Tag Archives: thriller

The Bone Curse – out on March 27th, 2018

Do you believe in Voodoo? I don’t, and yet I had no trouble suspending disbelief as I read Carrie Rubin’s The Bone Curse.

For the record, I won a pre-review copy from the author.

The story begins in Paris where Ben Oris receives a small wound from an ancient bone. Ben’s best friend, Laurette, fears that some sort of evil has entered his his body through the wound, but Vodou is no part of Ben’s world and he dismisses her fears, even as people close to him begin to sicken with a mysterious illness.

To add some context, Voodoo is Hollywood, Vodou is the belief system of Haiti. It has good and evil spirits, just as most Western religions have angels and demons. More importantly, it has practitioners who actively believe. That counts for a great deal when Ben’s ordered, logical world turns upside down. First his ex-lover gets sick, then an ex-girlfriend, and finally the woman who birthed him.

Nevertheless, it’s not until Ben becomes a father and fears for the life of his newborn son that he begins to wonder if there’s more to Vodou than he wants to believe. What follows is a fast paced race against time as he tries desperately to save those he loves.

I wasn’t sure if I liked Ben Oris at the start, but as the story progressed, I found myself empathizing with him more and more. Not just because he was a Doubting Thomas like me, but because he slowly evolved into someone capable of putting others’ lives ahead of his own. As he began to care, so did I.

I can’t say any more for fear of spoiling the whole story, but I devoured The Bone Curse in under two days and I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fast paced, medical/psychological thriller that makes you think.

The book will not be published until March 27, but you can put it on pre-order here:

Most definitely 5 stars.:)

cheers

Meeks

 


The Communion of Saints – a review

I haven’t done a review in a long time, but I finished The Communion of Saints last night, and I simply had to review it.

But first a little background. Communion is the third novel in the John Ray series that began with Hope Road and continued with Father and Son. My reviews of Hope Road and Father and Son are here and here. It’s been a long time between drinks, but the wait was worth it. Here is the review I just posted on Amazon:

Like ‘Hope Road’ and ‘Father and Son’,  the first two John Ray thrillers, The Communion of Saints is that rare beast: a character driven genre novel. And like its predecessors, Communion is brilliant.

The Communion of Saints can be read as a standalone novel because the author weaves enough prior knowledge into the story to make the character and motivation of the protagonist  realistic and satisfying. Nevertheless,  I highly recommend that you read the earlier novels first.

Why? Because all three novels are character driven thrillers, and it’s the character of John Ray, the protagonist, that sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages.

John Ray is the last surviving member of a crime family. He’s the white sheep, the one that broke away and tried to live a straight life. But it’s hard to remain divorced from your past when you see your brother shot to death in front of your eyes. It’s even harder to stay detached when the Law tries to lay every nasty crime at your door.

After the gruesome death of his father, the old crime boss, John Ray tries to start afresh. He gives his business away and takes a job as a lowly lecturer’s assistant, but he’s shrivelling up inside.

Enter Detective Chief Superintendent Shirley Kirk. She needs John’s help. Or, to be more exact, she needs the help of his historical links to the underworld because someone is making allegations of child abuse against an institution to which they both have ties.

In the process of unravelling truth from lies, John discovers yet more about his own past, none of it good. He also becomes a suspect in two murders, simply because of who he is.

The plot is tight, with no ‘what the…?’ moments, and the prose is elegant, painting a vivid picture of the characters and their world without ever being flowery or pretentious. But the true joy of Communion is in the characters. Not even the walk on/walk off characters are two dimensional. All of them possess a vitality that makes them feel real, no matter how minor.

As for John Ray and Shirley Kirk, they’re real people to me.  I care about them. I’d like to meet them, talk to them, spend time with them. More importantly, they are people I will not forget.

I cannot think of greater praise for an author’s work.

Something I didn’t write in the review was that I wondered whether I’d still have a wee bit of a crush on the charming rogue, John Ray. The answer is yes. He’s still a bad boy with heart, and we know how women like them. 😀

cheers

Meeks

 


#Innerscape part 10 – the thriller I had no intention of writing

I’m in way over my head! I write sci-fi, not thrillers or mysteries…so how did I get to a point where I’m having to work out time differentials for the plot?

Before I try to explain what’s been driving me crazy, I need to say that all of my favourite sci-fi books weave together a mix of history, culture, psychology, politics, technology, conflict and an element of mystery. Think Dune, and working out the relationship of the great worms to the planet’s ecology. All of that is normal because good sci-fi creates worlds, and worlds are full of people, and people do ‘stuff’.

I understand all that, especially the bit about people doing ‘stuff’. My problem is that I never expected the characters in Innerscape to finish up doing mystery thriller type stuff.

I’ve read mystery thriller type books by the boat load, but there is a world of difference between reading in a genre and trying to write in that genre. I feel as if I’m groping for the ‘rules’ on the fly, and it’s hard. Integrating the requirements of mystery/thrillers into a sci-fi environment is even harder, and at the moment I’m stuck on ‘time’.

