Running in Circles (Lucy Lewis #1), by Claire Gray

Six stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Claire Gray and Sapere Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

With this debut novel in the Lucy Lewis series, I had high hopes that Claire Gray would pull me in from the opening pages and not let go. The premise appeared strong and the cover offered some intrigue, paving the way for an interesting reading experience. Lucy Lewis is a journalist working in Thailand for a local paper, with hopes of getting a major scoop to advance her career. When a bomb explodes close to her hostel, Lucy and her editor, Steve, take a moment to shake off the shock before seeking to cover the story. Might this have been an errant explosion or could it have been an act of terror? With dust and debris scattered around the explosion site, Lucy and Steve begin asking questions in order to better understand what’s happened. Lucy finds herself face to face with another foreigner whose money lines the pockets of many, but when she tries to follow-up, he’s disappeared. Working both to understand what’s happened with the bombing and this mysterious disappearance, Lucy finds herself traveling a circuitous route, unable to get the answers she needs. Just as she feels she’s making progress, she falls victim to a conniving individual who wants nothing more than to shut down all Lucy’s sleuthing and keep this mystery buried under all the dead bodies. The truth will come out, though Lucy may not be around to see it. Gray does a decent job in spinning this tale, though I could not find myself completely connection to the story throughout. Perhaps others who enjoy the genre will find more than I did on the written page.

I found the title of the book to be spot-on, for numerous reasons. While I can see Gray has a few great ideas, I could not find myself connected or really ensconced by the style or plot. Lucy Lewis is a young journalist with much to prove, living and working on the other side of the world. She seeks to prove herself and show her editor that she deserves to be taken seriously. It does not help that she finds herself blurring the lines—at least in her mind—with her superior, which can only have dire results. The handful of other characters who grace the pages of the book made only a minor impact on me, though I could see that Gray was trying to develop them at every opportunity. There were supporters of Lucy’s efforts and those who sought to push her down when they could. Overall, it was a mish-mash of narrative circles. The story could have worked well, though it did not grab me. I cannot fault Gray, as I am not the easiest reader to impress, though but there was little within these pages that left me wanting more. I am sure others will laud this work and rush to get their hands on the sequel, but I will stand back and turn my attention elsewhere, at least for the time being.

Thank you, Madam Gray for your effort. While others may be sold, it just did not grab me, as the publishers likely hoped it would.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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The Vatican Children (World of Shadows #2), by Lincoln Cole

Five stars

The premise of this series by Lincoln Cole left me quite curious, as I enjoy all things related to exorcisms. Those who read my review of the opening book will know that things started off quite well, then took a turn for the worse. With an interesting cliffhanger, I vowed to give the series a little more rope, in hopes that it would tie me in and not hang itself. With the revelation that Bishop Glasser has been summoning demons to inhabit innocent folk, Father Niccolo Paladina is back with sufficient supplies to go to battle, though has not yet received formal direction from the Vatican. Working alongside him is Arthur Vangeest, a Hunter for the Council of Chaldea, a group charged with investigating all things supernatural. After forcefully securing one of the bishop’s followers, Arthur and Paladina try to ascertain where he might have gone and what plans he has. It is soon thereafter that Paladina reveals his knowledge of the Vatican Children, a group of youths who showed much power when it came to sensing the demon life forms and even a degree of mind control. With a list having been taken from the Vatican, it is only a matter of time before Bishop Glasser gets his hands on it, which would allow him to convert them for his own good. While Arthur is forced to come clean with other members of the Council that he has gone rogue, he is determined to capture this evil doer, whom he is sure helped have his family murdered. When Father Paladina and Arthur come face to face with Glasser and his minions, they are forced to use the only weapons at their disposal to protect the Vatican Children. Only one side can survive this spiritual apocalypse, but there is much to do thereafter. Holy water and a few rosaries will not be enough, though the climax of the story only creates a new cliffhanger for readers to ponder before locating the final novel in the trilogy. A unique middle piece that helped to build on much of the information provided in the series debut. I promised myself a second try, but am not feeling enamoured enough to want to tie off all the loose ends! Take it or leave it, I won’t lead you down any proverbial garden path. [There you go, Pat. A book that you can leave off your tipping TBR list!]

