Setting and Mood is dark and gritty in Silent City

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Pete Fernandez is a mess. He’s on the brink of being fired from his middle-management newspaper job. His fiancée has up and left him. Now, after the sudden death of his father, he’s back in his hometown of Miami, slowly drinking himself into oblivion. But when a co-worker he barely knows asks Pete to locate a missing daughter, Pete finds himself dragged into a tale of murder, drugs, double-crosses and memories bursting from the black heart of the Miami underworld – and, shockingly, his father’s past. Making it up as he goes and stumbling as often as he succeeds, Pete’s surreptitious quest becomes the wake-up call he’s never wanted but has always needed – but one with deadly consequences. Welcome to Silent City, a story of redemption, broken friendships, lost loves and one man’s efforts to make peace with a long-buried past to save the lives of the few friends he has left.  (From Goodreads)

What I liked about this one is the setting and the overall mood of the book. It’s gritty, very noir, and it suits the plot. It shows the other side of Miami besides the beaches and the bustling city we are all familiar with. It’s great writing and really sets the tone throughout the story.

The plot was interesting if a little far fetched. So someone comes up to you and asks you to help find their daughter. Okay. Any other person would go straight to the police right? Although I suppose this is to show Pete’s ‘investigative’ reporter spidey senses and it piques his interest as he delves further into a downward spiral. So maybe that’s what got him going further. Now I understand (without providing any spoilers here) it gets a little more personal later but I expected maybe a little more from it. Perhaps because I’m used to other books where there’s more twists and turns, some more shocking moments, etc. This one just gets down to business and it’s pretty much cut and dry – which is fine for those that enjoy this type of story. However, there is plenty of action which does make the plot move forward.

Pete does take quite a beating in the book but I just could not really like him. He’s gone through a lot, true, but he’s just been on the pity party train and it got old and aggravating. However when he reached the point of no return and when there’s nothing to lose, something sparked in him and he managed to climb out of it (for a bit) but then you have to wonder if he’s going to go back into that void again. Meh.

The supporting characters weren’t that great or likable either. I’d suppose the only one that had something was Mike. Emily wasn’t that great and I found her an annoying pest. And Kathy. She was a piece of work and not that likable either.

I might keep going further into this series. Not sure yet. I did like reading this but at the same time I wanted more out of it. It was enough to get my attention but I really did like the mood and theme of the book. Perhaps I’ll give the second one a try and see how it goes.

I give it a 6 out of 10.  

 

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Where is Book three??? I need it..now!!!

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When a high-speed train from Milan draws into the station in Rome with a carriage full of dead bodies, Deputy Police Commissioner Colomba Caselli, a fierce detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe of her own, is called to lead the investigation. After receiving a message claiming responsibility for the killings and announcing more murders to come, officers turn their attention to a small group of Islamic extremists. But Dante Torre believes authorities are being misdirected. For him the Islamic link is a smokescreen concealing the actions of a killer who has been committing murders all over the world for years: a woman who calls herself Giltine, after the mythological Lithuanian goddess of death. After further carnage, Giltine’s murderous plans escalate to macabre heights, and only Dante and Colomba can stop her. (From Goodreads)

***Contains spoilers. You’ve been warned***

Oh lordy. Lordy lordy lordy. I don’t know what to say except, yes one more time. Lordy. I finished this book and screamed. And it’s a good reaction.

This book doesn’t disappoint. It sets the bar higher than the last one, Kill the Father. It would be best if you do read them in order as you do need the background information surrounding Dante. Plus, it does add more substance to the characters.

This one was definitely more action packed than previous. As it involves a great deal more victims and there’s definitely more layers to peel once the mystery starts to unravel and we get closer to Giltine. And it’s not yet over! There’s giant revelations at the end and you’re left with a heart stopping ending.

