Nick Pengelley – Ryder: Bird of Prey [Blog Tour]

nickpengelley-ryderbirdofpreyThe Maltese Falcon was no mere legend—this fabulously jewelled golden bird really existed. Still exists, according to the last words of a dying man. Ayesha Ryder is on its trail, but not just to find the Falcon itself. It is said to contain a clue to the lost burial place of King Harold of England, a potent symbol for ruthless politicians determined to break up the UK and create a new, independent English Kingdom. The Falcon may also contain a second clue, one that few would believe.

Labelled an assassin, hunted by Scotland Yard and Dame Imogen Worsley of MI5—as well as those who want the Falcon and its secrets for themselves—Ayesha joins forces with Joram Tate, the mysterious librarian known to her friend Lady Madrigal, a one-time lover of Lawrence of Arabia. As Ayesha’s attraction to Tate grows, they follow clues left by long-dead knights to the tomb of a Saxon king and to the ruined Battle Abbey. When the trail leads them to a stunning secret hidden for a thousand years beneath an English castle, Ayesha must battle modern killers with medieval weapons before confronting the evil that would destroy her nation.

Ayesha Ryder returns in this third instalment of the Ryder series called Bird of Prey. And with Bird of Prey this series has most definitely entered alternate history territory, even if at times referencing real-world developments directly, mentioning Richard III’s body being found in Leicester and some of the intricacies of  EU economic and political problems. While I greatly enjoyed parts of the narrative and I really liked the book overall, Bird of Prey was my least favourite book of the series so far.  Read More …

Nichole Christoff – The Kill Shot [Blog Tour]

nicholechristoff-thekillshotJamie Sinclair’s father has never asked her for a favor in her life. The former two-star general turned senator is more in the habit of giving his only child orders. So when he requests Jamie’s expertise as a security specialist, she can’t refuse—even though it means slamming the brakes on her burgeoning relationship with military police officer Adam Barrett. Just like that, Jamie hops aboard a flight to London with a U.S. State Department courier carrying a diplomatic pouch in an iron grip.

Jamie doesn’t have to wait long to put her unique skills to good use. When she and the courier are jumped by goons outside the Heathrow terminal, Jamie fights them off—but the incident puts her on high alert. Someone’s willing to kill for the contents of the bag. Then a would-be assassin opens fire in crowded Covent Garden, and Jamie is stunned to spot a familiar face: Adam Barrett, who saves her life with a single shot and calmly slips away. Jamie’s head—and her heart—tell her that something is very wrong. But she’s come way too far to turn back now.

In the second Jamie Sinclair novel, The Kill Shot, the reader is reunited with Jamie and Barrett, but interestingly, The Kill Shot is not a straight up crime thriller. In fact, to me Nichole Christoff’s sophomore outing read more like a spy novel. I was surprised by this shift in flavour to the narrative, though the general style of the book is very much the same as its predecessor. Jamie remains a kick-ass heroine and I really enjoyed reading about her next adventure.  Read More …

Nick Pengelley – Ryder: American Treasure [Blog Tour]

nickpengelley-ryderamericantreasureDuring of the War of 1812, British troops ransacked the White House and made off with valuables that were never returned. Two centuries later, a British curator finds a vital clue to the long-vanished loot. Within hours, the curator is assassinated—and Ayesha Ryder, a Palestinian-born antiquities expert, is expertly framed for his murder.
 
Who could be behind such a conspiracy? And why do they want Ryder out of the way? To find out, she picks up a trail leading from a mysterious nineteenth-century letter to the upcoming presidential election. As Ryder dodges killers in the shadow of hidden alliances, sexual blackmail, and international power plays, she finds that all roads lead to the Middle East, where a fragile peace agreement threatens to unravel . . . and another mystery begs to be discovered.
 
Ryder’s rarefied academic career and her violent past are about to collide. And her only hope of survival is to confront a powerful secret agent who has been waiting for one thing: the chance to kill Ayesha Ryder with his own two hands.

Last October I reviewed the first Ayesha Ryder novel, appropriately called Ryder. I really enjoyed this Dan Brown-esque tale with a strong political flavour. So I was really pleased to be able to review the second book as well. Ryder: American Treasure is set six months after the first book and is very much a tale in the same vein as the first, a thrilling treasure hunt, following clues left behind by some of the great figures of history. Yet there were also some very big differences to the first novel.  Read More …

Eve Karlin – City of Liars and Thieves [Blog Tour]

evekarlin-cityofliarsandthievesOn the bustling docks of the Hudson River, Catherine Ring waits with her husband and children for the ship carrying her cousin, Elma Sands. Their Greenwich Street boardinghouse becomes a haven for Elma, who has at last escaped the stifling confines of her small hometown and the shameful circumstances of her birth. But in the summer of 1799, Manhattan remains a teeming cesspool of stagnant swamps and polluted rivers. The city is desperate for clean water as fires wreak devastation and the death toll from yellow fever surges.

