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Book review: Patriot Games by Tom Clancy

Wow. Way to hit an all new low in reading! I recall the TV ads for the movie adaption of Patriot Games from way back when, and I remember the huge deal the segments made about how you can identify a woman by her breast size VIA SATELLITE. Oh my God. And now, having read the damn thing, I realise they made a big deal of it because it may have been the high point of the novel. And I mean that in a very relative sense. So there go a couple of hours of my life that I will NEVER GET BACK.

Book review: The Wire In The Blood by Val McDermid

This may be Val McDermid’s most famous book—it’s been widely acclaimed and televised, and as I recall it was a big hit on the Australian ABC when it came out as a mini series. And I can see why. It has a touch of Thomas Harris about it; macabre, graphic, tense, thrilling... but I thought The Wire In The Blood beat Silence Of The Lambs hands down.

Book review: Complicity by Iain Banks

The genre of thriller is a big one. And a maligned one... for those lovers of the trashy thriller, it’s all well and good, but for those of us suffering from literary snobbery, the thriller genre gets brushed over when we’re looking for quality reading material. Unless of course, we decide to read Iain Banks...

Book review: Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

You know when you read a novel and get disappointed particularly because the blurb made it sound so damn great?!?

Book review: The Return Of The Dancing Master by Henning Mankell

I was pleasantly surprised by The Return Of The Dancing Master. I guess from the cover I was expecting a pulp thriller of the most noxious and basic kind, with a name selected for whimsy and to sucker in people like me. What I DIDN’T look at was the author’s name... Henning Mankell. Turns out he’s Swedish. Who knew? Anyway, more to the point, the book was actually originally written in Swedish, and then translated into English. Which gives the whole experience less of a thriller feeling and more of a smugly-reading-foreign-text feeling. Which was nice.

Book review: Hell’s Kitchen by Chris Niles

If this was a TV program it would be the newest TV show taking America by storm with controversy and characters and more swearing and nudity and violence than last week and a huge budget and great music, but which is, one cannot help noticing quite quickly, STILL ACTUALLY some bullshit about policepersons edging through apartment doorways etc.

Book review: Dust To Dust by Tami Hoag

You’ll all be pleased to hear that Tami Hoag’s Dust To Dust is slightly less irritating than the only marginally irritating A Thin Dark Line, which is quite a positive step. Once again, a by-the-book thriller type with all the prerequisites, and I’ll tell you now unequivocally I prefer Tami Hoag to James Patterson. By a long shot. She just puts in more effort, and she isn’t pretending to be anything other than an author of pulp thrillers, so she gets points for both of those things. Oh, and while her books are light and easy to read and finish, they do have a little substance to them.

Book review: Mary Mary by James Patterson

Yes, it was 413 pages long, but don't let that fool you - I finished this piece of fluff in less than a day and still managed to get everything else that I cram into a day done - including watching several hours of tv, going to two doctors appointments, and a myriad of other things. So it wasn't exactly heavy going. Furthermore, while it wasn't so awful I wanted to put it down (which is how I felt about the last James Patterson I read, 4th of July), I only read it yesterday and I've already forgotten it. So "memorable" isn't going down as one the Mary Mary's finer qualities. Aside from that, the whole experience was relatively inoffensive, not overly time consuming and contained moments where I almost found it interesting. However, I just can't wrap my head around how this guy is such a consummate best seller. I'd probably have so much more time for him if he was just some second rate, independently published thriller author who was to be found solely in dingy little bookstores - it might actually force him to put some effort in.

Book review: A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag

A Thin Dark Line is the quintessential textbook thriller. It had all the correct elements in all the correct places, and while it wasn’t a dazzling literary work, it kept me relatively interested and it wasn’t an effort to finish the thing in two days, which in my opinion is as a thriller should be. It was light, fluffy, and only slightly annoying, and it had a relatively unexpected twist and completely predictable sex scenes. All in all, an excellent example of an airport novel.

Book review: Trouble by Jesse Kellerman

A New York night.

A beautiful woman.


Hmmm. I realise that is a fairly insipid way to begin a book review, but to be honest the book didn’t really inspire me to rave about it. In the beginning, it was barely keeping me turning the pages, and that ain’t no great shakes for a thriller! But it did pick up and become mildly interesting for a moment or two. In a sort of limp, half hearted way. And the writing was slightly above par. In fact, I think that’s why I feel so lack-luster about the whole experience... because Jesse Kellerman appears to be a cut above when it comes to making okay bits of prosy-sounding metaphor, so it just seems wasted that this was what came out. That said, for a while during the reading process, I was vaguely interested, and, in the end, I only felt the need to abandon it for mindless televisual entertainment once or twice.

Book review: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

This book rated number one on the 2006 Angus and Robinson Top 100 book recommendations... so I’ll clearly state that either: Angus and Robinson have been sorely misled, or the Australian reading public have a lot to answer for. While Dan Brown-bashing is a popular pastime amongst those sneeringly referred to as the “literary elitist snobs”, I’m totally not afraid to side myself whole-heartedly with the snobs. And it’s not that I’m a resentful wanna-be unpublished author, or a jealous contemporary, or that I was someone who had a go before ACTUALLY reading the thing. I just really didn’t like it. The Da Vinci Code was spewed by Dan Brown and then published by Transworld Publishing. It took the world by storm and everybody loved it but me and some other people.

Book review: Map of Bones by James Rollins

Poor James Rollins. He wanted to be the next Dan Brown with this little historico-conspiracy-theory set in the Vatican and a host of other exotic locations, impossibly laden with handsome brave protagonists. And so many plot twists your head will spin—while the rest of your mind thinks “how do they DO it in just four days?”. I’ve never read Mr Rollins before... he was the least offensive selection in the book exchange at the hostel I was staying in at the time, and while he didn’t inspire feelings of nausea in me the way James Patterson does, I still don’t think I’d leap at the chance to purchase any of his previous six novels for more than a dollar.

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