July 2005 Same Vein


A Blind Eye by G.M. Ford

Pan Macmillan

In A Blind Eye Ford creates a page-turner that will keep any hard-boiled detective fan glued to the page.

True Crime author and disgraced newspaper reporter Frank Corso is having a bad day. He's stuck in Chicago's O'Hare airport, snowed in and stranded, with an irate Meg Dougherty (former lover and one real friend) along for the ride. Why is Meg irate? Because Frank never bothered to tell her that the reason for the "story" they are pursuing is really because two Texas rangers have a warrant for his arrest. Stuck in an airport, his picture showing up on CNN and security starting to look at him strangely, Corso drags Meg on an ill-considered car ride into Wisconsin, where icy roads send them to the bottom of a ravine. What they discover there will bring more than just Texas law enforcement down on his head. It will involve them in a cross-country trip on the trail of a serial killer at large for over 30 years. It also, of course, makes him a target.

A Blind Eye takes Corso out of his familiar Seattle. Starting out in Chicago, the novel then tours southern Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and the wilds of the New Jersey mountains. Removing Corso and Dougherty from the northwest also allows for broader characterisation. Seeing our heroes on the run presents a different side of them, and the readers sees how they react when desperation hits. Usually, we see our heroes chasing the bad guys, not the other way around.

Overall, A Blind Eye is a wonderful page-turner. If you like your mysteries with great characters who grow and change, the latest Frank Corso book is definitely for you.

Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman

Pan Macmillan

One of Australia's acclaimed young writers, first novelist Perlman explores the conundrums of conscience in one man's desire to understand his place as a husband, father and complicated human being amid late capitalism's ever-escalating pressure. Idealistic, intelligent Eddie Harnovey, a 38-year-old chemical engineer, tells his life story from boyhood through college years to the present. Eddie's narrative revolves largely around the women in his life: his childhood love, the beautiful, privileged Amanda, pops into his world every nine and a half years to bewilder him; his brilliant wife, Tanya, a passionate, quixotic academic, is plagued by bouts of depression; their precocious daughter, Abby, raises the stakes on every decision Eddie makes.

After a soulful, progressive youth, Eddie has wound up working for a government agency in Melbourne, where he struggles to maintain his integrity and provide for his family in an increasingly hostile corporate world. When he loses his job, he finds himself with only three dollars to his name, about to lose his house and on the edge of terror. He gets survival lessons from an unexpected source, and then, after brute accident and violence signal the end for him, salvation occurs because of his own previous decency and kindness.

Eddie's blend of self-deprecating wit, caustic social comment, spirited sensitivity and big heart carries the narrative in beautifully controlled passages that brim with insight, humor and feeling. His world is rich with the pleasures and pains of love, family, friendship and marriage, and the supporting characters in this prize-winning narrative are smart and likable; some are unabashedly erudite, facilitating entertaining philosophical debate.

Perlman's sheer storytelling virtuosity gives this essentially domestic tale the narrative drive of a thriller and the unforgettable radiance of a novel that accurately reflects essential human values.

Cut To Black by Graham Hurley

Allen & Unwin

Portsmouth's major drug dealer's time is up. For years Bazza McKenzie has made millions selling cocaine and heroin into the streets of Portsmouth. He's laundered the money and on the surface at least is one of Hampshires great and the good. The police have had enough and a year long undercover campaign operation is set up to trap McKenzie. But when one of the investigation's leading lights is run over and put in hospital Joe Faraday is drafted in to wrap things up.

It should be a dream job but Joe fears who will move in to fill the vacuum when Bazza is gone and Bazza seems to be one step ahead of the investigation at every turn in any case. And then Jo junior is arrested. he faces a manslaughter charge for supplying drugs to an addict who has subsequently overdosed. CUT TO BLACK is a gripping thriller about the war against drugs, police corruption and personal moral compromise.

Stamping Butterflies
by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Allen & Unwin

STAMPING BUTTERFLIES tells the story of two dreamers. One, a would be assassin in tomorrow's Marrakech. He aims to kill the US President and holds in his head the secret to a faster-than-light drive. The other, a Chinese Emperor, ruler of 148 billion people on an immense Dyson sphere thousands of years in the future.

Each believes they are dreaming the other. One must change the future, one must change the past. Both have only days to live.

This is a fast moving unusually well written SF novel of ideas. Ideas that will change the reader's perception of time and fate. Ideas from the cutting edge of hard science. It is peopled with vivid characters and evocative of Marrakech, where the author lives.


Tokyo by Mo Hayder

Random House

Having written just two previous novels, Mo Hayder already has a reputation for writing fast-paced, intelligent thrillers. Tokyo is no exception.

For the first time, Hayder sets her novel on foreign soil, although her main narrator, the weird "Grey" whose shadowy past is never detailed in full, is English.