Political tensions are rising, too. It’s an election year, and Alexander Hamilton is hungry for power. So is his rival, Aaron Burr, who has announced the formation of the Manhattan Water Company. But their private struggle becomes very public when the body of Elma Sands is found at the bottom of a city well built by Burr’s company.

Resolved to see justice done, Catherine becomes both witness and avenger. She soon finds, however, that the shocking truth behind this trial has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

City of Liars and Thieves, Eve Karlin’s debut, is a historical novel based on the first recorded murder trial in New York. Just for this fact alone it would have been fascinating, but it is also a snap shot of the run up to one of the most hotly contended Presidential elections in US history, which makes it even more interesting. To be fair, I didn’t know much about either Hamilton or Burr, but I did know about the continual issue with water supply in Manhattan and I was interested to see how they tied into this.  Read More …

Nichole Christoff – The Kill List [Blog Tour]

nicholechristoff-thekilllistAs a top private eye turned security specialist, Jamie Sinclair has worked hard to put her broken marriage behind her. But when her lying, cheating ex-husband, army colonel Tim Thorp, calls with the news that his three-year-old daughter has been kidnapped, he begs Jamie to come find her. For the sake of the child, Jamie knows she can’t refuse. Now, despite the past, she’ll do everything in her power to bring little Brooke Thorp home alive.

Soon Jamie is back at Fort Leeds—the army base in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens where she grew up, the only child of a two-star general—chasing down leads and forging an uneasy alliance with the stern military police commander and the exacting FBI agent working Brooke’s case. But because Jamie’s father is now a U.S. senator, her recent run-in with a disturbed stalker is all over the news, and when she starts receiving gruesome threats echoing the stalker’s last words, she can’t shake the feeling that her investigation may be about more than a missing girl—and that someone very powerful is hiding something very significant . . . and very sinister.

The Kill List, Nichole Christoff’s debut thriller, is a gritty and entertaining mystery and I had a blast reading it. I loved its lead character Jamie Sinclair and her main co-stars Lieutenant Colonel Adam Barrett and FBI Agent Kevin Jaeger. The chemistry between Jamie and Barrett in particular was wonderful. Yet there was also one big thing that bugged me about the narrative and while it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, I did find myself pondering it while thinking about it after I finished the book. Discussing it here might be considered a spoiler for an aspect of the book – I don’t think it  impacts on the mystery, so much as on character development – but in any case, be aware the next paragraph might be slightly spoilery!  Read More …

Nick Pengelley – Ryder [Blog Tour]

nickpengelley-ryderAyesha Ryder bears the scars of strife in the Middle East. Now her past is catching up to her as she races to unravel a mystery that spans centuries—and threatens to change the course of history.
 
As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries?
 
Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant.
 
Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.

Ryder by Nick Pengelley is a compelling read, but it is one that may not please everyone, both due to its format and due to its content. To start with the content, Ryder is very much a story in the vein of The Da Vinci Code and The Rule of Four; academic thrillers that work as a sort of treasure hunt following the clues to solve the mystery. It’s the aspect I enjoyed most about Brown’s Langdon books, so I enjoyed it here, but if that is not your thing, then this might not be the book for you.  Read More …

T.E. Woods – The Unforgivable Fix [Blog Tour]

tewoods-theunforgivablefixDetective Mort Grant of the Seattle PD has finally decided to sell. The home where he and his late wife raised two kids feels too large and too full of old memories. His son is married and raising a family of his own, and despite desperate efforts to find her, Mort has lost touch with his wayward daughter. That is, until the day she walks back into her childhood home and begs for his help.

For the last four years, Allie Grant has been the lover—and confidante, confessor, and counselor—of one of the world’s most powerful and deadly men. But a sudden, rash move has put Allie in the crosshairs of a ruthless Russian crime lord. Mort knows of only one place where Allie will be safe: with The Fixer.

As a hired desperado, The Fixer has killed twenty-three people—and Mort was complicit in her escape from the law. She has built an impregnable house, stocked it with state-of-the-art gear, armed it to the teeth, and locked herself away from the world. But even The Fixer may not be able to get justice for Allie when real evil comes knocking.

