Tag Archives: 2011 Mystery/Suspense reading challenge

The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly

19 Oct


Format: Paperback, 404 pages

Published: 2005

Publisher: Orion

Back cover blurb: Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller’s father was a legendary lawyer whose clients included gangster Mickey Cohen. But Dad also passed on an important piece of advice that’s especially relevant when Mickey takes the case of a wealthy Los Angeles realtor accused of attempted murder: “The scariest client a lawyer will ever have is an innocent client. Because if you [screw] up and he goes to prison, it’ll scar you for life.”

Louis Roulet, Mickey’s “franchise client” (so-called becaue he’s able and willing to pay whatever his defense costs) seems to be the one his father warned him against, as well as being a few rungs higher on the socio-economic ladder than the drug dealers, homeboys, and motorcycle thugs who comprise Mickey’s regular case load. But as the holes in Roulet’s story tear Mickey’s theory of the case to shreds, his thoughts turn more to Jesus Menendez, a former client convicted of a similar crime who’s now languishing in San Quentin. Connelly tellingly delineates the code of legal ethics Mickey lives by: “It didn’t matter…whether the defendant ‘did it’ or not. What mattered was the evidence against him–the proof–and if and how it could be neutralized. My job was to bury the proof, to color the proof a shade of gray. Gray was the color of reasonable doubt.” But by the time his client goes to trial, Mickey’s feeling a few very reasonable doubts of his own.

My review: My sister gave me this ages ago but I have no idea why I haven’t read it before now. It gets off to a slow start, but has plenty of twists and turns, and I was pleasantly surprised several times at the author’s ingenuity. The crooks are decidedly unpleasant and Mick walks a fine line between being dodgy and noble, but in the end you can’t help cheering for him. I loved the ex-wives, too, and was glad to see he had a nice relationship with his daughter. I can see why it was made into a movie, but it went straight to video here so I haven’t seen it. Might have to check out some more of Connelly’s work now.

My rating: 4/5

Update: Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2011

2 Jan

Happy New Year, everyone! Well, I’m done with my 2011 reading challenges, and have surpassed my expectations – and those of the challenge rules – by quite a bit over the last year!

I read a lot of the mystery/thriller genre, so this challenge was ideal for me. Book Chick City‘s rules were:

  • Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 – 31 Dec 2011
  • Rules: To read TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels in 2011 (12 is the minimum but you can read more if you wish!)
  • You don’t have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.
  • You can join anytime between now and the later part of next year.
  • At the beginning of Jan 2011, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews. There will be a monthly prize too courtesy of the lovely Simon & Schuster – you must be signed up to the challenge and add the link to your review to be entered into the monthly prize draw.
Now, there are many different sub-genres of mystery and suspense – you can choose from the numerous sub-genres, from cosy mysteries such as Agatha Christie to the more hard-boiled kind like V I Warshawski by Sara Paretsky, or romantic suspense written by the likes of Linda Howard, forensic crime such as those written by Kathy Reichs and even paranormal/supernatural suspense such as Kelley Armstrong. I’m sure this challenge will have something for everyone!

I was lucky enough to win one of the monthly prizes – Deadly Intent by Lynda La Plante, so thank you very much Book Chick City and Simon & Schuster for the prize.

So here are my books and the links to my reviews. I managed 22 for the year – 10 more than the challenge required – yay! I’m sure I probably read others that could have fallen into the category too if I had thought a bit harder about it.

2011 Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge books:

1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke – Completed January 2, 2011

2. Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child – Completed January 14, 2011

3. 61 Hours by Lee Child – Completed January 16, 2011

4. Worth Dying For by Lee Child – Completed January 20, 2011

5. Hotter After Midnight by Cynthia Eden – Completed January 26, 2011

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – Completed February 6, 2011

7. Killing Floor by Lee Child – Completed February 17, 2011

8. Feed by Mira Grant – Completed April 14, 2011

9. Necrophenia by Robert Rankin – Completed April 17, 2011

10. Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux – Completed April 23, 2011

11. Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child – Completed April 26, 2011

12. The List by J.A. Konrath – Completed August 6, 2011

13. Echo Burning by Lee Child – Completed August 26, 2011

14. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb – Completed September 7, 2011

15. Among the Living by Jordan Castillo Price – Completed October 13, 2011

16. Without Fail by Lee Child – Completed October 30, 2011

17. Criss Cross by Jordan Castillo Price – Completed November 2, 2011

18. Persuader by Lee Child – Completed November 8, 2011

19. Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke – Completed November 15, 2011

20. Get a Clue by Jill Shalvis – Completed November 18, 2011

21. Deadly Intent by Lynda La Plante – Completed December 2, 2011

22. Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke – Completed December 24, 2011

Looks like I’ll be signing up to this one again in 2012 🙂

The List, by J.A. Konrath

15 Sep

Format: Kindle Edition, 301 pages
Published: April 13, 2009
Publisher: Self-published
Back cover blurb:
JA Konrath is the author of six novels in the Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels thriller series, the latest of which is Cherry Bomb.

