Monday, July 04, 2011
by Kathryn Casey
* * * / 5
Not bloody at all
The protagonist is a Texas Ranger but the book is not a Western. The Texas Ranger here is a female, with a kid, with a Mom living in, with a dead husband, with an estranged lover, with an eager boss and her own haunting past. Sarah Armstrong is a good character; flawed, fighting and fearless. She loves her family but wants to keep her occupation which sometimes brings trouble too close to home.
We have 2 unsolved crimes in here. An elusive stalker and an unsolved murder. The characters are realistic though the caricature of the teen pop star Cassidy Collins and her staff is very cliched and stereotyped. The tension and action in the novel are there to keep you reading till the end. Apart from her investigation and profiling for these 2 cases, she also has to deal with a birthing horse and a reunion with a 'distant' lover.
The book first disappointed me with its dual perspective. Casey first writes in third person perspective and then switches to first person narrative of Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong for most of the book and in between we again get third person perspective. This is distracting and to me as an editor it is very irritating. The first person view brings us close to Sarah and this is a well-written perspective, making us feel and sympathise with Sarah. The third person view is needed to deal with all the places/ instances Sarah is not present, so that's really frustrating.
Casey also uses a lot of I'd, we'd, he'd and doesn't differentiate between "had" and "would" while using - 'd - though both are interchangeable. This was a constant hiccup for me.
Casey came to write fiction after writing true crime for 20 years, covering crime in news, magazines and non-fiction novels. So its not surprising that she chose her fiction foray in crime. She seems comfortable and natural at writing since the book is an easy smooth sailing till the end. But the plot relating to the murder and the stalking seemed average to me. I don't want to post any spoilers so I will leave it at saying that I expected much more intrigue and realism from a book written by a lady with 20 years of true crime writing.
Overall, the book is entertaining. I haven't read the first one in the series but don't mind reading more from Casey's impressive catalogue of books.
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Where The Shadows Lie
by Michael Ridpath
* * * * */5
Where Surprises Lie
This is a surprisingly good read. I just picked it up randomly and was hooked since the first chapter. We have a solid protagonist in Magnus. He is a tough cop at the receiving end of a drug cartel. A thorough American, he is reunited to his origins in Iceland as he needs to be alive as a witness in a case. The run-in with an assassin in the initial few pages itself had me admire the work of author Michael Ridpath. I read his brief interview and though he is no Icelander, he has painted a fantastic image of the nation. His research shines through in this novel.
I loved discovering new and newer things about Iceland in here. With Michael's prose it all comes alive. The protagonist is at once interesting with an enemy gunning for him in the first few chapters. Then on he is working for Iceland's police force which is drastically different because cops there don't carry firearms, forget about civilians shooting anything. There is plenty of mystery in Iceland and no small portion comes from the murder of a professor being investigated by the local police with consultation from Magnus.
Here too Magnus faces obstacles with the local police head not being too cheery on having help from an American cop. No cop likes their domain encroached upon by anyone no matter how experienced or qualified they be.
Of course with the rare crimes in Iceland the police there have little experience in following leads and investigating into a murder. So Magnus is to be there with the local chief grudgingly keeping him informed.
Then there is the pretty girl who is involved in the mess over ancient sagas being sold off to raise money. She is too good to have been involved in anything illegal, yet all clues seem to have her involved somehow. The sagas itself is fascinating and Tolkien had clearly taken great liberty in making the stories his own with "The Lord of the Rings". There is the familiar friendly but dull cop eager to be a partner to Magnus. There is a mysterious pastor of a church that was swallowed up by hell. There is information that leads to other possible murders. There is a lot of action and suspense with each chapter satisfactorily leading us to a thrilling finale.
The descriptions of the landscape, the sky, the waterfall, the simmering mountains of lava is simply marvelous.
It is a very rewarding novel to read and this is the first novel on Magnus. I can't wait to see how Michael Ridpath comes back to this cop in a sequel.