Archive for murderer

KILL THE DEAD By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2013 by stanleyriiks

It’s not often that a book comes along that excites me. It’s not often that anything excites me. In fact, it’s a very rare occasion that anything wakes me from the tortured stupor that is my day to day life. I read almost constantly to escape the dull oblivion that is my pitiful existence.

And then a book like this comes along…

James Stark (demon fighter and part-Angel celebrity) is dragged into LA’s zombie while being Lucifer’s bodyguard. And that’s barely scraping the surface of this story, but I don’t want to ruin the surprises in store for you.

This is the second book in the Sandman Slim series, and if I haven’t read the first book then go read it. Go now. What are you waiting? Go, just go. No, don’t read any further, get it now! Right now I tell you!

You could probably pick this book up and struggle along to catch up, but don’t. The first book is a hell of a story (literally), and there’s far too much you’ll have missed out on if you start the series with book two. Although this is pretty much a stand-alone story, this is very much the second part of a series, and there’s a ton of background (and it’s really fun background!) that you’ll miss out on if you skip the first book. Do not skip the first book! DO NOT!

Stark is a serious piece of work, an alcoholic, chain-smoking, demon assassin, murderer, kick-ass detective; just the kind of dude Lucifer wants as a bodyguard. Our hellish anti-hero is a brilliantly humorous, angry young man, killing vampires and zombies with witty asides, and inventive techniques.

Kadrey has produced an LA dripping with monster filth, which works so well. This is a city bound-up with demons and hellions, drowning in Sub-Rosa (magical families), and is an antidote to those good folks in the Harry Potter novels. These magicians would cook up Harry and his pals for breakfast and then shit them out as zombies. This is hardcore witchcraft, terror and death.

This book is demented genius. Kadrey raised the bar for urban fantasy with Sandman Slim, and the expectations were high for the second book in the series. Not only does Kadrey gives us another exciting episode, but he continues to explore one of the most fascinating and engaging narrators/creatures in modern genre literature.

Sandman Slim is dead. Long live Sandman Slim!

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33AD: A Vampire Novel By David McAfee – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book that has so many problems. But I did rather enjoy this.

The Romans have taken control of Jerusalem, but the Jewish population aren’t happy about it. A young rabbi named Jesus is causing problems. And a vampire assassin is loose in the city…

Romans, vampires and Jesus. What more could you ask for?

The story begins as a kind of murder mystery as Roman Legionary Taras sets out in search of the murderer of two city guards. He comes across a Vampire Gatehouse, although he doesn’t know what it is, when he follows a man suspected of the murders. That man isn’t a man at all, but a vampire assassin, sent out by the Council of Thirteen to rid the world of any that know about their secret.

What follows is conspiracy, betrayal, murder, lies, more conspiracy, bloodshed, torture, another conspiracy, and treachery.

McAfee doesn’t lack ambitious, the plot involves various nefarious doings and plots by the main characters, and he manages to imbue this ancient world with a realism that holds. The action is plentiful and keeps the pace of the story going along fast enough to take your mind from the various small problems the book has.

And now we come to those problems… As a small-press book you don’t expect the sheen and polish you would expect from a major publisher, so the many typos can be forgiven. The stupidity of some of the characters and their actions becomes a little tedious as it continues throughout the book. The predictability of many of the plot “twists” and ease with which everything falls into place, calling into question the presence of an editor’s firm hand, become sigh-worthy by the end of the book.

There are times when this book will make you groan, as the writer writes himself into a corner and then must abuse his plot to find his way out; there are times when you will sigh with frustration, knowing what is going to happen before the hapless characters falls into the obvious trap or plot twist; and there are times when you will want to scream at the writer to not repeat himself, again, and just get on with telling the story.

And yet these are minor foibles that do take away from the book, but don’t ruin it. This is still an enjoyable romp. With the steading hand of a good editor and a bit of rewriting, this could be a bloody excellent book.

Action, violence, vampire conspiracies, Roman soldiers, lust, murder and Jesus. Surely you can’t want more than that? Shows great promise, and it’s not too difficult to look past the problems and enjoy this lusty, bloodthirsty tale.

BLACK FEATHERS By Joseph D’Lacey – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Printed with the kind permission of Morpheus Tales. This review will appear in the forthcoming (very soon!) Morpheus Tales Supplement!

