Post Script: The Hanging Judge – Michael Ponsor

A great court procedural with moral dilemmas .

The Hanging Judge

Michael Ponsor

Open Road Integrated Media

Open Road Media

ISBN: 9781480441903

 

Description:

Based on the experience of the author, a federal judge who in 2000 presided over the first capital case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, this extraordinary debut thriller offers an unprecedented inside view of a federal death penalty trial

When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse at a neighborhood clinic, the police arrest a black drug dealer. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so he can seek a death sentence.

The Honorable David S. Norcross, with only two years’ experience on the federal bench, now presides over the first death penalty case in the state in fifty years. Not only must he contend with an ambitious female prosecutor and a brilliant veteran defense attorney, but with citizens outraged at the senseless killing of a white, middle-class bystander; the media; anti–death penalty protesters; vengeful gang members; and the million things that can go wrong in a capital trial.

My View:

Great court procedural with moral dilemmas.

I really enjoyed this interesting and personal rendition of court room drama. The characters were well developed, important background info helped make sense of current situation and life in the court room was fully fledged without sounding preachy or educational – yet it was educational; for those who have never set foot in a court room there was plenty of detail to ensure the reader could make sense of the protocols, the laws, the behaviours of the judge, the jury, the lawyers and those on trial.

I  enjoyed the way the author set up the many moral dilemmas in this novel – would you lie to save the life of a person you loved? Would you provide information to protect those around you? Would you live a life based on half truths to protect and nurture the ones you love? Would you condemn someone to death? The moral and social issues presented in this novel certainly get the reader thinking. It is very clear that none of the dilemmas are simple or the verdicts easy to make. Life is complicated, that much is clear.

This was a very engaging and intriguing story – I was not convinced as to the guilt of the accused or to his innocence. I just didn’t know.

Post Script: Watching You – Michael Robotham

THE BEST CRIME /THRILLER READ OF 2013

Watching You (Joseph O'Loughlin, #7)

Michael Robotham

Watching You

Sphere

Little, Brown Book Group

Hatchette UK

ISBN: 9781847445278

Description:

Joe O’Loughlin is back with a pulse-stopping new case.

Marnie Logan often feels like she’s being watched. Nothing she can quite put her finger on — a whisper of breath on the back of her neck, or a shadow in the corner of her eye — and now her life is frozen. Her husband Daniel has been missing for more than a year. Depressed and increasingly desperate, she seeks the help of clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. Joe is concerned by Marnie’s reluctance to talk about the past, but then she discovers a book packed with pictures, interviews with friends, former teachers, old flames and workmates Daniel was preparing for Marnie’s birthday. It was supposed to be a celebration of her life. But it’s not the story anyone was expecting …

 

My View:

Undoubtedly the best crime/thriller read of 2013!

 

I have rediscovered my passion for reading thanks to this book.  Why haven’t I read any of your works before now Michael Robotham? How remiss of me I will certainly seek out your back titles.

 

This novel is a fantastic psychological thriller, it holds your attention in a vice like grip and doesn’t let go! You will be mesmerised by the words on the page, they seem effortless, the story flows and spills like a waterfall, showering you with intrigue and consternation, setting your heart racing. The plot twists and turns and launches your mind in many directions, there is no way you can anticipate the outcome. There is no way you can guess the secrets.

 

It is because of great writers like Michael Robotham that I read crime fiction.

 

I am drunk on the sheer pleasure of reading this book!

Post Script: Alex – Pierre Lemaitre

Brutal, shocking, mesmerising; but justice will be served. 

Alex, Pierre Lemaitre

Alex

Pierre Lemaitre

MacLehose Press

Quercus

ISBN: 9780857051875

 

Description:

In kidnapping cases, the first few hours are vital. After that, the chances of being found alive go from slim to none. Alex Prevost is running out of time. And her abductor wants only one thing: to watch her die. Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads, no hope. But as he begins to understand more about Alex, he starts to realise she is no ordinary victim. Beautiful, tough, resourceful, always two steps ahead – the enigma that is Alex will keep you guessing till the bitter, bitter end. Before long, saving her life will be the least of Verhoeven’s worries.

