Hanover Square Press | 2021
Filed Under: Hello, Clarice…
I haven’t read a police procedural this pure and detailed since Meg Gardiner’s last release. And y’all know how much I love Meg Gardiner. And if you didn’t, now you do because I just said it again.
If you are a fan of serial killers… wait, I don’t mean like a fan fan. That’s just weird. Get better idols, as Bailey Sarian would say. No, I mean if you are a fan of serial killer fiction – of the mystery and the pursuit and the suspense and the twisted games – then you want to read this novel.
It is a fucking fabulous police procedural. And I don’t say shit like that very often.
You want gritty? You got it. You want fucked up? It’s coming in hot. You need detailed and immersive? Buckle your seatbelt and keep your hands in the ride at all times.
But listen to what I’m saying, this is a procedural. If you do not like being in the narrative passenger seat of a police investigation, this probably isn’t going to be for you. And that’s totally legit. Why? Because all of this shit is subjective, Donna! It’s okay that we don’t all like the same things! That’s life.
Let’s get that through our collective skulls, shall we? But I digress…
This is not a thriller. This is an investigation. And in my opinion, novels that pull off a really good procedural plot with this much perfection are few and far between. And it’s a debut novel? Fucking insanity.
Continue reading “Review: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley, #1) by Nadine Matheson”
Thomas & Mercer | 2019
Filed Under: Déjà vu
Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.
This is mostly an author issue. The being, you think you’re writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but objectively you’re not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.
I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.
Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!
Continue reading “Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman”
Minotaur Books | 2020
Filed Under: STEM stands for Soon They’ll End up Murdered
Not that it matters in the long run, but I wish this had a single-word title. The first novel is Caged, the second is Buried. And the third one, Cut to the Bone, is fucking up the title flow for me. But whatever, I’m weird so shit like this bothers me. I’ll talk to my therapist about it.
Then again, sticking too closely to a title gimmick can become fucking stupid. Just look at literally any series by James Patterson. At this point, most of his titles don’t even make sense to the plot.
But enough about my arch-nemesis…
What really matters here is that Ellison Cooper is getting better and better at producing quality thriller stories with each new novel. Cut to the Bone is non-stop action from the very first chapter, and while some moments got a little too extra for me – things I won’t mention because of spoilers – overall this was an intelligent and intricately plotted novel that should be on every thriller fan’s TBR. I would, however, suggest reading the whole series from the beginning because I feel Cooper’s strongest attribute as a writer are character arcs which evolve with each new novel. She really knows how to keep a long-game plot rolling.
Continue reading “Review: Cut to the Bone (Agent Sayer Altair, #3) by Ellison Cooper”
“Being psycho doesn’t make you bad, being bad makes you bad. Being a psycho and bad makes you dangerous.”
Bloodhound Books | 2018
Filed Under: Face/Off without Nic Cage.
If you’re the kind of person who just can’t resist a UK crime procedural with a damaged main character and a twisted killer who masturbates a lot (like a lot,) then this is the book for you, you fucking weirdo.
Lucky for me, I’m a weirdo too, so I was totally into this first instalment in the Rosalind Kray series.
Rosalind is everything you want to be – drunk and eating junk food.
She’s also a single mother since her husband was murdered. Rosalind carries around survivor’s guilt by the butt-load, uses alcohol just to sleep, uses casual sex with her partner to numb the pain and investigates murder as a distraction.
So, you know, everything you don’t want to be.
Continue reading “Review: Faceless (DI Rosalind Kray, #1) by Rob Ashman”
St. Martin’s Press | 2019
Filed Under: What it lacks in thrills, it tries to make up for in oral sex.
First things first, if you’ve never read Saul Black before (aka Glen Duncan) do not get to know him by reading this book. I would suggest reading the very first Valerie Hart novel, The Killing Lessons, and if the style works for you, then you’ve got a new thriller series to read!
I say this because Saul Black is a graphic and gritty author with dark plot points and character arcs that flow from book to book. It’s important to understand the whole character and how he writes the plot around that character, to know whether or not his writing works for you. But it works as a standalone as well, if you’re okay with missing some character building.
There’s also a lot of descriptive sex and violence. So…..
Those of us with more delicate sensibilities would call Black crude or vulgar, and it will knock you off balance if that’s not the kind of writing you are expecting or like. The rest of us will be into his writing style because it’s honest and visceral, and we like gross shit.
Continue reading “Review: Anything For You (Valerie Hart, #3) by Saul Black”
Hanover Square Press | 2020
Filed Under: Don’t bring Bitcoin into this.
If you read my review for Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, then you may recall that I am 100% a Melinek fangirl. This woman is amazeballs. I love everything about her.
Where before she recounted her real-life experiences as a medical examiner in NYC (during 9/11 no less,) in her non-fiction work, First Cut is a work of fiction that focuses on a new medical examiner in San Francisco, Jessie Teska.
