Category: Book Reviews

Fear Nothing

Fear Nothing

Review by Travis Starnes Fear Nothing is the 7th book in the D.D. Warren series and follows her on the track of a gruesome serial killer and recovery from an excruciating injury.  As seems to be the trend lately this is a book in the middle of a series that I am coming into cold.  Luckily this is another one that works without having read the previous adventures of Detective Warren. As characters go Gardner’s seem fairly aggressive, which isn’t unusual for detective style mysteries, but it does make them a lot less likable.  It is hard to tell if this is an offshoot of the story, seeing as how a character sidelined because of a debilitating and extremely painful injury would indeed be very angry and aggressive, or if this is just her way of writing characters.  Regardless the continuing characters get enough of an introduction to be fully… Read more »

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Hive Monkey

Hive Monkey

Review by Travis Starnes With Zeppelins, a gun touting monkey, some cross dimensional hygienic, Neanderthal assassins, and a cult made of hive-mind connected creeps, Hive Monkey really throws a lot of stuff at a reader.  This alternate earth sci-fi story set in almost present day on a world that took a different path then our own. I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started this book.  I had never heard of the series and the only reason I picked it was l loved the cover.  Turns out it is the second in a series about Ack-Ack Macaque, an up-evolved monkey that curses, smokes, and flies a Spitfire to relax.  While I enjoyed this book I did find it a little bit difficult to get into.  I think I might have been about to get into it more, and even enjoyed it more, had I read the… Read more »

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The Invisible Code

The Invisible Code

Review by Travis Starnes The Invisible Code is a classic detective style mystery turned on its head by the addition of the mystic and the supernatural, but not really. I will start by saying the overall core mystery in this book isn’t bad.  It has some interesting twists to it, although the “ah-ha” moment where the facts are reveled do not stand up to scrutiny of the original passages of past events.  When the “real” way an event in the book went down is revealed, it in really doesn’t resemble what the reader actually experienced.  That however isn’t too big of detraction since that is not so unusual in mystery books and it is the journey and not the re-read that is the real test of a book. My big issue with this book is the detectives specialize in puzzling murders and during the investigation put up all sorts of… Read more »

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Hammett Unwritten

Hammett Unwritten

Review by Travis Starnes Hammett Unwritten is an interesting take on the author and his creation.  It starts with the premise that the events in the Maltese Falcon were autobiographical and that Sam Spade was in fact Hammett himself. I have to give this book points for uniqueness.  I haven’t read a novel quite like this and considering how many books, and specifically mysteries, I read that is saying something.  The book takes meta to a whole new place and for that I commend Fitzstephen.  If you are knowledgeable about Hammett himself then this book might be tough to read as it completely recreates the author’s life and experiences.  However if you only know him from his works then this book is a unique mystery worth checking out. There is however some reliance on knowing the original works.  If you haven’t read any of Hammett’s books then first, shame on… Read more »

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In Retrospect

In Retrospect

Review by Travis Starnes In Retrospect is time travel story mixed with a who-dun-it style mystery set against a dystopian sci-fi backdrop.  It sounds like a strange mixture but Larson completely pulls off this interesting collogue of genres. When it comes to sci-fi, and especially dystopian and post-apocalyptic future (or in this case post-post-apocalyptic) sci-fi, the setting is what makes or breaks the book for me.  Larson did what I think works the best by creating a detailed world and just hinting at all this past information.  Similar to Tolkien’s work you can feel the history of the world the book never focuses on that far history.  You know there was some kind of apocalyptic event, that prior to that a limited form of time travel was invented and that after the event new civilizations rose to take the place of the old powers.  I would actually be interested to… Read more »

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The Punishment Imperative

The Punishment Imperative

Review by Travis Starnes The Punishment Imperative is an in-depth look at the growth of the prison population and some of the things that led to the fivefold increase in the number of incarcerated over the last 35 years. This is a subject I find completely interesting and a topic that I think is important for most Americans to know about and discuss.  There is no argument that the prison population in the US is growing at an astonishing rate and this book is one of the better attempts I have read in explaining why things are the way they are. The writing style of this book isn’t bad.  In fact in comparison to many books focusing on sociological studies it does an excellent job of presenting information in a conversational style.  Most books in this genre tend to be on the bland side and come off closer to text… Read more »

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Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer

Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer

Glorious War is a biography covering the exploits of George Custer’s Civil War career as well as touching on some of the years just before and after the war.   It attempts to give a more in-depth look at one of the few soldiers whose life after the Civil War over shadowed his actions during it. I read a lot of biographies and to me they are really hit or miss.  While the subject is important in getting me interested in a biography it is really the tone the author uses that makes or breaks it for me.  In Glorious War Thom Hatch uses a flowing narrative style that does an excellent job of combining the need to relay information about the subject’s life while still making it an enjoyable read.  For me this is one of the most enjoyable biographies I have read and joins a small group of similar… Read more »

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Malice

Malice

Review by Travis Starnes In Malice an old prophecy seems to becoming true as signs and portents begin appearing across the land.  The kingdoms of the Banished Lands must deal with old feuds while preparing for the return of violence from their past. This is a straight up fantasy novel more in the swords and sorcery linage like was found in the Arthurian legends rather than the Tolkien version of the genre.  Magic clearly has a place in the world and there are many fantastic creatures, most notably giants, but the world is closer to a medieval feudal world then one where you would find orcs and wizards. Having finished this book I really did enjoy it but I found the first half to be a harder read.  Half way through the book, I was sure if I was enjoying reading it or not.  By the end I had no… Read more »

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The Murder Code

The Murder Code

Review by Travis Starnes The Murder Code follows detective Andrew Hick and his partner as they try and solve a series of violent and random serial murders.  As an American reading this book the first thing that really jumped out at me is how very British it is.  That is not a bad thing mind you, just something that stuck out to me. Overall I really enjoyed this book.  As with any mystery novel the most important part, at least for me, is the mystery itself.  And the mystery in this book works well.  It isn’t something the reader can figure out ahead of time, you just don’t get enough information, but it is enjoyable to watch Hicks work through it.  There are some red hearings and a nice, although not unforeseen, twist at the end of the book.  As a mystery this The Murder Code is firing on all… Read more »

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Binder

Binder

Review by Travis Starnes Binder is a straight up thriller that follows as former military operator as he heads into coal country West Virginia to track down the missing daughter of an Army Colonel.  What he finds there is much more convoluted and deadly then just a missing girl. This is a straight up adventure thriller and makes no apologies about it.  While there is a mystery you the reader clearly are not meant to “figure it out” but instead follow along the ride as it slowly unfolds.  What you get instead is a lot of butt kicking.  This was just a fun read.  It might not win any awards for prose or changing the world but if you like military-esq adventure books then this book offers time well spent. None of the characters are all that fleshed out and you generally get a collection of 2 dimensional stereotypes, but… Read more »

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