There are many twists and turns to go through in the book; old and new characters are mentioned, and of course Colomba is in a bind and goes through very hefty events and you marvel at her mental and emotional strength. Dante is likable in his own quirky way and both him and Colomba work so great as a team, even though they have their differences. There’s a more deeper level of understand between the two of them and there is a hint of a romance. I don’t see it myself as I’ve always seen Dante and Colomba more as a sibling like relationship. (I would have liked to see Dante and Brigitte together, they seemed like they could go along well!)

There’s some major blindsiding happening in the book, you realize Giltine is both victim and perpetrator. There’s still more to uncover in the mystery and by the time we do come to the conclusion it would be a massive atom bomb waiting to drop. However on a side note, I do enjoy how Dazieri brings in these references to various historical events (Chernobyl for one) and various conditions and illnesses to make you think and realize there’s actual conditions out there that exist and people do suffer from them. It makes the plot different and substantially prominent to make this book memorable.

The plot is very engaging and you’re pretty much on the edge in the last third of the book. The last few chapters really pack it in and they were one of the most exciting chapters I have ever read in a book so far. I’m still overwhelmed and blown away by the last page. Gah! I can’t wait for the next book!

Definitely recommended. The series is going to be one of the best I have read so far in my lifetime.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

Aristide Makricosta just steals it.

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Welcome to Amberlough City, the illustrious but corrupt cosmopolitan beacon of Gedda. The radical One State Party—nicknamed the Ospies—is gaining popular support to unite Gedda’s four municipal governments under an ironclad, socially conservative vision. Not everyone agrees with the Ospies’ philosophy, including master spy Cyril DePaul and his lover Aristide Makricosta, smuggler and emcee at the popular Bumble Bee Cabaret. When Cyril’s cover is blown on a mission, however, he must become a turncoat in exchange for his life. Returning to Amberlough under the Ospies’ watchful eye, Cyril enters a complex game of deception. One of his concerns is safeguarding Aristide, who refuses to let anyone—the crooked city police or the homophobic Ospies—dictate his life. Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, top dancer at the Bee and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other. (From Goodreads)

This was the type of book that when I finished it, I had to lie back down and just stare at the ceiling. It was mind blowing. There are layers of intrigue and you don’t watch it unfold, in fact it’s the opposite, you watch it form and develop as the story progresses.

The setting in this one is one of a lot of political instability. It’s explained in the earlier parts of the book. It’s a bit difficult to follow (notes may help some readers) perhaps a character list would help in this case to keep everything straight. A glossary would have helped as well as the characters have their own slang – most of it straight forward but it would help nevertheless. That being said despite these little shortcomings, the world is rich and detailed. Amberlough is decadent and has remnants of Weimar Berlin. Now I did say previously it’s hard to follow because of the slang, but it’s precisely because of this slang that makes the world more detailed and fun to read.

The pace of the plot is slow and steady as it sets up the stage for what would follow after. It is essentially, a spy novel, so it quickly leads to a lot of double dealing, moments of backstabbing and betrayal. There are only three characters that you really need to focus on as the supporting ones just add to the flavor of the novel. Of the three that are central to the plot, one must love Aristide.

With a name like Aristide Makicosta you know he’s going to be a character to remember. He’s flamboyant, street smart and clever. Despite the world burning around him he always manages to do everything in style. It’s hard not to fall for his charms and so you would understand Cyril’s love for him.  I still don’t know what to think about Cyril. He was doing the job and had to. It came at a great cost but he had no choice and he had to think for himself (although I know there seems to be a lot of hate for him).

I love Cordelia. She’s got sass, she’s just as street smart and a survivor. Her character development is on point in this book. Yes she may be just a ‘dancer’ but she soon develops into someone with a cause to defend the city she loves. Despite the horrors she goes through in the latter half of the novel, she doesn’t let it break her. It’s admirable and she’s likable not only because of her catchy personality but also because of her unstoppable strength.

That ENDING THOUGH. I felt my eyes grow wide each time I turned the pages throughout the last third of the novel. This was why I had to sit back and just absorb everything I’ve read when I finished this one. It was that good.