I was hoping that things would resurrect themselves in this second book, as the chase towards catching Bishop Glasser was on. However, things ended up just being a hot mess of writing and odd plot twists. Sure, the reader learns a little more about the Vatican Children and their importance in the plot, but I could not find myself connected to the chase or the stand-off that appears to be the climax of this middle book. Father Paladina and Arthur are just as they were in the previous piece, which does not say much for the curious reader. There are many names dropped and batted around throughout this short piece, but none of whom really caught my attention. I felt as though Cole could have done so much more to better develop this story, which left me feeling cheated and unimpressed. There was such potential here, even in the short amount of time on offer with this book, but much was wasted with trivial discussion and cheesy factoids. I did give the series two books and wished I had the inclination to finish things off, but I cannot see why I would invest even the single day it will take to speed read through it. There are so many books out there I need to tackle, I’ll let others go to Amazon and locate this one for themselves.

Sorry, Mr. Cole, but you don’t have a committed fan in me. Ratings seem to show me others are hooked and I wish them well!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Everett Exorcism (World of Shadows #1), by Lincoln Cole

Six stars

Drawn to the premise of this novel by Lincoln Cole, I could not wait to see if it was as chilling as the blurb made it appear to be. In the town of Everett, Washington, something is going on. The priest of St. Joseph’s Cathedral is certain that one of his parishioners is under the influence of something demonic. However, the bishop is not convinced and shuts down any further exploration. Not satisfied, a call is made directly to the Vatican, who send Father Niccolo Paladina to see what might be taking place in this bucolic community in America’s Pacific Northwest. A trained exorcist, Father Paladina speaks to all parties involved and chastises the local priest for leaping overtop of his bishop, as well as trying to create something out of nothing. Father Paladina is not convinced that this is anything other than some mental health concerns with the elderly woman in question. During a more formal a detailed discussion with the aforementioned parishioner, Father Paladina senses something off about the house, which is only further exacerbated when he hears something calling him in a mocking tone. Could there be more to this than meets the eye? When others around Everett begin exhibiting odd behaviours, Father Paladina cannot help but wonder if his first suppositions might have been wrong. Father Paladina soon comes face to face with a man blacklisted by the Vatican for his outlandish claims, one Arthur Vangeest. While Arthur claims that his entire family was murdered by a cult, perhaps possessed themselves, Father Paladina cannot help but wonder if this is all a rouse by a man whose conscience is full of guilt. The reader soon learns that Arthur Vangeest is known as a Hunter, a soldier for the Council of Chaldea, an organization that works at arm’s-length from the Vatican. The Council is tasked with investigating supernatural events around the world without pulling the Church into the middle of them. With events in Everett becoming more troublesome, Father Paladina cannot help but wonder if his expertise in exorcisms might prove useful and whether there is a larger secret yet to be revealed. A unique story that takes many a turn, going from intensely captivating to tepid and back in short order. Those who enjoy something a little different might enjoy this piece. The jury is still out for me.

I was completely sold by Cole’s premise as the story began, finding myself curious about the premise of the exorcism in a small town. The collection of characters proved to be engaging, particularly Father Paladina. This well-established priest presents not only as a professional, but also one who follows the rules and hierarchy as they are laid out for him. He chooses to lecture those who stray from the well-defined rules and will not abide ignorance. However, while he seems to know his job well, Paladina is highly sceptical of the demonic presence in the world, thereby making his role more obsolete. Cole develops him well, though the character takes a nosedive halfway through the novel, with the introduction of the Council. Many of the other characters in their supporting roles have some potential, but I found myself to lose interest and a connection to those who serve to propel the story forward at this point. It was as though there was such potential with the characters and the premise of the Council, but it was lost in some tepid narrative and plot delivery. It was as though Cole needed a two-pronged plot to keep the story moving—at least to him—and it did not work for me. Surely, there is something useful to know about this Council, as this is a trilogy, but I could not, for the life of me, connect to it or its larger purpose. As these are short novels and I find myself between reading commitments, I will likely give the second book a try to see if I can win myself over, but I will not subject myself to something if I cannot latch on in short order. My reading life is too short to spend time on a book that does not make an impact.