Considering that this is a debut work of fiction, it’s top-notch.
If you love procedurals that rely on the science and forensic side of investigation than this is going to be a must-read. It might feel a little bogged down in medical details to the casual reader, however.
Melinek uses all of her real-life experience as a medical examiner to bring Teska’s job to life. Honestly, it’s so authentic I could probably dissect a dead body at this point. And I definitely wouldn’t forget what jar and drawer tissue specimens were meant to go in.
Considering we’re in a current moment in time where we’re talking about defunding police, I’m pretty convinced after reading Melinek’s work that medical examiners could probably solve murders a hell of a lot better than most cops.
Continue reading “Review: First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1) by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell”
Ballantine Books | 2018
Filed Under: Main characters that definitely used to be frat bros
I forgot there is a reason I haven’t read Kellerman in a long time. His writing doesn’t work for me. I find it formulaic and boring as hell. I know that’s sacrilegious for Alex Delaware fans, but whatever. I am who I am. You can’t change me!
Crime Scene was so boring to me that I read this book like a month ago and completely whiffed on writing a review. It just slipped from my mind, uneventful and easy to forget. It doesn’t really seem to me that anything happened in this book.
You have Clay Edison, a death investigator – or something – for the coroner’s office, who gets caught up in the death of a man who very clearly seems to have died of natural causes. But because Edison fucks the dead guy’s daughter, he becomes borderline obsessed with the idea that there is something more sinister that took place.
I mean, of course, he’s right about the sinister bad stuff (otherwise there would be no book,) but the fact that it took penis-in-vagina to get his interest piqued and the plot moving, had my eyes rolling so far back into my head that I think I sprained an optic muscle.
Continue reading “Review: Crime Scene (Clay Edison, #1) by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman”
Little, Brown & Company | 2018
Filed Under: Don’t write down plans for the murder you’re going to commit
I’ve gone and done it again *said in Kevin Spacey John Doe voice* (if you don’t understand that reference, please leave, watch Se7en and then come back.)
Alright?! OKAY? I admit it! That makes it twice this year I’ve broken my New Year’s resolution to not read any Patterson at all.
I’m weak! I have issues. I need a 12-step program for letting shit go; for being okay with not knowing. It’s really my worst quality as a human being. My mental health agrees.
But whatever. It’s done. I read it. So, here’s the review.
CONTENT! *does jazz hands*
While I didn’t necessarily think this book was anything amazing, I have to say, I can see Candice Fox all over the writing in this book and that makes it infinitely better than most Patterson publications. The chapters are still short, the content shallow and a lot of moments are overly dramatic, but the actual prose felt more mature, unlike what I’d typically classify Patterson writing as. Read: juvenile.
Continue reading “Review: Fifty Fifty (Detective Harriet Blue, #2) by James Patterson & Candice Fox”
Little, Brown & Company | 2019
Filed Under: Lindsay’s gonna Lindsay.
Let’s get this straight, Patterson and I broke up a long time ago. But just like every toxic relationship cycle, sometimes I go back to him.
Specifically, I go back when a new Women’s Murder Club instalment is released. I’ve been reading this series since the first book was published in 2001. I was fifteen, and at that time, I thought Patterson was the epitome of great crime fiction. It took me into my 20s, with exposure to crime fiction that was legitimately good, to realize that Patterson isn’t a very good writer, he’s just prolific. And I, like a lot of people, confused “popular” with being talented.
That’s not to say people don’t genuinely enjoy his work. Obviously they do, but objectively it’s pretty bad.
Now, I don’t care if you’re the biggest Patterson fan around, I’m not interested in a debate. Go read his work and write glowing reviews for him to your heart’s content. It affects me zero percent. But my opinion is that he’s a terrible writer. TERRIBLE. But remember, it’s only one opinion. I am not the final say in the matter. So don’t fucking @ me about it.
Every year I make a resolution to not read any Patterson, and every year I break that resolution at least once. This is my one for 2019.
But let’s face it, when it comes to a quick book to help you achieve a yearly reading goal, Patterson makes it so easy it almost feels like cheating.
Continue reading “Review: The 18th Abduction (Women’s Murder Club, #18) by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro”
Minotaur Books | 2019
Filed Under: Skeletons as a crash pad.
I read Caged last year, the first in this series featuring FBI agent/neuroscientist Sayer Altair, and my review basically came down to two things.
One: the twists were uninspired. While they did exist, it was the same thing over and over again and it became predictable and monotonous.
And two: the lead character of Agent Altair was boring AF. I’m sorry, but girl has the personality of a cardboard cutout.
For the second instalment in the series, I’m happy to say the author definitely fixed the first issue and clearly tried to make some headway with the second. That’s why this book gets half a star more than its predecessor.
That’s just the kind of generous reviewer I am.
Continue reading “Review: Buried (Agent Sayer Altair, #2) by Ellison Cooper”