Kathy Reichs - Break No Bones

Posted by Mystery Reader under 3, Kathy Reichs

Many of us know of the TV-series “Bones”, about Forensic Anthropologist Temperance Brennan. The FOX Television series is based on a series of novels by author Kathy Reichs, who in turn has used her own life and career as an inspiration for her writing.Kathy Reichs - Break No Bones

Break No Bones is the ninth installment of the series, and as usual, Reichs provides us with an entertaining insight into the life of a criminal forensics from another perspective than the one brought to us by CSI.

This time, Brennan is spending some time at an archelogical dig in South Carolina, when a male body turns up that isn’t quite as old as the site would indicate. More like a few years old at the most.

The discovery sparks a murder investigation where Brennan is called in to assist the local coroner, an old friend who’s suddenly turned ill. To add to the mystery, Brennan’s ex husband is in town looking for a missing private detective who in turn was investigating the disappearance of rich evangelist’s daughter.

When the body of the P.I. turns up as part of Brennan’s investigation, the cases intertwine, and leads Brennan down a sinister path that turn dangerous even to herself.

As I said in the beginning, I found the book very entertaining though somewhat predictable at times. It was easy reading, however, and I finished the book in about 48 hours, which is my usual pace, aided somewhat of a day off lying at the beach. Readers won’t be stunned or shocked, but it’s not so predictable that you can put the book down halfway through and know how it’ll end.

Final Grade: 3/5

What to read next?

Posted by Mystery Reader under Misc

No review today, but a little bit of philosophy I guess.

I just finished a book today, this time CJ Sansom’s latest, and somewhere down the line you’ll see my complete review of this masterpiece. Finishing a good book is a bit of a bittersweet sensation. When reading something really good, I always have a hard time putting it down. I’ve put my nose in a book and when I looked up again it was 8 hours later. I’m not kidding, it happens to me.

While I have this feeling that I just HAVE to finish the book to find out what’s going to happen, I also feel a bit sad when the book is finished. The moment that I close the book for the last time, never to open it again. Characters who I’ve gotten to know but might not hear from again, places I’ve been to that I will never go to again.

Now I’m not sure what to read next. It’s not that I don’t have any options, quite the opposite, I have too many options. The following books are currently residing on the top of my pile:

Kathy Reich - Break no bones
Peter Robinson - Piece of my heart
Chris Kuzneski - Sword of God

Which one should I pick? Any readers of this blog feel like nudging me in any particular direction? I’m open for suggestion.

Another thriller with a historical twist, this wonderful novel combines a history lesson with a very real contemporary issue, namely the constant conflict in the middle east. For those who have read Paul Sussman’s first book, The Lost Army of Cambyses, his second novel is a much deeper read.Last Secret of the Temple

While the “Lost Army” was great entertainment and high paced action/thriller, The Last Secret of the Temple not only gives us a thrilling mystery, it’s also trying to show that with a common cause, people of different cultures do not have to be enemies. Once they get off their high horses, they might actually realize they have a lot in common.

Previous readers will be familiar with Egyptian police inspector Yusuf Khalifa in Luxor. He’s called to the scene of a murder of a hotel owner in the Valley of the Kings, and while the case seems to be easy at first, Khalifa is starting to have second thoughts of what actually happened, drawing parallells to a murder a long time ago. When the traces lead him to Jerusalem, he gets in contact with detective Arieh Ben Rhoi, who initially does his best to help the Arab inspector as little as he can. Also in Jerusalem, Palestinian journalist Layla Al-Madani has her own problems, constantly getting given a harsh treatment by Jewish police for her interviews with Palestinian extremists.

Gradually, the three threads become one, as the secrets uncovered by the murder of the Hotel owner leads us back to Nazi Germany, and then further back to the Roman occupation of Jerusalem. Secrets which if revealed, could cause the Middle East to explode.