My View:

My attention was grabbed in the first pages – Lemaitre knows how to woo the reader, to entice and lure you into the story. First we are seduced with Alex’s innocence and her simple pleasures as she tries on wigs; the adult playing dress ups. At some point she thinks she that she might be being followed, she tries to shrug off this feeling, goes out to dinner then on her walk home WAM!   “A fist slams between her shoulder blades, leaving her breathless…the man grabs her hair…punches her in the stomach hard enough to stun a bull.” (p.7) The brutality is simultaneously captivating and revolting…you cannot help but want to read more.

A kidnapping begins this impressive mystery. We sense the fear; feel the drama, and anticipate what is to come. We know and the victim knows it will not be pleasant.  We have been successfully baited, lured and hooked by Lemaitre. What a great piece of writing and we are only seven pages into the novel!

From this point on we are spun around, confused and conflicted by the revelations that follow.  Toss the coin, is Alex victim or perpetrator? Can she be both?

This is an amazing novel that captivates and spins a twisted tale of deception, of past sins and retribution and finally of justice. “Oh the truth, the truth…Who’s to say what’s true and what isn’t. Commandant? As far as we’re concerned what’s important is not truth, it’s justice – right?” (p354) And justice it is indeed!

PS

A great translation by Frank Wynne – the words flowed easily and fluidly.

Post Script: Solo – A James Bond Novel – William Boyd

Action and thrills aplenty.

Solo, William Boyd

Solo – A James Bond Novel

William Boyd

Jonathan Cape

Random House

ISBN: 9780224097482

 

Description:

It’s 1969, and, having just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday, James Bond—British special agent 007—is summoned to headquarters to receive an unusual assignment. Zanzarim, a troubled West African nation, is being ravaged by a bitter civil war, and M directs Bond to quash the rebels threatening the established regime.

Bond’s arrival in Africa marks the start of a feverish mission to discover the forces behind this brutal war—and he soon realizes the situation is far from straightforward. Piece by piece, Bond uncovers the real cause of the violence in Zanzarim, revealing a twisting conspiracy that extends further than he ever imagined.

Moving from rebel battlefields in West Africa to the closed doors of intelligence offices in London and Washington, this novel is at once a gripping thriller, a tensely plotted story full of memorable characters and breathtaking twists, and a masterful study of power and how it is wielded—a brilliant addition to the James Bond canon.

My View:

This is a well written thriller with an intriguing narrative and plenty of action, politics, plot twists and turns. I think it is important to remember whilst reading this that Boyd’s voice is constrained by the existing patterns and templates of the previous James Bond novels – he is stylistically obligated to keep to the existing pathways and negotiates this quite well. It must be very difficult for a writer, even for such a talented one as Boyd to follow someone else’s schemata and stick to known traits, characterisations and plots.

Although this book is set in 1969 the politics of oil are just as relevant today and with a few changes to contemporary fashion and media this could be a book set in the now. I found this point very interesting; broadly speaking the world is still focussed on oil rights and power this resource generates as evident in this novel.

This novel is intriguing, exciting and fast paced. Bond is the classic hero – smart, attractive, resilient, is able to make quick decisions and is able to make the best out of the worst situations.   In this novel I feel he shows more of his humanness, his flaws – his reflections on his time as a commando in the Second World War, his reactions to the sadistic behaviours displayed by the opposition, his anger and subsequent reactions to one of the significant characters death… his protectiveness towards his housekeeper…all make Bond a better man. However there is one character trait that made me feel very uncomfortable – his overt sexuality, his attitude towards the women in this book are deplorable, Bond’s first impressions of the women he meets are as potential sexual partners –   but I realise this is just another “pattern” that Boyd is forced to work with, this overt sexuality is a Bond trademark, a pity Bond hasn’t been allowed to grow out of this. Oh well it must please the diehard fans but not me.

In all this is a great mystery/thriller.

Post Script: The Gingerbread House -Carin Gerhardsen

The Gingerbread House

Carin Gerhardsen

Penguin Books Australia

Penguin

ISBN: 9781405917179

 

Description:

Ingrid Olsson returns home from a Stockholm hospital to discover a man in her kitchen. She’s never seen the intruder before. But he’s no threat – he’s dead.

Criminal Investigator Conny Sjöberg takes the call, abandoning his wife Åsa and their five children for the night. His team identify the body as that of a middle-aged family man. But why was he there? And who bludgeoned him to death?