THE LIST is a bit of a departure for Konrath. It’s a technothriller about a group of ten people who all have tattoos of numbers on the bottoms their feet, and don’t know why.

One of them, a Chicago Homicide cop named Tom Mankowski, has had one of these strange tattoos since birth. When he investigates a violent murder and discovers the victim also has a tattooed number, it sets the ball rolling for an adventure of historic proportions.

To say more would give away too much.

Like the Jack Daniels series, The List combines laugh out loud humor with serious suspense and thrills.

If the Kindle had back jacket copy, it would read:

A billionaire Senator with money to burn…
A thirty year old science experiment, about to be revealed…
Seven people, marked for death, not for what they know, but for what they are…

History is about to repeat itself.

My review:
Fantastic premise: a group of people with numbers tattooed on their feet discover they are clones of famous historical figures, and one by one they are being murdered. Tom, a Chicago cop, is called in to investigate the death of a Thomas Edison clone and finds out he is a clone of Thomas Jefferson. Along with his partner Roy and the Albert Einstein clone, they uncover the plot and track down the other clones, some of whom are evil to the core.

Although it was full of horrendous violence, the best thing about this book was the humour. I loved Roy and Bert’s playful exchanges, especially their punch-buggy games, and Abe, the Lincoln clone, was a hoot. Anyone who suggests he and Einstein form a band and go on tour – “I’ll sing The Politics of Dancing. You can sing He Blinded Me with Science…” – is a winner in my book 🙂 And when they go to the restaurant: “Can’t we sit in a booth?” “I hate booths,” Abe winked. “Especially John Wilkes.”

The ending is exciting and surprising, and when I read the last page my first thought was “it can’t end there!” Given this was never picked up by a publisher, I doubt there will be a sequel but I certainly wish there was.

My rating: 4/5

Reading Challenges Update: April

3 May

Another month gone and I am amazed at how many books I have read this year so far! April was another good month, and I can see I’m going to have to extend these challenges because I’ve almost completed both of them now.


In the Outdo Yourself Challenge, hosted by the Book Vixen, I aimed to read 1-5 books more than the 23 I read during 2010. I surpassed that figure on March 5, and by the end of that month I had completed 32 books.

In April I read a further 10 – wow! – bringing my total for the year to date to 42. That means I am currently 19 books ahead of last year’s total, or according to The Book Vixen’s categories “I’m on Fire!”.

Full details of the Outdo Yourself Challenge 2011 HERE.

Challenge books read in April:

33. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr – Completed April 1, 2011

34. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater – Completed April 3, 2011

35. Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward – Completed April 7, 2011

36. Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davison – Completed April 9, 2011

37. Feed by Mira Grant – Completed April 14, 2011

38. Necrophenia by Robert Rankin – Completed April 17, 2011

39. Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian – Completed April 19, 2011

40. Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux – Completed April 23, 2011

41. Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child – Completed April 26, 2011

42. The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole – Completed April 27, 2011

In the Mystery & Suspense Challenge, hosted by Book Chick City, after a poor showing in March I’ve managed to read four books this last month. My total is now 11/12, and I STILL have heaps of Lee Child books next to my bed (my husband’s Christmas gifts). It’s looking good for an early completion of this challenge too.

Full details of the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge HERE.

Challenge books read in April:

8. Feed by Mira Grant – Completed April 14, 2011

9. Necrophenia by Robert Rankin – Completed April 17, 2011

10. Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux – Completed April 23, 2011

11. Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child – Completed April 26, 2011.

Bad Luck and Trouble, by Lee Child

26 Apr

Format: Paperback, 396 pages

Published: April 2, 2007

Publisher: Bantam Press

Back cover blurb:

Now on his own for 10 years, Reacher has an ATM card and the clothes on his back—no phone, no ties, and no address—he’s a hard man to find. A loner, comfortable in his anonymity and solitude.

Performing the impossible isn’t so difficult for Frances Neagley, who manages to locate Reacher by using a signal only the eight members of their elite team of army investigators would know. She tells Reacher a harrowing story about the brutal death of a one of their own. Soon they reunite with the survivors of their old team and race to raise the living, bury the dead, and connect the dots in a mystery that grows more opaque with every new piece of information. With lives at stake, the team falls back together with apparent ease; their motto still holding true: You do not mess with the Special Investigators.

