Posts Tagged With: Thriller

Replica by Lexi Revellian

Title: Replica
Author: Lexi Revellian
ISBN: 978-0956642240
Publisher: Hoxton Press
First Published: June 2011
No .of pages: 290

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Fantastic Fiction):
Beth Chandler, bright, attractive but unassertive, is accidentally replicated in a flawed experiment at the government research institute where she works. A second Beth comes into being, complete with all her memories. To Sir Peter Ellis, MI5 chief, the replica is an embarrassment that must be hushed up and disposed of. Overhearing him, Beth Two goes on the run. With no official existence, homeless, penniless and pursued by Sir Peter’s agents, she has to find the inner strength and aggression to survive on icy London streets. Meanwhile the original Beth, unaware of what has happened, becomes romantically involved with Nick Cavanagh, the spec op she believes is there to protect her. In fact, he’s hunting her double. Nick refuses to face his moral doubts about Beth Two – as far as he’s concerned, it’s not his problem. As events unfold, and the situation grows more complicated, he has to decide whose side he is on.

Review:
Two years ago, I read and reviewed an earlier novel by Lexi Revellian called Remix. I loved it, so when I was offered the chance to review a second novel, Replica, I jumped at it.

I wasn’t disappointed!

Plunging straight into the action seems to be something of a Revellian trait, as Replica doesn’t hang around. By page 8, major events have already occurred and we’re having to deal with the aftermath of some pretty earth-shattering revelations very soon afterwards. Suspension of disbelief can be a major hang-up of mine if the subject matter isn’t handled well, but Lexi is a real pro – with everyone aware of science’s progress with cloning the notion of replication is an unnervingly real prospect, and the lack of overly scientific jargon to explain everything away (which might have hampered proceedings, making them seem contrived and unrealistic while bogging the reader down in “facts” they do not need) adds to that sense of realism – we just accept it as a matter of fact and run with it.

The writing is ludicrously easy to read – honestly, I have very rarely come across a writer whose words seem so effortless to read and it’s a real joy to get into the story and characters so quickly it feels like one has known them for years. Even with two Beths who start out essentially the same person, but through their very different experiences after the replication, rapidly become completely separate and instantly recognisable, it never becomes even remotely confusing – one is always acutely aware of who is who.

In the hands of a lesser writer, this could have been a real mess, but Revellian takes a nifty idea and writes it so neatly that when we reach the shocking conclusion, there are aspects which one honestly didn’t see coming, but afterwards one realises it couldn’t have happened any other way.

On the back of enjoying this novel (and the previous one) so much, I can hardly wait to read Ice Diaries!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Grassmarket Blood by Bronwen Winter Phoenix

From the first line of the ‘Author Disclaimer’ – I am a teller of tall tales – you knew that this was going to be a good book. As an avid reader of Bronwen’s first two books, I could not wait to get started on GRASSMARKET BLOOD. Fast paced from the beginning, I was absorbed instantly into the secret world hidden in the streets of Edinburgh. A thriller full of sinister suspense with a touch of romance and quick wit, it kept me turning the pages. Likeable characters with their own quirky traits, made Grassmarket Blood very readable as well as gripping. Once again Bronwen has written an extremely brilliant, fantastic book, which didn’t disappoint. Bronwen’s stories just gets better and better.

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Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek

Addition: Borrowed, paperback

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

No witnesses, no evidence, no body: Star psychologist Viktor Larenz’s twelve-year-old daughter, Josy, who had suffered from an inexplicable illness, has vanished under mysterious circumstances during a visit to her doctor, and the investigation into her disappearance has brought no results. Four years later, Viktor remains a man shattered by this tragedy. He has retreated to a remote vacation cottage on a North Sea island, where a beautiful stranger named Anna Glass pays him a visit. She claims to be a novelist who suffers from an unusual form of schizophrenia: all the characters she creates for her books become real. While writing her most recent novel, Anna has been tortured by visions of a little girl with an unknown illness who has vanished without a trace, and she asks Dr. Larenz to treat her. Viktor reluctantly begins therapy sessions with the stranger, but very soon these sessions take a dramatic turn as the past is dragged back into the light. What really happened to Josy? Do Anna’s delusions describe Josy’s last days? And is Larenz a danger to himself and others?

Therapy is an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, an intelligent, fast and furious read that will stay with you for a long time after you have followed Viktor into the depths of his own psyche, and have figured out who Anna Glass really is.

I received this book as part of a bookring, and I loved it! This is not the sort of book I generally read and was therefore apprehensive about whether or not I would like this book. As it happened, I thought it was incredible.