Kudos, Mr. Cole for the interesting premise. We’ll see if you can resurrect things in the second piece!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Death of an Old Girl (Pollard & Toye #1), by Elizabeth Lemarchand

Six stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Sapere Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Asked to read and review this first novel in a long police procedural series, I leapt at the chance to delve into the world of Elizabeth Lemarchard and her well-developed Scotland Yard duo, Inspector Pollard and Sergeant Toye. During a reunion week at the Meldon School for Girls, Beatrice Baynes appears on the scene with nothing but criticism. From the layout of the garden to the freedoms exercised by pupils through to the scandalous artwork being created, Baynes has gone on the warpath. While others around her try to hold their tongues, there is an obvious animosity towards this ‘old girl’ and her less than laudatory personality. When Baynes is found murdered, the list of suspects is long and the motives equally as lengthy. The crime brings Pollard and Toye on the scene, dispatched from Scotland Yard to catch the murderer before the case gets cold. The investigation pushes the cops in numerous directions, though it is the careful examination of clues and insight that leads them to discover more than first meets the eye. With the killer somewhere amongst the reunion attendees, will Pollard and Toye be willing to finger someone, with the victim’s departure anything but a sorry loss to society? Lemarchand lays the groundwork for what surely became an interesting series with this debut novel. Some fans of police procedurals will enjoy it, though I found it hard to grip, even from the opening pages.

I have often said that first impressions of authors are hard to dispel, particularly when I have so many on my radar. Having this book put before me was likely the only way I would have read it, though I am sorry to say that I wish I had skipped the opportunity. I found the writing not to my liking and the story took too long to get going for me to thoroughly enjoy the end result. It was a tough read, peppered with my skimming at times to get through the experience in order to pen this review. Lemarchand does develop her characters well, offering them life and vigour throughout, but I simply could not find myself latching onto them or wanting to dig deeper. Surely, there will be many who have loved this series and have much praise for Lemarchand. To those folks, I tip my hat and praise the fact that I am able to disagree without it being scandalous. I would recommend anyone who reads the dust jacket to give the series a try, for it is perhaps my jaded perspective that left me unsatisfied. That being said. I take my gut reaction seriously and think it bears some merit in the larger reviewing community as well.

Thank you, Madam Lemarchand, for your large contribution to the genre and the writing community. Alas, it just did nothing for me!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The White Road, by Sarah Lotz

Six stars

This is my first venture into the world of Sarah Lotz and her writing, which is important to note from the outset. The story took me to new heights and offered some self-examination in some chilly conditions, something that I presumed at the beginning of this reading journey would prove exciting. Simon Newman is a thrill seeker of sorts. Not only that, but he likes to document those who seek thrills, but do not succeed, to the point that they lose their lives. Teaming up with a friend, Simon agrees to go inside a cave to explore, in hopes of finding—and documenting with video—a number of bodies of fellow cave explorers who perished. Macabre? Definitely, but when the exploration does not go as planned and Simon almost loses his life, he has an epiphany of sorts, as well as collecting a ton of emotional baggage. Simon turns to his next adventure, climbing the north side of Mount Everest, where there are surely many bodies are strewn across its paths. Lying to falsify his need to be there, Simon learns about an epic explorer, Juliet Michaels, who lost her life trying to be the first female to ascend to the summit. Through her journals (which the reader also experiences as a secondary narrative), Simon is able to learn that Juliet faced demons of her own, only to perish in the attempt to conquer them. With the climb moving forward, Simon meets a fellow climber whose story is closely tied to Juliet’s, all while he is on the lookout for new video footage to wow his website viewers back home. Struggling to come to terms with his past struggles, Simon realises that there is much more to the Juliet Michaels story than meets the eye, if only he will take the time to follow the path laid out before him. Lotz pens this interesting story, which may ‘pique’ the curiosity for some, though I found it to be an avalanche of convoluted writing.

