the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘suspense

The Third Section, by Jasper Kent

Published in Oct 2011

where I got it: received a review copy from the friendly folks at Pyr

Why I read it: Enjoyed immensely the first two books in the series Twelve, and Thirteen Years Later

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Taking place 30 years after the events of Thirteen Years Later, The Third Section (the third book in Jasper Kent’s Danilov Quintet) follows the children of Aleksei Danilov.  His son Dmitri is in Sevastapol, fighting off the French and the English.  When Dmitri discovers two dead soldiers, whose wounds match those witnessed thirty years earlier, he knows the creatures he helped his father hunt have returned.

Meanwhile,  Aleksei’s illegitimate daughter, Tamara, has secured a post with the Tsar’s secret police, The Third Section.  With a cover as a madam running a brothel, her official mission is informing on loose lipped politicians.  Her supervisor attempts to unnerve her by showing her his torture chambers, but she barely reacts. Tamara has nothing left to lose, what could he possibly show her that would frighten her?  When one of the working girls is found dead, covered in blood and missing her throat, Tamara begins an investigation that can’t end well.

And then we have  Yudin,  one of the most thrilling villains I have ever met.  In Twelve, Yudin, or Iuda, as he was known then, identified Aleksei as a worthy opponent. Now that the game has started, Yudin won’t back away until there is a winner. And when one is immortal, the game never has to end.  He is vicious, scientifically curious, and sadistic, and the pleasure of finally getting his point of view was a pleasurable horror unto itself.  I have no sympathy for Yudin, but his talent for deception and the long game makes him beyond  fascinating to watch.

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Reamde, by Neal Stephenson

published Sept 2011

where I got it: library

why I read it: I suffer from Stephensonitis masochism

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It took me a while, but I got through Reamde (a play on words of the ubiquitous readme file that comes with most software), Neal Stephenson’s latest door stopper of a book.  This isn’t so much a review as it is a reaction, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So I don’t have to go thru the plot bits again, please read my first blab on Reamde, found here.  Amazon plot blurb can be found here.

A mainstream book review site (Salon? Slate?  someone like that) blurbed Reamde as being Stephenson’s most accessible book yet.  And it is.  No weird futuristic monks or cyberpunk guys with odd names, no generational flashbacks, nothing “weird” or inaccessible on that front. A globe spanning thriller that falls somewhere between a Ludlum style “pick off the bad guys one by one” and a Doctorow-esque “the Chinese gold farmers aren’t the bad guys!” ,  Reamde is surprisingly normal,  or at least normal compared to what I’ve come to expect from Stephenson.  It is in a word, it is utterly accessible.

For us Speculative Fiction fans, accessible is the double edged sword of the decade.

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Fevre Dream, by George R R Martin

Published in 1982

where I got it: borrowed from a friend

why I read it: been on a GRRMartin kick lately

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I’ve been on a George R R Martin kick lately, along with most of the epic fantasy blogosphere. While everyone else is reading a nearly infamous fifth book, I’ve been hitting the backlist. When a friend offered to lend me his autographed copy of Fevre Dream along with the recently released graphic novel (which I haven’t read yet), I jumped at the chance. George R R Martin writing vampire horror on an antebellum Mississippi River? Sign me up!

beware – spoilers ahead.

Fevre Dream opens with a very depressed steamboat owner. Abner Marsh has had nothing but bad luck. Steamboats crushed in ice, or destroyed by the river. Few want to work with him, some believe he’s cursed. One day he’s approached by a wealthy gentleman named Joshua York who makes Marsh an offer he can’t refuse. Their partnership agreed upon, York supplies massive sums of money, and Marsh hires the best riverboat builders, engineers, and pilots money can buy. Soon, the Fevre Dream is born. She’s over 300 feet long, trimmed in silver, and nearly covered in mirrors. Once you’ve laid eyes on the Fevre Dream, you can never forget her.

It’s not long before Marsh and his crew suspect something strange is going on. York is never seen in the day time, and seems to only drink a homebrew wine. Betraying York’s trust to never enter his room or ask detailed questions, Marsh breaks into his room in an attempt to discover his secret.

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The World House, by Guy Adams

Published in 2011

Where I got it: The library

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On the one side, is the Box.  If you come into contact with the box in a specific situation, you wake up in the house.  

On the other side is the Renegade. The house is his prison, and he’s been planning his escape for a very, very long time.


Almost in the style of a  long prologue, we are quickly introduced to a diverse handful of characters who come into contact with the box, usually in violent circumstances.  Some of them are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, whereas others have been searching for the mysterious, mythical box for years.

As people wake up in different parts of the house, they learn very quickly to adapt or die. For this is a house that isn’t a house. It may have hallways and bedrooms and a library and a kitchen and a library, but the hallways go on forever, the countless bedrooms have never been slept in, the library contains the memories of the universe and the kitchen houses one of the cannibals.  And when the lights go down,  it’s time to find a safe place to hide.  Because this house is alive, and it is hungry.