Lacking suspect and motive, Sjoberg’s team struggle until they link the case to another – apparently random – killing. And discover they face a serial killer on a terrible vendetta . . .

My View:

Simply stunning – I am impressed with the clever way this multiple view point narrative weaves multiple murders and a sub plot together so deftly and intriguingly; it is a classic example of Scandinavian noir.  Gerhardsen tackles many contemporary social issues in this page turning, easy to read  crime novel; bullying, racism, sexual assault, date rape, war…so much to consider yet the writer does not assault you with the issues, with her moral code, the issues are deftly and intricately woven into the thread of the story and become integral to the story, the reader is left to quietly ponder as their conscience is pricked by the authors words.

This is a remarkable crime read; it has powerful yet quiet voice. I can’t wait for more of Carin Gerhardsen’s books to be translated.

Post Script: The Sad Man ( a short story) – P D Viner

The Sad Man (Short Story): A Dani Lancing Story

The Sad Man

A Dani Lancing Story

P D Viner

 Ebury Digital

ISBN: 9781473501362

 

Description:

Police officer Tom Bevans is nicknamed the Sad Man by his colleagues. As a Family Liaison Officer he is always the bearer of bad news – it is his job to tell the friends and family of victims the fate of their loved ones.

But Tom is weighted down by crimes both old and new – haunted by the death of his best friend Dani, whose murder has never been solved.

When a rare opportunity emerges for Tom to take the lead in a horrific murder investigation, he is determined to get justice for the victim. A young girl has been found in her own home, cut so badly – and so carefully – that she has bled to death, leaving a deliberate pool of blood in the shape of angel wings….

PD Viner says in his blog http://pdviner.com/the-sad-man/ :

The story of writing The Sad Man.

In writing my debut novel: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, I did what all enthusiastic first-time writers do… I created an enormous back-story for my central characters, With crime journalist Patty Lancing – I plotted her career trajectory and the two books that made her. The first was a series of interviews with the wives of serial killers, and the second was the case that made her news… In 1976 she hunted down a killer and saved a family. She wrote a book based on the case: The Ugly Man. (That story will be available as a free download novella early in 2014). And with Detective Superintendent Tom Bevans, I sketched out the case that made his career and allowed him to set up the specialist unit Operation Ares. His team who investigate sexually aggravated murder of multiple victims.

When I sold the novel I told my editor, Gillian Green at Ebury, that I had these ideas for novellas (about 110 pages each) and she loved the idea. I thought I would write them some time in the future but she wanted them NOW. So I sat down and wrote them (before I could start on my second novel) and the first of them is available as a free download from all good ebook stockists. The Sad Man.

My View:

I loved the novel The Last Winter of Dani Lancing and so found this prequel thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying but sadly I felt it only hinted at the mastery the first full length novel exudes. However if you spare a minute to listen to the audio clip so wonderfully interpreted by Steven Elder you feel  both books come to life – you feel Tom Bevans come to life!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoaMRA7A7IA

The audio audio clip is a taster… it stars Steven Elder who plays Tom Bevans in the full-cast, unabridged audio book of The Last Winter of Dani Lancing.

Fantastic!!!

Post Script: The Sacrifice – Peg Brantley

The Sacrifice

Peg Brantley

Bark Publishing, LLC

ISBN: 9780985363857

 

Description:

Former lawman Mex Anderson is trying to cope with the horrific murders of his family as best he can. Moving from his small, Mexican town to the snowy mountains of Colorado has helped, however it seems nothing can ever take away the gut-wrenching pain of his loss. When the head of the drug cartel responsible for the killings approaches him with an offer that would reveal the individuals behind the murders, it might lead to the one thing that would allow Mex to heal: revenge.

The Sacrifice: a novel of guilt and redemption that proves there is always hope for tomorrow even in the midst of unconscionable evil.

My View:

Lies, secrets and a reveal you won’t see coming!

Another outstanding read by author Peg Brantley; I am really pleased I discovered The Missings (and earlier book); it introduced me to this author who writes a captivating narrative intricately woven around fully developed characters. This story had kidnapping, voodoo, opportunities for revenge, a big twist in the end and the hint of a potential romance; it had all I needed in a good read.

I didn’t like the cover.