To make the plot work, various people have to do various things, together and in sequence, so I have to know when things happen, right down to the last minute. But…in order to make the Residents of Innerscape feel as if they are living for longer, time in Innerscape runs faster than time on the outside. About twenty minutes faster.

As an aspect of science fiction, this time differential between Innerscape and the outside world is not a big deal. I do some hand waving and a bit of arithmetic and the time flows make sense. Easy peasey…until I introduce the twin elements of mystery and thriller to the mix. Suddenly the difference between Innerscape time and real world time matters, a lot. So does how I present this conflict between internal and external time.

Right from the beginning of Innerscape, I’ve worked hard to make the reader feel as if time really is passing, hopefully without hitting them over the head with dates and durations and elapsed blah blah. Now, though, I’ve reached a point where I really am going to have to elevate time to the position of Very Important Plot Element, and I’m struggling.

The pic below is a screenshot of the StoryBox navigation pane for Part 10. It’s one of the reasons I love StoryBox as it allows me to outline, more or less on the fly:

innerscape navigation time

 

As an outline, the pic only makes sense to me [just as well or I’d have to post a Spoiler Alert!]. But it does show how I’m trying to work out what happens when.

Sadly, the reason I’m writing this post is that I’m sort of stumped…and procrastinating. Once I finish the post, I’m going to have to resort to pen and paper to storyboard the exact sequence of events because at the moment, I feel horribly muddled. -sigh-

If there are any thriller/mystery writers out there with tips, I’d love to hear them.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


A very clever sci-fi short film

J.T.Carlton is a multi-talented singer, composer and writer who produced the music and sound for this short film. It’s scary and very clever.

Enjoy 🙂

Meeks


The Body Market – by D.V. Berkom

Fellow writer D.V. Berkom has just published her latest novel in the Leine Basso series, and I’ve just bought it. 🙂

The book is called The Body Market and it’s available from most normal venues, however I know it’s available on Amazon for $0.99. Bargain anyone? lol

Leine Basso is a kick-ar$se female protagonist that we ladies can actually relate to. I read the first book about Leine Basso some time ago and really enjoyed so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one too.

For those who are interested, the following is a brief blurb about the story:

Former assassin Leine Basso is hired by a wealthy Beverly Hills power couple to find their missing daughter, Elise, last seen partying with her boyfriend at a club in Tijuana. At first, police believe the two teenagers are the victims of a carjacking. But when Leine finds their missing vehicle with the boyfriend’s mutilated body inside, and the local cartel warns her away, she knows if Elise isn’t already dead, she will be soon, or worse.

In the lethal world of organized crime, there’s always a worse.

As Leine races to uncover the reason behind Elise Bennett’s disappearance, she must also battle the powerful interests fighting to keep her from the truth.

cheers

Meeks


Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

The blurb that accompanied ‘Only the Innocent’ raised questions about women who commit apparently perfect, cold-blooded murder so I was primed for a story about a psychopath. The fact that this psychopath was going to be a woman merely added a touch of spice to my expectations. While the book did not disappoint me in the slightest, it did not turn out to be anything like what I was expecting.

The last thing I want to do is to spoil this story for anyone so all I will say is that ‘a woman’ did plan and commit an almost perfect murder but she was as far from being a psychopath as it is possible to get.  Psychopaths kill for a number of reasons but a lack of empathy is usually high on the list. The murderer in ‘Only the Innocent’ killed because she cared. And because every other option was closed to her.

As a writer I am capable of imagining some pretty horrific and gruesome ways of killing my characters but as a woman I have often wondered if I would be capable of killing someone in the real world, even to save my own life.  After reading ‘Only the Innocent’ I know that there is at least one situation in which I would kill. Whether I could do so with as much finesse as the murderer in ‘Only the Innocent’ I truly do not know. To be honest I really hope I am never put in a position where I am forced to find out.

Getting back to the book, the author, Rachel Abbotts, reveals the truth behind the public facade of the victim one crumb at a time and I found myself following her trail of breadcrumbs like a starving sparrow in winter, yet every new insight seemed to obscure the identity of the murderer even more. Only at the very end does she reveal not only ‘who done it’ but also how. Trust me, it’s worth the wait, however I strongly advise readers to take the time to think about the deeper issues informing the story as well. The involuntary prostitution of illegal immigrants is real and flourishing in an age when we all tend to think that slavery is a thing of the past. It exists now and will continue to exist while unscrupulous people can make a profit from the disparity between rich countries and poor.

‘Only the Innocent’ has many layers and they are all woven together with a master’s touch. The pace is always just right, the descriptions are always pertinent and necessary and the prose is clean. In short it is a very well-written, well edited, well thought out novel that really should have been snapped up by one of the traditional publishers. Perhaps they were scared off by some of the ‘adult themes’ raised by the book. If so then their loss is our gain as we can read an excellent novel at an ebook price.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. My favourite thriller/suspense/psychological novel of all time is The Blindman of Seville by Robert Wilson. I would give that book a 5/5. ‘Only the Innocent’ is not quite up to that very high standard but at 4/5 it comes damn close. I expect Rachel Abbott to be on our bestseller lists in the very near future.


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