The third in T.E. Woods’ Mort Grant series, The Unforgivable Fix returns us to Seattle and Mort and Lydia. We find them recovering from the events related in The Red Hot Fix. There is a general air of moving on and letting go, as Mort finally sells the house he shared with his beloved wife and Lydia is trying to leave The Fixer behind and to forget Oliver, her sort-of-ex-boyfriend. Yet however much we might want to forget our past, the past often doesn’t want to let us go, as Mort finds out when the day he leaves his house his prodigal daughter returns. And when Lydia decides to return to her practice, she learns that with The Fixer gone, it’s far harder to deal with cases that hit too close to home than it was before.  Read More …

Pierre Ouellette – The Forever Man [Blog Tour]

pierreouellette-theforevermanPortland, Oregon, was once a beacon of promise and prosperity. Now it’s the epicenter of a world gone wrong, its streets overrun by victims and hustlers, drifters and gangsters. Lowly contract cop Lane Anslow struggles to keep afloat—and to watch out for his brilliant but bipolar brother, Johnny, a medical researcher. Lane soon discovers that Johnny is part of an experiment veiled in extraordinary secrecy. But he has no idea who’s behind it, how astronomical the stakes are, or how many lives might be destroyed to make it a reality.

Now Johnny’s gone missing. To find him, Lane follows a twisting trail into a billionaire’s hilltop urban fortress, a politician’s inner circle, a prison set in an aircraft graveyard, and a highly guarded community where people appear to be half their biological age. Hunted by dueling enemies, Lane meets a beautiful and enigmatic woman at the center of a vast web of political and criminal intrigue. And behind it all is a sinister, desperate race to claim the biggest scientific prize of all: eternal life.

From its synopsis The Forever Man sounded like an interesting near-future SF thriller and it was. Pierre Ouellette’s latest novel from Random House Alibi was an interesting story, with some original world building and a sympathetic main character. Yet while I enjoyed reading the book, I had a number of problems with it that made the book less compelling than it could have been.   Read More …

T.E. Woods – The Red Hot Fix

tewoods-theredhotfixA little more than a year after the Fixer killings, Detective Mort Grant of the Seattle P.D. once again has his hands full. In the last four months, seven men have been murdered in seedy pay-by-the-hour motels: first strangled, then tied with rope and set on a bed of crushed mothballs, with a red lipstick kiss planted on their foreheads. Speculation abounds that the killer is a prostitute who’s turning her tricks into dead men. The press has taken to calling her “Trixie.”

As Mort follows scant leads in the case, he can’t help but feel continued guilt over his involvement with the Fixer. Though the public holds her up as a folk hero, a vigilante who seeks justice when the system fails, Mort cannot shake the fact that serious crimes have been committed. And though legend says she has vanished, Mort knows exactly where the Fixer is—and he’s conspiring to keep her hidden.

As Trixie strikes again, Mort suddenly finds himself and his family in the crosshairs. Because these new murders are not random, and their perpetrator is hell-bent on luring Mort into a sick and twisted game. If he’s not careful, he’s going to need Fixing.

Earlier this year I reviewed T.E. Woods’ debut novel, The Fixer, and really enjoyed it for both its cleverly structured plot and its characters. After reviewing it I learned that book two was already slated for release on June 10th, so I hurried over to Netgalley and was stoked to be approved for an ARC of the second book, The Red Hot Fix. Having read it in a single night I can happily report that the sequel is even better than its predecessor. The problems I had with the first book didn’t return in this one or where explained and I had some of the questions I was left with after finishing The Fixer answered.  Read More …

T.E. Woods – The Fixer [Blog Tour]

tewoods-thefixerShe’s the person you hire when you need something fixed—permanently. With a strict set of criteria, she evaluates every request and chooses only a few. No more than one job per country, per year. She will only step in if it’s clear that justice will not be served any other way. Her jobs are completed with skill and precision, and never result in inquiry or police investigation. The Fixer is invisible—and quite deadly. . . .

In the office of a clinical psychologist in Olympia, Washington, a beautiful young woman is in terrible emotional pain. She puts up walls, tells lies, and seems to speak in riddles, but the doctor is determined to help her heal, despite the fact that she claims to have hurt many people. As their sessions escalate, the psychologist feels compelled to reach out to the police . . . but it might be too late.

In Seattle, a detective gets a call from his son. A dedicated journalist, he wants his father’s expertise as he looks into a suspicious death. Together they follow the trail of leads toward a stone-cold hired killer—only to find that death has been closer than either could have imagined.

The Fixer is my first pure crime book read in 2014 and it was a good one to start the year with. T.E. Woods’ debut novel offers a smooth reading experience with sympathetic protagonists and a very mysterious antagonist. Woods wrong-footed me several times with some elegant plotting and effortless misdirection, which made reaching the end of the novel and the final resolution of the mystery even more rewarding.   Read More …