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 Thirteen Years Later, by Jasper Kent

published: Feb 2011, PYR

Where I got it: received review copy from the friendly folks at PYR

why I read it: Loved the first book, Twelve, reviewed here.

  
Apologies in advance for a crappily written review that doesn’t do the book justice.    I’ve had some version of the flu since saturday, and my brain isn’t functioning at all. and that’s before the cold meds.  the super short version:  Thirteen Years Later has a slower pace than Twelve, but has better twists and turns. We get multiple points of view, which is nice. If you thought the “bad guys” from the first book were nasty, just wait till you meet Doctor Cain.

Here’s the longer version:

Aleksei tries to forget the past, but it’s impossible. He still remembers conversations he had with his dead friends, and every time he looks at his son Dmitri he can’t help but think of the boy’s namesake. Aleksei splits his time between his family in Petersburg, his mistress and illegitimate daughter in Moscow, and wherever his job takes him. Reporting directly to Tsar Alexandre, Aleksei has spent the last few years infiltrating revolutionary groups, in hopes of squashing rebellions before they even start, saving lives, and saving Russia. Many of these rebels are soldiers the same age group as Aleksei, who had chased the French all the way back to Paris thirteen years ago. They came home, wanting for Russia the freedoms and republic they saw in Paris.

Things are going fairly swimmingly, until Aleksei receives a message from a man he knows to be dead. Partly out of fear, and partly out of curiosity, he goes to the meeting, to meet a man who claims to be Maksim’s younger brother Kyesha. Maksim did have a brother, a brother who died in childhood. Who is this man, and what does he want from Aleksei? He certainly isn’t Maksim’s brother, but Aleksei does know him from somewhere. If only he could remember where. . . . Over many short meetings, with questions and answers given over a children’s gambling game, Aleksei earns a book bound in the skin of a voordalak, and discovers the secrets behind Kyesha’s horrific past. Read the rest of this entry »

 Something From the Nightside, by Simon R Green

published in 2003

where did I get it: purchased used

why I read it:  was craving a skinny book, and it looked fun.
I always enjoy “other world” type stories, Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a lot of Charles deLint novels, where there is another world, just below ours, where strange things happen. Simon R Green’s Something From the Nightside is such a story, albeit a creepier, darker, noir-er (noirer, is that even a word?)  one.  A little bit Dark City, a little bit Harry Dresden,  Simon R. Green’s Something From the Nightside follows John Taylor, child of the Nightside, bearer of a gift that will most certainly be the end of him.

It’s been five years since John left the Nightside, vowing never to return.  He makes his living in the real world as a Private Investigator working the seediest parts of London.  All children of the Nightside have some kind of paranormal gift, and John Taylor’s gift is that he can find things. lost objects, people, locations.  When his newest client Joanna Barrett tasks him with finding her runaway daughter Cathy, John simply can’t say no.  Doesn’t hurt that Joanna is wealthy, beautiful and pays up front.

When they learn Cathy has found her way to the Nightside, John is given no choice but to take Joanna with him, and introduce her to all his old haunts. In five years, the Nightside hasn’t changed much.    the nightclub that’s locked in the 60’s still serves original Coca-cola, Razor Eddie still owes John a favor, the Collector still collects, Shotgun Suzie still loves her guns over anyone else, and everyone is still petrified of John Taylor.  I wouldn’t want to live in the Nightside, but it sure is entertaining to read about!

As John and Joanna get closer to finding  Cathy John starts to suspect something is very, very wrong.  But time is running out, and his attention is elsewhere. . . . Read the rest of this entry »

 Twelve, by Jasper Kent

Published in 2010

Where did I get it: Library, but plan to purchase a copy

I’ve been waiting a long time to read a book like this.  A book that puts the horror back in supernatural myths. Although it’s somewhat spoiled on the back of the book, I won’t even tell you which supernatural myth I’m talking about, just know that it’s one you are supposed to be afraid of.

To risk sounding cliche, Jasper Kent’s writing is just damn good.  Every sentence, every word moves the plot forward. There isn’t a slow moment in this book. Kent brings us to early 19th century Moscow, where the people are proud yet afraid of invasion.  Talk of republic is in the air, along with the early snows of autumn.

Don’t know anything about Russia, 1812 or Napoleon? Don’t worry,  the main character, Aleksei will walk you through everything you need to know.  My historical education is so lacking as to be embarassing, and not once did I feel lost. Twelve takes place during a war, and Aleksei and his friends are soldiers, but this is not a war book.  

As Napoleon’s Grande Armee marches towards Moscow, Dmitry offers to bring in some mercenaries to help with the effort. Aleksei, Dmitry, Maksim and their commanding officer Vadim aren’t on the front lines, per say, they are beyond the front lines.  Their mission is to cross enemy lines and cause disruptions and problems for the invaders. In modern jargon I’m sure the French would call them terrorists.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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