Mark Novak’s greatest mystery might just be his own …

Private Investigator Mark Novak’s relentlessness as an investigator has been his professional calling card and curse, but the one case he has couldn’t bring himself to pursue is the one closest to his heart: that of his wife’s death.

Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta

Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta

Returning to the scene of her murder, a country road outside Cassadaga, Florida, he uncovers disturbing leads that show how her murder might be connected to Novak’s own troubled youth in Montana.

The investigation leads him back to the mining towns of Montana which he thought he’d left behind forever. On returning, he discovers there are more than just bad memories to be found when you go digging up the past. Novak faces an adversary more frightening than he’s ever known, and a secret that has wended its way through his entire life: from the caverns beneath Indiana to the abandoned streets of a southern gothic town to the darkest corners of the Northwest. Novak is about to discover that evil and heroism are inextricably and tragically linked.

Another engaging and entertaining read courtesy of Michael Koryta, this time around we follow Mark Novak in Rise the Dark, a continuation of the private investigator series.

There’s an underlying darkness to Rise the Dark, believe it or not, filled with subtle references to the supernatural and a sophistication that helps make the book an uncomfortable read at times. Koryta doesn’t do easy; this complex plot is immaculately delivered and although I didn’t feel as one with the leading character or the storyline this is still a book to be savoured.

This isn’t the first Michael Koryta book I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last. I always look forward to his next title and from past experiences I prefer the darker, more sinister, more chilling titles. Think So Cold The River, a book that still remains high in my top five books of all time! It’s always going to be difficult for an author to top his own book in my eyes but Koryta is consistently good at delivering high quality products.

One thing I would say about this book is that it is easy to imagine the book as a short television series or film. It has all the hallmarks of a gripping thriller. A private investigator who will rest at nothing to avenge his wife’s murder, a villain who is as evil and psychopathic as they come – he really is a nasty bit of work! – and a reunion with loved ones from his past that have a certain inevitability.

Another top notch performance from Koryta, you’ll find him in the supernatural and chilled isle in most good supermarkets, he is after all a master of both! I look forward to the next title.

  • Hardcover:400 pages
  • Publisher:Hodder & Stoughton (25 Aug. 2016)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1473614570
  • ISBN-13:978-1473614574
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Solomon Creed

Solomon Creed

Evoking memories of Sanctus with underground tunnels, religious themes, sinister characters and a dark and unknown presence, Solomon Creed is another example of an author at the top of his game; the break has certainly done him good! Solomon Creed is a book that is both imaginative and entertaining on many levels, one of the elements that helps make this book work so well is the fact that you never truly know who Solomon Creed is. Is he good or bad? Is he hero or villain? So many questions remain, just as they did in the Sanctus trilogy and although the book ties up all the loose ends in this first adventure, it leaves the door open for the next book and certainly left me wanting more!

Simon Toyne gives us an insight into Creed’s personality, his past and the possibilities for his future (if he has a future) but we never truly understand what makes the man tick. The thing is, Solomon Creed doesn’t know who he is either and it’s his memory recall that makes him such a fascinating read. I’m not quite sure what it is about Solomon Creed but he’s such a likeable character, someone you’d expect to help those in need. He won’t take any messing mind and doesn’t suffer fools gladly but I could well imagine that if you needed him, he’d be there to help in any way possible.

Solomon knows about guns, he knows about detection and he has a seemingly inexhaustible knowledge on all manner of topics. One thing is for sure, Solomon Creed is an intelligent man and even though he doesn’t know what makes him tick, he unknowingly knows what makes others function and how to control most situations. As each hour passes Solomon Creed unravels a little more information locked away in his brain. It’s how he does it and how the information unravels that I enjoyed more than anything.

Solomon, according to the Hebrew Bible, built the first temple in Jerusalem and not only is he ascribed an infinite wisdom, born out in this novel, it is a remarkable coincidence, or maybe it’s not, that in this first book we are introduced to Jack Cassidy who built the first church in the middle of the desert in a town called Redemption.