Black Feathers is the first the first volume in the Black Dawn Duology. A story of an environmental apocalypse…

Gordon Black is born into a world that is starting to crumble. The very Earth is sick, its disease is humanity. Floods, solar flares, famine, financial crises, earthquakes, mudslides. The old saying that society is only 72 hours from falling apart is going to be tested.

The Black family can see what’s happening. They start saving tinned food, hoarding supplies, preparing for the worst. But they can’t prepare for The Ward (a multinational corporation, part police, part military, part government). The Ward takes control of a faltering nation. They “collect” people and their belongings, taking whatever they want or need. They are self-proclaimed saviours of humanity. Gordon’s family is collected and imprisoned by The Ward for hoarding supplies, but the teenage boy manages to escape with his life and sets off to find the mysterious figure called The Crowman: a figure that some say is Satan, and others say is the saviour. While The Ward chase Gordon down, he attempts to find The Crowman.

This is a story of discovery. Gordon and Megan Maurice (who also searches for The Crowman) set off into the wilderness to try to find answers although they don’t even know what questions they need answering. Both are at the mercy of a humanity shattered and broken, as well as rapists, murderers, liars, thieves. Both must discover the truth about the Earth, The Crowman, and what happened to the world.

D’Lacey paints a disturbing picture of the apocalypse, giving hints of the epic dangers and actions that took place, while focusing on the lives of our main characters and telling the story of these epic events through our protagonists. The horrors, instead of the numbing millions, are directly relatable to the terrors that both teenagers face. The human de-evolution due to the crisis is dangerously clear at every stage. Each new face they meet is a potential danger.

This first book sets up the scene nicely, gives us a lot of the background, and sets up a nice cliff-hanger ending that’s left me ready for more. D’Lacey gives us hints of the horrors of the apocalypse, making it a mystery for our protagonists to discover. The story is carefully laid out for the reader to interpret. This is intelligent and subtle, with life-threatening dangers on an individual scale, not an action-filled battle for Earth’s survival. Not yet at least; there may well be some of that in the second book in this duology (and from the author of MEAT, I’m really looking forward to that).

Black Feathers is an original and intelligent apocalypse story. It’s a myth-filled fable of the end of the world on an individual basis. It’s a coming-of-age story set on a cruel and broken Earth.

D’Lacey writes with a power and conviction that is scary. This could well be our future. Bring on volume two! Right now! I need to know what happens next!

www.angryrobotbooks.com

HELL TO PAY By Shaun Hutson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This book from 2004, follows a similar pattern to Hutson’s other “horror’ thrillers of the time such as White Ghost.  Around this time, Huston seems to leave the supernatural horror of his previous books behind and head into this new “thriller” territory. Normally there would still be plenty of violence and disturbing gruesome descriptions (that Hutson’s known for) to up the ante on the usual thrillers out there.

Hell to Pay follows the same principles, including the various plot-lines intersecting towards the end for a climactic showdown.

Nikki Reed is in trouble, big trouble. Her and her husband owe the local gangster twenty thousand pounds, most of it spent down the bookies and gambled away, the rest spent on Playstation 2s and similar unrequired accessories. They have until the end of the week to find the money, or they’re likely to be killed by the loan shark, who is already threatening them with violence.

Roma Todd is having an affair. Her husband is virtually estranged, spending all of his time at work and providing little in the way of parental support for their ill daughter Kirsten.

Detective Inspector Fielding is called to another murder. A young boy found washed up by a lake. The third child to be killed. Is it a serial killer they are looking for or a paedophile? Or both? With few clues to follow the police are searching for any lead they can get.

So these three plot lines will eventually intersect, but the climatic action denouement that you would expect ultimately fails to be realised. There is a slight twist, but not enough to satisfy.

One of the great things about Hutson’s novels is the pop-culture references, but reading a book that’s eight years old mean searching through the annals of history. That’s not Hutson’s fault obviously, the fact the book has been lying on my shelf for eight years though is down to the dissatisfied feeling I had after reading White Ghost. That is Hutson’s fault.

Ultimately Hutson is a decent writer who has moved away from what he was good at, writing horror novels, to have a go at the more lucrative thriller market where he does not excel. Nowadays Gary McMahon does urban horror with a much better grasp of the intricacies of modern youth culture, and a better handle on violence and atmosphere.

