March 2006 Same Vein


Priest by Ken Bruen
Random House

Ireland is no longer the land of saints and scholars. Now, in an era of prosperity, the sexual scandals surrounding the church have caused its people to lose faith in the one institution that seemed invulnerable. But the decapitation of Father Joyce in a Galway church brings a gasp to the most hardened cynics.

But not to Jack Taylor. Emotionally bruised, battered, and still struggling with the demon drink, he's back in town, trying to get his life on course after the traumatic trauma of personal loss. And it seems that Jack has a
job: he's been asked to investigate the murder of Fr Joyce, but to proceed with caution and discretion; no further scandals must destabilize the Roman Catholic Church. Discretion is not a word Jack understands however, especially when the dead priest has a long history of abusing small boys, and is responsible for a terrible crime

Bruen provides us with a dark, horrifying tale that is the best we've read in a long time. Bleak, unsettling and totally original, painted on a brooding landscape of Irish society at a time of social and economic upheaval, this novel stays with you after the final pages, and keeps you thinking... Highly recommended.

Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler

Penguin Books

The creator of the bestselling NUMA and Dirk Pitt series is back with his latest and newest high seas action hero: the enigmatic captain of the Oregon, Juan Cabrillo.

Only Cabrillo could convert the interior of a nondescript lumber hauler into a state of the art spy ship - and only he could take the helm on the dangerous covert missions it carries out for whatever U.S. agency pays the price.

In his first feature length adventure, it's up to Cabrillo and his crew of expert intelligence and naval men to put Tibet back in the hands of the Dalai Lama by striking a deal with the Russians and the Chinese. His gambling chip is a golden Buddha containing records of vast oil reserves in the disputed land. But first, he'll have to locate - and steal - the all-important artifact. And there are certain people who would do anything in their power to see him fail.

While Cabrillo is a new character, and time is needed for him to grow on readers, his characterisation is somewhat lacking in this adventure. There's no doubt Pitt is Cussler's greatest creation, and we're not sure if Cabrillo will measure up. Still, Cussler fans should enjoy the read, but new readers should head to Pitt instead. A fun tale, if a bit light-weight.

Hour Game by David Baldacci

Pan Macmillan

Two disgraced former Secret Service officers team up to solve a series of copy-cat crimes in this new thriller from Baldacci. Sean King was momentarily distracted when a presidential candidate he'd been guarding was assassinated a few feet from where he stood, and Michelle Maxwell left the Service under a similar cloud when she lost a "protectee" to an ingenious kidnapping scheme, events already told in Baldacci's previous Split Second.

Now, they're partners in a private investigation firm in a small Virginia town, and are hired to investigate a burglary at the home of a wealthy local family. But even before the chief suspect in the break-in meets his death in a gruesome slaying reminiscent of a serial killer long since caught and punished, King and Maxwell get caught up in a string of other murders, each of which copies the techniques of another madman, from San Francisco's Zodiac Killer to Chicago's infamous John Wayne Gacy.

While the two protagonists aren't especially complex or well-developed, the action never stops, and Baldacci's trademark pacing keeps the reader turning pages until the denouement, which just isn't quite as satisfying as the rest of the novel. Still a good read, though.

Deep Black: Dark Zone by Stephen Coonts

Allen & Unwin

Deep Black, a section of the NSA, works mostly with communications; the agency spies through satellites and other devices that are so technologically advanced that their operatives are rarely placed in danger.
Retired French agent Denis LaFoote informs former marine sniper and Deep Black operative Charlie Dean that his friend Mr. Vefoures is missing and that he was going to work an assignment for his former master.

Vefoures built an explosive more powerful than anything in use today. The Americans know that a French warhead is missing also, but remain unaware that the lost man and bomb are part of a plot designed by the Arab terrorist Mussa Duoar to blow up the Chunnel and cause a series of devastating shock waves to destroy coastal England and France. Deep Black is putting the pieces of the puzzle together into a cohesive plot, but time is running out to prevent this calamity from happening.