Greatly recommended if you like intrigue, a decadent setting, and memorable characters. I absolutely enjoyed this book.

I give it a 8 out of 10.  

Grisly murder scenes and Mind Fawkery

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Troubled San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart is planning a rare weekend away from the job when she gets the call. A body has been found. A woman, brutally murdered. And the cryptic note left by the body is addressed to Valerie. The victim is unknown to her, but as Valerie analyses the scene, the clues begin to point in a deeply disturbing direction: to a maximum security prison where a woman called Katherine Glass is awaiting execution for a series of gruesome killings. And Valerie was the cop who put her there. The last thing Valerie wants to do is re-enter Katherine’s twisted world, but when a second body is discovered, with another puzzling clue, she realises she has no choice. Katherine Glass holds the key to the killings, and Valerie needs to find out what she knows before the murders come even closer to home. Even if it means playing a deadly game where once again, the psychopathic killer holds all the cards. (From Goodreads)

This can be read as a stand alone if you come across this book although it’s highly encouraged to read the first one only because it’s just as good!

This time around, Valerie doesn’t get pummelled all over the place and you don’t cringe as much when she gets hit by something (whether it’s a bullet or a hit to the head). The plot held up to the same standards as the first; fast paced, filled with scenes of gratuitous violence and some sexual content here and there. This may not be for some readers as it does get graphic but I think without it, it would be hard to describe how heinous the crimes are.

Throughout the novel, Valerie has these tete a tetes with Katherine and they’re well written. You feel the tension between them and the mind games Katherine plays are subtle and sometimes even frustrating because she’s maddingly brilliant and manipulative. You’re running along with Valerie trying to catch this killer and you follow through the chase filled with puzzles and cryptic notes and gifts (none very nice gifts either…). The killer is brilliant and when you think he’s this one person, he ends up being someone you didn’t realize and it’s  mind blowing considering who this killer ends up kidnapping.

And just when you think everything’s done there’s more extra twists happening. This is what makes this novel so quick and fast to read. You’re deeply engrossed in the plot and in the chase to find this killer but you forget he most likely has a plan B and you’re blindsided again. This is what makes this book so good!!!!!! I loved every minute of it!!!

The only concern I have is, how much more can happen in this series before this starts getting repetitive. I love the way it’s going and I hope the series can stay fresh and exciting like it’s been so far. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next, given there’s a bit of a teaser at the very last page of the book.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

Ghost story and asylums? Awesome! Romance and Dragged out Ending? Boo!

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In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it? Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both. (From Goodreads)

Anything to do with a horror ghost theme and an asylum has to be good right? Well, yes and no. The book was somewhat enjoyable to read but it had its’ moments.

The plot itself was good. It  had the elements of a good gothic theme – not scary enough to make people read it in daytime (seriously?) but it had some good decent creep factor in it. It’s enough to set the mood and theme of the book but nothing to make the skin crawl. The element of mystery was also there and the ghost story aspect was good – nothing to blind side you – except perhaps for a little twist in the end (with where the ghost was and who was it manipulating etc etc). It’s pretty much a stable plot with all the main points closed (or is it? *queue creepy organ music*) so I’d have to say the gothic ghost story was what was in it for me.

Character wise. Kitty is likable. She’s resourceful, and a survivor from horrible abuse. Big applause for her for being strong and able to stand up and survive through various ordeals. Captain Mabry stood out for me because I enjoyed reading about his character. He seemed to be the strong stable silent type in the asylum where you have various patients with various issues (most were casualties of World War One) and there was a certain calmness about him that made him likable.

It’s pretty much obvious Kitty and Jack were to be together. The romance aspect in the book was all right. Necessary? I’m not sure perhaps. It’s not really for me. When their romance was more cemented was where the book was starting to take a slight turn downhill.

