Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Devil's Only Friend

by Dan Wells
304 pgs  (John Wayne Cleaver series #4)

When I finished reading I Don't Want to Kill You, I figured that was the last time I'd read about John Wayne Cleaver--a teenager who had all of the inclinations and desires to become a serial killer, but who kept himself in check with his self-imposed set of rules--and I was okay with that. I liked the way the trilogy ended, and I was content moving on. When I found out Dan Wells was going to write another three books, I was both excited and leery. Excited because I really enjoyed the first three books, but leery because I didn't want him to mess around with something that I felt was complete.

The Devil's Only Friend picks up a short while after IDWTKY ends. John now works for a special FBI task force that hunts down and kills the Withered. The Withered took away the only two things that he cared about in the last book; his mother and his girlfriend, and now John uses his unique set of skills and instincts to identify them, hunt them down, and then kill them. But John would rather work alone, he's not comfortable working with the other members of the team, some of whom know a little bit about his past, but none of whom know about the internal monster he's constantly trying to keep at bay.

Overall I enjoyed this latest book, and I'm looking forward to the next two. It's not the strongest book in the series, but I'd definitely recommend it to everyone who read the first three. It'll be interesting to see where Wells takes the series from here.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Long Mars

by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
357 pgs  (The Long Earth series #3)

The Long Mars slowly advances the story Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter began telling with The Long Earth about five years ago. The premise of the series is intriguing--humans develop the ability to "step" from one earth to the next along an infinite number of parallel worlds. And it has the potential for a lot of interesting ideas to explore, but the series has yet to settle on what it's about and run with it.

One of the central ideas to the series is how mankind would evolve if it has unlimited space and resources. Would there be greed, poverty, or wars? As mankind spread out on infinite earths, would the populations of individual earths evolve independent from other earths? Like I said, there are a lot of ideas in this series. But so far, that seems to be the problem with the series. The authors don't appear to have settled on what the series is really about. They've taken a shotgun approach so far instead of a rifle one, and while they've introduced many different concepts into the story, each one seems to end abruptly as they move on to another.

When The Long Mars begins, humans have been stepping into the other parallel worlds for years now. A massive exodus from the United States in the original, or "datum" earth took place when the volcano under Yellowstone erupted and essentially made most of the continent uninhabitable. New bizarre forms of life have been discovered, along with some sentient life forms, including a race of humans named The Next, which are similar to humans in most ways, except for a much higher level of intelligence.

Unfortunately most of the book reads more like a travel log as opposed to a novel. The concepts are interesting, enough so that I'll probably keep reading it till the end. But I won't be racing to get each book as it comes out.

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Finders Keepers

by Stephen King
434 pgs  (Bill Hodges trilogy #2)

In 1978 three masked men invaded the home of John Rothstein, a reclusive novelist; killing him and stealing thousands of dollars in cash and over one hundred notebooks containing the author's unpublished writings. Years earlier Rothstein wrote a critically acclaimed trilogy of books that became required reading for most teenagers before he dropped off the map and refused to publish again.

Two of the men who broke into his house and killed him were in it for the money rumored to be stashed away in his house. But the third, an obsessed fan named Morris Bellamy, was there for the notebooks. He was certain that Rothstein had written more books in the series, and he was willing to do anything to find out what happened next. Bellamy buried the cash and the notebooks with plans to retrieve them once the dust settled, but soon after doing so he was sent to prison for life for an unrelated crime.

Thirty-five years later, Morris is finally released from prison and goes to retrieve the money and notebooks, only to find that they're gone. As he hunts down the person who took them, King reintroduces Bill Hodges, Jerome Robinson, and Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes into the story as they try to protect the person who has them.

Finders Keepers is a fantastic follow-up to Mr. Mercedes. It shows how versatile an author King is. It's not horror or supernatural like most of his other books are, but there are small parts that flirt with the supernatural and hint at the direction things will turn in the next and final book in the trilogy--and I for one can't wait.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Harvest Man

by Alex Grecian
384 pgs  (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad series #4)

In The Harvest Man Alex Grecian picks up the story of Inspector Walter Day and Scotland Yard's Murder Squad. Day, who is now recovering from the injuries he sustained by Jack the Ripper in The Devil's Workshop, finds himself cooped up at home, surrounded by a house full of in-laws and the staff they insist he and his wife need. He's anxious to get back to work hunting down Saucy Jack.

But Jack isn't the only murderer the Murder Squad is trying to find on the streets of London. In fact, he's not even the most important one right now. The Harvest Man has quickly become Scotland Yard's top priority. The Harvest Man hides in the attics of homes until the family living there falls asleep. He then kills them by carving their faces off of their skulls. In addition to this killer, there's a Ripper copycat killer who has recently started killing young prostitutes. With so much to deal with, Scotland Yard needs Day back on the streets, probably before he's physically and mentally ready to be there.

But Jack has moved on from the type of murders that gave him his original notoriety. He's now got bigger plans. But while no one knows what those plans are, it quickly becomes apparent that Inspector Day and his wife and newly born twin girls are at the center of it.

This series has quickly become one of my favorites. I was already a big fan of thrillers set in 19th Century London and Grecian has proven a few times now that he's a great storyteller.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Prince Lestat

by Anne Rice
458 pgs (Vampire Chronicles #13)

When I found out that Anne Rice was "resurrecting" her Vampire Chronicles series, and bringing the central character in the series back out of his self-induced exile, I was intrigued. I loved Interview with a Vampire when I read it twenty or so years ago. I really enjoyed the next three books in the series as well. But the series lost much of its appeal for me with book five, Memnoch the Devil, which I thought was terrible, I continued reading the books as they came out though, but none of them were as good as those first few. Most of them seemed like appendages, or afterthoughts to the series, some of them simply told the backstories of the other vampires, but without advancing the story of the blood drinkers in modern times. From what I understand, Prince Lestat is the first book in a trilogy Rice plans to write that hopefully will reinvigorate the series and get it back to what it used to be. After reading this one, I'm optimistic.

The world of the vampires was once a small world, consisting of order and discipline. Blood drinkers were very selective of whom they fed on and brought over to the order. But things have changed. Since the events of Queen of the Damned, vampires have multiplied and are now all over the world and social media. These newer, fledgling vampires, have no regard for the old ways. and as the book begins, Louis, Marius, Armand, Pandora, David, and a host of characters readers of the series will enjoy seeing again try to convince Lestat to come out of exile and return order to their society.

While Prince Lestat is not as good as those first books in the series, it's definitely a huge step back in the right direction. It's not a book for people who haven't read any of the others in the series, but if you've read those first few, you should enjoy this one.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