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SHE WHO WAITS By Daniel Polansky – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2018 by stanleyriiks

The third and final book in the Low Town trilogy, a grim-dark fantasy set in the filth pit of Low Town, where our anti-hero, Warden, rules with an iron fist, treading a careful path between the city guard, the larger crime families, the corrupt but powerful Black House and his various enemies.

But Warden knows his cards are marked, there are too many people out to kill him and the whole of Low Town is about to go up in smoke as two crews are about to make war and he’s in the middle of it. So he hatches a plot to escape with his ragtag family. But will he make his escape? Will Low Town implode before he gets on his ship? Will he escape the clutches of his enemies as their numbers continue to grow?

Polansky has created a brilliantly realised world, and inhabited it with a bunch of interesting criminal types. This third book doesn’t really add anything to the world, but brings the story to a close in a satisfying way.

Better to start with the first book in the series, although all of the books are roughly stand-alone stories, they read better as a set and are quick and easy to read.

I’ll be checking out Polansky’s other books soon.

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TOMORROW, THE KILLING By Daniel Polansky – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by stanleyriiks

The second book in the Low Town trilogy, we find Warden (former soldier and current drug-dealer and drunkard/junkie) embroiled in a search for a missing rich girl.
(Spoiler alert!)

When she turns up dead he sets out for revenge on a grand scale, involving the local Veterans Association, a criminal gang, and the Low Town equivalent of the FBI: a nasty bunch of bastards from Black House.

If you’re not familiar with the Low Town novels, you could easily start with this one as it’s a pretty much a standalone novel. But you would miss out on a good amount of background and scene setting, and the first book is also pretty good and worthy of your attention.

The second book in the series sees more of the same, violence, action, drunkenness, twisting and turning plots, crime investigation, and Warden’s amusing attitude. He’s a fast-talking anti-hero you don’t want to cross.

Polansky’s world is well-developed and rich with filth, but it’s the characters that really stand-out, as they are imbued with the fragilities of humanity and jump off the page at you, screaming and hankering for your throat.

Good stuff, fast, action packed, easy reading fantasy. Dirty, grimy and thoroughly filthy, this is dark fantasy at it’s gloriously nastiest.

ODD HOURS By Dean Koontz – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2018 by stanleyriiks

The fourth book in the Odd Thomas series see our hero in Magic Beach. Just a short time after his adventures at the monastery (see Brother Odd), Odd is working for a retired film actor and heads towards the pier where he meets up with a strange young pregnant woman. The pair encounter a menacing group of men, Odd ends up in the sea fighting for his life, and he is the witness and only one who can stop, a massive terrorist conspiracy to nuke major cities in America…

Odd’s special powers, being able to talk to ghosts and find things he’s looking for, come in handy as he desperately tries to investigate and stop the bombing of America.

The Odd Thomas books are pleasant, easy-reading. Koontz doesn’t go very hard with the tension, the action or the pace of the novels. They kind of meander towards the inevitable conclusion. But they are fun, and the characters are really what make the books something special. Odd is funny, intelligent in a simple way and sweet, and his interactions with a whole bunch of strange characters, including the ghost of Frank Sinatra, are really what make these books worth reading.

Good fun, not the best of the Odd books, as the first one is definitely the one to beat, but the formula works well enough, so Koontz isn’t about to try and fix it.

ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2018 by stanleyriiks

Bond is after Blofeld again, and heads to the Alps in his search after procuring some information from a very helpful Corsican gangster, whose daughter falls for our hero. But as Bond enters the strange lair of the master criminal he soon realises that he is as much a prisoner as the rest of the group, and then comes to the conclusion that another master crime is about to be perpetrated.

Can Bond escape the clutches of Blofeld? Can he discover the master criminal’s plans and thwart them? Will he find love and happiness?

Fleming gives us a bit more insight into the character of Bond, who, at the start of the book is fed-up and thinking of quitting the service. His interest in sparked by a girl, and over the course of the book he falls in love. Has the womanising spy finally been tamed?