My review:

So now I’m going back to read the Reachers I missed when they first came out, and I have to say this one – the 11th in the series – is one of the best. Jack is his usual bad ass self but has moments of self-doubt, which may be new for him. Here he is also teamed up with his old unit, so we get the bonus of additional people with Reacher attitudes = WIN! Two are women and we get some sexual tension thrown in too. In fact, I got the feeling both women had a little thing for Jack.

The storyline moved along swiftly, and even though I was a little ahead of their deduction at one point, the fast pace and plot twists meant I couldn’t put it down. The only problem I had with the story was when Reacher robbed some drug dealers to get cash and I felt let down by him. I know they were scumbags, but I always thought Jack was better than that. Still, they had their uses and were helpful in the end, not just for their money.

Most of all I loved this story because it was about intelligent, ruthless people using their brains to work out a complex chain of events. There were codes and number series to work out, the best of which I thought were messages between the investigators themselves – notably Dixon and O’Donnell’s communications to Reacher and the bank account amounts. Very clever and very brilliant.

My rating: 5/5

Cut & Run, by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

26 Apr
Format: Kindle Edition

Published: September 29, 2008

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Back cover blurb:

A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case.

Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He’s cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he’s paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it’s hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliché: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer.

Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again – this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer’s knife.

My review:

The gals over at the BDB discussion group on GoodReads recommended this series a while back, so I picked this up when I needed something involving law enforcement and an m/m storyline to fulfil one of their reading challenges.

Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are FBI agents with troubled backgrounds who don’t play well with others but are nevertheless partnered together to solve a serial murder case which looks like it was perpetrated by one of their own. Only a handful of agents know why they are on the case, which made it pretty clear to me after only a chapter or so who the killer would turn out to be. The elaborate methods of killing and the theme linking them all was an interesting premise but we never discover the motivation behind it, which would have made this book more satisfying for me.

I was also mildly irritated at the way Ty and Zane took turns getting hurt – it seemed too pat – and the obvious ineptitude of the doctors who let them walk away without adequate treatment.

The romance, however, was very realistic and satisfying. I love UST, and the first few chapters are tantalising as you begin to realise their verbal sparring is actually foreplay. I also loved their boss, Dick Burns (great name for slash!), and suspect he knows there’s more to their partnership than just the job.

There are a couple more books in the series which I will no doubt read. I’m invested in them now, and I think I will need to check in to find out how Ty and Zane are getting along.

My rating: 3.5/5

Necrophenia, by Robert Rankin

19 Apr

Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Published:  July 17, 2008
Publisher: Gollancz
Back cover blurb:

It is a matter of historical record that during the latter part of World War II, England’s top-secret Ministry of Serendipity enlisted the services of arch-magician Aleister Crowley to create a Homunculus. Why? Well that’s a long story, spanning almost seven decades as it follows the life and career of Tyler, rock star, private eye – and notable for the fact that he almost saved Mankind. The cast of millions also includes ukulele maestro George Formby, Mick Jagger, Mama Cass, Elvis Presley and Lazlo Woodbine. And Tyler’s brother, Andy, who impersonates animals (and who single-handedly brought about the Swinging Sixties). And a lady named Clara from Croydon, who unlocked the meta-phenomena of the Multiverse. And a corner shopkeeper from Brentford, who created a sitting room for God. And a great many living dead. Oh yes, and it also involves a monster in human form whose intention it is to turn the Earth into a Necrosphere, a planet totally devoid of life…
My review:
Sorry, Mr Rankin, but I really struggled to finish this one. I’ve been reading Rankin for 20 years, but this… I dunno. I loved his early stuff so much and am saddened when a mojo is lost.

Maybe there was too much self-reference. They were all there, Rankin’s usual suspects – hard-boiled private eye Lazlo Woodbine and Fangio the barman, Elvis, Dimac, the Ministry of Serendipity, unpopular vegetables, the woman in the straw hat – because it’s a tradition, or an old charter, or something, but still I wasn’t gripped. Tyler only became interesting to me about 200 pages in when he encountered Laz, but if it wasn’t for the fact I’m not a quitter I wouldn’t have read that far.

The next Rankin is sitting by my bedside but I think I’ll wait a while before tackling it.

My rating: 2/5

Feed, by Mira Grant

19 Apr
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 571 pages
Published: May 1, 2010
Publisher: Orbit
Back cover blurb:
In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as “Marburg Amberlee”—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.

It raised the dead.

Millions died in the chaos that followed. The summer of 2014 was dubbed “The Rising,” and only the lessons learned from a thousand zombie movies allowed mankind to survive. Even then, the world was changed forever. The mainstream media fell, Internet news acquired an undeniable new legitimacy, and the CDC rose to a new level of power.

