Archive for danger

SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED By Andy Remic – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This review is printed with the permissions of Morpheus Tales Publishing. The review originally appears in the April issue of the Morpheus Tales Supplement.

It’s not often you finish a book sweating, panting and in need of a shower. Andy Remic writes such books, exhilarating thrill rides, the perfect combination of excitement and danger. Remic’s books are not read, they are experienced, and when you get out the other side you feel like you’ve just parachuted yourself out the back of a plane or ridden a motorbike at a hundred and twenty miles an hour down a motorway. It feels like you’ve just gone three five-minute rounds (MMA style) with a huge gorilla and you’re lucky to be alive. But in a good way!

Serial Killers Incorporated follows Callaghan, a hard drinking, hard smoking, hard fucking, hard living photo-journalist for a tabloid. When he and his partner get a tip-off of a hot story they don’t expect the skinned body of a woman with her legs cut off, but that’s what they find. And there is a note to Callaghan on the course. The police want to arrest them both and interrogate them despite the evidence proving their innocence, but then Callaghan has had some run-ins with the DI and they’re not exactly friends. Callaghan’s girlfriend is also proving a problem. Or rather her Romanian gun-runner husband is about to become a problem if he finds out Callaghan is fucking his wife. Then another tip-off sends them into a dark, desolate warehouse with another body awaiting them.

The first hundred or so pages set up the characters and the scenarios, but it’s once the action starts that this book really takes off. There’s plenty of action, including multiple murders, shootouts, fighting, and car-chases.

The warehouse scene is suitable frightening and will send chills down even the hardiest of spines. Even Callaghan becomes somewhat likeable, despite being a selfish bastard.

The climax is a bit… weird… But it works because Remic’s prose style punches you in the face until you submit. Here, unlike his Clockwork Vampire series, he seems even less inhibited and more in your face than normal, which is no bad thing, but does take some getting used to. There’s not the subtlety of the Clockwork Vampire series, this is stark and brutal, and works fine for a dark, noir crime-thriller.

There are a few niggling typos and a least one continuity issue, but with a book this size (400 plus pages) it’s hardly surprising, and all can be forgiven when a book is this much FUN!

Remic has produced another fine example of how to thrill a reader. This crime thriller is dark and nasty, and that’s what makes it so good. Remic is a no-holds-barred writer and Serial Killer Incorporated is a no-holds-barred novel; massively entertaining, scary, exciting, and brutally nasty. I defy you to read it and not have a grin on your face when you’re finished.

http://anarchy-books.com

HARBINGER OF THE STORM By Aliette de Bodard – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by stanleyriiks

With the kind permission of Morpheus Tales. This review will appear in the April issue of the  MT Supplement.

You know how sometimes when you meet someone for the first time, for absolutely no reason that you can put your finger on, you have an instant dislike – like a kind of anti-chemistry – and as you get to know them a little better you find out your initial instinct was complete and absolutely correct? (Lots of people who meet me for the first time get this impression.) That’s what happened with this book.

It should have been fine. A murder mystery set in Aztec Mexico at the height of the Aztec empire, somewhere around the fifteen century. Sounds interesting enough. Except that it’s really not. It’s not a murder mystery for a start; it’s more a political drama with a few deaths and murders thrown in. This is not Poirot. The story is much more reminiscent of Macbeth or Hamlet as it follows of the political intrigues when the ruler dies and his replacement must be found.

The minutiae of finding the new leader is epic, on a scale that even those not taking an instant dislike to, will find hard to bare. De Bodard, in her afterword, says herself that the process would likely have been shorter than she’d written it. Of course it would. The only things that would feel longer would have been having my fingernails removed with pliers, or my testicles boiled on a low heat.

One of the problems with the book is that you just don’t care. The characters, with their incomprehensible and mispronounce-able names, are interchangeable, having no distinguishing characteristics. The fact that half of them are priests and the other half are imperial family doesn’t help matters. There’s so little tension that a couple of deaths acts only to wake you up a little.

