Review: Wolinski ~ Ed Morawski

wolinskiThe End Justifies the Means. This is the code Wolinski has followed for over a decade as he operates in the shadows between law enforcement and vigilante, cleaning up his city at the mayor’s behest by executing criminals—a job complicated by the bridge which connects his city with the lawless one across the river.

When the mayor is killed mysteriously and a new one takes over, Wolinski’s methods are no longer tolerated and he finds himself out of a job.

But then a serial killer with unique tastes begins preying on women and racking up more homicides in a month then in the past years, and the new mayor must turn to Wolinski, the only man who can hunt down the monster. The trouble is Wolinski’s past actions have come back to haunt him and he finds himself boxed in on all sides by his own police department, the new mayor, the FBI, and even the Mob.

What’s a Pollack bull in a china shop to do?  Why break things of course…

3 Thumbs-UpThis tough and gritty crime thriller is definitely a book for adults only, full of violence and savagery it will keep the reader turning its pages until the end.

The main protagonist is a man who appears to have no heart, no morals and is entirely comfortable with doing whatever it takes to get a job done.  These would seem to be great traits in certain circumstances, but when the reader discovers the occupation of the main character it actually leaves a feeling of discomfort with them, that follows them throughout the book; but this is not a discomfort born out of wanting to know how this man is allowed to do what he does, but out of knowing that, at times, we need people just like him to keep things under control.  I actually liked the main character immensely, and found it a refreshing change to read of someone in this type of novel that was not bound by the ‘normal’ constraints and truly believed that the ends definitely justified the means.  Some readers may find this too much to handle, and set the book aside purely because of their dislike of him; just keep reading to the end I promise you won’t be disappointed.

As much as I enjoyed this fast paced read, the reason for my three thumbs rating is the constant shifting between the first and third person narratives, as well as the tense shifts from past to present.  When these occurred it seemed not only unnecessary but also injected a definite distraction from the rest of the novel which is either narrated or described from the point of view of the main character.  I had a feeling, in one of these particular instances, that the Author had done this as it was expected when writing this particular genre of novel; I say they should have stuck with the break in convention they had already started with the main character, and done their own thing which, aside from these departures from the plot worked really well.  This novel is not hard boiled crime and gruesome detail, the Author takes the time to inject a small portion of romance and humour into the book towards the end; an end which is not tied up in a neat and pretty bow, but left wide open and heralding a possible sequel to the ‘Wolinski’ story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to all who enjoy and gritty crime thriller, however, those with a weak stomach may need to either give it a miss or have a bowl on hand.

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Review: Hindsight ~ Owen Banner

Hindsight“I am hurtling eight stories to the pavement. There’s a bullet in my left shoulder and another chewing through my lung. I am going to die.” – Shirley O’Shea

When Shirley got out of prison three years ago, he committed himself to being there for his sister, Haley, and his aunt, Winnie–the only family he has left. Then he met Isaac, a man with connections to his grandfather and to the IRA. Isaac said he owed Shirley’s family a favor: deliver a package and get some money. But things are never that simple, are they? What should have been an easy drop-off blows Shirley’s world apart. Now he’s on the run, a continent away from those he loves, trying to figure out what he’s gotten himself into, who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in order to keep his family safe.

But Shirley has a few skeletons of his own banging on the closet doors, and the hinges are starting to come off.

4 Thumbs-UpThis is a debut novel from this Author, and I have to warn those readers who don’t approve of ‘rough’ language in their books; this one is full of it.

With that said, and still keeping on the subject of the language of the book, it isn’t there just because it can be, the Author uses it to reflect the language used by some of the characters in the book; and it actually adds to their development and makes them more realistic to the reader.  The main protagonist is one most people can relate to; he’s a bit of a ‘lad’ to use an English term, but he is lovable and likeable.  The Author has taken care with his characters to give them good backstories and then continue to develop them throughout the novel.  They are humourous and unerringly human, full of all the quirks and flaws that make a great character.

The plot in this novel is both well structured and fast paced, but written in such a manner it is almost impossible to review it without including a myriad of spoilers; so I am not even going to try.  The book is full of double cross and rough and ready action all of which take place without the novel missing a bit or slowing down.  Surprisingly for a novel in this genre it is more importantly unpredictable in its twists and turns, and this kept me turning the pages until I finished the book.

I would highly recommend this book to readers who are looking for something a little different and off the beaten track in the crime fiction arena.

