Archive for crime

THE TECHNICIAN By Neal Asher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2015 by stanleyriiks

This is the book that got me reading Asher’s books. Jon Sullivan’s cover of the titular beast is incredible, and his other covers for Asher’s other books are pretty damn good too. Can you pick a book by its cover?

Although this book is set in Asher’s familiar Polity world it is a stand-alone novel and can be read independently. But, if you have read some of his other novels this will inform the backstory of some familiar characters.

Masada is home to the hooders, a set of deadly creatures, the Theocracy (a strictly religious group who have enslaved some of the populous), the gaggleducks, and the Technician, a near mythical creature who not only attacks humans but turns their bodies into works of art.

When the Technician allows one of its victims to live, Jeremiah Tombs, a member of the Theocracy, it changes him in ways that even the advanced technology of the Polity cannot determine.

Twenty years later the Theocracy is no more, Tombs escapes his Polity captors and goes in search of the truth, a band of rebels called the Tidy Squad are out to kill him, and the Technicians is still out hunting…

Apart from that there are war drones, a dragon and his ancestors, a modified human studying the Technician, and alien races that have destroyed themselves to muddy the waters further.

There’s a lot going on here, as there is with most of Asher’s novels. His intricate plots draw you gradually deeper into his worlds. The characters are barely memorable, but it is the story, the plot and the incredibly well crafted world that really drive this novel.

Asher writes proper SF, intelligent, insightful, and passionate. The world he has created in this novel and the other Polity books (and the Scatteray series) are incredibly complex and detailed and yet don’t overwhelm the intense and sometimes complicated plots. The story drives along swiftly, there are multiple layers, and everything comes together in a riveting but mildly disappointing climax. Can any ending really live up to the rest of the novel?

Asher is the master of intelligent SF. The Technician is a great novel to start your Polity education: jump straight in, the water is thrilling.

HIVE MONKEY By Gareth L. Powell – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2015 by stanleyriiks

This review will likely start off like every review of Powell’s work I’ve written, saying how impressed I was with his first collection from the awesome and now hibernating/demised Elastic Press. It was filled to the brim with great stories and amazing ideas, and it was riveting. The books that followed sadly fell a little flat. That was until Powell hit his stride with his first monkey book, Ack-Ack Macaque. Although I don’t remember it in great detail, I remember it being an exciting steampunk thriller and I actually bought this second book in the series because it was so good. I rarely, if ever, buy books, as I get plenty for review, so that’s a pretty big recommendation.

This second book works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, although it carries on from the first book and there is some history, it works well as backstory to in novel.

The skyliner that is home to the monkey who escaped from a game, and a brain-damaged captain and her holographic ex-husband, comes under threat when a man from a parallel universe is murdered. The investigation into the murder brings the skyliner crew into conflict with a hive-mind cult intent on take over the world. Can Ack-Ack, Victoria, Paul and K8 save the world again?

The plot doesn’t really capture the essence of the book, you miss out on the style and the characters that really raise this above your average SF steampunk thriller. Powell has created a really unique cigar-chomping spitfire pilot of a macaque who really brings the story to life, the other characters are mere background cast, this isn’t really an ensemble piece, despite Powell’s efforts.

And the world that Powell has created is filled with interesting ideas: a United Kingdom of France, Norway, UK and Northern Ireland; zeppelins; parallel universes; laser guns; Neanderthal assassins, and a whole lot more.

Great world, great character, great style, all put together with decent plot and some nice background characters. I will be back for more with the third book in the series soon, and recommend this for any fan of monkey fiction, and anyone who likes a bit of fun.

Great SF has never been so hairy.

FLASHBACK By Dan Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2014 by stanleyriiks

This is a scary book.

The not too distance future is far too familiar, and realistic for comfort.

Set in 2036, where America has broken up, the Global Caliphate has taken over much of Europe after bombing Israel, Nuevo Mexico (run by the drug cartels) now rules over much of the former southern United States, and Japan is the major country pulling all the strings as it goes back to dark-ages feudal law.

Nick Bottom is a former cop and Flashback addict, a drug that allows you to revisit memories, who is asked to reopen a murder from six years ago. When he is offered enough money to buy himself Flashback for the rest of his life, so that he can relive the memories of his now dead wife, he can’t refuse. His new boss sets Nick a minder, a Japanese assassin named Sato who follows Nick and tries to keep him on the straight and narrow while he investigates. Meanwhile in Los Angeles Nick’s abandoned son Val is heading with his gang to commit a murder, and the cartels are ready to make a push to take over the rest of California.

This world where crowds no longer gather due to bombings, where flights are hideously expensive due to security, where suicide bombers fill up every orifice with explosives (this book was read in the same week security was tightening in the US and UK due to bombs hidden within bodies), where gangs rules half the world, where financial crises have destroyed the superpowers and much of democracy, is a frighteningly plausible future.

Simmons is an excellent writer, he does his usual thing of using place names and street names to really paint a picture of the setting, and the world he has created is utterly realistic. The characters that Simmons creates are good, there’s a nice level of development, they have a good deal of history, backstory and realism.

Everything Simmons does is polished and professional. He writes interesting stories, and captures the imagination of the readers.

But I can’t help thinking that he will never capture my imagination again the same way he did with the Hyperion books. If you haven’t read Simmons then any of his books is a must read, he is an impeccable writer, and this would be a good one to start off with.

Morpheus Tales Supplement Out Now!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by stanleyriiks

The latest issue of the FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement is out now! It’s got an exclusive interview with Dan Abnett (Horus Heresy and 40K Legend!) and Nik Vincent, loads of articles and columns from the usual crew (marvellous!), and a load of book and film reviews including some from me (which are fabulous, obviously!).

