The Whistler

 

The Whistler by John Grisham

It has been a while since a new John Grisham was published, though it hasn’t been too long since I last read one (I finished The Innocent man just a few weeks ago).  I was eagerly anticipating this read and when it started off jargony and slightly hard to follow I persevered as it is not unusual for a JG book to throw a big bucket load of context at the reader in the first quarter of the book. However, this one took until the final third to really get going….having said that, there was one giant plot twist towards the beginning.

The story is of a whistle blower (Dur) submitting information about a dodgy judge working with an Indian reservation casino. The back story involves crime and murder and the actual story involves crime and murder.

I love JG, I have read far too many of his novels to simply be a casual fan of his, but this one I feel let me down.  It had a sense of rushness about it, and was a little on the placid side. I guess it just failed to really get my heart racing like to many of his others. It has 4 stars as I did read it, and wanted to and to be honest the 4th star was achieved simply because its JG.

I did like that the protagonist was a female, but I felt she was a bit too overly strong and lone wolf style in that she lived alone, was unmarried and loved her life that way. Why can’t a strong female character have a family, or a boyfriend or even be a single mum and still be rocking at her job? Why does she have to be female but own so many typically male traits? I wasn’t impressed.

If someone was to ask me what JG book they would recommend, this wouldn’t be in the top 5…..maybe not even the top 10. But having said that, I am grateful there is a new book to even review.

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Sycamore Row

Sycamore_Row_by_John-Grisham

Sycamore Row

Published: October 22, 2013, paperback July 2014

Author: John Grisham

A few months before reading this I read The Confession for the second time within less than 12 months. I never re-read books (unless it is Harry Potter).  So when I discovered Grisham had a new book out I was stomach butterfly excited!

I downloaded Sycamore Row as soon as I could and completely devoured the book like a lioness who has gone without zebra for weeks.  The book followed Jake Brigance, a solicitor introduced in an earlier book ‘A Time to Kill’.  I haven’t yet read A Time to Kill, however I happened upon the film one evening and was emotionally gripped, one of the best films I ever seen due to a dramatic storyline and a brilliant acting.

Back to Sycamore Row, it follows the aftermath of the death of a wealthy cancer stricken Southern man, Seth Hubbard,  leaving his estate to his black house cleaner and naming Jake Brigance as the estate’s solicitor.   Big sparks fly as Seth’s children and Grand children contest the decision made in his last, hand written Will claiming he was under duress or that he was too poorly to be in his right mind.

What is so superb about this story, is the way that Grisham can have you gripped to every word on the page as you eagerly urge the characters to discover just a thread of information.  A truely captivating read that once again draws on the racial segregation of Southern America.

I think the ending is the best part, you must read it!

5 star

Bite: the most gripping thriller you will ever read

Bite

 

Bite: the most gripping thriller you will ever read by Nick Louth

…Yeah right!!!

I read this a while ago, and every time I reflect on the story I roll my eyes. I hope whoever came up with the strap line “the most gripping thriller you will ever read” received a decent pay cheque because unfortunately…it worked.  The book doesn’t need to be fantastic if you have convinced people to make the initial purchase.

This book is about a missing scientist, her short term boyfriend caught up in the hunt and a whole lot of medical terminology with the added extra of a countdown to the release of a deadly weapon that has the potential to kill millions. It is all very rushed, with chases and amazing feats of survival. The boyfriend goes from zero to hero overnight and relies on some rather tedious friendship ties to help him….not to mention some healing powers to rival Superman.

However, I will give the book some credit, where credit is due, and that is because of the flashbacks to Africa and a guerilla terrorist group. I thought that bit was interesting. Mainly because it opened my eyes to some atrocities that swept through the continent.

Not worth my review time to be honest….best for holiday reads I think. Then don’t bother bringing the book home with you.

3 star

 

Daughter

Daughter

Daughter by Jane Shemilt

It has taken me a while to type thoughts to blog. This is a hard hitting book and I think to provide a review half heartedly would somehow dishonor the story.  Plus, when a book leaves a lingering feeling of emptiness, how can one find the words to put into a review?

The book is centred around a missing girl and the subsequent deteriation of her whole family. It infuses past and present narrative to create a seamless flow of thoughts and memories, all from the mothers perspective.  When I bought this book, I didn’t realise the strength of the story I was about to unfold, it opens the door to an otherwise locked life, that of a parent with a missing child.  The way in which each character intereacts with each other is chilling, shocking, yet so real.

I could never have guessed the ending, but the way in which I got there was predictable. But not in a negative way. It was more Shemilt luring out my understanding of grief. We all know, have all seen tears on the TV news, in films and we all think we know what goes through peoples’ minds.  But to read it in such a raw and obvious way makes you realise that you know nothing. That you pray to God this will never happen to you.

In terms of the pace of the story, it is slow.  But you don’t need it to go any faster as the perfectly dovetails that of the trauma, fast in the beginning, slow and agonising in the middle, then normal and reluctant towards the end.

This book has a 3.6 on Goodreads. I think the problem lies in the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of action, just memories and anguish. People also don’t recognise the book as belonging to a typical genre, something Shemilt exaplins so well:

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Psychological suspense, (thriller/drama) is the nearest that I can get to placing the book, not a very  meaningful label  as so many books within this capacious scope are completely different from each other. My background is medical, I’m an ex- GP, my husband is a neurosurgeon. It was helpful to use this known world to create the back drop to both books, and some issues from that world become important. In Daughter: the dangers of labelling, of short cuts, doctors playing God.  But Daughter isn’t a medical drama; it’s a story about a missing girl and the themes of grief, loss, harmful secrets, betrayal and fear do resonate with others in this genre.