Fleming is moving with the times, his classic pulp fictions no longer enough for a modern audience, he adds an element of realism to his character. For the modern reader we have the use of biological weapons, a rather too modern reality, to contend with.

Even more than before this Bond book is a modern thriller, seeing plenty of action and car chases, that become the hallmark of the Bond films.

Fleming ramps up the pace of the book towards a shocking climax.

Brilliant Bond at his best.

HORNS By Joe Hill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2018 by stanleyriiks

When Ig wakes up after a night he can’t remember his lack of memory is the least of his problems: he has developed horns, like a devil, that make people tell him their deepest, darkness thoughts. And as Ig is the town pariah, thought to have murdered his childhood sweetheart, the truths he hears are unkind to say the least…

Hill is a natural storyteller, much like his father, and manages to suck you into the story and his characters. This book reminded me of King’s work, as well as Odd Thomas by Koontz.

It’s the murder mystery that initially draws you in, but the characters are what continue to keep your interest after the mystery is solved.

Involving and entertaining, but lacking a sufficiently explosive climax. The book further cements Hill as one of the best writers of horror in America.

BLAST FROM THE PAST By Ben Elton – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2017 by stanleyriiks

I read Stark, Elton’s first book, when I was at school. It was funny, political, interesting. I watched The Young Ones, Blackadder, and The Thin Blue Line. I’d seen some of Elton’s stand-up on TV. I wasn’t obsessive, but I considered myself a fan.

I probably bought this book around the time it came out in 1998 and just haven’t got round to reading it. Nearly twenty years after the book came out it hasn’t really dated. It’s still as relevant as it was back then.

It’s the story of a young woman, Polly, who, after having an affair with a US soldier based at Greenham Airbase in the 80s (she was a protester), gets a phone call from him at 2.15 in the morning. She’s also being stalked by a man she called the Bug.

Although the book follows the conversations, it’s about the lives of these characters, their interactions with each other, and the impact of the initial affair.

But, it’s not classic Elton. It’s not particularly funny, there are no laugh out loud moments, and only the occasional smiles. The characters are fairly well rounded, but occasionally come across as typical stereotypes. The plot feels like a writing exercise: can I write a whole book based on a few hours of conversation one night. And it’s all fairly predictable.

That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, and despite some issues I have with Elton’s all over the place writing style, it draws you in and you want to find out what happens next. It is easy reading.

Not Elton’s best by a long shot, out of his first five books (this is the fifth) this is the least successful.

I still have about four Elton books hidden on my shelves somewhere, but on the strength of this one I won’t be searching them out immediately.

A THOUSAND SONS By Graham McNeill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2017 by stanleyriiks

The Horus Heresy is about to begin. The traitor hasn’t yet shown his true colours.

The Thousand Sons are the most advanced warriors when it comes to using the Great Ocean, what will come to be known as the Warp. Magnus the Red, their fearless one-eyed leader, is desperate to warn the Emperor of the impending chaos that is coming when he learns of it through his powers.

But others are plotting to put a stop to the Thousand Sons and their use of the knowledge of the warp, calling it sorcery.
There will be a judgement on the planet of Nikaea that will have repercussions across the universe.

While it’s always good to see the stories of the people and the warriors of the massively epic Heresy, this is part of it that truly resonates across the galaxy. The Thousand Sons will become chaos-infested monsters in the future of the 40K universe, but here they are fiercely loyal warriors of the Emperor.

Their destiny is to be corrupted and this is the first step towards their destruction.

The judgement at Nikaea is a pivotal moment in the conflict that is yet to come.

This book has all the action and excitement we’ve come to expect from the 40K universe, and the Black Library. But, it also has well crafted characters, a deep back story, true conflict, and, what is normally lacking in SF novels, a heart.

McNeill has managed to create a quietly astounding novel in the Horus Heresy series. Ok, so it appears to have been cut in half and we have to wait for the other book to fully see the destruction of an entire Astartes legion, but this is still brother verses brother in an epic battle for the universe.

Great stuff from McNeill again, the Horus Heresy doesn’t get much better than this.