Dr Viktor Larenz is a renowned psychologist, but when we meet him he is strapped down in a mental hospital because of the mysterious events that happened to his daughter and the effect they had on him. Josy, his daughter had been suffering from a disease the doctors couldn’t diagnose when she goes missing. One minute she is in the waiting room, the next she has vanished. The search for her has revealed nothing, and distraught Viktor goes to stay a cottage on a remote island. It is there he meets Anna Glass. She is a patient wanting his help, because what she writes about in her novels then comes true. And she has created a story about a girl who goes missing. Is this girl Josy? Can Anna help Viktor find Josy?

The plot and pace of this book were exceptional. I had no idea what the twist was going to be. Every time I thought I had it sussed, something happened which meant my theory fell through. Fitzek keeps you guessing right up to the end, and the suspense and drama make for a great read. Strange things happen, and the atmosphere is built dramatically and well while Viktor is on the island – especially as Anna keeps appearing from nowhere, then disappearing, then being armed and so on.I found the descriptions of the island easy to grasp, and as I sit here writing this review I can still picture the cottage and the events that went with it.

I was convinced by the characters and draw into the story. I felt so sorry for Viktor and everything that ails him in this story. It seemed like at every turn he was defeated but he seemed to keep going. I found Anna fascinating. She was odd, her stories raised questions and led me down the wrong road and kept me gripped the whole way through.

I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book. I didn’t guess the twist, but it was very good and satisfying. I lent this to my Mum and she read it in a day and loved it too. Although this is completely different to my usual genre choices, I really enjoyed this book and was glad I picked it up. It is fast paced, it is exciting and it is a great story. I will be looking out for more books by Fitzek – I really hope more get translated. This is a must-read book.

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The Synchronicity Factor by Stephen T Hancock

Title: The Synchronicity Factor

Author: Stephen T Hancock

ISBN:
978 1848746 637

Publisher: Matador / Troubador Publishing

First Published: 2010

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon.co.uk):

Following his wife’s death and his dismissal from the Argento Corporation, micro engineer Dr Andrew King undergoes a mid-life crisis. Driven by unknown forces, he creates a remarkable timepiece of unimaginable beauty. His life begins to change in strange and subtle ways as he discovers that the timepiece, with its powerfully symbolic engravings encapsulates the mysterious principle of Synchronicity

Review:
All the online product descriptions I found of Stephen T Hancock’s debut thriller, The Synchronicity Factor, likened it to Dean Koontz and Ian Fleming, which had me worried at such an odd mix, as I love Koontz, but hate Fleming. Fortunately, Hancock seems to have a good handle on the blend and I found his novel rather enjoyable.

It’s a little slow to start, with lots of seemingly unconnected episodes that take some time to come together, but I found myself being drawn into proceedings on an almost unconscious level and I quickly cared for the lead character of Andrew King who is very personable.

With this kind of plot, there’s always a danger that the flow of the story will get bogged down in a lot of technical and/or mystical jargon, but the necessary information is relayed in a natural way so that the revelations are made to both the characters and the reader without it feeling like one is wading through a textbook and being tempted to skip pages to get back to the narrative.

The tension builds slowly and then almost explodes, which leaves the ending feeling just a tiny bit deflated, but not so much that it mars the enjoyment of the novel overall. The concepts are intriguing and the characters are written in such a way that one is never quite sure when someone completely likeable might turn out to have ulterior motives of a darker nature.

This is a very promising start to Hancock’s writing career and I will look forward to reading his future works.

www.stephenthancock.co.uk

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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The Mermaid’s Purse by Katy Gardner

Waterstone’s Synopsis:

Cass Bainbridge is being stalked. New job, new home, new life. Cass has moved to Brighton to start over as a lecturer at the university. But she’s already acquired some unwanted baggage. Someone’s watching her & they’ve even taken photos. She’s being followed, too. And then there are the anonymous and threatening emails she’s receiving. With an unknown assailant attacking students on campus, Cass fears for her life. Is she to be the next random victim? Or is there a more sinister reason she’s been targeted?

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book, but I really enjoyed it. Throughout the book you learn about Cass and Beth, a needy student looking for comfort in Cass. Beth seems to be everywhere, but with life changing and getting out of control she offers a distraction for Cass. But there is something sinister going on; and Alec the difficult student seems to be making Cass’ life even more difficult.

I would categorise this as a psychological thriller. There was suspense, twists and revelations. I enjoyed the book right from the beginning and was hooked right up until the ending. I was quite surprised with the outcome – I had jumped to a different outcome altogether. The twist at the end and the revelation made the book very good.

I liked Cass. I felt empathy for her and got freaked out when she did. Gardner wrote great characters. Some bugged me, some weirded me out, but all of them provoked a reaction. She also wrote a good story. I felt tense when I was suppose to and found myself guessing the ending.

This was not a hard read, it didn’t take me long to get through it, and I really enjoyed it. I decided to read this for my dissertation and I am pleased with that decision. If you are into thrillers and mysteries, this book is for you.