An extract from her website.

I am giving this book 5 stars because I think it is brilliantly written, it demonstrates a real talent from Shemilt and I can’t believe this is only her debut.

5 star

Fractured

Fractured

Fractured by Karin Slaughter

There is a local bookshop which sells second hand books from anywhere between 1 and 5 Euros. What I enjoyed about my visit was the ‘lucky dip’ style of purchase, books were concealed in brown paper wrapping with only a few critic reviews written on the front to entice your purchase. I picked up a large paperback, which stated it was a bestseller and that the “climax will blow you away”….for 1 Euro. The novelty was fun and I will definitely return.

The whole book is centred around a time frame of approximately 3 days, with an investigative team above that of a city police department, swooping in and taking charge of a crime. Two main characters are flawed (shock) and put aside their differences and history to work together in solving the case of 2 murdered teens and a third missing.

The writing style is adequate, that is to say that there is nothing I can really say negative about the book but then it is not like I can sing from the rafters about how great it is either. I am glad I payed only a euro.

3 stars for this read…

3 star

I AM PILGRIM

i_am_pilgrim

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I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Another kindle best seller, some variety of  thriller I suppose. Many people stating in their reviews that it was gripping and one of the best books they had ever read.  I loosely agree, the book did become a little obsession of mine, but only after I was approximately 60% of the way through. Prior to this point, I found it a mess of words and a tangle of back stories. I understand that it was necessary to give the reader some history, but I feel the stories lost their meaning and emphasis. I personally struggled to see how a lot of it was relative, like the introduction of new characters.

It is the story of an American secret agent coming out of retirement to answer a presidential plea to save the world.  It is very Dan Brown-esq, all one has to do is flood the reader with fancy words, technology and science and BAM they will feel the thrill of an apocalyptic storyline. Not so easily done I am afraid, this book lacked substance; mainly from the characters.  A lot of information was dropped, but not all of it explained.

I do have a few gripes about some of the content too, so many sweeping statements were made about all different types of people, but especially non-Americans. Can Hayes really be that ignorant? There wasn’t even any tangible evidence to support the claims. I particularly did not enjoy his take on the middle east, or the Australians for that matter.  But perhaps I am underestimating Hayes, as a British author is he making a very poignant point about the insular American point of view?

That being said, I think the end of the book truly showcased Hayes’ ability. I quite enjoyed it and was gripped to discover how it ends.

Would I recommend this book, No.

3 star

Dear Daughter

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Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

A few weeks ago Stylist magazine published an article on the best books that have fallen below the radar in 2014, of which I instantaneously ripped out and stuffed it into my handbag. I couple of weeks later I then perused the page again with a smug, self congratulatory air and named Dear Daughter as the first book I would devour.

 Consumed within a couple of days, I could not put this book down. I revelled in the re-awakening of an addiction, which hadn’t flared up for some time.  It was such an unusual read, as though I were watching an interview on E-Entertainment with the same digression and memories a person would have if they were sat in front you.  There was also supporting evidence thrown in for weight such as Twitter feeds, news articles and texts which entertained the E-news similarity.  Elizabeth Little is an artist when it comes to setting up and delivering cliff hangers, I thought I predicted the climax. But I was wrong, and that felt so good!

It is the story of a wealthy American-Swiss Socialite who is jailed for murdering her philanthropist Mother.  It starts with her release 10 years later.

An excellent read, written in a modern, swearing way which usually I would have steered clear from. I will say this, missing words occur regularly.

5 star

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

GONE_GIRL

Gone girl

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 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I began reading this book a few months ago, but a stream of good literature came along so I ditched it without hesitation. When it comes to books, I can be fickle like that.

When I think back to my first thoughts, there was no chemistry, hence why I found it so easy to just cast aside. But I was recently left high and dry after finishing A Respectable Trade  as I didn’t have any new downloads to choose from and being on the tube I couldn’t even use my 3G! My heart started to pound, a little sweat formed above my brow and my face was I imagine quite panic stricken. Frantically tapping through my library to find anything I hadn’t read yet, Gone Girl saved the day.  A little rusty at first but after a few days I got into a nice rhythm, it is a hefty book don’t you know?!

If you are a regular visitor to my blog you will know two things, the first my love of historical fiction and the second being my hatred for modern literature (juxtaposed I know!). So I didn’t have high expectations, I expected even less some form of actual writing skill. The story plods along and just when you feel like dropping off Gillian drops a bombshell. She uses this method frequently and after a few I realised just how much of a clever ploy this is.  I won’t divulge said bombshells as you may not have read it yet, and there is a film coming out this October. But take it from me, they are big news!

The book is in 2 parts, the second half got really interesting! I almost couldn’t put it down. She turned the whole story on it’s head and aside from a few snore-y parts, which I admittedly skimmed, I was genuinely hooked.

This book could be a five star, for many it probably is considering the amount of people I saw reading this on my daily commute…and the awards;

  • New York Times Janet Maslin’s 10 Favorite Books of 2012
  • Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainer of the Year
  • People Magazine Best books of the year
  • Edgar Award nominee for Best Novel
  • Amazon and Barnes & Noble Best of the Year
  • Macavity Award nominee for Best Mystery Novel
  • Anthony Award nominee for Best Novel
  • The Women’s Prize nominee for Fiction
  • Strand Critics Award nominee

But for now, it is a 4.

4 star

4 stars