Set twenty years after the Rising, the Newsflesh trilogy follows a team of bloggers, led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, as they search for the brutal truths behind the infection. Danger, deceit, and betrayal lurk around every corner, as does the hardest question of them all:

When will you rise?

My review:
Journalism, politics and zombies – what more could I ask for? This was my first zombie book, and I have to say the undead were only minor inconveniences when stacked up against the political plot at the centre of this unique and amusing story.

Georgia (named, as all girls of her era, after George Romero) and Shaun (no explanation needed for his name, LOL) are adopted siblings who are invited to blog on the 2040 campaign trail with a senator running for president. Since the zombie apocalypse in 2014, bloggers have become the mainstream media, primarily because the old news media didn’t believe the zombies were taking over, and either were discredited or got eaten. Georgia is a Newsie – just the facts, ma’am – while Shaun is an Irwin (I LOVED this!), a blogger who takes unnecessary risks to get a story, i.e. he likes poking zombies with a stick and recording what happens. Needless to say, his computer password is “crikey”. Just brilliant.

They team up with Buffy, a Fictional (she writes poetry and zombie fiction), and together get embroiled in the dirty politics on the campaign, leading to grisly deaths and a truly heartbreaking ending.

The concept was brilliant, and obviously a lot of research went into creating this dystopia where everyone must constantly test their blood and a journalism qualification comes with a gun licence. There was a slow patch in the middle, but once the plot became apparent – and to me it was rather obvious who was behind it – the pace picked up and I was gripped until the end. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel when it comes out later this year.

My rating: 4/5

Reading Challenges Update: March

1 Apr

Happy April everyone! Yes, it’s April Fool’s Day, but I won’t be the one to trick you. You’re safe here 🙂

So, it’s time for another wrap-up of my reading challenges, and I am so proud of myself for having completed one already!

In the Outdo Yourself Challenge, hosted by the Book Vixen, I aimed to read 1-5 books more than the 23 I read during 2010. In January I managed 13 books, in February a further nine, and by March 5 I had reached my goal. Woo hoo!

Of course, I will keep going to see how far I can get for the whole year, but so far, to the end of March I have read 32 books (two are advanced copies which I will blog about when they are officially released). That means I am currently “Out of breath” according to The Book Vixen’s categories.

Full details of the Outdo Yourself Challenge 2011 HERE.

Challenge books read in March:

23. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Completed March 3, 2011

24. Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson – Completed March 5, 2011

25. Black Wings by Christina Henry – Completed March 10, 2011

26. Unwritten Rules by M.A. Stacie – Completed March 14, 2011

27. Undead and Unemployed by MaryJanice Davidson – Completed March 16, 2011

28. Undead and Unappreciated by MaryJanice Davidson – Completed March 17, 2011

29. Old Wounds by N.K. Smith – Completed March 22, 2011

30. **This one’s a secret!** – Completed March 24, 2011 (advanced copy – review to come on publication)

31. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Completed March 27, 2011

32. **This one’s secret, too!** – Completed March 31, 2011 (advanced copy – review to come on publication)

In the Mystery & Suspense Challenge, hosted by Book Chick City, I’ve been a bit lax this last month and haven’t read any! My total is still 7/12, and this month I plan to have a serious go at reading the pile of Lee Child books I have next to my bed (my husband’s Christmas gifts). If nothing else it’s an earthquake hazard 🙂

Full details of the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge HERE.

Reading Challenges Update: February

1 Mar

Wow! Two months down and I have almost met both my challenges for the year!

In the Outdo Yourself Challenge, hosted by the Book Vixen, I aim to read 1-5 books more than the 23 books I read during 2010. January got off to an amazing start with 13 books read, and in February I managed a further nine.

2011 Challenge books read in February:

14. Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas – Completed February 1, 2011

15.Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning – Completed February 4, 2011

16. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – Completed February 6, 2011

17.Fallen Angel by Willa Cline – Completed February 8, 2011

18. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning -Completed February 12, 2011

19. Killing Floor by Lee Child – Completed February 17, 2011

20. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – Completed February 22, 2011

21. The Watson Brothers by Lori Foster – Completed February 25, 2011

22. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris – Completed February 28, 2011

My total now stands one short of my total for the whole of 2010!

Full details of the Outdo Yourself Challenge 2011 HERE.

In the Mystery & Suspense Challenge, hosted by Book Chick City, I miscounted when I did my tally for January, when I actually read 5/12 mysteries or thrillers. I’ve managed to read two more in February, bringing my total to 7/12. There are plenty more sitting by my bed to read, too, thanks to my husband’s Christmas gift pile.

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – Completed February 6, 2011

7. Killing Floor by Lee Child – Completed February 17, 2011

Full details of the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge HERE.