Stephen Coonts is the king of techno-thrillers, and if you can keep your head above the techno-babble, you'll enjoy an action-packed tale with a host of heroes who just feel they are doing their job and some sly vile villains who have no compunctions about killing the innocent. Chilling, over the top, yet riveting entertainment.


For The Death of Me by Quintin Jardine

Hodder Headline

It's summertime in Monaco and Oz Blackstone is sitting on the verandah of his opulent mansion - one of three homes - idly gazing at Roman Abramovich's luxury yacht as it gently cruises into the harbour. Life doesn't get much better than this. But somebody knows where he lives. A struggling author sweet talks him into buying the movie rights to his latest novel for $50,000, and a disturbing trap is laid. The demons of the past begin to creep up on Oz's sunny life: blackmail and murder are lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce. Oz travels all the way to Singapore to track down the owner of some incriminating photographs but he's in grave danger of over-exposure. And when organised crime muscles in on the picture, Oz is getting perilously close to losing a lot more than his wealth and reputation.

Jardine throws everything at the reader in this very enjoyable thriller. Oz is an intriguing character, and the plot churns at a fast rate, heading towards a climax where some surprises are revealed. Fast and Fun.

The Druperman Tapes by John Goodger

Leisure Books

In Las Vegas, grumpy Galaxy Hotel and Casino CEO Emmett Druperman has had enough of minor irritants. Pickets were reducing the drop in leisurely casino players who detested stepping past the "ants" picketing his facility.
The agent of his entertainer wants more money or he will cancel in spite of a half million ad campaign. And to make things worse, Emmett receives a plain envelope addressed to him as the head of LVCA (Las Vegas Casino
Association) containing videotapes and demanding $10 million or else.

Realizing he has real trouble, Emmett hands everything over to his Vice President of Security, Steve Forrester, who takes the threat seriously. They think of possible blackmail leads, such as strip con artists Dan Shiller and Jurgen Voss, but Steve cannot picture either doing what happened on the tape... the poisoning of a guest. Knowing that the culprit is most likely a casino insider, Steve needs to figure out who would be bold enough to risk murder as opposed to card game scams. And he needs to work it out quickly, before time runs out.

THE DRUPERMAN TAPES is an enjoyable investigative tale that showcases Las Vegas glitz from the perspective of those who keep the casinos safe. The cast is powerful as all the key players seem genuine and a subplot involving a romance makes former cop Steve seem that much more real and not just Mr Security. Though the cat and mouse game never quite takes the audience over the edge, John Goodger deals an entertaining hand.

Grammar Desk Reference by Gary Lutz & Diane Stevenson

Capricorn Link

The Grammar Desk Reference is not really a book to be read from cover to cover, but if you are a writer working on an essay or novel and want to quickly find out if you need a comma, hyphen, semi-colon and so forth, then this book will help.

The Grammar Desk Reference is just what it says. It was written explicitly to be used during the proofreading process. Once you find information on your current concern you may be tempted to keep reading for a bit to get full information on how it should be used. The information is easier to find here than in a normal grammar guide... and presented in a much more entertaining way.

A quick and easy-to-use reference no writer should be without.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley

Capricorn Link

The 3 A.M. Epiphany encourages writers to push the boundaries of their fiction to achieve exciting results. Rather than featuring standard rules, this guide looks at writing exercises from a different angle, taking writers out of their usual comfort zone. It shares unusual exercises that help writers "think away" from anxieties, allowing creative ideas to emerge.
Helps examine the work of writing with thought processes behind the work, helping writers break out of limited writing processes and moulds. Fiction writer concerns are also addressed, whether they are going it alone or enrolled in a workshop, having difficulty getting started or suffering from a block.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany is a neat little companion that gives writers the exercises they need to make creative breakthroughs. Highly recommended.

Return Home