I would suspect that the worst thing for an author is to have a reader spend time with a book and think, ‘Ok! So where is the point in all this?’ I felt that way throughout this novel and could not shake that it was not simply me in a poor reading mindset. I cannot criticise the writing, for it was quite well developed, or even the characters, as they did reveal themselves in a decent fashion. While the narrative was excessively long, I can see the Lotz wanted to condense each ‘happening’ into a single chapter, thereby making them long and somewhat convoluted (like a mountain trail?). I could not find myself caring much about the story or how the characters moved from one mindset to another. I like to learn and Lotz offers many chances to explore mountain climbing, going so far as to add a glossary of terms and peppering the narrative with ‘mountain-speak’. I just felt that the story left me feeling disconnected, like an old piece of Velcro that no longer has the ability to adhere to much of anything. Surely there are others who loved the book and praise Lotz for her writing. First impressions are strong and I simply could not find myself loving the book or the premise. Maybe I am just too jaded or want action rather than epiphanies embedded in a deeper meaning. Whatever it is, I cannot pretend that I am the problem, though perhaps I need my own hike away from the rest of the world to clear my head.

Thanks, Madam Lotz, for sharing this piece. I did not find it engaging, but I am sure others will lap it up.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Private #1 Suspect (Private #2), by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Six stars

There are times that a reader will find themselves trying to get into a novel or even a short story, but cannot seem to get a handle. It could be poorly developed characters, a weak plot, or even an audiobook narrator that sucks the life from a wonderful opportunity. While many will shelve the book or write a horrid review, I thought it a good time to test the theory that sometimes coming back to something could save it from an eternity on a DNF shelf. Here is my effort of a James Patterson book that started my jaded view of his writing and mass-publication for the sake of making money. Jack Morgan returns from a trip to Europe, tired and ready to sleep. After a quick shower, he makes his way to bed, only to find a body. It is that of his former flame, bloodied and garrotted. While he knows he could not have killed her, the police keep an eye on Morgan, who seems to be acting slightly off. Meanwhile, Private HQ is being flooded by calls for cases, including from a hotel owner who has discovered numerous bodies in her chain of hotels across California. Additionally someone carjacked a shipment of narcotics from Las Vegas, a case on which Private would not normally work, but Morgan’s had a chit called in. Struggling to put the pieces together with these cases might be the distraction Jack Morgan needs, but it will not replace that ache in his heart, as the killer remains free and in the shadows. A decent output by Patterson and Paetro, though it remains one that has not captivated me, which begs the question why I kept devouring the books in this series.

I have mentioned before, I am not a fan of some of these new series that Patterson has glued together with co-authors, for I find them to lack a really strong foundation. This was, again, one of those books. I admit, I read because of the Patterson name, though I rarely go into a book assuming that it is going to be stellar (I let his Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club, and Michael Bennett woo me that way). This was a mediocre book, but somewhat worth the time I spent. Having read all the books in the series, I must take a giants step back and forget much of what I know about the characters found herein. Jack Morgan has become a super boss in later books, but here, he was still that vulnerable fairly new head of Private. He is not the gritty man I have come to enjoy, nor does he receive much of the accolades from others around him. The rest of the team seemed to fit nicely into this story, though I felt that there were too many of them active and more cases than should have been combined in a single book to keep proper track of them all. As I did the first time around, I simply felt the whole book was less than interesting, but will elevate my star rating to three (of five). It could be that I set the bar too high (see above series preferences), but it is now the label of JAMES PATTERSON that has this on the bestseller’s list, I fear, not its content. As many of you know, I coined the phrase James Patterson Syndrome, and this may have been an early novel that helped me form the diagnosis.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Paetro, for this early novel in the series. I am still not sure I liked it, but there have been some interesting follow-up novels that span far reaches of the world.