Grey has an obsession with the infamous Nanking Massacre of 1937. She tracks down a Chinese professor working in Tokyo who may be able to help her find a piece of film that records the atrocities that happened at the hands of the Japanese. But when Shi Chongming meets her he denies all knowledge of the film, claiming that it does not exist. Grey, who is annoyingly childlike and frustratingly naive throughout this entire novel, is unconvinced.

Not wanting to give up the search for the missing film, she moves into a crumbling old house in the Tokyo suburbs with a set of Russian twins and the weird Jason, who has an accent that sounds like he "might have been from England or America or Australia. Or all three".

Despite her odd looks and penchant for Oxfam clothing, she finds work in an upmarket hostess club frequented by the Japanese mafia (yakuza). It is here that Grey is drawn to a wheelchair-bound gangster who drinks a strange elixir rumoured to ensure his ongoing health and well-being.

Little does she know that this yakuza "connection" will help her discover the real truth about what happened at Nanking all those years ago. Together with Chongming's assistance, she sets upon a dangerous and terrifying adventure that will have you riveted from page to page. In fact, the stomach-churning conclusion is one of the finest heart-hammering pieces of fiction you'll read in a long time.

Hayder has peppered this book with a vast array of mysterious characters with shady, unexplained pasts, which only adds to the intrigue. She deftly captures the seedy underbelly of Tokyo life, transporting the reader to a strange world of glass skyscrapers, neon lighting and oppressive weather conditions. And she successfully intertwines past and present by putting Chongming's 1937 story and Grey's modern day experiences in alternate chapters.

All in all, a very fine and fast-paced novel.

Tower of Ravens by Kate Forsyth

Random House

In the mountains live wild satyricon, fairies with horns and hoofs instead of feet. Living among them is a female outcast who has human feet and no horn. She captures a flying winged horse and escapes to the home of Lewen, an apprentice witch and his family who tend to her injuries. They name her Rhiannon and decide that she should be taken to the city of Lucescere to the Tower of Two Moons to be tested for any power she might have.

They travel with a caravan of witches' apprentices but when they find the body of Connor A Yeoman of the Guard, they race to the capital to report the murder. Rhiannon doesn't volunteer the information that it was her arrow that killed the man but because she has his possessions she falls under suspicion. They travel to Fettercain Valley where the dead walk and children are snatched from their homes and killed. The laird, Malvern MacFerris, invites the tired troupe to stay at his haunted castle but the evil that resides within the walls threatens their lives. It is up to Rhiannon and any power she may have to rescue her friends and break the malevolence that surround them.

Book one of Rhiannon's Ride is a fabulous fantasy where magic is taken for granted and the people acknowledge and grant equal rights to species straight out of mythology. The hero turns from a feral girl into a caring woman willing to risk her life to save those she has come to care about. The Highlands of medieval Scotland are the basis for TOWER OF RAVEN and Kate Forsyth proves once more that she is a master of creating a mythical world based on an actual bygone era.

If you're in to this kind of fantasy, you'll love this novel.

Soldier Five by Mike Coburn

Capricorn Link

"Soldier Five" is an elite soldier's memoir of his time within the Special Air Service (SAS) and, in particular, his experiences during the 1991 Gulf War. As a member of the Special Forces patrol now famously known by its call sign Bravo Two Zero, he and seven others were inserted hundreds of kilometres behind enemy lines. Their mission was to reconnoitre targets, undertake surveillance of Scud missile sites and sabotage Iraqi communications links, but it was to end in desperate failure.

>From the outset the patrol was dogged by problems that contributed both directly and indirectly to the demise of the mission. The patrol's compromise, and subsequent attempts to evade Iraqi troops, resulted in four members of Bravo Two Zero being captured and a further three killed. One escaped.

But this story goes further than the Gulf War itself. Despite numerous books, films and articles on the same subject, the British Government has done its utmost to thwart the release of "Soldier Five", at one stage claiming the book in its entirety was confidential. It was a campaign of harassment that took some four-and-a-half years of litigation to resolve.

"Soldier Five" is a suspenseful account of one man's experiences as a Special Forces soldier. Revealing his conflicts, loyalties and relationships forged, it is the resolution of a soldier's determined fight to see his story told.

Avengers Files by Andrew Pixley

Capricorn Link

Pixley has pulled together into one place what has to be the most comprehensive coverage of the AVenger's ever to see print.

In The Avengers Files you enter the fictional, undercover world of Great Britain's top agent, and all his helpers and associates. The author threads through all the TV episodes from all the years of The Avengers and The New Avengers, and the books and comics as well. over and over.

It contains everything you ever wanted to know about your favorite Avenger and Avenger's epsiodes. The facts and figures are here, along with the trivia and some excellent photos of the stars in action.

Without a doubt the best Avenger's guide on the market.

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