4/5

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An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

an ice cold grave

Synopsis from Amazon:

Harper Connelly was struck by lightning as a teenager, and now she can find the dead. In her third case, Harper and Tolliver, her stepbrother, are hired to find a missing grandson. But the truth is far worse than a single dead child, for numerous teenage boys, all unlikely runaways, have disappeared from Doraville, North Carolina. Harper soon finds the eight bodies, buried in the half-frozen ground, but then, still reeling from coming into contact with her first serial killer, she is attacked and injured. Now she and Tolliver have no choice but to stay in Doraville while she recovers, and as she reluctantly becomes part of the investigation, she learns more than she cares to about the dark mysteries and long-hidden secrets of the town: knowledge that makes her the most likely person to be next to end up in an ice-cold grave.

This is the third book in Harris’ Harper Connelly series, and of course, is as good as the other two – both of which I gave top-ratings too.

In this installment, Harper is in South Carolina. The grandmother of a missing teenage boy has contacted them to see if she can find his body. Not only does Harper find the body of one boy, she finds the bodies of eight. In this small town, a serial killer is at large. At once the place is swarming with police and the media. However, having had his dirty secret revealed by Harper, she is his next victim, and he lands her in hospital. Yet that is not the end of his man nor the investigation…

Well, this is by far the most creepy, what with it being a serial killer, who did horrific things to the boys before their deaths. Along with the suspense is an engaging and exciting book. Harris does not whip out of writing about the horrors of rape and torture – and although that is very sinister, it adds to the book. As ever, she continuesstory lines from the other two books – such as Tolliver’s and Harper’s changing relationship and their missing sister Cameron.

I love this series and am so looking forward to the next one, which is out later this year (2009). Harris is gripping and exciting. I love the way she writes and her characters. I enjoy reading about Harper, the realism in her physical pain and the way she becomes emotionally involved with the cases and the people. I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

10/10

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Little Face by Sophie Hannah

Little Face is the best thriller I have read in a very long time. It begins with Alice returning from her first anxious trip away from her newborn baby. She returns home to discover the front door of her house open, and her husband asleep. When she rushes to greet her baby in the nursery, she is shocked to discover that it doesn’t look like the one she left just a short time ago. No-one believes that her baby has disappeared, assuming she is just a paranoid new mother. It is only when further unexplained events start to occur, that they wonder what the truth really is….

The writing was incredibly easy to read. I flew through the pages, as I was so keen to discover what was really happening. There were many points when I thought I’d worked in out, but as with all great thrillers I didn’t get close! This is more than just a straight crime novel, there are many elements of psychology in here. The almost obsessive behaviour of a new mother is well observed, and I emphasized immensely with the central character, Alice, as she struggles with the thought that her husband may have swapped her baby. The relationships between the members of the dysfunctional family were very credible, and the interferring mother-in-law reminded me of many stories I have heard from new mothers recently.

Unlike much of the crime fiction I have read recently this contained no unlikely coincidences. The plot was as realistic as it is possible to get, while retaining many clever twists.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys well written thrillers, or has an interest in the psychology of new mothers.

9/10

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Nameless Night by G. M. Ford

Synopsis (from back of book):
Discovered lying near death in a railroad car, his body broken, his mind destroyed, Paul Hardy has spent the past seven years living in a group home for disabled adults, his identity and his past lost – seemingly forever. Then, after a horrific car accident, he awakens a new man, his face reconstructed, and his mind shadowy with memory. With only a name and a vaguely remembered scene to guide him, he goes on a cross-country quest to find out who he really is. But his search for the truth makes a lot of people uncomfortable – from the DA’s office to the highest levels of the government. Soon Paul is being tailed by an army of pursuers as he finds himself at the centre of a government cover-up that has claimed too many innocent lives – and the numbers are mounting. It’s the kind of thing that could make even a man on the outskirts of society feel the pull of justice that might be worth killing for. Or dying for…

Review:
From the shocking opening scenes to the dizzying heights of the finale, Nameless Night had me hooked – I just couldn’t put it down! Watching the lead character of Paul slowly uncovering the secrets of his identity, never sure of where the next lead might take him or what the consequences might be, was breathtaking and wouldn’t have been half so engrossing if handled by a writer with a lesser skill.

The writing is taut, the action is fast-paced and the character interaction is completely believable at every step. There’s danger at every turn, not only for Paul, but for those he comes to know, trust and love. There’s a real feeling of frenetic activity that has been captured perfectly – I was actually breathless at moments and found myself turning the pages faster and faster just to find out what would happen next.

Despite the darkness of the subject, G. M. Ford manages to pull it off with a lightness of touch that is surprising and refreshing, making Nameless Night something a little out of the ordinary.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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