This book fulfills Topic #2: Still Tepid? for the Equinox #4 Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Nooners, by James Patterson and Tim Arnold

Seven stars

BookShots can be hit or miss, forcing the reader to have a stiff upper lip when they come across something that does not work for them. While James Patterson and Tim Arnold have a somewhat entertaining piece here, I failed to be pulled in or sense anything captivating about which I could laud their work. Tim MacGhee is a hardworking ad man in New York’s cutthroat industry. He’s seen his fair share of success over the last decade, but at times, there must be room for growth. MacGhee has been entertaining a move to a rival firm, one that has the one thing he desires, ultimate control. However, for the time being, this former Marine must bide his time and wait for everything to fall into place. On his way into work one morning, MacGhee learns that one of his colleagues has been murdered, shot in the back of the head. The worry that pervades the office is too much and Tim heads home to his patient wife. When two more people with ties to the ad firm turn up dead, MacGhee begins to worry, more before he also saw them within hours of their deaths. Might someone be trying to send a message with these murders? MacGhee is nothing, if not entirely helpful with the authorities, revealing some of the water cooler gossip that might point to a suspect. However, with all the stress that he has on his plate, should MacGhee not be worried that he could be in the killer’s crosshairs? Patterson and Arnold offer an interesting story here, which may appeal to some readers. However, I found it lacked the needed level of suspense.

My month of BookShot binge reading has truly been a gamble. Some stories pull me in from the opening pages, while others fail to assert their literary grip on me. In this piece, Patterson and Arnold try to take readers into the exciting life of ad executives, focussing attention on Tim MacGhee. This protagonist does have some backstory on offer, as well as a little character development, which gives the reader a little better understanding about where he situates himself in the larger narrative. However, I found him to be lukewarm at best, which surely took away from the story’s delivery The secondary characters support the story as well, though I found myself equally as divorced from their key characteristics. The story, interesting on paper, seemed to lack the necessary impetus to keep things engaging. A murder should not only have a central character exploring his own life, but provide strong pacing and intrigue, with the murderer on the loose. Patterson and Arnold have the kernel of a decent story here, though its delivery left me less than satisfied.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Arnold, for this unique piece. While it did little for me, one can hope that others will see something worth their time.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Heat Storm (Nikki Heat # 9), by Richard Castle

Seven stars

Returning for another instalment of the Nikki Heat series, readers will be graced with the added bonus of a full Derrick Storm novel as well, showing the Richard Castle is able to juggle two of his protagonists in this high-flying piece of light fare. Away from the fast pace of China’s cities, Derrick Storm is in the middle of uncovering a counterfeit operation that could have significant implications in the United States. It would seem someone is laundering large amounts of US money from somewhere in China. Storm escapes with a single CD, which could hold a number of truths to bring down a group known only as the Shanghai Seven. Meanwhile, in New York, Nikki Heat is still reeling with the knowledge that her mother is alive after being presumed dead and cremated seventeen years before. However, Cynthia Heat remains on the lam, from whom, no one is quite sure. Nikki receives numerous cryptic texts from a man using the moniker, The Serpent, warning her that recent brushes with death may one day not miss their mark. As Nikki tries to work through this news, Derrick Storm appears stateside with some information that could tie Cynthia Heat to a CIA operation in China and the counterfeit operation he has been running. Storm is also being chased, presumably by the Shanghai Seven, who want their disc back. Armed with his wits and retired father, Carl, Storm seeks to battle his way to safety. Heat discovers something her mother left for her, a clue that could tie-in with the Derrick Storm fiasco. All the while, Heat’s husband and the annoying aspect of this book series, Jameson Rook, appears to woo his wife away from all the panic that is going on. While she seeks to rebuff him for a time, she cannot deny his wiles, which only makes for a cheesy collection of moments throughout the narrative. Can Nikki and Storm clear the way for a Heat reunion? Might the Shanghai Seven be topped by beheading The Serpent? All this and more awaits the reader, with a chance that this might be the swan song for Castle’s published writing career. Fans of the series and cancelled television show may like this piece, though others might want to read it to close the door once and for all.

