Friday, August 22, 2014

Terminated -- What a Thrill Ride!

I got my copy of Ray Daniel's Terminated late in the day and thought that I'd read a couple of chapters before going to sleep. Big mistake! I was still reading at 2 AM and if it hadn't been a work night, I probably would have kept reading til dawn. The story hooks you at the first line and keeps reeling you in!

Terminated is Ray Daniel's debut novel and the start of a very promising new series. The protagonist, Tucker, is a brilliant computer programmer who lost both his great loves on the same day. Six months before the story opens, Tucker is fired for no obvious reason from his dream job, then he returns home to find his wife, Carol, murdered. Now, unemployed and unfocused, he's at a loss about what to do with his life.

Then Tucker's old college roommate, now in the FBI's cybercrimes division, claims to have a new lead in Carol's murder. That's when Tucker's life really goes to hell. In the course of five days, murder and mayhem dog his footsteps and we find that, for a really smart guy, he can certainly be obtuse at times. But if anything, Tucker is determined to find out why his wife was killed and who is trying to take him out as well.

Boston-based Daniel has created a savvy, smart character who, even when he's spouting geek-speak, doesn't let the technology interfere with the action. And there certainly is plenty of action!

Terminated is a great read and I look forward to discovering what trouble Tucker will get into next.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gothic Mysteries from Sharon Bolton

It's always a pleasure to introduce a new author to an avid reader. While I started out with Sharon (S.J.) Bolton's most recent Lacey Flint series, Melissa chose to start at the beginning. If you're looking for a riveting read during the waning days of summer, you can't go wrong with Bolton's novels. They're real grabbers!

Louise (Aunt Agatha, from the Death in the Stacks blog) recently turned me on to the books of mystery writer S. J. Bolton. But Louise started with the latest two of her books, whereas I decided (being a little OCD about my reading) to go back to the beginning and read Bolton's books from her debut, which is called Sacrifice. Now I have read three, and definitely plan to keep going.

Her protagonists in the first two are women in unusual professions and offbeat settings, and the books cross that line from mystery to thriller, almost to full-on gothic. They reminded me a bit of Elly Griffiths' books, with her strong, independent, loner (Ruth Galloway) taking things into her own hands because she's never become used to doing anything else.

Sacrifice is set on the Shetland islands. Its protagonist, Tora Hamilton, is an ob/gyn doctor, and the surrounding tale arises from the very nature of the islands, with their in-turned culture that excludes the outsider and keeps its secrets. There's one secret that's about to be found's murder. But not your garden variety murder (although the body is found in the garden)--it's weird, ritualistic, and the tip of a very big iceberg.

The second book, Awakening, stars a wildlife veterinarian with major personal issues who lives in a small town in Dorset, and who gets the chance to act as resident herpetologist when a plague of snakes starts taking down the villagers. There is a perverse tale from the past that eventually explains everything, and the twists and turns taken to get to that explanation are as mesmerizing as the snakes.
Number three is Blood Harvest, and wow! Very Children of the Corn. Super creepy, great characters, and I especially loved the children's participation in the story. This one has a couple of protagonists/points of view, one being the new (young, handsome) vicar in an old parish, the other a psychologist treating one of his parishioners. I did speculate about who the "bad guy" had to be rather early in the story, simply because of a suspicious lack of explanation about certain people, but Bolton did enough with red herrings to make me doubt myself later on, so it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

This one has a nice start on a romance as part of the plot, but the end of it is a little odd--I'm waiting to see if she takes up these characters again in a future book in another town.

And...all of the rest of her books were tragically checked out at Central when I went looking on Friday for another, so I'm interrupting this reading streak to go explore teen fiction for a while. But I'll be back to Bolton!