Sunday, December 18, 2011

Zero Day on my Lucky Day

Review of the new David Baldacci by @mrneil98

For those would have followed my recent posts, I was quite perturbed that Baldacci’s new release Zero Day, as well as the new Crichton, Micro, were listed at the “special” price of $14.99 for Nook and Kindle. Two weeks after their release the price dropped to the regular (but still too high) $12.99. I refused to purchase either book at either price, feeling manipulated by the publisher.

So last Saturday, while attending my local library’s semiannual book sale, I was surprised to see a copy of Zero Day resting on a shelf called “Lucky Day”. This section contains hot new releases that may be checked out for only seven days, cannot be renewed and have a $.25 a day late charge. I guess it was my lucky day, as I snatched the copy and made for the checkout counter. I had seven days to read the book for free.

It only took four. Zero Day is a quick read, well written and fast paced, full of interesting people and places that may seem familiar. Although John Puller is a new Baldacci central hero, he has many elements similar to his other characters Shaw (from Deliver Us From Evil) and Oliver Stone (From the Camel Club series). Still the comparison I found myself making most was with Jack Reacher from the Lee Child series.

Although elements were familiar, Baldacci is a very talented writer and is able to make even the familiar seem fresh and exciting. The story involves Puller, a Military criminal investigator, looking into the murder of a family in rural West Virginia. The locale, Drake, is perhaps the most interesting twist in the story and the part that reminded me the most of the travels and exploits of Jack Reacher. Puller hooks up with the town sheriff, a woman, and begins to realize that in small towns everyone is connected in some way.

While there are many twists in typical Baldacci fashion, I was drawn to the Puller’s relationship with his father, a military hero suffering from dementia, and his brother, serving life in prison for treason. The novel left the details of both of these relationship mostly untold, to be uncovered in later episodes of the series.

Is Zero Day worth the cost? For me it was, but it was my lucky day. If you are a Baldacci fan, you will not be disappointed. If you are new to him, this is not a bad place to start, with all new characters in a brand new series. If you want a trial, I would recommend Camel Club, the first in the Oliver Stone series to see if it is to your liking. For me, I am intrigued with Puller’s potential and look forward to the continuation of the series, especially to find out more about his father and brother.

Special Note: James Rollins will be annoucing the title of his next Sigma thriller at midnight PST on 12/20/11. The novel is tentatively scheduled for release June 26th, 2012. Stay tuned for updates.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review of Quick Kill by @mrneil98

And Interview with Author Patricia McCallum

Quick Kill is a fast paced mystery/thriller by Patricia McCallum, which introduces readers to an endearing new protagonist, Sydney Granger. Sydney is a female detective, small in stature but more than compensates with tenacity and courage. Sydney and her hunky partner, Mike Stanza, are involved in a string of murders, all occurring in a span of a few days. Initially there seems to be no connection between the victims aside from the gruesome manner in which they died. Through some fine detective work, Sydney and Mike race to the final exciting, and unexpected, conclusion.

For a debut novel, McCallum has created a thriller that warrants considerable attention. Her characters are likeable and believable while her storyline remains within the realm of reality, not an easy task when trying to create a new twist on the serial killer genre. McCallum, a member of the IBC, is off to a fantastic start and a promising future with Sydney Ganger leading the way, solving a wide assortment of cases.

Patricia agreed to answer some questions so we could get to know more about her:

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Quick Kill is set in Toronto. Are you from there?

Yes, I was born and raised in Toronto, then I left for 25 years to wander the earth. I have recently moved back from India and I'm attempting to 'settle down' once again! So far, so good. My next book might include some of the places I've lived in, so more of an international feel but keeping the main base in Toronto. Sydney loves Toronto.

2. While reading Quick Kill I was reminded of James Patterson works. Who are your influences when it comes to writing?

James Patterson, lol!! Thank-you, that is a awesome compliment for me! I also like Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman and Tess Gerritsen.

3. Musically gifted children play an important part in your thriller. Has music been an influence in your life?
Actually no, that idea came out of thin air. Of course, like everyone, I enjoy music but I could never sing or play a musical instrument to save my life. Not even the recorder!

4. Sydney, the police detective/protagonist, uses yoga as a relaxation. Is this something you have tried?

I'm a yoga instructor. I practice Moksha hot yoga at the moment and teach chair yoga to enthusiastic little old ladies. :)

5. What is next for Patricia McCallum? Another thriller or a venture in another direction?

Sydney definitely has more adventures in the future but another thriller idea I've had for awhile is dying to burst out of me. We shall see...

Thanks Patricia and we look forward to your next venture. You can pick up a copy of Quick Kill here and find out more about Patricia on her blog.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Red Hot Thrillers by @mrneil98

This post was inspired by two events from this week; the first was the announcement by Ray Bradbury to allow the release of Fahrenheit 451 as an e-book and the second was spending fifteen minutes every morning scraping frost off my windshield. I reflected back to this summer when I did a blog on “cold” thrillers after an especially hot week. I know it is early in what may prove to be a long, cold winter but I would like to select some thrillers to help keep out the cold. .

After eliminating dozens of “fire” titles due to the use of fire in relation to shooting a gun, I whittled the voluminous pile to my top five thrillers. While I tried to achieve the initial warming from the title, the setting of the novel was far more important to elevating the temperature of my psyche. The selection process was difficult and I had to omit classics like the aforementioned Fahrenheit 451, Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone and James Rollin’s Sandstorm. So here they are in David Letterman-esque countdown form:

5. Echo Burning by thrill master Lee Child. An earlier Jack Reacher (Number 5) set in the scorching desert with Reacher coming to the aid of a young mother who seems to be targeted by assassins. Not the best of the series but Child is an exceptional writer and he has created an iconic figure with Reacher.

4. Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Although the title does not immediately warm your buns, the novel opens on safari in Africa with Pendergast reliving his wife’s death. The majority of the remainder of the novel is set in the bayous of Louisiana. The novel is the first of the Helen Trilogy, which was followed by Cold Vengeance this summer and will conclude with Two Graves in the summer of 2012. This is not my favorite Pendergast but it an exciting and interesting exploration into the psyche of this mysterious FBI Special Agent.

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. This is the second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, continuing the tale of Katniss Everdeen by creating a special Games for the 75th anniversary against past champions. This book is even a little more violent than the first but the overall feel of the book is as a placeholder. The story is just a vehicle to more the plot along to the ultimate showdown in Mockingjay. If I did not have the third episode already on my Nook I would have been angry at the conclusion of Fire.

2. Ark of Fire by C. M. Palov. This impressive first novel by Palov is a thriller involving a race for the Ark of the Covenant pairing American photographer Edie Miller and British historian and former Special Agent Caedmon Aisquith. The action, pacing and historical information is reminiscent of James Rollins and Steve Berry and just as rewarding.

1. Sahara by Clive Cussler. This is my favorite Cussler adventure and featured Dirk Pitt. Any novel that begins with the South kidnapping Lincoln on an iron-clad ship has you hooked right in the beginning. You can tell that Cussler had as much fun writing the book as the reader has reading it. He even wrote himself into the book as a character. The discoveries made along the way fit into the flow of the action even as far-fetched as they may be.

There are so many hot thrillers to heat your chilly winter nights but I recommend losing yourself in one of these scorching titles. What are some of your favorites that I may have missed?