat and
cold, sounds, skin sensations.
I enjoyed the book but only gave it four stars. It grabbed
my attention, my heart, and my mind. But the author could have made it a little
easier to follow without losing the grip of the story.
I have not read any of the previous books in this series, which
may be a disadvantage in reading Kingdom
of the Blind, but it reads well as a stand-alone.
The cozy comfort of the small town of Three Pines stands in
stark contrast to the back streets of Montreal. Some of the gatherings of Gamache’s
family or friends in the village, discussing the murder or just babbling about
life, at times seemed confusing or unnecessary, possibly due to my
unfamiliarity with the characters. But these gatherings were comfortable,
friendly, and humorous. The story is filled with family connections (both
relational and families of friends or coworkers), some full of love and
understanding and some underlined with distrust.
One unusual thing about Penny’s writing is her use of
omniscient point of view. You might even call it “head-hopping.” She often jumps
POV from one character to another and back. I found it distracting at times,
but overall, she did a reasonable job of making it feel seamless.
The setting in Canadian winter made me feel the chill and
the crunch of the snow underfoot. The plot was interesting. Occasionally I was
ahead of the story and guessed what would happen, other times I was surprised.
I may go back in time and read other novels in Ms. Penny’s Gamache
Never Tell is a
book of secrets told from three women’s POVs. Evie Carter finds her husband
dead—murder or suicide—picks up the gun and shoots his computer. Homicide
detective D.D. Warren knows Evie as a girl who sixteen years ago “accidentally”
shot and killed her own father. D.D.’s civilian informant, Flora Dane, sees a
picture of Evie’s dead husband and recognizes him as someone she met while a
kidnap victim of Jacob Ness.
The three distinctive characters are well-defined and
interesting, revealing secrets as the story progresses and uncovering other
secrets about Evie’s husband, father, and mother, and about Flora’s kidnapper. Peripheral
characters are also distinct and interesting. The setting is in Boston, my
favorite city. The complex plot kept me guessing.
An excellent novel by a first-rate author.
Seven teenagers go camping and only six return. A massive search
doesn’t turn up Aurora, at fourteen, the youngest of the group. Thirty years
later, her body is found in a hollow
beneath a tree along with remnants of a stash of drugs.
The timeline alternates
between current and the night of the murder. Point-of-view shifts
between cops and campers, both present and thirty years prior. The author does
a good job of switching time and POV, and I didn’t find it confusing.
Lodge paints good pictures of each of her many characters—four
police and the six campers (seven with Aurora)—each character unique. She even
adds a couple of extras into the mix. It may be a little overload on character
She keeps us guessing about the murderer, but I did have an
idea of who it was early in the story. The plot could be a little slow for some
readers, but I found the details of police procedural interesting.
A good first novel. I look forward to the next book in the
series with DCI Jonah Sheens.
Michael Swann is in Penn Station when a bomb goes off. His wife Julia believes he’s alive and is obsessed with finding him.
I have mixed feelings about this book. The plot was good and characters were interesting. I read some reviews and some readers were surprised at the twist at the end. But I had it figured out early, maybe by the middle of the book.
The point of view switched back and forth between Julia and an unknown man with no memory who escaped the bombing. Scenes with Julia trying to find Michael with no idea of where she was going or how to find him alternated with her memories—good and bad—of their marriage. Sometimes this was easy to follow and sometimes disjointed. I became irritated with Julia’s wild search as the story progressed. There was no logic to what she was doing; she acted in panic mode throughout the book.
Overall this was a good read. What would you do if a member of your family was caught in a terror attack, and you didn’t know if he or she was alive or dead? What would you do if the police and media started accusing that family member of being connected to the attack?
Star’s End is the ultimate in corporate control. A science fiction story about the Four Sisters, four planets terraformed by Phillip Coromina. He not only owns the planets, he owns the people who inhabit them. Any person who doesn’t follow company rules disappears. Exiled or killed? The family business manufactures weapons. One product of the company is manufactured humans who are programmed in their DNA to be soldiers. They fight wars across the galaxy alongside normal human mercenaries hired by the corporations. The manufactured soldiers are programmed to be loyal to each other and the corporations.
The protagonist in Star’s End is Phillip’s oldest daughter, Esme. Her mother is a soldier who left her to be raised by Phillip when she was born. Esme’s three-hundred-year-old father is dying. He has a disease which kills even those taking rejuvenation treatments. She is taken by surprise, but she has been waiting a long time. Esme will become CEO of Coromina Group. She wants to change the path of the company and no longer manufacture weapons.
There are also aliens living on the planets. Philip isolated them long ago and they have no contact with the humans. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Fear the aliens; fear anyone different from you instead of learning to live together; creating wars for profit.
Esme’s three younger half-sisters have all disappeared. She is trying to track them down and bring them home before her father dies. Each sister chose to leave when they found out how cruel their father was and what he had done to Isabel, the youngest. But Esme has stayed to work from inside to improve the system.
The novel jumps between present and past. The past POV is Esme, first person past, and the present is Esme, third person past. There are many secrets that we don’t learn until events occur in the past chapters or until Esme reaches a level in the corporation to learn them. Phillip is all about secrets. You are privy to more of what’s happening as you go up the ranks of the company. At the end of the story, Esme is one of the few Ninety-Nines, the highest level who can know all the secrets.
An interesting novel, obviously anti-corporate. I enjoyed it, even if I found Esme reluctantly following her father’s orders hard to take.