So near the ending when everything was revealed, all plot holes start to close. Sometimes, depending on the writing, you can stretch it out and make it interesting. Or you can make it drag. This one, unfortunately drags. We’re done with the ghosts, everything was answered, and the last 30 pages or so I just wanted the book to end. The romance of Kitty and Jack intensify and this is where intense eye rolling is also induced. Dear Lord, am I reading this just to see if there’s a scary twist at the end? Or am I wasting my time? Well sadly, I wasted my time. It was good to see what happened to characters like Mabry, and even Matron, but it just dragged way too much. Yeah okay we get it Kitty and Jack forever. Why do we need so many pages of this, am I suddenly reading a romance now?

Other than the ghost story in this book, the romance nearly killed it for me and a dragged out ending. Perhaps a nice twist in the ending would be nice. Or maybe skim the 30 pages and be done. I would say take it or leave it with this book. It was moderately enjoyable for me.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

Average Guy, not so Average London

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Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic. (From Goodreads)

I enjoyed reading this one as it featured a main character who wasn’t your typical anti-hero – which we seem to have a lot lately. I’m glad to see Peter was just your average good guy who’s doing his best to be a policeman until he comes across supernatural things in which his whole life changes.

Peter’s relationship with Nightingale is pretty much a mentor/student one. Nightingale has his own secrets though and a few are revealed but there’s more to him that you think – I hope there’s more information about him in the later books to come. There are other supporting characters; I do like Leslie because she’s got the wit (possible love interest, maybe) and she’s a perfect sidekick to Peter. Molly is another interesting character that I would love to know more about. Again this is the first book in the series so I’m hoping more character development will eventually come forth in later books.

The world building is pretty good and Peter does a good job also explaining how things are in London (I admit I had to google a couple of things as I didn’t know who or what Punch and Judy were) but it gives you information on the city and events that are common there to actually make you feel as if you are following Peter around as he tries to solve the case and becomes an apprentice.

The plot was well done and I liked how the different story arcs come together in the end into one large circle. It may seem confusing at first but once you have everything laid out and you know who is who everything comes to a close and it’s a great closing. It obviously leaves room for more books coming so one can look forward to what is next for Peter.

(The Riot scene though? Holyyyyy sheeeeeee what the……)

It’s a good read, those who are into urban fantasy mysteries will likely like this type of book. Looking forward to book two!

I give it a 7 out of 10.

The horror and thrill…oh but Stella smella….

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Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Only Stella came back. Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush – until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets. Stella believes remembering what happened to Jeanie will save her. It won’t. She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers ahead you have been warned***

What really got me turning the pages in this book was the horror and mystery aspect. It set the mood and the setting perfectly. It certainly gave you the necessary thrills and chills to keep you interested in the book. There’s some supernatural element to the story but as you progress into the finale well, answers will be revealed in time. 🙂

I loved the plot, the setting and the mood. There was no stalling. No dry bits. It was perfect flow throughout the book. This was so excellently written that I completely bypassed my extreme dislike for the characters. (Yes the plot was that good.)

So onto the characters. I just don’t like Stella. Not only is she particularly nasty to Sam, but her attitude and personality just stinks all around. She’s your typical mean girl (or should I say, the Queen Bee’s lackey?). I hated her treatment towards Sam, and Sam being your typical nice guy takes it like a doormat. Oh and he gets walked on not one, not twice but more than enough times to count. You know what this smells like? This smells like a dysfunctional relationship heading towards some horrible form of co-dependency. It’s horrible to read and if this is some sort of messed up way of redeeming Stella for all the things she’s done, I hardly think this qualifies.

True, Stella had a pretty traumatizing event happened to her. But I can’t sympathize with her behaviour. Zoey is just as bad and just as spiteful but one thing she had going for her was her extreme loyalty. I had to admit that was something you need in a best friend. Minus the Queen Bee behaviour of course.

This is one of the few books where I disliked the characters, but the plot just kept me reading. The elements of mystery was so well done that I enjoyed reading this one. I would recommend this one for the plot, but don’t expect to like the characters much. But thankfully they don’t make a negative impact on the plot at all.

I give it a 9 out of 10.