The foundation of the story is the Cassidy clan and their hold on Redemption. Generations come and go and with the line in danger of eroding all hell breaks loose when a plane crashes out the outskirts of the town. Underhanded deals made to ensure the future of Redemption come to light and a power struggle ensues, a struggle that inevitably leads to murder and corruption. There’s very little downtime in the book and the read is both rapid and entertaining.

Characterisation is impressive and although Solomon’s personality and actions carry the book for the greater part there are a number of strong supporting characters that make the book that little bit stronger and balanced. In many ways Creed reminded me of Jack Reacher and his ability to help strangers and his ability to fix the seemingly impossible and that’s never a bad thing! There’s a good balance between good and bad and the character development is well paced and incredibly satisfying.

Dark, Super and Natural – to paraphrase Aristotle Creed is greater than the sum of his parts, and long may that continue!

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (10 Sept. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007551355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007551354

 

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Lastnight by Stephen Leather

Lastnight by Stephen Leather

A killer is murdering Goths with relish – skinning and butchering them. The cops aren’t getting anywhere so Jack Nightingale’s nemesis, Superintendent Chalmers, asks him for help.

Nightingale discovers that the murdered Goths had one thing in common: a tattoo connected to the secretive Satanic child-sacrificing cult called the Order Of Nine Angles.

As Nightingale closes in on the killers, the tables are turned and he finds himself in the firing line, along with his friends and family. The Order will stop at nothing to protect their secrets and Nightingale realises that there is nothing he can do to protect himself. Nor can he run, for the Order has connections across the world. It leaves him with only one way to stop the carnage – and that’s to take his own life . . .

Lastnight is the second Jack “Bird-Man” Nightingale title I’ve had the opportunity to read, not quite sure how I’ve missed the other books in the series – the first being Midnight back in 2011 – but I have to say it was good to get reacquainted with Jack, a character who’s slowly becoming a firm favourite of mine!

Although a dark subject matter – after all we are talking about child sacrifices, murder and satanic rituals – I found the book lighter than Midnight; I know right?! Humorous at times the book balances the dark occult and investigative prowess of our intrepid and soulful Nightingale admirably, allowing the book to move along at a very quick pace indeed. The book was over in a tick, a combination of a well crafted storyline and an intelligent and entertaining narrative. Another factor of course is that once you’ve reached the inner sanctum, the meaty part of the book, you really begrudge putting it down. I know I did!

Jack is an intriguing character and one I’d love to have a drink with and share stories and experiences. Jack has been around the block and uses his vast knowledge of the occult well in his investigations. It’s funny how these bizarre situations always seem to follow him but he’s certainly the man for the job, Chalmers would be stuck without him. He’s humorous and infectious and despite his dark side he’s truly likeable, you can’t ask for more than that.

Other characters of note include Superintendent Chalmers and Jenny, Jack’s assistant. Chalmers isn’t a likeable character, it may have something to do with the fact that he’s always at odds with our protagonist. One dimensional he certainly isn’t however and there were parts in the book I found myself softening to Chalmers, not for long though. He’s a curious character, he begins to let you in, tempts you with a morsel of kindness and then he pulls away and reverts to his usual self a page later. His moods change more times than the four seasons found in one Melbourne afternoon. He keeps you on your toes that’s for sure. Jenny is the polar opposite, dependable, likeable and good at her job – she’s also a good friend to Jack.

I have to say I was disappointed to reach the end, I wanted it to continue, the ending is shocking and unexpected. Although he ties everything up nicely Leather certainly leaves you wanting more. I want to know what happens next and I don’t want to wait! Talk about leaving you hanging – and no that’s not a clue!

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (16 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444742655
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444742657
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Reviver by Seth Patrick

Reviver by Seth Patrick

Death won’t silence them. Revivers. Able to wake the recently dead, and let them bear witness to their own demise. Twelve years after the first reviver came to light, they have become accepted by an uneasy public. The testimony of the dead is permitted in courtrooms across the world. Forensic revival is a routine part of police investigation. In the United States, that responsibility falls to the Forensic Revival Service.

Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of their best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it was only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah is not so certain. Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered, and Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers.

Working with Harker’s daughter Annabel, he’s determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long-hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a threat that if not stopped in time, will put all of humanity in danger . . .

Impressive, intelligent and well crafted.

There’s not much room left to go after a statement like that and I don’t think I’ll bother! I’ll let the book speak for itself, it’s that good. I was entertained from beginning to end with an imaginative plot, great characters, especially the two leading ones – Jonah and Never – and the ending although open, it is after all the first in a series of three books, is completely satisfying.

The narrative is well thought out and structured and is almost faultless. I did have a little trouble with some of the scientific facts surrounding revival but that’s just me!

I told you this review was going to be short, one of my shortest ever! If you’re a fan of the supernatural, horror or the crime thriller genre then I think you’ll love this book. For some reason I couldn’t get Michael Koryta out of my head when reading Reviver, it’s that good!

Dark, accomplished, exceptional and rare.

Reviver is available to buy in Hardback and Kindle formats. Highly recommended.

  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (20 Jun 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0230765017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230765016
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Brodmaw Bay seems to be the perfect refuge for James Greer and his family. When his young son is the victim of a brutal mugging, Greer wants to leave London – the sooner the better – for the charming old-fashioned fishing port he has just discovered.

But was finding Brodmaw Bay more than a happy accident? What is the connection between the village and his beautiful wife? When his friendly new neighbours say they’d welcome some new blood – in a village where the same families seem to have lived for generations – are they telling the whole truth?

Perhaps the village isn’t so much welcoming them as luring them. To something ancient and evil. As it has lured others before . . .

 

Brodmaw Bay by FG Cottam

Brodmaw Bay by FG Cottam

Brodmaw Bay is another one of those books I’ve picked up this year that had me hooked before I’d read the first page.  I’m talking about the covert art design of course. A dark silhouette of a distant village – Brodmaw Bay – and the promise of something sinister lurking beneath the surface of the mirky water, what’s not to love? We all love a little something to heighten our senses and make us a little scared, Brodmaw Bay certainly does that!

Written by F.G. Cottam the book works on many levels, it has subtle humour, a very dark and psychological theme and is fairly insular, especially when it comes to the Bay. The Bay draws James Greer and his family in at just the right, or is that wrong, time. They are sucked in to the traditions they find endearing at first but it soon becomes blatantly obvious things aren’t what they seem, the people and the Bay itself hiding a violent and troublesome pass that mixes death and the destruction of a religion.

Although incredibly drawn in by the covert art, sucked in to the story of the Bay just like Greer, I did find the first thirty pages a little sedentary. It took a while to get into the story but there was a point, which I won’t share here for fear of spoilers that drew me right back in. It was from that particular point that F.G. Cottam had me and I read the rest of the book in two fairly quick settings.

I thoroughly enjoyed how he brought in an underlying tale of history, the First World War and the locals that lost their lives during that time including a famous poet. There are ghosts – what do you expect from a supernatural dark story? – and creepy faceless burlap monsters, the threat of a family torn apart by one event.

Over the years James has come to resent his wife’s career, not for the money it brings in but for the simple fact that he no longer has a say in what happens to his family. They have two wonderful and talented children, live in a leafy area of London, life is incredibly comfortable and rewarding but for James something is missing. When Greer’s son is attacked by mindless thugs on his way home from school James rushes to the hospital bed to be by his son’s bedside. It’s at this point, a defining moment in his life, that James decides enough is enough and he begins to take control of his family.

The family dynamics begin to change, insecurities that once threatened help re shape their lives but as they do the past rears its ugly head and the future is brought into question. Characterisation is impressive but the stars of the book for me are the two kids. They are incredibly moreish, level headed – until the creepiness takes hold – and very mature for their age. Like any brother and sister they have their moments but when Jack’s sister has a bad dream – a dream that they all share in one form or other – she goes to his bed and seeks a protective cuddle. The simple things just work.

‘Jack?’