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/mt25reviews

Morpheus Tales 23 Supplement is OUT NOW!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Finally it’s here! Months in the making, even longer in the writing, but the review supplement is out now! Featuring author interviews, some amazing articles and columns, and a whole heap of great reviews (some written by yours truly!), it’s 44 pages of horror, sf, and fantasy non-fiction and it’s all for you, and it’s all free!

Go get yourself a copy:

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/23reviews

It’s great, it’s free, what more could you want?

January Issue – Morpheus Tales Supplement

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Been so busy working and reviewing for the next issue of the Morpheus Tales Supplement that I haven’t even had time to write a blog! There’s more still to come, but here’s a good idea of what will be contained in those hallowed pages…

MARAUDER By Gary Gibson
THE LORDS OF SALEM
Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones
DREAM LONDON By Tony Ballantyne
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR 24 Edited By Stephen Jones
MEAT By Joseph D’Lacey
GARBAGE MAN By Joseph D’Lacey
SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY By Mary Robinette Kowal
DRAKENFELD By Mark Charon Newton
SHAME THE DEVIL By Michael Lejeune
A BRIEF GUIDE TO GHOST HUNTING By Dr Leo Ruickbie
KNIGHT OF SHADOWS By Toby Venables
The Most-Visited Grave in Swan Point Cemetery By Hunter Welles
DEEP STORM By Lincoln Child
FROM THE FATHERLAND, WITH LOVE By Ryu Marakami
THE EIDOLON By Libby McGugan
THE CONJURING (2013)
DARK SKIES (2013)
JOYLAND By Stephen King
SPLATTERLANDS: REAWAKENING THE SPLATTERPUNK REVOLUTION By Various
ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS ZOMBIES (2012)
World War Z (2013)
THE WITCH’S DAUGHTER By Paula Brackston
THE WINTER WITCH By Paula Brackston
TIGER’S CLAW By Dale Brown
PLASTIC JESUS By Wayne Simmons
THE EMPEROR’S BLADES By Brian Staveley
BOUNTY KILLER
THE IRON WOLVES By Andy Remic

The FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement will be out in January… You can read and download the current and previous issues from the Morpheus Tales website: www.morpheustales.com

 

GARBAGE MAN By Joseph D’Lacey – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by stanleyriiks

A year after the miracle of horror that was MEAT, D’Lacey was back with a new novel and I had to read it. Garbage Man was a very different book, but it had that same raw intensity, it had that same passion and an underlining ecological theme. For his second book D’Lacey goes all B-Movie on us and brings us a powerful vision of a future corrupted by humanity and the toxic results! My original review is below:

This book is absurd. It’s ridiculous. And it’s bloody marvellous!

In D’Lacey’s debut novel MEAT he teased us in, providing a stark, gritty realism to draw us into his world, and then slamming us face first into the dark, depraved heart of his brutal, unforgiving, twisted reality.

Well, he’s back!

Shreve is a small mid-England town, a normal enough town with a normal enough set of individuals populating it. Shreve is also home to one of the largest landfill sites in the UK.

The populants of the town are Shreve are a varied bunch, there’s the Smithfields, their son Donald, a young paperboy having sex with one of his married neighbours, and Aggie, the wannabe model and teenage temptress. There’s Miss Ahern the nosey neighbour and religious nut. There’s Kevin and Tamsin, the married couple on the verge of breaking up. Ray and Jenny, two students whose relationship has run it’s course and who may find happiness in the arms of that married couple. And then there’s Delilah, an Earthy goth chick. And Mason Brand, former star photographer and now caretaker of one of the strangest creatures to ever grace the printed page…

In a superbly Frankenstein-esque moment during a lightning storm several piles of rubbish from the landfill awaken into creatures. But only one of the creatures survives as Mason finds it and starts feeding it, with his own blood. The creature, made of rubbish, feeds and grows. This truly gives a new meaning to recycling, as the creature consumes everything given to it, or it can take, and uses it to heal itself, to upgrade itself. It’s like a Transformer made of rubbish and when it eventually feeds on an entire human it starts to get the taste and realises that it shouldn’t be alone, it should be the commander of a massive army of other garbage creatures, and so it sets its army on a path of destruction that will change Shreve and the world forever.

This really shouldn’t work. It’s too ridiculous, except that it’s not. This does work, and it works well. The town of Shreve is set up very realistically, and the characters and their bad habits are all presented to us well before the actual horror starts. And when the horror does kick in it’s hard and fast and furious.

Not only does D’Lacey provide his knack for brutal realism, he creates a creature you care about almost as much as the other characters. The Garbage Man, although certainly a villain, is also something of a hero, and at the end you can’t help but feel a certain empathy with him in an almost King Kong moment.

The final ending is even harsher and more brutal than the attack of the garbage men and deserves mention as one of the spookiest endings I’ve read in a long time, one that will not only leave you pondering the sheer wretchedness of it all, but leaving you aching for more. The last few chapters show us the true power that D’Lacey can unleash.

It’s not a perfect package by any means, our ensemble cast provide little in the way of emotional involvement. The best character is Delilah and she doesn’t appear until the book is halfway through. And Aggie’s adventures in London are cut far too short, and probably could have been quite a decent book on their own.

D’Lacey’s tendency to use pertinent socio-political themes doesn’t detract from the entertainment, it enhances it. You cannot help but smile at the clear message, whilst enjoying the bloodlust and nastiness that D’Lacey uses to such great effect. A bloodlust and nastiness that is akin to Jack Ketchum’s brutality and is highly entertainment for the horror connoisseur.

Garbage Man is ridiculous, but in a good way. It is the skill and subtlety with which D’Lacey tells the story that raises this so far above beyond the ridiculous.

This is what horror should be like, no-holds-barred brutality, nastiness in an action-packed package.

www.oaktreepress.co.uk