I am not normally a bitter person when it comes to reading. I realise that sometimes books are written to entertain on a lighter level and can accept that. However, there has been something about the last few novels (and the latter seasons of the television show) that irked me enough to tune out. I want to enjoy them, from the fast pace of the storylines and the interesting character developments, but find myself feeling short-changed. It is hard to divorce the characters from the book with those I saw on the small screen, though I try by best. Nikki Heat is surely a climber within the NYPD, working hard to solve cases and putting her eventual passion for Jameson Rook to the side. The revelation about her mother being alive allowed the reader to tap into more flashback memories about Heat’s childhood, though they are muddled between trying to find The Serpent and the off-putting Jameson Rook’s reappearance to woo her between the sheets. Derrick Storm is given some wonderful development here, tapping into not only his youth, but pulling the elder Mr. Storm into the mix to offer familial comparisons. Castle does well to weave this into the story, providing some interesting banter as well as strong character development throughout the piece. Utilising a number of interesting supporting characters, Castle pushes the story forward and keeps the reader wondering what awaits. The story found herein is not weak, though there were times that I wanted things to get moving. Storm’s storyline kept things interesting, but still I found things dragged throughout. I try not to get too cynical, but I did notice I was waving my hand in a circular motion, hoping to push the narrative along so that I could reach the end. Might it have been knowing that there was little left to read in order to put this series to bed? Quite possibly, but I am not willing to waste too much of my time waiting when I have so many other books to devour. I liked the Heat series, don’t get me wrong, but there comes a time when pulling the proverbial parachute is in order. This was surely the time for Castle, as television executives did recently as well.

Kudos, Mr. Castle, for a valiant effort to tie off some loose strings. I have enjoyed the series, but am sure you, as a fictional front for a ghost writer, will now disappear into the annals of time and enjoy fictional retirement.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Boy Who Saw (Solomon Creed #2), by Simon Toyne

Six stars

Simon Toyne is back with the next instalment of the Solomon Creed series, picking up where the last story ended, a major cliffhanger leaving readers guessing. With Arizona in his rearview mirror, Solomon Creed has made his way to France, wondering more about himself and trying to determine if the tailor who crafted the suit he wears might know something about his past. Just as he arrives at ‘Atelier Engel’, Josef Engel has been murdered. Creed’s presence in the region tied with him being a strangler, makes him a prime suspect. Creed befriends a young boy, Leo, and his mother, Marie-Claude, relatives of Engel, and they try to piece together the man’s past for themselves. It would appear that the Engel had a past in a Nazi concentration camp, but soon became a hero during the liberation movement. However, friends of his from the movement have also been found murdered, leaving many to wonder if the killer is targeting a certain group. Meanwhile, a psychiatrist has arrived in France, following Creed and trying to return him to his maximum security facility in Mexico. The reader learns much about Creed’s background, including his true identity and why his memory is so fragmented. As the chase across France continues. Creed learns more about events seven decades in the past and how they continue to shape current events. There is something about Creed and this suit that traces back to 1944, though that is impossible, right? Still, the additional fragments he discovers about himself does not serve to complete Creed’s self-discovery, which has some startling revelations by the closing pages of this follow-up novel. Toyne offers this drawn-out second novel in the series, sure to fill some gaps for the reader. While there will be a number who enjoy the path of discovery Solomon Creed undertakes, others will be just as lost and wonder if the invested reading time could have been better spent elsewhere.