It wasn’t his mum. It was his numpty sister, Olivia.

‘Can I come in?’

He sighed. ‘I suppose so.’

The door opened and Olivia came into his room, careful to weave a way through the games and DVDs and consoles and remotes littering his floor without damaging anything; careful not to collide with the model aircraft and spaceships hanging on strings from the ceiling.

‘What do you want?’

‘Can I get into your bed? Can I get in for a cuddle?’

Jack sighed again.

‘I suppose so.’

A gripping story that will, just like Brodmaw Bay, suck you in and certainly leave you wanting more. The strong and powerful ending shocked me, surprised me even, and although I – at one point – wanted to visit the Bay, exploring every nook and cranny, I have decided it could possibly be detrimental to my life as I know it if I did! A wonderful experience, moreishly dark and entertainingly immersive – Brodmaw Bay is one not to miss.

Published by Hodder Broadmaw Bay is available in Hardback & E-Book.

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Midnight by Stephen Leather

Midnight by Stephen Leather

Stephen Leather, you clever clever man – what a truly magnificent way to kick off a brand new year – welcome to 2011!

My first introduction to Stephen Leather and Jack Nightingale, “Midnight” is one of those books you never really know what to expect when you pick it up. Sent an ARC by Hodder & Stoughton towards the end of last year I put it to one side to clear my backlog of impending publishing deadlines. If I knew then what I know now – I sincerely doubt I would have waited until New Year’s Day to begin reading this supernatural thriller!

Available at Amazon & The Book Depository.

As many of you know I have a penchant for crime thrillers and have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the genre over the last five months. Leather’s “Midnight” is a crime thriller and so much more – add a dash of devilish behaviour, sprinkle with the occult and finish it off with helping of soul and you have a non-stop thriller on your hands.

As I read the novel, I found myself on three occasions holding my breath during certain passages, such was the intensity Leather had created. With my heart rate intensifying, the atmosphere was palpable and I had to take stock following each incident – I can’t remember the last book that affected me in such a way.

Midnight” isn’t your classic horror book, it slowly works psychologically and before you know it you find you can’t escape the desperate fight to save not one but two souls from an impending and final destiny.

The narrative is sharp and incredibly well thought out affording an expeditious pace from start to finish. I must admit I struggled to put the book down and over the course of two days I found I had to force myself to switch off the light at 3am and give in for fear of sleep deprivation until the following morning – not before I’d double checked all windows and doors were secure mind you!

Midnight” is the second installment in the Jack Nightingale series, an ex-cop in London who, together with his one and only assistant, has turned his obvious detective skills to earn a living as a gumshoe – a private detective. Along with the usual infidelity case, Jack has to save a soul – his sister’s soul. The trouble is Jack doesn’t know who she is and where she lives!

Nightingale gets caught up in a number of related and unrelated murders, deaths and apparent suicides – it seems everywhere he turns, death follows him. Time after time Jack is hauled in by the police to answer questions and prove his innocence – all the while trying to investigate what the hell is going on in his troubled world.

The characters are spot on. I loved the relationship between Jack and Jenny and I’m keen to find out if anything develops in the third instalment of this trilogy – both comfortable with each other, it’s clear Jenny isn’t in the job for the money – is there something more to this alliance?

Without giving too much away his interaction with his sister is priceless. I felt as if I was looking into a mirror and seeing a female version of Jack looking back at me. The dialogue seemed spontaneous yet cleverly crafted – highly entertaining exchanges!

So there we have it – my first acquaintance with the devil, my first taste of the occult and without a shadow of a doubt not my last Stephen Leather book! Highly intelligent, “Midnight” is one of those books you’ll struggle to put down. Make sure the lights are on, the doors are locked and you have a stiff drink to hand – you’re going to need it with this book!

I can’t rate this book enough – a wonderful start to the new year, “Midnight” comes highly recommended and already a contender for best thriller of 2011. Magical and exceptionally powerful.

Published by Hodder & Stoughton Midnight is available at Amazon & The Book Depository

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