To write off Hutson as a has-been based on a book written eight years ago is far too harsh. Some of his novels, those that I grew up with such as Nemesis, Death Day, and Relics, are classic British horror. I need to read a more recent Hutson novel to make a more informed decision, and because of his former skill he can’t be written off after a couple of decent, if not impressive, horror thrillers. Decision pending…

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.

FATHER’S LITTLE HELPER By Ronald Kelly – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2010 by stanleyriiks

There are certain things about this book that I liked. But most of it is plain and simple and slightly stupid.

The book starts off with Richard McFarland finally having enough one Christmas morning in 1978, and, finding a shotgun, goes to a church near where his car has broken down and shoots half the parishioners.

Fourteen years later, Sonny Beechum’s fascination with true crime comes to a head when he realises he is the son of Richard McFarland and goes on a rampage, heading towards the small town of Cedar Bluff where he aims to finish his father’s work.

All well and good, we’re set up for a reverse revenge tragedy, an all-out action-fest with guns blazing. And to a certain extent that’s what we get. Sonny’s actions take him across country, killing whoever gets in his way, following the instructions of his dearly departed father, whether he appears is a ghost or a figment of Sonny’s fragmented reality.

The problem is that it’s all too easy. Sonny’s a teenager with a shotgun, and yet he’s outsmarting the idiotic police department, the FBI and all the other law enforcement officers. The FBI are unwilling to get more than a single agent involved for most of the book in case the town gets scared. When they do bring some more people in, one a highly trained former soldier, he gets killed almost instantly.

The fact is it’s too easy for Sonny to go around the country killing people indiscriminately. It’s not that easy, and this is where the book falls down. There’s barely any struggle, the teenager is running rings around the police. Our “hero” is meant to be the town Sheriff, but he’s as easily duped as all the rest, and you can’t help enjoying the idiots getting their just desserts. Sonny becomes the anti-hero and you don’t want him to caught until he’s finished with these muppets.

Also we have the problem of characters. There aren’t any worth caring about, which just makes you root for the murderer even more.

Apart from the complete lack of plausibility – throwing in the dad as adviser and Sonny’s true-crime obsession are just not enough to convince us he’s a criminal mastermind – this is a nice violent action novel. I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying it’s a thriller, but there’s enough here to keep you entertained if you can forgive it its problems.

Not bad, but certainly not good. If you find a copy it’s worth reading, but I wouldn’t for a second suggest seeking it out.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK By Neil Gaiman – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by stanleyriiks

It’s difficult to review a book like there. And there are so few books like this. Books that you experience, rather than read. Books which envelope you, books which takes you to a new world and let you explore that world and introduce you to new friends.

Books that touch you. Writers that speak to you.

These are rare things. Much like The Thief of Always, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Graveyard Book is a tale of wonder, of imagination, a coming of age tale of adventure.

Nobody Owens’s family is killed one night when he’s a toddler, and whilst the murderer is searching for him, Bod slips out and finds himself in a graveyard, adopted by the ghosts who live there. But to keep Bod safe from the murderer he can’t leave his new home, and must learn to live the life of a live human within his ghostly confines.

Bod slowly grows up, learning the skills he needs to survive in his strange surroundings, but longing for the life of a live person, without even knowing it.

Gaiman creates a magical world, part Harry Potter, part Tim Burton. The plot follows the trials and tribulations of Bod’s growing up, a simple tale, but with the ever growing presence of the murderer making life all the more difficult for the young child.

Ok, so there are several places where things are nicely slotted into place and then become suddenly important, Bod meeting a witch and then needing her magic to escape after being trapped by a dodgy pawnbroker. But these aren’t glaring, and it’s only those reading this with a critical eye that are likely to notice.

And that’s what I mean by this being a difficult book to review. While you read it you enjoy it, you love every minute of it. You can’t help but feel a tug at the heartstrings every time you put it down, the urge to continue discovering the story made me finish the book in barely two days, despite a full-time job interfering.

This is the kind of book that children should be made to read. Not because they can learn from it, although they will, but because this is the sort of book that makes you feel you have discovered a wonderful, magical world, and will make children want to read more.

The Graveyard Book will no doubt make Gaiman many more fans, and deservedly so. He’s created a wonderful world and filled it with people who you can’t help but love.

Enchanting and beautiful. I cannot recommend this book enough.