After being enthralled by Toyne’s previous series, I approached the first Solomon Creed novel with much excitement. However, things became too slow to develop and I could only hope that new series jitters kept Toyne from being on his game. However, I surmise I am just not in sync with the series, as I cannot grasp onto the story, the characters, or the overall presentation of the plot. The characters do present a number of interesting personalities, specifically Solomon Creed, whose life remains as solid as a puff of smoke. Slowly trying to grasp for pieces of himself, the reader sees slow realisations about the man. It is through the revelations of his psychiatrist that the reader garners the most information, which floods out in one giant narrative in the middle of the novel. Working on some of the other characters, Toyne reveals much, particularly about the Nazi treatment of prisoners and the Movement to quash them in the latter portion of the Second World War. While there are interesting characters who grace the pages of this novel, I felt little attachment to them, which fuelled my sense of disinterest with portion of the book. The story itself lacked much motivation for me, as I found myself stuck in the middle of the developing narrative, feeling a sense of swimming in treacle (the second such book in two days), and I pleaded to get to the end. The chase to keep Creed one step ahead of the authorities and the killer’s eventually discovery did little for me. Some will enjoy this approach, as well as the ever-revealed Jewish aspects of the story that date back to the 1940s. Toyne’s ability to write should not be lost on the reader, nor is his ability to spin an interesting tale, but I just cannot find myself enthralled with this novel.

Thank you, Mr. Toyne, for this second attempt at Solomon Creed. While your ‘boy’ can see, I seem to be blind to much of the novel’s development. Perhaps I’ll stay away and let your other fans revel in the series.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Fear, by Dirk Kurbjuweit

Six stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Dirk Kurbjuweit and House of Anansi for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Having never read Kurbjuweit’s work, I was curious to see how I might enjoy something a little different. Spurred on by having it fit into a current book challenge topic (a book translated from its original language), I thought it could serve a double purpose, as I toil through the dark and anger-filled German narrative. Randolph Tiefenthaler is a man who has lived in the shadow of fear for his entire life, beginning with the terror his mother felt while he was still in utero during the Cuban Missile Crisis and continued on while living in Cold War West Germany. Offsetting the political fear was the emotional instability at home, where a domineering father ran the house as he saw fit. Tiefenthaler, who takes the role of narrator through this piece, explores the fear of his marriage to Rebecca, as they grow further apart and appear to remain together solely for their children. However, it is the introduction of the downstairs neighbour, Dieter Tiberius, that evokes the most fear and anger in the story. In a narrative that constantly oscillates between the aforementioned past revelations and a current situation, Herr Tiberius begins a peaceable coexistence with the Tiefenthaler family, but things soon take a turn when handwritten love notes turn sour and allegations of child abuse are lobbed at Randolph and Rebecca. As Randolph seeks to quell the fires, his anger pushes him to the brink, particularly when he feels the law offers Tiberius carte blanche to continue his conniving ways. With hatred in his heart and a father who is a known marksman, Tiefenthaler must decide how to neutralise his fear once and for all. The narrative points to an end-game that was adjudicated by the courts, but a twist in the story leaves the reader somewhat shocked. An interesting exploration of German angst and anger in literary form, Kurbjuweit offers readers an interesting story, though I cannot say I was fully enthralled.

With no benchmark for the author’s work, it is hard to compare or contrast against some of the other stories that may have been published. However, the premise of the novel is interesting, particularly the ongoing struggle to come to terms with an offended neighbour whose personal agenda is unknown. Layering this struggle with the protagonist’s own life events, Kurbjuweit allows the reader to view some of the foundations of fear that emerge throughout. While the story does progress, the delivery of the backstory is a little tepid, almost detached and told in a less than involved manner. This could be due to the translation, but I felt as though Kurbjuweit was using the first person narrative to allow Randolph to deliver his life history is a speech format. ‘Here is what I have experienced, etc…’ While I have expounded the wonders of European mysteries whose translation into English makes them better than many North American pieces, this one does not meet that mark. I felt as though I was missing something throughout, waiting for the other part of the story to fall into place, even with some of the self-doubt woven into Randolph and Rebecca throughout the piece. Alas, the only ‘clunk’ I heard was my head hitting the table as I tried to shake some order into the story before writing this review.

Interesting work, Herr Kurbjuweit, for this piece, which speaks to the stereotypical German literary gloom and doom. It served its purpose for my book challenge, though I am not sure I will rush back to read more of your translated work.

This book fulfills Equinox I (A Book for All Seasons) Book Challenge for Topic #2: A Book Translated from its Original Language.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons