September 2005 Same Vein


Malicious Intent by Kathryn Fox

Pan Macmillan

Dr Anya Crichton, a pathologist and forensic physician, finds that work is sparse for the only female freelancer in the field. Between paying child support, a mortgage and struggling to get her business off the ground, Anya can't yet afford to fight her ex-husband for custody of their three-year-old son, Ben.

When Anya is asked to look into the seemingly innocent suicide of a teenager, Anya notices similarities between the girl's death and several other cases she is working on with her friend and colleague, detective Sergeant Kate Farrer.

All the victims went missing for a period of time, only to be found dead of apparent suicide in most unusual circumstances.As Anya delves deeper, the pathological findings point to the frightening possibility that the deaths are not only linked, but part of a sinister plot.

Nothing can prepare her for the terrifying truth...

With clearly defined characters and a clever plot, Fox manages to provide a very solid thriller, well worth the read.

Marker by Robin Cook

Pan Macmillan

"Marker" sees the return of two medical examiners from a previous Robin Cook novel. Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton's personal relationship is on the rocks because Jack is afraid to commit to marriage with Laurie, whose biological clock is ticking and who wants to start a family.

To add to her stress, Laurie discovers that she has a genetic marker that significantly raises the probability she will eventually have breast cancer. As a distraction from their personal problems, Laurie and Jack become involved in a series of autopsies on surgical patients who died of cardiac failure in spite of being young and relatively healthy.

Laurie learns of a similar series of deaths in another hospital. She suspects they are all related, but is unable to convince anyone else that these may be homicide cases.

Robin Cook became a pioneer in the medical thriller genre with his book "Coma." Since then he has written many other medical thrillers, most of which follow a plot formula that ensures lots of suspense and a bit of medical education thrown in as a bonus. "Marker" follows the typical Cook formula: an enthusiastic medical professional is a witness to a series of mysterious deaths in a medical environment, suspects foul play, and in the pursuit of the perpetrators, is put in jeopardy him/herself.

The medical lesson here is about the DNA markers in our genetic makeup that control not only the functioning of our physiological processes, but also their malfunction. In an afterword, Cook discusses the mapping of the human genome, and then presents the uses, both good and bad, that could arise from knowledge of the genetic markers that predict our future health. This is a fast-paced, suspenseful novel with two likable characters and some romantic interest thrown into the mix. Highly Recommended.

The Writing Experiment by Hazel Smith

Allen & Unwin

This demystifying guide to creative writing shows that successful work arises not from talent or inspiration alone but from several stages of development within a systematic strategy. Recommending an exploratory approach to writing, this book offers practical exercises that bring exceptional creative writing within reach. Each chapter is illustrated with extensive examples of student work and published writing including fiction, poetry, plays, performance, and new media.

Hazel Smith is a senior research fellow in the school of creative communication at the University of Canberra and founder of the creative writing program at the University of New South Wales. She is the author of Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara.

This is a simple, straight-forward guide that can help any budding novelist hone their skills and ideas.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais

Allen & Unwin

Elvis Cole is back. He is just recovering from the loss of his lady and her son, when he receives a call that changes his life.

All of his life, Elvis has been hunting for his father. He never knew his father but was told he worked in a circus. Elvis had enough oomph to run away at least six times not to join the circus but to look for his dad. His granddad would hire a detective to hunt for him and bring him home. Elvis never found his dad but he did find a career. He was very good at hunting down clues and people and thus he made a great detective.

So, the phone call telling him that a dying man was looking for him, his son. Elvis becomes drawn into the search to find who this man was. The man, his father, maybe, was murdered and he was given permission to help the police department find the murderer. Elvis works with Diaz, a female cop and her partner. However, Elvis is faster and smarter than the police department- he uncovers clues very quickly, and the story starts to come together.

This novel is also told from the murderer's point of view, so that we have insight into a mind of a person who is insane and who has no conscience. He tells the stories of his murders, and his life and that of the person he works with. This is a frightening look into the soul of a madman, from his perspective.

Robert Crais has once again given us a story that we can bite into, one that leaves us with a chill, but with admiration for the man who can write like this. His mysteries just get better with each novel. Highly recommended.


Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs

Random House

In Cross Bones, a book that is a bit of a departure from her usual fare, Kathy Reichs' main character Dr. Temperance Brennan investigates a murder of a somewhat seedy Jewish businessman Avram Terris, who is found dead in Montreal. Through various plot twists, Tempe and her main squeeze Andrew Ryan end up in Israel overtly investigating Ferris' murder. However, through their investigation, they end up involved in a mystery involving what appear to be first century bones that may be from the family of Christ.

Written in pure Reich's style, Cross Bones, is similar in tone and pace to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. However, unlike Brown's suspenseful novel, Cross Bones fails to carry the reader to the same level of mystery and intrigue that fills The Da Vinci Code. Cross Bones is a worthwhile read, but try as she might, Reichs' can't duplicate Browns success.

The characters in Cross Bones are believeable but not always interesting. The plot is a bit convoluted and in places stretches the reader a little too far.

Cross Bones is an interesting read but not typical Reichs.

Trace by Patricia Cornwell


Trace tells a convoluted story about the connections between a young teenager's death, an attempted assault and Scarpetta being summoned back to Richmond on a case that she (as usual) never gets the whole story about.

There's a series of scenes between Marino and Scarpetta that on the surface seem a little sexually and emotionally gratuitous, but they're necessary for the plot development of the book here and their relationship development in any future books. Cornwell finally lays Marino's feelings for Scarpetta out there for the readers, even if the doctor herself remains mostly in the dark about them.

The writing is good if not great, the characters are pretty much where we left them at the end of the last book and the forensic details are stellar and interesting. The ending is, as always with Corwell, a little abrupt and pat, the takedown bloodless and unsatisfying and you (as always) never really get an idea that the main cast of characters has learned much from all the angst.

The Scarpetta, Benton and Marino sections of the book are high quality. The Lucy, Rudy and Henri sections a little too soap opera-ish for our tastes. The overall plot, forensic detail and redeeming of Scarpetta made this novel the best for a while by Cornwell.

Masters of Deception by Seckeles

Capricorn Link

The definitive book of optical illusions featuring works by Escher and Dali.

With delightful trickery and visual puns, this book features: colour illustrations throughout; astonishing creations by masters of the art, such as Escher, Dali, and Archimbolo; amazing visual trickery; and an illuminating foreword by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas R. Hofstadter makes this 320-page, breathtaking collection the definitive book of optical illusions.

Rings of seahorses that seem to rotate on the page. Butterflies that transform right before your eyes into two warriors with their horses. A mosaic portrait of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau made from seashells. These dazzling and often playful artistic creations manipulate perspective so cleverly that they simply outwit our brains: we can't just take a quick glance and turn away. They compel us to look once, twice, and over and over again, as we try to figure out exactly how the delightful trickery manages to fool our perceptions so completely.

Of course, first and foremost, every piece is beautiful on the surface, but each one offers us so much more. Some, including Sandro del Prete's charming "Window Gazing," construct illusionary worlds where normal conceptions of up, down, forward, and back simply have no meaning anymore. Others, such as Jos De Mey's sly "Ceci n'est pas un Magritte," create visual puns on earlier work. From Escher's famous and elaborate "Waterfall" to Shigeo Fukuda's "Mary Poppins," where a heap of bottles, glasses, shakers, and openers somehow turn into the image of a Belle Epoque woman when the spotlight hits them, these works of genius will provide endless enjoyment and food for thought.

Forget hanging them on the walls - get the book that has the best of the best. Highly Recommended.

The Twelfth Card by Jeffery Deaver

Hodder Headline

This is everything you'd expect a Lincoln Rhyme novel to be. It provides thrills, twists, turns, surprises, intriguing characters, that we expect from Deaver, and of course he succeeds at that.

Rhyme must catch a bad guy before he gets to his target, while Amelia Sachs rides around the city looking at various crime scenes where they *almost* caught said villain and reporting the finds to him. Various tense situations are set up, nice double-takes on Deaver's part, but don't worry because Rhyme will figure out something obscure from the collected evidence, and the police will dash to the rescue or a crisis will somehow be averted.

It's to Deavers credit that he can still keep suspense and intrigue up to a level that keeps you gripped. Rhyme and Sachs are as compelling as ever, and the subsidiary characters are stronger in this novel than ever before: Geneva Settle is particularly strong, a great character, she's an island of originality that supplies the heart of the book, and really is the thing which keeps this book absolutely above water.

Deaver fans will love this novel. A great story and a great piece of entertainment.

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