The fantastic Aztec Mexican setting is ruined by keeping everything within the courtly areas of the temples. There’s no jungle, no danger, no atmosphere. The Aztec setting, rather than spicing things up just adds to the confusion with the many-syllable names and a little of their religion. For one of the most blood-thirsty warrior nations in the world there’s little blood-shed, only once is sacrifice mentioned, and there’s absolutely nothing to help alleviate the boredom.

Can a book really be that bad? Everything good you might imagine should be contained in this book has somehow been removed. It’s rather like my mother’s cooking, when at her worse she manages to remove everything that’s good from every single ingredient until what you end up with is a vapid, insipid, flavourless slop. De Bodard seems to have fashioned this book in the same way. What should work just does not, and it doesn’t work unrelentingly. A failure of epic proportions, but a book that can be read. Probably the worst book I remember finishing, but finish it I did, and I feel quite proud to have suffered such torment and survived. I can only hope that Volume 1 in the Obsidian and Blood series was very different, and that the following third volume won’t make the same mistakes as the second.

Of course there are worse fates than having to read this book again, waterboarding or the aforementioned bollock boiling. Both of which I would recommend before attempting to read this.

www.angryrobotbooks.com

DROOD By Dan Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This is Wilkie Collins’ journal of some of his adventures with Charles Dickens during the last few years of the great writer’s life, including the mysterious encounters with Drood, and Wilkie’s increasing dependency on opium.

The authenticity is the book’s downfall, this reads very much like a mid-nineteenth century novel, it’s over-wordy and over-long, and yet you’re enveloped in a fog-filled London full of opium dens, whores and private policeman.

Drood is either a dangerous criminal mastermind, a mesmerist, or a figment of either Wilkie’s or Dickens’ imagination. At the end of the novel you’re still not sure.

Massively detailed, and perfectly acceptable as an alternative history, the book fits perfectly into the real world of facts we have about both writers. Its entertaining, in its way, but suffers for being so long, and wrapping itself, as well as the reader, in circles of mystery that there is no escape from.

Fascinating, but ultimately too much like hard work, for those willing to sacrifice the weeks needed to read all seven hundred pages you will feel faintly rewarded. Not one of Simmons best book, his Hyperion quartet is amazingly brilliant, and this suffers, like Ilium, from being over-written.

A brilliant writer again not at his best.

DARKER By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Richard Young, his wife and their four year old daughter Amy wave off Mark, their eldest child as he goes camping with friends. Little knowing that this week, while their son is away, they will be in a race for their lives across the UK, fighting to stay alive as they are chased round the country by a huge, invisible, crushing thing. They are joined in their plight by a multi-millionaire, Michael, who believes what he calls “the beast” can be controlled and he has a team of scientists trying to work out how to contain the ancient power.

This has a fairly slow start, not really much happening for the first sixty or seventy pages, as everyone is introduced and the happy family angle is played up. But when the action does kick it it’s full steam ahead, a frantic chase as the beast chases the family and their visitor Michael, who drip-feeds them information. All the while they are also chased by Rosemary Snow who is somehow linked to Amy, and knows just what a bad man Michael really is. He tried to kill her.

Mmm… While you’re reading this it’s actually quite good, typical thriller, full-on action which doesn’t give you a chance to think. You go along with the story because it keeps you entertained, you ignore the implausibility because it’s fun, you ignore the lack of good characters because the story sweeps you up. And it really does, despite its many errors and mistakes, and a complete disregard for the use of the comma, the story sweeps you up like a whirlwind, swings you round and won’t let you go till it’s finished with you and chucks you out the other end! Ok, so we don’t really care what happens to these people, the explanations are fairly implausible and at times ridiculous, as though the plot hasn’t really been thought out that much. But this is like a rollercoaster ride of a novel, you enjoy it while you’re enthralled in the action, despite the fact you’re left wondering “was that it?” at the end.

Clark is a much better writer than this book shows him to be. Fun, exciting, but lacking in substance.