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Review – Conspiracy of Angels September 21, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Mystery/Thriller, Sci-Fi.
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Title: Conspiracy of Angels

Author: Laurence MacNaughton

Publisher: NLA Digital Liaison Platform LLC

Publish Date: June 14, 2012

ASIN: B008BN8D9I

Available at: Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Just out of prison, ex-convict Mitch Turner is determined to put his life back on track and find out the truth about his daughter’s mysterious death. But when his daughter’s best friend, Geneva, discovers a cryptic piece of top-secret technology, the two of them are thrust into the cross-hairs of a deadly living weapon.

It’s known only by a code name: Archangel. It’s fast, invulnerable, inhuman. And its next target is Mitch.

But the Archangel is more than just a relentless killer. It’s a gatekeeper of the dangerous boundary that divides this world from the next. And it’s Mitch’s only chance of learning the dark truth about his daughter’s fate.

Outnumbered, outgunned and on the run, Mitch and Geneva race to outsmart an elite force determined to silence them. Can they uncover the conspiracy before the Archangel unleashes its deadly secret on all of humanity?

Review:

Mitch recently got out of prison and he’s still coping with his daughter’s death. All he’s trying to do is walk the straight and narrow when he runs across Geneva. She entangles him in a conspiracy of epic proportions.

Mitch was someone I immediately liked. He was down to earth with a rough exterior. He was street smart and savvy. Mitch had an air about him that indicated he was a man who took care of his business. His actions proved that to be true as well. When Geneva threw him in the thick of things he got things done. He took care of her and he earned her trust. Not an easy task.

Geneva lost her parents to the Archangel. She trusts no one. Her one mission in life is to kill the Archangel. I admired her determination and her spunk. She also showed a soft side that I appreciated and felt was natural and realistic to the situation. Her bond with Mitch was my favorite part of the book. It wasn’t romantic. It was something more.

Michael was a complex character. I was constantly trying to figure out his motivations. His actions confused me. It wasn’t until near the end of the book that the mystery of Michael was revealed. I didn’t mind that I was so confused by Michael. It was just another mystery to be solved in a book full of mysteries.

The book really was full of mysteries. Was the copy boy really a copy boy? What really was the Archangel? How did Mitch’s daughter die? Why did the Archangel kill Geneva’s parents? What was the mysterious black box?

The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the end of the book. I found it chaotic and rather overblown. I can see how it would fit the genre, but it just didn’t suit my tastes. I’m sure many people would disagree and seeing as how I don’t normally read this genre I’m probably judging too harshly. There was another issue I had with the end, but I can’t discuss it without giving away a spoiler so I’ll keep mum.

On the whole, this was a very good read. The action was high energy. The characters were well-developed. The plot, while not new, still seemed fresh. If you’re looking for a thrill-ride this wouldn’t be a bad choice.

*A free copy of this book was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Sea of Crises June 26, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Thriller.
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Title: Sea of Crises

Author: Mary Steere

Publisher: Penfield Publications

Publisher date: April 10, 2012

ISBN-10: 0985401400

Available at: Amazon – Barnes and Noble

Summary (From Publisher):

“That shouldn’t be here.” Those are the last words uttered by Commander Bob Cartwright in September 1976, just before all communication with the crew of Apollo 18 is inexplicably lost during the astronauts’ first moonwalk. Frantic attempts to re-establish communications with the astronauts are unsuccessful. Three days later, however, as NASA is scrambling to put together a rescue mission, astronomers detect a burn of the service propulsion system, and, on schedule, but still in eerie silence, the command module begins its return transit, culminating in the welcome sight of the capsule descending majestically beneath a trio of parachutes into the South Pacific. But when the hatch is opened, the navy divers tasked with assisting the astronauts into the recovery helicopter make a gruesome discovery. The bodies of the three men inside have been burned beyond recognition, victims of a failed heat shield. And with them has died any chance of learning the meaning of Cartwright’s enigmatic last statement or what transpired during those three blacked out days in the Mare Crisium, or Sea of Crises. Unfortunately, unless and until man returns to the moon, it’s a mystery that will remain forever unsolved. Or will it? Thirty-six years later, Cartwright’s sons make a shocking discovery: The capsule that came down in the Pacific Ocean with three charred remains was not their father’s capsule. And the body they buried all those years before was not their father. What they’ve uncovered puts the three brothers on the run, chased by a ruthless group who will stop at nothing to preserve the secret behind the fate of the Apollo 18 astronauts. The brothers will need to set aside past differences and pool their talents if they are to stay alive and unravel the mystery behind what really happened in the Sea of Crises.

Review*:

I normally don’t accept thrillers. For some reason I thought this had a sci-fi element to it but it doesn’t. Nonetheless this book still had excellent plot development. It moved along at a nice clip and I found myself involved from the very beginning.

The Cartwright brothers were well-fleshed out. They were all multi-layered and had many believable facets. Their interactions were very interesting to read about. I especially enjoyed reading about the twins. There was a lot of conflict there as one twin was gay and the other had judged him harshly for it.

Even the minor characters were well-developed. Tim’s method of coping with the stress of being on the run by reading paperbacks stands out to me. A fellow reader will always stand out to me.

The dog was a nice touch. It brought a level of humanity to the book that I don’t think would have been there otherwise. I was always in fear of the dog getting hurt. I have a soft spot for pets.

Like all thrillers there was some unbelievable parts to the novel. I could suspend my belief though for the sake of the story. They weren’t so far-fetched to stretch my suspension beyond control.

