Genre: Mystery/Thriller

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Frappe Today Dead Tomorrow

Frappe Today Dead Tomorrow

Frappe Today Dead Tomorrow is the definition of a ‘cozy mystery’.  It has a crime, in this case an assault that puts a young woman in a coma, the hero who isn’t an investigator but is thrown into the role, and a villain with shady plans, and little on screen violence. I will say this had a nice twist to it, in that Star, the girl in the coma, joins the investigation in a supernatural way by being able to communicate with Emma, the main character, and minimally affect the world around her.  It is sort of like a ghost side kick, with the exception that the person isn’t actually dead.  There is a lot of supernatural/metaphysical stuff in this book that I did not expect when I first started reading it.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  The subject is generally well handled and while a bit to new-age… Read more »

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Rise of the Phoenix

Rise of the Phoenix

Rise of the Phoenix is a fairly standard action thriller that, while it has issues, gets a lot of things right.  You have the two main characters, both excellent in their field, mixing humor and action as they seek to stop a terrorist threat.  Formulaic?  Sure, but it’s a formula that works, so why mess with it. The action is what this book gets right.  Once you get past the setup and introduction, which I will address in a moment, the action is high paced.  For the lovers of adrenaline fueled thriller action, Gibbs hits the right marks.  The main characters are also well developed, but as individuals and with their interaction with each other.  They are believable as characters with enough backstory to keep them from being just stereotypical stand-ins, which is a problem in many books in this genre. I do have two issues with the book, one… Read more »

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A Wanted Man

A Wanted Man

The 17th full novel in the Jack Reacher series, A Wanted Man continues the series formula, which has worked for Child so far and works again here.  Reacher is a solid protagonist and you never go wrong reading on of these books. The first thing that struck me in this book is that it carries over some threads from the previous novel in the series, and leaves some threads at the end for the next novel in the series.  This may not seem that odd, but for a Reacher novel it is.  Except for three books early in the series that were also mildly connected, the Reacher novels are fairly stand alone, never referencing the events of previous books.  You could pick up a novel in the middle of the series without ever reading any of the others, and the experience of reading it would be the same.  That isn’t… Read more »

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The Devil’s Code

The Devil’s Code

I was happy that Sandford revisited the Kidd series even after seeing success in his Prey novels.  Kidd isn’t the normal type of hero you see in these books and that is what I like about it.  With a criminal for a main character, a group of hacker as backup, and a cocaine addicted love interested, Sandford is able to come at the thriller in a unique angle we don’t get from a lot of other books of the genre. The story itself isn’t overly unique, but it is well done.  Evil company CEO has pulled the wool over the US governments’ eyes and is using the technology he sold them to his own end.  To keep his activities from being noticed, he frames Kidd and his cohorts and sic’s the government on them as a distraction.  We’ve all seen this plot before.  Where the story takes a twist is… Read more »

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Spy for Hire

Spy for Hire

Mark Sava, John Decker and friends must protect a small orphan being used as a pawn in a turf war between governmental agencies.  Spy for Hire is a straight up action thriller and for fans of the genre it ticks off all the boxes you would expect. The story itself is about as cookie cutter spy/action thriller as you get.  It isn’t bad mind you, just a bit ho-hum.  The good guys are clever and often manage to outwit their adversaries and there is some good action with a few plot twists thrown in to keep you on your toes.  The only real problem with the plot twists is that they are completely telegraphed.  You see where the twists are going almost as soon as they are introduced and readers of the genre will find very few surprises.   Additionally there are problems with the sub-plots.  Mayland introduces events and side… Read more »

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Runner

Runner

In Runner, Patrick Lee takes the standard military thriller and manages to add some new twists that elevate the book beyond what is expected from the genre.  Since I am a fan of the thrillers and read a lot of these types of books it is pretty rare that I am surprised by them.  I was really pleased that this one managed to surprise me by the second chapter. This book is an interesting mixture of the standard ex-special forces hero comes out of retirement to save the girl type of story and adds a light sci-fi element giving the plot a nice spin.  What is better is that the twist isn’t held until the end of the book but instead put up front in the first few chapters. The other thing that really helps this book is the pacing.  A lot of thrillers claim to be “fast paced” but… Read more »

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Red Hook

Red Hook

Red Hook takes the police procedural style and switches the genre from focusing on large events and monumental cases to the mystery of one of the little guys so often forgotten.  I commend Cohen for trying to take an area so well-trodden and bring its focus down to a level so often ignored.  This book had the potential of opening up a new front for the detective mystery alongside the chase for serial killers and psychopaths.  Unfortunately it doesn’t live up to that potential. While the crime isn’t something we see in most mystery novels, strangely because it is so mundane as to be ignored, the characters we have seen thousands of times.  A hard bitten detective, disillusioned by the job but drawn to one case everyone else ignores and estranged from his family.  It’s like Lightner and his supporting case were pulled out of some detective fiction mold.  To be… Read more »

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The Janus Legacy

The Janus Legacy

The Janus Legacy explores the ethical landscape between cloning and the push to advance science and medicine.  This book falls in a weird space between medical thriller and science fiction and brings up interesting questions about the future of humanity. I am generally a fan of both science fiction and medical fiction and have spent time reading up on the ethics and science of cloning, so the idea behind this book is something I was into.  While the angle von Biela takes is interesting the execution of this book falls short.  Taking the idea of human cloning, which has been explored by authors before, and giving the main character a motive to push for it yet a personality that fights against it was an interesting angle.  This dichotomy in Jeremy’s motivation allowed for a lot of potential with real possibilities for both external conflicts with the other scientists as well… Read more »

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The Shadow Protocol

The Shadow Protocol

If you were to take any of the “American spy working at the tip of the spear against a major terrorist threat”, and there are a lot of those books in the market, and add some kind of mental transference sci-fi angel, you get The Shadow Protocol.  It does add an interesting twist to the genre but not much additional substance. The book jacket compares this to Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series and there are definite parallels, although the character and the writing are both less interesting then what you find in Ludlum’s original books.   The actual writing of the book, the dialogue, characterizations, etc. are all pretty much on par with the average of this genre so that isn’t a big knock on McDermott’s work.  Ludlum does stand as the gold standard of the spy thriller genre so it isn’t fair to hold McDermott to that level. The added tech/sci-fi… Read more »

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Bad Guys

Bad Guys

Bad Guys is an old-school detective thriller featuring an odd couple like paring of FBI agents out to stop a secret mafia family.  While the book doesn’t give us anything we haven’t seen before at least what it does it does competently. A rouge agent out for justice and his partner trying to bring him back from the brink is about as cookie cutter as you can get.  And while both characters are like a how-to instruction for making cops in a thriller novel they are also both very likeable.  The loyalty Gibbons and Tozzi show each other is endearing and the interplay between them is usually pretty entertaining. The plot itself moves forward at a brisk pace as it checks off the cop vs. mafia checklist.  Plot twists layered on top of each other.  Check.  Tons of New Jersey jokes and references.  Check.  Low-life crooks.  Check.   Once again however,… Read more »

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