While the book wasn’t as fast paced as the Lost Army, I found this one to be much better planned and it’s quite apparent that Sussman has put a lot of thought into this story (not saying he didn’t with the first one though). It is quite refreshing when someone shows that writing an entertaining thriller does not mean you have to “dumb down” the contents, and that you can actually make it meaningful as well.

Final Grade: 4/5

CJ Sansom - Dissolution

Posted by Mystery Reader under 5, CJ Sansom

DissolutionThis book is nothing short of fantastic. Not only does Sansom manage to enthrall his readers with a great classical “whodunnit”, but he also builds up a very vivid and clear picture of a 1530-monastery in Scarnsea, Sussex. The mastery does not end there, however. The author weaves in the political turmoil that is Henry VIIIs rule and the dissolution of the monasteries in England.

The protagonist, Mathew Shardlake, is a lawyer at Lincoln’s Inn in London, sent to investigate the murder of one of Thomas Cromwell’s Commissioners, who has been sent to investigate the Scarnsea monastery. The body has been brutally mutilated, but the altar of the monastery’s altar has been used to sacrifice a black cockerel and a great relic has been stolen. Surely, a group of Satanic worshipers have killed the commissioner and performed these acts of sacrilege?

We follow Shardlake as he slowly uncovers the truth behind the Commissioner’s murder and how the investigation leads him all the way to the inner circles of Henry VIII’s court.

This is CJ Sansom’s first book, but he shows no “rookie”-signs whatsoever. A great mystery novel, combined with a fascinatng history lesson. I knew very little of The Dissolution nor of Thomas Cromwell when I started this book, and I had only heard a little of Henry VIII and all his wives. All of a sudden it has become a favorite historical period of mine, and I immediately started watching “The Tudors” on DVD.

The books is a definite FIVE, which makes rating his other books even harder, since they’re even better.

Final Grade: 5/5

James Rollins - Map of Bones

Posted by Mystery Reader under 3, James Rollins

Map of Bones was my first Rollins novel, and might actually be my last. I didn’t find the book terrible, but on the other hand I wasn’t “awed” either.

During a service at a cathedral in Cologne, Germany, a band of armed intruders dressed in monks’ robes ruthlessly guns down worshippers and clergy alike. They’re not after the church’s gold and valuable artwork, but a priceless treasure secreted within: the preserved bones of the Three Magi who once came to pay homage to a newborn savior.

Enter Sigma Force, a covert government agency used to investigate dangerous technology being researched and utilized around the world, shows up at the scene after reports that not only guns were used to kill the visitors, but strange lightning electricuted them first.

What follows is a chase for the rest of the treasures that the Three Wise Men brought, a chase where the Sigma-agents are competing with not only their nemesis, The Dragon Court, but also an organization with traces back to Nazi Germany.

As you can see, we have a rather intricate recipe, with lots of different ingrediences. I will be the first admit that the story was fast paced and entertaining at times, but falls short due to the cliches. The main characters are your typical action heroes; rough, tough and invincible. The Dragon Court is a ridicilous “arch nemesis” organization to Sigma Force, akin to James Bond’s MI6 relationship to Spectre. Hello.. 1962 called, they want their plotlines back.

So.. I’ll give Rollins credit for a fast paced and action packed story, but will deduct some for the clichés.

Final Score: 3/5

Feedburner added

Posted by Mystery Reader under Misc

Just a quick note that I’ve now linked myself to Feedburner and set up a few syndication options to the right in case you use one of those RSS-readers.

Sam Bourne - The Righteous Men

Posted by Mystery Reader under 4, Sam Bourne

The Righteous MenI found this book lying at Borders and more or less bought it based on the theme and presentation on the back, an approach that usually works best for me rather than reading reviews (ok, that’s a great way to induce readers to follow my blog). In this case, I made a good choice.

As you might have realized from some of my other reviews, I have a tendency to pick thrillers with both historic and religious themes, and with The Righteous Men, this is also the case; this time with Judaism rather than Christianity though.

The main character in Sam Bourne’s debut novel is british journalist Will Monroe, living in New York City with his wife. While investigating a possible link between two murders on opposite ends of the United States, Monroe comes home from a trip to Seattle to find his wife has been kidnapped.

As the story progresses, Monroe is desperately trying to find his wife, as well as trying to figure out the link between the first two murders, which are not the only ones in a series of murders spanning the entire world. The motive is slowly introduced to the reader in a well written storyline that had me spellbound from cover to cover.

Great serial-killer novel, with religious tie-ins.

Final Grade: 4/5

Caleb Carr - The Alienist

Posted by Mystery Reader under 5, Caleb Carr

It’s been almost 10 years since I picked up Caleb Carr’s book The Alienist, and just as long since I last read it. However, it’s still one of my favorite books EVER.

Set in New York around the end of the 19th century, the story is being narrated by one of the main characters, a journalist by the name of John Moore. The book’s central character, however, is Laszlo Kreizler, a Hungarian psychiatrist living in New York City

The story is a dark one, involving child prostitution, poverty, and murder. While the book’s theme might scare people off, you get a very well written story that combines history with forensics and forensics psychology. Carr has managed to make a believable adaptation of some of today’s methods for catching serial killers, to a 19th century setting. Combine this with a true enthusiast’s view of 19th century New York City and you have a greatly written story in a vividly described historical environment.

I definately recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in forensics, late 19th century history, and/or New York City.

Along the way, not only do we get a truly thrilling story, we also get to meet some historical characters, such as Theodore Roosevelt, William Hearst and J.P. Morgan.

Final Grade: 5/5

The Templar Legacy - Steve Berry

Posted by Mystery Reader under 4, Steve Berry

I’ll start this off with the punchline, so you really don’t have to read any further. Simply put, this book rocks. There, I’ve said it, that’s my review. No further comments needed.

Oh well.

Cotton Malone is a retired CIA-officer who’s moved from Atlanta to Copenhagen (Denmark) and opened a bookstore. However, as he’s visited by his old boss, and she’s attacked in broad daylight, he’s unwillingly thrown back into the fire, leading him on a cat and mouse trail across Europe in search of a Templar secret, chased by unknown murderers who are after information only Cotton’s boss has.

The foundation of the plot is scaringly similar to The Da Vinci code, but have no fear, this is much better. Unlike Dan Brown, Steve Berry not only weaves a good yarn, he is also a well accomplished writer.

While I’d put this book in the light weight category, it’s definately not of the same character as Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, for example, The Templar Legacy is both entertaining and thought provoking, and I actually ended up reading every book Berry has written after starting out with this one. Again, unlike Brown, Berry’s books all stand very well by themselves, and not one reminds you of the other.

Final Score 4/5

 

Sign of the Cross - Chris Kuzneski

Posted by Mystery Reader under 2, Chris Kuzneski
This one caught my eye in the bookstore with a dashing cover and an interesting teaser on the back. Murder, links to early Christian history, archeology, what could be wrong?

Well.. most of it actually.

I had never read anything else by Chris Kuzneski, so I wasn’t really sure of what to get, but I picked this one up and then a few weeks later, on the same premises, got the sequel without having read the first one.
The story started up well enough, with a mystical abduction of a young Catholic priest and his subsequent crucifixion. The setting changes to an archeological dig in Italy where two unbeknowing archeologists are attacked by professional hitmen in a helicopter and are forced to flee the scene of a discovery of immense historical proportions.

Introducing Payne and Jones, two uber-elite-ninja-commandos. One a former soldier, turned multi-billionaire, the other his muscular sidekick. They’re sent off as would be bounty hunters after the the missing archeologists and at the same time get tangled up in the murder-investigation for the crucified priest, all while gradually unravelling the plot of the secrets found at the archeological dig.

The story bears a certain resemblance to the Da Vinci code, in that it’s built up as a chase, but even though I don’t think DVC is a brilliant piece of literature, it’s still better than “Sign of the Cross,” mostly because I simply cannot stand the central characters.

Final Score 2/5

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