Archive for compelling

GUN MACHINE By Warren Ellis – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Ellis writes comics normally, and not your average superhero fair, but intelligent and thought-provoking action driven comics. Like Red, that the Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren film was based upon. This is Ellis’ second novel, the first being a really weird, sex-fuelled road-book across the US.

This novel has its own share of weird too, but this time the plot is a little (really little!) more traditional. Detective Tallow watches as his partner is shot by a crazy man with a shotgun and shoots the man dead. In the apartment across the hall there is a hole in the wall caused by the shooting. On further investigating Tallow finds the mother-load of weaponry, an entire apartment decorated in guns of every kind. When he enlists the help of two CSIs to help test and record the guns they find that each of the hundreds and possible thousands of weapons have been involved in a murder. Tallow has just fallen into investigating one of the worst ever serial killers New York City has ever seen…

And that’s just the start of it: native American Indian history, conspiracies and corruption, this book contains a riveting mystery and a mass of detail that draws you in.

The first few pages of this book are quite shocking brilliant, as Ellis shows off his imaginative turn of phrase and pours on the style, which drifts into an intricate plot. Tallow is the down at heel cop who needs the brutal murder of his partner to bring him back to life, and his slightly depressive, possibly suicidal tendencies manifest in a compulsion to catch the killer at any cost, including his own life, and make the dramatic chase all the more exciting.

This is not your standard crime thriller, this is a whacked out, dope-fuelled hurricane of a crime thriller, a strange and compelling mystery. Ellis writes like a demon possessed and I can’t wait to read his next novel, bring it on.

THE COLD COMMANDS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I read the first book in this series around two years ago, and you know what, I can barely remember any of it. I remember the three main characters (after my memory is jogged reading about them again), who are all here, present and correct. I vaguely remember feeling like the book ended on a cliff-hanger and feeling a little bit cheated, but I still enjoyed it enough to put the second book in the series (trilogy?) on my Christmas list for Santa to buy me. So in amongst my stacks of drugs and porn and alcohol (ok, so it was pretty much all books that Santa brought me!), I found this SF/fantasy novel (and it’s got a nice cover which always draws me in) and sat down to read it.

Ringil Eskiath is a true antihero, although we find him rescuing slaves after his cousin was imprisoned by a slave-trader. He’s a tough, no-nonsense S.O.B. who demands your attention, a mean man with a massive alien sword.

Archeth is a half-alien female who works for the new emperor, a paranoid young man intent on ridding his empire of enemies by having them flayed alive by octopi.

Egar the Dragonbane is having an affair with the wife of a war hero, but his adventures into a religious fortress will bring the three old friends back together, whether they like it or not, with magic, death, and betrayal to get in their way.

This book (I think like the first, my memory is not what it once was!) takes a long time to gather speed, there are almost three hundred pages of build-up as the story meanders along, setting everything up for the inevitable climax. When it does comes there’s plenty of action and intrigue, although Ringal is a little too superheroic and never appears in danger of being hurt, let alone losing a fight. He’s a bit too invincible, like Judge Dredd with a sword.

Morgan’s writing is good, he manages to draw you in without you realising, the atmosphere and world are vividly portrayed, but there’s a lingering sense of missing something. Perhaps it’s been too long between instalments, but I felt like I missed the oft-referred to war (did it appear in the first book?).

Despite confusing the hell out of me, the grey lands are strange and mysterious and make everything seem a bit too easy at the end. I couldn’t help but enjoy Egar’s tough steppe barbarian, Archeth’s frustrated diplomat and Ringal’s menacing killer. The characters are really what make this book, and Morgan has done a first rate job with them. I’ll be back for more despite my misgivings, fantasy doesn’t get much more original or compelling than this.

WHAT THEY HEAR IN THE DARK By Gary McMahon – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This review is published with the kind permission of Morpheus Tales, where it will appear in the FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement.

Following the murder of their son, Eddie, Rob and Becky decide to renovate a house, to try to take their mind off things, and to give them some time to heal and a project to work on together. But there is a room in the house that is completely empty of noise. The quiet room.

And the parents of the dead child are haunted, and in the quiet room the ghosts come in silence…

McMahon does this kind of story so well it’s quite sickening. How he manages to tug at the heart-strings and draw you in so deeply in the space of a few pages (in this case just twenty two), is nothing short of remarkable.

This is quiet horror in every sense, the theme echoing the contents of the story. Subtlety reins as we watch the characters attempting to deal with their loss, haunted (literally and metaphorically).

This is another haunting story from McMahon that sticks with you long after reading it. One that plays on your mind and touches a sadness inside all of us who have ever lost anyone.

Spectral Press have launched with this stellar title by McMahon, and with only one hundred copies available, I should imagine they will disappear fast. I’d like to see a printed version to see the quality of the finished product (one of the difficulties of reviewing an ebook version), but obviously one of the problems with limited editions prints is availability.

An evocative and compelling story that really gets you in the gut. Powerful and touching, McMahon delves into the true darkness of our hearts.

For more information on Spectral Press or to order a copy of the book visit their website:

CIMARRON ROSE By James Lee Burke – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Lucas Smothers is arrested for murder, except he was unconscious at the time. He’s put in prison between two hardened criminals, both murderers, one of whom brags about how he killed an old woman, the other escapes killing a guard in the process.

Billy Bob Holland is a pain in the ass according to most of the people who know him, that’s what makes him a great lawyer, and when Vernon, Lucas’ father, asks him for help, Billy Bob can’t refuse. You see, Lucas is in all likelihood his own son.

Add into this a whole lot of Texas mess, a massive back-story, DEA, outback mob, rich kids gone bad, and shake in some other family dramas and you have a Southern American crime novel the likes of which you’ll be familiar with if you’d read any of Burke’s novels before. Burke has a unique voice that’s compelling, his stories are riveting and his characters have such a back-story it’s hard to believe he just thought them up.

American crime thrillers don’t get much better than this.