All in all, it was an extremely well-written book with lots of believable thrills and chills.  Af ter I finished the book I was even ready for more thrillers by the same author, which is saying something.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Dark Steps June 13, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Horror, Thriller.
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Title: Dark Steps

Author: Martin Pond

Genre: Thriller/Horror

Publisher:  Martin Pond

Publish Date: August 11, 2011

ASIN:  B005GQ84CE

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Amazon:

A collection of short stories, a series of twist endings, and one author’s dark steps back into writing…

A teenage boy waits to take a sinister test he may or may not pass; a new father hears a strange voice on his daughter’s baby monitor; a poisoner’s best-laid plans go terribly astray; an enigmatic man gets as close to death as he can; a young boy wonders why Christmas just doesn’t feel right this year; after the year from hell, a man is driven to extreme measures; a dying man reveals a black secret to his son; and, after four years in limbo, a man’s life starts to unravel…

Review:

All seven of these short stories are rather disturbing as implied by the title and description, but they’re all well written.  I particularly liked the story “Near-Death Experience”. It’s about a man who chooses to get as close to death as he can. I also liked the story “The Inheritance”, which was about a death-bed confession.

The stories were all very compelling and they drew me in so that I nearly read the book in one sitting. I would have read the book in one, but life got in the way. It’s not a very long book. It’s only 54 pages, but it’s very intense. There’s a lot to take in in such a short time frame.

At the end of the book there’s an excerpt from the author’s upcoming novel, “Drawn to the Deep End“.  I have to admit I enjoyed this the least of all. Maybe I’d enjoy more of the book if there were more to read.

A lot of the resolutions of the stories were a little too predictable, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying them. I’m not normally a short story person, but this collection of short stories were a great read.

*I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Review – Remote control April 25, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Foreign, Mystery/Thriller.
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Remote Control

by Kotaro Isaka

Masaharu Aoyagi, a former delivery-truck driver in the city of Sendai, is unemployed. Two years ago he achieved brief notoriety for rescuing a local actress from a robbery attempt while making a delivery to her apartment. Now he is back in the spotlight – this time as the main suspect in the assassination of a newly elected prime minster who had come to Sendai for a hometown victory parade.

Set in a near-future Japan modeled on the United States, Remote Control follows Aoyagi on a forty-eight-hour chase, in a dramatic retelling of the Kennedy killing with Aoyagi in the role of a framed Lee Harvey Oswald. A massive manhunt is underway. As Aoyagi runs, he must negotiate trigger-happy law enforcement and Security Pods set up throughout the city to monitor cell-phone and email transmissions and keep a photo record of street traffic. Can he discover why he has been set up and who is responsible? Can he find the real assassin and prove to the world his innocence – amidst media pronouncements of his guilt – before the conspirators take him out?

This book started out slow but the pace picked up a fourth of  the way in. Once the pace picks up you become completely engaged as you wonder what happens next.

The ingenuity of the plot is cunning. Each twist and turn has you guessing at what exactly is going to happen next. I thought I knew how the book ended, but I was wrong.

The way the author presents things as “all is not as it seems” is masterful. I began doubting what I knew about halfway through the book. The first fourth of the book is devoted to the chase as seen through the eyes of the media. The rest of the book is the actual chase as lived by Masaharu Aoyagi.  If anything else, this story proves that the media doesn’t always portray the truth.

This was a very enjoyable cat and mouse romp.

Review – In the Miso Soup March 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Mystery/Thriller.
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In the Miso Soup

by Ryu Murakami

Kenji is a tour guide of the steamy Tokyo nightlife. His latest customer is Frank who he suspects to be the killer of a prostitute.

This book is a wild ride into the seamy side of Tokyo’s sex industry. The book takes on a surreal edge once Frank gets a hold of Kenji as a client. Between the nightlife and Frank’s stories of his childhood, things get a little strange. Still, I was enthralled.

Frank is a fascinating antagonist who is at once scary as he is mesmerizing. You want to despise him. You’re terrified of him. Yet at the same time you felt for him and his dark past.

Kenji is sympathetic and is totally realistic as a protagonist. His girlfriend, Jun, helped him regain ground in an increasingly dark world.

Even though you know that Frank is the killer, it doesn’t make this one bit less thrilling. There’s still the element of the unknown as to what Frank’s actions will be, how the story will end.

The story was also masterfully done. The characters were well fleshed out. The plot was well developed. The climax was well done. It wasn’t an American ending by any means, but it was well told nonetheless. You still got the sense of what would happen from what you knew of the characters.

If you’re looking for a good thriller, you don’t have to look far.

Review – Shadow Family February 28, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Mystery/Thriller.
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Shadow Family

by Miyuki Miyabe

(not available on Kindle)

I don’t normally read paperbacks, but I’ve been drawn to Japanese authors lately. I’ll most likely be reading a lot more paperbacks in the future as a lot of these authors don’t have their titles available on Kindle.

This book focuses on the two murders of a middle-aged man named Ryosuke Tokoroda and a college student named Naoko Imai. Email correspondence from Tokoroda’s computer shows that he’s created a fantasy family on the Internet where he is the father. His real daughter, Kazumi is drawn into the interview process of this “shadow” family and the psychological thriller begins.

What I liked about “Shadow Family” is how believable each and every character was. Takegami is the lead detective in the case and he’s been pulled from his desk job to do the interrogation. He’s a very fallible detective put in this very important role which makes him very human.

Another character I enjoyed was Kazumi’s mother and Ryosuke’s wife, Harue. She was easily over-powered by her daughter and her husband. She wasn’t a strong person, but that made her all the more believable. She had a weak-willed personality and Miyabe portrayed her perfectly.

The only thing I didn’t care for about the book was that it was fairly obvious as to whodunnit. That still didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book as the cat and mouse game between the police and the perpetrator was very entertaining.

It’s a slim volume and a fast-paced story making it a quick read. I enjoyed it so much I’ve already purchased more books by this author.