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Review: The House in Banes Meadow (Volume 2) – Jessie Cox

Banes MeadowIn Cherokee and Creek legend, long ago a Shaman sought immortality. After much Medicine and Ceremony, the Creator granted her wish. But as nothing, except Creator is without flaw, the Shaman could only be killed by a knife or an arrow piercing her open eye and she was cursed to drink human blood for eternity. Legend tells that she was killed by a cunning Creek warrior. But if that is true then how has she returned to plague the area around the town of Bristow, Oklahoma and the Creek Reservation? More importantly who can kill her? Deputy Ray Corngrower and John Littlefeather and a host of others join forces to combat this ancient evil.

3 Thumbs-UpThis is the second book in the Ray Corngrower series and, after reading this I am divided as to whether or not I want to go back and read the first.  This is not because it was a bad book, I actually enjoyed this immensely; it’s because there were a few things in it that I felt let it down and I don’t want to visit the debut book in case there is more of this in its pages.  This may not make sense now, but hopefully by the end of the review it will become clear.

The main protagonist in this book is a Native American and I was really looking forward to reading his back story and getting a deep insight into his motivation and personality; unfortunately this was not to be.  Like most of the characters in this novel, he was sorely under-developed and, what could have been a truly amazing character felt, at times, like he was fading in and out of the book to the point where he was barely there in some places.  I so wanted to be able to like this character and possibly empathize with him, but the lack of ‘fleshing out’ just made this an impossible task.  I truly feel that if more time had been invested into his back story, he would have become an amazing and utterly fascinating main character.  This is where part of me is tempted to read more of this series, as I am intrigued to find out whether the characters are developed more as it progresses; it is also the reason I don’t want to back track and read the first book as if this is the depth of character development in the second book, I worry if there will be any at all in the first.

The book has incredible potential to be so much more, as it is unique in the way it successfully brings together modern-day life and Native American culture.  It is also unique in the fact that it brings together subjects that would make this book appeal to a wide range of readers.  There is mystery, suspense that had me on the edge of my chair in some places, history and myth, so it touches all bases there.  Although the writing is a little sloppy in some places, it is not enough to be distracting but, this is one of those books that could really have used a good editor with a firm hand to clean it up a little.  I may read others further along in the series as they become available, as I’m interested to see if the writing style and characters develop as the Author hits their stride.

I would recommend this book to anyone readers that are interested in Native American culture or have a Native American as a main character, also those who enjoy mystery and suspense novels may find this an enjoyable little read.

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Review: Poisoned Waters ~ Ermisenda Alvarez

Book-Cover-Poisoned-WatersHelen Gardener is murdered on a trans-Atlantic cruise. The Diamond Royale sails from Southampton to New York with her murderer aboard. Set in the 1950s, Poisoned Waters follows the stories of seven unfortunate characters and how they are affected by her death. Was it merely an accident? Mr Phillips, the owner of the ship, and sponsor of the cruise, rules with an iron fist, in search of something or someone.

Lies spiral out of control as the suspects try to survive the final days on board. Conflicted by their sense of morals, greed, and lust, they realise what kind of people they really are. Who will rise? Who will fall? Who was Helen’s murderer

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The characters in this book are written in such a way as to make them become more realistic and this compels the reader want to find out more about them; however,  as their true emotions and personal agendas surface  you find yourself shying away from them.  In developing the characters in this manner, the Author has provided an additional dimension to this book, and turns it into something more than a murder mystery, it is this extra aspect that will keep you wanting to read on.  The use of some of the characters native languages really contributed to the overall makeup of them, and helped them become more alive.  There is a great deal of character swapping in this book, but not enough that the reader would become confused and lose track of what was going on.

Set on a 1950’s cruise ship, the Author takes us there with ease, managing to instil the feelings of an era that was still reeling from the horrors of war.  Skillfully the Author manages to bring out the rules, prejudices and class society boundaries that were prevalent at this time, without sounding preachy or judgemental about some of the points of view expressed,  Obviously a lot of research in the 1950’s, and the cruise lines in particular, was carried out when writing this novel and it shows in the descriptions of the ship. However this novel is about more than murder and the mystery that surrounds it; it is about the dark, unspoken side of human nature, and the questioning of that nature when temptation rears its ugly head.  Like many of the readers of this novel, I like to have faith in humanity, but know deep down that it is flawed in an irreparable way; the Author is well aware of this too, and manages to convey this through their writing.

The fun part of reading this book for me was the impression I got that I was reading a round of the board game Cluedo (Clue).  Just when I thought I had figured it all out and was about to make my call, there came a twist that had me wondering all over again.  This is a nicely paced little book, with lots of these twists and turns that brings you to a very surprising conclusion.

I would recommend it to all lovers of the mystery/murder/thriller genre, and even lovers of the board game might find this an enjoyable read.

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This post has been part of the Poisoned Waters Blog Tour. Poisoned Waters is a thrilling mystery set on a trans-Atlantic cruise where a murderer walks amongst passengers.

 

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